G-d informs Moshe of the consequences that the Jewish nation will suffer if they forsake the Torah and stray after foreign gods: “My anger will flare against it on that day and I will forsake them; and I will conceal My face from them and they will become prey, and many evils and distresses will encounter it.” (Devarim 31:17) Instead of delineating specific punishments, which He does often throughout the Torah,
By turning to other gods the nation will hope to share in the material success of their followers, but in reality the opposite will occur. As the prophet Jeremiah said, “Ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heavens, and pouring out libations, we have lacked everything…” (Jeremiah 44:18) Rather than enjoying material success, their possessions will serve as prey for others. In regard to relations with their enemies, Moshe is telling them that they shouldn’t think that they will be merely subjected to natural, military and geopolitical forces like everyone else, where there is sometimes success and sometimes failure. Rather, they will encounter only “evils and distresses”.
There are two reasons why the removal of Divine Providence is even worse than abandoning the nation to natural forces. First of all, having become used to relying on
Secondly, on the more metaphysical level, the nations of the world are under the influence of the constellations and have “advocates” (sarim) in the spiritual realm. Israel, on the other hand, has no advocate other than the Omnipotent
There is another way to understand the concept of Gd’s “concealing His face”. Withdrawing His protection and subjecting the Jewish nation to suffering at the hands of the nations of the world can actually be seen as a “negative” application of Divine Providence. Divine Providence is always operating with the Jewish nation. What