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Relying on Miracles?

שְׂא֗וּ אֶת־רֹאשׁ֙ כָּל־עֲדַ֣ת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֖ם לְבֵ֣ית אֲבֹתָ֑ם בְּמִסְפַּ֣ר שֵׁמ֔וֹת כָּל־זָכָ֖ר לְגֻלְגְּלֹתָֽם

Take the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by families following their fathers' houses; a head count of every male according to the number of their names. (Bamidbar 1:2)


Sefer Bamidbar is all about preparing Bnei Yisrael to settle the Land of Israel. As such, the first parsha, Parshat Bamidbar, starts with the taking of a census of all army-aged men (specifically age 20 and up). But first comes the appointing of the nesi’im, or princes, of each tribe.


Clearly, God wanted Moshe to prepare an army for conquering the Land. While there would be many miracles during the conquest, we can learn here not to rely on miracles. The first victory in Israel was the battle for Yericho, which was purely a divine victory. The people marched around the city, but never actually raised a hand or weapon against the city. The city walls fell miraculously, and Bnei Yisrael took control of the city.


But later battles were not won through obvious miracles, and the army had to fight, and the miraculous nature of the future victories were hidden. This is the general principle of אין סומכין על הנס - we do not rely on miracles.


Similarly, in Megillat Esther, we see a miraculous victory over Haman and his followers who tried to destroy us. Yet God’s name is not mentioned once in the Megillah. This is not to say that his presence was not felt and that he was not responsible for the victory. Rather, it is just another demonstration that we must be responsible for ourselves. We have to work hard for our achievements, be they military victories, financial success, or any other aspect of life.


More recently, on the 28th of Iyar in the year 5727 (June 7th, 1967), the Israeli Defense Forces won a miraculous battle to liberate Jerusalem. Eventually, Israel won the entire war, liberating all of Judea & Samaria, the Golan, Gaza and the Sinai. There was no splitting of the Red Sea or divine destruction of any defensive walls. But the hand of God was clearly evident in the way this understaffed and poorly equipped army defeated 3 much larger Arab armies whose stated goal was the destruction of the state of Israel, and the genocide of all its Jewish residents. The IDF did not rely on this miraculous victory, nor did they anticipate any divine intervention. The army just worked hard and lost many lives in order to achieve this extremely unlikely victory. Experts at West Point and other military academies were unable to explain how Israel won this war.


So even today, we can see miracles, but we also see that we have to be prepared to survive regardless. With the upcoming holiday of Yom Yerushalayim this Friday, let’s remember the ancient miracles as well as the present day miracles when we say Hallel.


And it is my hope and bracha that every Jewish male over the age of 18 joins the IDF to serve and protect our people. To not rely on miracles, but to certainly appreciate and celebrate then when they come.


עֹ֭מְדוֹת הָי֣וּ רַגְלֵ֑ינוּ בִּ֝שְׁעָרַ֗יִךְ יְרוּשָׁלָֽ͏ִם׃ יְרוּשָׁלַ֥͏ִם הַבְּנוּיָ֑ה כְּ֝עִ֗יר שֶׁחֻבְּרָה־לָּ֥הּ יַחְדָּֽו׃


Our feet stood inside your gates, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem built up, a city knit together (Tehillim 122:2)

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