Nissim Versus Teva by Dani Yaros


When Yaakov Avinu travels to Mitzrayim see his son Yosef, the Pasuk states that there were seventy people who went with him to Mitzrayim. “Kol HaNefesh LeVeit Yaakov HaBa’ah Mitzrayma Shivim” “All the individuals in the house of Yaakov who came to Mitzrayim were seventy” (46:27). Chazal note that if one counts the people specifically named by the Torah as going down with Yaakov to Mitzrayim, one does not find that seventy people descended to Mitzrayim, but rather sixty-nine. To resolve this discrepancy, Chazal explain that Yocheved, Moshe’s mother, was born right in between the borders of Canaan and Mitzrayim.

The Rosh, based on a Gemarah in Masechet Pesachim, explains that there were only sixty-nine people who descended to Mitzrayim, but the Torah approximates the number to seventy. While similar approximations exist in other counting scenarios, such as by the census of Klal Yisrael in Sefer BeMidbar, this understanding is not as compelling because of the small number of people in this count.

However, an interesting point begs itself to be presented within Chazal’s answer. Klal Yisrael was in Mitzrayim for 210 years, and upon leaving Mitzrayim, Moshe Rabbeinu was 80 years old. Thus, Yocheved, upon giving birth to Moshe, was 130 years old. The Ramban (46:15) asks why the Torah makes no mention of this incredible miracle of a woman giving birth at such an old age. He points out that this omission is in stark contrast to the emphasis placed on the story of Sarah giving birth at age 90. Perhaps the answer to this question can be found in a Ramban at the end of Parashat Bo. The Ramban says that, in fact, there is no significant difference between Nissim (miracles) and Teva (natural events). He explains that really all events are miracles and one’s ability to do anything is life is a result of an unbelievable miracle from Hashem. If this is true, it may be the solution to our question. Fundamentally, anything that happens in life, including a woman of young or old age giving birth, is a great miracle. As such, perhaps the Torah demonstrates miracles to show that even birth at an elderly age can be within the Derech HaTevah (the natural order of things). If so, it is unnecessary for the Torah to describe an elderly woman giving birth more than once; after recounting that Sarah gave birth at an old age, it should not be shocking to learn that Yocheved did as well.

A similar example of this can be found in the Midrash, which states that when the Yam Suf split during Klal Yisrael’s exodus from Mitzrayim, not only did that sea split, but every sea in the world split as well. Why was this information provided by a Midrash and not by the Torah itself? Perhaps it is for this very reason, that after telling us once that Hashem performed the miracle of splitting the sea, it is not hard to believe that Hashem performed it additional times across the globe. Even in the time of Yehoshua, when the Torah specifies that the Yarden split to allow Klal Yisrael to cross into Canaan, the splitting may have been repeated to renew Klal Yisrael’s faith in Hashem and his continuance to perform miracles even after the death of Moshe Rabbenu.

In these times of war within Eretz Yisrael, we must remember the miracles that were performed in earlier wars in the life of the State of Israel, such as the Six Day War in 1967. We must also remember that any victory or (Chas ViShalom) loss that Israel may ever sustain is directly from Hashem and serves as a message to all of us regarding our behavior and observance of Mitzvot.

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