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While We’re in Exile, Where’s G-d?

While We’re in Exile, Where’s G-d?


In our Parshah, Moses prophesies regarding our nation’s exile as well as our ultimate redemption, regarding which he says, “G‑d will return your exiles and He will have mercy upon you. He will once again gather you from all the nations where the L‑rd your G‑d had dispersed you” (Deuteronomy 30:3).

Though galut (exile), by definition, is a time when G‑d’s presence in our lives isn’t manifest and palpable as it was—and will soon again be—during the Holy Temple glory days, it by no means signals a hiatus in our relationship with Him. This idea was expressed by Jacob the first time that our nation was dispatched into exile, when he informed his children that they would spend many years exiled in Egypt, but “G‑d will be with you” (Genesis 48:21).

G‑d is omnipresent, He’s with everyone at all times, so Jacob’s special assurance that G‑d would be with the Jews was referring to G‑d’s overtpresence and protection. Indeed, though our exiles have been times of great national difficulty, persecution and worse, it is these very travails that testify to the fact that G‑d is still “with us.” For is there any other explanation for the fact that a small, displaced and defenseless nation outlives all the superpowers that endeavor mightily to annihilate her?

But Is G‑d a master conductor who keeps a watchful eye over us while remaining serenely unaffected?lest we think that G‑d is a master conductor who keeps a watchful eye over us while He Himself remains serenely unaffected by our suffering, the verse (Psalms 91:15) quotes G‑d as saying, “I am with him [Israel] in distress.” This was the message that G‑d conveyed by choosing to appear to Moses in a thornbush when the Jews were being oppressed by the Egyptians. When we suffer, it’s as if He is being pricked by thorns. After all, is there a father that is not distressed when his child is in pain?

The verse cited above, from this week’s Parshah, takes this idea a step further. The Hebrew wording employed in this verse is rather unusual. Rather than the standard וְהֵשִׁיב, which translates as “He [G‑d] will cause you to return,” the word וְשָׁב, which translates literally as “He will return,” is used. On this our sages comment: “From here we learn that the Divine Presence resides among Israel, as it were, in all the misery of their exile. And when they are redeemed, G‑d writes [here in the Scriptures] redemption for Himself—for He, too, will return with them!”

This is not simply a father who is commiserating with his son. This is a father who accompanies his son into exile. A king who voluntarily joins his son in captivity.

And when the time of the redemption arrives, He will return together with each and every one of us, as Isaiah prophesies (27:12), “You will be gathered up, one by one, O children of Israel.”

Adapted by Naftali Silberberg from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Chaya Mushka, and their three children.
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Meme Jerusalem September 18, 2015

Do not postpone a Command You write: "And when the time of the redemption arrives…"
Why wait to fulfill a mitzvah and not fulfill it now. Rabbi Elazar Azkari, in his book "Sefer Chasidim" writes: "It is a positive commandment to dwell in Eretz Yisrael = The promised land." Do not wait as the writer suggests, do not postpone a command. Come to Israel now. Reply

Yitzchak Chaim September 12, 2015

Breath of Adam "Tell the children of Israel, said G-d to Moses, that My name is Eh-he-yeh. Where was I all these years? With you. I am being, I am existence, I am reality. I am in the groan of a beaten slave, in the wail of a bereaved mother, in the spilled blood of a murdered child. Certain things must be, no matter how painful and incomprehensible to your human selves, in order that great things, infinitely great and blissful things, should be. But I do not orchestrate these things from some distant heaven, holy and removed from your existential pain. I am there with you, suffering with you, praying for redemption together with you. If you cannot see Me, it is not for My ethereality; it is because I am so real." Reply

Paul James Hayesville, N.C. September 11, 2015

Exile Why were they exiled in the first place? Paul Reply

Marc Levene 34231 September 11, 2015

6-10 million Jewish lives lost i need to be convinced somehow he is up there after all the murdering and slaughter of our brothers while in prayer were shot and killed if you were lucky, not to forget to mention the 20 million Russians who died for nothing the list is never ending and i shake my head. Reply

S United Kingdom September 10, 2017
in response to Marc Levene:

I read in the book about the late Rebbe's of righteous memory (My Story) a quote from the Rebbe regarding the Torah teaching on family purity. If the male and female bonding is not sacred then it can be the most destructive force on earth. Page 21

HaShem's people are dispersed among these destructive families and like the 'good shepherd' He will gather in His flock from every nation and not leave one behind. When we are resurrected, I feel, we will only know the joy of life and living.

Our suffering now enables us to fulfil HaShem's purpose. I too have suffered greatly, so these are not superfluous words written without compassion for the horrendous crimes against humanity.

King David writes in psalms, A broken heart is the greatest sacrifice.

Without the loving teaching from ChaBaD. Org I could never express these words, as ChaBaD has truly helped me to heal and begin to grow as HaShem desires. Please try to embrace these teachings and may Mashiach arrive speedily. Reply

Leah September 10, 2015

so let's think of Him and not ourselves..... if we can bring G-d out of Exile, maybe we'll merit that He'll bring us out :)
and isn't He mostly in Exile when we forget about Him? Reply

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