Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
from the wisdom of the Rebbe
Menachem M. Schreerson
Bringing Heaven Down to Earth
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” –Matthew 14:27-31
What was the greater miracle, that Jesus walked on water or that Peter did? I’d have to say “Peter”. After all, we expect Jesus Christ to perform miracles. He is the Son of God, the living Messiah, our High Priest in the Heavenly Court. We’ve become quite used to Jesus performing miracles. Jesus turns water into wine. Jesus makes the blind see and the deaf hear. Jesus calms the raging storm. He does miracles. We expect it.
But miracles don’t happen today, do they? Why not?
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. –John 14:12-14
So do you believe him? If so, what miracles have you done lately? Have you tried walking across a lake or even a swimming pool? If you tried, did you walk like Peter or sink like Peter once he got scared and forgot to have faith?
No miracles, huh? Then what was Jesus talking about? What was the Rebbe talking about when he said we’d look at the natural order of things and say, “This, too, is a miracle.”?
I’m not going to answer that question yet, but I will tell you another small story from Rabbi Freeman’s book about the Rebbe:
G-d can do anything. He could even, as the saying goes, “fit an elephant through the eye of a needle.”
So, how would He do it? Would He make the elephant smaller? Or would He expand the eye of the needle?
Neither. The elephant would remain big, the eye of the needle small. And He would fit the elephant through the eye of the needle.
Illogical? True. But logic is just another of His creations. He who created logic is permitted to disregard it.
That’s a little like saying that the world exists simply because we believe it exists. If we started doubting the reality of the world then, “poof”, the world goes away. Does the universe exist simply because God believes it does?
The Master had something similar to say about large animals and needles:
Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” –Matthew 19:24
Not very logical, is it?
Peter made a miracle, but it went away when he started having doubts and became afraid. Miracles are hard for some people to understand because they aren’t logical or we spend time trying to figure out how they work or what they mean. I’ve heard some people say that when Jesus referred to “the eye of a needle”, he wasn’t being literal about the needle but rather, referencing a specific gate that is narrow and where it’s difficult to get a camel to pass through. Maybe he was and maybe he wasn’t. Who knows?
James, the brother of the Master, said we don’t have because we don’t ask God (James 4:2) but maybe we don’t have miracles because we don’t live life expecting them. When you read the miracles of Jesus, he does these incredible things that defy nature, transmute substances, performs the impossible by all known physical laws. Yet the Rebbe said that we have these outstanding miracles so that we will recognize the other miracles that are in our lives; miracles that are, so to speak, right under our noses.
What miracles? Look around.
Your life is a miracle. It is said that God wills each beat of your heart and that without His will, your life would come to an abrupt end. We speak of things like “the miracle of birth” and how miraculous it is that we can plant a seed and, with a little dirt, water, and sun, it turns into a plant. Yet these things happen every day.
I guess that means miracles happen everyday, all around us, in every corner of the world.
Why don’t we see them? Are we blind?
We don’t see miracles because we don’t expect to see miracles in the world around us, occurring through ordinary, everyday events…and yet if we open our eyes, they’re there, right in front of us.
One last teaching of the Rebbe via Rabbi Freeman’s book in this morning’s meditation:
Lead a supernatural life and G-d will provide the miracles.
I based the purpose and philosophy of this blog on the following teaching of Rabbi Freeman:
When you get up in the morning, let the world wait. Defy it a little. First learn something to inspire you. Take a few moments to meditate upon it. And then you may plunge ahead into the darkness, full of light with which to illuminate it.
You can see an adaptation of this quote near the top of the blog. Now let those words to sink in for a bit. Pour yourself another cup of coffee and take a moment to meditate on living a supernatural life. Don’t move away from the computer too fast. Take an extra minute or two to imagine what life would be like if you thought you’d see a miracle today. Once you have that thought firmly in place, close your web browser and get up. Go over the list of what you plan to do today. Add one thing to the top of the list. Make it the first item, before you consider anything else.
Let that first item on your agenda today be, “Expect miracles.”
Live a supernatural life. It might not be as difficult as you imagine.