by Moshe Kempinski.
The world is in the midst of an epic battle between two world views and beliefs. On the one hand there are those ascribing to a belief in a world “governed” by a G-d absent randomness .On the other hand there are those with a faith in a life of G-d centered purposefulness.then there re those in the middle that are afraid to commit to either approach.
One of the high priests of Atheism , Richard Dawkins writes in his book ,The G0d Delusion the following;” Creationists eagerly seek a gap in present-day knowledge or understanding. If an apparent gap is found, it is assumed that God, by default, must fill it.” The contention is that all can and will be explained by Science and when such knowledge is still lacking the people of faith mistakenly fill that gap with a belief in a Celestial Being.
Actually the irony is that opposite is the case. The Richard Dawkins of this world are created in that “gap”. When the obvious involvement of G-d in this world becomes hidden ,many in the world look for the safety found in “little idols”. Scientific knowledge which is in itself a blessing and great spiritual tool , can in these situations become one of those “little idols”. We see this phenomenon developing in the aftermath of Mount Sinai.
After the dramatic events of the revelation at mount Sinai we see a deterioration spreading in the midst of the people of Israel. Moshe leaves them to receive the Torah and his absence is painfully felt:
And Moshe entered into the midst of the cloud, and went up into the mount; and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights. (Exodus 24:18)
On the 16th of Tammuz the people come to the mistaken conclusion that Moshe is overdue and that perhaps he has died:
“When the people saw that Moshe had not come down the mountain, they gathered round Aaron and said to him, ‘come make for us gods (plural) to go before us [to lead us]; for that man [Moses] who brought us here from Egypt – we do not know what has become of him’.” (ibid 32:1)
Moshe had become critical in their relationship with Hashem as a result of their own fears:
“They said to Moshe, “Speak with us yourself, and we will listen; but don’t let God speak with us, lest we die.” (Exodus 20:19)
Suddenly they find themselves in a situation wherein Moshe becomes absent. As a result their “connection “and intermediary with the Divine seems to have gone missing. They are forced to confront a gap in their spiritual reality and began to feel lost and frightened. They create and celebrate a physical representation of an intermediary, the golden calf, to substitute for Moshe. The higher and more intense their experience of holiness the more profound their feeling of loss and confusion in its absence.
That curtain over reality, this gap in awareness can, become the ultimate obstacle between meeting and relating to G-d. Yet it is a hiddenness that G-d Himself sets into place when He declares “And I will surely hide My face in that day”( Deuteronomy 31:18)
This Divine “hiding” is more than a response to man’s actions in this world, but is rather a critical and vital step in the plan for the fashioning of mankind’s purpose. The great spiritual changes in our history are always precipitated by mankind’s innate desire to find what was lost, to discover that which was hidden. It is in fact behind that curtain that man finds his inner strengths. It is in that gap that man is motivated to yearn and search.
That perhaps is the basis of Moshe’s question to Hashem when he declares:
“…Show me, I pray Thee, Your glory.’ And He said: ‘I will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of HaShem before you ; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.’ And He said: ‘You cannot not see My face, for no man shall see Me and live.’ And HaShem said: ‘Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand upon the rock. And it shall come to pass, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you ( VeSakotee) with My hand until I have passed by. And I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.'(Exodus 33:17-23)
Moshe is yearning to see beyond the veil and across the gap. G-d tells him that that is not possible. Yet G-d offers the key to deeper understanding;” And it shall come to pass, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand until I have passed by. And I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back”. That is to say G-d is telling Moshe that though you may not see me “face to face” you will have experienced the impact of My passing over you, and the impact of My being. Therein you will find the answers to your questions.
Though we may be finding ourselves at times alone in a ” gap” in our spiritual corporate or personal lives , the key is to look into what has passed over us. G-d cannot be seen directly at times because He is purposefully hidden Yet His impact is all around us. It is in that impact that we will find the truth behind the gap and as a result not fall into the trap of “small idols”.
LeRefuat Yehudit Bat Golda Yocheved