Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “One cannot even say that it is difficult to understand Divine wisdom because it is far too sublime.”

 

Rabbi Steinsaltz writes:

It is not correct to describe God as “wise” or even to attribute wisdom to Him at any particular level.

For wisdom as we know it is not of the same category as God’s wisdom; it cannot transmit anything of the Divine essence.

One cannot even say that it is difficult to understand Divine wisdom because it is far too sublime.

Indeed, such a statement is totally meaningless and irrelevant, like any attempt to determine something by means that have no reference to it, such as grasping a thought with the hands.

Nevertheless, the Scriptures do call God wise and good, and so on.

And, after all, we cannot very well maintain that He is so far beyond us that we are unable to relate to Him and to His wisdom at all.

The truth may be said to lie in the fact that He is the source of wisdom.

God is the first cause, the basis of all creation, and from whatever we comprehend of creation we call Him wise.

Similarly, we call Him merciful and kind and so on, because He is the source of all these attributes.

These attributes describe God’s actions and not God Himself, in the same way that we describe Him as “He who gathers the winds and brings the rain” (daily prayer book) and do not thereby identify Him with wind and rain. 

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From “The Secret of Faith” in The Sustaining Utterance

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