Guest post by Yerachmiel Goldstein
“So that you will realize that I am the eternal, right here on earth.” (Vaeira 8:18)
I’m not sure if I ever truly enjoyed playing hide and seek. I think it was that I conjured up too many disastrous hide and seek scenarios in my head. One consists of me finding the best hiding place possible i.e. the outdoors (assuming that the game takes place inside). The game would suddenly begin as the boy who was designated “it” would count to fifty or whatever number he could remember. His eyes remained closed as everyone would assume their hiding spots under beds, in closets or in some distant, downstairs bathroom. When no one was looking, I’d run outside into the cold Long Island streets, far away from any possibility of being found. However, after some time, I imagine that the crew of six year olds I was playing with would all conclude that they truly were not able to find me. They would then become worried and immediately call the cops. I would then be would be forced to hide from the police. Nassau County’s finest would hunt me down with bright flashlights and loud helicopters as I sought a hiding spot deep in the wilderness for fear of being arrested on a charge of insanity. But I’m sure everyone else had a good time.
But I wonder how the seeker must have felt. The “it” must have thought either very low of himself or given up completely on the hope of finding me. In real life, far from the Long Island streets, we are placed in the role of the seeker called “it.”
Our souls are hurled down into bodies that do not see or hear G-d but are told to find him. As it says in the beginning of the daily Morning Prayer, “search for the L-rd and his might, continually seek his countenance.” But where is G-d exactly? Is he like me? Does he hide in the streets of Long Island or is he simply behind the kitchen closet where we wouldn’t have expected?
The great Kotzker Rebbe answers the question. “Where is God to be found? In the place where He is given entry.” Let’s first establish, G-d is not lost. G-d is here, G-d is there and certainly, G-d is everywhere. But in order to find him, there needs to be a realization that it isn’t about finding G-d as much as it is allowing G-d to be found. Meaning what?
In accordance with making life easier, we place “the things” in places where we are able to find them. We have a coat rack, a toothbrush holder, a drawer for our clothes, a wallet for our money, and so on and so forth. What does this do? It takes away minutes of wasted time we may use up looking for “the things” in random places. It takes away frustration, anxiety and the fear of losing your job for being late. And so, we answer this potential dilemma of the lost item. Why look when we can just create a place for “the things” to be? We begin to create designated places for almost everything in our life. Then life becomes a dance of synchronicity and organization. We come home, put my coat here, brush my teeth and I try to put my money in wallet, not in my pocket. But what happens? Life becomes routine. We get used to that which we are doing. We may even get bored. We live that same way everyday for the rest of our lives and slowly lack the simple subtle consciousness of brushing our teeth and even more so, flossing.
Therefore, we need to be told to seek. But not seeking in the sense of looking for something lost or misplaced. No, in fact everything should placed where it can be found. But the seeking is what creates stimulation, excitement. The seeking in a relationship for the other allows for the newness, for the fresh beginning to a new day. As the Rebbe explains concerning sleep “If we didn’t sleep, there would be no tomorrow. Life would be a single, seamless today. Our every thought and deed would be an outgrowth of all our previous thoughts and deeds. There would be no new beginnings in our lives, for the very concept of a new beginning would be alien to us.”
So we see, when something in our life is misplaced, there is darkness. Yet, when we put that where it needs to be, there is darkness no more. But there is rote, and in order to get rid of rote, we have to constantly be in a process of seeking. Then the question heads back to the Kotzker Rebbe. Where is G-d to be found? I think to phrase the question a bit differently, where in our lives do we place G-d rather than the world of darkness he places us?