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In the Parshah (Torah Portion), Moses prophesies regarding our nation’s exile as well as our ultimate redemption, regarding which he says, “God will return your exiles and He will have mercy upon you. He will once again gather you from all the nations where the Lord your God had dispersed you” (Deuteronomy 30:3). Though galut (exile), by definition, is a time when God’s presence in our lives isn’t manifest and palpable as it was—and will soon again be—during the Holy Temple glory days, it by no means signals a hiatus in our relationship with Him. This idea was expressed by Jacob the first time that our nation was dispatched into exile, when he informed his children that they would spend many years exiled in Egypt, but “God will be with you” (Genesis 48:21). God is omnipresent, He’s with everyone at all times, so Jacob’s special assurance that God would be with the Jews was referring to G‑d’s overt presence and protection. Indeed, though our exiles have been times of great national difficulty, persecution and worse, it is these very travails that testify to the fact that God is still “with us.” For is there any other explanation for the fact that a small, displaced and defenseless nation outlives all the superpowers that endeavor mightily to annihilate her? But lest we think that God is a master conductor who keeps a watchful eye over us while He Himself remains serenely unaffected by our suffering, the verse (Psalms 91:15) quotes God as saying, “I am with him [Israel] in distress.” This was the message that God conveyed by choosing to appear to Moses in a thorn bush when the Jews were being oppressed by the Egyptians. When we suffer, it’s as if He is being pricked by thorns. After all, is there a father that is not distressed when his child is in pain? The verse cited above, from this week’s Parshah, takes this idea a step further. The Hebrew wording employed in this verse is rather unusual. Rather than the standard וְהֵשִׁיב, which translates as “He [God] will cause you to return,” the word וְשָׁב, which translates literally as “He will return,” is used. On this our sages comment: “From here we learn that the Divine Presence resides among Israel, as it were, in all the misery of their exile. And when they are redeemed, God writes [here in the Scriptures] redemption for Himself—for He, too, will return with them!” This is not simply a father who is commiserating with his son. This is a father who accompanies his son into exile. A king who voluntarily joins his son in captivity. And when the time of the redemption arrives, He will return together with each and every one of us, as Isaiah prophesies (27:12), “You will be gathered up, one by one, O children of Israel.”