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Why Doesn't G‑d Show Himself Anymore?

Why Doesn't G‑d Show Himself Anymore?

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Question

I have often wondered, and still wonder, when did G‑d stop talking to us or interacting with us, and why? I think of this often, but especially in relation to the destruction of the temples which He wanted us to build as a home for Him on earth. They were not just structures. We built them because He commanded us to build them, not as just another structure, but as a home for Him on earth! Why then, while many times before He intervened powerfully in many seemingly less important aspects of our lives, yet when the temples were being destroyed, He remained silent. And He still remains silent. Can you tell me why?

Answer

The question is one that has bothered Jews since the time we were exiled in Egypt. Even Moses then agonized over the hidden face of G‑d, asking, "Why have you done evil to this people? Why have you sent me?"

Concerning the destruction of the first Temple, here is the passage from the Talmud (Yoma 69b):

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: Why were they called Men of the Great Assembly? Because they returned the crown to its original place.

For Moshe declared, "the great, mighty and awesome G‑d."

Along came Jeremiah and said, "Foreigners are dancing in His Temple! Where is His awesomeness?" So he would not call G‑d awesome.

Along came Daniel and said, "Foreigners are oppressing His children! Where is His might?" So he would not call G‑d mighty.

Then they came along and said, "On the contrary, this is the might of His mightiness, that He conquers His desire, for He shows patience to the wicked. And this is His awesomeness, for if not for the awe of the Holy One, blessed be He, how is it possible that a nation is able to endure while absorbed among the nations?"

[And so they instituted that we should say, "the great, mighty and awesome G‑d" in our silent prayer.]

This week, I am teaching my five year old to ride a bike. Right now, she can ride with training wheels, and even then she falls once in a while. I could chase after her and ensure that she would never fall. And I could leave the training wheels on forever. But that is not the purpose. I want her to be able to ride off into the blue, without me. That is what being a father is all about.

G‑d is great because He gives us a world and tells us to fix it. He could have given us a happy, care-bear world and just enjoined us to have fun. But that would not be true kindness and He would not be a father. It would not be our world; it would be nothing more than a playpen we were tossed into. We would have no meaning, and life no value.

So instead, He brought us here, gave us basic directions, held on to us for a while, sending us Moses and the prophets and then the sages, and then eventually, took off the training wheels and let us go.

Nevertheless, in His apparent absence, He is with us more than ever. It's hard to write, because there is so much contradiction, but even in the midst of the most unimaginable horrors, His holy hand could still be seen in miracles. The Rebbe gives as an example the perplexing German loss of the crucial Battle of El Alamein—which saved Palestine from a Nazi purge. There are countless more examples. Yitta Halberstam and Judith Leventhal have just recently published their "Small Miracles of the Holocaust," and the stories are authentic, vivid and haunting. "What a strange G‑d," it makes us think, "that He is there and not there at once."

In our own lives, He remains silent only when we do not know how to listen. If you are waiting for a booming voice from the sky to answer your prayers, you may be like the child who is riding her bike into a wall and waiting for her father to catch and stop her. But if you will look into your own mind and heart which G‑d has given you and the signposts He places all around you, there, if you seek with sincerity, you will surely hear His voice loud and clear—and find the brakes right on time.

In truth, in His absence He and His kindness towards us is found even more than in His presence. That is His greatness and that is His awesomeness.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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Anonymous January 17, 2018

Amen! Beautifully said! Thanks for posting :) Reply

Jordana Canada November 1, 2017

Who agrees with the article Reply

Anonymous Fairfax Va November 4, 2016

Divine Communication Hashem does speak to everyone in accordance with their capacity. Even the lowest human has a sense if he or she is open to it. Unfortunately an impure person has a lot of interference form the impure side. On at least two occasions this was proven, when Abraham, a member of an idolalatrous tribe became aware of Hashem's calling and the other when the children of Israel were saved from the lowest levels of impurity. Today each of us need only to stop and listen for Hashem's Truth. The simple message of helping the poor and needy, having mercy on suffering people and creatures. To discriminate between what is holy and what is impure. The Jewish people have a gift called the Torah to help us know the difference and what we must do and not do. Making an effort in this direction will ellicit help from Hashem. The interference will be reduced and you will become more sensitive to Hashem's communication. It may not be words, it may be observations, situations that lead you ...m Reply

Tamara Toronto November 3, 2016

I have not heard the voice of Gd but I saw my mother pray for me a few years after her death. It started when she sat on the tub and I asked her if she still prayed for me every night, and she said, "We don't have 'every night' here, but I can pray for you now if you like. What would you like me to pray for?"
After I told her, she began to glow. I thought she had turned into a lamp, but later I realized that the glow was the energy of her prayer.

Yes, the prayer came true. All of the things I asked her to pray for, happened.

It makes me think that maybe our souls really do survive the death of our bodies.

Maybe. Reply

IMABLVR San Diego, ca October 26, 2016

God has not stopped talking to us......we stopped listening. Reply

Raghu Champaign, IL October 19, 2011

To SarahRachel Actually according to Orthodox Judaism the Hindus were taught the concept of reincarnation by the sons of Abraham who were told to go East, bearing gifts.
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I know these stories, but from where and when these stories originated?

If you ponder n this I am sure you will find these stories are baseless and came about probably in last 1000 or at utmost 1500 years...

Reincarnation is there in the Vedic texts which according to even ad-hoc method used by scientists is as old as 1500 BC. Modern data of certain extinct rivers mentioned in Vedas shows these rivers disappeared around 2000 BC => Vedas are at the least 1000 years older than 2000 BC. Reply

Anonymous Riverside, CA, USA October 16, 2011

It takes a really determined person To overlook common sense and reason to believe what Sarah is explaining. Why would Go-d want to put a tainted, imperfect part of a soul into a perfect human baby?What a tragedy! Reply

SarahRachel October 11, 2011

Reincarnation Actually according to Orthodox Judaism the Hindus were taught the concept of reincarnation by the sons of Abraham who were told to go East, bearing gifts.

According to the Jewish texts the gifts were the knowledge of reincarnation and the rest.

As for being born as a human again who could then mess things up, that's not quite the concept. As is taught in Orthodox Judaism, the portions of our soul that we have rectified in each lifetime do NOT return to be reborn. There is no need.

The portions of our souls that we did not rectify in each lifetime are what returns.
So, of course this is a huge learning experience each time with the goal of finally rectifying the entire soul.

Depending on our thoughts, speech, and actions, according to Kabbalah within the parameters of the Torah in Orthodox Judaism, we can indeed reincarnate into animals, plants, even rocks.

Also, the dating of the Vedas as older than Judaism is questionable. Many experts do not agree with that. Reply

Anonymous Fairfax, VA October 11, 2011

reincarnation Remember that story in the Hagaddah where we were a small rag tag group that crossed the river and how Abraham was the son of an idol maker. We were not a people but there were many nations that preceded us. All the other nations had a piece of the TRUTH as they all came from Adam who was very close to HaShem, probably the closest. So what has this got to do with Reincarnation. The fact is it was common knowledge among the nations. The difference is we had the whole story through our experience at Sinai. Only then were we inheritors of the Truth. Who can say what lives we lived and what might be, After all it is up to HaShem and is part of the Hidden things. Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA October 10, 2011

Anon, in Il Great response. Again, we don't come back as donkeys like someone told my sister she did after being regressed for $5,000. If we do come back, I believe it is as guardian angels, or that our souls go into humans to help them to help the world, and then they leave after a good deed is done. That would make more sense than being born as a human who could then mess things up again. It would also not echo mythological creatures and ideas. Reply

Anonymous Champaign, IL October 9, 2011

reincarnation Hinduism got the concept of reincarnation FROM Judaism ......It is not the same
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It is more likely that Judaism got the concept of reincarnation from Hinduism. Hindu religious texts predate every religious text in the world. Reincarnation is found in the central texts (Vedas) of Hindus. The oldest texts of judaism is dated later than Hindu texts. So it is more likely that judaism received this idea from Hinduism and it is judaism which perverted this idea, just Buddhism perverted its idea as well.

All subpowers in Hinduism are subject to one power in Vedas. There are clear explicit statements in Vedas. Reply

Anonymous October 9, 2011

reincarnation Hinduism got the concept of reincarnation FROM Judaism - and promptly perverted it. May I suggest that you learn about the JEWISH concept of it rather than assuming that it is the same thing as the Hindu concept. It is not the same. Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA November 15, 2010

I believe G-d shows Himself to me in this way... In everything that is awesome, beautiful, good and productive in life. I sort of believe in a kind of afterlife which I call angels. In fact, I believe I have seen at least two in my lifetime. One, in fact, helped save my life in a car crash, and I described him to a policeman. It's a long story, but this "person" looked like a regular man with regular clothing but didn't get wet in the storm. Although I was all bent over to my right and couldn't move, he motioned for me to roll down the window so that the paramedics could get me out. I couldn't. The window just opened by itself then. He also said he needed to check on the others in the crash. He told me what was their condition including ages, etc, and the reason I was hit. The others told the police THERE WAS NO ONE there. I asked was the info I got correct? They said "Yes, how do you know?" Although he said he had called the ambulance, they said they didn't know who the call came from. But no, no coming back as a donkey!!!! Reply

Anonymous Blacksburg, VA November 14, 2010

The modern voice of G-d...? Does anybody know of any Jews who claim to have audibly heard the voice of G-d in a relatively modern time? If so, are there any alive today? (I don't mean in the sense that R. Freeman mentions, of knowing internally what his plan is for our respective lives.) Reply

rhl September 8, 2010

Dear Karen Judaism is far from mythology. Why do you feel past lives goes against G-d?

I am sorry for your pain. I know when I am in pain and my heart is blocked up I too close to most things.

Where I live the sun is shining today. It's Rosh Hashana tonight and I am excited for the New Year. A New year with increasing light on the planet. I hope the sun in shining for you too :)

Shana Tovah Reply

Anonymous Fairfax, Va September 7, 2010

To Karen Joyce I am sorry that my comments upset you. I too felt the same way but after thinking about this. I thought why not. How does this change G-d's Unity. Sometimes universal Truths become part of all cultures. It certainly explains things. when I think there is no justice in this world I understand that there is no escape from G-d's justice. Whether in this life or another. There is no time restriction for G-d. If He wants you to experience something in what we think is the future, it is no problem for G-d. It is all the same. Reply

Anonymous Fairfax, Va September 7, 2010

To Rhi Evidently, there is more to learn. Another approach to these circumstances is to search for what good came out of the bad situation. Try to find some good residue from the majority of the negative effect. Who knows, you may find the reason you are going through all this. I don't know of any person on this earth Tzaddik or not that doesn't go through trials. It is a human thing. The intensity may be mitigated but just like a child we have to go through learning situations. G-d may be hidden but He does protect us from things as part of His mercy. As bad as things are they can be a lot worse. The G-d that you are looking for is also in front of you. You have food and shelter. Hopefully you have a loving family and you can derive pleasure from other things and circumstances. The same G-d that hands out trials also hands out blessings. You just have to see not through your eyes, but through your experience. Reply

Sarah Virginia Beach, VA September 7, 2010

Past Lives in Judaism Karen, Judaism is the original religion, and within it, it carries the deepest meanings of the Torah, which speak about rectification through reincarnations. There is Gehennom as well, but reincarnations are preferable. This was the reason for Job's suffering, in a previous incarnation he had been one of Pharoah's advisors who remained silent when Pharoah asked whether to allow the Israelites to leave. Please look there.

Hinduism got the concept of reincarnation FROM Judaism - and promptly perverted it. May I suggest that you learn about the JEWISH concept of it rather than assuming that it is the same thing as the Hindu concept. It is not the same.

Our souls live, and live again. Everything we meet is a tikkun, a repair, for any blemishes we have caused. Judaism is a religion that teaches responsibility for our souls and their cleansing. We do not worship ancestors or man-gods to accomplish this.

Please go and learn about it from the Jewish concept before giving up Judaism Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA September 7, 2010

If past lives are a part of the Jewish religion, Then I am now positive Judaism, like all religions, are MYTHOLOGY. This is very, VERY discouraging to me. Now, I myself, am dissuaded from Judaism. Thank you very much! You have sufficiently convinced me Judaism is so not real. I guess I am now on my own again. Why doesn't this aspect of Judaism also cut down trees and deck them with silver and gold? It's the same thing. Reply

rhl September 7, 2010

to karen joyce Thank you for your response.

You are most certainly correct. The Hindu religion is full of sub powers.
When i use the word karma it is to express in the clearest term life lived in consequences. If you look at most peoples lives they are products of consequences.

Re past lives. As far as i understand that is very much a Jewish concept. Many esoteric Jewish teachers speak on this topic. Reply

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