WHERE IS G-D, THE MIRACLE MAKER #Parsha Vayera
People often say, “If there is really a G-d, why doesn’t He do outright miracles anymore? I would believe in G-d if I saw the ten plagues in Egypt, the sea split or some other supernatural event.”
In the past, G-d did miracles in order to prevent some terrible tragedy from happening. G-d overruled the laws of nature to keep the story going—otherwise, it would have ended. But this type of intervention is not the ideal way that G-d wants to act. G-d prefers not to do miracles. He only does them when there is no other way to teach us about His control of nature.
People do not really change by witnessing a miracle. Of course, at first they are strongly moved and seem to change. But the awe quickly wears off, and they return to their old ways. We see this human pattern many times in the stories of the Torah.
The Israelites witnessed the ten supernatural plagues topped off with the miraculous splitting of the sea and were saved from destruction by the hands of the Egyptian armies. However, not too long afterward, their faith deteriorated, and they began to complain about their conditions in the desert. Miracles don’t change people, only people can change themselves; and to accomplish that, they have to make choices and get proactive.
There is another reason why G-d is reluctant to do miracles. And that is because the story of life is about the evolving manifestation of the godliness within us. Miracles actually stifle the growth of the manifestation of the divine from within us; expressed through our choices, our commitments, and our hard work.
This explains the bizarre behavior of the Israelites who wrestled with the significance of their identity in the desert for forty years. The desert was a miraculous place for the Israelites. They enjoyed a daily portion of manna, the heavenly bread that fell daily from the sky. They also drank water that flowed abundantly from a rock.
In the desert the Israelites lived in a divine womb, like a fetus whose needs are completely cared for. And yet with all these comforts they complained and rebelled over and over again. Why?
Because under these miraculous conditions, their inner stature was dwarfed. It was like you and I living under the shadow of our parents. There is a spirit within us that is restless and demands to be established and expressed. This spirit is the manifestation of the godliness within us that must evolve and emerge. This is why the miraculous desert was not the destination of the Israelites. It was only part of their process and journey.
The forty years in the desert was a time for the revelation of G-d the miracle Maker, showing that G-d is the Power who is above and beyond the laws and limitations of nature. During that time the Israelites developed a profound belief in divine transcendence. But then the time came for the manifestation of divine immanence—that aspect of G-d which is expressed from within humanity.
The problem with the miraculous life in the desert was that the light of divine transcendence eclipsed the light of divine immanence. But the danger in the Promised Land was that the light of divine immanence could eclipse the light of divine transcendence. In the Promised Land, the Israelites could come to think that all their success was really their own and had nothing to do with G-d.
Before we can get out of our oppression in Egypt and get to our freedom and empowerment in the Promised Land G-d performs miracles to remind us who’s Boss. But God then wants us to actualize our godliness and make our own miracles happen through courage and hard work.
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