Can the Rebbe Work Miracles?
People say that the Rebbe can work miracles. Is that true? What did the Rebbe himself say about this?
In the fall of 1959, a group of college students with the “Hillel” campus organization came for a group meeting with the Rebbe. At a certain point, the floor was opened up for questions, and one student asked this very question:
“Rebbe, people say that you can work miracles. Is this true?”
The Rebbe responded by asked the students what the word miracle means. And he continue to explain: The world has “nature” and “miracles”. Nature is the way things happen naturally. The world has “rules” and some of them are not so kind. The strong survive and the weak perish. Nature dictates that there are winners and losers, “live-ers” and “die-ers”.
But a basic tenet of Judaism is that this physical world is the last of a series of many spiritual worlds. And it’s like a puppet with strings attached from on top. “Playing with the strings” in the higher worlds has real-life effects in this world.
When someone “plays with the strings” in these higher worlds and changes the course of how things “should have worked out in nature”, that’s called a miracle.
The Rebbe continued: Some people may be better than others at playing with the strings in the higher worlds, but anyone can do a miracle. When you say a chapter of Psalms at a time of distress or do a mitzvah in the merit of someone who needs a blessing, you can make a miracle too and change the course that nature on its own would have taken.
As I read this, I thought of a story that I witnessed 17 years prior, when I was 19 years old. My grandmother, ob”m suffered three heart attacks in a row. She had already been in poor health, struggling with Parkinson’s and significant weight loss among a bunch of other things.
I was in LA for the summer and took the night shift of staying with her at Cedars-Sinai hospital in LA. One of the first nights I was there with her, the doctors and nurses were coming in nonstop. They were pricking her, taking her temperature and blood pressure and just wouldn’t let her sleep. At one point, around 2 AM, a nurse was having trouble locating her frail veins for a blood test, and kept pricking her over and over again. My grandmother could barely talk with everything she was going through, but she cried out, “G-d, please take me. I can’t handle this.”
I knew that she was fighting for her life, and that she was already 84 years old in poor health, but I didn’t want her to die.
I opened a book of Psalms and started reading. Tears started streaming down my cheeks and I kept on reading.
That night eventually ended, and life moved on. My grandmother made it out of the hospital back home. Because of this “miracle”, she lived another five years, and merited to see me get married and hold two of her great-grandchildren. Our third daughter, Masha Fruma, is named after her.
I do believe that the course of nature left alone would have taken her life. But yes, we do have the power to play with the strings on high, and effect our lives materially down here in this world. There is a saying from the Chabad Rebbes, that if we only knew the power of saying Psalms, we would drop everything and recite Psalms all day.
So I guess I could be called an amateur miracle worker who’s not for hire, and the Rebbe was a master miracle work.
What will your next miracle be?