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Show Your Face
In this week's portion, G-d warns the Jews that if they do not act properly, "And My fury will rage against them on that day, and I will abandon them and hide My face from them" (Vayelech 31:17). At first glance, if G-d fulfills His threat to abandon the people, what is the meaning of the second term, "I will hid my face"? Only one who is present can hide his face. Once one has left, what is there to hide?

Rashi therefore explains that there is no scenario in which G-d truly leaves His people. "I will abandon you--as if I no longer see your pain." In other words, the expression "I will abandon them" is close in meaning to the expression "I will hide my face." Both are meant to say that in times of exile, G-d's providence will nevertheless not depart from the people, nor will any distance arise between us and G-d. There will only be a state of concealment, in which we cannot see or sense G-d. However, from G-d's perspective there is no change. It will be as if G-d has turned His face away. As if.

It follows, then, that the Divine warning also includes in it a profound consolation. It teaches us that even in the most severe state of exile, come what may, G-d is never far from us. He is found with us in exile and suffers our pain.

G-d's presence with us in exile gives us a strong basis for our demand for Redemption: It is simply not befitting for G-d's honor to remain in exile! G-d needs to be "redeemed," and His people along with Him.

Toras Menachem 5742, vol. 1, p. 38

 

 


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