Sunday, March 1, 2009

Rambam- How to explain contradictions about G-D Having Physicality- Yisodei Hatorah halacha twelve

The Rambam concludes his final halacha of the first perek of the laws in the Fundamentals of Torah by explaining some contradictions in the Torah. He says,

והואיל והדבר כן הוא. כל הדברים הללו וכיוצא בהן שנאמרו בתורה ובדברי נביאים הכל משל ומליצה הן. כמו שנאמר יושב בשמים ישחק. כעסוני בהבליהם. כאשר שש ה' וכיוצא בהן. על הכל אמרו חכמים דברה תורה כלשון בני אדם. וכן הוא אומר האותי הם מכעיסים. הרי הוא אומר אני ה' לא שניתי. ואילו היה פעמים כועס ופעמים שמח היה משתנה. וכל הדברים האלו אינן מצויין אלא לגופים האפלים השפלים שוכני בתי חומר אשר בעפר יסודם אבל הוא ברוך הוא יתברך ויתרומם על כל זה: 
"Since it is so, [that G-D has no physical attributes whatsoever], it must be that all of these things that are stated in the Torah, Prophets and Writings are parables and figures of speech. For instance, when it says 'Sitting in heaven He laughs (Psalms 2:4),' 'They angered Me with their vanities (Devarim 32:21) ,' and 'Just like G-D rejoiced (Devarim 28:63)' and similar verses. On all of these verses the wise ones say that the words of the Torah are similar to the way men talk. Also, in the Prophets it says, 'Is it Me they are trying to get angry? (Jeremiah 7:19)' and it says, 'I, G-D, do not change. (Malachi 3:6)' [However,] if it was that sometimes G-D would get angry and sometimes He would be happy, is that not a change? All of these [emotions and attributes] are only found by physical bodies that are dark and base. [Like the pasuk says,] 'Those who dwell in physical houses and that have their foundations in dust. (Job 4:19)' However, the Blessed One is the most high over all things."

The Rambam is answering up the final questions that exist about G-D's physicality. The Torah, Prophets and Writings contain within them verses that appear to be saying that G-D has conflicting physical emotions. However, the Rambam is able to answer up all of these questions.

The different verses that refer to G-D being happy or angry support the idea that G-D has conflicting emotions. It is impossible for someone to be angry and happy at the same time. Therefore, these passages seem to contradict the idea that G-D does not have physical emotions. Also, there is a verse that is quoted from Malachi that says straight out that G-D does not change in any way. This leaves the Rambam with a big problem, how to reconcile the verses that say G-D has physical emotions and the impossibility for this to be.

Rambam answers by saying that the wise ones, Rabbis before him, explain that the Torah is only explaining attributes of G-D in a way that man can understand. G-D exists in a way that a human can not understand in any way shape or form. Therefore, the Torah can only relate the existence of G-D and his relationship to us in the language of men. The Torah could not be written in the language of angels or of G-D, because then it would be indecipherable, rather it must have been written in the language of man. However, this does not effect the true essence of G-D and how He is in no way connected to physicality, be it emotions or physical mass.

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