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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 23, 2004 /2 Iyar, 5764

The secrets of ‘Ein Keloh-enu’

Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo

At first blush, one of Judaism's most popular liturgical songs, dealing with greatness of the Divine, seems illogical. But study its words and get a crash course in Judaism's philosophical underpinnings

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http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Commentators have noted that the sequence of the famous song-prayer "Ein Keloh-enu" ("Nobody is like our G-d") sang at the end of the morning service is somehow odd.

In this prayer we first state that there is nobody like our G-d and then continue and ask "Mi-Keloh-enu" ("Who is like our G-d?"). Would it not be more logical first to ask who is like our G-d and afterwards continue to state that nobody is like Him?

Even more surprising is the fact that the song does not answer its own question. Nowhere throughout the song is there any answer to "Mi- Keloh-enu" ("Who is like our G-d?") All what one could argue is that the song answers its own question ("There is nobody like our G-d") before the question is posed! It seems that it is not the answer, but the question that counts.

By reversing the obvious order and refusing to answer its own question, Judaism wants to make the point that the recognition of G-d is first of all an act of faith and only in the second place an act of philosophical inquiry. This is not because reason has no place within Judaism, but because faith is more than reason.

The first is absorbed by the brain and is not able to surpass it. When, however, an act of faith takes place, it occurs in the form of an upheaval which agitates the whole of man far beyond the limitations of ratio. Faith, while recognizing the importance of reason, is contingent on the courage of the believer in realizing that reason can be abused and be presumptuous.

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By putting a non-starter kind of answer before the question, the song of "Ein Keloh-enu" asks a most powerful question: 'How is reason able to understand which is absolutely different from itself?' For if G-d is absolutely unlike man then man is absolutely unlike G-d. But how then can human reason be expected to understand this? Merely for man to obtain the knowledge that G-d is unlike himself, man needs the help of G-d. At the same time one should use reason to demonstrate its own limitations. Reason can disclose eternal Truths, including the opacity of reason. Its main function is to recognize that there is an infinity of things which surpasses it (Pascal). And just like power corrupts, so reason is able to corrupt, often enslaving all those whose minds are not strong enough to master it.

The song of "Ein Keloh-enu" therefore reflects a deep Jewish sentiment. It rejects the traditional so called "rational demonstrations" for the existence of G-d since they exist of serious paradoxes. Once you prove G-d's existence, you have brought Him within the limits of reason and as such disproved the matter you wanted to demonstrate.

To recognize that there might be something that not only transcends all concepts but even stands totally outside any "concept" is an important dimension of religious truth.

"All souls descend from Heaven to Earth", said the Kotzker Rebbe "and once they have arrived the 'ladder' is removed. Then the souls are told that their life task is to find their way back to Heaven, so they start looking for the ladder… Some people give up, after all: How can one ascend to Heaven without the ladder? Others throw themselves to heaven and fall. But wise people are those who know that there is no alternative: What we are called up to try to do we must do. Whatever happens we must continue to strive upward till G-d Himself will come to our aid."

This is the secret of "Ein Keloh-enu". .

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JWR contributor Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo is a world-renowned lecturer and ambassador for Judaism, the Jewish people, the State of Israel and Sephardic Heritage. This article was inspired by conversations with several musicians. To comment, please click here.

© 2004, Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo