By: Rabbi Mendy Wolf
Have you heard the story about the atheist in the parking lot? Five minutes before an important meeting, the businessman pulls in, searching for a parking spot. But there are none to be found. He circles, circles, and circles some more, but to no avail.
With two minutes left, he’s frantic. In desperation, he calls out, “G-d, if you give me a parking spot, I will give $10,000 to charity.”
Nothing. A minute and half to go. “G-d, make that $100,000!”
Suddenly, the guy notices a space just large enough for his car. “Never mind, G-d,” he mumbles. “Deal’s off. I’ve found parking.”
In this week’s Torah portion, Moses recounts the experience of the Jewish people in the desert. He recalls how, on numerous occasions, the Jews had challenged G-d, doubting His promises and testing His power.
The whole situation seems rather shocking. These were people who had just witnessed open miracles and wonders – the Exodus from Egypt, the Splitting of the Reed Sea, and the G-dly Revelation at Sinai… What was wrong with them? How could they still harbor doubts?
Ah, but that is human nature. We tend to think, “If G-d would come to me and tell me that this is the right thing, I would do it without question.” Or: “I have too many doubts; if I would hear a voice from Heaven, I would believe.”
But ultimately, we are human. And the human mind has the amazing ability to tweak and interpret just about anything. The question is not can we believe? It is will be believe? Will we open our eyes, minds and hearts to the miracles all around us, or will we rationalize and say, “Never mind, G-d. I’ve found parking”?
We have been granted free will, and nothing can take that away – not even Sinai.
Rabbi Mendy Wolf is the educational director for the Institute of American & Talmudic Law, and the director for Project Life, an organization which promotes Jewish values throughout the business community in NYC. R’ Mendy is a sought after teacher and lecturer and resides in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and family. Contact Rabbi Mendy to book him to speak or with feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.