Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Giluy Kavod (Hashem "hiding" His face)

Giluy kavod means the fact that Hashem runs the world, that there is no power in the world except Him; indeed, there is nothing that happens in the world except by His will. It means NOT that G-d is the strongest power but that He is the ONLY power --- NOT that He can put down all rebellions but that there can be NO rebellions against Him. G-d wants people to understand this – that nothing in this world can go against His will.

So it’s not enough for G-d to make a perfect, painless world and then tell people: “See how far my domain goes? I control everything!” That would not work, since it would not show the extent of G-d’s power – that His Oneness extends even to seeming darkness and pain. The fact that we understand Hashem’s control in a world of good is NOT enough – because it doesn’t mean that we understand Hashem’s control when things seem bad.

It's like a King who wanted to show his son that he controls everything; that he knows everything that happens in his kingdom and that nothing transpires without his direct say-so. So he sends his son out into the kingdom to see and recognize his absolute control over his kingdom.

The son sees people obeying the king, people praising the king, people following the king’s laws, and he thinks to himself, yes, the king does control this land.

Then one evening in a bar he overheard 2 people plotting a revolt against the king. They even approach him asking him if he would join! Suddenly he thinks to himself, hey, maybe the king doesn’t control everything in this kingdom.

So he talks to them, “feeling them out”. Trying to find out where they’re coming from and to what extent their plan is accepted in the kingdom.

During the course of the conversation, they try to recruit him into their plans. They promise him the world if he joins them. No more taxes, no more laws; their “kingdom” will be so much better than that of the current king.

In the end, he falls for their plan. He agrees to join their rebellion – the king lied to him anyway, saying that he controls everything. Obviously there’s something to what these people have to say!

Right then and there (this is going to be anachronistic), the “rebels” pull out their badges. CIA! The King purposely sent them to test him to see if he really believed in the king’s dominion over his kingdom! The king’s son failed the test by believing that an anti-king force could exist in the king’s domain.

It’s easy to believe in the king’s power when everything’s going according to the king’s plan. But the real test of belief in the king’s power is when there seems to be a rebellion against the king – that’s when we will see if you really believe in the king’s omnipotence.

So too, G-d created the world and He created Adam and He asked Adam to understand His Oneness, His power, His dominion, His absolute authority over everything that happens in the world. Had Adam recognized that Oneness in the world, Moshiach would have come immediately.

In order to demonstrate His Oneness, He sent the Snake to Adam disguised as a rebel against Him. Would Adam tell the snake: “Snake! You’re a faker! Ain ode milvado! Nothing can go against G-d in this world! I know you’re really here to entrap me! I will not fall for your tricks!” or would Adam believe that what the Snake had to offer was really of substance?

Adam failed the test. He failed to believe the extent of G-d’s Oneness in the world. He failed to see through the evil and understand that even when something seems to go against G-d’s wishes, still, ain ode milvado.

So now, in order to demonstrate the extent of His power, G-d says to us: “You did not believe that I held sway to the world even when only one simple rebel appeared on the scene. Everything was following my plan except for one little being, one little detail, one little temptation, and even that you could not understand was really Me behind the scenes. Obviously you do not understand the extent to which my Oneness reaches. You do not understand, yet, what my Oneness really means. You are not yet ready, then, for the ultimate Pleasure – the Geulah Sheleimah - when you bask in that Oneness for eternity. So I will make you understand what My Oneness means do that you can finally merit benefiting from it. I will send out into the world NOT one rebel among a properly run world, but rather, I will create anarchy in the world. I will make endless rebellions and endless seeming contradictions to My Oneness. And then you will see – those who want to see – what Oneness really means. It means that even in a world of seeming anarchy, where darkness holds sway, where the evil prosper and the righteous suffer, where My plan and My justice and My program do not seem to function at all – you will see that even there, even in such a world, I am still in control. When you say to all the evil and the darkness and the pain and the suffering and the injustice: “NO!” because you know that all they are offering is nothing but a test of G-d’s Kingship, and that they are really agents of Hashem, “undercover” angels posing as rebels against the King to test our belief in the King’s Oneness and Dominion over the world.

And then, one day, G-d will Reveal all His Kovod and all His oneness and we will see that all this time, all of this evil and darkness and materialism that exists in this world was really G-d’s doing, and that everything was Gam zu L’Tovah, and that it only SEEMED like evil and that is what is called “hester ponim” in this world.

Hester ponim means, basically, “G-d working undercover” as opposed to G-d working out in the open. It’s not merely “hiddenness” but disguisedness, like an undercover agent making believe he is a rebel in order to seek out insurgents against the King.

G-d’s Giluy Kvodo happens in one of two ways: For those on the level to recognize it in this world, it’s like walking down the street in the city and watching a drug deal taking place. But the buyer is 6 foot two, wearing a trench coat and sunglasses, and comes out of his 2001 Park Avenue, with black tinted windows. You smile, because you know another drug dealer’s about to get busted.

Someone else walking down the street witnesses the same scene and laments the fact that the drug lords run around unafraid of the law, and how could you smile when such a terrible thing is happening right under your nose in your neighborhood yada yada.

Some people are able to recognize that everything that happens in this world is G-d. That’s Giluy Kvodo to them. It’s just happening undercover. And every time something bad happens in this world, you smile, say “Gam zu l’tovah / ain od milvado / Hashem melech” because you know that Hashem is just setting things up so that one day He will show to the world not only His Oneness but the extent of it as well – that even in a world seemingly teeming with anti-G-d activity and activists, its all just a way of G-d preparing to show us that EVEN IN THIS MESSED UP WORLD, His Oneness rules.

Some of us may have to wait until the secret agents pull out their badges and the sting operation is over in order to understand Hashem Echad. That will happen when Moshiach comes. Then, we will be so shocked and impressed and bedazzled by the extent of how much G-d’s hand played in our lives. It's like a Mission Impossible where one day you wake up and everyone around you takes off their masks and you realize your whole life and everything in it was controlled by Someone you weren’t even aware of.

When everybody removes their masks – the Yetzer Horah, the pain, the evil – at the end of the “story”, then we will see what Power and Dominion G-d really has. In the meantime, it is up to us to recognize that Ain Ode Milvado, and that everything that happens in the world is His agents at work.

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