Let My People Know

"The essence of the Divine is beyond the spiritual precisely as it is beyond the physical"


What is important to emphasize is the actuality of God in the world, that is to say, He is not beyond the world, and we have to relate to Him accordingly. 

To say that no one can grasp Him with the intelligence, no matter how superior, does not necessarily mean that human intelligence is limited, but rather that no one can grasp Him no matter with what means, intellectual or otherwise. 

In short, there are things that are not given to men to understand at all. In the same way, as stated elsewhere, it is not given to touch wisdom with the hands. 

It spills over into the absurd because there is no common denominator.

One can translate or transfer from one kind of being to another only when it is within the same realm of existence, whether material or spiritual. 

For instance, we measure heat with a thermometer that we read by the eye, or convert electric current into sound or light, by mechanical means. 

In the same way, we can translate various spiritual forms of expression in different ways—visual, audio, literary, and so on. What we cannot do is express anything that is beyond the spiritual. 

There is an essential barrier. 

Just as one cannot directly, materially, make contact with that which is spiritual. 

The essence of the Divine is, as was often explained, beyond the spiritual precisely as it is beyond the physical. 

That is, if one can say that God is spiritual because He is not material, then, in the same way, it can be said that He is material because He is not spiritual. 

Thus, no intelligence, no matter how great or spiritual, can grasp the essence of anything beyond the spiritual.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From The Sustaining Utterance, p. 88, by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz