Yeshiva.org.il - The Torah World Gateway
Sell Your Chametz Online - Through the Yeshiva Website
Beit Midrash Jewish Laws and Thoughts Foundations of Faith

Chapter 14

20. God's Incorporeality

“Never does the Torah write something that the logic dictates as false. While religious faith is above the dictates of human logic, it does not run counter to it. Our faith distances itself greatly from attributing any sort of physicality to God.”
Dedicated to the memory of
Asher Ben Haim
Click to dedicate this lesson
The Rabbi provided the Khazar King with a detailed description of the Giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai and all of the great miracles involved: there was thunder and lightning, and flames which surrounded the mountain. The entire nation, some 600,000 people, heard the word of God in the form of the Ten Commandments. This event removed all doubt from the hearts of the Israelites regarding the veracity of their faith, for they heard the word of God directly from the Almighty Himself. They saw the wonders and heard the sounds, and God spoke to them. They also received the Tablets of the Covenant upon which God Himself had inscribed the Ten Commandments. These tablets were stored in the Ark of the Covenant which resided in the Tabernacle and the Sanctuary for some 900 years, until the destruction of the First Temple.
Foundations of Faith (50)
Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed
13 - 13. Faith Needs No Rational Proof
14 - 20. God's Incorporeality
15 - 19. Divine Providence and Prophetic Revelation
Load More

After hearing all this, the Khazar King responded, "Someone who hears you say that God spoke with your people, and that He wrote tablets for them, will conclude that you believe in a physical God. It would seem that you could not condemn such a person, because you cannot dispute the great physical revelations of God that you just mentioned. It would also, then, be correct for you to reject the philosophers' path of arriving at religion through proofs and intellectual analysis as your historical revelations supersede all else."

The Rabbi said: "Heaven forbid such an ascription to Him! Never does the Torah write something that the logic dictates as false. While religious faith is above the dictates of human logic, it does not run counter to it. Our faith distances itself greatly from attributing any sort of physicality to God. To wit: the first of the Ten Commandments is to believe in God. The second is the prohibition from worshiping other gods in addition to God and making idols and graven images which represent God. How could we not elevate God above the physical, if we even elevate certain creations of God above the physical? Consider a person's soul, which is really the essence of every person. When, for example, Moses would speak, instruct, and lead us, what came out of him did not emanate from his tongue, or his heart, or his brain. Rather, those were just tools that Moses' soul used to speak to us. Moses, then, is the speaking, discerning soul. It is not physical, nor is it confined to a certain place, nor is it perceived through any of the senses. It is abstract.

"We nevertheless cannot deny what happened at Sinai. We must therefore say that, though we heard God speaking to us and we saw the great fire, we do not understand how God's manifestation turned into physical speech that penetrated our ears or how He created the Tablets and engraved the Ten Commandments upon them, just as He created the heavens - with His utterance alone. This is likewise true concerning the sounds and sights which were beheld at Mount Sinai, the miracle of the Splitting of the Red Sea, and all of the other Divine acts which defy the laws of nature.

In summary, God is definitively sublime, above all physicality, impenetrable, and infinite. And because He is infinite, He is omnipotent and can do things which are beyond our understanding. He can cause us to hear His speech and to see his writ, without our understanding how these things come about.

---------
Postscript: In the above article, some of what appears to be the dialog of Rabbi Judah Halevi's The Kuzari has in fact been added by Rabbi Melamed for purposes of clarity and explication.

Much of the translation of the Kuzari in the above article is taken from N. Daniel Korobkin's translation of The Kuzari (Jason Aaronson Inc.).

Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh Yeshiva of the Bet El Yeshiva, was the head of the Yesha rabbis board and rabbi of Bet-El, founder and head of Arutz 7.
More on the topic of Foundations of Faith
Ask a Question

It is not possible to send messages to the Rabbis through replies system.

את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר yeshiva.org.il