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Parsha - Shemot Beshalach





Parashas Beshalach - 5778 - Miracles

It is this Shabbos, "Shabbos Shirah," and this week's Parashah, Beshalach, which contains one of history's undoubtedly greatest Miracles, "Krias Yam Suf," the Splitting of the Sea, which creates the Path of Redemption from Egypt for the People of Israel and the agency for destruction of the Egyptian Army. That forces us to confront one of the great questions that serious students of the Bible and of Life must address: "Precisely what is a Miracle?"

This leads to another important related question: Is a Miracle an event that occurs within the boundaries of Natural Law or can it be an event that occurs outside those boundaries? It turns out that Jewish Tradition recognizes both types of events as Miracles. Those that are within the boundaries of Natural Law and the miraculous aspect is a matter of timing are called "Nissim Nistarim," Hidden Miracles, and those which are outside of Natural Law are called "Nissim Niglim," Revealed Miracles.

Examples in the Torah of Hidden Miracles, occurring within Natural Law, include most of the Ten Plagues: Frogs, Lice, Wild Animals, Locusts - differing only in that their onset and removal are forecast. Surprisingly, even the Splitting of the Yam Suf was a Hidden Miracle, as we find: "Moshe stretched out his hand over the sea, and HaShem moved the sea with a strong east wind all the night, and He turned the seabed to dry land, and the waters split. The Children of Israel came within the sea on dry land; and the water was a wall for them, on their right and on their left." (Shemos 14:21-22)

Some would even say that the Six-Day War in June of 1967, before which the entire Jewish world held their breath in fear of another Holocaust, but the Israeli forces went on to defeat three formidable Arab armies - the armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan, and liberate Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, was a Hidden Miracle.

The second type of Miracle is the "Nes Nigleh," the Revealed Miracle, that only HaShem can perform. The "Makkas Bechoros," the destruction of the firstborn of Egypt, from human to animal, was such a Miracle, for after all, who could know besides HaShem whether a particular individual was firstborn? Another Revealed Miracle was the Falling of the "Mohn," the bread from Heaven, with a double portion on Friday and none on Shabbos, following this pattern for 40 years in the Wilderness. Also in the category of Revealed Miracle was the restoration to life of the boys that were promised to righteous, childless women by the Prophet Eliyahu and his disciple, Elisha, each in his time, by the lifesaving efforts of those prophets.

Also in the Category of Revealed Miracle, something that only HaShem could have done, but which was not really revealed, because there were no witnesses, was the "Brias HaOlam," the Creation of the Universe "ex nihilo," in the manner of "something from nothing," some 15 billion years ago.

The Creation of Life was also an act which could only have been done by HaShem.

Supervision of the Evolution of species of living creatures in an upward path from bacteria to primitive fish, to birds, to reptiles to mammals to the human being, was a continuous miraculous act performed by HaShem.

Extinction of the dinosaurs to make room for the human being by means of a convenient asteroid.

Creation of the human being by combining a physical body, subject to death and decay, with an Eternal Soul, a "Neshama," about which we say each morning "My G-d, the 'Neshama' which You gave to me is pure..."

Creation of the unique intellect of the human being which is capable of "Bechirah Chofshis," Free Will.

Creation of Woman as a recipient of love from Man and as partner in joy for the human couple in each other.

Creation of emotions, such as joy and gladness, the mutual love of groom and bride, mirth, glad song, pleasure, delight, love, brotherhood, peace and companionship.

Creation of an extremely unlikely partner for HaShem; the earthbound, mortal, limited in intellect and physical strength human being, with the Eternal, Omniscient, Omnipresent and Omnipotent Holy One; in the "Image of Himself."

Shabbos Shirah has two Songs: Shiras HaYam, the Song of the Sea, and Shiras Devorah, the Song of the Prophetess Devorah.

The first was sung by Moshe and the Men of Israel and by Miriam and the Women of Israel on the occasion of their Salvation by the waters of the Yam Suf, directed by HaShem. It contains the verse "May HaShem rule forever!" (Shemos 15:18)

The second was sung by Devorah and the general, Barak, on the occasion of the miraculous defeat of Yavin, King of Chatzor, and the defeat and death of Sisera, his general. Its concluding verse is, "So may all Your enemies be destroyed, HaShem; and let those who love Him be like the powerfully rising sun." (Shophtim 5:31)

L'Illuy Nishmas beni, Aharon Baruch Mordechai ben Pinchas Menachem











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