Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Miracles and Heresy

The Meshekh Chokhmah (Deut. 4:19) has a comment on last week's Torah portion that argues against our intuitive understanding of miracles and belief. He quotes a midrash that Avraham arrived at belief through deduction from the natural laws of the universe. If the sun follows a standard routine, it must not be an autonomous being. Otherwise, it might sometimes rise in the west rather than the east. And if the moon were an autonomous being, it would not renew every month on schedule but might occasionally deviate. Therefore, reasoned Avraham, they could not be deities and there must be something that created them.

However, miracles, by contavening the natural order of the universe, undermine this reasoning and therefore can lead to heresy and idolatry. It is the steady functioning of the universe, the constant adherence to the laws of nature, that leads to God. Miracles, on the other hand, can lead away from God.

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