Shabbat Chol Hamoed Sukkot
It is well established that God does not have a body. It is written in the text:
וַיֹּ֕אמֶר לֹ֥א תוּכַ֖ל לִרְאֹ֣ת אֶת־פָּנָ֑י כִּ֛י לֹֽא־יִרְאַ֥נִי הָאָדָ֖ם וָחָֽי׃
"But,” He said, “you cannot see My face, for man may not see Me and live.”
Let us abandon this thought, let us challenge it, deconstruct it and see what we come up with at the end.
Let us follow a line from Descartes:
Today, then, since I have opportunely freed my mind from all cares, and since I am in the secure possession of leisure in a peaceful retirement, I will at length apply myself earnestly and freely to the general overthrow of all my former opinions.
We ask the question, does God have a body?
There is sufficient evidence to suggest that despite what we were told in kindergarten, God is conceived of as having hands and feet (God walking through the Garden of Eden). He has a mouth (as he blows life-giving breath into Adam) and eyes (where he says the people building the Tower of Babel). By the end of Bereshit, the body of God is well and truly constructed. Our knee-jerk reaction is to conclude this to be false or counter the our conception of God, but here we must remember God is conceived of as one, unified, not immaterial.
Although stated in Torah reading this week, people have seen the body of God and lived to tell the tale (Isaiah, Amos and even Moshe in his face to face dealings with God). And so if God's body exists and we can and have seen this what does this verse mean?
I would like to note that the conclusion to this piece could have easily been reached by bypassing the above exploration but then we certainly wouldn't have made Descartes proud
It is clear to me that here we are talking about the aura of the divine. The infinite and all powerful radiating goodness of the ethereal, forcing us to reflect our own iniquities and insufficiencies. To behold the divine would be to behold our imperfection, to confront out mortality. We scraped the surface of this on Yom Kippur but this experience pales in comparison to confronting the divine.
May this serve as a constant reminder of our mortality and humanity