פרשת בשלח

Who is like You, O Lord, among the mighty;
Who is like You, majestic in holiness?

Who is like You, O Lord, among the mighty – God’s essential being is hidden from the eyes of all living creatures, and no one can grasp Him, as is explained in the Talmud (B. Gittin 56b),

Aba Chanan said (Psalms 89:9), Who is mighty like You, O Lord? [Rather it should be read] Who is like You, mighty in self-restraint? You heard the blasphemy and insults of that wicked man, and You kept silent!
In the school of Rabi Ishmael it was taught: Who is like You, O Lord, among the mighty באלם [Rather read] Who is like You among the mute באלמים!

Majestic in holiness – meaning explicitly revealed. Within everything one can recognize distinctly and with clarity that there is a Creator, for all that is created reveals there must be a Creator. Every time she encounters the world, the God-seeker will ask herself “Who created this?”

This is the interpretation of the liturgical hymn Majesty and Faithfulness are His who lives forever. Majesty refers to being explicitly revealed, and Faithfulness refers to being hidden and concealed. Something which is not hidden does not require faith, rather it is what is concealed that necessitates faith.
Conversely, the only thing [about God] which is “explicit” to a person is the radical wonder which engenders the question “Who created this?” These two things, the hidden and the revealed, are only able to coexist in God alone.

 

The Jewish people just crossed the sea and witnessed something beyond belief.  It was so miraculous that they were collectively and spontaneously moved to song, to give praise and thanks and expression to this overwhelming feeling inside.  And even there, at the climax of God’s entrance into the world, they resist the urge to make a statement, to solidify and concretize this ecstatic experience of the Divine, to try and make an absolute claim about God in world.  Instead they ask the question “Who is like You?”

Because a question, as the Ishbitzer points out, is all we have.  Not in a limiting way.  It is the only way.  A question allows the object of one’s questioning to never be tied down, to remain larger and greater than any answer we could provide.  Whether we are questioning if God is even here, silent in the face of injustice, or because we are so moved by a beauty in the world that transcends the boundaries of what we thought was possible, it is always a question.

 

Link to original Hebrew text

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