Man Has No Powers
Moshe Ben-Chaim
Question: In parshat Vayishlach, chapter 33, verse 13, Yaakov tells Esav that he cannot travel with him for his children are tender and his flock are nursing, and they are pushed to travel hard, the FLOCK will perish. I saw a commentary in the Artscroll Stone edition Chumash which quoted the Gemara in Moed Katan 18a, that a covenant is made with the lips. And because of this, Yaakov did not say his children will die, rather only his flock, because as Artscroll put it, "unintended prognostics often become fulfilled
as prophecy."
Can you please explain what this means, especially as stated in the Gemara?
In addition, why was it that Yaakov's curse came true upon Rachel in reference to the idols? Does what some says have a power on someone else's life?
Mesora: A human does not have power over his own life, how can he control another's life?
It must be interpreted that Yaakov's curse was in line with what G-d desired. It only seems that Yaakov was the cause. I believe this explanation also explains what it means that "righteous people decree, and G-d fulfills". When a tzaddik says something, it does not become true due to him, rather, G-d already put the forces in motion. The tzaddik - being in line with G-d - will intuit what is righteous. G-d is not bound by a person.
This should not be confused with prayer, as we find that Moshe was able to alter a decree from G-d. That could be due to Moshe raising himself to a higher level, something not yet in place prior to G-d's decree. As Moshe became more perfected, Moshe could now address the shortcomings of the Jews himself, therefore G-d's decree was no longer needed.
When requested by Pharaoh to remove a plague, Moshe rabbeinu left the city and prayed to G-d. Moshe did not have power. He had to ask G-d to remove the plague. If he couldn't perform miracles, no one else could, as Moshe was the most perfected individual ever.
When Rachel asked Yaakov for children, Yaakov said, " Am I in G-d's stead?". Yaakov attested to the fact that he had no power to give her children. If people have powers, why did Jacob respond this way? It is clear that Jacob understood that no one is able to do what G-d does. Those were his very words, " Am I in G-d's stead?" (Additionally, when Yaakov said, according to Rashi, "God has withheld children from you and not me, he was not acting viciously. He meant to say, "You have the need, not me, and God has not answered you. You must then be the one to pray, as prayer enables one to reflect on their needs, hopefully directing you to your flaws, and then repent from whatever character trait prevents you from childbearing.")
When Naaman requested Elisha to rid him of his leprosy, Elisha did not leave the house, but rather, he sent a messenger to instruct Naaman to bathe, and this would remove his ailment. Naaman was upset with Elisha, that he did not come out, call upon G-d's name, and "wave his hand over the place of the leprosy and remove it". A friend suggested wisely, that Elisha desired that G-d retain the grandeur for such a miracle, therefore, Elisha did not leave the house, he avoided the spotlight, as Elisha knew that G-d was the performer of all miracles, and did not want to mislead Naaman. Elisha was aware that people desire to believe in man as a miracle worker. Elisha therefore avoided at all cost, taking any credit for that which man has no connection with.
Whenever we encounter such stories which on the surface seem to imply that man is able to perform miracles, we must carefully review the text. I am certain you will find that the text of the Torah attributes powers to G-d alone, and avoids deifying man. A Rabbi mentioned that very few prophets are recorded as having performed miracles for this reason.
We say every day "Ki hu livadu po-ale g'vuros" , For He alone works might". We ourselves attest to man's incapability to perform wonders, or the like. This is clear.
Rav Saadia Gaon stated, "man has no power over the elements".

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