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The Zohar said that God, Israel, and Torah are one.

I thought Judaism is strictly monotheistic. When Jesus said, "I and the father is one", he was being a heretic. So how come the Zohar includes even more things as God and is not considered to be committing idolatry?

I thought Torah is just one of God's creations (or even man's creation). And Jews are surely not divine.

So what's the meaning? Are we all part of God? In what cases can we call something "one" with God and not be committing idolatry and in what ways we do it and thereby commit idolatry?

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I think that part of your difficulty comes from the summary R. Riskin presents. Something written in the Zohar must be explored and not taken as a singular and simple statement with a clear meaning. Look at the last paragraph of the article and you will see a different presentation of the idea. –  Danno Jul 4 '13 at 15:00
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@Mori Misplaced modifyer! –  Double AA Jul 4 '13 at 17:43
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This statement does not appear anywhere in the Zohar (or Ra'aya Mehemna, Tikkunei Zohar, etc.). –  paquda Jul 8 '13 at 4:26
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Kabbalah in general tries to split God up. Here's a quote from the Rivash, "Kabbalah was 'worse than Christianity', as it made God into 10, not just 3." –  user2981 Jul 8 '13 at 16:22
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That's a pretty inaccurate quotation. –  Double AA Jul 8 '13 at 16:29

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Please learn chapters 4 and 23 of Likutei Amarim Tanya for deeper understanding. However on the simple level it means that they are connected very strongly with each other -through a Jew learning Torah and doing Mitzvos (which are the Rotzon/will of Hashem Yisborach, which is how Torah is very connected to Him) the Jew becomes connected to Hashem. When a person does something against the Torah he Severs (to a degree) his 'connection'.

It does NOT mean we Daven/pray to the Torah or we Daven to another Jew.

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The issue is shittuf not davening –  Double AA Jul 8 '13 at 4:43
    
Would you say it is similar to a loving married couple saying they are one person? Meaning it's totally metaphorical yet expresses a deep bond? –  Seth J Jul 8 '13 at 4:44
    
@Double AA It is not Shituf at all. Shituf means considering something as in par with G-d no one is saying that the Torah or Jews are in par with G-d. –  Meir Zirkind Jul 8 '13 at 4:57
    
@Seth J 100% you hit the nail on its head! –  Meir Zirkind Jul 8 '13 at 4:57
    
I didn't say it was or wasn't only that you didn't address the main issue explicitly in your post –  Double AA Jul 8 '13 at 5:04

Rambam writes (Hil. Yesodei ha-Torah 2:10):

He is the Knower, He is the Subject of Knowledge, and He is the Knowledge itself." All is one.

Now, you could ask the same question on him: since G-d is one, then how can we describe Him by these different terms? Indeed, for this reason Maharal (Gevuros Hashem, 2nd introduction) says that we can't even speak of G-d's knowledge, because He is beyond that or any other description.

R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi points out repeatedly in Tanya (part 1 chs. 2 and 48, part 2 ch. 9, et al) that in fact both perspectives are correct. Hashem Himself is, as Maharal says, completely indescribable; but once G-dliness is "compressed" into the world of Atzilus and the lower worlds, then it is possible to speak of G-d's "knowledge" and of that being one with Him, since it is one of the modes in which He expresses Himself to us created beings.

Torah is G-d's "will and wisdom," and it remains so even in the form in which we study it, in which it largely deals with physical objects (Tanya, part 1, chs. 4-5). The Jewish soul, too, comes from Hashem's attribute of wisdom - anthropomorphically, as a child is engendered from its father's brain (ibid., ch. 2). Thus, both Torah and the Jew are a part of G-d's wisdom - which, as per Rambam's statement, is one with G-d Himself.

(Based on a letter by R. Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, originally published in Kitzurim ve-He'aros)

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What is "the Jewish soul"? –  Double AA Jul 9 '13 at 4:12
    
Are you saying that the Torah, the "Jewish soul", and the sefira of chochma are the same thing? –  Double AA Jul 9 '13 at 5:01
    
and non jewish soul is not part of God's wisdom? So a jewish atheist/rapists/etc. is one with God but a lowly goyim like me is not? (just kidding, but you got the point?) –  Jim Thio Jul 9 '13 at 5:52
    
@DoubleAA: "the Jewish soul" means just that - the nefesh ha-Elokis ("G-dly soul"), which is unique to Jews. At the level that we're familiar with (the world of Asiyah), each of these three appears to be something else; but the point of "they are all one" is that at a higher level - specifically, in Atzilus, the highest of the four spiritual realms - they are one and the same. (And higher than that - before tzimtzum - none of those entities can even be said to exist; to use RSZ's metaphor, they are like "the rays of the sun while they are still in the sun-globe.") –  Alex Jul 9 '13 at 14:40
    
@JimThio: no need to kid. Jews and non-Jews alike have a nefesh ha-bahamis ("animal soul"), which naturally gravitates towards personal satisfaction. (It can be trained to look beyond the self, but of course that takes a lot of work.) Obviously, in the case of a Jewish criminal, his or her nefesh ha-bahamis is still in that "animalistic" state. But they also have a nefesh ha-Elokis (which I mentioned in my previous comment), which naturally trends to G-d and seeks closeness to Him... –  Alex Jul 9 '13 at 14:40

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