Parashah Ponderings

The Challenge of Imagining God

Ha’Azinu / פרשת האזינו
Deuteronomy 32:1 – 32:52

In this, the penultimate Torah portion of the yearly cycle, Moses offers an ode to God that has come to be known as “The Song of Moses.” The song contains a number of rich, evocative epithets for God, inviting us to expand our understanding of God beyond “Ruler” and “Parent,” the predominant images of God spoken of in the High Holy Day liturgy. Of course, the way we envision the Divine is inherently limited by the language that shapes the way we think.

In one of his final essays on the weekly reading, Rabbi Shai Held addresses this very issue. In his scholarly and insightful article entitled “Hearing the Whisper: God and the Limits of Language,” Rabbi Held addresses the paradox of our need to name and envision God, on one hand, and God’s utter transcendence and ineffability, on the other hand. As we renew our relationship to the Holy One at the start of this new year, I encourage you to read Rabbi Held’s article and to examine your own images of God and their limitations.

You may read and download Rabbi Held’s article here: Hearing the Whisper: God and the Limits of Language.

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