Let My People Know

"God exists beyond any characterization"

The Sages of the Kabbala agreed with the Rambam's declaration that He is Knowledge, He is the Knower and He is the Known. 

But they differed in regard to the limiting of God as a Knower or in terms of any category. 

Of course, it is always repeated that He is wise and not with knowable wisdom, that He is powerful and not with any known forcefulness, etc. 

The statement that He is the Knowledge and the Knower says little more than that.

It is a partial truth, valid within a circumscribed area. 

That is to say, when God reveals Himself in power, we relate primarily to Him, to the Divine reality, we do not relate to the vehicle, the amount or form of power manifested. 

To put the matter in its simplest terms, let us take a man who appears sometimes as a father, sometimes as a craftsman, sometimes as a soldier. While he identifies with each function, his self cannot be totally identified with anyone role. 

In each realm of function, he is whole and separate from the others, but at no point can we separate the man from what he is doing. 

The man exists as himself, beyond any role or function, as a complete oneness. 

In this sense, God exists beyond any characterization; all categories are ways of His manifestation to us. 

A person does not dress up to play the role of father or soldier.

It is a real aspect of his existence. 

At the same time, the man is not the same as father or soldier; he remains the self beneath the outer garments, beyond the role or function. 

The Sages of the Kabbala thus agreed that God is Knowledge and Knower and Known, but that He is also beyond all these, the inseparable Divine within all these, yet not identified with any of them. 

It is a one-sided connection, not a two-sided one. God is in the phenomenon, the phenomenon is not in Him.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From "The Way of the Soul and Torah" in The Candle of God by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz