Re: What is G-d

Eliezer C Abrahamson (abrahamson@juno.com)
Wed, 25 Dec 1996 14:37:43 EST

Daniel J. Pearson wrote:

>Everyone talks about It/Her/Him, but I have never heard a good definition.
>Many people seem to anthropomorphize G-d, and speak and act as if G-d was
>some kind of omnipotent version of a person, this is obviously fallacious.
>What I need is a definition that is truly satisfying to the intellect, the
>emotions, and the soul. I would like to know how does the Torah define G-d.

In The Handbook of Jewish Thought (chapter 2:1), Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan writes:

"God is defined as the Creator of the universe, as the opening verse
of the Torah states, 'In the beginning God created the heaven and the
earth' (Genesis 1:1). God likewise said, 'I am God, I make all things'
(Isaiah 44:24)."

The entire chapter 2 of the Handbook deals with God (which is the title
of the chapter). While, obviously, I cannot quote the entire chapter, here
are some additional quotes which have a direct bearing on your question.

(2:3)"As Creator of the universe, God's existence cannot depend on any of
His handiwork. Judaism therefore rejects any definition of God as an
abstract ethical force or social convention.[In footnote]... Thus God
cannot be defined as love, justice, goodness, or in any other human
terms. While these are attributes of God, they are not God Himself.

(2:5)"As Creator, God is absolutely different from anything else that
exists. He is therefore totally unknowable."

(2:6)"Although God himself is unknowable, we can, to some degree,
understand His relationship to the universe. In this manner we speak of
God through His 'attributes of action'. Also, although we cannot know
what God is, we can learn much by realizing what He is not. In this
sense, we speak of God using 'negative attributes'."

(2:7)"It is a foundation of our belief that God is One, and that He is a
most perfect and absolute Unity."

(2:11)"Judaism emphatically rejects any concept of plurality with respect
to God. It therefore rejects the Christian concept of the trinity, in
which God is depicted as three persons in one, corresponding to His
manifestation in creation, redemption and revelation."

There's a lot more. I highly recommend you read the book. It is published
by Maznaim Publishing Corporation Brooklyn, NY (212) 438-7680 or
853-0525.

Lazer

Eliezer C. Abrahamson
176 East 9th St., Lakewood, NJ 08701
(908) 905-6877 e-mail: Abrahamson@juno.com