"The Way of G-d"
Part 4: "Divine Service"
Ch. 4: "Shema Yisroel and Its Blessings"
We'll need to backtrack a bit here to explain more about the subject of G-
d being the Sovereign of the Universe which we cited in the last chapter.
As we'd said early on (see 1:1:2), G-d assumes two roles, if you will.
That of G-d Almighty as He is unto Himself in all His Glory (which we
sometimes call His "transcendence"); and that of Sovereign of the Universe
as He is when He interfaces with us (called His "immanence"). And the
Shema Yisroel expresses both.
The point of course is that the same one and only G-d functions on both
levels at the same time, depending on how we experience Him.
Compare it if you will to someone who runs his own business and acts as
field-manager at times, as when he's right there with the sales people and
production staff, meeting with them, buying and selling right along with
them, advising, prompting, and encouraging them while at their side; and
conversely acting as Chief Executive Officer when he alone makes ultimate
decisions, covers costs on his own, fires and hires, etc. at other times.
How can the very same person serve in such diametrically opposite
capacities in the same organization? Apparently easily enough, seeing how
often it's done.
And so while the analogy is quite inadequate because G-d is not at all
human and isn't at all subject to the "sturm und drang" of business
decisions, and the universe doesn't function like a corporation,
nonetheless thanks to this comparison we can begin to grasp how His
transcendence and immanence can merge.
But the question now arises as to how *dare* we speak of G-d as the
Sovereign of the Universe? After all, while sovereignty certainly implies
eminence and control, it still-and-all points to a need the king would
seem to have for subjects (after all, our employer needs his employees).
Yet we've already depicted G-d in the last chapter as
utterly "independent ... of anything" and "wholly and sublimely self-
The discrepancy seems too great, and it actually sounds almost shameful to
declare G-d Almighty as "merely" the Sovereign of the Universe, which
we're meant to affirm when we recite Shema Yisroel. But as we'll see, our
doing that serves G-d's purposes indeed.
To begin with, let's reiterate the fact that G-d Almighty, in all His
transcendent Glory, *purposely* set out to create a universe and to reign
over it -- so as to bestow His goodness upon others. So, He purposefully
deigned to "descend", as it were, from His transcendent status in order to
interact with His creations that way and *so that we could pay homage to
Him*. Thus while His act of "descent" certainly made His sovereignty
possible, our acknowledging it affirms it.
As such, we recite Shema Yisroel everyday so as to affirm G-d's immanent
presence and reign in our lives, as well as for all the other reasons we
cited in the previous chapter.
Text Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org.