Is it Possible to Know G-d?

· Judaism, kabballah, Metaphsyics, Philosophy, Torah

The fact is that the Almighty introduced himself about 3500 years ago to 3 million people at a place called Mount Sinai by saying, “I am the Lord your G-d who took you out of Egypt.” He then issued ten utterances written in tablets made of sapphire, which is what most of us know today as the “Ten Commandments”. The people who experienced the Divine revelation had also seen first hand the 10 great miracles in Egypt and the splitting of the “Red Sea” (The “Sea of Reeds” is the correct translation of the Hebrew words, Yam Suf). These are recorded facts passed down unaltered from one generation to another for three and one half millennia and this record is how we know that G-d exists and what he wants from all of us, Jew and non Jew alike.

However, we are limited finite beings dealing with an unlimited eternal G-d. There is no imagining or conceptualizing because in comparison we are nullified. The pure scientist kind can stand in awe of the physical universe and all of its natural infrastructure and phenomena, but they are really standing in awe of themselves because they are a part of that which they find so awe-inspiring. However, if you take the water out of any human body, you have less than a handful of dirt. Hence, it seems preferable to stand in awe of the Creator rather than His creation.

On the other hand, our ability to know G-d is extremely limited because as we understand from the Hassidic teachings of Rabbi Schneur Zalman (of blessed memory) of Liadi, Russia (circa 1796), in The Tanya, a book of Kabbalistic revelation, His revealed presence nullifies all physical matter to utter nothingness. Of course this explanation begs the question, “If everything is nullified in relationship to G-d how do we exist?” The answer lies in the fact that the process of creation was making something from nothing. Thus he created time, space, the physical universe and the supernal worlds within himself in a series of contractions; passing his infinite light through filters, so to speak, bringing about the lowest physical world, all emanating from the G-dly energy.

To continue, in the process of the “contractions” G-d conceals his nullifying limitless capacity so that physical beings can be self aware and we can think of ourselves as existing independently. However, we could not maintain any level of self awareness and all physical matter would go out of existence if G-d fully revealed his quintessence. To illustrate, The Tanya explains the concept of nullification by comparing the sunbeam to the sun. The ray of light appears to have independent existence when seen bursting through a window. The observer can even feel its warmth. However, as nightfall begins the ray of light disappears. Where did it go? It went back to its point of origin. There, it has no separate identity because at the source there is only the sun. Thus, when Moses said to G-d, “Please show me your glory,” the Almighty replied “No man may see my face and live.” He was explaining to Moses that all physical matter is like a radiating beam of light that has no separate identity at its source. 

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