For the week of August 16, 2003 / 18 Av 5763
Torah: Devarim / Deuteronomy 7:12 - 11:25
Haftarah: Isaiah 49:14 - 51:3
Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years (Devarim / Deuteronomy 8:4).
Not all miracles are the same. The Torah includes many different kinds of miracles. Some miracles are what we might call creative in that they have to do with either something coming from nothing or something becoming something else. The manna, which was the mysterious bread that formed on the ground each day, is an example of this. Another kind might be called miracles of magnitude as were some of the ten plagues.
The miracle referred to in the verse quoted, I would call a miracle of preservation. Clothes normally wear out over time and many feet would most likely swell under those conditions. Yet during the forty years of wilderness wanderings neither happened. Clothes are designed to last and feet are designed to be walked on without swelling. But neither were designed to take the kind of wear and tear that would be required by the harsh lifestyle of those many years. Yet God somehow preserved both their clothes and their feet.
Clothes and feet are examples of our possessions and our personal physical conditions respectively. These two areas of life greatly influence our short- and long-term decisions. I imagine that most of us would think of these two areas whenever we are challenged to make adjustments to our normal routines.
Earlier this year in a TorahBytes entitled Beyond Our Own Resources, I referred to how we encounter the miraculous as we move beyond our own resources and capabilities in response to God's leading in our lives. When we avoid difficult circumstances, we may be actually avoiding God and robbing ourselves from experiencing his power.
It is very difficult to theorize about following God. He often calls us into the unknown, to places of uncertainty and dependency upon him. He rarely gives us every detail of what will happen and how. He is clear on his promise to be with us, to take care of us. How he does it is his choice.
The miracle of preservation may not be very spectacular. In fact the people may not have noticed it unless Moses mentioned it. Still, God was meeting two of their most basic needs, thus enabling them to survive in difficult circumstances.
So let's not base our decisions to follow God on how we feel and what we own. God will take care of those things as we obey him.
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