This question might be a bit weird, but here's what inspired it.

In an internet forum I frequent, someone posted a wall of text (that is, a long post without any line breaks or paragraphs). I pointed out that posting a wall of text is impolite. He replied, "well, if walls of text are impolite, then the whole Torah is impolite."

This lead me to think - So G-d and the Torah are impolite, what of it? We can think of many instances where G-d's actions or words can be considered impolite. When you rule the entire universe you have the luxury of not being polite.

On the other hand we were made in His image, so if we consider politeness to be a virtue, we should expect G-d to exhibit it as well.

So now I'm curious - should G-d be polite, is he, and do these questions even make sense?

Addendum, particularly with response to @DanF:

I should clarify that the point of the other person in the forum wasn't to show that the Torah is impolite. Quite the opposite - he was trying to say that the Torah is obviously polite, and the Torah is a wall of text (DanF points out this isn't actually the case), so walls of text cannot be impolite.

It was I who used this opportunity to idly wonder whether G-d and the Torah should actually be expected to be polite.

The story about that forum clearly was not directly relevant to the question, but it was my attempt (unsuccessful, apparently) to establish the background for the question and clarify what it is that I mean.

Ultimately it was an open-ended question about an issue I found interesting, which I hoped could expand a bit my understanding about such matters. I recognize that SE isn't the best fit for such questions, but I couldn't think of a better place to ask.

closed as unclear what you're asking by ezra, mevaqesh, Shmuel Brin, Gershon Gold, sabbahillel Dec 18 '17 at 23:05

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    What do you mean by polite? – sabbahillel Dec 18 '17 at 19:08
  • @sabbahillel: I'm not using the word with any specialized meaning. To the extent that the standard meaning is ambiguous, answerers can feel free to choose a meaning to go on. Clearly the question is quite open-ended. – Meni Rosenfeld Dec 18 '17 at 19:15
  • I'm not overly technical. What is a "text wall"? I think that if you edit in a brief description, it would help us see the analogy to the idea that the Torah is a huge "text wall". (I don't even understand what that means, now.) G-d is "gracious" meaning that he does kindness for humans even if they may not deserve it. Would you consider graciousness as part of "politeness"? – DanF Dec 18 '17 at 19:22
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    The responder on your forum is incorrect. If you view a written Torah, it has numerous paragraph breaks. It looks nothing like a text wall. I sense that the forum person has other reasons to think that the Torah is impolite, but, honestly, this person doesn't sound well-informed to make that statement. At any rate, if the only reason is that the Torah is a text wall, then certainly, the Torah is NOT impolite, because he's just plainly wrong. You're welcome to copy / paste this entire comment as a response. – DanF Dec 18 '17 at 20:18
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    I wonder if, to avoid confusion, the entire bit about the forum should be removed, leaving “can Hashem be considered polite?” – DonielF Dec 19 '17 at 12:14

One cannot define God as being either polite or un-polite, both attributes would limit Him and he is by definition unlimited. We only know and understand God through His Torah and the laws (halachot) He wants us to observe.

First of all, God chose to write His Torah in a refined and polished way to teach us. The Gemara (in Pesachim 3a) brings a number of examples of refined language where God chooses to write extra letters or different words to avoid unpolite or unrefined language, e.g.,

  • Bereishit 7:8: "Of the clean animals, of the animals that are not clean, of the birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground" -- the Torah uses "that are not clean" instead of writing "unclean"

  • Devarim 23:11: "If anyone among you has been rendered unclean by a nocturnal emission, he must leave the camp, and he must not reenter the camp." -- the Torah uses "has been rendered unclean" instead of writing "impure"

(see more examples in the continuation of the gemara.)

Second there are many other halachot linked to politeness, e.g.,

  • clean speech (Nivul Peh)
  • praising a bride in front of the groom even if one has to exagerate a bit (Ketubot 17a)
  • or the many halachot and Torah examples of derech Eretz (e.g., see here and there).

G-d is polite. Even at the risk of encouraging polytheists G-d said "Let us create man" (Bereishit 1:26) consulting with the angels, instead of "I shall create man" (Bereishit Rabba 8:7). Even though in the context it made no sense (angels have no free will, G-d is the Creator of everything), He did this to be a good example and teach us proper manners.

  • You could make this answer much more valuable by editing in a clear reference to the episode you're describing. – Isaac Moses Dec 18 '17 at 19:14
  • Was it to teach us politeness and manners? Or to teach us humility, which is related but distinct? – Meni Rosenfeld Dec 18 '17 at 19:16
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    How do you know this is why he said that? Is he always polite or just sometimes? Please edit to clarify. – Double AA Dec 18 '17 at 19:23
  • @NaftaliTzvi You may have the Creation Narrative and the commentaries on it memorized, but not all readers, especially of this quite accessible question, have. If you refer+ link to the relevant verses and to the commentaries that are the bases for your conclusions, you will make this a more compelling answer to the question at hand as well as a more valuable read for anyone who comes across it. – Isaac Moses Dec 18 '17 at 19:24
  • What??? Consulting with others prior to making a major decision is proof of politeness? I'm not seeing that deduction. We call G-d a parent (father, usually.) If a parent asked their child each time they wanted to go somewhere, "Would you like to go?" because they thought it was the polite thing to do, chances are, 80% of the time, they wouldn't go. – DanF Dec 18 '17 at 19:27

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