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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

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Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

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Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

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Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

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Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 29, 2005 / 20 Nissan, 5765

Passover, and the Divine's silence

By Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The continuing absence of distinctive Divine Providence in modern times is often seen as the cause for much secularism. Since the days of the Renaissance, man has become more and more skeptical of the occurrences of Divine intervention. No longer, it is argued, are there enough indications for G-d's interference in the national and private affairs of mankind. This viewpoint has ultimately led to the collapse of much of religious authority and in many ways undermined the role of religion in man's life.

When the Israelites left Egypt on their way to the land of Israel, Divine intervention was very apparent. The Ten Plagues, the splitting of the Red Sea and the many other smaller and larger miracles showed full evidence of G-d's intervention in man's affairs. Consequently, our general reading of those years make us believe that anyone living under such miraculous conditions would not have had any other option but to be a deeply religious person.

The foremost commentator, Rashi, in his commentary on the Torah, gives us however a totally different version of the events:

"As the result of the sin of the spies in which they spoke evil about the land of Israel, G-d no longer spoke with Moshe for 38 years" (Lev. 1.2)

This is a most remarkable and far-reaching observation. What we are told is that most of the time that the Israelites traveled through the desert, there was no special Divine providence. G-d did not speak to them and consequently the Israelites had to deal with the question of G-d's interference not much differently from the way modern man does. Although the miraculous bread, manna, fell and other smaller miracles did take place, it becomes clear that these events no longer had any real effect on the religious condition of the Israelites.

Not for nothing did they say that this manna was lechem hakelokel, repulsive bread (Numbers 21.5). They saw these miracles as common events not much different than the way we view the laws of nature. (We are reminded of Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler's famous observation — Michtav Me-Eliyahu 1 — that the laws of nature are nothing more than the frequency of miracles, something which famous philosophers of science such as Karl Popper have fully endorsed from a secular point of view (The Logic of Scientific Discovery). Indeed on several occasions the Israelites asked whether G-d still lived among them.

It is perhaps this fact which makes Passover so relevant to our own time: The realization that even at the time of the greatest miracles, many years pass by without G-d making Himself known in any form or way! Sitting at the Seder table we often feel that we are reading a story that has little in common with our days and lives. We complain that G-d has become silent and that His spoken word is no longer available. How than can we believe in His existence and why should we listen to His words of many thousands of years ago? We are today confronted with a Deus Absconditus, an absent G-d, and no story about G-d's open intervention in history is able to reach us any longer. G-d's silence has made us deaf. So we complain.

And even when we admit that G-d did not speak with Moses and the Israelites for 38 years, we still make the powerful point that we have not heard from Him for more than two thousand years! Not just 38! So why ask us to deliberate on an event which occurred thousands of years ago and with which we have almost nothing in common?

But with hindsight we may have to radically change our view. We need to realize that the silence of these 38 years must have been much more frightening than all the Divine silence of our last two thousand years. While we are, to a great extent, able to take care of ourselves, and be much more independent, this was not the case for our forefathers in the desert. They encountered the emptiness of desert land. There were no natural resources, food, water, or any other basic items, without which even the most elementary forms of life are impossible.

True, we are told that water and food was miraculously provided. However, once G-d stopped speaking with them in the middle of the desert and they realized that this thundering silence of G-d could continue day after day, this Godly silence must have been more dreadful than anything we can imagine. This coupled with the frightening awareness that they had nothing to fall back on if G-d decided to stop providing them with water and food. Being used to revealed miracles and then suddenly overnight finding oneself in an icy absence of any divine interference, right in the middle of a desert, must have been too much to bear. G-d's "indifference", no doubt, created a devastating traumatic experience without precedence.

(The absence of G-d's word for all these 38 years throws a radically different light on much of the Israelites' upheavals and complaints in the desert as mentioned in the Torah.)

When we realize that the story of the Exodus was mainly a story of Divine silence and that only occasionally a word of G-d entered the human condition, we also become conscious of the fact that the story that we read on the Seder night is most relevant. While the words of the Haggadah relate the miracles, the "empty spaces" between the words tell us of the frightening Divine silence of these very 38 years. And just as our forefathers must often have wondered what happened to G-d's presence, during all these years, so do we. But just as they came through so must we.

The art is to hear G-d in His silence and to see His miracles in His "absence". It is in the balance of these two facts that life takes place.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo is a world-renowned lecturer and ambassador for Judaism, the Jewish people, Sephardic Heritage and the State of Israel.

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© 2005, Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo.