“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.”

© Yoram Raanan
© Yoram Raanan

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

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

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

And he himself could be heard in the divine madness of his prayer, muttering feverishly, "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," wrote Solomon, "but the fool believes everything." Who is the fool? Our sages said the fool is Moses. For he believed everything G‑d told him.

© Yoram Raanan
© Yoram Raanan

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

So Moses told Pharoah, "He Who Is Who He Is 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 He Who Is Who He Is—this you invoke? There is no care in that place, no concern to change matters. That Which Is 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 just what is."

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.

© Yoram Raanan
© Yoram Raanan

When we declared in Shushan, “We are Jews! We are the people of Mordechai, for life or for death!” there was no room for any notion otherwise. We all became holy prophets of divine madness. We became eternal—beyond knowing, and so, beyond time.

That is why Purim is a celebration of divine madness. “A Jew must become drunk with the joy of Purim,” teaches the Talmud, “until he does not know the difference between cursing Haman and blessing Mordechai.” Purim is that state of joy beyond knowing.

That is why on Purim we send gifts of food and drink to one another. That is why we feast together, drink together. That is why “Whoever puts out his hand, you must give to him.”

Beyond knowing, there are no “others,” no you and me and him and her—we are all one ocean of the energy of consciousness, of joy.

Beyond knowing, there is no good and bad—all that pours down from heaven is good, every moment is a moment to cherish and to celebrate.

Beyond knowing, the maddening delusion of being something other than G‑d dissolves. There is only G‑d—my ego nothing more than His will performed, my life nothing more than commentary.

To imagine otherwise becomes pure madness.