After the Golden Calf, Moshe asks Hashem if he could see His “Face”.
Hashem then said, ‘I have a special place where you can stand on the rocky mountain. When My glory passes by, I will place you in a crevice in the mountain, protecting you with My power until I pass by. I will then remove My “Palms”, וְרָאִ֖יתָ אֶת־אֲחֹרָ֑י וּפָנַ֖י לֹ֥א יֵֽרָאֽוּ — and you will see my “Back”; My “Face”, will not be seen.
- Shemos 33:21-23
Even in the depths of hesteir panim, of Hashem hiding His “Face” from us, we can sometimes get a glimpse, a tantalizing hint, that there is more going on than it seems.
Last Thursday the Jewish world was shocked by the murder of eight boys who were studying in the beis medrash of Mercaz haRav.
Earlier that day, Rabbi Zev Segal was found drowned in his car in the Hackensack River. Friends of the Segals and numerous people who felt a connection to him from his years as a rabbi in Newark, in the leadership of the RCA, through his sons’ work teaching and on the radio followed the search closely. All the community help organizations were mobilized.
Unfortunately, this was not the first attack by arabs on yeshiva students in Israel studying in their beis medrash. The recent attack holds strong resemblance to the attack on the yeshiva students of Chevron during the pogrom in 1929, killing 23 boys. As Rav Yaakov Shapira, rosh yeshivah of Mercaz haRav, said between tears in his eulogy, “You are the holy of the holies, you are the yeshiva, the dear sons of Zion. This massacre is the continuation of the 1929 massacre, and the prophet’s blood is still boiling.” (There is much to be said about this reference, but I don’t know what it is yet. I did, though, pull out copies of Eikhah Rabasi and Kinos for Tish’ah be’Av to see what the rosh yeshivah meant. I invite people to post comments on the comparison to the killing of Zechariah.)
One of the survivors of the massacre in Chevron was Rabbi Segal.
I am not claiming I can understand the meaning of this “coincidence”, but I can’t help but believe this is a glimpse beyond the curtain. That even in days of darkness, Hashem makes sure we can see Him, if only from behind.