The letter that you shared below is from a book
called Open Secrets by the brilliant Rabbi Rami M Shapiro (who is from North
America, as far as I know and who used to live and teach in CA). It is one
of my most favorite little books - and feels sacred or jnanic to me. On
the last page of the book he says, "This book is a fictional collection of
letters from "Reb Yerachmiel ben Yisrael" to my great grandfather Aaron
Herschel. The rebbe is a composite of several genuine Hasidic rebbes, and my
Zayde (great grandfather), was quite real."
Rami Shapiro was
first introduced to me several years ago as a satsang teacher by a student of
Papaji. I saw him teach at that time at a Jewish learning center that he
directed in WLA. Indeed, he embodied and shared undivided awareness, and the
depth of his references within the context of Judaism or Jewish mysticism, (to
my view), could also be or resonate with the depths within the Zen or Sufi
wisdom traditions, as you said. I just googled him and found that he
blogged as recently as today and will paste this bio which also appears
Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award winning author, poet, essayist, and educator
whose poems have been anthologized in over a dozen volumes, and whose prayers
are used in prayer books around the world. Rami received rabbinical ordination
from the Hebrew Union CollegeJewish Institute of Religion and holds both Ph.d.
and D.D. degrees. A congregational rabbi for 20 years, Rabbi Rami is currently
Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies at Middle Tennessee State University. In
addition to writing books, Rami writes a regular column for Spirituality and
Health magazine called "Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler" and he
has a blog.[Beyond Religion with Rabbi Rami]. His most recent book is
"Recovery,the Sacred Art."
(Skylight Paths). He can be reached via his
Love and namaste,
~ ~ ~
Here is the letter composed by Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro for
his book Open Secrets and which appeared in issue #4783:
Reb Yerachmiel ben Yisrael
19 Tevet 5636
My Dear Aaron Hershel,
You ask me of God: to define the Nameless to place in your palm the
ultimate secret. Do not imagine that this is hidden somewhere far from you.
The ultimate secret is the most open one. Here it is: God is All.
I am tempted to stop with this-to close this letter, sign my name and leave
you with this simple truth. Yet I fear you will not understand. Know from the
first that all that follows is but an elaboration on the simple fact that God is
What does it mean to be All? God is Reality. God is the Source and
Substance of all things and nothing. There is no thing or feeling or
thought that is not God, even the idea that there is no God! For this is what it
is to be All: God must embrace even God's own negation.
Listen again carefully: God is the Source and Substance of everything.
There is nothing outside of God. Thus we read: I am God and there is none else
[am od] (Isaiah 45:5). Read not simply none else, but rather nothing
else-not that there is no other god but God, but that there is nothing else but
Let me illustrate. It rained heavily during the night, and the street is
thick with mud. I walked to the Bet Midrash (House of Learning) this morning and
stopped to watch a group of little children playing with the mud. Oblivious to
the damp, they made dozens of mud figures: houses, animals, towers. From their
talk, it was clear that they imagined an identity for each. They gave the
figures names and told their stories. For a while, the mud figures took on an
independent existence. But they were all just mud. Mud was their source and mud
was their substance. From the perspective of the children, their mud creations
had separate selves. From the mud's point of view, it is clear such independence
was an illusion-the creations were all just mud.
It is the same with us and God: Adonal alone is God in heaven above and on
earth below, there is none else (Deuteronomy 4:39). There is none else, meaning
there is nothing else in heaven or on earth but God.
Can this be? When I look at the world, I do not see God. I see trees of
various kinds, people of all types, houses, fields, lakes, cows, horses,
chickens, and on and on. In this I am like the children at play, seeing
real figures and not simply mud.
Where in all this is God? The question itself is misleading. God is not
in this; God is this.
Think carefully about what I have said. It is the key
to all the secrets of life.
~ ~ ~
Here is the link to Open Secrets, from which the above letter was
unwittingly extracted, on Amazon.com.