the also miraculous

When we encounter something miraculous we recognize it because it is a deviation from the way we expect the world to work. There are two aspects to this: The obvious one is the newness of the event which we had never before witnessed. The second aspect is actually more interesting in that it is usually overlooked: that it is a miracle it hasn't happened until now.

If miracles were commonplace, they wouldn't be comforting or exciting at all, they would be incredibly frustrating. We wouldn't know what to expect, anything can and would happen at any moment. Chaos would most certainly ensue. We wouldn't even know the basics, like where we could safely go, or what not to do. Nature allows us to learn from cause and effect, midah k'neged midah. Nature is a great hesed that HaShem bestows upon us. Each day we experience things that allow us to build expectations, so that we plan and do and grow more. Without the certainty of these "laws" of nature, our life we be a harrowing day-to-day existence.

Beyond this surface-level understanding of nature, anywhere we delve we see that the world is actually full of constant miracles. The hesed is that these miracles are small and localized, so we can observe them and be filled with wonder, while still being able to appreciate the nature of the world. In this way we can come to find the balance between HaShem's intense interest in our personal wellbeing, and His need to let us grow and learn to do things for ourselves.

The blessings we say every day reflect these dual realities:

When things turn out exactly as we expected, we need to thank HaShem, these are the blessings we say each morning. (Birchoth HaShachar) And, when things surprise and awe us, we need to thank HaShem that He took a special interest in us, these are the blessings we say when we see or experience something unusual.

The surprising thing is that we would think that the blessings we say upon something from which we derive pleasure (food for example) (Birchoth HaNehenin) would fall into the first category, the everyday blessings. In truth they are meant to fall into the second category, the blessings on the extraordinary. This is because the particular pleasure we find in these things comes from HaShem directly, and this is totally miraculous. These blessings are meant to acknowledge HaShem's direct concern with our wellbeing. Just as the miracles performed in the desert and in Egypt revealed HaShem's nurturing relationship with Bnei Yisrael, so too the life we derive from the food is an equally miraculous miracle that derives from HaShem's desire to nurture each of us.


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