Hashem set Noach to a task: build an ark, a big one, a tall one, and one quite waterproof. Into that ark was to go food for a year, animals of all types and size, from the flying birds, to the buzzing bees, to the mighty lion. It would take a miracle to fit all the creatures into that floating zoo. It would take an even bigger miracle to ensure the ark would withstand the stormy, boiling waters that welled up from the earth and came pouring from the skies. So violent was the upsurge of raging stormwaters that mountains were formed from the pressure[g1] . The ark sailed on peacefully only by miracle.
Well then, if miracles had to happen in order for Noach, his family and the living creatures to be able to survive in the ark, one is left puzzling why bother Noach with the work of building an ark. He Who Created Miracles could have just as well done a miracle to save ‘em all without the ark!
A similar thought. A widow tells one of our great prophets (both Eliyahu and Elisha do this miracle) about lack of food. In each case, a miracle occurs. But it requires a vessel for it to happen. For one, her jar of meal and her jug of oil become replenished for a full year. In the other case, her jug of oil flows non-stop into many jugs, jars and basins she had been commanded to set up, giving her a commodity to sell. No flying carpet brings a fridge full of food to the door. Rather, what existed and what seemed natural was stretched to become unnaturally miraculous.
The message for us: for miracles to manifest, oft times, we are asked to use our “natural” gifts to give the miracle a conduit that makes it seem physical our salvation but allows the physically impossible to happen.
Wow – just reread that last sentence and realized it would take many readings to get it.
A story my mother always uses to illustrate it. My sister was engaged during an economic downturn. Where the money was to come from for her marriage, my mother had no idea. However, she decided, “G-d, I’ll go through the motions of going ahead and planning but I don’t know what will happen.” And so, off she went with a small amount of cash she had to an outlet store to get a few articles of clothing. She arrived to a massive clearance sale – got a few clothing, a winter coat and lingerie. All for the price she thought she’d pay for the few outfits. It was off next to see about furniture, and a floor model was there, for the price that was right. The next week it was off to book the hall, and, yes, after giving the deposit, G-d sent the money through an additional order my father got for his business. She moved ahead and each step she took was met with something out of the ordinary.
My parents would reiterate again and again, you, as man, must go through the motions of helping yourself. However, realize that G-d helps.
Let me try to explain in another way. Ever allow a three-year-old child to “help you” move a heavy box? You let them put a hand to the box, one, cute pudgy hand holding that corner of the box. The little pixie face puckers up as the precocious helper says, “wow, the box is heavy.” And you laugh, for you realize, as does everyone else around, that really you are carrying the box. Yet, you are allowing the kid to feel like he/she is holding up his/her end of the deal of carrying that box with you.
My friends, miracles happen. But it often requires us to act out the charade that we are “helping” save ourselves. And that leads us to the challenge of realizing, when all is said and done and in the final analysis, that we were just the little tykes “helping” and all credit goes to The One Who Does It All.
[g1]It is very interesting to note that the Malbim (in this week’s Parsha) comments that attempts to date our world, therefore, will be faced with a veracity issue. You cannot figure out what the effects of boiling, roiling groundswell water would have on geographic items. Nor could you figure out what the effect of no sun or moon for that long a period would do to items. I find it fascinating that the Malbim, who lived before carbon dating developed, already addressed the fallacy of it. Here is modern science saying something else about the flaws of this: http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2001/may/10/carbon-clock-could-show-the-wrong-time