Jewish High Holydays: Hide and Seek

    Issue Number 25, September 1999          
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Opinion & Society

By Brad Eisen

Hide and seek is a game that many children play. It is a game that is based on one person hiding and others searching for the hidden person. Many children have enjoyed this game. The fun is trying to discover where our friend is hiding.

There are two different grown up versions of this game. One is the hide and seek that a father does with his little child. The other is the type that goes on when the police are searching for a wanted person.

In reality there is another similar type of hide and seek. This is the hide and seek that G-d plays with us. He is always hiding and we are always seeking Him through out the trappings of nature. Why is it that we have so much difficulty in finding Him?

The answer to this question is dependent on understanding the two versions of hide and seek that we mentioned earlier.

The first, again is the father with his child. In this case, the father is hiding and the child is searching for the father. The father wants the child to discover him. Why? Because it creates a delight in both the father and the child.

In the second case, the case of the fugitive who is being sought by the police, the fugitive does not want to be discovered by the police. But, also the police do not really want to catch the fugitive because they have a personal desire to catch him. They want to catch him because it is their job. They really have no interest in this person. This is just how they make a living. They get paid for finding fugitives. The fugitive, as a person, has no attraction to the police.

This is in contradiction to the child who is seeking his father-in-hiding. He is not searching for the father because the father is giving him a reward. He is searching because he wants the father. His delight is in catching the father and giving him a hug.

In the case of the fugitive, since the police are not really interested in the fugitive, but rather in the money, meaning their salaries, they can be bribed. If the fugitive were to slip a policeman a large sum of money, the policeman may just not find the fugitive. Why look? He can make a lot more money by accepting a bribe.

The child, however, who sincerely loves the father, is harder to bribe. Since his enjoyment is in being together with the father, and that is his reward, then a small bribe will not help divert the child.

Also, from the side of the father, if he sees that the child can not find him he will cause something to happen to cause attention to the child, that he may redirect his focus closer to the hiding place of the father. But the fugitive certainly will not be unhappy if the police go in the wrong direction. He will certainly not call their attention to himself.

In a similar vein, G-d also hides from us. Many people seek him, yet few really merit to come close to him. Why is that? It depends on the motivations of the seekers.

How Bribes Work

Basically we are all compound individuals. That means that we possess various desires in various directions in various amounts. Each of us has internally various difference desires. As an example, a person may have a desire to be thin and beautiful and a desire to eat fattening foods. Which desire will win? With all outside influences being equal, it will be dependent on which desire is the stronger. In the above example of the policemen, they have a desire to earn money, advance in their job, maintain a social rapport with their fellow workers, etc. If their desire for money is stronger than their desire to do a proper job, (excluded fear of being caught) then they will likely take a bribe. This is because he is not motivated to apprehend the fugitive for his own reasons, but rather for external reasons, i.e., its part of his job.

If the seeker is motivated in his search because of the reward that he will receive, then G-d rewards him with a bribe. Perhaps he will bribe him with a reward in this world such as letting him become a Rabbi or other distinguished person.

If the seeker is motivated by pure motives, he wishes to be close to G-d. Then he is not easily bribed to stop looking.

How Do We Find Him?

Now that we have established an understanding on how to seek him, let us now understand how do we find him.

In our little simile, we mentioned that when the child is getting too far from the father, the father, who desires to be found will do something to attract attention in his direction. Perhaps if he is hiding behind a curtain, he will move the curtains. Or if he is in a closet he may move the door causing a small squeak. When the child sees the curtain moving in a room with a window closed, he may think that it is nothing, a mere coincidence. If he thinks in this manner, then he will not find the father.

However, if the child really wants to discover the whereabouts of the father, then no movement that has a coincidental reason will not be investigated. He will be drawn to see why the curtains move, especially in a room with no open windows.

The same is true of us. God hides. We seek. He causes nature to move and wiggle. We can call it a coincidence or we can look deeper into the circumstances. We realize that there are no coincidences. G-d guides the universe and rules nature. It is for us to see God in nature, how He manipulates occurrences. Once we have mastered the ability to see Him in nature, then we may begin to see him above nature.

Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Succoth

The high holidays are times to renew our search for God. It is a time for reflection and deepening our dedication to our search and considering those events that have passed before us. Each holiday comes to make this awareness more vivid.

Rosh Hashanah reminds us that God is still the creator and master of the universe. The laws of nature and the fate of man are in His hands.

Yom Kippur is the holiday that tells us that God does not want to remain hidden. Although we have sinned, he is willing to erase our sins, if only we will return to Him.

Succoth, together with Simchat Torah, is that time for rejoicing in that we have caught Him. Together we sit in His abode, the Succah, and we dance with his present to us, the Torah scroll.

And may you, together with the rest of the Jewish people and all of mankind together, be inscribed for a year of successful searching and find God, for that is the true source of peace and happiness.

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