| Second Thoughts |

A G-dly Conversation

Some call it “Orthodox,” but it simply means being a committed Jew


My friend was teasing me: Do you think G-d is Orthodox?

Of course, I replied. It’s only logical. Can you imagine G-d not keeping strictly kosher? Or keeping kosher at home, but not outside the home, as some Conservative Jews do? Or not keep kosher at all, like Reform Jews? Can you imagine G-d not observing Shabbos? Would He not go to shul religiously? Can you imagine G-d not davening three times a day? So it is obvious: G-d is definitely Orthodox.

My friend was not convinced. Okay, if He is Orthodox, and davens three times a day, to whom does He daven? When He says Baruch Atah, who is Atah? Does He say Baruch Ani?

Well, we do find the Sages telling us that on occasion G-d does pray to Himself — though it is beyond our comprehension. The Talmud devotes half a folio to demonstrate that G-d does pray — to Himself! As for Baruch Atah, since He is omnipotent and the Master of all, He can change the form if He so desires.

My friend shakes his head in disbelief: Next thing you’ll tell me G-d wears tefillin!

Exactly! How did you know? The Sages tell us that G-d does wear tefillin, and that in his tefillin are written the words, “Mi k’amcha Yisrael, goy echad ba’aretz — Who is like Israel, the singular nation of the world?” (See Berachos 6a–7a for details.)

That is preposterous! Does G-d have a head on which He places His tefillin?

He does not have the limbs of a human being, obviously. But the Torah does tell us (Shemos 33:23) that when G-d tells Moshe Rabbeinu to hide in the cleft of the rock, G-d will pass before Moshe and show him His “back,” to which Rashi astonishingly adds, citing Berachos (7a), that G-d showed Moshe the “kesher shel tefillin — the knot of the head tefillin.” So you see that this is not preposterous at all. Tefillin are not only small black boxes, but also represent some very lofty and infinite meanings that go far beyond the physical. You need to start thinking out of the box.

Says my friend: I don’t begin to understand any of this — and I am sure no human does — but if He is Orthodox, does He wear a head covering?

Of course. The Torah says, “And G-d went forth….” Can you imagine Him going forth bareheaded?

Very funny. But what kind of head covering does He wear? If He is truly Orthodox, does He wear a black hat?

I am not privy to the celestial wardrobe, but I don’t think it is a black hat, or a shtreimel, or one of these tiny knitted yarmulkes. I would say, instead, that the entire world is His yarmulke, because as the mystics say, G-d is not within the world; the world is within G-d. He contains everything in Creation. As such, He transcends head coverings. Furthermore, wearing black does not make one Orthodox, and wearing gray or blue or some other color does not make one non-Orthodox.

My friend is becoming frustrated. And of course, next you’ll tell me that, since He is Orthodox, He studies Torah!

You are amazing. Again, you have it just right. The Sages tell us that G-d consulted His Torah before He created the world. That is, the Torah is a kind of a blueprint from which G-d performed His Creation. And it remains the blueprint that details how life should be lived.

This is getting ludicrous, but does G-d believe in G-d? In life after death? In the Sinai Revelation? In resurrection of the dead?

He is G-d, so belief in Himself is a tautology. As for the others, He is the Author of these things, and thus doesn’t have to “believe” in them.

My friend is very distressed. If G-d is really Orthodox, where does that leave the Conservative and Reform movements?

Names and labels mean nothing. Those who sincerely search for G-d will surely find Him. He sometimes goes into hiding (“Anochi haster astir…”) but He does reveal Himself to those who yearn to find Him. But there must be genuine seeking and yearning. I suspect that G-d transcends labels or head coverings. Rather, G-d seeks performance of His sacred mitzvos, plus religious integrity, a pure heart, and acceptance of the basic articles of faith. Some call that “Orthodox,” but it simply means being a committed Jew.

Does G-d look down on Jews who keep nothing?

For the answer, see Shemos 34:6–7. He is benevolent, loves all His creatures, is infinitely tolerant, waits patiently for our return, and has all the time in the world. Naturally, because these are all attributes of any being who is Orthodox.

You make it sound as if Orthodoxy and perfection are identical.

I wouldn’t go that far. But one thing is crystal clear: It is definitely a G-dly trait.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 788)

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