Blog - Torah Insights


I love the word infinity. Somehow it captures the imagination and evokes images of a beautiful night sky extending endlessly.

You can imagine my disappointment when I, a lover of the Hebrew language, realized that Hebrew does not have a positive word for infinity. Instead the Hebrew uses the negative term of “Bli-Gevul” -without limit.

I mean, could a language as powerful as Hebrew not offer a positive and direct word? Especially that Biblical Hebrew is in the business of describing an infinite G-d so the lack of a positive term to describe the infinity of G-d so essential to it's couture is striking.

It finally occurred to me.

The language is teaching us something. It's saying that we cannot grasp infinity. Sure we can coin a word, but the word cannot help us understand something so foreign to our experience.

“It is impossible for a finite being to know the infinite creator”, argues Maimonides, the best we can do is have “negative knowledge”, meaning we can no what he is not, but we'll never have direct knowledge of what he is.

By using the term “Bli-Gevul” - without limit – Hebrew is reminding us to be humble and acknowledge the limit of our understanding. We must remember that while we try to describe G-d, ultimately we can only know him indirectly – knowing what he is not, but we can never know what he is.

The Essene of Pleasure

The Hebrew word for affliction - נגע - is made up of the same letters as the Hebrew word for pleasure - ענג. The book of formation, the first work of Kabbalah ever to be written, explains the highest level one can achieve, the greatest pleasure one can experience, is from transforming a negative experience to positivity. Transforming the affliction to pleasure.

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