Sunday, May 21, 2017

God -- On One Foot

היום ארבעים יום, שהם חמשה שבועות וחמשה ימים, בעמר
Today is forty days, which is five weeks and five days, of the omer
הוד שביסוד
A day of humility in a week of foundation

A couple of months ago, half-way into a tutoring session, my student asked me, "Marilyn, do you believe in God?" And there went the rest of the session :)

As a professional Jew with a firm Jewish personal practice, that question, in several variations, is one that I'm often asked. I don't have a definitive answer. Often I just say, "define God." Do I believe in the picture of God as often presented in the books of my youth--the old guy with the white beard in the sky? Certainly not. Do I think of a puppet master who controls the strings of our lives? Nope, not that. God is not a person, or any kind of being. While God is a character in the Tanakh, in the stories of our people, one understanding I have is that God is a representation of the power of the universe.

אל רגל אחת – al regel akhat – on one foot – my concept of God lies in the unknown. When I talk about God with a class of students, I often start with having them make a mobius strip, a twisted cylinder that only has one side. If you take a strip of paper, put one twist in it, tape the ends together, and start to draw a continuous line, you will end the line where it started. Untape the ends, and the line is on both sides of the paper.  I have no idea how this works, and yet it does. Somewhere in there, for me, is God.

There is a lot of unknowns in the world, lots of places for me to find that transcendent spirit.

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