Re: What is G-d?

Bernard Laufer (seeker1@gte.net)
Sun, 2 Feb 1997 22:37:12 -0500

Daniel J Pearson writes:
>>Everyone talks about It/.../Him but I never heard a good definition.Many..
>>speak and act as if G-d was some kind of omnipotent person...What I need
>>is a definition that is truly satisfying.

Micha Berger responds:
<<However Rambams approach is to show..First Cause..>>

Russell Jay Hendel, Phd. ASA; rhendel @ mcs drexel edu responds:
>I would suggest that Micha was referring to the Rambam in Foundations of
Torah Chap 1. >However a more complete definition (thus answering Daniel's
question) is in Repentance >3:6-8. Paragraphs 6,7,8 discuss 3 groups of
attributes which are essential. These 3 >groups of attributes give rise to
13 specific properties which have found there way >into the 13 verses of
the Poem Yigdal. Finally these same 3 groups are the groups that >Rabbi
Albo used in his review of all beliefs of G-d in his book Essentials (The
>Ikarim). These 3 groups are
>Repentance 3:7: LORDSHIP/PRAYER: Omnipotent; All prayer goes only to Him
>Repentance 3:8: PROPHECY: Mans capacity to prophecy; Moses greatness
>Repentance 3:6: REWARD & PUNISHMENT: Including the resurrection of the dead
>In other words: To believe in G-d is to believe that there is Someone One can
>Pray to, Who has the power to do anything, who can and has verbally
responded
>to man and who will punish/reward those who violate his will. Incidentally we
>anthromorphize G-d because of Prayer and Prophecy (speech is distinctly
>human!)

G-d is the Being, without beginning or end, who brought all things
into existence and continues to sustain them.

One of the great classics of systematic Jewish theology is Rabbi
Moshe Chaim Luzzatto's, Derech HaShem, or the Way of G-d. Luzzato
writes that he has carefully examined everything in Jewish literature
that has been written about G-d, and has come to the conclusion that
there are six basic things that we can say about G-d. The six are:

1. G-d exists.
2. G-d is absolutely perfect.
3. G-d's existence is absolutely necessary.
4. G-d is absolutely independent.
5. G-d is absolutely simple.
6. G-d is absolutely one.

These six basic things can be reduced to two basic things since the
other four can be derived logically from these two basic things. The
two most basic things that can be said about G-d are:

1. G-d is absolutely perfect. (It can be shown that because of this
axiom G-d can not clone himself -- i.e., there can be only one G-d.)
2. G-d is absolutely simple. (It can be shown that because of this
axiom G-d can't destroy himself.)

The above material is mostly from the Aryeh Kaplan Reader, chapter on
The G-d of Israel.

Thus, I have to take exception to what Dr. Hendel writes. I'll go
along with omnipotence as a basic attribute of G-d since it can be
directly derived from the basic attribute of perfection, but what
does prophecy and reward and punishment have to do with being basic
attributes of G-d? In fact Avraham Avinu was able to achieve a very
high level of belief in G-d, and righteousness before he received his
prophetic ability, and he was able to attain that just by observing
and analyzing nature!

Dov Laufer