Revelation Through Concealment: Kabbalistic Responses to God’s Hiddenness


  • Samuel Lebens University of Haifa



John Schellenberg presents an argument for atheism according to which theism would be easy to believe, if true. Since theism isn’t easy to believe, it must be false. In this paper, I argue that Kabbalistic Judaism has the resources to bypass this argument completely. The paper also explores a stream of Kabbalistic advice that the tradition offers to people of faith for those times at which God appears to us to be hidden.



Barrett, Justin L. 2004. Why would anyone believe in God? Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press.

Baruchovitch, Shneur Z. 1973. Likkutei Amarim Tanya: Bilingual Edition. New York, NY: Kehot Publication Society.

Cullison, Andrew. 2010. “Two Solutions to the Problem of Divine Hiddenness”. American Philosophical Quarterly 47, no. 2: 119–34.

Dumsday, Travis. 2012. “Divine hiddenness and creaturely resentment”. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 72, no. 1: 41–51. doi:10.1007/s11153-012-9338-5.

Elyashiv, S. 2015. “Leshem Shevi VeAchlama - Exceprts in English”. In Nefesh HaTzimtzum, edited by Avinoam Fraenkel. Jerusalem: Urim Publications.

Fraenkel, Avinoam, ed. 2015. Nefesh HaTzimtzum. Jerusalem: Urim Publications.

Gendler, Tamar S. 2000. “The Puzzle of Imaginative Resistance”. The Journal of Philosophy 97, no. 2: 55–81. doi:10.2307/2678446.

Goldschmidt, Tyron, and Samuel Lebens. 2018. “Divine Contractions: Theism Gives Birth to Idealism”. Religious Studies: 1–16. doi:10.1017/S0034412518000665.

Green, Adam, and Elenore Stump, eds. 2016. Hidden Divinity and Religious Belief: New Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Hakohen, T. 1926. Risisei Laylah. Petrikow.

Howard-Snyder, Daniel. 1996. “The Argument from Divine Hiddenness”. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 26, no. 3: 433–53. doi:10.1080/00455091.1996.10717461.

—. 2016. “Divine Openness and Creaturely Nonresistant Nonbelief”. In Hidden Divinity and Religious Belief: New Perspectives, edited by Adam Green and Elenore Stump, 126–38. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Howard-Snyder, Daniel, and Adam Green. 2016. “Hiddenness of God”. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zalta.

Howard-Snyder, Daniel, and Frances Howard-Snyder. 1994. “How an Unsurpassable Being Can Create a Surpassable World”. Faith and Philosophy 11, no. 2: 260–68. doi:10.5840/faithphil199411222.

Howard-Snyder, Daniel, and Paul K. Moser, eds. 2002. Divine Hiddenness: New Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Howard-Snyder, Frances, and Daniel Howard-Snyder. 1996. “The Real Problem of No Best World”. Faith and Philosophy 13, no. 3: 422–25. doi:10.5840/faithphil199613333.

Hughes, C. 1997. “Same-kind coincidence and the ship of Theseus”. Mind 106, no. 421: 53–69. doi:10.1093/mind/106.421.53.

Inman, Inman. 2017. “Omnipresence ad the Location of the Immaterial”. In Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion: Vol. 8, edited by Jonathan L. Kvanvig. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

Irgas, Y. b. I. 2015. “Shomer Emunim - extracts translated into English”. In Nefesh HaTzimtzum, edited by Avinoam Fraenkel, 228–50. Jerusalem: Urim Publications.

Kvanvig, Jonathan L. 2002. “Divine Hiddenness: What is the Problem?”. In Divine Hiddenness: New Essays, edited by Daniel Howard-Snyder and Paul K. Moser, 149–63. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Lebens, Samuel. (forthcoming). The Principles of Judaism. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

—. 2015. “God and His Imaginary Friends: A Hassidic Metaphysics”. Religious Studies 51, no. 2: 183–204. doi:10.1017/S0034412514000298.

Leiner, M. Y. 1990. Mei HaShiloah. Bnei Brak: Mishur.

Luzzatto, Moshe Ḥ. 1982. The Knowing Heart — Da’ath Tevunoth. Jerusalem: Feldheim.

Poston, Ted, and Trent Dougherty. 2007. “Divine hiddenness and the nature of belief”. Religious Studies 43, no. 2: 183–98. doi:10.1017/S0034412507008943.

Rea, Michael. 2016. “Hiddenness and Transcendence”. In Hidden Divinity and Religious Belief: New Perspectives, edited by Adam Green and Elenore Stump, 210–25. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Rubio, Daniel. 2018. “God Meets Satan’s Apple: The Paradox of Creation”. Philosophical Studies 175, no. 12: 2987–3004. doi:10.1007/s11098-017-0991-5.

Sack, Brakha. 1989. “R. Moses of Cordovero’s Doctrine of Ẓimẓum / וריבודרוק השמ ’ר לש םוצמצה תרות”, Tarbiz / חנ ץיברת no. ב : 207–37.

Schellenberg, J. L. 1993. Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

—. 2015. The Hiddenness Argument: Philosophy’s New Challenge to Belief in God. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

Scholem, Gershom G., and R. J. Z. Werblowsky, eds. 1987. Origins of the Kaballah. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

Smilansky, Saul. 2008. 10 Moral Paradoxes. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Swinburne, Richard. 1973. “Omnipotence”. American Philosophical Quarterly 10, no. 3: 231–37.

Vital, Ḥayyim b. J., Isaac b. S. Luria, Donald W. Menzi, and Zwe Padeh. 2008. The Tree of Life: Chayyim Vital’s Introduction to the Kabbalah of Issac Luria: The Palace of Adam Kadmon. New York, NY: Arizal Publications.

Wainwright, William J. 2002. “Jonathan Edwards and the Hiddenness of God”. In Divine Hiddenness: New Essays, edited by Daniel Howard-Snyder and Paul K. Moser, 98–119. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Weiss, Shira. 2017. Joseph Albo on Free Choice: Exegetical Innovation in Medieval Jewish Philosophy. New York, NY: Oxford Univ. Press.



How to Cite

Lebens, Samuel. 2020. “Revelation Through Concealment: Kabbalistic Responses to God’s Hiddenness”. European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 12 (2):89-108.