Reader: May I ask a hypothetical
question? I have wondered this for many years: That which we say in Shema –
“Hashem Echad”, that “G-d is ONE” - is central to Judaism. But I wonder why that has to be so? The meaning
of ONE, I understand
to mean as the absolute source of everything. For the source to be THE absolute source, it
must be ONE in the most basic meaning on the number one.
I posed the following question to my brother in a discussion: What would be wrong if we were to think that the source for our existence in our universe was our Creator, but maybe there are other creators that created and control other universes.
I do not, G-d forbid, believe this question and am not trying to imply any truth to this question that I am posing, but I ask so that I may develop a better understanding.
My brother once explained to me that if we were to consider such a belief, then we would have to delve to now find the source of those two, three or how ever many "creators" there were "up there." Each would be subservient to that source - and that source would be the ultimate source - the ONE. We Jews pray to the ultimate source and that source is the ultimate creator.
I hope I made myself clear. I would appreciate learning from your response. Thank you.
Mesora: The concept of plural gods, by definition, means that each cannot be G-d. By definition, G-d is omnipotent, completely powerful. The true concept of G-d means that He created all that is. He has no needs, as “needs” is a creation, and a deficiency. He needs nothing, and in your example, other gods were responsible for other universes. But if G-d has complete power, there is no need for other “gods” to assist Him in His creation. Additionally, the concept of two gods is contradictory, as anything that possesses number, or rather, division, must be physical. Since G-d created all physical matter, He cannot be physical. That would like saying, He and His creation are the same thing. This is a logical impossibility.
First and foremost in our minds, must be the correct concept of G-d: the sole source of the universe. For this reason, we begin each day’s prayers with “Baruch Sh’Amar v’haya Olam”, “Blessed be the One who spoke, and the world came into existence. We must remind ourselves, at the very commencement of our day in the morning prayers’ first prayer, of an accurate idea of G-d. Otherwise, we pray to a fantasy, and not a reality, and fantasies cannot hear us. Prayer would be futile, as would be our entire lives, unless we correct such harmful notions.
The true idea that G-d is the sole Creator is central to Judaism, because Judaism is synonymous with “truth”. I will conclude with a quote from Maimonides:
“…It is known that the heathen in those days built temples to stars, and set up in those temples the image which they agreed upon to worship; because it was in some relation to a certain star or to a portion of one of the spheres. We were, therefore, commanded to build a temple to the name of God, and to place therein the ark with two tables of stone, on which there were written the commandments" I am the Lord," etc., and" Thou shalt have no other God before me," etc. Naturally the fundamental belief in prophecy precedes the belief in the Law, for without the belief in prophecy there can be no belief in the Law. But a prophet only receives divine inspiration through the agency of an angel. Comp. "The angel of the Lord called" (Gen. xxii. 15):" The angel of the Lord said unto her" (ibid. xvi. 11): and other innumerable instances. Even Moses our Teacher received his first prophecy through an angel." And an angel of the Lord appeared to him in the flame of fire" (Exod. iii.). It is therefore dear that the belief in the existence of angels precedes the belief in prophecy, and the latter precedes the belief in the Law. The Sabeans, in their ignorance of the existence of God, believed that the spheres with their stars were beings without beginning and without end, that the images and certain trees, the Asherot, derived certain powers from the spheres, that they inspired the prophets, spoke to them in visions, and told them what was good and what bad. I have explained their theory when speaking of the prophets of the Ashera. But when the wise men discovered and proved that there was a Being, neither itself corporeal nor residing as a force in a corporeal body, viz., the true, one God, and that there existed besides other purely incorporeal beings which God endowed with His goodness and His light, namely, the angels, and that these beings are not included in the sphere and its stars, it became evident that it was these angels and not the images or Asherot that charged the prophets. From the preceding remarks it is clear that the belief in the existence of angels is connected with the belief in the Existence of God; and the belief in God and angels leads to the belief in Prophecy and in the truth of the Law. In order to firmly establish this creed, God commanded [the Israelites] to make over the ark the form of two angels. The belief in the existence of angels is thus inculcated into the minds of the people, and this belief is in importance next to the belief in God's Existence; it leads us to believe in Prophecy and in the Law, and opposes idolatry. If there had only been one figure of a cherub, the people would have been misled and would have mistaken it for God's image, which was to be worshipped, in the fashion of the heathen; or they might have assumed that the angel [represented by the figure] was also a deity, and would thus have adopted a Dualism. By making two cherubim and distinctly declaring" the Lord is our God, the Lord is One," Moses dearly proclaimed the theory of the existence of a number of angels; he left no room for the error of considering those figures as deities, since [he declared that) God is one, and that He is the Creator of the angels, who are more than one.”