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Searching for G-d

Searching for G-d

Can “hide and seek” work if the seeker stops searching?

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A free translation of an excerpt of a talk delivered by the Rebbe on Shevat 15, 5739 (February 12, 1979).

. . . Many Jews are dejected, exhausted by the difficulty of exile. And their discontent is justified—ad matai (how long must we wait)?! . . .

There is a well-known analogy which chassidim repeat in the name of the Maggid, Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezeritch, that compares exile to a father who conceals himself from his son. Certainly, the father desires to be together with his son; the purpose of the concealment is only to awaken within the son a desire and yearning to find his father. After all, when the son is constantly in the presence of his father, his desire to be with his father is not revealed, for “continuous pleasure is not pleasure.”

There arises a situation, however, when the son ceases searching for the Father . . . He claims that “the signs [of our redemption] we have not seen . . . and there is none among us who know how long [the exile will last].”1 He, therefore, concludes that G‑d must have forsaken him; he loses hope and discontinues his search for G‑d.When the Father sees that the son is no longer seeking Him . . . then the exile truly begins

When the Father sees that the son is no longer seeking Him . . . then the exile truly begins. For as long as the son is searching for the Father, as long as the search for redemption occupies the son, this constitutes a preparation, a beginning and a spark of the redemption. But when the son stops searching, then we have the fulfillment of the verse,2 “I will conceal, indeed I will conceal, My face on that day.” The Baal Shem Tov explains that the verse thus implies the concealment itself is concealed, for the son is unaware that the Father is hiding.

Practically speaking: The son doesn’t think about G‑d; he thinks about worldly matters. True, he does everything in a kosher manner, as dictated by the Code of Jewish Law; he even studies Torah properly. But he has stopped thinking about the Giver of the Torah or about conducting business honestly, because he has forgotten that G‑d alone is the one who “gives you the strength to amass wealth.”

And3 when criticized, the son responds, “Why do you complain to me? . . . The complaint should be directed to G‑d . . . How long can we sit in exile? . . .”

Indeed, it is true that the father must conceal himself from his son in order to awaken within him a yearning for his father… But what should the son do when the father places him in an incredible darkness? . . . And especially if the son is on such a low level, as it says, “If our ancestors were like angels, we are like humans; and if our ancestors were like humans, then we are like donkeys—and not even like the donkey of Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair.”4 And then He demands of us that we should constantly search . . . Sunday we must search . . . Monday we must search . . .

And when we search through the holy books for an explanation, we find that the Talmud explicitly says, “All the designated times [for Moshiach’s arrival] have already passed, and now [his arrival] is contingent only on teshuvah (repentance).”5 And it is a clear halachah that through thinking a single thought of teshuvah one becomes a tzaddik (righteous person)—and there is no Jew who hasn’t thought penitential thoughts, not once, but many times!

So, how can one register a complaint against a mortal of flesh and blood who is finite and limited—this is how he was created by G‑d; it is not his fault!—how can one criticize him for not constantly thinking about the redemption . . . it is not possible . . . G‑d Himself says, “I ask only commensurate to one’s capabilities,” but He has not given us the strength . . .

Therefore we must increase in light—and not just any light, but specifically the light of simchah (joyousness). Since simchah “breaks all boundaries and limitations,” it breaks through the person’s limitations, the limitations of this world, and the limitations imposed by this dreadful darkness . . .

Click here for the audio recording of this talk.

Footnotes
3.

The Rebbe was weeping inconsolably while speaking these next few paragraphs.

4.

The Talmud relates that Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair, a Mishnaic sage, owned a donkey that refused to feed from fodder that wasn’t properly tithed.

5.

Talmud, Sanhedrin 97b.

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Craig Hamilton Sandwich, MA May 22, 2008

Amazing! Years ago, I cursed the idea of g-d daily. In my own wisdom, I had to create a strategy, beg, borrow, and steal my way into riches in order to get happy. This brought me into horrible depravity. If someone suggested belief to me, I would probably have acted in violent retribution, because I cried at my wretched existence daily. In my mind, G-d could not have allowed such misery as mine.
It was not until G-d broke me down, that I was prepared to rely on G-d. Relying on G-d, instead of myself, G-d brought me happiness. When I believed in a higher power manifest in reality, that could guide me to safety and happiness, then I believed. Searching for happiness, I never found it, but belief brought happiness to me. In the beginning, belief is like walking a tight rope, but then it broadens and becomes easier, such that even in dire predicaments, one can still have hope. Reply