Monday, July 03, 2006

What Is Hashem

Since nothing makes Hashem, Hashem, He cannot have a real definition in the strict sense of the word. A definition explains what makes the thing being defined, that thing. Like if I give you the definition of a table, I will tell you it has legs and a base and it is designed to have things placed on it. So the definition of table is a list of the things that makes it a "table."

If I ask you the definition of yourself I mean to ask what makes you you.

And if you ask me what is the definition of Hashem you are asking what makes Hashem, Hashem.
But since G-d has no things that make Him, Him, therefore, He cannot have a definition.

The most important thing we can know about Hashem is that He is causeless.
This means that, whereas everything in the world has a cause, a reason for why it is the way it is, Hashem has no such cause. Nothing made Hashem the way He is, there are no reasons for why Hashem is the way He is, there is nothing out there that caused Hashem, or makes Hashem, Hashem.

If I ask what makes you you, you will give me a list of things. If I ask what makes me, me -- same thing. But when we ask what makes Hashem Hashem, there is no answer.

All the components, reasons, and things that you think make up "Hashem" are really not so at all. You may think you can say that what makes Hashem Hashem is His "infinite power", "infinite wisdom", etc., but that is not correct.

This is the second thing we know about Hashem, and it is really not a second thing but an offshoot of the first (His having no cause), and that is His simplicity.

This means that indeed, there are no "components" that makes Hashem Hashem, because when we say that Hashem has infinite strength, wisdom and goodness, to mention just three, we do not mean that literally, any more than we mean "G-d let the Jews out of Egypt with an outstretched hand" literally.

Just as G-d has no hand, so too He has no strength, no wisdom and no goodness. He has no components. If He would have components, those components would be the cause of Him, and He has no cause.

G-d has no strength because He doesn’t NEED strength; no wisdom because He has no need for wisdom; no goodness because He has no need for it.

Strength is only necessary when there is something for you to pit your strength against. If someone can lift 400 pounds it means he can overcome 400 pounds of resistance.

If nothing resists Hashem, then what’s the point of strength?

Wisdom is a way to figure out things; knowledge is the thing that you use to overcome ignorance.
G-d doesn’t need any of these things. Indeed, He CANNOT have them; they make no sense in the context of Hashem.

G-d is not ignorant even though He has none of what we call "knowledge" - He doesn’t need it. He is not weak even though He has none of what we call "strength".

Which brings us to the third thing we know about G-d - which is really the next logical step of the first two - and that is, Hashem Echad! G-d is One. This does not only mean that Hashem is not two, but also that He is not two halves, that Hashem has no components. He is Whole - indivisible. Non-composite. Not made up of any ingredients or elements - not strength, not wisdom, not knowledge, not goodness, not even form or substance.

Hashem is something that cannot be divided into parts. Something uncomposed of other things. Something with no cause, and therefore no definition.

That’s what it means: Hashem Echad.

We know things with our knowledge; we do things with our strength; we memorize things with our memory, etc. G-d "knows" things and "does" things and "memorizes" things with the SAME mechanism: Him.

Not His this or His that. He has no this or that. If He did, they would be components, and then having those components would be His cause, which is false, since He cannot have a cause.
G-d "has" nothing - no parts, no abilities, nothing. He doesn’t "have"; He only "is." The mechanism by which G-d knows, and does, and gives, and makes, is Him. His essence. Not His talents or His strengths.

G-d and His knowledge and His strength therefore are One and the same.
Hashem Echad.

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Hashem cannot become a man. Because if He does, then He's not Hashem anymore. To explain, let's say someone is asked: "Can Hashem blow His nose?"

"No!", he will answer. "Hashem has no nose"

Then he is told that just like Hashem cannot scratch his nose, (even though Hashem can do "everything") because only people can scratch their noses and Hashem is not a person, so too He cannot become a "man" because then he would not be Hashem.

Becoming a man would reduce Hashem's capabilities, make Him weaker, and it is not a strength to be able to make yourself weak, nor an "ability" to be able to make yourself disabled. On the contrary - an inability to disable yourself makes you more "able".

So Hashem not being able to disable Himself is not a disability. On the contrary, it means He is immune to disability.

Even more precisely, consider asking someone the following question:

"Can Hashem make a "mlxplk"?"

"A what"?

"A mlxplk. Can Hashem make it?"

"There's no such thing," he will say. "You made that up."

"True, there is no such thing. So can Hashem make it?" you ask.

"Of course not!" he'll say. "There's no such thing how can Hashem make it?"

"Aha! So you admit there's something Hashem can't do!"

"No, you're crazy! There's no such thing. It's not a 'thing' that Hashem can't do, there's nothing for Him to do! The whole thing makes no sense", he will say.

So it's the same thing when you ask can Hashem make Himself a man. 'G-d as a man' is just words, but it makes no sense as a concept. It's an oxymoron. Its like 'danger without peril', Can G-d do that? Of course not! There's nothing to do! So too, to say 'Hashem being a man', equally makes no sense. There's nothing to do. The words sounds like words, but it makes no sense."

The same applies, by the way, to "can Hashem make a rock too heavy for Him to lift". It's an oxymoron. It's like saying "can G-d make a mlxplk?"

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