A "Super" Miracle?
Mishpatim concluded with recounting Moses' 40-day communion on Sinai without eating or drinking. Ibn Ezra states that this miracle surpassed all others prior. What is the superiority of this miracle? There were other amazing events, such as the sea splitting, the pillars of cloud and fire, the manna and of course, the Ten Plagues. How does Moses' not eating or drinking surpass all others?
Examining all other miracles, we find very remarkable occurrences that cannot be duplicated: water turned into blood, life forms engulfed Egypt, water is parted, food miraculously appears on the ground for 40 years, and fire mixes with ice. Yet, not in one of these do we find an inherent contradiction. That is, all of these miracles – although we know not how they were created – possessed no conflicting properties. Even fire can coexist with frozen substances for a while. Once blood took the place of the Nile, is was simply blood. There were no conflicting laws in the "transition" to blood. In fact, the fish died as they should when immersed in blood. Once the various life forms entered Egypt, they followed laws that were not conflicting. There was no conflict with God's delivery of locusts by wind. Darkness, frogs, beasts, boils and even death of the firstborns were inexplicable, but possessed nothing in themselves that were conflicting. Manna is a perfect food that produced no human waste, following natural principles. And we are also told that it was through wind that the sea parted. An extreme case of natural forces, but no conflict of properties. Even the seabed was dried via wind, which follows natural laws of dehydration.
But for a human organism where food fuels its systems of respiration, blood circulation, and digestion, to go without food; and yet these systems still operated...this is a conflict! All of these systems functioned in Moses, despite the lack of fuel they each required: food and water. Perhaps this is the element Ibn Ezra saw as unique.
Having come thus farm, we must ask that if this is so, what demanded such a miracle in connection with Moses' communion with God on Sinai? The one idea that occurs to me is that this event embodies the objective of creation. Earth appears to exist for man's benefit. For he alone perceives the Creator. To underline this primary objective, the greatest miracle is perfomed when the greatest man is approaching God's wisdom. This was Moses on Sinai. At this level, God relates to man in a degree that surpasses all others. The greater the miracle, the greater the level of the one receiving that miracle. A wise Rabbi once lectured on the difference between Moses' miracles and those performed for Elijah. Moses, being supreme, endured 40 days and nights with no food, while Elijah required a meal at the beginning to sustain him.
But there is more...this miracle has a design. The design is that a man in pursuit of wisdom is not in need of the physical world. This underlines another idea, that man is primarily intellectual. This is our truest nature, as our soul is what survives this physical existence. The soul requires no sustenance other than God's wisdom. This substantiates the belief in the Afterlife.