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There is a certain madness to this idea of talking to G‑d, of saying “You” to the Ground of Reality.... Like the madness of love or of unbounded joy

Divine Madness

Divine Madness

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“The prophet is a fool. The man of spirit is mad.” (Hosea 9:7)

There is a certain madness to this idea of talking to G‑d, of saying “You” to the Ground of Reality— as though this were a person. Like the madness of love or of unbounded joy. Not the madness of a derelict mind, but the madness that rides upon the shoulders of reason, with all its qualities, but beyond. Beyond reason.

Reason scales lofty mountains. Reason alone can pull back the curtains and find G‑d there, hiding within existence. “Just as I extend from Mind,” says Reason, “so the pulse of life, the path of the electron, the entire cosmic order, all extend from one magnificent Mind.” And from where does that Mind extend? From That Which Is. As in the four letter name of G‑d, a conjugation of the verb to be.

But only madness could imagine entering a conversation with That Which Is.

Reason stands on the threshold, peering at a blinding light that bursts through the keyhole, trembling to open the door to her own womb. For in that place, she knows, the light is so great, there is no room for reason. She has shown the way, but now she must step aside for madness to break in.

Madness kicks down the door and liberates G‑d. Madness, the insanity of joy and of love, knows no fetters, respects no bounds. Madness says, “Why should I limit you to that which is? You can be found wherever You wish to be found! You can care about whatever You wish to care! Without reason—for You Yourself have no beginning, no end, so there is no Reason that will dictate to You how things must be.”

And so this madness, this wild, radical sense of freedom that breathes within the human spirit and lifts him from the status of object to person, this madness finds its partner in G‑d. “Both of us are free,” this madness says. “My freedom comes from You and Your freedom becomes real in me. So let us be partners and I will speak to the Ground of Reality and say You.”


"In knowing G‑d, reason plays only second fiddle," taught Yochanan Allemano, a 16th century Italian Kabbalist whose ideas had a profound influence on the early Humanists. "Its light is pale and diffuse. But dazzling bright, like the light of the sun, is the sweetness of divine madness."

"I am a boor," sang King David. "I cannot know anything. I am an animal with you—and I am always with You!"

"Because I am a fool," explained Rabbi Schneur Zalman, "therefore I can be always with You."

And he himself could be heard in the divine madness of his prayer muttering, "I don’t want Your Garden of Eden! I don’t want Your world-to-come! I only want You, You alone!"

"The wise understand," Solomon wrote "but the fool believes everything." Who is the fool? He is Moses, the sages said. For he believed everything G‑d told him.


To Moses, G‑d said, "I am who I am. Tell them that I am sent you."

So Moses told Pharoah, "The Ground of Reality demands you release His children, that they may serve Him in the wilderness."

To which Pharaoh replied, "Moses, you are mad. The lesser gods, the forces invested within the natural order, to them we can speak and manipulate with our rituals. But the Ground of Reality, That Which Is—this you invoke? There is no care in that place, no concern to change matters. Reality is not a person to be concerned with Itself. Moses, go, be enlightened with your transcendental state of being. And then, reasonably, you must leave me to sit on the top of my pyramid and permit the people to remain oppressed. For that is reality."

In ancient Egypt, they called that "mata." In India, it’s called karma. Moses called it a bum deal. He liberated G‑d and let Him into His world. Doing so, he liberated humankind as well, from a lonely being in a cold and hostile universe to a partner in a dialog we call Reality.

Moses was a wise madman, a holy fool. A liberator.

G‑d is so great, He stoops to hear the prayer of a small child.
The very life of each thing is a glimmer of G-d.
On each thing created, the Creator’s signature is found.
The god in which you do not believe, I also do not believe.
Where there is joy, there are no barriers.
It's an absurd world. Be divinely absurd.
Choose a path. But when you must, take the opposite path as well.
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Ann Bentley USA April 12, 2016

Divine Madness Enjoyed this article. Found it eye opening and thought provoking!Thank you for emailing me Daily Dose Of Wisdom. Reply

tehillimsongs.com Israel, Israel June 19, 2011

What about holiness It seems that one thing is missing is this discourse: holiness. The presence of holiness makes it into a real freedom and not madness. If the holiness is taken away from this state of mind - the result is madness. (Similar to what happened to king Shaul) Reply

tehillimsongs.com Israel, Israel June 19, 2011

Freedom Madness? Why, it's true freedom. Reply

Josias Wolhuter Kimberley, South Africa December 19, 2010

Logic Thank you Rabbi Freeman, for understanding my mad love for G_d. It seems that all the world is mad with a personal logic that makes sense only if they ignore the Divine existence.

I do not fear death, for it is also only a servant, I do not want for an afterlife, for G_d's joy in my actions in this life is all I wish. Reply

Anonymous Tehran, Iran December 14, 2010

May Dear Rabbi Freeman, please pray that G-d give a divine quality to my mandness, I enjoyed your ariticle :) Reply

Leila Livingston, TN December 14, 2010

I am not Jewish either although my soul seems to find a happy home in Judaism and I hope one day to be able to convert. I also adore Rabbi Freeman's article and insights. This one is no exception. I am also amazed at the number of non- Jewish readers there are on this site. It just shows that many people are searching to find a spiritual home. Reply

. Marcos Nunes December 10, 2010

Rabbi Freeman a Non-jewish approach: Its hard to explain how deep I find your writings. Reading them gives me a feeling of going back home but its more than that, Its deep pleasure, big pleasure, kind of intellectual, kind of spiritual. Thank you for teaching Torah so amazingly and for serving our G-d. Reply

Anonymous Atlanta, GA June 13, 2006

" Moses called it a bum deal. He liberated G-d and let Him into His world. "

What a delight of of inspiration! That one statement epitomiizes the essence of Judaism. It separates us from all the "ancient religions" and in a nutshell it crystalizes why we are "we" and "they" are them. Reply

Anonymous Bucharest, Ro April 14, 2006

Not Jewish, but for some time already I 've been reading articles on chabad.org. Sometimes I may be feeling at a loss, (as a non-Jewish reader), because of certain attitudes some texts espouse, but most of times reading feels like weirdly "coming back home". .

Well, the latter is mostly thanks to Tzvi... I fell in love with his writing long ago, but this piece deserves a special thanks. Reply

Anonymous Colorado Springs, CO May 9, 2005

Divine Madness I am not Jewish, but I absolutely LOVED this little essay. It is profoundly spiritual and very practical at the same time. It has touched me at a very deep level. Reply

Anonymous April 19, 2005

Divine Madness Yasher koach! Reply

Anonymous Jerusalem, Israel April 19, 2005

Inner Dimensions Tzvi Freeman is one of the best thinkers of our time. His dynamc, modern approach makes it easy to understand even the deepest dimensions of the Torah.
Every bit of his writings are facinating and fun to read. Everyone can get inspired by understanding and internalizing these articles. Reply

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