There’s a dark side to G‑d. No one wants to talk about it.

Philosophers and mystics alike are fond of pondering G‑d’s oneness, perfectness, goodness, omniscience, amazingness, and all around sweetness and wonderfulness. War, disease, school classrooms and the view from the New Jersey Turnpike get blamed on us human beings and the corruptive quality of dumb matter. There’s something here we are deliberately avoiding.

I began to wonder: Who made dumb matter to begin with? Who crafted the human ego? Does G‑d have a dirty little secret He’s attempting to hide?

One thing G‑d’s got going for Him is that He’s always available for personal interviews. I took Him up on that. He may be mighty and awesome beyond imagination, but I knew I could approach Him without hesitation. As long as you speak clearly and use the appropriate titles and etiquette, the door is always open.

The Dialogue

me: “Ummm . . . excuse me . . . G‑d, um . . . sir . . . ”

Him: Yes?

I knew the protocol: Begin with praise, acknowledging His greatness, and only then put in your request. I did my best.

me: “G‑d, You are great.”

Him: You must have a request.

Next step: I must be discreet, tactful and respectful in my question. Artful, crafted words of prose finely articulating my quandary would do best here.

“G‑d, what’s with the dirty little secret?”

Whose dirty little secret?

“You know: war, evil dictatorships, corporate irresponsibility to ethical and environmental concerns, the Pulaski Skyway. The ache in my suboccipitals . . .”

Human arrogance.

“My neck pain, too?”

If you would walk in a less presumptuous posture . . .

“Okay, let’s not go there now. What about natural calamities? Landslides wiping out entire villages in China. Tsunamis washing away innocent surfers and fishing towns. Rainstorms washing out golf courses the day of my major tournament. What’s up with all that?”

Well, the course of natural events . . .

“There you go! And who is responsible for natural events?”

You want the contact number for that department?

“You can text it to me.”

No need. You’re standing right before it.

“Yes! Just as I thought! Natural events are nothing more than You pretending it’s not You.”

Along with the department for dumb matter.

“I knew it! It’s Your darker side—Your otherness thing. Otherness begets otherness.”

And arrogant human beings who can’t even ask a question discreetly.

“I was just trying to better understand . . .”

It’s okay. I really don’t mind. As long as the question is good.

The Question

“Yes, well, that was the question: Why did You have to give us human beings such unbounded egos that incite us to the evils we perpetrate upon this lovely planet You created? Our egos separate us from Your perfect oneness. It makes us sound stupid when we try to talk to you with any sincerity. Ego is total darkness. If You are all about Infinite Light and Benelovence, what is ego doing in Your universe?”

Don’t be so hard on ego. I have one Myself.

“You too?”

A boundless ego.

“So that is Your dark secret?”

It’s no secret. It’s well known that I am the only reality there is. See Maimonides, Laws of the Foundations of Torah, chapter 1, halachah 4: “. . . aside from Him, there is no true existence.”

“But that’s exactly the point! By endowing us creature beings with ego, you allow us to delude ourselves that there really is something else besides You—namely us.”

You don’t mean “us”—you mean “me.” Each one of you feels “there is nothing else but me.”

“Exactly. So what are You out to accomplish with all that?”

Why should I be the only one who is all that exists?

“Because You are! Isn’t that the whole purpose of creating a universe—as it says in the Zohar and Eitz Chaim: That the created beings will recognize Your attributes that know no bounds, how You create creatures without limit, sustain each one in its own way with life and with its very existence. And now, with this whole ego trip thing, You’ve sabotaged Your own plan!”

Explain to Me: How exactly are these created beings going to have any sense of My boundless creativity if they themselves are not creative?

“So You’ll give them creativity. Like arts and crafts, sim-universe, composing crazy dialogues with G‑d . . .”

And how will they know My boundless benevolence, My kindness I pour out upon all worlds unlimited?

“You’ll have them do nice things for the hungry, the homeless and the downtrodden. They’ll experience G‑dliness through action.”

And how will they fathom My attribute of infinite wisdom if they themselves have no such wisdom?

“So You’ll give them Your infinite wisdom in a neat package they can unravel within their world. Which is exactly what You did by giving them Torah.”

And how will they ever know of the Me that transcends all creativity and all wisdom, that which just is in an isness beyond being and not-being?

“That sounds cool. “Isness beyond being and not-being.” Nobody will have a clue, but it will sound so Zen-Chassidic. Can I use that line in my next blog?”

Go ahead, use it. But the only one who will understand is the human being with a real ego. Because that is the sense of egoness that I put in your lowly-but-totally-amazing world.

“Whoa, hold on a minute. You are saying that ego is a way of getting to know You?”

That’s right. Not just My infinite greatness or My boundless goodness or My fathomless wisdom or any of those modalities by which I interact with My universe—but to know Me Myself. To know the unknowable essence.

“Like, Your darker side.”

Absolute darkness, because it is beyond knowing. No thought can grasp it; it can be grasped only in the experience of absolute being.

“Sounds great. In theory. But tell me, when is the last time you had any success with this strategy? It looks to me like it’s been totally hijacked. All they’re doing with it down here is punching holes in the planet and spilling guck all over it. They think they’ve got the whole place figured out in purely material terms, and even claim they don’t need You to render existence in the first place. Looks to me like you’ve really outdone Yourself with this ego thing. Like King David sang, ‘You are so awesome, G‑d, that Your opponents deny You exist!’”

The strategy works beautifully as soon as someone does a mitzvah.

Mitzvahs are the opposite of ego.”

True. And they are also entirely wrapped up with ego.

“Say wha?”

You can’t do a mitzvah if you don’t have an ego. Children, fools and angels—they don’t have enough ego, so they can’t do mitzvahs. To do a mitzvah, You have to represent Me, and I am the Ultimate Ego.

“I’m losing You. Give me a for-instance.”

Let’s say someone comes to Me and says, “Hey G‑d! They’re spilling guck all over Your planet! Given the process of eutrophication, You’ve got another hundred Dead Seas on Your hands if You don’t do something about it fast!

“So You do something about it fast.”

So I say, “That sounds really awful. Could you do something about it for Me, please. And real fast.”

“But how are human beings going to clean up such catastrophic breakdowns of Your ecological system?”

If they can believe they can mess it up, they can believe they can fix it up. It’s all an ego thing. Taking ownership and growing up.

“Is that with every mitzvah?”

Every one. Healing the sick. Feeding the hungry. Liberating the oppressed. Creating Shabbat light. Wrapping strange leather boxes on yourself . . . All are a matter of taking charge and saying, “If I don’t do it, who will?” As though all there is only you.

“But you do it because there is purpose, because there is a G‑d. And you do it with total surrender, and with compassion for others.”

Isn’t that a neat paradox? Total being and total not-being at once.

“So that’s You, in that paradox. What was the phrase again . . . “the isness of being and not-being.”

Nothing is true, nothing is real, until you do a mitzvah with it. A mitzvah makes you real as I am real.

“So is this dialogue real?”

Depends. What do you plan to do with it?