February 9, 2020
“How long, O L-RD, wilt Thou forget me for ever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?”
- Psalm 13:2, JPS 1917 Tanach
The concept of hester panim (G-d’s hiding his face) from man, speaks of the need to find Him within the circumstances of our lives, despite His apparent absence. The feeling of loneliness, that many people experience in their lives, may actually reach the proportions of an existential reality, serving as a call to search for G-d. Loneliness may be viewed as a sheet of blank paper, holding the potential to be filled with words that will uplift the spirit, even if this occurs through a cartharsis by writing down what weighs heavily upon the heart. The same is true when we speak to G-d from the depths of our soul, instead of carrying the weight of our burdens on our own. “Cast thy burden upon the L-RD, and He will sustain thee” (Psalm 55:23, JPS 1917 Tanach).
In this world, our aspirations, ambitions, and material pursuits may not be 100% fulfilling, especially if G-d is left out of the equation. Yet, even the pious, who serve G-d night and day, may experience the darkness of G-d’s absence in their lives; and, certainly for such people, no worldy pursuit would offer any consolation to them. The personal writings of Mother Teresa revealed that she often experienced a felt absence of G-d in her life; yet, she remained true to her calling.
What will be appreciated in the next world is our genuine commitment to what is important in life; the false image that we present to others at times, any boasting of our abilities, making ourselves out to be more than who we are, and the selfish use of our time, money, and talents will all be weighed in the balance. Even John Lennon, who was an atheist, sang that you can’t take anything with you except for your soul.
Of the nature of values that are appreciated in Olam HaBa (the World to Come), a Jewish sage who had a near death experience explained, “I saw an inverted world. Those above were below, while those below, were above” (Pesachim 50a, sefaria.org). This may imply that our humility, above all other consideraions, will level the playing field for us, as we make our way through life. And, in the absence of a felt connection to G-d, we should lower ourselves in His eyes, so that we can climb the heights of spiritual significance.