Relying on Miracles

August 20, 2011 | by

With the ongoing problems in Israel, do you believe that God will intercede on the Jews’ behalf? And if He has done so many times in the past, why are the Jews not relying on that level of faith?

The Aish Rabbi Replies

This is great question that I, living in Israel, think about every day.

Indeed, God has made consistent miracles for the Jews in Israel - the sandstorm that ruined the Nazi plan for Rommel's troops to invade from Egypt and wipe out Israeli Jewry in the 1940s; the five invading Arab armies repelled trying to exterminate Israel in May 1948, another four Arab armies decimated while trying to annihilate Israel in 1967, and the scud missiles that Saddam Hussein rained on Israel in 1991 with virtually no loss of life.

Yet even though God has made consistent miracles, we are still required to make our own effort. The Talmud says this is learned from the fact that the show-breads in the Holy Temple would stay fresh every week - yet the Kohanim still made an effort to arrange air-pockets between the breads so they wouldn't get moldy.

God put us in a world of action, and He wants us to make the effort. Not because He needs it, but because we need it. Our actions create a change within us.

In the Talmud, a scoffer tells Rebbe Akiva: "You shouldn't be helping poor people, because it was God who made them poor, and by helping them you're going against God's plan!"

Rebbe Akiva answered: "God made poor people precisely in order that we should help them. Helping others is what God wants us to do."

We make our effort through the system God created called "nature." Of course, God can override that system, and when He does, we call it a "miracle." But God prefers to remain somewhat hidden, in order to preserve our quest to find Him.

There is a well-known story of a man who lived by a river. A policeman warned him to evacuate because of a flood warning. The man rejected the offer, saying, "I have perfect trust that the Almighty will save me." As the water rises, a rescue boat offers to take him to safety. The man reaffirms his trust in God and refuses the ride. Finally, the man is sitting on his roof and a helicopter comes to rescue him. Again the man proclaims his trust and refuses the rescue. The water rises and the man drowns.

As he is brought in judgment before the Almighty, the man says, "God, I had perfect trust in you - how could you let me down?"

The Almighty replies, "But, my son, I sent you a policeman, a boat and a helicopter!"

So that's why we make every effort here in Israel to quell the violence through diplomatic channels, military means, and public pressure.

On the other hand, we have to know that these efforts are not the true source of our salvation. The Torah says that for the Jews in Egypt, it wasn't until "We cried out to God, that He heard our voice and saw our affliction" (Deut. 26:6-9). We had to hit rock-bottom, to see there was no other option but to turn to God. At that moment, redemption was under way.

So, too, the final redemption is ultimately not dependent on politics, strategy or wealth. We have to reach the point where we feel totally helpless and defenseless, where we totally recognize that the Almighty is our only option. This is a national imperative for the Jews in Israel, and we are already seeing a socio-religious shift in that direction.

It makes sense. Connecting with God is the primary reason for our existence. So if need be, God will bring every force against us, and strip us bare of every possible escape, in order to bring us to the realization that He is the only answer we have. When we get to that point, that's when redemption comes.

So... will God intercede on our behalf? That depends on us.

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