16 January 2012


Once you have got past my hang-up about using a hyphen instead of an o, if I say "G-d", do you picture an old man with a long white beard, slinging thunderbolts?

That is not the Jewish idea of G-d.
Don't look so disappointed.

I once heard a rav of my acquaintance speak of "the Eternal".
That gives a better idea of the Jewish idea of the Eternal than the word "G-d" does.

Once you say "G-d", people think you are talking about the subject of Christian radio shows, and then it is all over.
Most Jews I know do not talk about "G-d" except when they are trying to translate themselves for people who don't speak Hebrew. In Torah texts, the Eternal goes by many different names -- names with the emphasis on love, on justice, on our relationship, on our responsibilities, "Ancient One", "the Place".

For the record -- all phrased in the negative since the precise identity of the Eternal is beyond what our minds can handle - G-d, in the Jewish concept, is not a person, male, female, narrow-minded, Christian, physical, Zeus, Iluvatar, hydrogen, strings, trees, machinery, outer space, light, out-to-get-you, Hallmarky, evil, or a fusspot.

1 comment:

  1. Just last Sunday, RMTF spoke about the dialogue between Moshe and the Entity which manifested as a bush that burned but was not consumed.
    'Whom shall I tell the people I talked with?' asks Moshe.
    Answer: "I shall be what I shall be."

    "What kind of name is that?" we were encouraged to ask ourselves.
    Stumbling over the rocks of Rabbi Hirsch, we arrived at a plateau where we could see that "I shall be what I shall be" means "I am an infinitude of future possibilities;" and that this is not a bad description of humans either - except that our future possibilities are not infinite but confined to one lifetime.
    We are the total of our decisions - for good, for bad, for some of each.
    Free will.

    "I shall be what I shall be" is both a lot more to say than "God" and a lot less to say than the full list of infinite possibilities.
    We need an abbreviation for this huge, infinity-linked Concept and I find "God"-with-the-"o" an acceptable abbreviation.
    It's a word to use for a big idea is all.

    Odd that I can accept that linguistic innovation, but not "their" as a plural possessive or "nother" as an adjective.