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Beit Midrash Jewish Laws and Thoughts Foundations of Faith

Chapter 1

1. Belief in God: From Design

It is not enough to be satisfied with recognizing the Creator through His creation. This great and wondrous creation which we are so impressed by, from the point of view of God and in light of His infinite ability, amounts to very little.
Dedicated to the memory of
R. Meir b"r Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld
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There are two possible ways of arriving at faith in the existence of God. The first is a rational intellectual approach, which calls for recognizing the Creator "through His creation." It claims that the universe and all of its wonders serve as proof of the existence of a Creator. This approach served as a starting point for our own great ancestor, Abraham. The Sages teach that Abraham was three years old when he came to recognize his Maker. He asked himself: "Who created the world?" and then began to contemplate. "Perhaps," he reasoned, "the sun is the Creator." When night fell, though, and the sun went down, he realized that he had been mistaken. "Perhaps," the young Abraham continued to reason, "the moon is the true Creator." Eventually he reached the conclusion that there is a Creator who formed the sun, the moon, and the entire universe.
Foundations of Faith (50)
Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed
1 - 1. Belief in God: From Design
2 - 2. Belief in God: Eyewitness Account
3 - 3. Good Intentions, Good Deeds
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This rational approach of recognizing the Creator through his creation is the one followed by Rabbi Bachya ibn Paquda in his classic work, "Duties of the Heart." He asks, "Is it possible that ink spill out onto a piece of paper and coincidentally form letters, words, sentences, and an entire composition? Is such a thing conceivable? No. If we find a piece of paper on which contains a composition, we are certain that somebody wrote it. Similarly, when we see a table, it is not reasonable to assume that a few boards coincidentally fell onto one another, stuck together, and formed a table. When one sees a table, it is clear and undeniable that somebody made it. Furthermore, according to the quality of the table, one is able to determine the proficiency of the carpenter.

If, then, simple works like these cannot be said to have coincidentally created themselves, how much more inconceivable is it to imagine the entire world, with all of its intricate design, coincidentally creating itself. Rather, the world itself serves as evidence of a Creator: "The heavens declare the glory God, the skies proclaim His handiwork" (Psalms 19:2). The skies, by their mere existence, evidence their Creator. And because our universe is the most incredible of all creations, we may conclude that its architect is also the wisest of all Creators.

Yet, arriving at the Creator by way of His creation alone is not an ideal path. Though the creation is very impressive and evidences the greatness of God, faith founded upon intelligent design alone remains somewhat limited. God's eminence cannot be measured merely according to that part of creation which man's senses reveal to him. God's greatness stretches far beyond what we able to grasp.

The Sages teach that God created our present world with one letter of the alphabet - the Hebrew letter "Heh;" the World to Come, with the letter "Yod." The intention of this metaphor is to teach us with what extreme ease God created our world. With the smallest amount effort one could imagine. The letter "Heh" is the easiest of all letters to pronounce; it is, in fact, practically silent. This great and wondrous creation which we are so impressed by, from the point of view of God and in light of His infinite ability, amounts to very little. If a person bases his faith in God on the evidence of the creation alone, his faith in God remains quite limited. Though one stands in awe of God's extraordinary creation and looks upon the heavens, as if in keeping with the verse: "Lift up your eyes to the stars, and see, Who has created these?" (Isaiah 40, 26), still, this ephemeral world of ours is nothing when viewed in light of the true ability of God.

It is not enough, then, to be satisfied with recognizing the Creator through His creation. Faith must be founded upon something even loftier that this. This, then, will serve as the focus of our next discussion.

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