3. I believe with perfect emunah
that the Creator,
blessed be His Name,
is not physical,
that no physical attributes can apply to Him,
and that there is nothing whatsoever to compare to Him."
Most of the ancient gods were either conceived as multiple celestial beings or incarnated physical beings. For the ancients there were gods of love and gods of hate, gods above and gods below, gods of the hunt and gods of harvest. There were mother goddesses and father gods. There were grandfather gods and immaculate conceptions (virgin births). There were gods in animal form, gods of stone, wood, and hay. If the human mind is capable of conceiving a likeness, there was a god in that form.
Material existence can be frightening. Most of the god conceptions were developed to appease natural threats and establish human consolation. The worship of these gods empowered followers to do "something" about their fears. The gods were only human creations, but they served an important role in human development. They helped people make sense of their world. This was the reason for the power of Babel and its "New Age" religion referenced in the Torah (Genesis 11:1-9 ). As Voltaire noted: "If God did not exist, it would have been necessary to invent Him." People need a god conception.
As with all the ancients, the Hebrews lived in perilous times. They maintained emunah in the One True G-d. While the other nations looked to man-made divinities and superstitions, the Hebrews maintained emunah in the Creator embraced by their ancestors. During the days of King Nimrod of Babel knowledge of the Holy One was being forgotten among the Hebrews due to assimilation of the globalism of King Nimrod. The following from Bereshit Rabbah 38 explains how knowledge of the One True G-d, HaShem Elohaynu, survived those dark times."And Haran died in the presence of his father Terah" (Genesis 11:28). Rabbi Hiyya the grandson of Rabbi Adda of Yaffo [said]: Terah was a worshipper of idols [under command of King Nimrod of Babel]. One time he had to travel to a place, and he left Abraham in charge of his store. When a man would come in to buy [idols], Abraham would ask: How old are you? They would reply: fifty or sixty. Abraham would then respond: Woe to him who is sixty years old and worships something made today - the customer would be embarrassed, and would leave. A woman entered carrying a dish full of flour. She said to him: this is for you, offer it before them. Abraham took a club in his hands and broke all of the idols, and placed the club in the hands of the biggest idol [Baal Marduk according to some authorities]. When his father returned, he asked: who did all of this? Abraham replied: I can't hide it from you - a woman came carrying a dish of flour and told me to offer it before them. I did, and one of them said 'I will eat it first,' and another said 'I will eat it first.' The biggest one rose, took a club, and smashed the rest of them. Terah said: what, do you think you can trick me? They don't have cognition! Abraham said: Do your ears hear what your mouth is saying? Terah took Abraham and passed him off to [King] Nimrod. They said [to the king]: let us worship the fire. Abraham said to them: [rather] let us worship water, for it extinguishes fire. Nimrod agreed: let us worship water. Abraham continued: if so, let us worship the clouds, which provide water. Nimrod agreed: let us worship the clouds. Abraham continued: if so, let us worship the winds that scatter the clouds. Nimrod agreed: let us worship the winds. Abraham continued: if so, let us worship humans who are filled with wind [air]. Nimrod replied: You're just speaking words - I only worship fire. I will throw you into it, and the God you worship can save you from it. Haran was hidden and was of two minds, saying [to himself]: if Abraham is victorious, I will say I am with Abraham, and if Nimrod is victorious, I will say I am with Nimrod. When Abraham was through into the fiery furnace and saved, they asked him [Haran]: who are you with? He replied: I am with Abraham. They took him and threw him into the fire, and his insides burned up and he died before his father Terah, as it says: "And Haran died in the [lit.] on the face of his father Terah" (Genesis 11:28).Our Tradition has always been based on this central truth. It is inconceivable that there would be more than one ultimate reality, that the Holy One would appear in multiple forms, and so on. Babel with its Pagan religions and culture were destroyed by the G-d of our father Abraham. The people and beliefs of Babel were dispersed across the surface of the earth and ceased to exist. This is why there are so many similarities between the various religions and cultural systems, each group maintain part of the memories from Babel. These are seen in fragmented forms throughout the planet. Those who follow such man-made systems experience the same results, with a few notable exceptions like the Sanatana Dharma of India. Conversely those who worship the One G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel receive the blessings granted them. The ancients cultures and beliefs are mainly gone and buried in the sands of time while the people established through Israel remain. Even most of those who reject Israel and HaShem do so through usurpation of the divine revelations revealed to our people.
The G-d of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, the Torah, and the Jews has no likeness, no form. He does not incarnate like the gods of the nations. He exist beyond all time and space. He is utterly echad.
Points to Consider:
- Does HaShem have a physical form?
- Does HaShem have a spiritual form?
- Where does HaShem dwell?
- Does HaShem "live in Heaven?"
- Does HaShem have a Throne?
- What do most gods have in common?
- What makes HaShem different from the gods of the nations?
- Why did Voltaire say that "If God did not exist, it would have been necessary to invent Him?"
- What are your thoughts on Bereshit Rabbah 38?
- What does it mean that HaShem is echad?
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