RABBI HESCHEL
(1907 – 1972)



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People have often tried to give itemised accounts of why they must believe that God exists.  Such accounts are like ripe fruit we gather from the trees.  Yet it is beyond all reasons, beneath the ground, where a seed starts to become a tree, that the act of faith takes place.

The soul rarely knows how to raise its deeper secrets to discursive levels of the mind.  We must not, therefore, equate the act of faith with its expression.  The expression of faith is an affirmation of truth, a definite judgment, a conviction, while faith itself is an event, something that happens rather than something that is stored away; it is a moment in which the soul communes with the glory of God. 

The walled mind has no access to a ladder upon which we can, on our own strength, rise to knowledge of God.  Yet the soul is endowed with translucent windows that open to the beyond.  And if we rise to reach out to God, it is a reflection of the divine light in us that gives us to power for such yearning.  We are at times ablaze against and beyond our own power, and unless the human soul is dismissed as an insane asylum, the spectrum analysis of that ray is evidence for the truth of our insight. 

For God is not always silent, and human beings are not always blind.  God's glory fills the world; God’s Spirit hovers above the waters.  There are moments in which, to use a Talmudic phrase, heaven and earth kiss each other, in which there is a lifting of the veil at the horizon of the known, opening a vision of what is eternal in time.  Some of us have at least once experienced the momentous realness of God.  Some of us have at least caught a glimpse of the beauty, peace, and power that flow through the souls of those who are devoted to God.  There may come a moment like thunder in the soul, when one is not only aided, not only guided by God's mysterious hand, but also taught how to aid, how to guide other beings the voice of Sinai goes on forever: “These words the Lord spoke unto all your assembly in the mount, out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice that goes on for ever.”

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In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
Every month we give you a brief passage from a spiritual classic.