"Fundamentals of the Jewish Faith"
Chapter One: G-d (Part 1)
It goes without saying that we rely on our mind and its perceptions for
nearly everything. So if something doesn't quite jibe with our sense of
what's rational, reasonable, and explicable we tend to reject it.
Yet it's also true that our minds haven't an infinite capacity (even when
they're aided by the greatest of computers and joined by the finest of
other minds). So it's clear that we can't always depend on our minds to
arrive at the truth. In fact, there's a whole realm beyond our abilities
to reason that's far richer and more varied than our own that's simply
inexplicable, known as the realm of faith. And it's the one we enter into
when we discuss G-d as well as all things spiritual.
For G-d unto Himself is utterly, utterly unfathomable since He's far
removed from our experience and occupies an inscrutable domain that's
devoid of space, time, and all the qualities of reality we know of. So we
depend on our faith and our holy tradition for depictions of Him. Given
the chance we could draw many analogies to Him and derive proofs for His
existence from the natural world, but all of that would fall flat in the
end because we'd always wind up facing the fact that G-d Himself is simply
We'd thus be wise to accept the fact, as Ramchal puts it, that G-
d's "actual essence and makeup cannot be fathomed whatsoever", that
there's absolutely nothing analogous to Him "in all of creation or in
anything our minds could conceive of or imagine", and that "no words or
depictions" could capture His essence.
Now, you might argue that the Torah uses all sorts of analogies for Him
and depicts Him in many, many ways and you'd be right. But suffice it to
say that the Torah doesn't speak of G-d Himself when it describes Him to
us: it refers to Him as He presents Himself to us in *our* realm and in
terms that we could understand and draw upon to understand what He
requires of us.
It's been said that that's analogous to the way great geniuses present
their ideas to lesser souls. If they'd lay out their thoughts as they
themselves understand them, their listeners would miss the whole point,
and their effort would have been in vain. But if they'd present their
ideas in terms that others far less advanced than they could understand
and relate to, then their ideas would be grasped for all intents and
purposes. And while the latter explanations wouldn't be "true" from the
genius's perspective, they'd nonetheless serve his ends, and would thus
be "true enough" under the circumstances. (Understand this point well, as
it helps to explain many otherwise unfathomable things.)
Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org.