When was the last time you played “hide and seek”?

Friday, 22 December, 2023 - 3:58 am

Remember the game “hide and seek”? When was the last time you played it?

The trick is to hide so well, that the seeker won’t find you; if he finds you, you’re “out”. 

But that is not the worse thing. Do you know what is worse than being found? Having no one look for you; that’s far worse. When you are hiding and suddenly realize that no one is searching for you, you feel just terrible.

So when recently have you played “hide and seek”?

I’ve noticed that we play “hide and seek” quite often in this life.

Almost always, when someone is hiding from you, or acting coldly towards you, it is not because he wants you to stay away from him, but because he wants you to seek him even more.

But before I go on, I must clarify: Of course, I am not talking about some unknown stranger, but rather about people we are in touch with, sometimes daily. 

How do I know this? The truth is, I know it from myself. In all honesty, I can see that when I behave distantly towards someone close who has annoyed me or hurt me, it is not in order to refrain from contact with him; my real goal is that he should make the extra effort to approach me.

Is this manipulation? I call it “hide and seek”.

It’s true in all types of relationships, even with our children, when they sometimes are angry with us or push us away. The idea is not that we should indeed stay away from them, but that we should continue to seek them. They are not distancing themselves from us – rather, they are hiding. 

This is true mainly of marital relationships. Often the woman will withdraw from her husband – with a show of words, sounds, tears and perhaps also with rebuke. And the husband, with his masculine tendency to see things technically, responds by retreating and running away. But the truth is that she is just hiding and digging in, and her true desire is that he not run away or distance himself, but, rather, fight for the relationship and search for the way to become even closer; she wants him to show some manly courage, overcome the seeming rejection and approach her anyway. 

True, sometimes one has to be creative in order to find the right way to approach the other person anew, but the attitude should be to approach and not to turn tail; to come closer, not to shy away.

So when was the last time you played “hide and seek”?

In this week’s parashaparashat Vayigash, it happens. Yehuda understands that the “Master of the Land” is playing “hide and seek” with them. He understands that while he is acting coldly and harshly, he is actually seeking closeness. He is rejecting them with harsh words and even unpleasant actions, but really all he is asking is that they not give up on him, not leave him and go away once again.

So Yehuda approaches him. Vayigash Yehuda.He gathers together all his lion-like courage, and, head held high, he approaches Yosef – and, just moments later, Yosef cannot control himself any longer, and bursts into tears. 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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