Off the Pulpit: Who is God?


When you were two years old could you imagine what it was to be an adult? Not only could you not imagine it, but you didn’t understand what it was that you could not imagine. In the Jewish tradition, the distance between Divine and human is far greater than between a two-year-old and an adult.

What do we mean when we speak of God? We speak of something far beyond anything we know or ever can know. Invoking God requires submission of the intellect, humility before an infinite whose garment hem the greatest spirits barely brush. As one Jewish philosopher wrote, to describe God one would have to be God.

We have stories and laws to wrap with a web of words realities we can never comprehend. Advocates make intellectual arguments on all sides ‘for’ and ‘against’ God, as though the human mind were equipped for metaphysical certainties. Yet we stand before the mysteries of the universe as that small child, enchanted and bewildered, trusting in that which we cannot understand and seeking to live in harmony with the wonder beyond comprehension.

(Rabbi David Wolpe is the senior rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.)

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