Physically, we inhabit the land of Israel, having returned after two millennia, yet spiritually, there lingers a sense of absence. Exile, a state where the presence of the upper force of love and bestowal eludes us, leaves us without complete security or a clear path; it obscures both our path and our destination.
In his article, “What Is, ‘When Israel Are in Exile, the Shechina Is with Them,’ in the Work?” Kabbalist Baruch Ashlag (Rabash) begins with an excerpt from the Megillah illustrating the Creator’s deep love for Israel, akin to a king with an only son who errs before him. Despite past transgressions, the king, rather than banishing the son, chooses to go into exile alongside him, a testament to unwavering companionship:
Come and see how fond is the Creator of Israel; wherever they exile, the Shechina [Divinity] is with them, as was said, ‘And the Lord your God returned from your captivity.’ It did not say, ‘will return,’ but rather ‘returned,’ showing that the Creator returns with them from the exiles.’
Feeling the void left by the upper force among us paradoxically forms our connection with that force. It is written that the Creator—the upper force of love and bestowal—descends into exile with us. When we sense the absence of this force, it means that it is already present, i.e., it makes us aware of its nonexistence in our current state. It actually never truly departs or alters its stance toward us, but we ourselves fluctuate—drifting further away or drawing nearer.
Exile befalls us when we let our self-centered nature run our lives, i.e., when we adopt a culture of cutthroat competition, respecting wealth and materialistic status, and also dividing ourselves into factions and holding disdain for one another. Such qualities stand in stark contrast to those of the upper force—love and bestowal—and they ultimately operate in order to lead us to a feeling of being exiled from a harmonious state with attitudes of love and bestowal in the midst of our relations, and to draw closer together in order to reach such a state.
Those who feel their lives in this exile can first find solace in that they have diagnosed their state correctly, while simultaneously feeling the pain of drifting apart. These mixed emotions possess the potential to drive the many diverse parts of our nation to unite, and to establish through our unity a connection with the Creator. They grant us the strength to care for our people as nurturing parents, cultivating ties that bind us, enabling our collective emergence from exile.