Who can say that he has the right to be in any sort of relationship with God, much less to be a dwelling place for Him?
The distance is indeed unbridgeably, immeasurably vast.
No matter how tremendous one's efforts, or how great one becomes, one remains an insignificantly small creature.
That is only one aspect of the relation, however.
The other is that God is always present and that one can be as near to Him as one chooses.
If, however, one endeavors to approach Him by one's own efforts, it is hopelessly impossible.
In relation to the Infinite, even moral and spiritual qualities have no meaning.
It does not matter whether one is Moses, the Lawgiver, or an ordinary mortal–all stand at the same zero point before God.
So that the great joy of the soul is savored when God comes to me, when the immeasurably great descends and fits Himself to my littleness.
And the miracle is that God remains with one always.
He becomes the one reality exceeding all else.
The faith that makes this possible is not something we necessarily have to achieve by ourselves.
It is given to us as an inheritance.
To be sure, for certain people it may be the end product of a lifetime of trial and error, thought and contemplation.
But for the Jewish people, it is also a legacy from their forefathers.
Therefore, the splendor of the Jewish heritage is the certainty that wherever and however one is situated, God is nearer than all else.
The recurrent question has always been: What is the key?
And the answer that is always given is: "The righteous shall live by his faith."
Because faith is the key that ensures the joy of life.
And the joy of life is the same as the joy of existence itself.
No matter what one's destiny, whether to be a sinner or a saint, rich or poor, happy or wretched, the one great and decisive factor is joy in the knowledge that God is present.
And the more sincere this conviction, the more intense and alive one feels, because everyone lives by his faith.
It follows that when we have this knowledge of the constant presence of God, nothing else is needed.
No matter how depressing or frustrating life becomes, no matter how dull the mind or sick the heart, one has only to think on the Divine Unity, on the oneness of His name, and the way is cleared for joy.
True, an effort of will is needed to concentrate the thought and contemplate God's unity; but it is a minimal effort of guiding the mind, and it is less an effort than that which is equivalent to action.
The thought keeps moving, no matter how we feel.
To direct it in a certain way requires a certain amount of preparation beforehand.
We need to have the tools, because it is not only a mental process.
And there are any number of complex soul situations.
Nevertheless, one is almost always compelled to think of oneself.
And the thought "Who am I?" is hardly ever out of range.
Who am I then that I dare to raise my head and share the life of the universe for a single
What am I and what is my life worth?
To this one responds, "My life is nothing, but God is here; He is with me."
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From "Gladness in the Presence of God," p. 225, in The Long Shorter Way by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz