“I will hide My face from them...”

-Vayeilech 31:17

The meaning of these words, as already noted by Rashi, is that “I will hide My face from them-as though I do not see their distress.” In other words, the concealment is only “as if..,” for G‑d does not, Heaven forbid, forsake Israel. He always sees and observes them, and indeed senses, as it were, their anguish, as it is written, “In all their distress, He is distressed” (Isaiah 63:9).

The sole intent of the apparent concealment is to stir the Jewish people to return to G‑d. It is in fact an indication of G‑d’s great and unceasing love for Israel, regardless of their condition.

Chassidut likens this to a son who is at home with his father: the father will sometimes conceal himself from him, so that the son should become more aware of his love for the father and manifest it more intensely. For when the son realizes that his father is really there, though hidden from him, this itself will arouse his love for him-to seek him and to express these feelings more ardently.

Galut is the ultimate form of “I will hide My face from them.” This is, however, no more than a temporary illusion to motivate us to seek the “hidden presence” of G‑d. Thus 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.