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Jewish Texts

Miracles in the Torah

Question: I have heard there were several constant miracles when Israel was in the wilderness. Examples are that the staves of the ark were longer than the Holy of Holies but when they were placed in the room, they just fit. And also one when the High Priest garment crossed the path of the red heifer, there was a miracle. I was wondering if you could clarify this and list any others you know of.

Answer: Let’s begin by explaining the miracles you mentioned. The Torah describes the measurements of the Holy of Holies as well as the measurements of the ark, and the ark is larger than the room it is housed in. How can this be? The answer lies in the fact that the laws of nature (time and space) only exist in physical surroundings. The Holy of Holies, on the other hand, is a place that is spiritual in nature, and is therefore not restricted by the laws of nature. The limitations of space have no bearing at all.

Regarding the second miracle that you mentioned concerning the garments of the high priest crossing the red heifer, I am not aware of any miracle that took place under such circumstances. Please send me this information if you can find it.

One of the more well known miracles that constantly took place in the wilderness was the falling of Manna (see Exodus 16:4). This “wonder bread” fell from the sky every day except for the Sabbath. The food for the Sabbath was allotted in Friday’s double portion of Manna. Why was this miracle food necessary? The Sages of the Talmud write that, “The Torah (i.e. the giving of the Torah at Sinai) was only given to the generation that ate Manna”. Some of the commentators explain that this spiritual entity called the Torah could only be received by a nation that was separated from the daily concerns of life, most notably the need to work. Hence, they were fed the Manna from heaven during their stint in the wilderness.

Here are some of the other miracles that occurred (For the sake of brevity I will not explain their deeper meanings):

  • Leading the Jewish people through the dessert were the pillar of cloud (seen during the day) and the pillar of fire (seen at night). See Exodus 13:23.

  • Special clouds of glory accompanied the Jews throughout their travelings in the desert. These clouds protected the people from the penetrating desert sun.

  • A water well followed the Jews as they went (this was actually a large rock that bore water).

Although there were many other miracles that occurred to the Jews in the desert these were the miracles that constantly occurred.

Be Well,
Yochai Robkin

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