Monday, April 12, 2010

Contemplating Hashem with Wonder

The midrash states in the name of Rabbi Nechemia that just as Moshe acted towards Hashem with temimut (naiveté or simplicity) so too Hashem acted towards Moshe with temimut. From where do we see this? From the story of the burning bush, where Moshe asks, “Why does this bush not burn up?” Hashem then calls out from the bush, “it is because my presence is found within it” (Vayikra Rabbah, Parshat Shmini, Chapter 11).

I heard an explanation of this midrash as follows: Moshe’s question is almost childlike, filled with a state of wonder and innocence. “How can this be?” he asks simply. Hashem answers Moshe’s question: “It is not consumed because I am in it.”

I can imagine a similar unassuming exchange between a parent and a curious child.
“Abba, what makes an ant move?”
“Hashem gives him his life just like Hashem gives life to you and me.”

Though the exchange is one of innocence and simplicity, it resonates with tremendous preciousness and depth. The notion that Hashem is the One who fills all of existence, and Hashem is constantly bestowing life on all of creation is a matter of tremendous complexity. The philosophical issues surrounding such statements, and the understanding of how such a relationship occurs has fascinated sages throughout the centuries, and has filled libraries with its discussion.

Yet simple words can fill us with a deep consciousness beyond the level of logic and complexity. At the most basic level there is nothing other than Hashem. As important as it is to understand the depth of that statement with the intellectual abilities that Hashem has granted us, it is equally important to contemplate with childlike simplicity that Hashem simply is.

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