Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tzav 74 - Internalizing Miracles

The portion-parasha of Tzav continues to deal with the sacrifices. It mentions that   3 stacks of wood used for the 3 fires  that  were placed on the Exterior  Alter. The Alter   stood  in the courtyard of the sanctuary-mishkan. 1.Fire used for the Burning of the sacrifices 2. Fire used to burn the incense on the Golden Alter 3. A fire used to fulfill the command – Leviticus 6:5 ' a constant fire shall burn upon  the   alter, it shall never go out' – והאש על המזבח תוקד בו לא תכבה -ויקרא ו: ה.

In truth, the addition of wood was unnecessary to maintain the fire, for a heavenly fire constantly rested on the Alter. The fire had   2 purposes. It was the vehicle through which God blessed man with fire -one of the elements with which man was created.  Blessed with fire and energy, man could pursue his goals of perfecting himself, his society and serving God.

The second purpose of the' man –made   fire'  says the Seifer Ha'chinuch Mitzvah 132 was to ' hide the miracle', so people would have to ' discover and reveal' the miracle = the heavenly fire which came down from heaven. Hiding the miracle so it looks very natural and part of nature is God's way of intervening in the world. The miracle at the Red Sea was preceded with God moving the sea with the east wind all the night – Exodus 14:21 in order to hide the miracle.

The Ramban on Exodus 13:16 explains   that   the  great and public miracles help us be aware of God's presence as the creator and the one who supervises and runs the world. From this we learn that all the 'hidden ' miracles are not just rules of nature, science, natural occurrences or events that affect us as people but God's intervention in the world.

Hiding the miracle provides man with the ' free choice ' to choose - do I see God's hand behind nature or do I mistakenly conclude that it is purely a natural event. Hiding the miracle also means that man needs to put effort in discovering and revealing God in nature. The man made fire gave the appearance that the fire was essentially man's doing and not a fire that came from heaven. In fact what people saw was only a ' virtual reality'.

If the  ' fire' was an open miracle, people would see the ' fact' of the miracle; it would be something they know with absolute certainty. The problem is that this knowledge is something we know from the outside. Meaning is being imposed on the observer.  Faith is something we work on and internalize – it comes from the inside. When we have the freedom of choice, the process of internalization can take place. We are the ones who discover and reveal.  With open miracles no internalization takes place and in time the miracle becomes just a phenomenon of nature.

Supporting kids' autonomy is important for 'Internalization' something    crucial  for  academic and socio-moral learning. Sometimes the value, rule, knowledge or belief is inside the kid but unprocessed. The kid has merely ' swallowed ' the rule or belief and acts in a way that they feel controlled or pressurized from the inside. Deci and Ryan have called this process – introjection. The alternative is ' Integration 'and  involves helping the child make the value her own, understand its rationale, and experience a sense of self –determination in acting in accordance with it. The objective here is a deeper experience of choice , one understood not just as a selection of option A over option B , but as something ' anchored in the sense of a fuller , more integrated functioning.'

As parents and teachers we have to help kids, so they are the ones who discover and reveal God behind nature .They should learn to see events and occurrences that affect them, not merely as natural incidents and occurrences, but as messages  from God expressing his divine providence and supervision. Hidden miracles give us the choice to internalize our faith in God and see HIS guidance in our everyday life.

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