When children play hide and seek, they are looking for someone who's there. If he's not there, there's no game.
A recent Torah Portion tells us: "Then, Hashem your G-d, will return your captivity and have mercy upon you, and He will gather you in from all the peoples to where Hashem, your G-d has scattered you." (Deuteronomy 30:3) Rashi comments: "Our rabbis learned from here ... that the Shechina (Presence of G-d) rests with Israel in the hardship of their exile. And when [Israel] are redeemed, [G-d] had ... written about Himself, that He would return with them."
Our search for Hashem is no game, but we can learn from the children. If Hashem had not been with us in Exile, then we would not exist. We have survived up to now only because He is amongst us, even though we may not be aware of His Presence.
"It was taught in a Baraisa: Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai said, Come and see how beloved the Children of Israel are before Hashem! For wherever they were exiled, the Shechinah is with them. [When] they were exiled to Egypt, the Shechinah was with them, as it is said, 'Was I not revealed to your father's house when they were in Egypt...' [When] they were exiled to Babylon, the Shechinah was with them, as it is said, 'For your sake have I been sent to Babylon....' And also at the time when they are destined to be redeemed, the Shechinah will be with them, as it is said, 'And Hashem will return with your returning exiles.'" (Megillah 29a)
Recently, in the Pisgat Zev neighborhood of Yerushalayim, the Arabs were shooting across the wadi at the Jews. This is Yerushalayim, not Gaza. In the Golan, "stray" bullets and missiles keep landing in Israel. All over the world they are demonstrating against us. One could feel so isolated and abandoned! But even now - most definitely now! - Hashem is with us through it all.
Hashem is called "One" and we are called "one" -- "goy echad b'aretz... a unique nation on earth." (II Samuel 7:23) Those who are called "one" are forever united as one! The bullets and missiles are really aimed at Hashem, but, since they cannot strike Him, they aim at His children instead. However, if we stick close to Him, we will be protected. "Indeed, He will hide me in His shelter on the day of evil." (Psalm 27)
Why does Hashem need this concern, this tzouris? He did not need to create us and He doesn't need to suffer with us. But he casts His lot with His children. Such is His love for us that He is willing to suffer incredible pain in order to maintain the bris. "Ever since the destruction of the Temple ... the Shechinah has had no tranquility. The only source of delight the Shechinah has left is the sound of the Children of Israel engrossed in studying Torah." (Nefesh HaChaim, Gate 4, Ch. 34)
Just as Hashem is infinite, so it would seem is His pain infinite. We have gone through suchtzouris, but I believe ours is nothing compared to His! And He is not forced to endure it. I am reminded of Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman ZT"L, who returned to perish with his talmidim during the Holocaust. Was he not imitating Hashem, who chooses to remain with us through all our troubles?
My friends, it is time to bring our Father back from exile!
Recently, an article describing the life of the revered Rabbi Yosef Elias ZT"L, who worked tirelessly - and successfully! - to redeem his father from the Holocaust. We have the power to do the same with our Father in Heaven. Yes, there is a way to bring Him home and at the same time save ourselves. Our Rabbis tell us that the way to be spared from the Birth Pangs of Moshiach is to "occupy oneself in Torah and acts of kindness." (Sanhedrin 98b)
As we said, Jews are being attacked all over the world, but are our enemies are really after our Father in Heaven. The G-dless hordes want a world without a Ruler in order to live without rules. We are the target because we are One with the Ruler of the World. Now, as we recall the Shofar sounds, let us unite with our Father and King. Until He has returned from Exile we cannot return.
"Let all Your works become agudas achas ... a single society to do Your will." (Rosh Hashanah prayers) That, my friends, is the key. Only Hashem knows how long an individual Jew will survive, but it is clear and known that Am Yisroel as a nation is eternal. Our survival, however, will be based on our ability to live as one entity bonded with our Father in Heaven.
That is our present and future; there is no future other than this. As the nations gather against us, it is imperative to remember that our future is guaranteed only if we act as "agudas achas" united with our Father in Heaven. "All the nations ... encircle me and surround me. In the Name of Hashem I cut them down...." (Psalm 118) We survive because we invoke the Name of Hashem, and our greatest kindness will be to bring Him home from Exile.
"For He said, 'Indeed, they are My people, children who will not be false,' and He became their Savior. In all their troubles He was troubled, so an angel from before Him saved them. With His love and with His compassion He redeemed them; He lifted them and bore them all the days of the world." (Isaiah 63:9; Haftaras Nitzavim)
May we soon experience, "v'sechezena ainainu b'shuvcha l'tzion berachamim... May our eyes witness Your return to Zion in compassion!" (Shemoneh Esreh)
Roy S. Neuberger