Missiles & Miracles
In August of 1990, Saddam Hussein, brandishing
threats to “burn” the Holy Land with his chemical warheads,
marched the armies of Iraq into Kuwait. As the world reacted in
alarm and fear, the Rebbe spread a message of confidence and trust.
The Rebbe quoted a centuries-old Midrashic passage
which foretold with uncanny precision unfolding events. “In
the year in which the Moshiach will be revealed,” the Midrash
reads, “all the kings of the nations of the world will provoke
one another... The king of Persia will provoke the king of Arabia,
and the king of Arabia will go to Aram in order to seek counsel
from them... And all the nations will be thrown into turmoil and
will be terrified. Also Israel, too, will be thrown into turmoil
and terror, and will cry: `Where shall we go? What shall we do?'
And G-d will say to them: `My children, do not fear! All that I
have done, I have done only for your sake. Why are you afraid? Do
not fear, for the time of your redemption has come...’”
In response to queries as to whether to leave Israel
for safer havens, the Rebbe’s reply was clear and unequivocal:
the Land of Israel is the safest place in the world. When asked
about the gas-masks being distributed in Israel anticipation of
chemical warfare, the Rebbe opined that they would prove totally
unnecessary. He also stated that the war would be over by Purim.
The failed attempts of the SCUD missiles to destroy
Jewish life was nothing less than miraculous. As the missiles—each
loaded with 600 pounds of explosives—rained down upon Tel
Aviv, the terrified citizens, huddled in shelters and sealed rooms,
listened in disbelief to the newsflashes. Buildings crowded with
people were hit, yet virtually not a soul was harmed. “G-d
threw down mattresses to cushion our falls, pushed walls out of
our way,” declared one survivor.
On the day of Purim, traditionally a day of merry-making
for the Jewish people, the war was officially declared over.
“Adequate attention is not being paid to
these miracles,” said the Rebbe in public addresses in the
weeks to follow. “The popular media throughout the world took
note of the miraculous occurrences, yet there is a tendency to offer
rationales and explanations. We must publicize that these are miracles
that were performed by G-d!”
The Rebbe also stated that the events of the Gulf
War are part of the miraculous prelude to the messianic era, a time
when the divine essence of creation will be manifest and miracles
will be commonplace.
Traditionally, Chassidic masters were known to
have worked miracles. The founder of Chassidism, Rabbi Israel Baal
Shem Tov, was renowned as a miracle worker. Within the Chabad stream
of Chassidism, however, the greater emphasis was placed on the leader’s
teachings; yet stories of miraculous deeds also abounded.
Many people came to the Rebbe for advice. Many
sent him requests that he pray for them. And many reported miraculous
results of his intercession on their behalf.
A group of high-school students once came to see
the Rebbe. “I have heard it said,” one of them asked,
“that the Rebbe has the power to work miracles. Is this true?
Can you perform supernatural feats?"
The Rebbe replied: "The ability to work miracles
is not confined to a select group of individuals, but is within
reach of each and every one of us. We each possess a soul that is
a spark of G-dliness. So we each have the power to transcend the
limitations imposed upon us by our physical natures, no matter how
formidable they may seem.”
"To demonstrate this to you," said the
Rebbe, "I will now perform a miracle."
Smiling at the startled young faces around his
desk, the Rebbe continued: "Each and every individual in this
room should resolve to improve himself in one specific area. You
will each choose an improvement that you recognize as necessary
but until now have perceived as being beyond your power to achieve.
Nevertheless, you will succeed, proving to yourselves that the soul
indeed has the power to overcome the natural 'reality.'”