When G-d Hides

September 14, 2017 at 1:55 AM , , ,

“…But I, hide, I shall hide my face on that day…” – Devarim 31:18

   ואנכי הסתר אסתיר פני ביום ההוא – דברים לא, יח

In Parshas Vayelech, G-d foretells that the Jewish people will one day stray after foreign gods, and His fury will rage against them and many troubles will befall them. “But I, hide, I shall hide My face on that day, because of all the evil they have committed,” says G-d.

The Baal Shem Tov explains that the double expression, “Hide, I shall hide,” denotes a state of Divine concealment so great that not only does G-d seem absent, but even His concealment and seeming absence goes unnoticed! When G-d conceals His very concealment, and the darkness is mistaken for light, no one even searches for a way to remedy the situation, and that is truly the worst form of darkness.


There is, however, a silver lining even to this most dark and dire of conditions, In fact, considering the Chassidic perspective that the curses stated in the Torah are actually hidden blessings (see Likutei Torah, Bechukosai 48a), the ominous (and double) threat “But I, hide, I shall My face on that day,” must truly convey an extraordinary blessing.

That blessing is conveyed in the first word of this phrase, ואנכי, But I. The many names of G-d refer to the various manifestations of His infinite abilities; each name—even each letter—conveying a unique aspect of the Divine mystery (see Zohar, vol. 3, p. 257b). Conversely, when G-d speaks of Himself in the Torah in the first person, not by any of His names but simply “I”—i.e., whoever I am—He refers to His unknowable essence, which cannot be described by any name, nor hinted to by any letter.

This, then, is the true meaning and purpose of the double-concealment of G-d. The divine “I” is so inconceivable that not only can it be present even in places it seems not to be found, it can even find expression in its very hiddenness and obscurity. Thus, in the bleakest of situations, in which G-d’s presence is doubly hidden and unseen, one must realize that the darkness is not what it seems to be. Rather, it is an opportunity to come in touch with and thereby reveal the truly unknowable “I” of G-d, which transcends even the greatest of G-d’s “names” and manifestations.


—Likutei Sichos, vol. 6, p. 194; Ibid, vol. 9, pp. 193-195

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