Mordechai Silverstein
Mordechai Silverstein

You May Be God’s Greatest Miracle (Jeremiah 16:19-17:14)

Jeremiah anticipates a future when the nations of the world will come to recognize and acknowledge God: “The Lord is my strength and my stronghold and my refuge on a day of distress. To You the nations will come.” (verse 19) The nations will reject the folly of their idolatry and come to recognize God: “But to lies our fathers were heir, mere breath that cannot avail.” (verse 19) God will facilitate this recognition: “Therefore, I am about to show them, this time I will show them My hand and My power, and they shall know that My name is the Lord.” (verse 21)

According to the following midrash, God, through the miracle of His redemptive acts and through the revelation of the Torah to His people, inspires awareness of His reality in the world: “The Lord is my strength and my stronghold and my refuge on a day of distress. To you the nations will come.” – Israel said to the Holy One blessed be He: “When you performed miracles at the [splitting of the] sea, they said to you: ‘God is my strength and my song’ (Exodus 15:2) Didn’t Rahab (in the story of the conquest of Jericho) hear and come and cling to You, as it says: ‘And she said to the men, I know that God has given  to you the land…For we heard that God dried up the water of the Reed Sea’ (Joshua 2:9 -10)” That is to say: The Lord is my strength and my stronghold and my refuge on a day of distress. “When You performed miracles in the days of Solomon, as it says: And he gave strength to His king’ (1 Samuel 2:10), didn’t the Queen of Sheba come and praise You? As it says: ‘And the Queen of Sheba heard the rumor of Solomon.’ (1 Kings 10:1) And what did she say? ‘May the Lord your God be blessed who has desired you.’ (10:9) When you took us out of Egypt and gave us the Torah, that is called ‘oz – strength’, as it says: ‘And the Lord gave strength to His people’ (Psalms 29:11) And didn’t Jethro come and cling to you?” That is why it says: ‘To you the nations will come.’” (Shmot Rabbah 27:4)

What inspires people to recognize God? For some of the characters in this midrash, cognizance of some miraculous act served as inspiration. Most moderns, however, are immune to this sort of awareness. What else inspires? This question is also addressed by this midrash. If Jethro and the Queen of Sheba are any indication, the answer is simple. People who lead exemplary lives, living according to God’s wisdom and precepts, who treat others with love and kindness are probably God’s greatest miracles.

About the Author
Mordechai Silverstein is a teacher of Torah who has lived in Jerusalem for over 30 years. He specializes in helping people build personalized Torah study programs.
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