Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Praying for Miracles

This probably should have been said at Chanuka, but I didn't know it then.  Sometimes when I learn Mishna Brura, I look around the page to see if anything else looks interesting.  I ran across this interesting Sha'arei T'shuva regarding praying for miracles some time ago, and now I can finally writ it up.  That the up and down side of this venue... you get what you get.

Usually when an addition to birkas hamazon is omitted there is a simple rule: if the omission referred to the event that caused the meal, repeat; if not, don't repeat.  For example, one is obligated to eat two bread meals on Shabbos and Yom Tov, so if r'tzei or ya'aleh v'yavo is omitted at the conclusion of one of those meals, birkas hamazon needs to be repeated.  (After the fact, one has fulfilled his obligation for the third meal on Shabbos even without bread.)  On the other hand, omitting ya'aleh v'yavo on rosh chodesh would not require a repetition because one is not obligated to eat a bread meal on rosh chodesh.

There is one exception: al ha'nisim.  If one omits al ha'nisim, he needn't repeat, but he can make it up in the harachamans. (Shulchan Aruch OC 187:4, Rema)  The nusach is: May the Merciful One do miracles for us as He did in those days, etc.  Seems straightforward, right?  One little problem; actually, not so little.  The al ha'nisim in the middle of bentching (and, in fact, in t'fila) is part of hoda'a/thanksgiving.  This little harachaman has morphed that acknowledgement of past goodness into a prayer for HaShem to do miracles for us in the future!  Besides the shift from thanks to please; we aren't allowed to daven for miracles!

The Sha'arei T'shuva on the spot gives two heterim.  First, the t'fila is for the community and not for the individual.  Second, the beginning of the miracle was about the Chashmonayim being victorious in war, which happens using natural means (though the victory itself remains miraculous).  The Sha'arei T'shuva does not say if you need both those conditions or if either would suffice.  He concludes that one must be very careful not to daven for a miracle that can't be accomplished by natural means; so it sounds like he is permitting one to use these rules for ones own davening.

Then the Sha'arei Tshuva ends with a cryptic statement: "And you can't bring a proof from R' Chanina ben Dosa".  He doesn't really explain himself; but I have some ideas.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…