Many events in the Torah were explicit miracles - meaning that G-d's super-natural intervention was mentioned, e.g. Sarah giving birth at 100 or splitting the sea or Mannah.

For many other events, no divine effort is mentioned as if the event was all-natural, e.g. Noah's arc with final dimensions containing ALL existing species.

In the latter cases, where Torah does NOT say it was a miracle, can WE (are we allowed to) attribute to /infer that it's a Divine intervention just because we can't find any logical explanation?

  • 1
    +1 I don't see a problem with this Q. But consider what we say at least 3 times daily in the Amidah - "For the miracles that are with us daily." We can't be lying when we say this, right? If you were able to arise daily, talk, walk, use the rest room without a problem, consider all those miracles. Ever wonder how your brain can multitask and do things in a microsecond? I think that's miraculous. Whenever I see a lightning bolt, I think it's a miracle. The surrounding air heats quickly to an astounding temperature but cools down almost immediately. No need for Mannah to convince me.
    – DanF
    Aug 1 '19 at 21:28
  • On a simpler level, look how many "miracles" Eliyahu and Elisha performed. Daniel being saved from the lions. And more and more... At least expand your question to include all of Tanac"h :-)
    – DanF
    Aug 1 '19 at 21:30
  • @DanF "We can't be lying" is a very vague concept, it can't be a claim. I think we need to define a miracle, in my view, it has to be irreplicable (can't be tested and predicted) and statistically unexplainable. Breathing and thinking can be predicted and explained. If you continue with your approach there's no need in Torah interpretations, because every single behavior was a miracle - special and nonreplicable, you can't then learn from one to another. That's the biggest problem with religious interpretations - they are useless, everything is one-time phenomenon (miracle).
    – Al Berko
    Aug 2 '19 at 7:30
  • I got it. You might want to extract part of this explanation into the body of your question so we can get a better sense of your definition of "miracle". I have one answer which may work for you. Have to find the source.
    – DanF
    Aug 2 '19 at 14:06
  • 1
    @DanF What you described as a miracle is what the ancient Greeks felt. They did not know natural law and so felt it was the Will of the gods that only kept them stable. And the light bulb is a miracle until you discover its process. Similarly, G-d uses natural law and manipulates or exaggerate it to benefit us, but G-d forbid!, He never bends natural law for any sake. It follows that the sun did not really stand still for Joshua. If it did, everyone would die. Spinoza mocked the Bible, but had he knew the correct interpretations, he may have felt differently.
    – Turk Hill
    Aug 2 '19 at 15:41

In his commentary to Genesis 46:15 Ralbag writes:

והנה מה שאמרו חז"ל זו יוכבד שנולדה בין החומות הוא על דרך דרש וזה שאם היה זה כן היה ראוי שיתפרסם התורה זה המופת שהיה בלדתה משה ואהרן כמו שפרסמה זה בלדת שרה את יצחק כי היה זה נפלא יותר מאד כי היא היתה בת מאה ושלושים שנה כשילדה משה ובת מאה ועשרים ושבע שנה כשילדה אהרן והוא מדרך התורה שתפרסם ענין המופתים כי האמונה בהם היא פינה גדולה מפינות התורה

And behold, that which the Sages of blessed memory said that Jochebed was born between the walls, was by way of derash. And that is because if this [really] was so, it would have been proper for the Torah to publicize this miracle that was in her giving birth to Moses and Aaron, just like it publicized Sarah's giving birth to Isaac. For this was much more wondrous because she would have been 130 when Moses was born and 127 when Aaron was born. And it is the way of the Torah to publicize the concept of miracles, because belief in them is one of the great cornerstones of the Torah.

In his commentary to Exodus 2:1 he says the same thing again and adds that according to his own calculations of the exile and the Exodus, Jochebed would have been 145 when giving birth to Moses. The point that he seems to be making here is that the whole purpose of miracles is to spread the knowledge of God's power, so it would make little sense for the Torah to not mention that a miracle occurred if in fact a miracle had occurred.

In his commentary to Joshua 10:12 Ralbag rejects the view that the sun stood still for Moses for the same reason – had such a miracle occurred the Torah would surely have mentioned it. He reiterates this in Wars of the Lord 6:2:7:

As this was a difficulty for some of our Rabbis because they believed that this miracle did indeed consist in a change of the order of the movements of the heavenly bodies, they maintained that something like this miracle had actually been performed by Moses. But if this were true, the Torah would obviously not fail to mention it, since it is a pivotal point upon which the whole belief in miracles rest.

(Feldman translation Vol. III p. 493)

Similarly, in his commentary to Genesis 18:6 he rejects the view that Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt, and in his commentary to Numbers 22:21 he rejects the view that Bilam's donkey spoke, because in both of those cases there would have been no purpose for those miracles.

It would seem, then, according to Ralbag, that we generally cannot posit miracles not mentioned in the Torah because a miracle that's not recorded in the Torah almost defeats the whole purpose of the miracle.

  • @DoubleAA Good point. He also deals with that example in Milchamos Hashem 6:2:7. I'll edit that into my answer.
    – Alex
    Aug 2 '19 at 2:18
  • Thank you. I'd like to understand that part " He rejects... because there would have been no purpose for those miracles." Things that ARE mentioned as miraculous (G-d did personally) why should we question them? G-d opens donkey's mouth - I don't see a problem here, it's His right. BUT, I tried to focus on our attributing miracles to things that ARE mentioned but not attributed to G-d's particular intervention. (tbc...)
    – Al Berko
    Aug 2 '19 at 7:12
  • ... So, e.g. Yocheved's age is purely speculated by the sages, based on the assumption that she was born on entering Egypt, which is not mentioned at all, so it is not in my Parsha. The well is definitely a miracle, but the process of watering 4M people is not attributed to G-d, but as it was all-natural. So my question is, in this specific case, for instance, can we claim that watering was also a miracle or we can't claim that since Torah didn't say that.
    – Al Berko
    Aug 2 '19 at 7:22
  • THere's a huge Nafkah Mina for this question, if we can't claim a miracle where it wasn't we have to find a plausible natural explanation, but if we can, we can attribute just about anything to miracles (as many practiced for centuries)..
    – Al Berko
    Aug 2 '19 at 7:23

Pirkei Avot has two lists of miracles:

Avot 5:4

עֲשָׂרָה נִסִּים נַעֲשׂוּ לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ בְמִצְרַיִם וַעֲשָׂרָה עַל הַיָּם. עֶשֶׂר מַכּוֹת הֵבִיא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עַל הַמִּצְרִיִּים בְּמִצְרַיִם וְעֶשֶׂר עַל הַיָּם.

Ten miracles were wrought for our ancestors in Egypt, and ten at the sea. Ten plagues did the Holy one, blessed be He, bring upon the Egyptians in Egypt and ten at the sea.

I believe that Avot Derav Nattan expands on exactly what these miracles were. I will see if I can locate that, and if so, edit it into the question. Offhand, I don't recall if all 10 are mentioned in the Torah, but I don't think so.

The next Mishnah, Avot 5:5, list 10 miracles, none of which are found in the Torah or anywhere else in Tanac"h:

עֲשָׂרָה נִסִּים נַעֲשׂוּ לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ בְּבֵית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ. לֹא הִפִּילָה אִשָּׁה מֵרֵיחַ בְּשַׂר הַקֹּדֶשׁ, וְלֹא הִסְרִיחַ בְּשַׂר הַקֹּדֶשׁ מֵעוֹלָם, וְלֹא נִרְאָה זְבוּב בְּבֵית הַמִּטְבָּחַיִם, וְלֹא אֵרַע קֶרִי לְכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים, וְלֹא כִבּוּ גְשָׁמִים אֵשׁ שֶׁל עֲצֵי הַמַּעֲרָכָה, וְלֹא נָצְחָה הָרוּחַ אֶת עַמּוּד הֶעָשָׁן, וְלֹא נִמְצָא פְסוּל בָּעֹמֶר וּבִשְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם וּבְלֶחֶם הַפָּנִים, עוֹמְדִים צְפוּפִים וּמִשְׁתַּחֲוִים רְוָחִים, וְלֹא הִזִּיק נָחָשׁ וְעַקְרָב בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם מֵעוֹלָם, וְלֹא אָמַר אָדָם לַחֲבֵרוֹ צַר לִי הַמָּקוֹם שֶׁאָלִין בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם

Ten wonders were wrought for our ancestors in the Temple: [1] no woman miscarried from the odor of the sacred flesh; [2] the sacred flesh never became putrid; [3] no fly was ever seen in the slaughterhouse; [4] no emission occurred to the high priest on the Day of Atonement; [5] the rains did not extinguish the fire of the woodpile; [6] the wind did not prevail against the column of smoke; [7] no defect was found in the omer, or in the two loaves, or in the showbread; [8] the people stood pressed together, yet bowed down and had room enough; [9] never did a serpent or a scorpion harm anyone in Jerusalem; [10] and no man said to his fellow: the place is too congested for me to lodge overnight in Jerusalem.

Note: the above English translation is from Sefaria. It uses the word "wonders" for נִסִּים . The more common translation is "miracles".

  • Thank you and I'm sorry for probably not clarifying myself enough. I intended to ask (see my comments to Alex) about events described in the Torah but not mentioned as miracles. I do accept the idea of G-d's supernatural interference, I ask whether those that Torah does not ascribe to G-d specifically can be attributed by our interpretations.
    – Al Berko
    Aug 2 '19 at 15:30
  • Re last sentence - this answer is proof. Sounds like you've added a complex vagunes o your question, here, unnecessarily. Why not just ask, simply, can we make our interpretation of what is a miracle? Or something similar.
    – DanF
    Aug 2 '19 at 15:53

Rambam seems to address this explicitly in "The Essay on Resurrection":

My endeavor, and that of the select keen-minded people, differs from the quest of the masses. They like nothing better and, in their silliness, enjoy nothing more, than to set the Law and reason at opposite ends, and to move everything far from the explicable. So they claim it to be a miracle, and they shrink from identifying it as a natural incident, whether it is something that happened in the past and is recorded, or something predicted to happen in the future. But I try to reconcile the Law and reason, and wherever possible consider all things as of the natural order. Only when something is explicitly identified as a miracle, and reinterpretation of it cannot be accommodated, only then I feel forced to grant that this is a miracle.

(Halkin translation p. 223, my emphasis)

  • I think the Rambam did not think resurrection happens in the physical world but the spiritual world.
    – Turk Hill
    Aug 2 '19 at 23:04
  • Either way resurrection still occurs and is a fundamental principle (dogma) of Judaism in which if one rejects they lose their share in the WtC. However, many commentators - and I agree with them - think it is spiritual (heaven/Gan Eden).
    – Turk Hill
    Aug 2 '19 at 23:07
  • Before the Rambam, there was no dogma in Judaism.
    – Turk Hill
    Aug 2 '19 at 23:08

Here is one:

בבא בתרא צט א

דאמר ר' לוי ואיתימא רבי יוחנן דבר זה מסורת בידינו מאבותינו מקום ארון וכרובים אינו מן המדה

R' levi or/and R' Yochana said "we have a tradition from our ancestors, the room of the holy ark and the angel figures on it is not measurable [does not obey the rules of nature. There is not enough room for them in the chamber, but they still fit inside by miracle]"

So simple reading of the verses cause conflict that we can't solve on natural means, and our sages called it a miracle. There are some other, less explicit examples to it.

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