The G Word: Naming the Ineffable

helen week 4There’s no way around dealing with a word that I was two years into my return to Judaism before I could comfortably say: God. G-d. Or, as I prefer, HaShem (hah-shehm), The Name.

My own cosmology is complex and always evolving. I also don’t think this concept communicates easily, even among seekers and mystics. So this post is simply an attempt to say that the idea of Spirit is universal, important, and elusive. The questions pervasive and the answers hard to wrap your hands or brain around.

Whether you believe in what Hindus call leela (cosmic play) or what quantum physics might describe as the Higgs Boson particle, most folks are either believers in some unifying energetics or dismissive of the concept. A person of faith or a questioner of the intangible. That’s between you and you.

In Jewish liturgy and songs, there’s many names for the concept of a deity, both the subject and object of prayer: The One, The Creator, Source Of Life, The Life Of All The Worlds, Shekhinah (the sacred feminine godhead), The Holy One, The Eternal, The Radiance, The Omnipresent, Giver of Words, The Just One, The All-knowing, The Infinite, for some examples. They all subsume into the abbreviation God, or as I will say HaShem.

Abraham Heschel has a wonderful description of what he calls the ineffable: To meditative minds the ineffable is cryptic, inarticulate: dots, marks of secret meaning, scattered hints, to be gathered, deciphered, and formed into evidence; while in moments of insight the ineffable is a metaphor in a forgotten mother tongue.

Amen. I can’t say it better than that. That’s what I mean by HaShem: the thread that ties it all together in this story we call life.

That’s how I’m going to use it in this blog. Feel free to substitute whatever works for you.

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