Friday, February 28, 2014

Parshat Pekudei, (Exodus 40:17-40:27)-2/28/14

Perhaps this is about doing things the right way. We are pass the stage of creation and now the baby has been born.We are at the stage of getting started with this new life. Again this isn't an opportunity to be creative. Only god is creative. We simple follow the directions. Which may be defined as what is needed in the situation. 

Rabbi Gordon ( said that a commentator interpreted “...that the Mishkan was set up” to mean that G_d sent down angels to set it up because it was too much for the people. This appears to be a contradiction with the next line, “Moses set up the Mishkan,” but what do I know? In any case, I drew the angels at work.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Parshat Pekudei, (Exodus 40:1-40:16)-2/27/14

We have to create a dwelling place for God. The menorah gives us light from the pure olive oil. The table gives us a source for making a living. The altar a place to be with G_d. We are a walking Mishnah. We create in heart and essence in every moment. (paraphrased from Rabbi Gordon at The bread, stacked on the shelves, would miraciously stay fresh for a week. Moses stuck to the program, and a dwelling place was created. This is the glue that would hold together a people.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Parshat Pekudei, (Exodus 39:33-39:43)-2/26/14

Supposedly only one person should lift up the Mishkan. But no one could do it, so they took it to Moses, the only one who had done no work on it. It was so heavy that Moses felt that he couldn't lift it up, so he asked G_d how was he supposed to lift it up? G_d says, you try and I will help. So Moses did that, and mysteriously the deed was done. It was the blessing of G_d that made the task possible.

The most miraculous job I've had is raising kids. Though we tried and tried, something appeared to do the important work for us ... completely unexplainable. It is with the blessing, along with tireless work, that things get done.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Parshat Pekudei, (Exodus 39:22-39:32)-2/25/2014

After six weeks all the work was completed. Again, we have the number six, as in six days. Now it is time to rest. Work hard, then rest hard. There is something disappointing about finishing a job. The enthusiasm and adrenaline rush to finish are gone.

But one thing leads to another. Though the building of the tabernacle was the building of a relationship with G_d, it was really only a place for a relationship to begin. It is a birth. Creation has occurred once again.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Parshat Pekudei, (Exodus 39:2-39:21)-2/24/2014

Moses stuck to the program. “... as the Lord had commanded Moses.” Moses could have been creative and done his own thing, but instead he just followed the rules.

This goes back to an idea I've had all my art life, that we don't need or even shouldn't be creative, but rather follow what we are told to do (by our hearts). This is the opposite of just following convention. It is instead following one's instinct. As we do as we are told (by our hearts), we (because we are unique in time and place and body) do unique work, in spite of our best efforts to walk the line.

Giacometti claimed he didn't mean to make his emaciated figures. He said they just came out that way.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Parshat Pekudei, (Exodus 38:21-39:1)-2/23/2014

The power of the community. Every person is critical to the world. We are all an entire world. We count the numbers at Moses' command for the building of the Mishkan because everyone is important.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Parshat Vayak'hel, (Exodus 38:1-38:20)-2/22/2014

The Israel women would use mirrors to pretty themselves so they could seduce men. Moses wouldn't let the mirrors into the tent, but they had washstands that would test the women and prove their innocence (or otherwise). This was, once again, a return to the Garden of Eden. Seduction (temptation) had no place in a holy space.

I thought more about the sabbath ... for me. I worked for 60 years and now it is the sabbath. I got it wrong ... but usually do mix things up a little. But had fun all the time really, except for a short time when I had a real job.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Parshat Vayak'hel, (Exodus 37:17-37:29)-2/21/2014

We learn to make the menorah and the incense altar. I liked how the goblets at the end of the menorah are upside down so that one can turn the menorah over and spread blessings to the world.

If a person takes so much care in the making of an object, how they must care for taking loving others.

I like too, reading about the menorah, that one is not to use a lit candle (of the six here or eight for Hanukah) for lighting fires, which is why the seventh/ninth candle is there. Here I believe that oil rather than candles were used here.

It is interesting how the senses are engaged here: sight and smell. This would help engage the whole person in the rituals.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Parshat Vayak'hel, (Exodus 36-20:37-16)-2/20/2014

Rabbi Baker was clarifying why Spinoza got excommunicated. He said it was because of what he did, not because of what he believed. That's encouraging, since I don't believe anything sometimes. And sometimes I believe everything. I like the detail in this parshah. Again it is a meditation. Michael talked tonight about the contrast between the work of building the tent, and the sabbath. Taking a day off still seems foreign to me, perhaps like a deep sleep. But then when I asked what one would do on their day off, he said, “think about spiritual matters.” But that is mainly what I have thought about all my life except when I was dean. Maybe what I need is a day “on” rather than a day “off.” The thought just occurred to me that the work of a craftsman is like the practice of prayer. To do it right, one must be focused on the job at hand, and they much respect their materials and their tools as if they are holy. "Walk as if your feet are kissing the Earth," as Thich Nhat Hahn said.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Parshat Vayak'hel, (Exodus 36-8:36-19)-2/19/2014

There 50 gates of wisdom and the 50 levels of impurity. Lots of 50s in the tent, which represents the Creation. There were four sets of curtains, each covering the next.

1. Made of earth and minerals.
2. Made from the world of vegetation—that which grows.
3. Made from the animal realm
4. Made from human realm.

It seems the sequencing goes in both directions. What seemed at first to be so arbitrary is actually a recreation of Genesis.

I'm curious about the length of one curtain being 28 cubits. I'd like to find more explanation about the symbolism for each of the numbers. Many of the other numbers are 5 or 50.

Again, this work is about intention. Not just covering the tent, but doing it with the utmost intention. Not just paying attention, but worshipping with every detail and every moment, with all of one's heart and soul.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Parshat Vayak'hel, (Exodus 35-30:36-7)-2/18/2014

Enough is enough. The people brought more than was needed. This was a great expression of their eagerness to please G_d. Or is “please” the word I should use? Would “connect to” be more accurate?

So they were sent back. The drawing is supposed to be about people coming and going. See the blind man? Somewhere else in the Hebrew Bible there is a story about people giving too much for their own detriment. You shouldn't hurt yourself by giving. But this is different. They were overwhelming the craftsmen who now had all the materials they needed. I guess it is just the grand expression of enthusiasm.

In the Zen world, we stop soji (temple cleaning) when the time is over. I interpret this parshah that because people were turned away, there was now100% buy-in.

Right after 911, so many people gave blood they dumped it down the sink. They didn't want to turn people away ... but then later, when they really needed blood, people didn't come back

Monday, February 17, 2014

Parshat Vayak'hel, (Exodus 35-21:35-29)-2/17/2014

I don't know if a good bar mitzvah student would question much of what they read. I do know that my parents would be pleased if I flunked out.

In any case, 35 years ago I was in Mexico City and I watched someone giving money to a begging woman with a malnourished child. After the woman received the money, I followed her into the church and watched her slip the money into a box on the wall. If I were G_d, I'd want the money to buy some food for her little kid.

Mike, a student from the 70s, wisely wrote, “How do you hold a loose federation of clans together, except by ensuring that all are deeply vested in some common goal? What psychological and emotional need was being fulfilled in trading one form of bondage under Egypt for another under religious law? Was G-d playing to human nature or was Moses? Whatever ... it seemed to have worked in congealing a new ‘national’ identity.”

I think Mike nailed it, in a sense. Though I didn't like the pragmatisic justification he was suggesting. The end justifies the means. Oh yea? No wonder my parents steered me away from religion. And yet, Mike is probably right. It might have been the only way.

We look askance at the Scientology folks who sign their bank account over to their church. How is this different? We certainly are learning in these parshahs the meaning of “put your money where your mouth is."

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Parshat Vayak'hel, (Exodus 35-1:35-20)-2/16/2014

If I took a day off I would have not “done anything for 9 1/2 years.” But then I can think about all the time I waste everyday. I couldn't write or draw ... and do all the work to bath my spirit. We are told to make offerings to the Lord. It doesn't need our offerings, so the “giving” must be for us. It seems that this is for atonement for the Jews making the golden lamb. Or is the golden lamb just symbolic for all of our bad actions? I suspect so.

When I read that Moses says the Lord says you should give all these things to the temple then I get suspicious. Is Moses making this up so that his temple will be supported? If I were a little more generous with Moses, I might think he made this up because he knew that it is good for people to rest, and it is good for people to give. And even if Moses didn't literally hear G_d, since he is made by G_d, are his words G_d's words? And if G_d is simply our construction for all, then does any of this matter.? The wisdom of a sage is not dependent on the credentials of the sage, but more whether the statement is, in itself, wise. Right?

Is it the children of Israel's guilt that leads them to follow Moses? Are these wise actions for people to do one day a week? I remember in various places I lived where many stores were closed on Sunday. It was always frustrating, but I suppose we got used to it as well. What would a Jew do upon reading this? And why?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Parshat Ki Tisa, (Exodus 34-27:34-35)-2/15/2014

Moses did not know that his face was radiant after inscribing the stones with the covenant. After he came down the mountain, he covered his face except when he was talking to his people ... or to the Lord.

The people were afraid of him ... but finally they came to him and he told them everything that he had been told by the Lord. Rashi said that they were afraid of the radiance since they had sinned by making the golden calf. Before that, they had seen the fire coming from the mountain top (Exod 24:14), and they were not frightened.

After talking to his people, Moses put the veil back on his face.

We have a hard time talking to famous people. I've had opportunities and most the time blow it. It is a challenge for me, and probably for others. We'd say, I'd love to spend an hour with so and so ... but given that opportunity, we might be speechless.

G_d had told Moses to bring the stones and that G_d would do the inscribing ... yet, here it says that Moses did the inscribing. One of many contradictions in the Torah.

If I had any brains, I'd quit reading the Torah and find myself two stones and carve the commandments on them.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Parshat Ki Tisa, (Exodus 34-10:34-26)-2/14/2014

He says things will be different than they have ever been. I like that. Thinking outside of the box.

This is the second attempt to give the commandments.

I don't like the idea that He is asking the Jews to demolish other altars. Earlier today I was upset with a couple of friends because they were not allowing multiple belief systems.

He is called “Jealous One” meaning that (according to Rashi) that he is steadfast in his superiority over other deities, and demands retribution upon those who forsake Him.

Such trouble has come from the separation of Jew and Gentile. This is very bothersome to me ... that people are so prone to not allow diverse thinking. That, for me, is the joy of life. Being able to dance lots of different steps.

The interesting thing here is that people are told how to live, and crucial to that way is that it is different than how others live. This has been the pattern of my life ... taking the road not taken. Or at least thinking I was making independent judgements. I heard a story about how Suzuki Roshi told the hippies, “you think you are all different with the clothes you wear. But to me you all look the same. But when you meditate, then I can see that you are all different.” We all hated conformity and swore in blood that we wouldn't ever conform. By following a “covenant” are we conforming? Is it bad?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Parshat Ki Tisa, (Exodus 34-1:34-9)-2/13/2014

Now we see a much more mature relationship between G_d and Moses. It is the relationship of a father and a grown son vs. a father and an adolescent son (when the first time the tablet was given where Moses was not ready for it).

The parshah said, “the Lord descended in the cloud...” And now G_d has become a little less reactive, “... Who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness and truth.” We have for one of the first times a G_d to emulate rather than to fear as an erratic parent.

Why must Moses request at the end of this parshah that G_d be patient with the people who have sinned? Is G_d, who just claim many good attributes, not capable of unconditional love on its own?

The people are still not feeling any shame, let alone guilt, for their actions. I trust this will come with the laws.

I thought of myself ... and the prisoners I write to. When have I felt shame? When should I have felt shame? Why have the prisoners not expressed shame? I understood harakiri a little better today after thinking about shame more. Is it nonexistent in our culture? I must think more about this.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Parshat Ki Tisa, (Exodus 33-17:33-23)-2/12/2014

At this point, the Lord decides he likes Moses, who says, “Show me, now, Your glory!" But that is too much for G_d, who says, “... for man shall not see Me and live.”

Again, seeing G-d would mean demeaning Him with a definition.

So he tells Moses to step into a cleft of a rock and He will cover Moses with his hand as He moves by.

All my life I've wanted to define things. Black and white. Even words define things. We see a bright red form ... “recognize it” and then call it a name, “apple,” ending our relationship to it.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Parshat Ki Tisa, (Exodus 33-12:33-16)-2/11/2014

I spoke yesterday with a rabbi about the Jews being the “chosen people.” Certainly it wouldn't be good form to announce to a group of mixed religious persuasions that G_d chose us rather than you. Then I started thinking about my mom. One day I told my sisters that I was mom's favorite child. So one by one we all went to her room and asked her. She gave each of us the same answer, “You are my favorite.” The Rabbi said that G_d was addressing the Jews when he said that they were the chosen. He wasn't talking about others that he loved as well. But, as shown in this quote below, Moses wants the Jews to be distinguished from others. Perhaps this is where the dislike of intermarriage comes from.

Moses says to God, “For how then will it be known that I have found favor in Your eyes, I and Your people? Is it not in that You will go with us? Then I and Your people will be distinguished from every [other] nation on the face of the earth."

From Wikopedia: “Ḥayyim Vital, the kabbalist, in his “Sha'are Ḳedushah,” i. 5 teaches that the law of love of the neighbor includes the non-Israelite as well as the Israelite.[8] A similar view was taught by Aaron b. Abraham ibn Ḥayyim of the sixteenth century, in his commentary to Sifre and by Moses Ḥagis of the eighteenth century, in his work on the 613 commandments, while commenting on Deut. xxiii. 7.[9]”

As I Googled, “Does the Hebrew G_d love all people,” I could find few, if any, Bible quotes from the Hebrew Bible. Only in the commentaries above is there a clear statement of God's love.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Parshat Ki Tisa, (Exodus 31-18:33-11)-2/10/2014

“You know the people, for they are disposed toward evil.”

And they took their gold and threw it into the fire ... and a goat came out ... and this was a graven image—a great sin. “They have made themselves a G-d of gold.”

Why should G_d not want any graven images? Perhaps because when we quantify G_d we reduce it to something smaller that we are.

So the people were struck with a plague. God was furious.

I'm very uneasy when others are furious, yet I get furious as well. Emotions are supposed to last ninety seconds. Mine seem longer. I only saw my dad angry once. My mom got angry a lot.

Moses stood up to G_d, as one would to a friend. I read something that this may have been his greatest moment. I love that ... a religion where G_d knows it's out of control so it sent an angel down until it could cool off ... and a G_d that encouraged civil disobedience. It could not tolerate us breaking the rules. But it could tolerate us telling it that mass destruction didn't fit the crime.

I put G_d in all my drawings. I guess, knowing that this is a no-no it excites my contrary nature.

I wonder if Mark Rothko made abstract paintings (in his mature period) because of this law about making graven images.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Parshat Ki Tisa, (Exodus 30-11:31-17)-2/9/2014

I get more and more irritated with G_d when I hear his demands.

Reading this Torah parshah made me think of my son-in-law today being furious about an injustice in his son's school. I agreed that arguments for and against the school's actions were reasonable. I didn't agree with the idea of him being furious.

One might think that the act of living the Torah would be to not get furious with the demands of G_d, which I metaphorically take as the demands of life. Today I was pretty upset with myself for making some mistakes in the kitchen which both cost me time and trouble. The upset was probably worst that the flour that I spilled.

G_d is not nice. He threatens the children of Israel with a plague if they don't atone for their souls when counted. It doesn't just want obedience. It wants absolute obedience.

Everyone, rich and poor alike, should give half a shekel. The money will be used to pay for the tent. Everyone should pay!

A washstand should be made, and Aaron and his sons should wash both their hands and feet before they enter the holy tent so that they will not die.

Then we’re told about making an incense as an annoinment to G_d for your generations. It shall not be poured on human flesh. From what I read elsewhere, Orthodox men don't wear fragrances and neither Orthodox men nor women wear fragrances on either Yom Kippur or Tisha’B’Av.

In the next chapter, G_d imbues Bezelel the spirit of G_d so that he can make holy objects.

Then it talks about keeping the sabbath. That would be quite a change in my life to take off one day a week. I've never really taken a day off in my life. What would I do? Perhaps in a meditation retreat I've done that ... though I'd find some time in the evening to do something productive.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Parshat Tetzaveh, (Exodus 30-1:30-10)-2/8/2014

The parshah ends with a description of Yom Kippur, where Jews repent and atone for approximately 25 hours.

Sometimes I am sorry for things I have done. Today I was sorry for something I wrote to someone, and for something I said to someone. It is so hard to know, at the time, if I say things to appear smart, or to be helpful. In both cases, I did not know the people. If I said the same thing to my family or friends, it would be fine ... because they could deal with it ... and might be helpful ... but I should shut up with strangers.

The Buddhists have a similar once a year ceremony to atone where they write their bad deeds on a piece of paper and throw it in a fire.

In Proverbs, we find:

“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” —Proverbs 28:13

I like the idea that Jews do not see themselves as "sinners" but rather attach sin to their actions. This seems quite healthy to me.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Parshat Tetzaveh, (Exodus 29:38-29:46)-2/7/2014

Sometimes we hear that it isn't really giving if it doesn't hurt. Asking to give two lambs a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, continually ... seems like it would hurt. I can imagine with that kind of sacrifice, one would get used to giving. And we are giving to G-d, which would further reinforce our connection. “... a fire offering to the Lord."

G_d appears to drive a hard bargain but the rewards are plentiful. He/she/it says that meetings will be arranged with the children of Israel. And earlier, it is mentioned, “for your generations.”

I am bothered when he/she/it speaks of dwelling “in the midst of the children of Israel.” Why such favoritism? Not only is he/she/it devoid of feelings for the lambs, but for non-Jews (apparently).

Rabbi Epstein at the Friday night service tonight read a commentary on this parshah explaining that the external coverings for the priests are symbolic of the internal perfection (my word) that they were to obtain. Though “clothes make the man” the real job is that they don't really ... and that the challenge for the priests is to adorn their internal heart and wisdom equal to the elaborate external adornments.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Parshat Tetzaveh, (Exodus 29:19-29:37)-2/6/2014

A young Jewish student went to his teacher and said he's been through the Torah five times and he wants to move on. His teacher says, but how many times has the Torah been through you?

Thinking is fun. Sometimes I want to do nothing else until I die. Then I think about my neighbor's youngest grandson who is very very sick right now ... and his mom is posting hourly updates on Facebook. And my youngest grandson is having a little (supposedly very little ) medical procedure tomorrow. I asked a question at the temple tonight, related to my question from a few days ago, “is G_d more than that which we call him?” The question tonight was: “is anything more than what we call it?”

Here's the Gutenberg Bible ... the first one printed with movable type. We are so lucky to have it in Austin. Is it more than what we call it?  I'm looking at the semi-circular haze (G_d's shadow?) at the bottom. Who is reading it? Who is it that makes a lighter shadow unlike our darker shadows? 

Rashi refers to “how opposite the azteh he shall remove it” (Lev. 3-9) ... related to the kidneys that give advice. I was interested how the Jews did not buy into the idea that we can tell the future by reading organs, as other cultures believed. We have free will because G_d did not determine our future (which others believe they know from shape of animal organs).  

I visualized “... you shall place it all [bread, oil bread and matzoth wafer] upon Aaron's palms and upon his son's palms, and you shall wave them as a waving before the lord.” 

And best is "you shall sanctify the breast of the waving and the thigh of the uplifting, ... And so it shall remain for Aaron ... as a perpetual allotment from the children of Israel ... "And so it continues and continues. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Parshat Tetzaveh, (Exodus 29:1-29:18)-2/5/2014

A number of thoughts come from this portion ... but before I delve ... I've been hearing various arguments for years about whether religions are the same or different. One Zen priest wrote to me on Facebook that they are all different comic books, and they all say the same thing. Another Zen priest said that no, they are different—Zen is not like other religions. I asked a third Zen priest how does one hear these opinions and not attach themselves to one view or another. Zen people like to preach that one should have no preferences. He said something that I thought was pretty cool ... to not even have a preference about having some preferences or no preferences. That seemed to give me a little peace.

I suppose it is important, when making a sacrifice, that we give up something that is either expensive or that we love ... or both. So it must be with oxen and rams. Some religions, like Buddhism, would not sanction the killing of an animal. And with our contemporary consciousness about wasting resources (and polluting the air), we would not consider this parshah to be environmentally conscious. But these are different times, and the Jews no long make animal sacrifices. I say animal because modern Jews (and others) sacrifice all kinds of things ... money, time, and even the sharing of knowledge. Some people would cut off a finger if it would help another human being.

Obedience seems to be an overriding theme of this parshah. How much will someone do to become a servant of G_d? And during the sacrificial ceremony they focus all their attention on the details so they don't have a chance to question.

Obedience makes some sense to appease a "supreme being," one who monitors our behavior and controls the world. But if we imagine a Kabbalah G_d that is in everything then obedience makes a little less sense, for we'd be obedient (only?) to ourselves.

Yikes, that sounds good. With self-discipline we honor ourselves and all other things, since we are so interconnected.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Parshat Tetzaveh, (Exodus 28:31-28:43)-2/4/2014

38. “It shall be upon Aaron's forehead, and Aaron shall bear the iniquity of the holy things that the children of Israel sanctify, for all their holy gifts. It shall be upon his forehead constantly to make them favorable before the Lord.”

This part especially struck me.

Though it is only on Aaron’s forehead literally during a service, it should be on his mind always. What is it that should be on his mind? It is the iniquity (immoral or grossly unfair behavior) of all men. But why should one be responsible for all men? It is because we could always do more. Though we didn't mug a homeless person in the alley, what could we have done to give the homeless man a home, and did we do what we could for the mugger so he would not need to mug. What about me?

What do I blame other people for what I could have changed?

Yes, I could have participated in more things rather than just complained about them. I wrote earlier in another blog about going through a grocery store. Am I thinking of others as they might be in a hurry? Am I trying to get my grocery cart through little openings so I can get out of the store faster? Am I making people's days better or worse? Could I do more?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Parshat Tetzaveh, (Exodus 28:13-28:30)-2/3/2014

We like to think our religion (whatever that might be) is about virtue. What is the right thing to do? Do we do it? If we don't, how do we atone?

Here G_d has us make a choshen of judgement—a breastplate that atones for the perversion of justice. The commentator Rashi says that this one “explains and clarifies words." It seems that justice is about the clarification of words. What did a person mean by their words? Does it explain their actions?

It would be one thing for God to say, "be virtuous." It is another that he has us make an elaborate breastplate to hang over our heart that would lead us into a meditative practice to contemplate how we treat one other.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Parshat Tetzaveh, (Exodus 27:20-28:12)-2/2/2014

The light burns continually at night. Rashi says continually means from Sabbath to Sabbath. That relates to the edict for Jews to be a light and lead others toward wisdom. No wonder my grandpa, with only an eight grade education, would put strangers through college. Or that a Jew should not refuse to lend a book. Or that Rabbi Folberg has this line on his emails, “You are not required to complete the work, but neither are you free to abstain from it.”

The light must not go out!

They were told to carve the names of the sons of Israel on the stones and on seals. Remembering is so important. Remembering to acknowledge. Remembering to say thank you. Remembering to wash your hands to protect others and yourself. Remembering.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Parshat Terumah, (Exodus 27:9-27:19)-2/1/2014

I am interested how, in this portion, even the implements should be covered in copper, as should the pegs. We glorify G_d not just by the work we do, but by how we do it. Using copper on the implements must make then holy. We saw earlier that we don't use cut stone for an altar because the implements are made of iron, which is used for swords. My wife said that is silly, because anything can be used for anything, which doesn't make it bad by nature. I reminded her that it isn't the rules, but that they had rules that was important. Everything, though, that touches something must be intentionally made and cared for. Her grandfather would polish his shovels with oil before he put them away.

Daniel Matt told us about how in the Kabbalah G_d is in everything, but everything is not G_d. I though that was good, because we might think we got G_d “pegged” if you could say it is just “everything.” I wonder if defining G_d as the mystery in everything is really doing more that giving a name to those things that we don't understand. Is there more to this G_d thing? If so, what? Maybe someone will help me out here.

From the 13th century Kabalah:

“Human beings are so confused in their minds! They do not see the way of truth in Torah. Torah calls out to them every day in love, but they do not want to turn their heads. Even though I have said that Torah removes a word from her sheath, is seen for a moment then quickly hides away, that is certainly true, but when she reveals herself from her sheath and hides herself right away, she does so only for those who know her intimately. A parable. To what can the matter be compared? To a lovely princess, beautiful in every way and hidden deep within her palace. She has one lover, unknown to anyone; he is hidden too. Out of his love for her, this lover passes by her gate constantly, lifting his eyes to every side. She knows that her lover is hovering about her gate constantly. What does she do? She opens a little window in her hidden palace and reveals her face to her lover, then swiftly withdraws, concealing herself. No one near the lover sees or
reflects, just the lover, and his heart and his soul and everything within him flows out to her, and he knows that out of love for him, she reveals herself for just that one moment to awaken love in him.

So it is with a word of Torah: she reveals herself to no one but her lover. The Torah knows that he “who is wise of heart hovers about her gate every day. What does she do? She reveals herself to him from her palace and beckons him with a hint, then swiftly withdraws to her hiding place. No one who is there knows or reflects; he alone does, and his heart and his soul and everything within him flows out to her. That is why Torah reveals and conceals herself. With love she approaches her lover to arouse love in him.” —Zohar II, 61.99, translation by Daniel C. Matt