Re: What is G-d?

Bernard Laufer (
Sun, 9 Mar 1997 02:09:15 -0500

I previously wrote:
> >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!

Shlomo Godick responded:
> Aren't you confusing Avraham Avinu's *perception* of G-d with G-d's
> *essence*?

No. I am trying to show with this example that man can achieve a high level
of belief in G-d without prophecy or believing that G-d actually
communicates with man through prophecy. Let me illustrate this by an
example. There is a guard that is responsible for opening a particular
door for a king in his palace. The king never communicates with the guard,
but since the guard is part of the king's palace he can observe several of
the king's actions first-hand, and obtain additional information about the
king from his other servants. Thus, this lowly guard is able to acquire a
great deal of knowledge regarding the king's character; notwithstanding
that the king never communicates with guard. The universe is full of G-d's
handiwork so a truth seeker can attain a high perception of G-d even if G-d
does not directly communicate with the particular individual through prophecy.

>G-d's relationship and communication with man (through prophecy, prayer,
and >reward and punishment), that is, His concern for and accessibility to
man, >seem to me to be extremely important Divine attributes from the
Jewish >perspective.

I seem to recall that Daniel Pearson is looking for a good definition of
G-d -- not extremely important Divine attributes from the Jewish
perspective. Prophecy, prayer, and reward and punishment are not basic
attributes of Hashem so they can't make up a good definition of What Is
G-d. The key word here is "basic". The Ramchal's definition of G-d that I
quoted is a very good definition of What Is G-d, and if you don't want to
take my word for it, maybe you will take the Vilna Gaon's. "The famed
Vilna Gaon, declared that Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato (Ramchal) had the most
profound understanding of Judaism that any mortal human could attain. He
furthermore stated that if Luzzato were alive in his generation, he would
go by foot from Vilna to Italy to sit at his feet and learn from him."