I am tutoring 11 year old twins in all things Jewish & working with them to prepare for their bar mitzvah. Theyâ€™ve asked me all those tough questions that youâ€™re never told how to answer, even when itâ€™s you who is doing the asking. For example: Does God exist? Who is God? What is God? And more, Iâ€™m sure you can imagine.Â I think the most difficult thing for them, at their age, is the unknown. They want proof. I found myself searching for answers, not only to their questions, but to those I never bothered to ask â€“ because I believed what I was taught in Hebrew School and then tried to never think about it again.
In the last month or so, Iâ€™ve participated in a class about different Jewish philosophies of God. While none seemed to fit just right, for me, one philosophy stuck out from the rest â€“ and not in the positive. The idea is that if God is everywhere, truly â€“ in the materials that make up the computer Iâ€™m typing on, the calcium in my bones, the platelets in my blood, the lenses of my glasses, the fibers in the tissues on my desk, the dust under my bedâ€¦and everywhere in between â€“ than there is no Self; that we are all God.
While the idea that we are all part of the divine is somewhat tempting at first, I found myself getting angry. No Self? This philosophizing Rabbi must not have met Me! I have an extremely well developed Sense of Self.Â I thought: â€œNo Self? Fuck you, no Self.”Â I have worked so hard to get out of the hole of Self doubt, Self pity and Self-destructive behavior that my younger Self created in my late teens & early twenties. In 6 years, Iâ€™ve almost entirely re-discovered my true, productive, protective & persevering Self. Except Iâ€™ve been struggling with Faith. And when I start the search to re-discover Faith, I find myself in a dilemma â€“ a struggle between God and Self. Wouldnâ€™t it be easier to pass over this certain philosophy and find another?Â Surely. But this is the one that has given me the most grief.Â And raised more questions. And at times, I feel more lost than found. And yet, still more found than lost. But something is still missing. If there is no Self, then Who Am I?