UNIVERSES OF DISCOURSE[1]

 

The General Theory With Four Examples

 

            Consider the following narrative: “As the runner rounded third base and headed for home, the crowd stood up and roared. But before he could make it, the forward guard came in from right field, tackled him, grabbed the puck, and streaked the length of the field to score a goal.” Even for people familiar with the special jargon of the sports pages, this narrative is incomprehensible. It is unintelligible precisely because it mixes universes of discourse. It mixes the universe of discourse of baseball with that of hockey and football; hence, it is incomprehensible. It is nonsense, not as an essay in English syntax and grammar, but as a description of something which we know from our experience. The language of each of the games mentioned is mutually exclusive; no one could play all three games at once, given the current rules. In this example, then, there are clearly defined games, with clearly defined languages, and we always use only one language at a time.

            The example from the world of sports can be generalized to an hypothesis about common language usage, with certain modifications, as follows: First, words more or less faithfully reflect our life experience and that of others; that is, words stand for experiences we have. Second, words come in groups and, within each group, the terms mutually define one another, without clear reference to a term or terms outside the group; that is, the words of each group relate to one another by contrast and similarity without our being able to formally define those words. Such a group of terms can be called a “universe of discourse.” Third, though each universe of discourse is discrete, referring to a distinct dimension of human experience, common usage allows them to overlap. Several examples.

            First, there is the universe of aesthetic discourse.  This universe of discourse is composed of those words which characterize acts, events, objects, or persons aesthetically. The terms of this universe of discourse are, at one end of the spectrum: “beautiful, pretty, harmonious, graceful.” At the other end of the spectrum, the terms are: “ugly, jarring, hideous, odious, loathsome.” And in the middle of the spectrum, the terms are: “homely, plain, graceless, artless, dingy.” There are many more terms, as the entries in the Thesaurus  under “beauty” and “ugliness” indicate.

            These words conform to the three criteria for a universe of discourse: [1] They form a group and have in common one dimension of human existence -- the realm of the aesthetic. [2] They define one another by similarity and contrast, without recourse to terms outside the shared universe of discourse and without formal definition. Thus, one would say, “This sonata is beautiful and that one is not.” But one would not normally say: “The act of poisoning her husband was beautiful, or graceless, or jarring”; or: “Being kind is harmonious, or artless, or ugly.” Similarly, a painting can said to be beautiful and have no other function while a chair can be functional, independent of its aesthetic qualities. [3] Words from the universe of aesthetic discourse can sometimes be used with a nonaesthetic meaning as, for example: “The crime of genocide is ugly”; or, “The act of saving the child's life was beautiful.” When we do that, we are mixing universes of discourse; we are really making moral and not aesthetic judgments, even though we are using the language of aesthetics.

            Second, there is the universe of moral discourse.  This universe of discourse is composed of those words which characterize acts, events, objects, or persons morally. The terms at one end of the spectrum are: “good, just, virtuous, dutiful, morally significant.” At the other end, the terms are: “evil, unjust, bad, wicked, foul.” And in the middle of the spectrum, the terms are: “neutral, inconsequential, unimportant.” Here, too, there are many more terms.

            These terms, too, conform to the three criteria for a universe of discourse: [1] They form a group and have in common one dimension of human existence -- the realm of the moral. [2] They define one another by similarity and contrast, without recourse to terms outside the shared universe of discourse and without formal definition. Thus, one would say, “Being kind is good”; or, “Evil deeds are wicked.” But, one would not normally say: “That painting is virtuous, or wicked, or unethical”; or, “Prayer is fair, or wrong, or foul.” Similarly, when we say of a person that he or she is “good” or “bad,” we are not passing judgment on that person's aesthetic qualities but on his or her moral qualities. Or, an act can be pregnant with moral meaning and yet be unaesthetic or antisocial. Thus, too, we know people who are physically ugly yet are morally without peer, and we can think of acts that are morally courageous yet which have no inherent aesthetic meaning. [3] Words from the universe of moral discourse can sometimes be used with a nonmoral meaning, as when we say, “Beauty is good.” When we do that, we are mixing universes of discourse; we are really couching an aesthetic judgment in moral language.

            The reason for the overlap of moral and aesthetic vocabularies lies in the historical usage of western culture in which the beautiful and the good are said to overlap, even though each is a separate realm of discourse with its own vocabulary and its own judgments. This tradition has deep roots in western culture, beginning in Plato and continuing through the middle ages and into modern philosophy. Note, however that, in the prophetic tradition,  morality and aesthetics did not overlap. Rather, classical prophecy (and later rabbinic teaching) put primary emphasis on the universe of moral discourse and saw the aesthetic realm as secondary. Justice is not always beautiful, while the beautiful can sometimes be very evil -- for the prophet.

            Third, there is the universe of personal discourse.  This universe of discourse is composed of those words which characterize acts, events, objects, or persons personally. The vocabulary here, too, is familiar; it is drawn from our knowledge of human psychology. Thus we speak of people being: “loving, kind, supportive, happy”; or: “aggressive, critical, constructive, productive”; or: “angry, destructive, sad, uncommunicative.” There are many more words we use to describe people.

            These words, too,  conform to the three criteria for a universe of discourse: [1] They form a group which describes a common dimension of human existence -- the realm of the interpersonal. [2] They define one another by similarity and contrast, without recourse to terms outside the shared universe of discourse and without formal definition. Thus, one would say, “He is loving, or critical, or angry”; or, “She is happy, or aggressive, or uncommunicative.” But one would not normally use aesthetic or moral terms when trying to describe someone psychologically. [3] Words from the universe of personal discourse can sometimes be used together with terms from the moral and aesthetic realms, even though they are coherent unto themselves. Thus, a person can be said to be aggressive and moral, yet not beautiful; or, sad yet beautiful and/or moral. A person could even be loving, yet unethical or ugly.[2]

             Fourth, there is the universe of rational discourse.   This universe of discourse is composed of those words which characterize acts, events, objects, or persons rationally. The terms at one end of the spectrum are: “reason, proof, analysis, logic.” At the other end, they are: “sophistry, inconsistency, unreasonableness, invalid argument.” And, in the middle of the spectrum, they are: “probable, likely, hypothesis, plausible.” These words are dervied from strictly logical thinking (e.g., mathematical proofs) but they apply also to more intuitive rational thought, the former, however, being regarded as the paradigm for the entire universe of rational discourse.

            These words, too, conform to the criteria for a universe of discourse: they form a group of words that describe a single dimension of human existence; they are self-defining and hence self-consistent; and their universe of discourse sometimes overlaps with that of other universes of discourse, as in the statement, “That is an elegant solution.” In western culture in particular, the universe of rational  discourse overlaps with the universes of moral and aesthetic discourse, as in the extended medieval argument about the simultaneity of the good, the rational, and the beautiful.

            To summarize: (l) In everyday speech, we use words to describe various aspects of experience. [2] These words have a tendency to group themselves into units, called “universes of discourse,” in which the terms define one another by similarity and contrast.  [3] The primary sense of these universes of discourse can be distinguished and we use them coherently to describe persons, events, objects, moments in time, and texts. [4] Despite the discreteness of each universe of discourse, common usage, particularly in western tradition, permits a certain overlap of terms, creating hybrid usages. [5] The four universes of discourse noted here are: the aesthetic, the moral, the personal, and the rational. Each has its own interrelated vocabulary. Each, despite the semantic overlap, describes a specific aspect of human experience.  And, each enables us to exercise active judgement in its respective dimension of human living; each enables us to characterize persons, objects, places, texts, and events with the range of terms specific to that universe of discourse.

 

The Universe of Spiritual Discourse

 

            Religious persons of all ages and all cultures have occupied themselves with the problem of seeking to find words and categories and to arrange them so that they describe the realm of the religious. Scholars in the field of the history of religions have also taken up the task.[3] Casting around in the mind by using the technique of free association, one discovers that this universe of discourse is, indeed, a rich one. There are such words as: “holy, transcendent, spiritual, sacred, awe, fear of the Lord, love, ecstasy, worship, piety, saintliness.” And there are such words as: “demonry, ghost, curse, unholy, weird, sacrilegious, fiendish, blasphemous.” There is also a group of words that are specific to given religious traditions and institutions: “sacrament, worship, idolatry, love, mass, sh'ma, born-again, teshuva .” The numbers of words available is considerable and it is only secular habits of thought that limit our use of such words. It is useful to return to a few of these words to see how they are used, how they relate to one another, and  to catch a glimpse of the realm of human experience to which they allude.

            What does the word “holy” mean? “Holiness,” as noted in the previous chapter, is a quality we become aware of in certain events, texts, objects, or people. It is not an awareness of the aesthetic. Nor is it an awareness of deep moral rectitude. It is a sense of something “other,” of the presence of something that is qualitatively different from everything else we are aware of. It is an awareness of the dimension of the sacred in the event, text, object, or person before us.

            “What is the matter with you, O sea, that you flee? with you, O Jordan, that you reverse your course? with you, O mountains, that you dance like lambs? and with you, O hills, that you spring about like young sheep?” (Psalm 114). Can one say that these are “good” metaphors or that this is “good” poetry? Usually, one does not, even in poetry, think of the sea fleeing or the mountains dancing like lambs. Usually, even in a metaphor, a river does not reverse its course, or the hills spring about like young sheep. The idea of nature being stood on its head, so to speak, makes sense particularly in the context of the creative power of God. God, after all, set the character of nature by God’s power. And God could reverse or change it. Under God’s influence, the sea could flee, the river could reverse itself. In God’s presence, the mountains and the hills could act like young animals. To the psalmist, nature is not an object of perception. Certainly, it is not an object of exploitative instincts. To the psalmist, nature is not even a beautiful entity. Rather, nature is an expression of a power that is beyond us, which we perceive through a glass darkly. Nature is an expression of another realm in which our association and logic do not apply. For, as the psalmist says in the next verse: “It is before the Lord, Who formed the universe; before the God of Jacob, Who turns a stone into a pool of water and a flint into a fountain.” The word “holy,” then, is the word for that realm which transcends humankind with a power and a majesty that we only glimpse from time to time.

            What does the word “spiritual” mean? “Spirituality” is a quality we become aware of in certain events, texts, objects, and people. It is not an awareness of the moral dimension of the person before us. Nor is it an awareness of the aesthetic dimension of the event or object contemplated. “Spiritual” is a word used to describe an event, text, person, or place which is holy, that is, which participates in that realm of otherness.

            “Who is the most spiritual person you know? Not the most practicing, nor the most communally active, nor the most professionally involved, nor the most ethical. Who is the person who, in your opinion, most has that quality that is called ‘spirituality’?” There is, almost always, a relevant and meaningful answer. There are such people, and we know who they are.[4] Put another way: We do know what we mean by the word “spiritual.” We do know what we mean by the word “holy.” We are at a loss when we must produce formal definitions; yet we can, and do, use these words. It is even likely that there exists a consensus on their usage.

            What is the “sublime”? Heschel defined it as follows:

The sublime is not opposed to the beautiful, and must not, furthermore, be considered an aesthetic category. The sublime may be sensed in things of beauty as well as in acts of goodness and in the search for truth. The perception of beauty may be the beginning of the experience of the sublime. The sublime is that which we see and are unable to convey. It is the silent allusion of things to a meaning greater than themselves. It is that which all things stand for....Just as no flora has ever fully displayed the hidden vitality of the earth, so has no work of art, no system of philosophy, no theory of science, ever brought to expression the depth of meaning, the sublimity of reality in the sight of which the souls of saints, artists, and philosophers live. The sublime, furthermore, is not necessarily related to the vast and the overwhelming in size. It may be sensed in every grain of sand, in every drop of water. Every flower in the summer, every snowflake in the winter, may arouse in us the sense of wonder that is our response to the sublime.[5]

            What is the meaning of the word “mystery”? Again Heschel:[6] “It [i.e., mystery] is not a synonym for the unknown but rather a name for a meaning which stands in relation to God.”

            What is “wonder”? Again Heschel:[7] “Wonder is a state of mind in which we do not look at reality through the latticework of our memorized knowledge; in which nothing is taken for granted. Inquire of your soul . . . [and] it will tell you . . . each thing is a surprise; being is unbelievable. We are amazed at seeing anything at all; amazed not only at particular values and things but at the unexpectedness of being as such, at the fact that there is being at all.”

            Such, then, are the words of the universe of spiritual discourse. They, too, fulfill the three criteria for a universe of discourse: [1] They form a group of words and have in common one dimension of human existence -- the realm of the spiritual. [2] They define one another by similarity and contrast, as they articulate the realm of humankind’s experience of the holy, without recourse to terms outside the shared universe of discourse and without formal definition. [3] Words from the universe of spiritual discourse can sometimes be used in overlapping fashion with terms from other universes of discourse. Thus, one can speak of a religious experience as being beautiful, or good.

            Language about God, even in the post-holocaust world, must begin with the words that describe, or at least allude to, the realm of the holy, the spiritual, and the transcendent. If one speaks of God only in terms of social action, one is not true to God’s transcendence. If one speaks of God only in terms of morality, one is not true to God’s holiness. Holiness is God’s, and there can be no talk about God without using these terms.

            Furthermore, there can be no talk about God without the experience of the holy that pervades the use of this vocabulary. If no religious experience lies behind the use of the word “God,” one is using a word that has no spiritual meaning. If theology loses its root in the realm of the spiritual, it is mere manipulation of dogmas. As Heschel put it so clearly:[8] “Religion begins with the sense of the ineffable, with the awareness of a reality that discredits our wisdom, that shatters our concepts. It is, therefore, the ineffable with which we must begin, since otherwise there is no problem; and it is its perception to which we must return since otherwise no solution will be relevant.”

            The awareness of the spiritual is, however, only the beginning. It is only the first step. From this basic awareness, one must develop a sense for the variants, the nuances, for the different faces of the holy.[9] One must develop, too, a sense for the all-pervasiveness of the holy. After a while, when one becomes accustomed to living with the holy, one learns to regard all of reality from the point of view of the holy. One learns to see all of life from within the perspective of the spiritual.[10] Eventually, the spiritual becomes the central focus for seeing, and living, life. As Heschel put it:[11] “Those to whom awareness of the ineffable is a constant state of mind know that the mystery is not an exception but an air that lies about all being, a spiritual setting of reality; not something apart but a dimension of all existence.” Actually, that is what we mean when we say someone is a saint. We mean that he or she lives always in the awareness of the holy; that she or he somehow is a part of the stream of sacred consciousness that envelops all of us but which we usually veil from ourselves.

 

The Relationship Between the Spiritual and Other Universes of Discourse

 

            Having established that we use various universes of discourse and that among them is the universe of spiritual discourse, and having made the point that, in developing a way to talk about God, it is the vocabulary of the realm of religious language and experience that must be primary, it is also necessary to state that, for the three western religious traditions, language about God begins in the ineffable but includes other universes of discourse.

            The psalmist and the prophets recognize that God is holy; however, they also teach that God is person and, hence, invoke the universe of personal discourse as an addition to the universe of spiritual discourse. To put it differently, God is not only a being Whose Presence can be sensed in holiness; God is also a being Who has a personal Presence. God is a “You” and this means that God can be addressed by humankind, and that God addresses us. God’s personal-ness means that there is a dialogue between God and us, a reciprocity which is to be found in revelation and piety, in covenant and prayer, and in study. To expose oneself to the holy is to expose oneself to the personal; God’s Presence is, inextricably, both.

            The language of the universe of personal discourse, taken in connection with the language of the holy and the spiritual, also means that God is a “He” or a “She.” At first blush, the idea of God as She may seem offensive to persons steeped in the traditional conceptualities and usages which favor the masculine image. But all personhood, as we experience it, God's included, is gendered, even though personhood is not limited to gender. No person we know is gender-less, though gender is not the totality of any person’s being. Personhood is a function of one’s full personal consciousness, including but not limited to, one’s sexuality. Personhood uses the entire range of the language of the universe of personal discourse. Therefore, whether male of female, God (and humankind) can be loving, kind, and supportive; or aggressive, critical, and productive. She or He (and we) can be angry, sad, and uncommunicative; or joyous, powerful, and compassionate.

            The following prayer is written in the style of Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev, a nineteenth century hasidic master, who was known for his great love of the Jewish people and for his special style of prayer which was a form of arguing with God. Over and over again, Levi Yitzhak would challenge God, openly, on behalf of the Jewish people. The style is Levi Yitzhak's; the formulation is contemporary:

Ruler of the Universe

I Sarah, daughter of Ruth, come before You as a mother.

When my child is sick,

            I care for her with all my soul and with all my body.

I use my lips to recite prayer for her.

I use my legs to fetch good foods to sustain her.

I use my voice to sing her soothing songs.

I use my hands to hold her close.

And You, Who are the Creator of all flesh

            and the Mother of Your people Israel,

What have You done to soothe Your children

            who are sick with longing for Jerusalem?

You have given us life and Your slightest movement

            would be enough to sustain and nourish that life.

How can You withhold that help

            and not be shamed before Your children?[12]

Personalist language and transcendent power, both of which characterize language about God in Jewish tradition, are clearly present in this meditation.[13]

            As talk about God must begin in the language and experience of the ineffable, with all its variations and subtleties,  and in the language and experience of the personal, with all its variations and subtleties, for Judaism, talk about God must also include the language and experience of the universe of moral discourse. Ever since Abraham, perhaps ever since Adam, holiness, personality, and morality have been inextricably intertwined. God is not only holy, God is not only person, God is also moral -- deep though the problems are that that statement entails and, in the post-holocaust age, those problems are truly horrendous. Job did not say that God is immoral or amoral; rather, that he, Job, was innocent. Levi Yitzhak did not say that God did not care; rather, that the Jews did not deserve the punishment God had meted out to them.[14]

            There are long debates in the history of religions on whether there exists a realm that is beyond the ethical. Scholars in far eastern religions and in mysticism maintain that such a realm does exist; that one could transcend the moral in one's religious praxis and in one's spiritual experience. From the point of view of most of Jewish tradition, such a transethical realm is out of the question. God is the ultimately real, the ultimately holy, and  God is moral. God’s acts may appear unjustified, even deranged; but the postulate of God’s moral holiness remains. This unwillingness to remove talk about God from the universe of moral discourse led to very strong pressure placed upon Jewish philosophy by classic rabbinic Jewish teaching. Maimonides, for instance, while he wrote of a philosophic-mystical experience of God that was beyond morality, nonetheless taught that God must act through moral categories and that humankind must reach God through ethical discipline.[15] This need to unite the holy and the moral also put Jewish mysticism under pressure by classic rabbinic tradition. Thus, the Zohar,   for instance, teaches about the Ein Sof  which is beyond the sefirot which are moral in character, but also teaches that the divine emanation of energy cannot proceed to humanity without passing through the moral sefirot and, vica versa, that humankind cannot reach the ultimate without passing through the ethical dimensions of the Godhead.[16]

            Language about God, then, even in the post-holocaust period, must have deep roots, in the first instance, in the universe of spiritual discourse with its vast and varied vocabulary. Such language, however, must, for Jewish (and, probably, for Christian) tradition, also have firm roots in the universes of personal and of moral discourse, with their respective vocabularies.

            Jacob Neusner has written:

Mishnah's purpose is so to construct the disciplines of every day life and to pattern the relationships among men [sic] that all things are made intelligible, well regulated, and trustworthy. Its view is that order and rationality are not man's alone. Man is made in God's image. And that part of man which is like God is the thing that separates man from beast -- [rational] consciousness. It is when we use our minds that we act like God.... The modes of learning are holy because they lead from earth to heaven, as synagogue-prayer or fasting or other tolerated holy rites cannot. Reason is the way, God's way, and the holy person is the one who is able to think clearly and penetrate profoundly into the mysteries of Torah and, especially, of its most trivial laws. In context, those trivialities contain revelation and serve to impart to the one who grasps them the fully realized experience of transcendence.[17]

In taking the position that mind is the common bond between humankind and God, Neusner stands in a tradition which reaches deep into classical antiquity and which enjoyed a genuine efflorescence during the middle ages. It is the stream of the tradition which argues that God is “mind thinking itself” and that the “image of God” in humanity is the intellect. In this stream of the tradition, the universe of rational discourse overlaps with, indeed becomes synonymous with, the universe of spiritual discourse. It claims that the fusion of the rational and the spiritual vocabularies represents the highest  form of talk about God, the supreme expression of humankind’s perception of the divine. In this synthesis, mind is God and God is mind, and humankind’s mind is a “chip off the old divine block,” ontologically. It follows logically, within this stream of the tradition, that the universes of moral and personal discourse are accorded only pedagogic, functional value.[18]

            This claim for the superiority of the philosophic-rationalistic mode of theology has been challenged.[19] The cornerstone of this counterargument is that the Bible, the midrash, and the liturgy, i.e., the Jewish sources which antedate, and perhaps are more basic than, the rabbinic medieval synthesis, speak of God as a fusion of the holy, the personal, the moral, and the rational (in its looser sense of intuitive knowledge or wisdom). These materials do not speak of God in the rationalist-intellectual sense that that word acquired in the later philosophic Jewish tradition. Worded differently: the “image of God” in humankind, up to the intellectualization of Judaism in the rabbinic medieval synthesis, was a capacity for moral-personal judgment in the presence of the holy, which is not “intellectual” in the systematic philosophic sense. Rather than assert the superiority of the philosophic-rationalist view of spirituality, then, contemporary Jewish theology and scholarship needs to recognize that, even at its most powerful moment, rational discourse was only a means for expressing the holy or a path to the holy.[20] Further, contemporary Jewish theology needs to take cognizance of the fact that the universe of rational discourse overlaps with the universes of spiritual, moral, and personal discourse in describing God, but not in any essentialist or exclusive way.[21]

 

Cognitive Dissonance

 

Praying Next to a Survivor

 

Yom Kippur, 5745                                                                                                                  For Alex

 

We recited confession

I was astounded

What was he confessing, and why?

Who was asking forgiveness from whom?

 

We recited the penitential prayers

I saw

the shadow that crossed his face

memories welling up from the depths.

 

“Therefore, put fear of You into all Your creatures” --

an anger hidden in his body

Why were  they not afraid?

Why did He not put fear into  them ?

 

We recited the Sh’ma

I was ashamed

Who am I to recite Sh’ma next to him?

What is my faith next to his?

 

“Our Father, our King” --

he has the advantage

Job, faithful servant

‘How horrible are the terrible deeds You have set aside

            for those that fear You

an eye other than Yours has seen, O God.’

 

“Act for the sake of suckling infants who have not sinned” --

Were they my children?

Woe unto the eyes that saw such things.

I do not want to see; I cannot.

He too does not want to see but he is compelled,

            and I am compelled in his compulsion

My son ...                    my daughter ...

 

“If as children, if as servants” --

Lord, we really and truly only wanted to be

            good children, loyal servants

Even now,

            “we are Your children and You are our Father”

            “we are Your servants and You are our Sovereign”

Have mercy on us; have pity.

Heal us, and we shall be healed. [22]

 

*

            Then, why talk about God at all?

            First, the realm of the holy is there. We do sense it. We are aware of it. And, as with any other realm of human experience, humankind owes it to itself to relate to this realm and to incorporate it, in some way, into its life, just as it does with the realm of the beautiful, or the realm of the mind.     

            Second, and perhaps more important, Heschel has said,[23] “The opposite of humanity is brutality, the failure to acknowledge the humanity of one's fellow human being.... Humankind has reached a point of no return to animality. Humanity turned beast becomes its opposite, a species sui generis.  The opposite of the human is not the animal but the demonic.” Or, as Heschel, again, put it:

The secret of being human is care for meaning. Humankind is not its own meaning, and if the essence of being human is concern for transcendent meaning, then humankind’s secret lies in openness to transcendence. Existence is interspersed with suggestions of transcendence, and openness to transcendence is a constitutive element of being human.... From the perspective of the Bible: Who is humanity? A being in travail with God's dreams and designs, with God's dream of a world redeemed, of reconciliation of heaven and earth, of a humankind which is truly God’s image, reflecting God’s wisdom, justice, and compassion.[24]

            It is by talking about God; it is by deliberately using the language of the universes of religious, personal, moral, and rational discourse; it is by fighting mightily to hold ourselves open to the realms of human experience expressed by these words that humankind may be able to save itself from a fate as bad as, or worse than, the holocaust.



[1] This first appeared as Chapter 4 in Facing the Abusing God: A Theology of Protest (Westminster / John Knox, Louisville, KY: 1993).

[2] The concentration camp guard who is loving toward his family or even toward certain inmates is an example.

[3] Cf., most notably, R. Otto, The Idea of the Holy  (available in many languages).

[4] Unfortunately, the group of people whom we know and whom we would characterize as holy often does not include religious professionals, which has a message of its own.

[5] A.J. Heschel, God in Search of Man  (New York, Meridian Books: 1951), = Search,   39.

[6] Search,  74.

[7] A.J. Heschel, Man Is Not Alone  (New York, Harper Torchbooks: 1951), = Alone,  12.

[8] Alone,  59.

[9] Cf., e.g., the two volumes of Understanding Jewish Mysticism  and God at the Center.

[10] This was the point of Heschel’s oeuvre which proceeded from Alone   to  Search  to his spiritual ethics, The Insecurity of Freedom  (New York, Schocken Books: 1959).

[11] Alone,  64.

[12] M. Wenig and N. Janowitz, Siddur Nashim  (unpublished) 37.

[13] The alternative to gendered language is inclusive or neutral language. I am of two minds on the subject; cf. yyyy “Roadmap.”

[14] Cf. also A. Laytner, Arguing With God: A Jewish Tradition  (Northvale, NJ, Jason Aronson: 1990), reviewed by me in Modern Judaism  12:1 (February 1992) 105-10.

[15] Maimonides, Guide for the Perplexed,  III:51 with I:54 and III:54. See also below, yyyy, at note 18.

[16] Cf., e.g., D. Blumenthal, Understanding Jewish Mysticism  (New York, Ktav Publishing: 1978), Part Two. Cf. also the relevant parts of I. Tishby,  The Wisdom of the Zohar,  transl. D. Goldstein (London, Oxford University Press: 1989) 3 vols.

[17] J. Neusner, “Transcendence and Worship Through Learning: The Religious World-View of Mishnah,” Journal of Reform Judaism 25:2 (Spring 1978), 27-29. This theme is also found in Neusner's Invitation to the Talmud (New York, Harper and Row: 1973) in the Forward and, especially, in chap. 7; and in his The Glory of God is Intelligence  (Salt Lake City, Brigham Young University: 1978), especially chap. 1. I have indicated only the first instance of gendered language.

[18] Neusner has assembled the material from Jewish late antiquity. For the medieval material, cf.e.g., Maimonides, Guide for the Perplexed, passim.

[19] Cf. the works of M. Kadushin, especially The Rabbinic Mind  (reissued, New York, Bloch Publishing: 1977) and A.J. Heschel, The Prophets, two vols. (New York, Harper Torchbooks: 1962), on divine pathos and concern. See also above, yyyy, “Personality,” at note 2.

[20] Cf. D. Blumenthal, The Philosophic Questions and Answers of Hoter ben Shelomo  (Leiden, Holland, E.J. Brill: 1981) 55-72 and, more completely, “Maimonides: Prayer, Worship, and Mysticism,” in Approaches to Judaism in Medieval Times,  ed. D. Blumenthal (Atlanta, Scholars Press: 1988) 1-16.

[21] Contrary to Mordecai Kaplan, various Reform theologians, and Neusner who have consistently argued that the discovery of the well-regulated pattern of nature, society, and history through Torah-study is itself revelation. Cf. H. Fisch, Poetry with a Purpose: Biblical Poetics and Interpretation   (Bloomington, Indiana University Press: 1988) -- reviewed by me in Midstream  (August-September 1992) 41-3 --  especially chapter 2, for a good analysis of the relation of the beautiful and the holy.

[22] Poem in Hebrew and English, Emory Studies on the Holocaust,  ed. S Hanover and D. Blumenthal, vol. 2 (Atlanta, Emory University: 1988) i-iii. The quotations in the poem are taken from the Day of Atonement liturgy and the citation in single marks is a rereading of Ps. 31:20 and Is. 64:3, understood by rabbinic sources to allude to the bliss of the world-to-come (cf., e.g., Maimonides, Mishne Torah,  “Hilkhot Teshuva,” 8:6-8).

[23] A.J. Heschel, Who Is Man?   (Stanford, CA, Stanford Univ. Press: 1965), = Who,  47 and 101.  I have taken the liberty, since I believe it to be in Heschel’s spirit, of changing the style to inclusive language in this and in the following quotation.

[24] Who,  66 and 119.