2015-01-21 / Religion Column

We need to be partners to God’s miracles

RABBI GERALD R. FOX
Temple Beth Shalom/ Brigantine

Parashat B’Shalach Ex. 13:17-17:16

Have you ever wondered why things don’t go your way? Do you feel like miracles are distant from your life? Have you dwelled upon these thoughts, making you believe that you are not worthy of receiving blessings and so you don’t even try? Well, I may not have a direct answer for your “winter blues,” but I would like to offer you this spiritual alarm clock.

It was only a month ago that we were bearing witness to the miracle of Chanukah and the triumph of the miraculous over the seemingly inevitable. And now, with winter full upon us, we feel closed in and our spirits are diminished. We may even like winter weather, but still feel limited in what we can do. Such sustained attitudes, however, are dangerous for us as they slowly turn our thoughts toward what is impossible rather than what is possible.

In next week’s Torah portion, B’Shalach, we see the source of at least two reminders of the need to be proactively engaged in our own lives.

First, after having fled from Egypt, our ancestors found their way forward blocked at the Sea of Reeds. Unable to continue forward, fear naturally gripped the moving mass of humanity. What were they to do…just wait for something to happen on their behalf? There is a Midrash that teaches us that a leader within the group who was literally at the edge of the water, Nachshon ben Amminadav, did not lose faith that God would act and, in seeming contradiction, leapt into the water. Nachshon kept walking into the increasingly deep water and, as he continued forward, the waters began to recede, allowing all to continue forward.

Later, in the same Torah portion, we read that, as food runs short, God provides manna for all to eat. It is not served to everyone but rather it appears each morning and requires harvesting. The miracle required a partner.

The message is clear: We may not be able to make miracles ourselves, but we can act on our own behalf.

Often, how we see the world defines if we see God’s presence within it. Despite illness and personal tragedy and even the normal difficulties we face each day, perhaps we should remember to count the blessings we invariably receive and acknowledge the wonder within each day. It is not being a Pollyanna to feel and to express gratitude for the incredible gifts we receive each day, even in the face of setbacks.

Let’s be honest: It is human nature to take for granted the best of what is around us and, even more so, directly within our lives. Whether we live obviously blessed lives of comfort and harmony or are seemingly followed by tragedy and chronic sadness, we often miss the importance of the good things that make our lives worth living.

How we welcome the world is directly connected to how open we are to our life’s path as it unfolds before us. Let’s not get stuck by the waters in front of us or the need to make an effort to collect nourishment for ourselves. After all, transforming the impossible into the possible requires us to be present. Just remember: Miracles need partners! .

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