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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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Question 3.45:
What does it mean in the psalm of Habakkuk when it says that G-d hides His power?

Answer:

The concept of G-d hiding Himself, has a long tradition in Jewish thought. Basically, the idea revolves around the difference between obvious acts of G-d (i.e., things that violate the rules of nature) and subtle acts of G-d (things that are directed by G-d, but follow all the rules of nature).

As examples, consider the Jews saved from Egypt with the sea being split, and compare it to the way the Jews are saved from the Persian empire in the story of Esther. Jewish commentaries point out that G-d's name does not appear in the book of Esther, and yet it is presented as a miraculous event. The Talmud points to Deuteronomy 31:18 as a general description of this phenomena. There, G-d says "I will hide my face".

With that as a background, the verse in Habakuk can be understood in a number of ways. Rashi—one of the foremost jewish biblical scholars—sees the verse as referring to the change that took place with the revelation at Sinai, for until that time, G-d was hidden from the world.


The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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