Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Bracha Upon Seeing Site of Miraculous Event

The Dirshu halacha project, besides delivering a synopsis of the halacha of the day, also occasionally presents interesting thought questions.  The most recent of which was:
The Mishnah Berurah (218:§7) rules that no “She’asah li nes” is recited over the place near Yerushalayim where the angel smote Sancheriv’s encampment because the place does not remind us of the miracle. Even though it may be possible to pinpoint where the miracle happened, since the miracle did not take place with the actual land, the miracle is not recognizable from the location. However, the Shulchan Aruch (218:1) rules that one must recite the blessing when he sees the stone on which Moshe Rabbeinu sat during the war with Amalek. It would seem that this miracle is no more recognizable from its location than the destruction of Sancheiriv’s army.What is the difference between these two cases?  
I can think of four differences:

First, in the case of Sancheiriv’s army, the land itself was not relevant to the miracle.  True, the miracle occurred on land, but it could just as easily have occurred at sea or in the air.  The rock onthat supported Moshe, on the contrary, is specifically mentioned as helping Moshe in his performance of the miracle.  This is similar to the pillar of salt into which Lot's wife was transformed and upon seeing we say the bracha of "dayan ha'emes".  She herself was evil and deserved that punishment, but seeing an actual object that was mentioned as part of the the miraculous way in which Lot was saved -- which was a direct result of his relationship to Avraham Avinu -- is a powerful reminder of how far HaShem's mercy extends.

Second, even though the location of the land can be identified, that is not necessarily the same dirt and rocks that were there when Sancheiriv’s army was miraculously defeated.  The rock that we see today (assuming it could be identified), however, is the same rock on which Moshe sat, even if it may have moved in the interim. Similarly, the bracha of “She’asah li nes” would be recited upon seeing the Well of Miriam, even though it was and is quite mobile.  (R' Chaim Vital relates, in fact, that his rebbie the Ari z"l once took him on a small rowboat to give him a drink from the Well of Miriam in order to help him learn with more clarity.)

Third, Klal Yisrael was not at the time of the miracle fighting a pitched battle with Sancheiriv’s army.  The destruction of Sancheiriv’s army merely removed the threat (rather decisively, to be sure) of planned aggression.  That makes the miracle only a גרמה/cause, but not direct effect.  On the other hand, Klal Yisrael certainly was fighting a pitched with Ameleik and their victory was miraculous.  In fact, as Chazal tell us, it was their looking to their Father in Heaven that won the battle, not their hand to hand combat.  (Something to seriously ponder when considering how to deal with the like of suicide bombing terrorists who cannot be defeated by physical battle at all.)

Finally, the miracle of destroying Sancheiriv’s army was for a practical consideration; Klal Yisrael was in danger of being attacked by a formidable enemy.  Moreover, it was quite natural for Sancheiriv, a then world power bent on world domination, to attack Yerushalayim.  The battle with Amaleik, though, had not practical cause whatsoever.  Amaleik was (and is...) bent on fighting against HaShem and therefore attack His nation without mercy.  The battle with Amaleik was a spiritual/philosophical battle that needed a clear and decisive victory to achieve our ultimate purpose in this world.

Comments

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: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…