| Second Thoughts |

Oblivious to the Obvious

Having felt the hand of G-d protecting His people and His land, can we simply go about our daily regimen as before?


And it came to pass, in the year 5784, that the enemies of Israel sent forth hundreds of deadly missiles, drones, and rockets toward Eretz Yisrael, and not a single one of them caused any harm.

Were we to read this passage in Tanach, we would undoubtedly regard it as just another one of those Biblical miracles that are wondrous, but have no relevance for us in our day.

And yet, this is precisely what happened — not in a Biblical event, but before our own eyes, on the night of 6 Nissan 5784, April 13, 2024.

Never in the history of warfare has it happened that all the hundreds of slings and arrows of bitter enemies should all fail to such an extent. Only in the Bible do such phenomena occur.

The analysts analyzed, the strategists strategized, the editors editorialized, the commentators commented, the pontificators pontificated, the philosophers philosophized, the polemicists polemicized, the reporters reported, the observers observed. They all had enlightening things to say: advanced technology, sophisticated defenses, secret weapons. Theories and explanations filled the air — but somehow one factor was not mentioned by any of the experts: the G-d factor.

The general subject du jour then became: How will Israel react? With an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities? With destruction of its missile sites and oil refineries? Will the response be with restraint or with full force?

But the subject du jour of a believing Jew is a bit different. Having felt the hand of G-d protecting His people and His land, can we simply go about our daily regimen as before? Shall our davening be unintensified, our Torah study unaffected, our tzedakah unchanged, our relationship to others unimproved, our connection to G-d untransformed?

Three times daily we thank G-d “al nisecha sheb’chol yom imanu — for Thy miracles that daily accompany us….” Miracles are an integral part of our daily lives, though most of the time they are unseen by us. Occasionally, something occurs that is an obvious miracle, that is beyond our understanding, and that is called a “neis nigleh,” an open miracle. But so inured have we become to the presence of daily, quotidian miracles that even when one stares us in the face — as it did on that Saturday night last month — we tend to view it as commonplace. We have become oblivious to the obvious.

The Hebrew word for miracle is neis — which literally means a sign or a banner. Thrice daily, for example, we pray in the Amidah, “Sa neis l’kabeitz galuyoseinu — Raise a banner to gather in our dispersed people….” This is precisely what a true miracle is: a sign and a banner that declares that G-d, though He may be hidden, is still with us.

Perhaps the religious fervor that emerged after the tragedy of October 7 will once again manifest itself after the miraculous events of April 13. To reach for G-d when we are in pain is natural and instinctive; to reach for G-d when we are filled with joy is not as natural. But the knowledge that G-d has not abandoned us and still stands by our side should make our task much easier.

And perhaps some future chronicler will write of us: And so it came to pass that Am Yisrael reached out in thanksgiving to G-d for preventing yet another holocaust, and in so doing the Jewish People returned en masse to His teachings and His holy ways.

This would be a miracle, yes. But miracles do happen.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1010)

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