In recent weeks we have been reading in the Torah about the many amazing miracles which our ancestors experienced as part of their exodus from Egypt. The miracles began with the ten plagues, continue with the parting of the Red Sea in this week’s parsha, and end with the miracles that accompanied the people of Israel during their 40 years in the desert.
Yet there is one issue in which we do not find miracles - the faith of the people of Israel. Throughout the story of the exodus we do not find that G-d performed a miracle and instantly purified the people of Israel from the 49th level of impurity in which they were immersed in Egypt. In order to be cleansed and purified, the people of Israel needed to go through a period of forty-nine days in which on each day they rose one level out of their impurity. Only at the end of the whole process was the nation cleansed from their impurity and they were able to prepare themselves for the reception of the Torah on the fiftieth day.
So here we ask: Why when it comes to faith and purity did G-d not perform a miracle that in one moment the hearts of Israel would return directly to their Father in heaven? Maimonides asks a similar question on a verse at the beginning of this week’s parsha. The parsha says that "G-d did not lead the people through the land of the Philistines, because it was near, and G-d said, 'Lest the people be frightened when they see war and they will return to Egypt.'” G-d does not take the children of Israel on the shortest route to the Land of Israel so that they will not immediately encounter war and recoil and return to Egypt. So the same question can be asked here “Why did G-d not make a miracle that even when the nation of Israel encounters war they would not be afraid?”
The answer to these questions is that G-d does not make miracles to change human nature. The entire purpose of the world is that mankind, with their free will, chooses by themselves to do good because when a person chooses to do good from their own free choice they internalize the goodness and it becomes part of them. This is the reason that their can be no shortcuts to faith. Anything holy receives its value only if it is performed with effort and exertion of one who grows and enhances his connection to the L-rd of the world. A person can not expect that one morning he will wake up with his entire being filled with love for G-d and the desire to improve his character traits. To the contrary, it is something which man grapples with daily and must use his free will to pull him in the right direction.
But the answer goes further. Just as the above is true on a personal level, it is also true on a communal level. We should not expect that on any one day all the problems within the State of Israel will be solved miraculously, but we need to be the ones to put in effort every day to make our beloved country better. As the Sages teach us "In the future a Bat Kol will be go out at the top of the mountains and say ‘Everyone who worked with (ie. for the sake of) G-d, come and take your reward.’”
We are not satisfied with just believing that G-d can bring the complete redemption, but we need to work together with G-d to bring that redemption to the world, both the personal redemption of each and every one of us, as well as the redemption of the entire world.
Rabbi Shlomo Sobol is the head of the Barkai Rabbinical Organization and the rabbi of the Shaarei Yonah Menachem community in Modi'in.