Chaim Clorfene and Yakov Rogalsky

Written by Chaim Clorfene and Yakov Rogalsky Posted in eBook - The Path of the Righteous Gentile

The First Existence, God of the Universe, God's Oneness and negation of attributing physicality to Him

1. It is the foundation of foundations of all doctrines and philosophical inquiry to know that there is a First Existence (without a beginning) and that He created all existence (brought everything forth from absolute nothingness into being). And everything that is found in the heavens or on the earth exists only because of the truth of His existence.[1]

2. And if all the creatures in creation should cease to exist, He alone would still exist and in no way would He be nullified because of their nullification. For every creation needs Him, but He, Blessed Be He, does not need any of them or all of them, and His truth is not like the truth of any one of them.[2]

Their existence is not imperative, but depends on His existence. Therefore, their existence is relative. But the First Existence is uncaused. His existence is absolute.

3. Of Him the prophet says, "The Lord God is truth" (Jer. 10:10). He alone is truth and there is no other truth like unto His truth.[3] And of Him the Torah says, "There is nothing else besides Him" (Deut. 4:35).

4. This Existence is the God of the universe and Master of the earth. He directs the planet with a power that has neither limit nor end, with a power that is uninterrupted, so that the planet always revolves. And it is impossible for something to revolve without there being a force causing it to revolve. And He, Blessed Be He, causes it to revolve without a hand and without a body.[4]

5. And if it should ever occur to you that there is another deity besides Him, it is a rejection of the very Source on which everything depends.[5]

6. This God is one. He is not two or more than two, and there is no single existence that is unique and singular like His existence. He is not in a category that includes others of His species. And He is not divided into portions or sections as is a body, but His is a oneness and a uniqueness that has no equal in the universe.[6]

7. If there were many gods, they would perforce have bodies, because there is no way to differentiate one being from another except by bodily or material differences. And if the Creator had a body or any material form, He would have both a limit and an end, and His power would have a limit and an end, because it is not possible for there to be a body that has no termination point and everything pertaining to a body also has a termination point. But because of our God, Blessed Be His Name, Whose power is endless and uninterrupted, the planet revolves per­petually, for His power is not a bodily power, and because He has no body, there are no accidents or occurrences of the body that happen to Him which might divide or separate Him from another being. Therefore it is impossible for Him to be anything but One.[7]

8. If a person should think that there might be two deities, equally uncreated, what would distinguish one from the other except for their occupying different places at the same time or the same place at different times? And if you want to say that they occupy different places at the same time or the same place at different times, they are surely not limitless. Otherwise, the concept of two infinities arises, which is by definition im­possible. Infinity is one and all inclusive and supremely indivisible into aspects, extremities, or forms.

9. It is explained in the Torah and the Prophets that the Holy One, Blessed Be He, has no body, for it says, "Because the Lord He is God in Heaven above and on the earth below" (Deut. 4:39), and a body cannot be in two places, and it says, "Because they saw no form" (Deut. 15), and it says, "And who is compared or equal to Me?" (Isa. 40:25), and if He had a body, He would be comparable to other bodies.[8]

10. If so, why does it say in the Torah, "And under His feet" (Exod. 24:10), and "Written by the finger of God," (Exod. 31:18), "Hand of the Lord" (Exod. 9:3), "Eyes of the Lord" (Gen. 38:7), "Ears of the Lord" (Num. 11:1) and many examples like this? All of this is because the intellect of man is unable to fathom anything other than materiality, and the Torah is given in the language of man. So all of these examples are descriptive phrases, such as, "If I whet the glitter of My sword," (Deut. 32:41). Does He have a sword? It is all only a parable. The truth is that He has no semblance or form, but all of it is the vision of the prophet, as it is written, "Can you find God by searching for Him, or can you delve into the depths of the Almighty?" (Job 11:7).[9]

11. And what was it that Moses sought when he asked God, "Please, show me Your glory" (Exod. 33:18)? Moses wished to know the truth of the existence of the Holy One, Blessed Be He, to the point where he knew it in his heart, just as one knows a person whose form is engraved in his heart, and whom he recognizes as distinct from other men. Thus did Moses yearn to know the Holy One, Blessed Be He, to the point where He would be distinct in Moses' heart like other existences, thereby knowing the truth of God's existence as it really is. And God answered him that man, while his soul is attached to a body, lacks this power of intellect and so he cannot know this truth clearly.[10]

12. Since, as it has been explained, God has no body, He is not subject to the accidents of the body. He has neither attachment nor separation, neither place nor measurement, neither ascent nor descent, neither right nor left, neither front nor back, neither standing nor sitting, and just as He has no ending, neither has He a beginning, and He has neither life nor death as a body has, neither intellect nor wisdom like a wise man, and He neither sleeps nor wakes, and he has neither anger nor laughter, neither joy nor sadness, neither silence nor speech like the speech of man.[11]

13. And such passages in the Torah as "He sits in the heavens and laughs" (Ps. 2:4) are merely parables and similitudes, for as the sages of Israel say, the Torah was given in the language of man, and as God says, "I am the Lord, I do not change" (Mal. 3:6). If He were at times angry and at times joyous, this would surely constitute change, for all these qualities and attributes are found only in a lowly body, a physical vessel whose foundation is dust, but He, may He be blessed, is exalted far, far above any of this.[12]

The obligation to love and fear God.

1. One should strive to love and fear God, Who is honored and exalted, as it says, "You should love the Lord your God" (Deut. 6:5), and "You should fear the Lord your God" (Deut. 6:13).

2. What is the way to love Him and fear Him? When a man ponders deeply about His wondrous deeds and His manifold great creations, he will realize that God's wisdom has no equal or end, and he will immediately love and praise and glorify and desire with a great desire to know His Great Name. And when he thinks about these things, he will immediately be awestruck with fear, and he will realize that he is only a small creature, low and inconsequential, standing with extremely limited knowledge before the One Who possesses knowledge that is perfect and complete.[13]

God's creation of the universe through His speaking; the continued existence of the universe through God's life force

1. "Know this day and take it unto your heart that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on the earth below, there is no other" (Deut. 4:39).

2. In the beginning, when God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters" (Gen. 1:6), the words and letters of His blessed speech, being eternal as He is eternal, stand eternally in the firmament of the heavens as the activating life force in creation. Were God to retract His words or cause the letters of His speech to depart even for an instant, the heavens would immediately return to absolute nothingness just as they were prior to their having been created by God's saying, "Let there be a firmament."[14]

3. Thus it is with each of the Ten Utterances by which God created the world. Were the letters of God's speech to return to their Source, the entirety of creation would instantly cease to exist and would become the absolute nothingness that it was before the beginning of the six days of creation.[15]

4. One who contemplates the foregoing can begin to under­stand how God was one and unique and alone before He created the world, and remains equally one and unique and alone even after He created the world, and that the creation of the world in no way added anything to His completeness and perfection.[16]

5. This seems to be a paradox. How can it be that the creation of the world added nothing or effected no change in God? The seeming paradox is resolved by realizing that compared with God, Whose speech is the sole life force in creation, the world is absolutely and literally nothing and nonexistent. This is because in His Presence everything is considered nonexistent, literally null and void, and there is no place devoid of His Presence,[17] as it is written, "Do I not fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord" (Jer. 23:24).

6. When a flesh‑and‑blood person speaks, the words and the breath of his mouth are felt and seen to leave the speaker and to be things unto themselves, but God's speech is never separated from Him, because there is no place devoid of Him and nothing outside of Him, for He is eternal and infinite.[18]

7. Even the idea of speech as applied to God is to be taken not literally but metaphorically. Just as the speech of a person reveals what was hidden in the person's thoughts, thus it is above with the Lord of Hosts, Blessed Be He, Who brought forth all of created existence from a state of hiddenness to revelation by saying the Ten Utterances as recorded in the Book of Genesis. It is this which is called speech in reference to God.[19]

8. These Ten Utterances by which the world was created are called the speech of God because through them His will went from a concealed state to a revealed state. But this so‑called speech is unified with Him in absolute unity. The difference is only from the perspective of created beings, which receive their life force from God's speech, as it descends from His exalted being and creates material existence, descending level after level until it reaches this coarse physical world. Here, created beings are able to receive the Godly flow of life without losing their identities through being absorbed and nullified in their true Source, God.[20]

9. This Godly influx is concealed to avoid a revelation of God that is greater than the world can endure. Therefore, it appears to the creatures that the light and life force of the Omnipresent which is clothed in each creation, and is the true existence of each creation, is a thing apart from His Blessed Self and merely issues from Him, just as the speech of a human being issues from the person. Yet there is absolutely no concealment from the perspective of the Holy One, Blessed Be He. Nothing is obscured from Him whatsoever. To Him darkness and light are exactly the same, as it is written, "Even the darkness conceals nothing from You, but the night shines as the day" (Ps. 139:12).

10. Nor does the descent of level after level stop His blessed speech from remaining in a state of absolute unity with Him, but it is metaphorically "like the snail whose garment is part of him."[21]

11. The error that mundane philosophers make which leads them to believe that God created the world and then abandoned it to its own devices is that they assume that the creative process of God is the same as that of man. In truth, it is far different, as it is written, "For My thoughts are not like your thoughts," and, "Thus My ways are higher than your ways" (Isa. 55:8‑9). Man is merely capable of creating something from something. The human craftsman takes an ingot of silver and fashions a vessel from it. When the craftsman removes his hand from his creation, the vessel remains. This is because the craftsman merely changes the form of a created substance. However, when God created the heavens and the earth, He made them from absolute nothingness, and were He to remove His creative force, they would be as they were before He brought them forth into the state of revealed creation, that is, nonexistent.[22]

12. From the foregoing words of truth, it should be apparent how the entirety of creation is, in truth, considered null and nonexistent with respect to God's activating force and the breath of His mouth. This does not mean that the creation is an illusion. It does mean that God's Divine Force is its true existence and that creation has no independent existence of its own. For it must be remembered that the example of God's removing His original Ten Utterances was hypothetical. God has no such intention. The universe is real. It is, however, nullified to its Creator. How do we know the universe is real? Inasmuch as our limited senses and intellect are part of the created universe, the proof they offer is inconclusive. We are part of the very thing that may not exist! There is but one proof that the universe really exists. It says so in the Torah, as it is written "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1).

13. The reason that every created being and thing appears to possess an independent self‑existence is that we do not grasp or see with our physical eyes the power of God and the breath of His mouth that is within creation. If permission were granted the eye to see the life force and the spirituality that flow from God to every created thing, then we would no longer see the physicality of material existence. For, since the physical world is truly nullified to its Source, if we could see the Godly source, how could we see the physical world?[23]

14. By analogy, a ray of sunlight may be seen from the earth, but from the perspective of the sun, the ray's source, all that is seen is the light that fills the sky. From the sun's perspective, the ray has no existence whatsoever.[24]

15. However, the analogy of the ray of sunlight is incomplete, because its source, the sun, exists only in one place in the heavens. The sun does not exist both in the heavens and on earth where its light appears to have a separate existence. This is in contrast to created beings, which are always within their Source, although the Source is not revealed to their eyes.[25]

16. It is not sufficient to say that God created the world during the six days of creation, for His creative activity is continuous, an infinite flow of life force. This is why it is written in the present tense, "He creates darkness and forms light,"[26] rather than in the past tense, that He created darkness and formed light. And this applies to man as well. The man who feels his own self‑importance and does not recognize that the Creator is constantly bringing him forth from absolute nothingness into existence is called one whom God created in the past tense. This is in contrast to a person who acknowledges the truth of his existence, that it comes from God alone, constantly. This person is called one whom God creates.[27]

[1] Mishneh Torah, Laws of the Foundation of Torah, chapter 1, law I

[2] Ibid., chapter 1, law 3

[3] Ibid., chapter 1, law 4

[4] Ibid., chapter 1, law 5

[5] Ibid., chapter 1, law 6

[6] Ibid., chapter 1, law 7

[7] Ibid., chapter 1, law 7

[8] Ibid., chapter 1, law 8

[9] Ibid., chapter 1, law 9

[10] Ibid., chapter 1, law 10

[11] Ibid., chapter 1, law 11

[12] Ibid., chapter I, law 12

[13] Ibid., chapter 2, law 2

[14] Tanya, Gate of Unity and Faith, chapter I, page 76b

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid., chapter 7, pages 82b‑83a

[17] Ibid., chapter 3, page 78a

[18] Tanya, Likutei Amarim, chapter 21, page 26b

[19] Ibid., chapter 21, page 26b

[20] Ibid., chapter 21, page 27a

[21] Genesis Rabba, chapter 21

[22] Tanya, Gate of Unity and Faith, chapter 2, pages 72a and 72b

[23] Ibid., chapter 3, page 78a

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid., chapter 3, page 78b

[26] Siddur, morning service

[27] Kedushat Levi, Bereshit, page 1

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