Tuesday, April 23, 2013

// // 5 comments

All

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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There are two readers yelling at me from opposite sides of an argument!

Regarding a recent article where I wrote, “Since G-d is Infinite, He is all,” one writer is very upset because the “all” is multiple and limited to creation, while G-d is neither. So obviously, G-d cannot be all. The other reader insists, since the Infinite is all (which includes the finite), the finite has to be the Infinite!

     I tried to explain how neither of their arguments is sound, but in the end I was unable to convince either of them, and in fact, one of them is still furious with me, while the other one just ignores me.

     To the one who insists that G-d cannot be all, I tried to explain that being the All does not limit G-d to being merely the All. I wrote to him that G-d is not only the All, but G-d is also beyond the All. He insists, saying “G-d is all” is pantheism (pan=all -- theism=god). I told him to investigate panentheism as opposed to pantheism. Panenthesim explains that G-d is all, and G-d is beyond all, too. Although panenthesim can include the false concept of many gods, still it explains the concept of “something” being beyond the creation yet still including the creation.

     He strongly refused my argument saying that G-d was separate from the creation. I called him a separatist. He became extremely insulted, insisting on an apology for calling him that horrible name. I explained that as long as he is separating G-d from creation he is a separatist. He is still very angry with me.

     To the other writer who insists, “The Infinite is the all, therefore the Infinite is the finite, so the finite has to be the Infinite,” I tried to explain using the analogy of an ocean.

     The ocean is all of the water in the ocean, including every single drop of water there. So the ocean can say, “I am the ocean, and I am the drops in the ocean.” And in fact, when you touch a drop of water in the ocean you are touching the ocean. But a drop cannot say, “I am the ocean.” Even though the ocean is every one of the drops, no one drop is any other drop. It is only that single drop itself. As soon as a “particular” (an item/a drop) within the Infinite identifies itself as an individual, it cannot claim to be the Infinite. That reader (at least on this subject) still ignores me.

     What is the practical difference between these ideas?  First, know that there are many different opinions about this subject. If it were merely a philosophic difference it would not matter. But in Torah, different opinions often mean different attitudes, and different depths of daily awareness.

     There are many (if not most) religious Jews today who insist that G-d is not in the world! They claim that He “contracted” Himself when He created the world, leaving a place devoid of Himself, in order to have an empty place to put the creation. They pray to G-d Who is somewhere else! While those who hold that G-d is all, pray to Someone Who fills and surrounds them. It is like either speaking to your wife on the phone, or whispering to her in her ear.

     As to the one who insists that the drop is also the ocean, this is how the Hindus teach. When the gurus realize that G-d is all, they claim that they have become a “god-realized being.” They then say, “I am god,” and their devotees bow down to them, and bring them presents.

     The Torah teaches, there is G-d, and “…there is no other.”[i] This shows that G-d is Infinite, and by definition, the Infinite has to include all. The Torah also teaches, there is G-d and “There is no other beside Him.”[ii] Why does the Torah add the second teaching? To show that even those things that appear to be “beside Him” (limited things) are not other than Him. But they are other from each other, so they are not the All.


[i] Deuteronomy 4:39 

[ii] Deuteronomy 4:35

5 comments:

Cate said...

Completely brilliant :-)

Anonymous said...

" There are many (if not most) religious Jews today who insist that G-d is not in the world! They claim that He “contracted” Himself when He created the world, leaving a place devoid of Himself, in order to have an empty place to put the creation. "

I get this, and it all makes sense with the very recent big bang theory, but I don't understand those religious Jews you're writing about or maybe both of you!
I don't see how "TsimTsum" would contradict the fact that G. is still down here everywhere and in everything (and the more so).

If you're telling us that the TzimTzum and G. presence on earth are antagonistic then how do you explain the creation of the universe ?

Jewish Meditation said...

Anonymous. I agree with you.
I think the facts here have been misrepresented, at best.
Though the mystery of 'Tsimtsum' has been with us for thousands of years, very, very few [i can count them on my thumbs] took this at its literal sense, to mean G-d forbid that G-d withdrew. In fact, the earliest recorded mention [to my extremely defective and limited knowledge], the Sefer Habohir [first para.] writes specifically [though termed in allusion!] that G-d still permeates all, over and above 'Tsimtsum'.
Today, again to my knowledge, nobody takes the literal view, as apparently quoted by Reb Gutman Lock [my apologies for arguing with my teacher]. What is true though, is that there are valid opinions that argue that we should realise that there is a hierachy, that though G-d fills the world [and more], He is always 'above' us, in the spiritual sense. I see that as no contradiction to 'His Glory fills the Earth'.
I hope this helps you.

Anonymous said...

Yea, it does. Thank you very much.

Shalom Shabbat!

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