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Recently, I've been studying Neoplatonic philosophy in its Jewish context and the history of Jewish Neoplatonic thought.

In such a view, some propose that because G-d, blessed be He, is absolutely simple (meaning without 'parts', basically "oneness" in the Maimonedean sense), then that'd preclude a "universal mind" (universal intellect) that emanates from G-d (and through which G-d acts?) to directly be a part of Him (rather than simply within Him).

I'm asking this question from a Jewish Neoplatonic point of view, so I don't think it counts as comparative religion, however I'm going to link this image which is from an Islamic Neoplatonic perspective just for the illustrative purposes to visually show what I mean by this - if there are any issues, I'll modify the question.

Also keep in mind that this would theoretically preclude G-d having any direct attributes as has been typically understood in Jewish philosophy I think because if G-d say had an attribute, technically it would mean that He is now composite and thus no longer "simple" (and by extension, also not the first principle/unconditioned "reality"/"being" which would contradict His nature as G-d, blessed be He. Therefore, there could perhaps be only what one can call "associative attributes" or maybe even proxy-attributes (though not sure about this - studying this school of philosophy messed up my thought process).


More clarification of the question from the comments:

My question is whether universal mind/universal intellect is separate from Him in the same way that e.g. material world is still within Him, but He is transcedental so there is a level of at least 'perceived' separateness even if not in reality. Is His mind separate so G-d, blessed be He -> Uni. Intellect (which coincides and holds all things like universals & abstractions like mathematical objects etc.) -> Universal Soul (which from there works with directing matter and soul creation/development) or all are together but no longer "simple"?

The biggest concern is that if you take that G-d, blessed be He, and His mind are not 'separate' per se, then you no longer have absolute divine simplicity according to Neoplatinism since He would not be both composite and also have different parts be contingent, and thus, by extension no longer the unconditioned/non-contingent "being"/"reality" for the lack of a better word, and then by extension, no longer Him (G-d, blessed be He, forbid). So it becomes a little confusing to me. Is His mind another creation of His own? Does it even apply here?

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  • Chassidus explains that His attributes are like the rays of the sun, which is not a separate entity from the sun itself, and even when the rays pass through colored windows, thus changing the appearance of the light, yet the rays of light themselves remain in their simplicity
    – שלום
    May 30 at 1:42
  • @שלום Thank you for the clarification, that's basically what I meant when I said "associative attributes". Though one can claim that for an attribute like "wisdom", but would the same apply to a "universal mind"? Nevertheless, I'd prefer a more philosophically/theologically oriented answer (at least backed up with citations from the Torah or other relevant texts or from other sources), especially from a Jewish Neoplatonic point of view, either challenging this view, interpreting it differently, or refuting it. Again, a source would be good by itself. Thanks again!
    – setszu
    May 30 at 1:46
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    @שלום rays of the sun are separate from the sun. i dont get your comment and how it relates.
    – bondonk
    May 30 at 9:02
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    @שלום i dont want to get bogged down in this. But if the sun would cease to exist it would stop producing rays, but all the rays that it had produced up until that point would still exist and propagate indefinitely (they may convert to some other form). Similarly, if a person ceased to exist, all the waste he produced would still exist in the world.
    – bondonk
    May 30 at 13:22
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    When we speak of God's mind or wisdom, we mean it the same way as speaking of His hand or face, etc. These are metaphors not meant to be taken literally.
    – N.T.
    May 30 at 16:16

8 Answers 8

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In the Maimonidean paradigm, there is a spiritual chain of being that begins with God. God contemplates Godself, He is thought thinking itself, mind contemplating itself, God is knower, known and knowing - all of that wrapped up in one. There is no recourse made by God to any of the emanated intelligences.

In H. Yesode ha-Torah 2:8-11 the Rambam writes (Touger translation):

All existence, aside from the Creator - from the first form down to a small mosquito in the depths of the earth - came into being from the influence of His truth. Since He knows Himself and recognizes His greatness, beauty, and truth, He knows everything, and nothing is hidden from Him.

The Holy One, blessed be He, recognizes His truth and knows it as it is. He does not know with a knowledge which is external to Him in the way that we know, for ourselves and our knowledge are not one. Rather, the Creator, may He be blessed, He, His knowledge, and His life are one from all sides and corners, in all manners of unity.

Were He to live as life is [usually conceived], or know with a knowledge that is external from Him, there would be many gods, Him, His life, and His knowledge. The matter is not so. Rather, He is one from all sides and corners, in all manners of unity. Thus, you could say, "He is the Knower, He is the Subject of Knowledge, and He is the Knowledge itself." All is one.

This matter is beyond the ability of our mouths to relate, [or our] ears to hear, nor is there [the capacity] within the heart of man to grasp it in its entirety. [In expression of this concept, Genesis 42:15] states: "chay (By the life) of Pharaoh" and [I Samuel 25:26] states "chay, (By the life) of your soul," but [I Samuel, ibid.] does not say: "chay, (By the life) of God" but chai Adonai, “As God lives.” [This shows] that the Creator and His life are not two, as are the lives of living beings or the lives of the angels.

Thus, He does not recognize and know the creations in terms of the creations as we know them, but rather He knows them in terms of Himself. Thus, since He knows Himself, He knows everything, for the existence of everything else is dependent on Him.

Despite the tremendous limitations language imposes on us, I will attempt to expand a bit: Being overflowed from God as a result of this self contemplation of God, which the medievals deem "emanation." The "First Intelligence" which first emerges in this process, is the first mind outside of God. It contemplates both itself and God - and is where duality can first be identified.

God, as the Rambam affirms, does not know with a knowledge which is external to Himself. With the main point being that this does not infringe on his Oneness. This is a concept that is difficult, perhaps impossible to relate here, and one which the Rambam deems as subject to the rules of transmission for Ma'aseh Merkabha (see H. Yesode ha-Torah 2:11-12). Hopefully the above citation in tangent with touching upon it in a cursory way here has been helpful.

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God's knowledge is not something distinct from his essence. This is explained in depth in Guide for the Perplexed 1:68. Knowledge (in general, not only that of God) is conception of something's form. A form is what can be intellectually conceived of something. So when the intellect has knowledge of a form, it is that form. Since God is absolutely simple, the object of his conception can only be himself. Hence God is the knower, the known and the knowledge itself.

On a deeper level, however, we have to realize that when we say God is knowledge, we can't take it to mean that it is the same kind of knowledge we have. As explained at length in 3:20: "His knowledge is not of the same kind as ours, but totally different from it and admitting of no analogy."

Our understanding of God's knowledge, like our understanding of every other of God's attributes, has to be understood in terms of what it isn't (1:60).

I believe that with some effort, this is also demonstrable from 2:1, fourth argument (paragraph beginning "The following is likewise a correct method to prove the Incorporeality and the Unity of God").

So indeed, to use the Neoplatonic terms, mind has to be understood as emanated from the one, not identical with it. This is also the meaning of the Zohar's statement אַנְתְּ חַכִּים וְלַאו בְּחָכְמָה יְדִיעָא quoted by Yaakov Deane. God is wise, from our perspective, but wisdom is not his essence. What we mean by calling God wise is that "by the influence of the intellect which emanates from God we become wise, by it we are guided and enabled to comprehend the Active Intellect" (2:13).

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For comparison with your image, the closest concept I am aware of in Jewish theology is the concept of mimale, sovev and Atzmus. There seem to be similarities, and differences, however I don't think the Torah fully supports this model. Here is how we understand the concept of Hashem and His mind, and all other angles of this sort*.

The key pasukim in the Torah for answering this question are:

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל ה' אֱלֹקֵינוּ ה' אֶחָד

Hear Israel, Hashem is our God, Hashem is One (Devarim 6:4)

and

אַתָּה הׇרְאֵתָ לָדַעַת כִּי ה' הוּא הָאֱלֹקִים אֵין עוֹד מִלְּבַדּוֹ׃

It has been made known to you that Hashem is God, there is nothing besides Him (Devarim 4:35)

God does not have anything separate from Himself at all, nothing exists separately from Him.

The Ramchal, in Derech Hashem 1:1:5:

פשיטותו: וכן צריך שידע שמציאותו ית' מציאות פשוט בלי הרכבה וריבוי כלל וכל השלימיות כלם נמצאים בו בדרך פשוט...אך האדון ית״ש איננו בעל כחות שונים אעפ״י שבאמת יש בו ענינים שבנו הם שונים כי הרי הוא רוצה והוא חכם והוא יכול והוא שלם בכל שלימות אמנם אמתת מציאותו הוא ענין א׳‎ שכולל באמתתו וגדרו (פי׳‎ אמתת ענינו כי אין שייך גדר בו ית׳‎ אלא על צד היתר לשון) כל מה שהוא שלימות

His simplicity: And likewise he must know that His existence, may He be blessed, is a simple (undifferentiated) existence without composition or multiplicity at all. And all of the perfections are found within Him in a simple way...

...the Master, may His name be blessed, does not have different capabilities, even though He actually has properties that are differing within us. For surely He is wilful and is wise and is powerful and He is perfect in every perfection; however the truth of His existence is one matter that includes within His truth and domain (meaning the truth of His being, as having a domain is not applicable to Him, may He be blessed - rather it is only by way of literary license) everything that is a perfection

God is therefore ultimately simple. The word "wise" is appropriate for Him, but not because He has a part of Himself called "wisdom", but this particular perfection is "contained within Him in a simple way" in the "truth of His existence", which really doesn't have a domain.

Tanya Shaar HaYichud VeHa'Emuna, in chapter 9, explains:

אַךְ "הַנִּגְלוֹת לָנוּ", לְהַאֲמִין אֱמוּנָה שְׁלֵימָה דְּ"אִיהוּ וְגַרְמוֹהִי חַד",דְּהַיְינוּ, מִדּוֹתָיו שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא וּרְצוֹנוֹ וְחָכְמָתוֹ וּבִינָתוֹ וְדַעְתּוֹ עִם מַהוּתוֹ וְעַצְמוּתוֹ, הַמְרוֹמָם לְבַדּוֹ רוֹמְמוּת אֵין קֵץ מִבְּחִינַת חָכְמָה וְשֵׂכֶל וְהַשָּׂגָה.וְלָכֵן, גַּם יִחוּדוֹ שֶׁמִּתְיַיחֵד עִם מִדּוֹתָיו שֶׁהֶאֱצִיל מֵאִתּוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, גַּם כֵּן אֵינוֹ בִּבְחִינַת הַשָּׂגָה לְהַשִּׂיג אֵיךְ מִתְיַיחֵד בָּהֶן. וְלָכֵן נִקְרְאוּ מִדּוֹתָיו שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא – שֶׁהֵן הַסְּפִירוֹת – בַּזֹּהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ: "רָזָא דִמְהֵימְנוּתָא", שֶׁהִיא הָאֱמוּנָה שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מִן הַשֵּׂכֶל

but it is incumbent upon us to believe with complete faith matters that are revealed to us—that He and His attributes, [viz., the vessels and sefirot, including His mind], are One. I.e., the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His will, and His wisdom and understanding and knowledge, [are One] with His Essence and Being, Who alone is exalted by infinite elevations above the level of wisdom and intellect and comprehension. Hence, [since He totally transcends intellect and comprehension,] His union with the attributes which He emanated from Himself is also beyond the realm of comprehension; [i.e., it is impossible] to understand how He unites with them; [rather, this may be apprehended only through faith.] In the holy Zohar, therefore, the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, which are the sefirot, are called “the secret of faith,” which is the faith that transcends intellect.

The Rambam states in Moreh Nevuchim 1:46:

ואמנם פעולותיו – בעצמו לא בכלי. והכוחות באין ספק מכלל הכלים; אם כן אינו בעל כח – כלומר: שיהיה בו ענין זולת עצמו בו יעשה או ידע או ירצה

His actions are accomplished by His Essence, not by any organ, and as undoubtedly physical forces are connected with the organs, He does not posses any such forces, that is to say, He has, besides His Essence, nothing that could be the cause of His action, His knowledge, or His will.

Wisdom is something we accomplish with a faculty of wisdom, but Hashem is only His Essential Self, and it is His Essence that "accomplishes wisdom" so to speak.

The Zohar (Bo 15) puts it like this:

בָתַר עָבֵד מָאנָא זְעֵירָא, וְדָא י', וְאִתְמַלְיָא מִנֵּיהּ, וְקָרָא לֵיהּ מַעְיָן נוֹבֵעַ חָכְמָה, וְקָרָא גַּרְמֵיהּ בָּהּ חָכָם

Then He shaped a vessel diminutive as the letter Yod and filled it from Him, and called it Wisdom-gushing Fountain, and called Himself wise on its account

He doesn't need wisdom to be wise. Remember, He brought forth wisdom from nothing, or more accurately, from Himself.

  • So does God have a mind separate from Himself? No.
  • Is God wise, knowing, intelligent, conscious? We can't say no.
  • Can we understand those things? Yes and no.

As HaLeivi put very well in this answer, we cannot exclude these perfections from Hashem's Essence, but at the same time, as the sources I've quoted say, they are one with Him in a way we can only be admiring of.

Rambam says it explicitly in Yesodei Torah 2:10:

הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַכִּיר אֲמִתּוֹ וְיוֹדֵעַ אוֹתָהּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁהִיא. וְאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ בְּדֵעָה שֶׁהִיא חוּץ מִמֶּנּוּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָנוּ יוֹדְעִין.

Hashem is aware of His own reality and knows it as it is. He does not know with a mind that is distinct from Himself, as we know...

וְדָבָר זֶה אֵין כֹּחַ בַּפֶּה לְאָמְרוֹ וְלֹא בָּאֹזֶן לְשָׁמְעוֹ וְלֹא בְּלֵב הָאָדָם לְהַכִּירוֹ עַל בֻּרְיוֹ

This concept is beyond the capacity of the mouth to articulate, the ear to hear, or the human mind to fully comprehend.

We can't understand how thoroughly one Hashem is, because it is infinitely so, and it is not something our brains can wrap around even so. However, the words in the second pasuk quoted; אַתָּה הׇרְאֵתָ לָדַעַת, is explained by the Rebbe Rashab to mean that He somehow has made Himself knowable. We can climb a ladder of emulating Hashem and getting to know Him, with Torah study and mitzvot observance, and we will become more Godly ourselves and learn bit by bit what it means to be essential, and one, to whatever limited degree Hashem as decreed us to access.

The same Rebbe wrote a ma'amar explaining the remaining words in that pasuk; כִּי ה' הוּא הָאֱלֹקִים, that really, Hashem has accomplished including His Essence completely in the mashal that He has made. We may not access the Nimshal in this life, but we should be assured that the mashal is authentically Him, and through it we can get to know Him completely; this type of mashal does not "lose information", the whole Nimshal makes it in!


* - It should be stressed here that we are talking about Hashem, blessed be He, and this topic must be treated with great respect and care. We are talking about Him, not a theological concept, and, l'havdil, in the same way a person wouldn't want to overhear someone discussing things very close and personal to them, it can be disrespectful and hurtful to do so to Hashem, if done impersonally and without awe and sensitivity. This is why I will now skip directly to the words of Torah on this matter.

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I think in a way you are correct that this "mind" cannot be a "part" of Hashem because Hashem is not made of parts. As far as "indirect" attributes go, I think it wise to give examples, because many avoid any attributes except for double negatives etc... Does "indirect" mean "actions"?

I recall someone quoting מורה נבוכים to the effect (א, לה) that Hashem has no comparison to anything physical and his knowledge is not like ours. My understanding: So on one hand there is no comparison whatsoever; however, it does imply that Hashem is able to act in a way that we perceive as having had done something with infinite wisdom.

Presumably something perhaps "close" to what you want is the idea that Hashem does act through the sefira called "chochma" (wisdom), perhaps See Tanya 18.

I think you need to flesh out your question or perhaps define terms if you want more help.

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  • Thank you for your reply. I'll think about this a bit more. Like I wrote in my last sentence, this kinda messed up my thought process a bit, so once I get that sorted out, I'll give more proper definitions from Jewish Neoplatonic philosophy and elaborate further on what I mean, though I'd hope that people have some familiarity with it already. The way I was saying "mind", I was more or less referring to the universal intellect here though. Thanks again!
    – setszu
    May 30 at 4:07
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    @setszu Good idea. It's a good question, but keep in mind that even people who know the same topic might have different definitions and argue when in reality they agree. I have seen this before, that is why at least some definitions are useful, especially when it comes to extremely abstract discussions (ie: discussing things beyond intellect). Just a suggestion. GL either way
    – msj121
    May 30 at 4:27
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B"H

Upon careful scrutiny of the many responses offered, there appear to be two prominent perspectives within the discourse regarding the unity of Hashem and His consciousness: those of the Rambam and the Kabbalists.

In his seminal work, the Mishneh Torah, the Rambam proposes a unified theory suggesting that the Divine Being, His consciousness, and the observed phenomena are all fundamentally interconnected. This theory seeks to challenge the anthropocentric view of the mind-body duality. If we were to conceive of Hashem as possessing separate entities analogous to human constructs, we'd inadvertently imply a multiplicity of deities, contradicting the foundational monotheistic principle. Hence, just as there is one Ultimate Reality, His consciousness must also be understood as unified with Him.

The Kabbalists, on the other hand, argue that even this unity hypothesis implicitly recognizes a division or distinction. They propose that the concept of a 'Mind' or 'Consciousness,' even at its highest complexity, is inadequate to encapsulate the true nature of Hashem. Hashem, in their view, transcends this human-conceived idea of 'Mind' infinitely.

The Sefer HaTanya includes a footnote, a kind of quantum superposition of these perspectives. This commentary posits that both perspectives can coexist relative to different 'levels of reality'. Within the domain of Atzilus, where ten distinct Sefiros or dimensions exist, the 'wisdom' conduit can be identified as Hashem's direct manifestation, suggesting a unity between Hashem and His 'Mind'. However, beyond the boundaries of Atzilus, especially concerning the essence of the energy and beyond, the concept of a unified 'Mind' becomes an overly simplistic model. At these scales, it could even limit the absolute freedom of Hashem by constraining Him to a human concept of a 'Mind'.

Therefore, the Rambam's ideas are typically relevant to Atzilus, paralleling the function of Atzilus as a kind of conceptual blueprint or quantum superstate containing all possibilities, but expressed in a simplified, concise form. This mirrors the Rambam's endeavor to distill the complexities of the Talmud into simplified, digestible laws, presenting an inclusive yet succinct understanding of the divine structure.

The correlation between the first letters of the Hebrew words in the introduction to the Rambam's work and the four-letter name of Hashem, which directly links to Atzilus, supports this notion.

Referring to the Tanya's footnote, it elucidates the Rambam's assertion that Hashem embodies 'Knowledge', the 'Knower', and the 'Known'. This triad, in the context of human understanding, represents three distinct elements: the soul (knower), the intellect (knowledge), and the subject of understanding (known). However, within the realm of divine wisdom, these are unified within Hashem.

Numerous philosophers question the idea of attributing any form of description to Hashem, including the intellectual dimensions defined by the Rambam, due to the inherent infiniteness of Hashem. The Kabbalists concur with the Rambam, but maintain that such descriptions do not extend to the essence of Hashem, which remains truly infinite.

Only after Hashem channels His infinite essence through a process of progressive contractions or tzimtzum, taking on the attribute of wisdom (Chochmah), can we use the description of Hashem as 'Knowledge', 'Knower', and 'Known'.

As per the Kabbalah of Arizal, Maimonides' concept remains intact, but it applies only to the Infinite Light (Ohr Ein Sof) as it clothes itself in the vessels of Understanding (Binah), Wisdom (Chochmah), and Knowledge (Da'at), within the context of Atzilus. Above Atzilus, Hashem remains fundamentally undefinable.

Interestingly, from the perspective of Ein Sof, the various dimensions or levels of consciousness like Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge are seen as equally insignificant as material action. This sheds light on a fascinating question regarding the origin and hierarchy of souls since they all stem from the same divine wisdom.

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I would like to say something too.


Is G-d's 'mind' separate from Him?


No and Yes, Physically all energy(Meta / Subatomic) is it, as it says in bereshit, it had to create in the beginning (Elokim) the angles to create angles or others, from what? from itself.

Here's where we get to the yes part, it added boundaries, these boundaries is wisdom, knowledge or lack there of. In comes the teachings of Halachot (LAWS) and Zohar, Kabbla with the names.

So technically No, for sanity Yes. Why, because it does not need a thing of us, our prayers, our actions, thoughts, none of that. So why must we be burdened with having all the rules in compliance with it? Simple, Divinity = Divide = Separated, so here you can see that irrelevant of why the world was created in the first place, to have order it needs to have order that is brought through dividing of realms, levels, (meta)Physics and the list goes on.

Hope this helps, if it feels unfinished please let me know.

Peace.

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Your question is answered directly by Eliyahu HaNavi in something recited every erev Shabbat called Patach Eliyahu which is taken from Tikkunei Zohar 17a-b.

פָּתַח אֵלִיָּהוּ וְאָמַר, רִבּוֹן עָלְמִין דְּאַנְתְּ הוּא חָד וְלָא בְחֻשְׁבָּן, אַנְתְּ הוּא עִלָּאָה עַל כָּל עִלָּאִין, סְתִימָא עַל כָּל סְתִימִין, לֵית מַחֲשָׁבָה תְּפִיסָא בָךְ כְּלָל, אַנְתְּ הוּא דְאַפִּיקַת עֲשַׂר תִּקּוּנִין, וְקָרִינָן לוֹן עֲשַׂר סְפִירָן, לְאַנְהָגָא בְהוֹן עָלְמִין סְתִימִין דְּלָא אִתְגַּלְיָין, וְעָלְמִין דְּאִתְגַּלְיָין, וּבְהוֹן אִתְכְּסִיאַת מִבְּנֵי נָשָׁא, וְאַנְתְּ הוּא דְקָשִׁיר לוֹן, וּמְיַחֵד לוֹן, וּבְגִין דְּאַנְתְּ מִלְּגָאו, כָּל מָאן דְּאַפְרֵישׁ חַד מִן חַבְרֵיהּ מֵאִלֵּין עֲשַׂר, אִתְחַשֵּׁיב לֵיהּ כְּאִלּוּ אַפְרֵישׁ בָּךְ. וְאִלֵּין עֲשַׂר סְפִירָן אִינּוּן אָזְלִין כְּסִדְרָן, חַד אֲרִיךְ, וְחַד קְצִר, וְחַד בֵּינוּנִי, וְאַנְתְּ הוּא דְאַנְהִיג לוֹן, וְלֵית מָאן דְּאַנְהִיג לָךְ, לָא לְעִילָא וְלָא לְתַתָּא וְלָא מִכָּל סִטְרָא, לְבוּשִׁין תְּקִינַת לוֹן, דְּמִנַּיְיהוּ פָּרְחִין נִשְׁמָתִין לִבְנֵי נָשָׁא, וְכַמָּה גוּפִין תְּקִינַת לוֹן, דְּאִתְקְרִיאוּ גוּפָא לְגַבֵּי לְבוּשִׁין דִּמְכַסְיָין עֲלֵיהוֹן, וְאִתְקְרִיאוּ בְּתִקּוּנָא דָא, חֶסֶד דְּרוֹעָא יְמִינָא, גְּבוּרָה דְרוֹעָא שְׂמָאלָא, תִּפְאֶרֶת גּוּפָא, נֶצַח וְהוֹד תְּרֵין שׁוֹקִין, וִיסוֹד סִיּוּמָא דְגוּפָא אוֹת בְּרִית קֹדֶשׁ, מַלְכוּת פֶּה תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה קָרִינָן לֵיהּ. חָכְמָה מוֹחָא אִיהוּ מַחֲשָׁבָה מִלְּגָו, בִּינָה לִבָּא וּבָהּ הַלֵּב מֵבִין, וְעַל אִלֵּין תְּרֵין כְּתִיב (דברים כט כח) הַנִּסְתָּרוֹת לַיהו''ה אלהינ''ו, כֶּתֶר עִִלְיוֹן אִיהוּ כֶּתֶר מַלְכוּת, וַעֲלֵיהּ אִתְּמַר (ישעיה מו י) מַגִּיד מֵרֵאשִׁית אַחֲרִית, וְאִיהוּ קַרְקַפְתָּא דִתְּפִלֵּי, מִלְּגָו אִיהוּ יו''ד ה''א וא''ו ה''א, דְּאִיהוּ אֹרַח אֲצִילוּת, אִיהוּ שַׁקְיוּ דְאִילָנָא בִּדְרוֹעוֹי וְעַנְפּוֹי, כְּמַיָּא דְאַשְׁקֵי לְאִילָנָא, וְאִתְרַבֵּי בְּהַהוּא שַׁקְיוּ. רִבּוֹן הָעוֹלָמִים, אַנְתְּ הוּא עִלַּת הָעִלּוֹת, סִבַּת הַסִּבּוֹת, דְּאַשְׁקֵי לְאִילָנָא בְּהַהוּא נְבִיעוּ, וְהַהוּא נְבִיעוּ אִיהוּ כְּנִשְׁמָתָא לְגוּפָא, דְאִיהוּ חַיִּים לְגוּפָא, וּבָךְ לֵית דִּמְיוֹן וְלֵית דִּיוֹקְנָא מִכָּל מַה דִּלְּגָו וּלְבָר, וּבְרָאתָ שְׁמַיָּא וְאַרְעָא, וְאַפִּיקַת מִנְּהוֹן שִׁמְשָׁא וְסִיהֲרָא וְכֹכְבַיָּא וּמַזָּלֵי, וּבְאַרְעָא אִלָנִין וְדִשְׁאִין וְגִנְּתָא דְעִדֶן וְעִשְׂבִּין וְחֵיוָון וְעוֹפִין וְנוּנִין וּבְנֵי נָשָׁא, לְאִשְׁתְּמוֹדְעָא בְהוֹן עִלָּאִין, וְאֵיךְ יִתְנַהֲגוּן בְּהוֹן עִלָּאִין וְתַתָּאִין, וְאֵיךְ אִשְׁתְּמוֹדְעָאן מֵעִלָּאֵי וְתַתָּאֵי, וְלֵית דְּיָדַע בָּךְ כְּלָל. וּבַר מִינָּךְ לֵית יְחִידָא בְּעִלָּאֵי וְתַתָּאֵי, וְאַנְתְּ אִשְׁתְּמוֹדָע אָדוֹן עַל כֹּלָּא, וְכָל סְפִירָן כָּל חַד אִית לֵיהּ שֵׁם יְדִיעַ, וּבְהוֹן אִתְקְרִיאוּ מַלְאָכַיָּא, וְאַנְתְּ לֵית לָךְ שֵׁם יְדִיעַ, דְּאַנְתְּ הוּא מְמַלֵּא כָל שְׁמָהָן, וְאַנְתְּ הוּא שְׁלִימוּ דְּכֻלְּהוּ, וְכַד אַנְתְּ תִּסְתַּלֵּק מִנְּהוֹן, אִשְׁתָּאֲרוּ כֻּלְּהוּ שְׁמָהָן כְּגוּפָא בְּלָא נִשְׁמָתָא. אַנְתְּ חַכִּים וְלַאו בְּחָכְמָה יְדִיעָא, אַנְתְּ הוּא מֵבִין וְלָא מִבִּינָה יְדִיעָא, לֵית לָךְ אֲתַר יְדִיעָא אֶלָּא לְאִשְׁתְּמוֹדְעָא תּוּקְפָךְ וְחֵילָךְ לִבְנֵי נָשָׁא, וּלְאַחֲזָאָה לוֹן אֵיךְ אִתְנַהֵיג עָלְמָא בְּדִינָא וּבְרַחֲמֵי, דְאִינוּן צֶדֶק וּמִשְׁפָּט, כְּפוּם עוֹבְדֵיהוֹן דִּבְנֵי נָשָׁא, דִּין אִיהוּ גְבוּרָה, מִשְׁפָּט עַמּוּדָא דְאֶמְצָעִיתָא, צֶדֶק מַלְכוּתָא קַדִּישָׁא, מֹאזְנֵי צֶדֶק תְּרֵין סַמְכֵי קְשׁוֹט, הִין צֶדֶק אוֹת בְּרִית, כֹּלָּא לְאַחֲזָאָה אֵיךְ אִתְנַהֵיג עָלְמָא, אֲבָל לַאו דְּאִית לָךְ צֶדֶק יְדִיעָא דְאִיהוּ דִין, וְלַאו מִשְׁפָּט יְדִיעָא דְאִיהוּ רַחֲמֵי, וְלַאו מִכָּל אִלֵּין מִדּוֹת כְּלָל.

The prophet Elijah opened, and said: Master of the worlds! You are He, one but not in the sense of quantification. You are He, transcendent beyond all that is above

(Meaning G-d is above, G-d transcends the Sephirot even though He encompasses them because He is one. עלאה, that ע״ל stands for עשר לבושים, while א״ה indicates from כתר, חכמה, בינה through מלכות. This follows the teachings from Sefer HaTemunah of Rabbi Nehunia ben Kanah and Kehillat Yaacov by Rabbi Yaacov Tzvi Yolles. That each of the ten Sephirot are also comprised of all the Sephirot, כתר שבכתר, כתר שבחכמה כו׳, ten Sephirot times ten for a total of one hundred meaning ע״ל. The order of the Sephirot repeat infinitely throughout all worlds and universes. This is the concept of fractalization.)

and concealed beyond all that is concealed. No thought whatsoever can grasp You. You are He who broke forth (issued proclamations as King for) ten amendments - we call them the ten sefirot with which to regulate hidden worlds, etc.

Indeed, it is through these that You are hidden from human beings. You are He who binds them and unifies them., etc.

This introduces the concept of the Sephirot ספירות, which we are taught from Avraham Avinu in Sefer Yetzirah, chapter 1 comes from the Hebrew root ספר.

This root carries three meanings, Sefer, like in the word מספר (number) which means quantification as in ciphering. Quantification introduces the principles of greater (אריך), lesser (קציר) and intermediate (בינוני). It also introduces linear time, meaning past (היה, לאחר), present (הוה) and future (יהיה, לעתיד), noting that the future corresponds to greater and past to lesser. Present is intermediate. These arise from the second of the Ten Commandments in parshat Yitro (Shemot 20:4-5). All this evolves from the subject of נקודה, קו ושטח (point, line and area).

Sofer, like a Scribe or Copyist, which relates to the concepts of form and shape (of letters) and introduces orientation and spatial relationships. It also introduces the concept of fractalization in the sense of producing reliable, similar copies (עתיקא קדישא).

And thirdly, Sippur, like in telling stories and speaking. Speech introduces the qualities of otherness and relatability. Speech reveals what is concealed within the self (the letters of thought and feelings) to others. Speech divides simple sound into letters, words and stories via the five parts of the mouth and makes it possible to connect with others. The letters of thought are copied and transferred to become letters of speech, דבור.

All of these qualities are intrinsically bound to finite, separate existence while at the same time introducing the principle of aloneness, something associated with being one.

Master of the worlds, You are the Supreme Cause of all causes and the Origin of all effects!, etc.

Through them (the Sephirot) , You make known that which is Above, how all that is above and below is regulated, and how the higher worlds may be known from the lower. But knowledge of You is completely impossible., etc.

The term Knowledge, Knowing and Known all come from the Hebrew root (ידע) which means sexual intercourse, like husband and wife becoming one flesh (אדם ידע חוה). It is applied here to all finite existence. All finite things can relate and connect to each other through their common quality of being finite. בעל גבול

The emphasis being that G-d at the absolute primordial and essential aspect of His being transcends all aspects of Creation, material, physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual because they are on some level, finite. G-d is infinite. בלי גבול This can only be expressed and stated by saying that G-d is one.

There is no place, meaning no possibility, to be devoid of G-d. לית אתר פנוי מינה. There is no other. אין עוד מלבדו. Or like is expressed positively in Isaiah 6:3.

קדוש קדוש קדוש יהוה צבאות מלא כל הארץ כבודו

That Kadosh also has a connotation of being separate and apart, like transcendence. And the repetition of this three times is an expression of fixing something and making it permanent and absolute, the principle of chazakah. That G-d’s absolute transcendence fills the whole world.

All the Sephirot have known names, and through them we declare Your Kingship. And You have no known name. etc.

Declaring G-d's Kingship means that we recognize, acknowledge and accept upon ourselves that there is order to the universe. It is not random, but follows the decrees of its King. Those decrees of the King are the universal laws of all existence. This means the physical, material reality of the observable universe and its laws (the laws of physics, etc.) must be in agreement with the laws of the Torah. That the seal of G-d's name and the seal of the Torah are truth אמת.

This introduces two concepts discussed extensively in Chassidut the meaning of which are extremely important. They are עצמות and מהות. They are loosely translated as Essence or Essential (עצמות) and Being (מהות).

Linguistically, עצמות (Essence) relates to the bones of the skeleton, like the Vilna Gaon explains. It is referring to the underlying order of existence and the universe, meaning the universal laws mentioned above.

מהות (Being) is referring to how G-d actually is. G-d’s state of being, so to speak. But in truth, this description doesn’t really apply to G-d because G-d transcends all constructs of finite existence, including even the construct of being. He has no known name.

It is in this context that G-d told Moshe Rabbeinu, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see My face and live.” (Shemot 33:20)

You are Wise, but not with a known wisdom. You are Understanding, but not with a known understanding. You transcend the domain of knowing., etc.

This final statement is a consequence of G-d being one. That G-d is wisdom and understanding, meaning intellect. But not in the sense that we , as finite, separate and individual beings, can relate to or comprehend. This is because G-d transcends the domain of relatability, a quality intrinsically associated with finite existence. And this is what is expressed by the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 55:8)

כִּ֣י לֹ֤א מַחְשְׁבוֹתַי֙ מַחְשְׁב֣וֹתֵיכֶ֔ם וְלֹ֥א דַרְכֵיכֶ֖ם דְּרָכָ֑י נְאֻ֖ם יְהֹוָֽה

Because My thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not My ways, says G-d.

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  • Thank you for this, I really appreciate it. Unfortunately, it still doesn't answer my question from a Neoplatonic point of view - like yes, everything is within Him, but is the "mind"/universal intellect a creation of His or is it an intrinsic property? The former is confusing, the latter contradicts His absolute simplicity + contradicts His non-contingency.
    – setszu
    May 30 at 21:41
-2

Maimonides felt that a perfect God cannot change its mind. For Maimonides, God has no emotions, and God has no mind and no conscious will at all.

Any decision is a change. You are deciding to do something that you didn't do before. If God has conscious will and can decide things, then God can change.

Thus, God does not have conscious will (or a mind), and God does not decide things just as the sun does not decide to shine light.

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  • Then Maimonedes is wrong, but for sure this is not what Maimonedes believed. Also your reasoning fails on several important points.
    – setszu
    Nov 11 at 3:43
  • @setszu Why do you think Maimonides did not believe this and why do you think this is faulty logic?
    – Turk Hill
    Nov 11 at 17:19
  • G-d does not have "emotions", but we use analogous attribution in order to describe modes of relation which to us seem to mimic emotions. Its just a way of understanding. Also, a decision does not implicate change. If G-d eternally knows everything that is and could ever be, then He already via His essence automatically knows every decision as well. As such, He never changes because He always made every decision and knows how to act. G-d also has conscious will, see Aquinas and Tabatabai on this, but His will is not like our will, though He necessarily has both a mind and will.
    – setszu
    Nov 11 at 17:25
  • As for why I think Rambam did not believe this, its because he rallied against the ideas of emanationists (e.g. the Neoplatonic rule of one), which denied G-d a mind, and conscious will. In fact, Rambam said that G-d has knowledge, namely of Himself, which provides Him with knowledge of everything else. If you read some philosophy from say Sadra, you will see that G-d's will is just the most perfect selection of His knowledge which is enacted, and since He is pure act (see Aquinas), He always does so perfectly. Hence, He has both conscious will as He knows Himself and perfection.
    – setszu
    Nov 11 at 17:32
  • So G-d, blessed be He, by eternally thinking Himself, necessarily has a conscious mind and a conscious will. However, I do agree with Rambam that He has no emotions in any way that we would think of them, and the "emotions" that we see in the Tanakh use analogous attribution in order for us to have a closer connection. They're something of an analogy/homology/metaphor/etc.
    – setszu
    Nov 11 at 17:33

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