As I understand it, The Rav feels lonely, as a man of faith he feels definitionally lonely because he can't relate to people and people can't relate to him. Why doesn't he find solace with G-d though? He himself says, referring to G-d, "the teacher is inseparable from his pupils, and the shepherd never leaves his flock". Shouldn't the infinite G-d be able to relate to him, and him being an Adam 2, a man of faith, relate to G-d?


R. Reuven Ziegler in his introduction to the 2011 edition of The Lonely Man of Faith distinguishes between being 'lonely' and being 'alone'. A key quote (excerpted here):

[W]e must distinguish between being alone and being lonely. Aloneness means lacking love and friendship; this is an entirely destructive feeling. Loneliness, on the other hand, is an awareness of one’s uniqueness, and to be unique often means to be misunderstood. A lonely person, while surrounded by friends, feels that his unique and incommunicable experiences separate him from them. This fills him with a gnawing sense of the seemingly insurmountable gap that prevents true communion between individuals. While painful, this experience can also be “stimulating” and “cathartic,” since it “presses everything in me into the service of God,” the Lonely One, who truly understands the lonely individual.

Thus, he feels lonely in the sense of a feeling of uniqueness and separation from other people. A relationship with G-d is not going to change those feelings.

  • Are you saying that he feels lonely since there is no human doing what G-d is doing for him, so he feels lonely on this earth? – sruly Dec 10 '18 at 9:32
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    @Sruly Yes, more or less. He feels incapable of being understood by any person on this earth in the way that G-d understands him (but not that he is lacking human love or friendship). It is this feeling of separation from the rest of humanity that the Rav calls loneliness. – Joel K Dec 10 '18 at 9:40
  • I hear what you're saying, but it seems to me like he believes that G-d can redeem him from this loneliness, he writes in the book "Therefore, the man of faith, in order to redeem himself from his loneliness and misery must meet God at a personal covenantal level, where he can be near him and feel free in his presence". It seems from this quote that the issue could theoretically be solved with G-d? Is it possible to say that The Rav wasn't able to form this connection and that is his true issue? – sruly Dec 10 '18 at 9:45
  • @Sruly How do you know that the Rav wasn't able to actually achieve this level of connection with G-d? – Joel K Dec 10 '18 at 9:46
  • He says in the quote that I wrote above that the issue can be solved by establishing this personal connection with G-d, yet he says that he could never solve the issue for himself. – sruly Dec 10 '18 at 9:49

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