Friday, January 20, 2006

I Am That I Am

Tonight I was shooting the breeze with a good friend of mine whose faith is similarly dead (it was precisely these sort of bull sessions that began my downward spiral). Unlike me, however, he sincerely laments the fact that in all probability there is no God, and in the event there is, Judaism is unlikely to have done Him justice.

His litany of complaints are actually quite similar to this sorry sod who is unable to accept such a possibility (see this incriminating post). If one were to accept this view, goes the argument, morality disappears and life becomes bleak, etc.

But is Judaism so much different? Do we ever know God? Do we ever really understand His ways? Fanatics seem to think the answer to these questions is a resounding yes. They are readily able to discern the will of God, speak in His name, and describe his Features. That is clearly bosh. The RaMBaM’s third article of faith states “I believe, with complete faith, that the Creator, blessed is His name, does not possess a body, that bodily concepts do not apply to Him, and He has no resemblance.”

To ascribe will and features to God, seems to me, violates this principle. Interestingly, the RaMBaM’s own statement seems to violate itself, as creation is a physical construct as well. I guess the RaMBaM’s fascination with creatio ex nihlo, explains how he can call God a creator. Note that under this approach, the most odious of all the Kiruv Klowny arguments for God— the dreaded Watchmaker—runs up against this principle of faith. The argument conflates a human act of creation with the Godly act of creation, and thus infers the latter from the former.

Back to my friend.

He is reluctant to accept the world as it is. He wishes that what he was taught as a child was true. He wants an all powerful benevolent force to be watching over him, and he wants to know that the Big Rockcandy Mountains await him beyond this place of wrath and tears.

But did he ever know a benevolent God? Did he really think that he was going to experience a Heaven in a physical sense? Even Judaism does not teach this concept. God cannot be benevolent, as benevolence is a physical concept. There is no jealous God, as jealousy is a physical concept. There is no physical experience of Heaven, because Heaven is a non-physical state of existence. In fact, Moses, desperate to know God asks him is name and receives the famous reply of “I am that I am.” God is God. There is no other way to explain Him, because to bring Him down into a human lexicon is an impossibility, even a profanity. Hence, I see a fundamental gap between God and man. If He has no physical dimension, how can we ever feel connected to Him?

To take it one step further- is an incomprehensible existence any different? Are we that much poorer if we cannot answer certain questions? It may be that we are unable to escape the illusion of our “I.” It may be that we do not understand How It All Started.

It is what It is.

Worked before, didn’t it?