The Duties of the Heart
Gate One. “The Wholehearted Acceptance of the Oneness of G-d”
We'll now touch upon a vital point. Which is that G-d's Oneness doesn't only
imply that He's the one and only Creator; it also says something about His
very Being: that only He is truly one, as we'll explain, and that nearly
everything else is one by circumstance alone. So let's delve into the
difference between what Ibn Pakudah terms "true", bona fide opposed to mere
We often use the term "one" to describe things that are more than one, in
fact. As when we refer to a car, for example, which is actually an amalgam of
many, many different parts, as a single entity. For a single car isn't one
thing so much as as a bundle of "ones" (i.e., a combination of one motor, one
steering wheel, one brake, etc.). We only call it "one" for convenience sake.
After all, it would be unwieldy to say, "I'm going to take the combination of
motor, steering wheel, brake.... for a drive." So "one" single car is an
instance of a plural thing that's taken to be one thing by dint of
Other things that aren't truly one-- though we take them to be-- are things
that have properties and that experience change. Which is to say,
everything we consider to be a single entity-- other than G-d and the
number one, as we'll see.
For everything we know of experiences coming into being, then ceasing to be;
everything is comprised of an essence (the thing itself) and properties; and
everything experiences change either in composition, makeup, or state of
being. Hence, nearly everything we know of is actually an amalgam, i.e., an
array of components, experiences, and states of being. And we once again
attribute "oness" to things by dint of circumstantial and for convenience
So what's "true" oneness?
Ironically, there are two forms of true oneness. There's "abstract" true
oneness, and "actual" true oneness. The number "one" is an example of
abstract true oneness, simply because it isn't an instance of any one thing
so much as the idea of it (i.e., it doesn't describe any one thing
specifically, it's merely the number one).
But something that's actually, truly one would have to be, first off, free
of properties; and secondly, absolutely unsubject to change (in ways we
indicated before). Thus it would have to be indescribable, unlike anything
else, utterly independent, and it would be the root of everything else.
Hence only G-d is actually and truly one. For only He can be depicted in such
There's one last detail, though. Can't "true oneness" be considered a
property itself? After all, it decribes G-d, doesn't it? Ibn Pakudah
acknowledges that the point's well taken, but adds the following. When we
refer to G-d as "truly one" what we're really doing is denying plurality in
His Being, rather than attributing anything to Him (which is known as
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