Does anyone know of a quote by Maimonides (Rambam) that expresses how God is way beyond us and how we are so distant from God?

  • Doesn't the first and second and third principle of fate explicitly imply just that? – Ilja May 20 '20 at 19:41
  • @Ilja Not explicitly. But yes, inherently, they do. – Turk Hill May 20 '20 at 20:26
  • What makes you think such a quote might exist? – Tamir Evan May 21 '20 at 6:52

וְאִם יַעֲלֶה עַל הַדַּעַת שֶׁאֵין כָּל הַנִּמְצָאִים מִלְּבַדּוֹ מְצוּיִים הוּא לְבַדּוֹ יִהְיֶה מָצוּי. וְלֹא יִבָּטֵל הוּא לְבִטּוּלָם. שֶׁכָּל הַנִּמְצָאִים צְרִיכִין לוֹ וְהוּא בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לָהֶם וְלֹא לְאֶחָד מֵהֶם. לְפִיכָךְ אֵין אֲמִתָּתוֹ כַּאֲמִתַּת אֶחָד מֵהֶם:

Conversely, supposing all other beings, save He alone, non-existent, His Being alone remains; for, He does not cease to be because of their non-existence, as all beings are dependent upon Him, but He, blessed is He! is not dependent upon them nor upon a single one of them; therefore, the truth of His Being is incomparable to the truth of any other individual being. (the third law in Mishnah Torah)

  • This deals with G-d's unity more than G-d being beyond language. – Turk Hill May 20 '20 at 20:24

This Rambam quote comes to mind.

Silence is praise to Thee (Ps. 65:2), which interpreted signifies: silence with regard to You is praise. This is a most perfectly put phrase regarding this matter. For whatever we say intending to magnify and exalt on the one hand we find that it can have some application to Him, may He be exalted, on the other we perceive in it some deficiency.10 Accordingly silence and limiting oneself to the apprehensions of the intellects are more appropriate—just as the perfect ones have enjoined when they said, Commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still (Ps. 4:5). (Guide, 1:59)

Another is found in Guide, 1, 50-59. I understand Maimonides to be saying that we cannot call G-d existence since G-d is beyond language. All we can refer to G-d is with silence. Maimonides even writes that when we pray to G-d we must think of nothing, contemplate nothingness.

Also, Rashi says that G-d does not occupy space and Maimonides teaches this also. Yet, G-d is very near, in a sense, for G-d is everywhere. But this is not pantheism, for both Spinoza and the Rambam believed in panentheism, G-d's presence, the Shekhinah, is felt [by humans] everywhere. Thus, it is unrealistic to say that G-d's presence is only felt in churches or Shul. On the other hand, Maimonides' conception of G-d is a deistic, Aristotelian conception of an impersonal G-d ("First Existent" or "unmoved mover").


The following quote from Guide for the Perplexed 1:58, especially the part that I have bolded, seems like it would fit what the question describes:

What, then, can be the result of our efforts, when we try to obtain a knowledge of a Being that is free from substance, that is most simple, whose existence is absolute, and not due to any cause, to whose perfect essence nothing can be superadded, and whose perfection consists, as we have shown, in the absence of all defects. All we understand is the fact that He exists, that He is a Being to whom none of His creatures is similar, who has nothing in common with them, who does not include plurality, who is never too feeble to produce other beings, and whose relation to the universe is that of a steersman to a boat; and even this is not a real relation, a real simile, but serves only to convey to us the idea that God rules the universe; that is, that He gives it duration, and preserves its necessary arrangement. This subject will be treated more fully. Praised be He! In the contemplation of His essence, our comprehension and knowledge prove insufficient; in the examination of His works, how they necessarily result from His will, our knowledge proves to be ignorance, and in the endeavour to extol Him in words, all our efforts in speech are mere weakness and failure!

(Friedlander translation)

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