Rabbi Aron Moss contributes regular Q&A commentaries to Gather the Jews. Rabbi Moss is the proprietor of Nefesh and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rabbi Moss.
Question of the Week:
Why don’t we see miracles today like the Jews saw in the stories of Chanuka and Passover? And don’t tell me that every day is a miracle, childbirth is a miracle, the sunrise is a miracle, blah blah blah. I am talking about splitting seas, dead people coming alive, voices from heaven type of miracles. The really supernatural stuff. What happened to that? Why did the people of biblical times get all the special effects and we don’t? Has G-d retired?
Have you ever wished you were a child again? Don’t kids have it made? Their parents do everything for them. The child is hungry and amazingly food appears in front of them. They hurt themselves and the parent is immediately there to kiss them better. They are lovingly put to sleep at night, and taken out of bed in the morning. It is a comforting and secure existence. But it doesn’t last for long.
As the child develops and grows, the parents gradually withdraw. Babies becomes toddlers, they can walk on their own two feet, feed themselves, and look after some of their own needs. Eventually they will grow to be young children, and can even go out of the house for the day, without their parents, and go to school. Then they become teenagers, when they assert their independence even more. Teenagers often brush off their parents’ advice, because they have to find their own way, and they think that they know best. As difficult as it is, the parents have to accept this as a part of their child’s maturation process, and to some extent allow the teenager to make some silly mistakes. Otherwise they will never grow up.
The parents have to let go, because only then can the child finally grow up, and become an adult. Then, as a developed and mature adult, they can relate to their parents with respect and understanding. They don’t need their parents to clothe and feed them anymore, they can do that themselves. But they can enjoy a relationship that is even deeper and more real, because now, as an adult, they have grown to appreciate what their parents have done for them. That they are the person that they are due to the love and attention that their parents devoted to them.
Humanity has taken a similar course. In the early days, G-d was like a loving parent, very apparent and obviously looking after us. He spoke to people to give them directions, He intervened by doing miracles to save His children from harm. The wicked were punished immediately, and the righteous rewarded. That was the era of humanity’s infancy. We had yet to develop the spiritual tools to relate to G-d in any subtle or sublime way, so He spoon-fed us with open miracles.
As humanity developed spiritually, so G-d withdrew His open manifestations in our lives. As a parent allows their child more and more freedom, so G-d removed His open interference in world affairs. But of course, while the parent may not interfere, they never really withdraw their love and attention. They oversee every move their growing child makes, and quietly influence their child’s life direction, albeit from the sidelines. Similarly, as time has moved on, G-d is just as present as before, pulling the strings of history and human destiny this way and that, but not in such an obvious and obtrusive way as through a miracle. He hides behind the coincidences and daily occurrences that seem on the surface to be quite normal. But on reflection, they are not. The hand of G-d is clearly there.
Over the last couple of centuries, humanity went through an adolescent rebellion. We threw off the yoke of our Heavenly Parent and sought independence. Belief in G-d was seen as a childish crutch and an immature myth. But our generation, having learned from the adolescent mistakes of modern history, is starting to mature. We are realising that our Divine Parent’s values are not so bad after all. And we as a generation are seeking to reconnect with G-d and true spirituality, not as children who need miracles to convince us, but as spiritual adults, who can discern the magic behind the everyday, and the Divine within the mundane. We are finally coming of age.
Perhaps this new thirst for G-d is the greatest miracle of all.