Creator And Created (I)
Rabbi Joshua Maroof
Beth Aharon Sephardic Congregation - Riverdale, NY
Rabbi Abraham Stone was recently criticized by Rabbi Marshall Gisser for attributing human needs and emotions to Hashem (Letters, July 30). I was gratified to see Rabbi Stone respond (Letters, Aug. 6) by reaffirming the most fundamental principle of our religion — that Hashem cannot be understood or characterized in physical or psychological terms, and that he has no needs that require fulfillment.
However, the remainder of his letter was decidedly disappointing, and, indeed, self-contradictory in several ways. Amidst the citation of several midrashim, Rabbi Stone suggested that "In all Jewish souls here there is vested the essence of Hashem...Hashem created the world in a way that our service is for the need of Hashem, and He gains pleasure when his will is fulfilled."
This view of Hakadosh Baruch Hu is deeply problematic and not representative of our Holy Torah. Hashem is One and cannot be compared to His creations in any way, shape or form. Chas v`chalila that we should entertain the notion that Hashem is divided into parts that are "distributed" across humanity in the form of souls. When we say human beings have a divine element or spark, or that humans are created in Hashem`s "image" we mean — as our sages explain — that human beings have the potential to relate to the Creator of the universe in a unique, spiritual way that differentiates them from all other earthly creatures.
Rabbi Stone establishes a dangerous precedent in his exercise of poetic license and pays insufficient regard to the fact that many midrashim are not to be interpreted in their literal sense.
In addition, Rabbi Stone`s statement that Hashem has no needs cannot be reconciled with the statement that His needs are somehow fulfilled by our mitzvot. Nor can the notion that Hashem has no emotions be reconciled with his assertion that Hashem "takes pleasure" in the fulfillment of His will. As the Ramban explains at length in his comments on Devarim 22:6, the mitzvot are designed purely for the benefit of mankind.
It is simply blasphemous to suggest that the Creator of heaven and earth and all they contain — a being with no weaknesses, defects or dependencies — would turn to His creations for help or fulfillment.