I am tutoring 11 year old twins in all things Jewish & working with them to prepare for their bar mitzvah. They’ve asked me all those tough questions that you’re never told how to answer, even when it’s you who is doing the asking. For example: Does God exist? Who is God? What is God? And more, I’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, I’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 I’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, I’ve almost entirely re-discovered my true, productive, protective & persevering Self. Except I’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. Wouldn’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?