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Excerpt from "Hey Waiter.... There's God in My Soup!"

Learning Kabbalah Through Humor

by Simcha (Sam) Krause


Harry: What’s green, hangs on the wall, and whistles?

Stanley: I don’t know. What’s green, hangs on the

wall, and whistles?

Harry: A herring.

Stanley: But ... a herring Isn’t green!

Harry: Nu, so you could paint it green.

Stanley: But a herring doesn’t hang on the wall!

Harry: Nu, so you could hang it on the wall.

Stanley: But a herring doesn’t whistle!

Harry: Ok, so it doesn’t whistle.

God, the Creator of the universe, is limitless, formless,

all-knowing and all present. Although God has no

specific gender, we refer to God as He, because that

is how the neutral gender is rendered in Hebrew, the language

of the Torah. To reinforce God’s genderlessness, there is a femi-

nine aspect of God called Shechinah, which comes from the root

word to dwell and denotes God’s transcendent presence as it

dwells in the physical world.

God is, was and always will be. He is known as the Ein Sof

- Never-Ending One - and is also called, The Primary Being.

of the world according to Kabbalah, the body of Jewish mystical

thought. In fact, God is all there is.

According to the famous kabbalist, Rabbi Menachem

Mendel of Lubavitch (the Tzemach Tzedek) (1789-1866), it is

only God’s existence that has no beginning. All other existence,

in contrast, is comprised of new creations that did not exist be-

fore they were brought into being by Him. God is not time-

bound; He alone existed, before time was created.

When He created the world, He also created time. To say

that God has always existed would limit the expression of God,

because always is an aspect of time. God exists independent

of time, above the entire framework of chronology. Time is

relevant only to created beings.

I told you all that hoping you would ask what our herring

joke has to do with God, or even if it is a joke.

Whether you think it’s a joke or not, if you delve into the

words a little deeper, you will discover a parallel with how God

created the world, according to Kabbalah.

God looked to see what He wanted to create, and then He

created the thing He desired from nothing, from no previous


Just as Harry, the joke-teller above, could set up his punch

line any way he wanted while Stanley tried to poke holes in

the logic of it, so too, God is not limited by a linear or logical

way of thinking.

We may not understand God’s ways, but that doesn’t invali-

date them. All it means is that we are limited in our ability to

grasp. But in His great mercy and love for us, God patiently

allows for and invites our questions.

Benjy was asked by his mother what he had learned in

Hebrew School.

“Well, Mom, our teacher told us how God sent Moses

behind enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelites

out of Egypt. When he got to the Red Sea he had his engineers

build a pontoon bridge, and all the people walked across

safely. Then he used his walkie-talkie to radio headquarters

for reinforcements. They sent F-16s to blow up the bridge

and save the Israelites.”

“Now, Benjy, is that really what your teacher taught

you,” his mother questioned.

“Well, no, Mom,” said Benjy, “but if I told you what

she really said, you’d never believe it.”

Can God fit an elephant through the eye of a needle? This is

a famous riddle posed by the Talmud. The answer is yes! But

how? Would He make the elephant smaller? Would He make

the eye of the needle bigger?

He would do neither. The elephant would remain un-

changed, as would the eye of the needle. And under that exact

set of circumstances, God would fit the elephant through the

eye of the needle. If you say this makes no sense, you are right,

but having created that set of rules called logic, the Master of

the Universe is certainly entitled to ignore them.

In the beginning, God created Heaven and Earth.

Immediately God was faced with a class action suit for failure

to file an environmental impact statement. He was granted

a temporary permit for the project, but had trouble complying

with the Cease and Desist order. Appearing at the hearing,

God was asked why He began the project in the first place.

He replied that He just liked to be creative.

Then God said, “Let there be light.” Officials immediately

demanded to know how the light would be made.

Would there be strip mining? What about thermal pollution?

God explained that the light would come from a huge

ball of fire. He was granted provisional permission to make

light, with the proviso that no smoke would result from the

ball of fire, that He would obtain a building permit, and, to

conserve energy, would have the light burning only half the

time. God agreed and said He would call the light Day

and the darkness Night. Officials replied that they were

not interested in semantics.

God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, seed-yielding

herbs and fruit trees producing fruit according to their

kind.” The EPA agreed as long as native seed was used.

Then God said, “Let the waters swarm a swarming of living

creatures, and let fowl fly over the earth, across the expanse

of the Heaven.” Officials pointed out that this would re-

quire approval from the Department of Game.

Everything was OK until God said he wanted to complete

the project in six days. Officials informed Him it would

take at least 200 years to review the application and the

environmental impact statement. After that there would be a

public hearing. Then it would be 10-12 months before...

At this point God created Hell.

Kabbalah speaks of four worlds:

(1) Atzilut, (the World of Emanation), is the highest

world. It contains the revealed potential for further creation.

It possesses no perceived existence independent of God.

(2) Beriah, (the World of Creation), is the second highest.

world. It holds the beginnings of creative potential, born of

Atzilut, which begin to take on the perception of form or

independent existence. The higher order of angels dwells in

Beriah as do created souls and the upper Garden of Eden,

where certain privileged souls journey as a reward for their

meritorious conduct during their lifetime on earth. The Divine

Throne also resides in Beriah. It embodies the concept that the

Divine begins to lower itself in order to touch the lower worlds.

(3) Yetzirah, (the World of Formation), is the third highest

world, where the blueprints are drawn up for final creation

and where specific steps are taken to bring them to fruition.

The lower order of angels - those with a specific mission - reside

in Yetzirah, and the lower Garden of Eden abides here as well.

(4) Asiyah, (the World of Action), is the fourth world, the

world in which you and I live. In Asiyah, we witness the most

convincing representation of independence from God. Sadly,

this is because in Asiyah we are the most removed from Him,

and it is here where the dazzling radiance of God is the most

concealed. This total concealment gives rise to free choice,

such that a person is permitted to choose whether or not he will

serve God according to His will. Asiyah embodies the ultimate

purpose of creation, where God has provided us both the map

and the guidebook so we can actualize that purpose: to make

our world an abode in which He will desire to dwell.

From free choice springs the notion of Evil and the threat

of Hell.

According to Kabbalah, Evil was created from the sitra achra,

the other side of God. In other words, it originates from God,

so it must have hidden elements of Goodness, but not in the

way you may think.

Evil is a way that God tests humanity’s actions. This is compared

to a king who sends a temptress to seduce his son, the

prince. The temptress must follow the king’s orders and do

everything in her power to seduce the prince, all the while hoping

that the prince will not succumb to her allure. So, too, Evil, in

the form of our Evil Inclination, entices us with all sorts of worldly

attractions, hoping that we will reject them.

Simcha (Sam) Krause has taught Kabbalah/Chassidut as an adult education introductory

course and is currently working on two other manuscripts. You can find out more about

“Hey Waiter… There’s G-d in My Soup!” by visiting: WWW.HEY-WAITER.COM

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