From the Desk of Rabbi Mordecai Silver, Ph.D.
NATURALLY, A “MIRACLE”
“Natural” Miracle – An Event Within Nature
In both a mother’s and the father’s prayer, the request that they ask for Hashem to go beyond the normal bounds of their lives and provide them with relief from their plights. However, their requests differ in one key aspect. The mother’s prayer was contrary to the dictates of the Book C of the Chassidim, which states that one is prohibited to pray that Hashem bring a miracle that is not within the confines of nature.
Many miracles – the kind for which one may pray – occur using nature as the vehicle, and may therefore be solicited from Heaven. The Shaarei Teshuvah states that one may pray for a nes nistar, a hidden miracle, which is an unusual event that still occurs within the laws of nature. For example, if a person suffers from an illness that statistically has only a small chance of being cured, he can pray to be among that small percentage. The cure is possible, even though it may not be probable.
Praying for one who is childless is usually deemed a valid prayer, even if the person is unable to bear children. One sage explains that having children is natural, whereas not having them is outside the natural course of events. Therefore, praying for someone to bear children is considered to be requesting something that is in accord with nature.
In reality, the type of “miracle” which one seeks in times of need is only the visible “tip of the iceberg,” displaying the underlying miraculous manner in which Hashem runs the natural world. “Hidden miracles are with a person every day. There is no member of an Israelite nation who does not have a hidden miracle occur to him every day; it is just that he is unaware.” In fact, every moment of life is a miracle stemming directly from Hashem’s will.
God controls the world from behind the scenes, utilizing the magnificent natural laws He has crafted to fulfill His will on earth. When we pray for ourselves or for anyone who is in need, all we ask is that He turn His will toward us, applying the laws of nature to treat us with kindness and compassion.
POINTS TO PONDER
A person is not permitted to pray for a miracle that is not within the laws of nature. Yet, Hashem controls the laws of nature, and being God, can do as He chooses.
One can pray for an outcome that has even the smallest probability of occurring.
Our prayer is a request that Hashem direct His will to treat us mercifully.
Psalm 116:5 The LORD is gracious and beneficent; our God is compassionate. (TNK)