By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
In Breishis, Perek Lamed Bais, posuk yud alef Yaakov said,“Kotonti – I was not deserving of all the kindness of Hashem.” The Gemara in Meseches Taanis, daf chof, amud bais learns from this that a person should not place himself in a place of danger and rely on a miracle occurring. If a miracle occurs he will lose some of his “zechuyos.” There is also the possibility that a miracle will not happen.
The Rema in OrachChaim, siman kuf peh zayin says that if one forgets to say “Al Hanisim” on Chanuka and Purim he should add a tefillah during the “Horachamans” saying that “Hashem should perform miracles like he did in the days of Chanukah and Purim.” How could wedaven for miracles?
The gemara in Brachos, daf lamed gimmel, amud alef brings down a story about a dangerous snake from a species known as “Arod” that was killing and hurting people. Reb Chanina ben Dosa was told about it. He asked to be brought to the snake’s hole. He stepped on the hole and the snake bit Reb Chanina’s ankle. The snake promptly died. Reb Chanina brought the snake into the Bais Hamidrash and told everyone there, “This is a proof that a snake does not kill; a person’s sins is what kills.” After this story they coined an expression, “Woe is to a person who meets up with an “Arod” and woe is to an “Arod” who meets up with Reb Chanina ben Dosa. The question arises, how could Reb Chanina Ben Dosa place himself into a position of danger by putting his foot over the snake’s hole?
The Torah Temima in Parshas Kedoshim wants to bring proof from the above story that if a person can put himself into a safek sakana and thereby save a rabim from a vadai sakana one should do so. Since Reb Chanina BenDosa was used to having miracles happen to him, this would be considered a safek sakana and he was allowed to place himself into a position like this to save the klal.
The YabiaOmer in Chelek Tes, Choshen Mishpat, siman yud bais disagrees with the Torah Temima and says that to Reb Chanina it was not even a safek sakana. He was so used to nissim that he felt safe enough and he would not be in danger. The gemara discusses how poor RebChanina was. We find in Taanis, daf chof heh, amud alef that Reb Chanina ben Dosa told his wife that the same Hashem that said that oil should supply light can make vinegar supply light. That is exactly what happened when his wife lit with vinegar. In that same Gemara it discusses that Reb Chanina had no food in the house and every Erev Shabbos his wife would put wood in the oven so it would look like she is cooking for Shabbos and save her embarrassment. A neighbor, who knew their situation, arrived one Friday with the intention of embarrassingReb Chanina’s wife. “Let’s see what’s in the oven?” she snidely asked. Reb Chanina’s wife brought a shovel to the oven and pulled out a beautiful loaf of bread that miraculously appeared. We see from these scenarios that Reb Chanina and his wife were used to experiencing miracles. The reason they were zocheh to miracles was that Reb Chanina understood that really “teva” is a miracle in and of itself and therefore miracles and teva were on the same level to him. It was not even a miracle to him, but rather the norm.
This is why Reb Chanina put himself in danger. It was not a miracle that he was saved. It was pure emunah and an understanding that this is the teva; if one does not sin he can’t be killed by a snake. With this we can understand the Rema. We don’t simply daven for miracles. During the time of Chanukah and Purim we saw great miracles happen. It was all part of the teva. Since we truly believe that it is all from Hashem, we daven that we should be zocheh to recognize that a miracle is not a miracle, but rather teva. In this way we can attempt to reach the level of Reb Chanina who had no distinction between nes and teva.