By living just beyond his
capabilities, the leader does not depend on a miracle. Rather, he cultivates his deepest
reservoirs of potential, transmuting the "miraculous" into nature itself. In
Chassidut this is referred to as living on a plane "one handsbreath above
ground." The Mittler Rebbe taught that when confronted with an obstacle, one must
simply jump over it, and in doing so, nullify its existence. Whereas every obstacle in our
finite world has its limit, the soul always has the possibility of drawing from its
infinite, eternal source.
Perhaps the best Biblical
example of this phenomenon is Mordechai, whose stubborn refusal to bow to Haman caused the
entire Jewish people to be marked for extinction. The story of Purim portrays how both
Mordechai and Esther, through determined effort, overcame all obstacles and turned the
tables so completely that Haman was hung on the very gallows that he had constructed for
Mordechai. G-d's Name is not mentioned in the entire book of Esther. Miracles in the
historical process often manifest in an apparently natural manner.
Another important example of a
leader who managed to transcend all earthly obstacles was David. G-d graced him with a
supernatural quality that allowed him to rise above all obstacles and defeat his foes. It
was David who established Jerusalem as Israel's eternal capital. He paved the way for
building the Temple, the place where spiritual and material, infinite and temporal unite.
It is recorded that ten continual miracles occurred in the Temple. Inasmuch as the
miracles were ongoing, they appeared to be part of the natural order.
The soul desires to "run
and return," to transcend the limits of the natural order and then strive to perfect
reality. This is the soul's attempt to manifest the infinite light of G-d within the
finite reality of our world. One does not "run" and "fly" to feel good
or indulge the senses--one "flies" in order to glimpse a vision of perfection
which then must be returned and integrated into one's life until it becomes his true
nature. The greater the obstacle, the higher one has to leap. Living above or beyond our
apparent dualistic world of binary logic allows us to unify opposites, thus creating
oneness and peace. At this elevated level one becomes aware that the essence of the
spiritual longs to merge with the physical. When this union occurs the result is, if even
for a moment, the experience of peace, completeness and perfection. These momentary
encounters subsequently motivate the soul to expand these experiences to encompass more
and more of one's reality.
A beautiful anecdote of the Ba'al
Shem Tov illustrates the intrinsic connection between spiritual and physical. On Shmini
Azeret, the concluding day of the High Holiday season, we include in the Silent
Prayer our request for rain: "Who makes the wind blow and the rain fall." The
word for "wind," ruach, can also be translated as
"spirituality." The word for "rain," geshem, can also be
translated as "materiality." The Ba'al Shem Tov interpreted the above
phrase as follows: After the amorphous spirituality of all the prayers and rituals of the
recent holidays, it is now time to "blow away" the more "sensual"
pleasure of the purely spiritual and bring down the actualization of our prayers into the
practical life-giving "rains" of daily reality. As the Ba'al Shem Tov
would say "who makes the wind blow" he would make a sweeping back hand motion,
as if sending something away. When saying "and the rain to fall" he would reach
his hand high above his head as if grasping something and then slowly drawing it down to
earth. An authentic leader is not interested in just the spiritual advancement of his
followers, but is intimately concerned with their daily physical needs and life
predicaments as well. This concern stems from his understanding that material reality is
intrinsically holy and inseparable from a healthy spiritual outlook on life.
The Jewish tradition, from its
inception to the present, is brimming with examples of men and women who could prophesy
about the future and perform miracles. As a general rule though, these manifestations of
the "supernatural" were not undertaken for their own sake or for the thrill of
the altered consciousness needed for these acts. Rather they resulted from a direct
command and experience of G-d, or as a solution for an extreme situation. For the prophet
and miracle worker, the individual prophecy or miracle was not intended to be a one time
aberration, but a glimpse into a higher dimension of a future, perfected reality that
could be revealed permanently to be experienced by everyone. For this reason Moses
exclaimed: "Would it be that all the people were prophets."
In the time of the first and
second Temples, there were "schools of prophesy," where people were taught the
Jewish tradition of expanded Divine consciousness. These teachings prepared the individual
to experience life in a holistic, unified manner, orienting the soul to seek its own
perfection in G-d's oneness. The Talmud states that though only forty-eight men and seven
women prophets are specifically mentioned in the Bible due to the eternal nature of their
message, there were in fact over a million prophets. In the Messianic era, that which we
now consider miraculous will in deed be natural. At that time, the Jewish People will
reach such an elevated consciousness of wholeness and completion that the wish of Moses
will be fulfilled.