Parshas Va'eira
Exodus 6:2 - 9:35

Miracles As Evidence ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in loving memory to Mr. Mordechai and Mrs. Augusta Litman, may they rest in peace.

Over many, many years of many, many discussions with Christians / Messanics and believers from other religions one theme continues to crop up. That theme is the power of miracles. A vein of that theme is the overwhelming acceptance by millions that miracles are evidence / proof of a particular religious belief or position.

Before we enter this discussion and the discussions of the next several weeks, please remember that Judaism is based upon what G-d has commanded in the Torah. Judaism is NOT a miracle driven belief system. That is not to say that in Judaism we do not believe in miracles. Jews believe in miracles. Recorded within the pages of Torah are many miracles. The issue is not if Jews believe in miracles. The issue is not if the Torah teaches the possibility of miracles. THE QUESTION IS, ARE MIRACLES ACCEPTED AS PROOF?... ARE MIRACLES ACCEPTED AS EVIDENCE? The answer is NO with one exception. {Numbers 14:22} Here G-d uses His power of deliverance as “a sign,” a miracle and the many “signs” / miracles He performed leading up to His deliverance of B'nei Yisroel from Mitzriam as evidence, as proof. This is the ONLY place in Torah where G-d proclaims His miracles are proof. And here there is no challenge to believe in another as the result of His miracle / miracles. The point is when G-d commands something, the miracles must be in agreement with what He has commanded.

In Parshas Re’ey we are reminded that G-d uses omens and miracles to test us, His people. We are instructed that G-d uses even a prophet or a dreamer of dreams to test His people. {Deuteronomy 13:3-4} We are commanded, “After Hashem [our] G-d are [we] to go, [we are commanded] fear Him [that is, Hashem our G-d] and guard [keep] His commandments, heed His voice, serve Him and cleave to Him.” Deuteronomy 13:5 Having said this, we clearly understand that a Jew is not to accept miracles, omens or supernatural occurrences as evidence.

Dear ones, be careful of those who attempt to persuade you with any claim/s to miracles... prophecy... dreams... omens... or supernatural events or occurrences. THEY ARE NOTHING in comparison or in view of what G-d has commanded in the Torah. Let me demonstrate.

Many times in the New Testament we read of miracles. The New Testament position does NOT AGREE with what G-d has commanded in the Torah.

The New Testament states:
“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: This man came to Jesus by night, and said to him, Rabbi, we know that you art a teacher come from G-d: for no man can do the miracles that you do, except G-d be with him.” John 3:2

Dear ones, an educated Jew... a pharisee... a ruler of the Jews would NEVER make such a statement. Pharisees were one of three Jewish sects during the time John is supposed to have written these words. Pharisees were very strict in observing the Oral Torah [rabbinic law] which many Christians / Messanics attack and condemn. Pharisees were very skillful and careful in Torah observance. That being the situation a man whom the New Testament claims to be of the stature of Nicodemus would not make such a statement to Jesus like, “ man can do the miracles that you do, except G-d be with him....”

And if by some chance he did make such a statement, G-d forbid, we as Jews are instructed in the Torah not to falter with what G-d has commanded. “...If the omen or miracle happens that he told you about [and] if he says [as a result of the miracle] ‘Let us go after another god [other than Hashem, a god] that you do not know and let us serve him / them.’ DO NOT LISTEN to the words of that prophet or to [the words] of that dreamer of dreams. [Why?] Because Hashem, your G-d is testing you to prove whether you love Hashem, your G-d in all your heart and in all your being.” Deuteronomy 13:3,4

So, dear reader, if this did happen we as Jews are NOT to fall in line with the pseudo words of Nicodemus. We are being tested and we must understand that this is nothing more than a test even if the miracle or omen actually happens!

The Torah is saying DO NOT accept what someone says even when it is a prophet if it is based upon omens or miracles. According to the New Testament many followed Jesus based upon his acclaimed miracles.

“After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles that he did on those that were diseased.” John 6:1,2

Now, dear reader, Jews are among the most meticulous at keeping and preserving historical records yet our records of Jesus are only a few lines. In our Torah, Moshe recorded at G-d’s command the good and evil of many men. After the writings of our Torah we have recorded the historical deeds of men / women that we agree with and disagree with, yet basically nothing on Jesus. Some would say our historical records about Jesus were destroyed. That is not accurate. Many historical records were also preserved yet none within Judaism about Jesus.

Holy readers, the Torah was given at Har Sinai to Moshe and over three million Jews within forty days. The Oral Torah was also given at the same time. The Oral Torah was passed from father to son for hundreds of years. A process similar to our Oral Torah was followed in recording what is now the New Testament. Yet the New Testament unlike the Torah does not originate from one place in time... from one event witnessed by millions. What is the point?

Dear ones, Christians / Messanics criticize our Oral Torah and the process by which it was received and recorded. Yet they on the other hand claim divine authority over a careless, less sophisticated process that eventually resulted in the New Testament. They claim the New Testament is based upon our Torah which IS NOT TRUE! How Christians / Messanics observe and act towards omens and miracles in the New Testament is not based upon how G-d commands Jews to observe and act towards omens and miracles in the Torah.

Later the New Testament records a supposed division.
As a result of Jesus creating on the Shabbos “..some of the Pharisees said, This man is not of G-d, [which is correct] because he does not keep the sabbath [sic] day. Others [supposedly] said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them...” John 9:6

Dear ones, this is the very point. We are commanded to follow “After Hashem [our] G-d are [we] to go, [we are commanded] fear Him and guard [keep] His commandments, heed His voice, serve Him and cleave to Him.” When omens or miracles conflict with what Hashem has commanded we are to disregard the omens and the miracles. Christians / Messanics cannot understand this. They cannot understand why Jews do not believe in Jesus just based upon miracles. Even though the Torah explains why we do not accept omens and miracles as evidence they still cannot understand or refuse to understand or disagree. This is a New Testament theme.

“Even though [Jesus] had done so many miracles before them, yet they did not believe on him...” John 12:37

As a result the Christians / Messanics make a false claimed. They claim that this is the prophetic fulfillment of Isaiah 53:1 and Isaiah 6:10. Here again is an example in the New Testament where we read of miracles. The New Testament position does NOT AGREE with what G-d has commanded in the Torah. This is another example where the New Testament is not based upon our Torah. Isaiah 53 is about B'nei Yisroel. The prophecy is about us, the Jewish People. Isaiah frequently refers to B'nei Yisroel as “the servant of the L-rd” as in Isaiah 41:8,9; 44:1,2,21; 45:4; 48:20; 49:3, etc. The assertion that it refers to Jesus cannot be truthfully made.

That is a study all to its own. However as a brief point, a few simple examples:
Where did Jesus grow up? The New Testament provides birth, Bar Mitzvah and the beginning of his anti Torah message at the age of 30. Claims are meaningless if they cannot be substantiated. This claim cannot be established.

Every picture I have seen depicting Jesus is far from Isaiah’s expression “he had no form nor comeliness; and [when we saw him], there [was] no beauty that we should desire him...” The pictures and the Christian / Messianic portrayal of Jesus fail to support Isaiah’s description.

There are dozens of assumptions that must be forced upon the reader and there are many more inaccuracies that one must ascribe to if one is to believe Isaiah 53 refers to Jesus.

So Christians / Messanics attempt to make their point by misstating what Isaiah said. They are saying that their opinion on Isaiah is that Jews cannot believe in Jesus because our hearts are hardened... because we cannot see with our eyes... because we cannot understand with our hearts... Dear ones, they are saying this to us who can read and understand Hebrew. They are saying this to us even though they for the most part cannot read or understand this passage in its original language. What they are generally saying is based upon others’ commentary and not their own. They are dependent upon someone else’s interpretation instead of their own. Most cannot draw their own conclusion. They are forced to rely on another's. Holy ones, this is not what Judaism is about. This point is a serious issue. For hundreds and hundreds of years before, during and after the Dark Ages Christians / Messianics could not even read. On the other hand, during the same time Jews of every class and status were among the most educated. Some of our greatest scholars lived and wrote during this time. Even today among Christians / Messanics there are numerous congregation leaders who have little education. Some spread their beliefs about this and other passages without being able to read or understand their own language properly.

Last week I stated in the Spiritualist article entitled “The Tester” written for, “Understanding this Spiritualist / Judaic concept carries the highest requirements of integrity, honesty and truthfulness among religious leaders and teachers. We must be so careful not to misstate or misdirect our students, our colleagues, et al. G-d exacts great penalty for knowingly misrepresenting {lying about} what G-d has said, as the serpent did.”

Again, we return to the comments about miracles by such a man, Peter. Peter according to the New Testament was a fisherman. He was not a scholar. He did not study under an acclaimed scholar. He did not sit among the educated and fails to meet the basic requirements as recorded in Psalms 1. It was this man that said,
“Men of Israel, hear these words. Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved by G-d among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which G-d did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know...” Acts 2:22 Thousands have jumped on this bandwagon about miracles just because of this comment. This unresearched... unproven... comment by an ignorant, uneducated man. Again when omens or miracles conflict with what Hashem has commanded we are to disregard the omens and the miracles according to Deuteronomy 13:3-5. We are commanded, “After Hashem [our] G-d are [we] to go, [we are commanded] fear Him [that is, Hashem our G-d] and guard [keep] His commandments, heed His voice, serve Him and cleave to Him.” Deuteronomy 13:5

Chassidim, as you can see Christians / Messianics place great emphasis upon the evidence of miracles. This is a fundamental difference between Judaism and Christians / Messanics. They want us to believe because of miracles. The Torah instructs us not to believe or follow them because of miracles.

We could go on and on in this one area regarding miracles. There are dozens of references in the New Testament regarding miracles. In Torah there are only four. Three we have mentioned, the fourth is in this week’s parsha, Parshas Vaeira, when Pharaoh requests that Moshe show him a miracle. What is the point?

Pharaoh requests a miracle. Moshe and Aharon perform a miracle. The religious men of Mitzriam, the wise men, magicians and sorcerers also perform miracles. What is the result? Pharaoh does not believe Moshe’s message from Hashem. The Torah states that Pharaoh's heart is unmoved. This pagan’s heart is unmoved by miracles but the Jewish heart is supposed to leap at a miracle performed by Jesus, Peter, Paul or some other New Testament leader. Because of a miracle Jews are expected to convert to Christianity. Because of a miracle Jews are expected to deny certain portions of the Torah which do not agree with the New Testament teachings. NOT SO!!

What is the point? On a second occasion Moshe and Aharon perform another miracle as commanded by G-d. The religious leaders of Mitzriam do likewise. {Exodus 7:20-22} Yet even though that is the situation we do not read of Moshe or Aharon complaining to Hashem that the religious leaders could also perform a miracle. Why? On a third occasion Moshe and Aharon perform another miracle as commanded by G-d. The religious leaders of Mitzriam do likewise. {Exodus 8:1-5} So during the first three miracles the religious leaders of Mitzriam also perform. However they eventually cannot replicate the miracles performed by Moshe and Aharon at the command of Hashem.

This tells us several things. Pharaoh, the religious leaders and the people of Mitzriam were not moved by miracles, at least not at first. The religious leaders eventually realized that their ability to perform miracles was superseded by G-d’s power to perform miracles. {Exodus 8:15} Then through a miracle Hashem made a distinction between His people {B'nei Yisroel} and Pharaoh's people {the people of Mitzriam} on several occasions. Eventually the servants of Pharaoh came to their senses. They realized that these miracles were the result of the G-d of B'nei Yisroel. {Exodus 10:7} Finally all Mitzriam came to the conclusion that these miracles were the result of the G-d of B'nei Yisroel. {Exodus 12:30-33}

Now because of Hashem’s great deliverance of over three million people from Mitzriam through miracle after miracle, one may be mislead into incorrect thinking regarding miracles and the nature of how miracles happen. So we should point out that there are two classes of miracles. The first class of miracles supports every letter, word and sentence of Torah. The second class of miracles is designed to test us. The miracles in the second class do not support every letter, word and sentence of Torah. So the next time a Christian / Messianic attempts to persuade you with miracles hand them a copy of this article and encourage them to study it. Remember our only allegiance is to miracles that support every letter, word and sentence of Torah not to dreamers, prophets or religious leaders who teach that our Torah has been replaced with the New Testament or some other doctrine.

Wishing you the best!

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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