In memory of my dear Aunt
Marriane Lopes Cardozo Groenteman
Miriam bat Avraham and Sara. z.l.
Who died at the age of 99 in Amsterdam
Faith is deeper than knowledge. While scientific investigation is only absorbed in the brain, faith enters into all of the human personality. All limbs of spirituality quiver and move, nothing is untouched and everything is transformed. As such it is much more difficult to achieve faith than knowledge and it is much more radical in its effect.
Faith is difficult, especially in times of misery. It requires a huge effort to maintain it, cherish it and apply it.
“To declare Your steadfast love in the morning and Your faithfulness by night” (Tehillim 92:3) is to be understood in the following way. If one has invested in one’s faith in the brightness of the morning and consequently sings God’s praise, then in the loneliness of the night one may be able to continue to believe in God’s faithfulness, even when there is little evidence of such a Divine attribute.
Moshe prayed “Show me now Your glory”. He was eager to understand God’s presence and His ways of dealing with the world and with every human being. God responded: “You shall see My back but My face shall not be seen”. (Shemoth 33:23).
Indeed this metaphor has great meaning. In this world everything looks topsy-turvy, confused and contrary to what human reason expects. The world stands with its back to reason. It is not that Moshe only “saw” God’s back and not His front, but he saw the front from the perspective of the back. It was as if he was looking at an X-ray taken from hindsight, whereby what is the last is really the first and what is in front is really in the back.
Had he been able to see the front as the front and the back as the back, everything would have made sense. He would have realized that time is a broken eternity in which the real clock ticks infinity. We are only able to see its flipside like the writing on a seal, which holds a mirror image. But if Moshe would have seen the final imprint he would have immediately departed from this world since no human, bound by the limitation of time, could ever be able to grasp this confrontation and survive.
To die is to be permitted to see the full story unlimited by the need to see the front by way of the back. For some it takes a lifetime to realize this, for others it is altogether beyond their grasp but some individuals, however young, seize it at a moment’s notice and therefore are asked to come Home.