Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Rav Kook on Miracles and Earning a Living

Gemara: It once happened that a man’s wife died and left a baby who needed to be nursed. He did not have the funds to hire a nursemaid. A miracle happened, and he grew breasts and nursed his son. Rav Yehuda said: come and see how difficult it is to earn a living. For this person had a miracle done for him (by growing breasts), instead of receiving money in a miraculous way.

Ein Ayah: Hashem allows miracles to take place regarding specific areas that do not encompass all of life, for the way Hashem leads the world is through the law of nature – and this is of the highest order. We need to clarify whether something is more specific in its orientation, whereby miracles can be applied, or whether it is more general in its orientation and not appropriate for miracles to be applied. Specific issues that relate to a segmented part of reality can be adjusted at times with miracles.

The way Hashem created the world is with a need and drive for people to earn a living. This encompasses and impacts all of our lives and is built on a natural system that branches out and touches many facets of life. If this natural order would be nullified, life itself would be altered dramatically, and this would even impact on the vision and goal itself.

Hence earning a living has to be, by definition, difficult and intricate, involving many facets and aspects. The creation of wealth without these facets would cause a ripple effect on thousands of matters in the natural order. This would by necessity stray from the narrow road where a miracle can occur regarding a specific event or person. Therefore it would be more correct that Hashem do a miracle (such as a man growing breasts) and change his specific life rather than alter the ways of earning a living, which effects many lofty orders that are already correct in Hashem’s design.

Besides the fact that earning a living is intricately connected to many general facets of life, additionally we need to understand that the concept of working for a living has moral and ethical underpinnings.

The fact that one has to engage with all of his faculties, which are unique to themselves, in order to make a living highlights the connection to the goal and vision of justice and morality that Hashem tasked humanity with. Therefore, it is very unlikely that Hashem would use miracles to mingle in things that are fundamentally connected to free choice and morality. This, in essence, is why it would be easier for a miracle to occur and change the human anatomy rather than alter things that connect to the very purpose of creation.

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