I know. I didn’t write anything about last week’s parsha. I am breaking all of my rules. Isn’t that ever to irreverently Jewish though? I did of course read last week’s parsha. And a bunch of commentary. And I have tons to say on the subject. But I have something else stuck inside me that needs air more than my thoughts on last week’s reading do.
I spent last weekend with a group of women, most of whom I barely knew or didn’t know at all. They were all very nice and we had a really lovely time, thank you. I learned to play a game called “truth truth lie” where you tell 3 facts about yourself, one of which is entirely made up. It’s very revealing and gave us much to talk about. And there was wine involved, so that loosened a lot of lips too.
A couple of us were discussing beliefs (this was after one of the women went outside to dance a very rapturous and jiggly prayer for a friend of hers who is in the hospital). The dancer calls herself a pagan, the other woman I was talking with calls herself an atheist who was raised a Jew, and then there was me. I know you’re never supposed to talk religion in polite company, but this wasn’t exactly polite company. By this time in the evening there were very few secrets left in the house. We were no longer “company”. Of course we were still very polite.
So the atheist Jew is bothered by the whole god thing. Her mother has not been well and is apparently feeling her own mortality and dealing with it as many do…with help from her god. She has been pushing her version of god on my new atheist friend. Her version is very similar to Santa Claus with a different outfit and address. My atheist friend doesn’t buy that god. She asked me about my belief, knowing that I do deeply and enthusiastically embrace my Jewishness. I answered the way I usually do:
“What is at the end of the universe? At the very edge, beyond everything we know? Beyond the dark and the stars and the planets and the solar systems? “ That is my understanding of God. If I could answer one question, then I would be able to answer the other. It is the unknowable that holds us all together.
Her answer though, was that there is nothing at the end of the universe. Honest as this is, it baffles me. I don’t understand nothingness. I’m reading a book by Lawrence Kushner, “Kabbalah, A Love Story”. I haven’t gotten very far yet, but this is how Kushner describes the end of the universe.
Einstein, in describing the “big bang”, describes that everything comes from a single point of light. “Everything” includes matter and energy and space and time! So, if you were to go out to the edge and look back at everything we know, you would have gone back in time and be looking at a single point of light that contains everything yet to come. The light would be so dense as to contain “galaxies and planets, civilizations and centuries, people, everything”.
It kinda feels like God to me. Unknowable. So immensely huge. And for me, deeply comforting. Aaaaah….all that air feels good.