The Infinite Lights - Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
The Infinite Light,
A Book About G-d
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, including photocopying, without permission in writing from the publisher

INTRODUCTION

The first man was speechless when confronted by the divine question, Where are you? We, his descendants are inarticulate in our response to man's question, Where is G-d?

Achieving an awareness of G-d is a difficult task. The pursuit of that awareness involves relentless study and questioning, as well as mitzvah observance and Torah living. As Jews, we do not rely on dreams and heavenly manifestations to actualize G-d's presence in our lives. The true appreciation of a purposeful, personal G-d can only derive from a purposeful life lived in accordance with a purposeful creation.

The first human being to recognize the existence of G-d through his own observation was Abraham. Some commentaries say that this spectacular feat was accomplished at the age of forty-six, when his mental powers had attained their greatest acuity. Others maintain that it was at the age of three that Abraham experienced the original, autoinduced personal revelation.

Rabbi Menachern Mendel of Kotzk explains that even according to the former opinion, Abraham's first 46 years were not wasted on the impotent emptiness of idolatry. They were years of searching, of questioning, of delving into the mysteries of human and universal existence. When at age 46, Abraham achieved the pinnacle of man's sensitivity to creation, it was not a thunderclap, not an apparition that preceded this discovery but rather the calm, steady reflection of Abraham's magnificent mind and gigantic spirit.

It is instructive that it was Abraham, the paragon of righteousness in human affairs, who was privileged to be the first to recognize G-d, and to understand His concern for human behavior.

In contemporary society, particularly among young people we sense a not quite conscious stirring, a movement within humanity, which searches and strives for meaning in life. Logotherapy, a school of psychodynamics, projects "meaning" as the central idea of human existence. There is a sense that man cannot achieve happiness purely through satisfaction of material goals. The high statistics of suicide in developed countries, as well as the almost universal statement that "life seemed meaningless" by attempted suicides, attest to this fact.

Ultimately, searching for meaning is striving for G-d. This book was conceived as an atlas to aid the searching Jew, in mapping his personal journey in the quest for the ultimate meaning of human existence, the knowledge of G-d. The author draws from the entire spectrum of our tradition to present an understanding of G-d, his Torah, and of Man's duty to observe the truths embodied in it.

Rabbi Judah Halevi once wrote "If I were to see Him in a dream, I would continue to sleep forever". We present this work in the hope that it will enable us to better see Him in our lives to that we may indeed seize our portion of eternity.

Kislev 6, 5740
November 26, 1979

Baruch Taub

Foundations

Purchase This Title For Your Home Library!

More from OU.ORG

  • About Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan

  • OU.ORG Shabbat Section

  • Other Titles From OU/NCSY

  • Jacobs Shabbat Learning Center

  • Jewish Action Magazine

  • E-Mail Lists

  • OU.ORG Front Page

  • More from OU.ORG

    Footnotes:

    FOOTNOTES
    68 Zohar 3:225a; Likutey Amarim (Tanya) 2:7 (83b); Nefesh HaChaim 3:4; Reshith Chachmah 1: 1 (9a).
    69 Shnei Luchoth HaBrith 1:44a, 1:64b; Likutey Amarim (Tanya) 84a.
    70 Berachoth 12a; Zohar 3:272b.
    71 Cf. Sifri ad loc. #31.
    72 Ibid.
    73 Zohar Chadash, Yithro 35c.
    74 BaMidbar Rabbah 12:4; Pesikta 1 (2b).
    75 Midrash Tehillim 24:5.
    76 Kuzari 1:79 (47a), 1:98 (66b), 2:46 (54b) 3:23 (31b).
    77 Berachoth 6a; Avoth 3:5.
    78 Sanhedrin 39a.
    79 Ibn Ezra on Exodus 13:21; Emunoth VeDeyoth 2:11; Kuzari 2:7,8; Moreh Nevukhim 1:27; Ramban on Genesis 47:1.
    80 Mechilta on Exodus 13:21 (25a).
    81 Taanith 21b.
    82 Succah 53a, according to Rashi.
    83 Kiddushin 31a.
    84 See Pardes Rimonim 6:8; Likutey Amarim (Tanya) 2:2 (77b).
    85 See Metzudoth ad loc.; Tosafoth Yom Tov on Tamid 7:4
    s.v. "LeChayay."
    86 Zohar 2:42b; Tikuney Zohar 3a, 62a; Reshith Chochmah 7a, 8c,d; Radak on Jeremiah 23:24.
    87 Shomer Emunim (HaKadmon) 2:11.
    88 Midrash Tehillim 119:36.
    89 Thirteen Principles of Faith #10.
    90 Tanchuma Nasa 5; Yalkut 2:305.
    91 See Yerushalmi Rosh HaShanah 1:3 (8a).
    92 Sh'moth Rabbah 21:3.
    93 Bereshith Rabbah 9:3.
    94 Sanhedrin 90b.
    95 Tanna DeBei Eliahu Zuta 23 (50b).
    96 Elemah Rabathai 1:2:18; Or HaChairn on Genesis 6:6; Meshekh Chakhmah on Genesis 1:26.
    97 Yerushalmi Rosh HaShanah 1:3 (7b).
    98 Bereshith Rabbah 27:7.
    99 Sifri, Rashi, on Numbers 12:8.
    100 Yalkut 1:396. Cf. Chulin 60a.
    101 Shefa Tal, Introduction (4d); Likutey Amarim (Tanya) 2:6 (81a).
    102 Chulin 60b. Cf. Zohar 3:47b.
    103 BaMidbar Rabbah 12:3.
    104 Tikuney Zohar 17a.
    105 Likutey Amarim (Tanya) 2:9 (86b).
    106 Cf. Chagigah 13b; Yad, Yesodey HaTorah 2:8.