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Tuesday
Feb202018

MIRACLES IN THE GUISE OF NATURE

In venerating the dictates of the natural order, the Jewish people brought themselves into the constraints of the circumstances of nature, manifest in the treatment they received from the wicked Achashverosh. 

Translated by Boruch Merkur

The miraculous salvation of the Jewish people on Purim differs from the miracle of Chanuka (and certainly from the miracles of the exodus from Egypt). On Chanuka, the redemption that took place was through overt miracles that transcend nature, as described in the words of the prayer, “You delivered the mighty into the hands of the weak, etc.” But on Purim the Jews were saved through miracles that were invested within nature. Thus, the Alter Rebbe writes that the miracles of Purim were not “visible to the eye as transcending nature” (Torah Ohr 93c, 100a).

This particular type of miracle, Purim’s miracles within the guise of nature, is consistent with the cause of the decree in the time of Achashverosh, which our Sages describe as follows: “Why were the anti-Semites of that generation [referring here to the Jewish people themselves, to avoid a direct reproach] sentenced to annihilation? Because they participated in the feast (nehenu m’seudaso) of that wicked man [King Achashverosh]” (Megilla 12a).

It has been explained elsewhere that the main sin of the time was that the Jewish people “nehenu m’seudaso – they enjoyed (or benefitted from) the feast, etc.” Had they merely participated in the banquet to honor the king, their situation would have been more forgivable. Since they were under King Achashverosh’s dominion and sovereignty, it was necessary for them to show respect for Achashverosh’s kingship and participate in the banquet to which he had invited them. The Jewish people, however, did not suffice with merely attending; “nehenu – they enjoyed it,” esteeming their participation in the feast as something honorable or pleasurable. Their regrettable response to the feast emerged from their mistaken logic – that their wellbeing is dependent on the favor and benefaction of “that wicked man.”

In venerating the dictates of the natural order, the Jewish people brought themselves into the constraints of the circumstances of nature, manifest in the treatment they received from the wicked Achashverosh. Correspondingly, their salvation came about specifically through miracles that operate within the guise of nature.

Miracles invested within nature illustrate that miraculous Divine providence is not limited strictly to supernatural phenomena, whereby the rules of nature are violated. Rather, miraculous providence can be apparent also within the garments of nature.

Thus, the innovation of the Purim miracles pertains to miracles enclothed within nature. The incredible events that took place on Purim were indeed miracles (for which reason we recite the blessing “Who has performed miracles” even on Purim). The truth is that although the miracle of the salvation of the Jewish people was not visible to the eye, “it was clearly seen that all the determining factors were beyond nature” (Torah Ohr ibid). At the same time, the events transpired within the garments of nature. The salvation of Purim, therefore, teaches that even the “natural experience” of the Jewish people serves only as a “garment” for miraculous direction from Above that transcends nature.

(Likkutei Sichos Vol. 31, pg. 174; BShaarei HaMegilla pg. 59-60)) 

 

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