Chapter 5: Probing Beneath the
Up until now, we have endeavored to explain that a person should
always be happy because everything that occurs to him is good.
The only difference is whether that good is openly perceived,
or that good is disguised. This thesis itself, however, requires
explanation. Why does G-d sometimes give good in a disguised way?
What is the purpose behind this?
A story is told about the Maggid of Mezeritch. Once, his son
came running to him in tears. The Maggid comforted him and asked
him why he was crying. The child began to explain that he had
been playing a game of hide-and-go-seek with his friends.
He and all his friends were hiding. They remained in their hiding
places for a long time, thinking that they had hidden themselves
well, and the person who was "it" was unable to find
them. But soon they got tired of waiting. They came out of their
hiding places and found out that they had been wrong. The one
who was "it" was not even there. He had played a trick
on them. After they went into their hiding places, he went home
instead of searching for them. That is why the Maggid's son and
his friends were crying.
When the Maggid of Mezeritch heard this story, he also began
to cry. His son asked him why he was crying. The Maggid told him
that G-d has the same complaint.
What did the Maggid mean? It is written,1 "You are a G-d
who hides." G-d says, "I hide Myself from you, but the
purpose of My hiding is that you should come and search for Me.
But instead of searching for Me, you go away and busy yourselves
with other things."
To apply the concept to the question at hand: When a negative
thing happens and a person feels broken, the reason he feels broken
is not the negative event itself. As explained above, many people
have suffered difficulty without being broken. The person is broken
because he does not recognize that G-d is hiding, and that the
purpose of this negative event is to motivate him to search and
find G-d, even as He is hidden. If the person only realized that,
he would not be broken.
To employ an analogy: A father wishes to see how clever his child
is. He wants to bring out and develop the intelligence of the
child, and with that intent in mind, he hides from the child.
If the child is very young, he immediately begins to cry because
he cannot find his father. A child who is more mature thinks about
what is happening and realizes that his father is playing with
him. He therefore begins searching for his father until he finds
The purpose of the father?s hiding is not to stay away from his
child. On the contrary, he wants to be discovered, he wants the
child to find him. But he wants the child to make the effort of
looking for him and discovering where he is hiding.
The same applies regarding the analogy. The reason G-d disguises
Himself and hides Himself is that He wants us to search for Him
and find Him in the disguise, to probe deeply until we find where
He is hiding.
And this analogy teaches us another powerful concept:2 Not only
is simchah important because it reflects the truth. When a person
is b'simchah , this, itself, causes the disguise to be abandoned
and prompts the good and the blessing to emerge to the surface.
Why? To refer back to the analogy, when the child continues searching
for his father and finds where he is hiding, what happens then?
Does the father continue to hide? No. Once his son finds him,
it is all over and he comes out of his hiding place. He had wanted
his son to look for him, but once he finds him, he has no reason
to continue hiding.
The same applies in regard to G-d and Jews. The purpose of G-d's
hiding and His being disguised is that we should search for Him
and learn to find Him. When a person is b'simchah, he is aware
of G-d; it is as if he is saying, "Yes, G-d is hiding, but
I can recognize and identify Him in these events even though He
And then the mask is lifted and G-d emerges from hiding. Or to
say it in different words, then the blessing and the goodness
come to the surface.
This is the tremendous quality simchah possesses, that it causes
the good to come out in the open. That is the unique virtue displayed
by Rabbi Akiva and Nachum Ish Gamzu. Because these people saw
very clearly that everything that happens comes from G-d, they
knew that everything is definitely good. Therefore, they were
And shortly thereafter, the difficulty that confronted them was
transformed. The inner blessing and good that was hidden was revealed.
Because they recognized G-d, and sensed the goodness hidden in
the disguise, the disguise was quickly dropped and the inner goodness
A question, nevertheless, remains: Why does G-d disguise Himself?
Why does He want us to search for Him? In the case of a father
and his child, we can see the game as a form of entertainment.
The father wants the child to look for him, so that the child
will show how clever he is. Such a rationale is acceptable for
In our relationship with G-d, however, there must be a far deeper
reason why G-d hides Himself, and why He desires that we search
for Him. Why then does He hide? Surely there must be a positive
purpose for His concealment.