Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rambam- Attributes that can not apply to G-D- Yisodei Hatorah eleventh halacha

The Rambam feels the need to point out all the things that do not apply to G-D. He tells us,

וכיון שנתברר שאינו גוף וגוייה יתברר שלא יארע לו אחד ממאורעות הגופות. לא חיבור ולא פירוד. לא מקום ולא מדה. לא עליה ולא ירידה. ולא ימין ולא שמאל. ולא פנים ולא אחור. ולא ישיבה ולא עמידה. ואינו מצוי בזמן עד שיהיה לו ראשית ואחרית ומנין שנים. ואינו משתנה שאין לו דבר שיגרום לו שינוי. ואין לו לא מות ולא חיים כחיי הגוף החי. ולא סכלות ולא חכמה כחכמת האיש החכם. לא שינה ולא הקיצה. ולא כעס ולא שחוק ולא שמחה ולא עצבות. ולא שתיקה ולא דבור כדבור בני אדם. וכך אמרו חכמים אין למעלה לא ישיבה ולא עמידה ולא עורף ולא עיפוי:
"Since it is clear that G-D has no [physical] body or form, we can explain that He does not experience anything, not a single experience that pertains to a physical body. [G-D experiences] neither formation, nor composition. [He has] neither a space or a measurement. [He has] no movement up nor down, not left or right, not backwards or forwards and [He] can't sit or stand. [He is] not found in time that He should have a beginning, an end or a count of years. [G-D] never changes, since there is nothing that can cause Him to change. [He] does not die nor live like a physical being lives. [He has] no foolishness nor does He have wisdom like the wisdom of a wise man. [He] does not sleep nor awake. [G-D] does not get angry, [He] does not laugh, [He] does not experience joy, nor does [He] become sad. [G-D] does not get quite nor does [He] speak like a man speaks. This is why the wise ones (Rabbi's) said, 'The One above does not [experience] sitting, standing, division, or unison.'"

This Rambam is fascinating. He goes through every possible thought that one might have about G-D. First off, the Rambam tells you that he is going to prove that it must be that G-D has no aspect of a physical body. Starting with the idea that G-D might be physical, the Rambam brings the first aspect of physicality under question. The Rambam points out that "G-D has no formation nor composition." The first thing a physical being needs is a formation and if he is formed then he also decomposes. G-D does not have a formation, nor does He decompose. Therefore, this aspect of a physical being can not apply to G-D. After this, the next most basic idea of what a physical being consists of is dimensions. The Rambam points out that G-D does not exists in a specific place, nor does He have measurements. The idea of occupying space and having measurements, after being formed, are the most basic parameters for being a physical being.

At this point, it is impossible to say G-D is a physical being because having no formation, no physical measurements and not occupying any space rules that out, but maybe G-D's power is physical. "Wrong!" says the Rambam. The fact that G-D has no movements; up, down, left, right, backwards, forwards, sitting or standing, means that He has no physical power. G-D's power is so much greater than the physical world will allow for a description of His power.

Now, that we have said that G-D has no physical body, nor does He have physical power, maybe He has some type of connection to the physical world. "Wrong again!" says the Rambam. G-D is so far removed from physicality that He is not bound by time which is one of the most unphysical characteristics of the physical world. Then the Rambam says that G-D is so far removed from every aspect of the physical world that nothing can cause Him to change in the slightest way. This is to such a point that there is no living or dead aspect that can relate to G-D's existence. This is Rambam's final statement on G-D's connection to the physical world, that there is nothing that connects G-D to physicality.

However, even though G-D is in no way connected to the physical world, maybe He is connected to man through man's spiritual side. "That's three and you are out!" says the Rambam. G-D's spirituality is not prone to foolishness, wisdom (How we understand wisdom), sleeping, waking, anger, laughter, joy, sadness, nor does He speak (like we understand speech) or is He silent. All of these actions or feelings come from man's spiritual side. Foolishness is when man makes the wrong decisions, like sinning. Wisdom is when a man decides to do the right thing, like a commandment. All of these things have spiritual aspects to them and are from man's spiritual side. However, as we see from the Rambam, G-D does not share any of man's spiritual aspects and therefore, there is nothing in this world that connects to G-D directly. This is why it is impossible to truly understand G-D's essence, because there is nothing that is within mankind's grasp that can describe G-D.

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