Sunday, April 18, 2010

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The One and Only

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

There is a lot of confusion regarding the concept of "infinite." For instance, most people believe that numbers are infinite. But numbers are endless in only two directions. They increase and decrease "forever," without end, but their endlessness only goes up and down. If "infinite" really means "endless," or "boundless," then numbers do not fit this definition.

The common symbol for "infinite" has the same problem. It goes on and on, even forever, but only on its one track.

The definition of infinite that we want is truly boundless. For something to be truly boundless, it must be endless in all directions, not just up and down or just on a single track. If something is really endless in all directions, then it is the true infinite. To qualify as boundless, It has to be all. There can be only one such infinite. If there were two of them, neither one would be really boundless.

This subject came up the other day with a professor of mathematics. When I tried to explain why numbers are not really infinite, it rubbed his scientific principles the wrong way.

"Well, if you want to say that, then no single aspect of G-d is infinite, either," he countered. He meant, when you address G-d as the Creator, you are addressing only one aspect of G-d. Therefore, this aspect is not infinite. So, according to him, "G-d the Creator" is not infinite.

Do you understand his argument? We say that G-d has many aspects. For instance, He is the Creator, the Father, the King, the Judge, and on and on. The professor was suggesting that since none of these aspects include all of His other aspects, none of these are truly infinite.

Here is his mistake. When we address an aspect of G-d, we are not affecting a distinction in G-d. G-d is unchanged whether we call Him Father or Creator. The only change is in the way that we are considering Him. G-d is still entirely Infinite, no matter what aspect we address. The limitation that we are addressing is only in our mind, i.e. from our point of view.

If I call you a person, an American, or a male, you have not divided yourself into 3 entities. You are still the one you are. I am merely addressing your different characteristics. When I identify different aspects or characteristics of you the changes happen in my mind, not in you.

There are tremendous benefits that come from truly understanding this concept and taking it to heart. For instance, when you really know that G-d is boundless, you can whisper as softly as you like, and you have no doubt that He hears you.

What a comfort it brings to know that you can never separate yourself from G-d. When the Sages suggest that our sins separate us from G-d, they mean that sins put a barrier between us and our awareness of G-d. It is impossible to separate from the Infinite. Where could you possibly go and be away from It?

2 comments:

yaakov said...

yasher koach reb gutman. the last paragraph is very important...many people don't realize what it really means...
"What a comfort it brings to know that you can never separate yourself from G-d. "
the idea of this sentence and that paragraph merit an article. particularly the 'comfort' that one cannot separate oneself from Hashem.

Jesterhead45 said...

My question on the boundlessness or infiniteness of G-d is this.

Apparently, it is often said that one cannot change the past since the world is recreated everyday and that there is no alternate universes that parallel this one as they do not exist (from what I remember of an Aish lecture in Jerusalem).

Yet, I do not see how the above ideas if true proves the infiniteness of G-d. For sure man cannot change the past as it is beyond his current ability to do so, why then does G-d have to be bound by such restrictions as well, especially on the subject of free-will (which some opinions state also does not truly exist).

Wouldn’t it make much more sense if alternate universes did exist (which stretch into infinity) and that the past was also malleable as that would make the idea of an infinite G-d much more believable, one who knows all possible outcomes.

Also, on the subject of reward / Olam Haba, wouldn’t it make much more sense (as Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan mentioned on each person receiving a world) to allow a person to relive a rewriten self-edited life on an alternate Asiyah as a reward (allowing them a more happier ending and existance) or whatever else their heart desires (Tehillim 37:4), then to merely exist spiritually in the presence of G-d while wearing crowns on our heads?

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