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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Where is God? Where is man!

In the face of human evil people often demand, "Where is God?"

But as Purim should teach us the real question is never where is God, but where is man. God is always where he needs to be. Our concern is not with where is God but where is man.

On Purim a near genocide of the Jewish people took place that was averted and though we celebrate it while giving thanks to God, we never see His hand clearly at work in it. There are no great open miracles. The earth doesn't open up, the sea doesn't part, the sky doesn't rain fire and the mountains don't tremble. Instead a seeming minutia of events on the part of human add up to bring salvation.

In the aftermath of the destruction of the temple and the fading of prophecy from the world, Mordechai and Esther confronted a world of men that had with its persistence of evil driven away God. For thousands of years God had sought man in grand and open ways. Now man would have to seek God by understanding that he is present even when he appears to be hidden.

Esther and Mordechai understood what most did not, that God was where he should be, it was man that was absent and so they committed themselves to a course of action, not because they were confident that it would succeed, indeed Mordechai explicitly states that it may not, but because they were confident that God would nevertheless find a way to bring about salvation through someone. Perhaps through them. Perhaps not. Like Daniel and his friends, he had faith in God and in the need of man to stand up for what was right, without the confidence of invulnerability.

Esther and Mordechai's question was not where God was. They understood the need for man, for men and women, to do what they could. Megillat Esther, the Esther signifying Hastir or hidden, was the bridge from the world of the Temple and the Prophets and the accompanying open miracles to a world in which God appeared hidden and his miracles discreet. The miracles of Chanukah and Purim were the bridge to that world in which God appeared distant but that challenged us to find him in the salvations both great and small, from the escape from genocide to the rising of the sun to the filling of the needs of every creature. From a world of open miracles we had seemingly declined to a world of miracles that were just as open but no longer obvious because they were part of how God had been running the world all along.

Recognizing God requires not only requires recognizing Him as the God who can disrupt nature in open miracles but who underlies nature. While the lack of grand miracles that disrupt the natural world may seem like a diminution but it's also a chance to achieve a greater understanding of God and to take action.

The question continues to be asked, "Where is God." But God continues on. As always it's human deficits that are at issue. It's we who need to find ourselves and find our place in the larger picture. And we do that by standing up for the right things and rather than blaming God by demanding to know "Where is God" taking action to make things right.

Whether it is the Holocaust or Israel, the question is not where is God. But where is man? That too is what God is waiting for and has been waiting for all along.

5 comments:

Nightghost said...

What do we do?

LemonLimeMoon said...

G-d never moves, mankind moves away from G-d then gropes around in the dark for answers. But like you said, G-d is right there at all times if men decide to turn on the light and look once again.

Sultan Knish said...

we don't bow to evil and we save people from the threat of evil, like mordechai and esther did

Anonymous said...

And continue to pray and act as the faithful.

Keli Ata said...

A beautiful article.

In my humble opinion: G-d is everywhere and has blessed us with freewill (bechira chafshit?). It is up to us to choose holiness or wickedness and face the consequences.

In the face of the Holocaust or ethnic cleansing in Israel what else can we do but to light the darkness and fight evil?

(belated Shavua tov)

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