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Wednesday, September 26, 2018 17 Tishrei 5779


The first Lubavitch/Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, author of the Tanya and Code of Jewish Law, once remarked that a Jew must "live with the times." His son explained the meaning: A Jew must live with the Torah portion of the week - i.e., he must assimilate the lessons of the weekly Torah portion
This week's Torah portion, Vayeilech, contains a verse which sums up the entire concept of the exile of the Jewish people. "And on that day My anger will burn against them," we read, "and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them."
Rashi, the foremost Torah commentator, explains that the concealment of G-d's presence from the Jews is only an illusion, only "as if" He were in hiding. "I will hide My face from them," G-d says, "as though I do not see their distress." In truth, however, G-d is always with the Jewish people; He always sees and observes them, and indeed senses their distress, as it is written, "In all their distress, He is distressed."
The sole reason that G-d hides Himself, as it were, is to stir the Jewish people to return to Him.
Chassidus uses the analogy of a father who hides himself from his young son to determine how smart he is. The son, being subjected to the test, can respond in one of two ways: he can fall into despair and conclude that his father has abandoned him, or, if he is truly wise, he will correctly surmise that his father would never leave him and he must therefore be nearby. When the son realizes the purpose of the "game" and understands that his father is really there, despite the fact that he cannot see him, this in itself arouses a stronger love and causes the son to express these feelings for his parent more fervently.
Furthermore, as the Baal Shem Tov explained, the double expression "haster astir" - "I will surely hide" - means that the Divine concealment itself will be concealed, especially during this final period of exile, when spiritual darkness prevails. Nonetheless, we must always remember that nothing can separate G-d from the Jewish people, and that G-dliness is forever within us.
Golus, exile, is the ultimate form of "I will hide My face from them." The sole purpose of the seeming "concealment" is to test the reaction of the Jewish people, about whom the Torah states, "You are the children of the L-rd your G-d." This, however, is no more than a temporary illusion to motivate us to seek the "hidden presence" of G-d. Thus, through being in exile, we are led to intensify our bond with G-d, culminating in the ultimate manifestation of G-d's love for Israel that will come about with the Messianic Redemption.
(The Rebbe, various talks)

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