Is God a Noun or a Verb? 6 Great Books Introducing Jewish Mysticism
An answer to Myra Adams' inter-faith query.
June 1, 2014 - 10:00 am
I’ll publish your piece on Sunday and provide you with an answer to your question “Why Was Jesus Born Jewish?“ Perhaps I’ll just reprint this email.
“Now, will someone who practices Judaism PLEASE “have an opinion on this” and answer my question?”
There are different kinds of Judaism. Whether you talk to a reform Jew, a conservative Jew, a progressive Jew, or an orthodox Jew you’ll get a different answer. The reason is because all define the word “God” differently.
I generally don’t classify myself primarily as a Jew but the fact is I am one of a particularly marginalized, misunderstood variety — a mystical Jew. Kabbalah and mystical practices derived from the Torah are the foundation of my occultism — as they are in all “right hand” mystical and occult practices. (It’s only the “left hand” that are engaged in Paganism, earth-worship, demon-worship, sex-worship, and the various practices of the ancient Canaanite fertility cults.)
Your question is a non sequitur for Jews for a number of reasons. Jesus was not “born Jewish” because Jewishness is not a race/ethnicity like being French, American, Spanish, etc. It’s a religion and moral value system. When a baby is born they are Jewish only in the sense that their parents plan to raise them in the Jewish value system, not that they are somehow inherently Jewish in their blood. Jesus wasn’t “born Jewish,” he was raised Jewish. People can become or stop being Jewish whenever they want.
Your questions about why did God do this or that:
Do you believe God made Jesus a Jew just for the heck of it?
Like do you believe God made you a Jew just for the heck of it?
I certainly do not believe God made me a Jew just for the heck of it.
These questions change depending on how one chooses to understand and define God. By this, I mean this question: most of the time when you think about God, is God a noun or a verb? Is God a thing or is God an action? Is God a guy up in the clouds making stuff happen, or Is God a process of change and transformation? I take the position of Exodus 3:14.
Central to Jewish mysticism is the idea that God is transcendent – a verb – and as Maimonides argues in The Guide of the Perplexed, all references to God as a thing or a person or a father in the Torah are just metaphors and parables hinting at a transcendent reality beyond our comprehension. So these questions only make sense within a Christian theology that anthropomorphizes God into a person. Hence why you get “no opinion” from Jews. They don’t believe that God operates the way you do.
P.S. Five other book recommendations. These have been some of my biggest influences on why I describe myself as “Pagan Soul, Christian Heart, Jewish Mind, Secular Spirit” and strive to syncretize religious traditions:
1. Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism by Douglas Rushkoff
Page 31: “Maimonides understood that any fixed conception of God must also be a form of idolatry.”