Why Does God Hide Himself from Our Eyes?

            January 2014    
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The Case of the Hidden Saint

By Avi Lazerson

In Jewish life and literature there is a concept of the hidden tzaddik (a tzaddik is a person who is totally and truly righteous); in Hebrew he is called the tzaddik nister. The hidden tzaddik is one of the pillars of Jewish folklore. A tzaddik is a truly righteous man, a person who spends as much of his time that he can find in serving G-d in piety and developing an even closer relationship to G-d. He is a person who lives his life in a way concealing his holy actions so that others can not realize what a pious man he really is.

This a man who ekes out a minimal income in order to have more time for G-d and lives a very low profile life subsisting on the little that he earns with his hard work. His neighbors see him as a simple person, a kind person and a quiet person. They do not know that when he finishes his work he goes home and studies not just the most difficult parts of the Torah and Talmud, but also delves into the hidden world of Kabbalah that very few, including scholars, understand at all.

No one really knows who this man really is. His wife is sworn to secrecy and they subsist on a very low economic stratum. His neighbors think that he is just a kind simple man who keeps to himself. They have not a inkling that this man is one of the famed thirty-six saints who in their merit that G-d grants sustenance to the world.

All of this is really great but the question is: is this man honest since he misrepresents himself as a simple average worker? Should he not stop disguising himself and act the part of a true tzaddik (saint)?

In one manner we can say that he is deliberately misrepresenting himself to fool people. That is not ethical! Perhaps he should act on the outside as he really is on the inside?

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from the January 2014 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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