Where God is Hidden

No one knows where God is hidden. Not even the ministering angels who tend God’s Throne of Glory know where God can be found, nor do the heavenly creatures who carry the Throne, for God has encircled Himself with darkness and cloud all around, as it is said, He made darkness his screen (Ps. 18:12). Indeed, some say that the true meaning of the verse, You hid Your face (Ps. 30:8) is that God is hidden from Himself.
— Howard Schwartz, The Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism, p.13

The passage goes on to explain that this might be “about the absence of God” or “a metaphor for the hidden nature of God: just as no person knows where his soul is located within himself, so too does no one know the place of God.” It also mentions teaching of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, which “interprets “You hid Your face (Ps. 30:8) as meaning that God has turned his back on the Jewish people during the Exile” (Likutei Moharan).

Citations are to B. Sanhedrin 39a, Exodus Rabbah 23, Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer 4, and Masekhet Hekhalot 3.

PRE 4:6 says:

The Chayyoth stand next to the throne of His glory and they do not know the place of His glory.

Sanhedrin 39a includes:

The Emperor also said to Rabban Gamaliel: I know what your God is doing, and where He is seated. Rabban Gamaliel became, [as it were] overcome and sighed, and on being asked the reason, answered. ‘I have a son in one of the cities of the sea, and I yearn for him. Pray tell me about him.’ [footnote: Literally, ‘show him to me’] ‘Do I then know where he is,’ he replied. ‘You do not know what is on earth, and yet [claim to] know what is in heaven!’ he retorted.

I don’t have easy access to the other sources, and nothing in the material Schwartz presents directly elaborates on how or why God might be hidden from Godself. Thoughts and additional sources most welcome!

4 of 30 on Psalm 30
As a National Novel Writing Month Rebel, I write each day of November while not aiming to produce a novel. This year I focus on Psalm 30 in the hope that its powerful language will help us through these days of turmoil and toward something new, stronger and more joyful, as individuals and as community.

Whole series (so far)

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Virginia hosts "Conversations Toward Repair" on We Act Radio, manages WeLuvBooks.org, blogs on general stuff a vspatz.net and more Jewish topics at songeveryday.org and Rereading4Liberation.com

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