Does Rambam teach one should not say "God is one" but rather "God is not multiplicity?"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maimonides See segment labeled "Negative Theology."

  • Negative theology focuses on the underlying philosophy; not the semantics. Accordingly, no contradiction.
    – mevaqesh
    May 19, 2016 at 15:06
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    With a vague Wikipedia reference, this places a bit of a challenge to figure out the original source for their making this claim.
    – DanF
    May 19, 2016 at 15:30
  • Some Bible computer programs have a search capability. Do programs like that exist for your writings?
    – user2411
    May 19, 2016 at 15:33
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    @Sarah there are a variety of such resources. One such resource is the Torat Emet freeware database. It includes Tanach, the Babylonian Talmud, Maimonides' code, the Shulhan Aruch (a 16th cent. code), and more. The user interface is in Hebrew though.
    – mevaqesh
    May 19, 2016 at 15:52
  • LOL, I'm working on learning; it will be a while though. Thanks for the info though...
    – user2411
    May 19, 2016 at 15:54

1 Answer 1


most likely means like the shaar yichud states

When we describe Him as One, we mean only the negation of any plurality. But the true Unity, cannot be described by any attribute that would connote in His glorious essence any plurality, change, or variation... But the denial of such properties to Him is undoubtedly true and appropriate to Him. For He is above all attributes and forms, similarity or comparison. Therefore, you must understand from these attributes that they refer to the negation of their opposites.

(Marpe Lenefesh commentary: It is better to negate ascribing to the Creator attributes which are lackings on Him. For example, it is more correct to say that the Creator is not plural, not non-existent, not created, which are opposites, and which are more true than saying and affirming on Him that He is the "true Unity", "permanently existing", "eternal", because we are not capable of understanding what is true Unity,...)

i.e. believe God is one. But keep in mind that you don't know what it truly means so as not to have the wrong conception.

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    If we don't know what "true Unity" is in this case, then how is this more useful than saying God is "true Green" where we also don't know what "true Green" is?
    – Double AA
    May 19, 2016 at 20:13
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    @DoubleAA because at least we can understand what plurality is and thereby get some idea of what God is not. Negative knowledge is more valuable here. We have no idea whatsoever what true unity is, nor what being Eternal entails. but we have some grasp of the opposite
    – ray
    May 19, 2016 at 20:14
  • God chose the words, "is one" to communicate something about himself to man, knowing the limitations of human minds. This is one of the foundational elements of Jewish faith that has never lacked clarity.
    – user2411
    May 20, 2016 at 18:53

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