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Dreaming About God

After the rant against God that I posted on Yom Kippur, the mystical side of my mind expected or perhaps secretly hoped for some kind of response, which might come in a dream. Sure enough, a couple of days later I did have a dream that seemed directly related. In it, I was reading a page of Jewish liturgy in Hebrew, and it explained that God is silent now because he is depressed.

Please understand: The people I come from don’t receive wondrous communications direct from the divinity. Already in late antiquity, the mainstream Jewish rabbis who composed the Talmud were declaring prophecy a closed matter, having been burnt by the transformation of a small Jewish sect into the world religion of Christianity, which was hostile to Jews and Judaism at its core and began persecuting them as soon as it gained numbers and power. The rise and fall of various “false messiahs” from among the Jewish people over the centuries only strengthened this rabbinic skepticism, which was bolstered after the Enlightenment by radical modern “scientistic” skepticism. In my family, the already bodiless and therefore abstract Jewish God has been further abstracted by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan’s Reconstructionism, which denies there is any sort of personal or supernatural God. My parents and my late father-in-law are devotees of this modernistic, rationalistic form of religion.

Anyhow, when I woke up from my dream, I realized that the Hebrew word for “depressed” was only partially spelled out in the text I viewed within it. One wouldn’t expect the Jewish God to make a mistake in His Hebrew. On the other hand, when I told my mother about my dream, she commented dryly that “God certainly has what to be depressed about these days.”

Is it merely another form of anthropomorphizing to attribute emotions to God? In the Hebrew Bible (called the Old Testament by Christians, who order its books differently from Jews), God sometimes is depicted as having a humanlike body and body parts (“His right arm,” etc.), and sometimes as the abstract, bodiless Supreme Being whom the latter-day Jews descended from the Israelites learned to worship. But with or without a body, the God of the Hebrew Bible always has very human emotions. God gets angry; He is described over and over again as a jealous god; He plays favorites. This brought the Hebrew God into disrepute in some strands of Christian and post-Christian, Enlightenment thought. For such thinkers, the God of the Hebrew Bible is a rather nasty and petty figure unworthy of the title of Creator and Supreme Being. Yet the depiction of God with humanlike thoughts and feelings certainly makes Him more “relatable” than One who is impossibly remote and creates a universe as incomprehensibly vast as modern physics assures us it is. Then there’s the question of whether He feels sorrow and suffers along with His creatures, a concept that stands at the heart of Christianity and is not unknown in Judaism as well.

Given the state of the world now, and how close we seem to be to wiping ourselves out and taking much of life on Earth with us, it’s not hard to imagine that God must be filled with sorrow for the sentient life He created. Whether out of regret or due to some other cause, He isn’t telling, so the question of why there is so much evil inescapably descends back on us, the questioners.


2 thoughts on “Dreaming About God

  1. Well, I try to adopt a God-like perspective (which resulted in a blown-apart ego structure and Empathy so maxed I can barely move or function), and I’m depressed as all get-out, so… You may be onto something here, my friend. ❤


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