When our first child was born, I stopped believing in G‑d.

When people hear me say this, they are shocked. The rabbi doesn’t believe in G‑d?!

I’ll explain.

I stopped believing. And I started knowing!

When you witness the miracle of creation with your own eyes, up close and personal, faith is unnecessary. The proof is right there.

Long before me, there was the legendary Chassidic master, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev. When he was a young student, he came home from his yeshivah studies for Passover, and his father asked him to share something he had learned. Levi Yitzchak said, “I learned that there is a G‑d in this world.”

“What?!” exclaimed his father. “For this you had to go to yeshivah? Even our maid knows that!”

“Martha,” he called to her. “Do you believe in G‑d?”

“Of course, sir,” answered Martha.

“She believes,” said Levi Yitzchak. “But I know.”

In Parshat Beshalach, we read about the Splitting of the Sea, arguably the biggest miracle in all of history. One of the verses, which found its way into our Siddur and daily prayers, reads as follows:

“And the people of Israel saw the great, mighty hand which G‑d had inflicted upon the Egyptians … and the people believed in G‑d and in Moses his servant.”1

This is impressive? They saw the incredible miracle of the Splitting of the Sea, and they believed there was a G‑d in the world? How could they not believe?! What’s the big deal to see a miracle and then to believe?

Faith is about believing in G‑d when He is not that obviously present in our lives. True faith is believing even when we are going through difficult or tragic times and G‑d seems entirely absent.

To believe before seeing the miracle would be something worth writing about, but to believe after the miracle seems mundane, obvious, and even somewhat dull.

But I must tell you that in my own rabbinic practice I have seen all too frequently how people have remained untouched and unaffected after experiencing an event that was clearly miraculous.

Yes, some people don’t believe even after the miracle! They attribute their good fortune to luck or coincidence.

Others, however, see the hand of G‑d in every experience.

I was at a wedding the other day and the father of the groom got up, but instead of speaking he sang a song. The main lyrics of the song are two well-known Hebrew words, “baruch Hashem,” or, “blessed be G‑d.” Indeed, he had much to be thankful for. And when the whole crowd of hundreds of guests joined him in singing and repeating the words, “baruch Hashem, baruch Hashem,” it was a particularly moving moment.

If only we could all recognize the many miracles and deliverances in our daily lives with that kind of attitude!

My late father was the sole survivor of his entire family from Poland. I once asked him why he hadn’t lost his faith the way so many other survivors had.

He replied that he had witnessed the unmistakable hand of G‑d plucking him from one danger to the next. He escaped Poland, travelled to Vilna, then from Moscow to Vladivostok by train, by boat to Japan, and later Shanghai, before arriving in the United States after the war and meriting to rebuild his family.

“How could I not believe?” he said.

The Israelites watched the sea split and saw their mortal enemies washed ashore. Their freedom from Egyptian bondage was finally assured. They saw the awesome hand of G‑d … and they believed.

I imagine there may well have been others who would have attributed their deliverance to some natural effect—perhaps El Nino or a freak tsunami. That our ancestors believed it was the hand of G‑d is indeed a credit to them.

There are those who deny even the most blatantly obvious wonders, and then there are those who don’t stop thanking G‑d for even their smallest salvations. May we soon see the unmistakable hand of G‑d bringing Redemption to our people, and peace and tranquility to our broken world.