For the week of February 21, 1998
25 Shevat 5758
Moses and Aaron, Nadab And Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank (Exodus/Shemot 24:9-11).
It is a widely-held popular view in Judaism that God cannot be seen. This is due to the basic notion that God has no form. Judaism, like many religions, insists that God is so entirely other in relation to humans, that his being cannot be perceived by us in any tangible way.
While many accept God's reality, the definition of that reality is often very nebulous. God becomes more of an ideal that strengthens our motives, than a true being with whom you and I must reckon.
In this week's portion, seventy-four people actually saw God. The quote above makes this clear because of the statement of the fact that they didn't suffer any negative consequences as a result. If this "seeing of God" was not in the physical realm, there would be no need for such a statement.
There is an insistence in Judaism that God has no form. Intrinsic to this view is the "otherliness" of God mentioned above. The result of this misunderstanding is that God becomes unknowable and things to do with God are reduced to simply ritual and morals, in other words, religion.
The witness of the scriptures is to the contrary. In fact much of the point of the Old and New Testaments is the knowing of God.
The traditional view of God having no form is more of a reaction to the coming of Yeshua (Jesus of Nazareth) than an honest representation of the Scripture's view of the matter.
For some reason we have trouble accepting that God would actually get involved in His creation to this extent. Perhaps it is because we don't want him to. If he gets too close, then we may have to do what he says. If he gets involved in our affairs, we can no longer control him. If we cannot control God, then religious leaders may lose control over people.
And yet God makes himself known. He makes himself known in very real ways.
The good news of the coming of the Messiah Yeshua is that God has made himself known in a way that we can fully understand and relate to. In Yeshua God became a human being so that we could know God as we were meant to.