(A)elul Aesthetics

"I'll ask one thing of God, one thing I'll request:
to dwell in God's house all my life;
to have a vision of God's pleasantness, to visit His palace."

A bit of Psalm 26, which we read during the month of Elul.

One could take the above verse to mean that we would like to be vouchsafed a vision of God through the merit of the commandments. The mitzvot would then be a ticket to the Palace, like an armband to a rock concert.

I think the point can be taken differently. God is pleasant. That is, God is beautiful, and during this time of year we would like to merit an appreciation of this beauty -- without unthinking anthropomorphisms or idolatrous projections, leaden fundamentalism or empty-headed laxities. The contemplation of the Divine should be a source of joy, not of confinement.

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