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Why Prove it When You Can Live it
Rav Jason Knapel
At the beginning of the parsha we see that Hashem tells Moshe that the way he revealed himself to Moshe is different than the way He revealed himself to the Avot. Rashi understands that Hashem was, to some degree, rebuking Moshe. The Avot never saw the promises that G-d made fulfilled but Moshe did and yet the Avot were more faithful than Moshe was. Other Mepharshim explain that there was a difference in the actual way that Hashem acted towards the Avot as opposed to Moshe and his generation. The Revelation to the Avot was “Derech HaTeva” without miracles, while the revelation to the Dor of Moshe was through miraculous events. I am not sure according to the Midrash if this is true. It would seem that many miracles happened to the Avot, but at least according to the peshat it seems that Hashem just spoke to the Avot – not with thunder and lightning and splitting of seas – but normal communication. All the events that happened to them were also “naturally done”.
It is possible to combine both these ideas and learn a tremendous lesson for today.
If the Avot saw Hashem through the natural order of events and they did not see the nissim that the Dor of Moshe saw one would expect their belief in Hashem’s ability to be less than the generation that saw all the miraculous events. But the opposite seems to be true.
Maybe seeing miracles, seeing Hashem “in action”, seeing 100% that Hashem is there - is not enough. The Dor of Moshe had all that, and yet they constantly lost faith, went off the derech etc... Maybe the Avot had it right – instead of looking for miracles they developed a relationship with Hashem. They constantly strove to be closer to G-d and not just “prove his existence”. The Dor of Moshe was aware of the idea of G-d but they did not develop the close relationship with Him that the Avot had. Therefore when the excitement of the miracle died down, when something else looked exciting, they shifted allegiances.
So often the youth of our movement are looking for scientific proofs for Hashem’s existence. “Prove it to me” is heard in High Schools and Yeshivas all over. And yet with all the proofs, with all the scientific explanations we still don’t have more observance.
Rabbi A.J. Heschel once said that with all our striving in philosophy and science to prove G-d – we have gotten no closer. Instead we should be striving to build relationships with Hashem. The Avot had more Emunah because when they reached out to a G-d it was not just an idea but an entity they could relate to - they found Him.
In today’s day an age where we have so many issues building relationships in general (look at all the research on how today’s electronic generation is having trouble interacting with real live people) We of course will have difficulty building a relationship with Hashem. But then again to scientifically prove an entity that we can’t relate to might not be worth it.
1: Parshat Shavua