Off the Pulpit: Hide and Seek

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

Many of the high points of the Jewish tradition depend upon the end of concealment. In the Torah, God was long hidden from humanity until Abraham managed to see the world as filled with God’s presence. At Sinai, the notion of ‘revelation’ presupposes that before, there was hiddenness.

The approaching holiday of Succot reminds us of this shadow side of Jewish understanding. The schach on the roof of the succah deliberately casts shadows on the floor, both revealing and concealing. The holiday follows on the heels of Yom Kippur, the time when we are supposed to bare our souls, seeking to hide nothing from ourselves or from God.

As has been noted by Heschel, among others, the tradition is a dialectic of human beings seeking God and God searching for human beings. We hide like children in a game, hoping to be found. The assurance of Succot is that, no matter where we live, in temporary huts or palatial mansions, we are never entirely concealed. We may feel neglected but we are not abandoned. As with the children of Israel who built the first huts crossing the desert, we may feel we are lost, but God has found us.

(Rabbi David Wolpe is the senior rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.)

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