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Protest as Prayer (Part 4): Where — is God


This post is continued from Part 3.

By Marc Gafni

R. Nachman of Bratzlav in a profound and daring teaching reveals the light shimmering in Alyosha’s speech. It is a teaching on the word ‘Ayeh’. Ayeh in Hebrew means where, in the sense of ‘where is God?

Ayeh encapsulates in one word Alyosha’s entire oration. I want to share with you R. Nachman’s teaching directly, in my trans-interpretation of the original Hebrew text. The bracketed words are my additions:

‘When one follows the path of intellect – (certainty)
one may encounter
multiple mistakes and pitfalls
There are many who fell
and who caused the world to fall
and all through their intellect (false certainty)

….. when you fall into uncertainty
the fall perse
and the descent
are the ultimate ascent.
For all of creation…
derives sustenance
from the ten revealed utterances of creation(certainty)
but the place of the fall
derives sustenance
from the hidden utterance. (uncertainty)
(which is keter)
…in the place of the fall
certainty can give no nourishment
there only the hidden utterance – uncertainty
gives nourishment.
When a person says ‘Ayeh’- where is the place of his glory
when he realizes how distant he is
how deeply he has fallen into uncertainty
this – itself is his fixing

Nachman teaches that in the depth of uncertainty is certainty- the experience of worth, value and being loved. In the anger at evil is the profound intuition that our rage matters – and that it is holy.

Note: This is part of an ongoing series.

Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney

About Marc Gafni

Marc Gafni, D.Phil. is Editor-in-Chief of Spirit's Next Move, Scholar-in-Residence and Director of the Center for World Spirituality. He is a contemporary philosopher, public intellectual, a lineage holder in Kabbalah, and the author of many books including Soul Prints, a winner of the NAPRA Nautilus Award for Best Spirituality Book. He has several books in publication including Your Unique Self and Radical Kabbalah, which is based on his doctoral dissertation at Oxford University.

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