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"Hear O' Israel, HaShem is our G-d, HaShem alone"

Signs, Wonders, and Prophets

By Thomas G. Shafer, M.D.

I converted to Judaism after 30+ years a Christian, first a Fundamentalist Nazarene then an Episcopalian. At the time of my conversion, I resigned as a Licensed Lay Minister in the Episcopal Church and had taught young adult and High School Sunday School for more than a decade. I know whereof I speak.

One of my major issues was that of "Signs and wonders." I'm not saying that miracles don't exist. I have seen many marvelous things happen in response to prayer in my near 30 year medical career. But there is a basic principle of Christian belief that such "Signs and wonders" are a cornerstone of Christian faith because Jesus proved he was who he claimed to be by performing miracles.

What do Jews believe about this. Do we believe (as some Christian groups do) that the "Age of Miracles" is past? Certainly not. The G-d of Sinai is still amongst us and has not changed. I personally have witnessed such things as large skin tumors melting away overnight and heard from reliable sources of others, like twin children being born completely normal after chromosome tests revealed Down's Syndrome. All in response to earnest prayer from believing Jews.

So, am I asking someone who may be thinking of leaving Judaism for Christianity to stay because we have "Jewish miracles"? Am I playing, "My G-d is bigger than your G-d"? Not at all.

I've [included] a couple of quotes from internet Torah study lists which do a much better job of explaining the true nature and significance of miracles than I could.

The first is by Rabbi Yehuda Black, United Hebrew Congregation, Newcastle-upon-Tyne:

[Quoted from the Daf Hashvuah internet Torah study list, 8/24/97 edition. Copyright United Synagogue, London and distributed by Brijnet.]

And now this discussion of the present day significance of the "Signs and Wonders" question by Rabbi Dovid Green:

[from the 8/24/97 mailing of Dvar Torah, copyright Project Genesis.]

So what is the true Jewish attitude regarding prophets who "prove" themselves by miracles? This can be summed up in one word from the Passover Seder service, "Dayeinu", meaning, "It would have been enough." In this service we recite all the miracles we witnessed in the Exodus from Egypt and, after each one we say that would have been enough.

In other words, we aren't "Miracle junkies". If something miraculous happens, we thank G-d and then return to studying the Torah and living our Jewish life. If someone tells us this or that miracle was sent to take us from our Jewish life, we ignore them. No true prophet would do that.

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