The Baal Shem Tov, or Besht —  the founder of Chasidism — 
met the soul of the Messiah during an ascent to heaven. 
The Besht asked him, "When will the Master come?" 
The Messiah answered, "When your wellsprings break forth to the outside!" 
(from a letter written by the Besht to his brother-in-law about one of his soul ascents) 

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God's "body"

Maimonides saw the unity of the cosmos as the deepest reflection of God's unity, understanding that all creation was one living, intelligent Being. The Kabbalists saw the cosmos as the greatest image of God we could possibly know, Adam Kadmon or Adam Hagadol. But Heikhalot Rabbati, part of the earliest mystical traditions in Judaism, went one step deeper, seeing the cosmos as the body of God:

A Hymn to the Cosmos as God’s Form

From [the Holy One’s] form
constellations are shimmering,
and This form projects the exalted ones,
and The crown blazes with the mighty,
and The garment flows with the precious.

And all the trees will rejoice in the Word,
and the plants will exult in the rejoicing,
and [God's] words shall drop as perfumes,
flowing forth flames of fire,
giving joy to those who search them,
and quiet to those who fulfill them.

Heikhalot Rabbati 24:3
in Jewish Gnosticism, Scholem

To'ar, the Hebrew word translated as "form" above, also means "body", as in Genesis 29:17 and 39:6. It can also be used as a kind of code word for tselem, God's image. So we have in this passage some combination of the Kabbalistic perspective and a more directly pantheistic way of seeing the cosmos. One beautiful aspect of this poem is the way the cosmos, the planet, Torah and meditation are all interwoven.

Sallie McFague, who talks about "models of God", gives a modern version of seeing the cosmos in this way in her book The Body of God. The vision of Heichalot Rabbati may need to be modulated by a healthy dose of Maimonidean apophatic theology (which would negate any description of God that is anthropomorphic or "physiomorphic"). Nevertheless, Looking at the grandeur of the world around us, it's easy to think "The Holiness" Hakodesh Barukh Hu (the more ancient version of the epithet for God that we know as Hakadosh Barukh Hu, "The Holy One Blessed Be").



Design in progress © Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg 2006