Why is God So Quiet?
Most of us can relate to the mobile phone advertisement of years gone by wherein a person had to stand on the roof of his building for good reception and made popular the phrase: “Can you hear me now?” Though most of us have not had to literally climb a cell tower to be clearly heard or to hear, we’ve each at one time or another had to embark on an exploratory “mission” and move about to and fro to have a successful conversation. And then of course there are those of us who pretend there’s a bad connection, even though it’s crystal clear, because we’d prefer not to engage with our interlocutor.
The ideas expressed above, as simple as they seem, are the reasons for all of life’s problems, i.e., personal, spiritual, communal, national and global: We hear what we want to hear. The world in which we live is fraught with chaos, lawlessness, inflation, increasing concerns of food shortages, Covid, Monkeypox, the Ukrainian/Russian conflict and its implications, etc. The Almighty G-d is talking to us and He too is asking: “Can you hear Me now?” But we don’t want to hear. Our apathy, laziness, obstinance and sinfulness have lulled us into living with the ruinous “static” which has enveloped the humanity and prompt us to proceed as usual. We don’t bother to get up from our figurative seats, our comfort zones, and to morally scan our lives for better reception in order to hear what G-d is saying. And then with Goliathan chutzpa we dare ask, “The planet's such a mess—where’s G-d?” Lest we forget, the first question G-d asks mankind in the Torah is the eternal rebuttal to our own query: “Where are you?”
Friends, if we can’t hear the voice of G-d in our lives nor see His Mighty Hand in all that occurs, we must question ourselves alone. “Where are we in relation to His will and His word?” Last week we began reading the fourth of the Five Books of Moses, Bamidbar. Translated, it means “in the wilderness” or “in the desert.” But, its root word means “to speak.” Why should we care? Because every single thing that happens to us in life is a conversation with the Almighty. Ein od milvado (There is nothing but Him). The world was created by G-d’s words and thus everything that happens in our life is the “words” of G-d manifested as “things,” i.e., happenings, incidents, sickness, a trip and fall, etc. If we want to change the course of our dialogue with the Divine, instead of turning a blind eye, or more aptly, a deaf ear to the truth, perhaps it is time to give ear to what He is telling us. If we don’t, there will be a price to pay. G-d’s words not mine.
In this week’s Torah portion Naso, we read how when Moses would come into the Tent of Meeting to speak with G-d, he would hear the divine voice speaking to him from the two cherubim above the covering which was over the Ark of Testimony. The rabbis teach that one might come to believe that G-d spoke in a low voice and so only Moses could hear Him. “So, the verse stresses that it was the voice—the same thunderous voice that spoke at Sinai and resounded throughout the universe which spoke to Moses in the Sanctuary. But when the voice reached the doorway, it stopped and did not extend outside of the Sanctuary.” (Chabad.org) Yet, there was no soundproof technology then and the volume of G-d’s words has not been lowered at all. So how was it possible that no one else heard?
The answer is that spiritual proximity enhances our hearing. If one chooses to stand outside the sanctuary, outside the directives of the holy Torah and its life preserving commandments, then life will degrade to a chaotic cacophonic screech and the voice of G-d will seem muted. As an example (without wishing to reduce the holy to the mundane), we know that humans cannot hear a dog whistle and yet dogs are able to pick up the high-frequency sounds. A dog can be sitting in our lap and have an audio experience to which we are not privy. The same is true of our spiritual receptors. The more we do what G-d wants the better we can hear Him and the sweeter will be His message. In the interim we should begin to contemplate the idea that His voice is ever present, but it is we who have stepped out of the figurative sanctuary or listening room.
The sages teach that if we leave G-d for one day, He will leave us for two. Unfortunately, we are an idolatrous nation who puts everything before G-d. A society getting its moral codes and cues from the likes of Netflix and filthy song lyrics, instead of Torah, is in very big trouble. It is time to hit the mute button on stupidity and the degenerate filth we’ve normalized. For I truly fear that the next time G-d asks again “Can you hear Me now?” it will be painfully deafening and several decibels too late.
And it will be if you obey the Lord, your God, to observe to fulfill all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord, your God, will place you supreme above all the nations of the earth… You shall be blessed when you come, and you shall be blessed when you depart. (Deuteronomy 28:1-6) Shabbat Shalom!