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Monday, 6 April 2015

Taste and smell G-d!

Daf Yomi Kesubos 60

Job was a pious man.  Due to his righteousness, G-d blessed him with health, a wonderful family, and abundant material prosperity.  One day, Satan comes to G-d and suggests that Job’s piety is simply due to his good fortune.  So G-d gives Satan the go-ahead to disrupt Job’s life and happiness in order to test his faith.  While Job initially maintains his faithful demeanor, as the Book progresses, he begins to get angrier and angrier at the Almighty, questioning His providence.

In the end, G-d says to Job that truthfully no human being can fathom G-d’s ways.  After all, we are tiny, finite beings, unable to comprehend the Divine.

Once a woman appeared before Shmuel who did not want to nurse her child (requesting a wet-nurse instead).   
He said to Rav Dimi bar Yosef, “Go test her to see if her child recognizes her.”  He went and placed her in a line-up of women.  He then took her son and passed him before them.  When they reached her, the child gazed at her face and so she turned her eyes away from him. 
Rav Dimi said to her, “Raise your eyes, get up and tend to your child!”

The Gemara asks: How does a blind child recognize his mother?
Rav Ashi answers: By smell and taste.

Sometimes in life, it feels like G-d has turned His eyes away from us.  Our Sages call this hester panim – the concealment of G-d’s face.  When that happens, many people conclude that G-d is not in control and lose their faith.   And that makes sense.  When people experience tragedy and loss in their lives, we must never judge.  And we should never try to convince them that their response is uncalled for.  They have every right to question G-d.

Ultimately, however, our response must be to scream out to our Father in Heaven and say, “Raise your eyes and tend to your child!”  Just like a mother or father would never forsake their child, G-d would never forsake His children.   He loves us dearly, greater than the love of any mortal parent, and He wants to hold us close and be there for us. 

Unfortunately, due to the concealment of G-d’s face in this physical world, we are blind and do not see the Divine love.  If we could see G-d clearly, we would lose our gift of free choice.  We don’t see Him.  And so how can we maintain our relationship with Him?  Rav Ashi tells us: By smell and taste.

We may not see G-d, but we can feel His providence with our other senses.  When you rationally cannot relate to G-d – particularly when He has hidden His face from you – you must let go of your mind and allow your soul to connect with the Divine flow of energy through your other senses.  When you let go, you suddenly realize that you can breathe G-d, you can taste G-d, you can smell G-d!

You feel His hand upon your shoulder guiding you through the storm.  You smell His providence in the air you breathe.  You taste His bounty and blessing in the food you eat.  You realize that you can’t see Him, but He is there with you.

Our Father in Heaven never forsakes His children.  When it seems He has concealed His face, turn to Him as a child to a parent and demand that He tend to His children.  May you merit experiencing G-d’s guidance as He breathes life into all your senses and forever maintaining your faith in His providence through the days of sunshine and even through the dark days of life.