Let My People Know

"The question God asks of man"


The consequence of sin, whether experienced directly or indirectly in the guise of open or repressed guilt feelings, is that man hides himself from God, that the place he happens to be is a hiding place, and in order for him to move at all he has to hear the question, Where? Where are you? 

The voice in the garden is still reverberating throughout the world, and it is still heard, not always openly, or in full consciousness but nevertheless still heard in one way or another, in a person's soul. 

Even when one is totally ignorant of the fact that the voice is the voice of God, one can nevertheless frequently hear what it says: Where are you? Where am I? 

The question can be invoked in full consciousness and, on the other hand, can also come to a person not only when he is hiding from God, but even when he does not know that he is hiding from Him. 

The question can present itself to someone hopelessly without aim or purpose, just as it can haunt someone who imagines that everything is clear and understandable to him. 

To anyone, at any time whatever, the question may be flung: Where are you? 

What is more, in being aware that the question is asked of one, there is a still deeper significance, so inwardly subtle that not everyone discerns it. 

The person really listening to the question, or to life's echo of it, may, in his attentiveness and in his reflection on what he hears, be able to discern not only the elemental issue but even the Voice of the one asking the question. 

In other words, this question about where I am in my world is outwardly one that a person can ask of himself, but inwardly it is the voice of God speaking to man: to man who has lost his way.

And the moment a person reaches this awareness, he can grasp something which, with all the pain of the question, with all the fearful terror and awe of an encounter with God, leads to that which is larger and more glorious. 

For the question of where I am–the question of a man who confronts himself alone, even if he is within a family, a community, a nation, and even if he feels at home in the world–this utterly solitary question is fundamentally resolved at the moment when a person realizes that it is the other side of the question God asks of man: Where are you? 

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From The Thirteen Petalled Rose by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz