Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rambam- Comprehending G-D- Yisodei Hatorah halacha ten

The true identity of G-D is something that has eluded mankind since the dawn of time. The Rambam here points this fact out in the tenth halacha of the book of Hamada. He says,

מהו זה שביקש משה רבינו להשיג כשאמר הראני נא את כבודך.
"What was Moshe our teacher trying to attain when he said [to G-D], 'Reveal to me Your honor?'" 

The Rambam here points out a very interesting question, what was Moshe trying to accomplish since he knew that it was impossible for a human being to comprehend the existence of G-D? Didn't Moshe realize that this was an impossibility?

The Rambam answers by telling us,

ביקש לידע אמיתת המצאו של הקדוש ב"ה עד שיהיה ידוע בלבו כמו ידיעת אחד מן האנשים שראה פניו ונחקקה צורתו בלבו שנמצא אותו האיש נפרד בדעתו משאר האנשים. כך ביקש משה רבינו להיות מציאות הקב"ה נפרדת בלבו משאר הנמצאים עד שידע אמתת המצאו כאשר היא. :  
"[Moshe] was requesting to know the truth of the existence of G-D to the point that he should know [G-D], in his heart, in the same manner that he knows one of his friends that he has seen their face. [Moshe wanted to] engrave G-D's image in his mind similar to how he could differentiate between two men. This is what Moshe our teacher wanted, to be able to understand in his heart the difference between G-D's existence and all other beings' existences to the point that [Moshe] would know the truth of G-D's existence." 

Moshe understood that it is impossible to understand G-D in the same manner that G-D unerstands himself, however, Moshe thought it was possible to understand G-D in comparison to the creations. He thought that to compare G-D to all other forms would gain him access to the truth of the existence of G-D.

The Rambam proceeds to explain why this thought process is wrong. He says,

והשיבו ברוך הוא שאין כח בדעת האדם החי שהוא מחובר מגוף ונפש להשיג אמיתת דבר זה על בוריו. והודיעו ברוך הוא מה שלא ידע אדם לפניו ולא ידע לאחריו. עד שהשיג מאמיתת המצאו דבר שנפרד הקב"ה בדעתו משאר הנמצאים. כמו שיפרד אחד מן האנשים שראה אחוריו והשיג כל גופו ומלבושו בדעתו משאר גופי האנשים. ועל דבר זה רמז הכתוב ואמר וראית את אחורי ופני לא יראו
"G-D responded to him that the human intellect is unable to comprehend G-D's true existence since man's spirituality is connected to his physicality. [Nevertheless], G-D still revealed to Moshe things that had not been known by any man before him or will ever be known after him. This allowed Moshe to attain an understanding of the truth of G-D's existence to the point that he was able to differentiate G-D, in his mind, from other things that exist. This is like a man can differentiate between two men from the back. Similar to how a man can attain an understanding of a person's body and clothes [from the back] that it is different from other men, [so too Moshe understood G-D in this way]. This point is hinted at in the Bible when it says, "I will show you my back, but my face you shall not see (Shemos 33:23)." 

The Rambam is explaining that Moshe was wrong in his initial attempt to understand G-D. However, he was still able to attain the ultimate level of human comprehension. G-D was able to relate all of His attributes to Moshe to the point that Moshe could understand G-D better than any other human being ever.

The idea here is that a physical being can only understand a conglomeration of attributes of G-D, but not the real truth of His existence. This is what is meant by being able to recognize the back of G-D, piecing together all of the attributes of G-D. This creates a shadow of G-D, one can see His outline, but never the true features. Only through what G-D is not can we truly understand what G-D is all about.

No comments: