900.12f Clarification of Biblical Hester (pps.132-134)
hard cover page 133
definition with the clear thrust of Scripture. The “maximalists” face a greater challenge reconciling their definition with the Jewish concepts of Divine omniscience, din ve-mishpat (judgment and justice), and sachar va-onesh (reward and punishment) for those living within a period of Hester.
We choose to define Hester Panim as a contraction of real-time consciousness, as opposed to a total severance of consciousness, in order that we may preserve other Jewish concepts of omniscience, omnimercifulness, and sachar va-onesh.
We posit that the Divine essentially does not exercise individual a priori omniscience for the same general purpose, i.e., to yield man bona fide freedom. If Hester were then a total blockage of Divine consciousness-in-time and out-of-timefor a specific period, how does one truly reconcile the other two concepts?
We view both “sin” and “quest for knowledge” as having embedded within them assertions of freedom. Consequently, the result of either or both is an increased contraction of the Divine.
Thus man demands or asserts his freedom in two major ways:
1. by ascent in knowledge, and
2. by sin.520
Both result in a lowering of Divine providential care. Both result in higher freedom. Both cause-and-effect relationships appear in the Torah.
At Eden man is admonished that knowledge will yield man the travails of freedom; we postulate that the freedom comes by way of a Divine contraction. Later on man is admonished that extreme sin will yield a complete Hester; we postulate that Hester means a Divine contraction.
In I and Thou, Buber taught that God speaks constantly to man. Many years later he was moved to fall back on the traditional Jewish doctrine of the “Hiding of the Face” and asserted that an eclipse of God is possible at any time.521
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520 See Schechter, Aspects of Rabbinic Theology, chap. 14, “Sin as Rebel- lion.” Specifically, p. 2 19: “. , . sin and disobedience are conceived as defiance and rebellion.”
521 Asserted by Fackenheim in To Mend the World, p. 196.
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