The Exodus is a part of the long history of the Jewish people, yet no story has ever been discussed as much as this one. There is no other story in the history of the Jewish people that demands so much focus. There are so many stories in our history — why do we focus so much on the miracles of leaving Egypt?
The miracles of the Exodus, such as the 10 plagues and the splitting of the sea, were miracles of a magnitude that clearly and openly proclaimed to all who sought to know that God is in control of the world. It is He who has final authority over nature. Yet we don’t seem to experience these miracles of biblical proportion anymore.
There’s a reason for that.
When God performs a miracle that supersedes the laws of nature, He is letting us know that nature is not an obstacle to Him getting what he wants. However, the very fact that God must overrule nature seems to indicate that nature is a force to be reckoned with, albeit no match for God.
Then there are times when God’s hand is clearly visible within the daily functions of nature — when He orchestrates and manipulates nature to perform His will within nature’s own laws. It is then that we can discover that not only does nature not pose an obstacle to him, but nature is His tool. We understand that nature is not a force to reckon with outside of God. Rather, nature is God’s force dictating the routine operations of this world.
God performing miracles on a daily basis is another way to define nature. In a sense, this is a stronger show of His hand than performing open miracles, because while overruling nature shows that one has the power to veto the opposition, manipulation of nature shows that one has no opposition at all.
It is for this reason that God chooses to relate to us today through the laws of nature. However, there is a crucial role open miracles play. They set the tone that it is God who is the one that manipulates nature. In other words, by showing us that He is able to veto nature should He want to, He opens us up to the understanding that when he is not flexing his veto power, it is because He is already in control.
That is why we spend so much time and focus on the story of the open miracles of the Exodus — to remind us that even today, though we do not see the “veto power” of God, he remains very much in control.
This past week there have been lots of developments as we continue to overcome the coronavirus pandemic. Often, in a world filled with chaos and confusion, it is easy to overlook the tremendous miracles that are unfolding in plain sight.
Miracles that take place within the realms of nature allow us to see God’s hand in everything we do. Let’s not undersell the magnitude of the miracle we are witnessing as we emerge from this pandemic stronger than before. PJC
Rabbi Yisroel Rosenfeld is rabbi of the Lubavitch Center and executive director of Chabad of Western Pennsylvania. This column is a service of the Vaad Harabanim of Greater Pittsburgh.