Beshalach: Emunah Without Miracles

I was in a taxi with my son the other day.  The driver was not religious, and we started talking about the rain situation.  He remarked that we are a nation that is used to thinking that we have all the answers, yet we fail to turn to Hashem for our needs (must have been Sphardi).  He then asked what I do for a living.  I explained to him how I learn in kollel and work in programming at night.  He asked what my wife does, and I told him.  “So, you have enough to live on?” he asked.  I told him that I went to an accountant last year with a question, and after looking at all our numbers, she told me that according to Israeli standards, we’re considered poor.  I explained to him that it’s something I couldn’t believe.  I’m able to pay my mortgage, put food on my table, and take care of my needs.  Thankfully, I don’t worry about my day-to-day finances.  “That’s because she doesn’t know what’s important!” he cried out.  “YOU have real riches and she doesn’t!  You get to sit and learn Torah, and you are happy with what you have, and she will never understand this!”  He then turned to my son, “You watch your father . . . he is GOLD!”


Did I mention he wasn’t religious?


Only in Israel.


In this week’s parsha, I noticed an interesting trend.  We were taken out of Egypt, brought through the Red Sea, and watched the might of Egypt become eliminated at Hashem’s  whim.  Afterwards, the young Jewish nation is brought to the desert.  When they run out of water, they complain, and ask why they were brought out to die in the desert.  So, Hashem causes a miracle to happen, and provided them with water.  The same with food.  Another series of complaints, and another miraculous miracle that will last for 40 years.


Something popped into my head when going over the parsha.  I’ve heard people say it, I’ve seen them write it, and heck, I’ve thought of it myself: “Show me a miracle and I will believe in You!”  We all think that if we see some “open miracle," then we will become the frummest of the frum, and be on such a high spiritual level.


Well, I personally think that we learn this lesson from this week’s parsha.  Here, the entire nation, saw miracle after miracle, from the first of the Plagues, to the destruction of Egypt, yet in the end, they STILL had their doubts!  They didn’t hear that these things happened, the actually SAW it and participated in it!  Yet, they still had their doubts!


My wife made some comments regarding certain “emunah (faith) books," that are filled with stories of people going through trying times, and after doing this mitzvah or that mitzvah, they were immediately saved from whatever trials and tribulations that they were going through.  While these stories are amazing, she doesn’t think that this actually teaches emunah; if anything, it does the opposite.


Having emunah does not translate to “do a mitzvah, have a salvation."  It means knowing that whatever Hashem is doing for you, it IS for your own good.  Perhaps it is to drive you to daven more or to work on your mitzvos, or what not.  But, if one does not see “miracles," it should not have any affect on a person with true emunah.  The issue with these books is that people continue to think, “I haven’t seen my salvation come, WHERE IS HASHEM?!?”  Rather, one should try to accept whatever difficulty they are going through as good, and to continue to daven to Hashem. 


If we are “lucky” we are able to, immediately, or in the long-run, be able to see the good that came from difficult times.  But more often than not, we do not see the reasons.  Eventually, after 120 years, we WILL see such reasons.


Perhaps, and this is only my opinion, so it could be right or wrong, there actually IS good in not seeing salvations or miracles.  Perhaps, when a person sees outright miracles, he could be expected to be uplifted from such a moment.  And therefore, might he be held to higher standards?  Perhaps, the Jewish nation was held to higher standards BECAUSE they experienced such miracles (I believe there are more than a few psukim to back up that theory).  By NOT seeing “instant success," we might be held at a “lower standard” and be given a greater reward for continuing on with simple emunah, as hard as it seems.


With that thought, I wish you a wonderful Shabbos!


Michael Winner