G‑dliness, obviously, has a lot to do with G‑d. When we speak of G‑dliness, however, we do not mean G‑d. When we say that nature is G‑dly, or that the world is truly G‑dliness, we don’t mean that nature or the world is G‑d, G‑d forbid. So what do we mean?

What we mean is that since G‑d created this world out of His own will and imagination, therefore, no matter how it appears to us, its true underlying reality is nothing more than His will and imagination. His will and imagination, in turn, are not acquired qualities of His, but rather entirely one with His oneness.

G‑dliness, then, is an underlying singularity that unites all creatures and events, past, present and future, vitalizing each of them while simultaneously transcending all of them.

One way to conceive of G‑dliness is to imagine a great storyteller, artist, composer, or some other creative mind. Imagine that mind conceiving in a flash-out-of-nowhere some concept, theme or motif out of which he or she can build an entire story, painting, symphony or other creative work. Now imagine that this master artist is so skilled that, once the piece is done, despite the gamut of diverse emotions, styles, timbres and tones it contains, upon close examination all can be traced to a single theme and idea.

Now imagine that this idea is not just another idea that popped into the artist’s head, but a profound expression of the artist’s soul. In a way, the art is a better manifestation of the artist than the persona of the artist himself. His persona is just the way he has found to relate to other personas. His art, at its very core, expresses the very core of his own soul.

Imagine G‑d as an artist, whose soul breathes in every detail of His art.

I suppose that this is the ideal artist, and while some may have come very close, our world is not a world of ideals. Aside from that, even the ideal human artist can create new forms, stories and patterns only out of the experiences he has acquired in life. No idea truly comes “outanowhere.” Even if it did, the art must be created out of materials, sounds and colors that pre-exist, within a time-space continuum over which the artist has no control.

But at least this can serve us to help us imagine the work of the Master Artist of All Things, from whom all ideals, forms and concepts extend—even the very idea of existence itself. It’s an analogy: it speaks of an experience of which we otherwise have no grasp whatsoever, by means of comparison to the familiar—and then it demands that we strip away the familiar to touch the mystery that lies beneath its covers.

Breathing within every cell and atom of His work is an expression of His very Being—yet superbly disguised within the intricacies of the story He tells, to the point that a fool who sees only one brief act of the play believes that there is no Playwright, no story, no idea—just a bunch of fools like himself playing around on a stage.

We know otherwise. We know that beneath it all, there is nothing else but G‑d.

The most puzzling thing about G‑dliness is our incognizance of it.

The most baffling thing about G‑dliness, then, is that it can be hidden. The true reality of everything that exists can be hidden from those very creatures that emerge out of that reality. Just as the Creator generates and sustains new beings without source or precedent—something we cannot begin to imagine—so too the Creator conceals His G‑dliness from those very creations at the very moment that He is sustaining them with that G‑dliness. Nothing could be more perplexing. And yet, this dynamic is the essential dynamic behind existence.

Whatever the explanation (if we can explain it), such a state of concealment is termed in the Zohar “the other side”—meaning that which feels itself to be other than its Creator. Our material world is a world dominated by otherness. There are higher planes of existence, however, that are called G‑dly worlds—worlds where whatever exists feels that it is nothing more than an emanation of a Higher Force.

Within our world, as well, there are places and times where G‑dliness is more readily apparent, and special individuals who are more attuned to the underlying G‑dliness. There are windows through the facade.

This is the healing that Torah brings to the world: with each mitzvah we do, with each act of beauty and wisdom, we uncover a little more of that underlying reality. In a time to come, due to our work now, the entire creation will be translucent vessels to display that G‑dly light. May it be sooner than we can imagine.

Interested in more? Watch or listen to the video discussion Who Needs a Temple? by the same author. Also read Getting to G‑dliness.