5

Over and over again we read about the prohibition of idolatry in the Tenach. In the first place G-d commands us not to make any physical image of Him, or anything that represents Him. On the other hand one isn't allowed to create an image on his own and give it form and then call it to be something godlike (divine)

Looking at these prohibitions (see for example Exodus 20:1-4, Deuteronomy 4:15-19, Deuteronomy 5:6-9 etc.) I noticed the emphasis on making such images physical. But what about the images in our thoughts/mind?

We all have an image about G-d (of whom He is and what He does or can do, i.e. His attributes or characteristics), but I don't assume one is allowed to have an image of G-d. Is there any verse in the Tenach which explicitly shows images of G-d in our heads (thoughts) are prohibited?

P.s. Another question I have regards this topic is that the presence of HaShem is often pictured in the Tenach as a cloud or to dwell in a cloud (1 Kings 8:10-11, Exodus 19, 40:34-38 and other verses). I'm quite a visual thinker, so is it wrong to picture these kind of images in my head. Is it wrong in this case to imagine G-d to dwell in a cloud.

To sum things up: When does thinking about G-d or picturing G-d in the mind becomes idolatry?

  • 1
    " Is it wrong in this case to imagine G-d to dwell in a cloud." If you just imagine that inside the cloud is where GD dwells, you are not imagining an image of GD just of His dwelling place. – RibbisRabbiAndMore Jul 10 '18 at 19:01
  • The Tenac"h mentions numerous people who have seen G-d in a dream or vision. Some of these people were Gentiles such as Avimelech and Pharaoh. The prohibition against idolatry applies to Gentiles as well. Whether they have a prohibition against imagery, I'm not sure. Point is, that Tanac"h of ocurse mentions Jews dreaming about G-d. So, in their dreams, they make visions. Dreams are a thought process, no? – DanF Jul 10 '18 at 21:47
  • @DanF, the question seems to be what did they see, because they didn't see Him as HaShem himself tells us no person had seen Him. I looked upon the Kotel once and I could sense, feel and experience G-d there, I could imagine Him being right there with me. And even in prayer it's sometimes like I'm speaking face-to-face with Him. The people which looked upon the cloud could see G-d, likewise people saw Him in dreams and visions, not literally; but whatever they saw, they knew it was HaShem revealing Himself to them. – Levi Jul 12 '18 at 8:00
  • @DanF P.s. There is nothing wrong thinking about HaShem, let me be clear about that. But what I would like to know is if you think or say it's wrong/false/bad to imagine HaShem in any physical way possible? Making physical images is something that's clearly been allowed, looking at such images isn't wrong either, but HaShem clearly states that at the point they are being worshipped or at the point one thinks or feels these are G-d, godlike or other gods and starts looking at them in such a way these images are prohibited and a abhorrence in His eyes.... – Levi Jul 12 '18 at 8:19
  • @DanF ... If images on their own aren't phrobited, it must be the thoughts, believes and feelings that go with them which make them prohibited right? So that made me wonder if envisioning or imagining HaShem in any physical way would be wrong/false/bad or not. – Levi Jul 12 '18 at 8:21
0

Principle III of the Rambam's 13 principles of faith. The denial of physicality in connection with God.

This is to accept that God אינו גוף is not a body, and has no shape or image or relationship to a body or parts thereof. ולא ישיגוהו משיגי הגוף And no one who's level of understanding is that of a physical body, can have any concept of what GD is. This is why the Sages of blessed memory said with regards to heaven there is no sitting, nor standing, no awakeness, nor tiredness. This is all to say that He does not partake of any physical actions or qualities. And if He were to be a body then He would be like any other body and would not be God. And all that is written in the holy books regarding descriptions of God, they are all anthropomorphic. Thus said our great Rabbis of blessed memory, “The Torah speaketh in man’s language” (i.e. using human terms to offer some understanding). And the Rabbis have already spoken at length on this issue. This is the third pillar and is attested to by the verse, “For you saw no image” meaning that you did not see an image or any form when you stood at Sinai because as we have just said, He has no body, nor power of the body.

See HERE regarding the status of believing in the Rambam's 13 principles, but I do not think that there's any disagreement that this one is a mandatory belief.

If someone imagines GD as a physical image, although he may not be considered an idol worshiper, this is against this fundamental principle of faith.

  • @RibbisRabbiandmoreIve actually heard secondhand of rishonim who held God could have a body. I'll try and find the source. Though personally I'm Not a fan of the 13 principles. I'm more of a 3 principle (Joseph albo). Not that I don't believe most of them more that I don't see them as integral. Anyways found it google.com/amp/s/www.myjewishlearning.com/article/… Here are some quoted. look them up yourself. – Orion Jul 10 '18 at 20:20
  • @Orion I very strongly advise that you should not quote such a thing before you know the source. It may be kfirah! – RibbisRabbiAndMore Jul 10 '18 at 20:35
  • 1
    I'm not quoting! I emphasized I haven't seen it! My Jewish learning seems like a reputable site and I know that rav yosef albo did have a different (smaller) set of principles. Anyone who automatically believes something when theyre even told by the author that he hasn't looked up the sources themsef and they should look it up on their own is a idiot! Anyways I'm going to look them up now. BTW if you or anyone else wants to check up and confirm this please do. – Orion Jul 10 '18 at 20:51
  • @Orion but be careful about writing that GD can have a body! – RibbisRabbiAndMore Jul 10 '18 at 21:01
  • 1
    Did I say God has a body or did I say that I have heard secondhand that some say he might have a body? By the way weirdly I keep seeing the rabad mentioned in multiple articles and yet none of them leave citations. Very annoying. I might have to just wait to ask my rebbi tomorrow. – Orion Jul 10 '18 at 21:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .