Elul 2: Seek

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 13 August 2018 @ 12:12 am

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Rebbe Barukh’s grandson, Yechiel, came running into his study, in tears. “Yechiel, Yechiel, why are you crying,” asked his grandfather. His sobbing grandson explained,“I was playing hide and seek with my friend, but he stopped looking for me and left me alone.” Rebbe Barukh caressed Yechiel’s face, and with tears welling up in his eyes, he whispered softly, “God too, Yechiel, God too is weeping. For, God too has been hidden with no one looking.” (Adapted from Martin Buber, Tales of the Hasidim I)

God is everywhere. In the big moments. In the seemingly mundane minutiae of our daily lives. Sometimes God’s presence is so obvious. Other times, we feel so alone that we wonder if God exists at all.

In the Hasidic story, God is the One doing the hiding while we are meant to do the seeking. What if we are the ones doing the hiding? What if we’ve hidden ourselves so well that we don’t know the way out?

There once was a girl who had a beautiful watch. She loved the watch because her parents had given it to her and it was her first grown-up watch. One time, when she was very angry with her parents, she thought, “I’ll show them! I’ll hide the watch where no one will ever find it.” And she did. Some time passed. Her parents didn’t seem to notice that she’d stopped wearing the watch. And her anger abated. But when she went searching for the watch, she couldn’t remember where she had hidden it.

This is a key component of Teshuvah. The reflexive nature of the word, “to turn to one’s self,” reminds us that not only are we seeking God during the process, but that we are seeking our true selves. Having been bogged down with the detritus of human emotions, we have forgotten the way out.

Our liturgy, with its challenging and majestic language, pushes us to rediscover the path. The path to God. The path to ourselves. The path to repentance.


#BlogElul 2018

#BlogElul is a monthlong exploration of themes pertaining to the High Holy Days. Created by R’ Phyllis Sommer, the #BlogElul #ElulGram project allows participants to delve into topics as a way of preparing for the season.

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