Dear Jewish Press,
Had this issue not jeopardized the perception of Judaism’s true tenets, I would let it go. However, when Torah fundamentals might be misunderstood, it is crucial that we talk with precision, speaking out on what are, and what are not true Torah ideals.
Two weeks ago I wrote to the Jewish Press, and questioned Rabbi Abraham Stone’s unqualified explanation of “Menachem Av” as he put it, “consoling G-d.” I quoted Numbers, 23:19, “G-d is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man the He should be consoled…” I added that we possess no license to suggest new phrases like “consoling G-d”, not authored by the Torah or the Rabbis. The Rabbis coined a term, “If the Torah had not written it, it would be impossible to enunciate”.
Last week in his response, Rabbi Stone acknowledged that, “Certainly, we cannot attribute any physical features and human emotions to Hashem.” He also affirmed, “He (G-d) needs nothing from us.” But a few sentences later Rabbi Stone wrote, “For Hashem created the world in a way that our service is for the need of Hashem.” Rabbi Stone contradicts himself in a single article. The Rabbi openly says that G-d has “needs”, and thus, posits a human frailty onto the Creator. However, it is the unequivocal teaching of all Torah Sages that G-d has no needs.
Rabbi Stone cites numerous rabbinic statements. However, we must be careful with such statements, not imputing emotions to G-d. The Rabbis taught that these words are not to be taken literally.
Rabbi Stone makes another fundamental error, violating one of Maimonides’ 13 Principles - an idea not disputed by any of Judaism’s Sages: Rabbi Stone writes, “Every Jewish soul is part of Hashem from Above.” In his Second Principle, Maimonides writes, “And (G-d is) not like one man that may be divided into many individual parts…” Maimonides makes it clear: the concept of division or parts cannot be ascribed to G-d. Maimonides also writes, “…the Chachamim (wise men) denied G-d as being composite or subject to division”, and, “the prophet said (Isaiah, 40:25), ‘To what shall your equate Me that I should be similar, says G-d?” (ibid; Principle III) There is no analog to G-d – hence, division cannot be ascribed to Him.
Do I belabor this point? If I do it is because of what Rabbi Bachya says in Duties of the Heart, (Gate of Unity, Chap. 3), “Whoever neglects to study [this subject] (unity of G-d) conducts himself disgracefully, and is counted among those who fall short in both knowledge and practice.” This yesode (principle) of G-d’s unity is of such paramount importance to the authentic, Jewish concept of G-d, the “Shema Yisrael” must be read twice daily where we affirm, “G-d is One”. The Torah and the Rabbis share one voice; G-d has no parts.
We must be vigilant against any thought, which erodes Judaism’s fundamentals.
Rabbi Marshall Gisser