April 23, 2004


The secrets of ‘Ein Keloh-enu’: At first blush, one of Judaism's most and popular liturgical songs, dealing with greatness of the Divine, seems illogical. But study its words and get a crash course in Judaism's philosophical underpinnings (Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo, April 23, 2004, Jewish World Review)

Commentators have noted that the sequence of the famous song-prayer "Ein Keloh-enu" ("Nobody is like our G-d") sang at the end of the morning service is somehow odd.

In this prayer we first state that there is nobody like our G-d and then continue and ask "Mi-Keloh-enu" ("Who is like our G-d?"). Would it not be more logical first to ask who is like our G-d and afterwards continue to state that nobody is like Him?

Even more surprising is the fact that the song does not answer its own question. Nowhere throughout the song is there any answer to "Mi- Keloh-enu" ("Who is like our G-d?") All what one could argue is that the song answers its own question ("There is nobody like our G-d") before the question is posed! It seems that it is not the answer, but the question that counts.

By reversing the obvious order and refusing to answer its own question, Judaism wants to make the point that the recognition of G-d is first of all an act of faith and only in the second place an act of philosophical inquiry. This is not because reason has no place within Judaism, but because faith is more than reason.

A people doesn't endure for thousands of years unless it has its priorities straight, nu?

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 23, 2004 11:38 AM

Similar to another, quite profound insight:
"credo ut intelligam" -- I believe in order to understand"

Anselm of Canterbury, I believe.

Posted by: Arnold Williams at April 23, 2004 5:05 PM

Quite right, OJ.

Posted by: Ptah at April 23, 2004 5:14 PM