Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rambam- Proof G-D Has No Body- Yisodei Hatorah eighth halacha

How can it be proven that G-D has no physicality? From where can we learn this essential fact about G-D? Apparently, some great sages from France believed that G-D did have a physical body. However, the Rambam disagreed, but how could he prove his point. One of the Rambam's 13 principles is the fact that G-D has no body and no relationship to a body, meaning this is an essential point for the Rambam to prove.

In the eighth halacha the Rambam says,
הרי מפורש בתורה ובנביאים שאין הקב"ה גוף וגוייה שנאמר כי ה' אלהיכם הוא אלהים בשמים ממעל ועל הארץ מתחת, והגוף לא יהיה בשני מקומות. ונאמר כי לא ראיתם כל תמונה. ונאמר ואל מי תדמיוני ואשוה. ואילו היה גוף היה דומה לשאר גופים:
"It is explained in the Torah and in the prophets that G-D has no body or form. It says, 'That the Lord is G-D of the heavens from above and on the land from below,'(Devarim 4:39) and it is impossible for a body to be in two places [at once]. It also says, 'For you did not see any form.'(Devarim 4:15) It also says, 'To who can you liken Me?' (Isaiah 40:25) If [G-D] had a body then it would obviously be similar to other bodies."

The Rambam's first idea, that a body can not exist in two places, describes what a body is as well as why G-D can not have one. The idea of a body existing in two places at once contradicts the definition of a body. A body is something that can only exist in one place because it is limited to a specific space. Something that is not limited to a specific place is by definition not a physical body. This is G-D, a being that exists in more than one place without the limitations of space.

The second idea in the Rambam is that the Jewish people did not see any form of G-D. This refers to when the Jewish people were at Mount Sinai and they saw the mist and the fire that encompassed the mountain, but they could not see a form of G-D. This reveals that G-D must not have any form since the Jewish people would have seen it since they were at the highest possible spiritual level on earth that could be attained. Therefore, it stands to reason that G-D must have no physical existence since the Jewish people could not see it even at this point.

The final point in the Rambam here is that G-D is not comparable to any being. If He were comparable to any type of being then it would stand to reason that He has some type of limitation and any type of limitation would cause a lack in G-D's abilities. This limitation would be some type of level of physicality in the sense that G-D's powers would have limits. Therefore, the Rambam proves that it is impossible to compare anything to G-D and thus His existence is unique compared to all other things in existence and His powers are infinite.


Soccer Dad said...

Why don't you mention that the Ra'avad took strong exception to the Rambam on this point. The Ra'avad considered a belief that Hashem is corporeal to be mistaken but not blasphemous.

E-Man said...

Well, I was just trying to write the Rambam's opinion. However, there are several opinions that agree with the Ra'avad on that point. I believe the Ramban also holds that, but I was only saying the Rambam. Thanks for pointing that out though.

Aryeh said...

I'm curious how the Rambam, in his first proof that a body can't exist in two places at once, would respond to recent ecidence in quantum mechanics that discovered that a physical object can be in two places at once -

E-Man said...

I don't know about this, but quantum mechanics states that you can either know the position of an object or its velocity, I believe.

I don't know if this means the object is physically in two states or that science has developed a device that is ruled by quantum mechanics.

I will look further into it, but I don't think this is an object physically being in two places at once, but rather two different energy states. But, I am not an expert.