Rav Avigdor Miller on Where Is Hashem



How are we to understand the idea that Hashem is bashomayim, that He’s in the heavens or that He sits on a throne?


Now let’s understand one thing. There are certain words and attitudes that we learned as children and many people never bothered to re-examine them when they became adults.

You have to understand Hakadosh Baruch Hu is not a guf. He is מלוא כל הארץ כבודו. He has no place. He is called Hamakom because He is the place. Hakadosh Baruch Hu is mekomo shel olam; He is the place of the world. We are in Him. Like Moshe Rabeinu said השם מעון אתה היית לנו – You are our dwelling; we live in You. 

So if you’re going to point now to a place where Hakadosh Baruch Hu is, it means you’re losing sight of the very identity of Hakadosh Baruch Hu. There’s no such thing as place when we’re talking about Hakodosh Boruch Hu.

Now it’s not easy for people to picture such concepts.

But you could try. Let’s imagine you’ll say what is the place of light. Now light is really a physical thing but you can ask where is the place of light. Light starts from the sun, let’s say, and travels to this earth and it goes beyond the earth too. It shines in other places. The moon is on the other side of the earth and the light hits the moon too. Where is the place of light? It’s everywhere. As far as it could travel, it’s everywhere. So lihavdil Hakadosh Baruch Hu is everywhere.

Now you say it’s difficult to conceive. The answer is certainly it’s difficult. You want to understand Hakadosh Baruch Hu?!

So we say Hashem is in the heavens. Now where is the heavens? At nighttime the heavens are over here and in daytime the heavens are over there. The earth turns. So you can’t point in one direction. Anyone who wants to point in one direction and say “There’s the heavens” is not talking like an adult. ‘Heavens’ is only a state of existence.

Now we shouldn’t think these are unreal terms. It’s more real than actual heavens. Because if you would point to a certain spot in the sky and be able to say, “There is a big chamber, a tremendous hole and there the Shechinah is,” what you’re doing is profaning the name of Hashem. You’re making Hakadosh Baruch Hu little. Hakadosh Baruch Hu is great and eternal and He lives in a state and that state is called ‘Heavens.’ His existence is called Shomayim. But don’t attempt to point to a place. ‘Heavens’ is not a place; it’s a state. Hakadosh Baruch Hu is an entity that is without any location, but His location is everywhere. מלוא כל הארץ כבודו. He is everywhere.

Now for little children that’s confusing but adults must learn to understand that Hakadosh Baruch Hu is too big for a mind of a person to conceive. It’s like an ant trying to conceive a person.

An ant is underneath this rug, let’s say, and the ant is trying to understand what it means that you’re sitting on a chair on the rug. He can’t picture that. The ant is thinking, “How is it possible for a person to be so big and occupy so much space as a human being does?” An ant can’t picture that. An ant perhaps can picture the sole of your shoe as he encounters it but more than that, his mind totters at the immensity of the concept of a person who will tower up five or six feet above the floor.

And therefore our minds totter at the reality of Hashem. Only that in order that we shouldn’t slip entirely, we use words. We say השם בשמים הכין כסאו – Hashem established His throne in the heavens. And we live with these words. But we have to know they are only words.

And if you’re asking specifically where is it, the answer is it’s a state of existence of a form that’s far beyond our ability to describe. Anything about Hakadosh Baruch Hu is beyond our ability to describe and that’s why we speak about Him only in picture words.

TAPE # 380 (October 1981)