Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Why HaShem Is One Is Our Mission Statement

It must be pretty important: "Hearken, O Israel!"  This one statement is the clarion call to action for our entire nation.  "HaShem is our G-d."  That sounds like a great statement of purpose for any religion; why not just stop there?  "HaShem is One!"  That's it?  If the expression "is one" simply means that there is only one HaShem, then there isn't much value added.  There is also only one United States.  "Here, O citizens!  The United States is our country!  There is only one USA!"  Umm... true, but not so inspiring, and it certainly is not a call to action.

The Ramchal in Da'as T'vunos explains why HaShem has made the revelation of His One-ness the very core and reason for being of our faith.  When measuring something, you can only get one of three results: 0, finite, or infinite.  In truth, there is really only one result: finite.  Both zero and infinite mean that it has no measure.  Finite, no matter how small, can be magnified by zooming in to see more detail; no matter how large, can be shrunk by stepping back to get more perspective.  Zero and infinite are not like that.  Zero, now matter how you magnify it, how closely you look, it is always zero.  Infinite, now matter how far you step back, is always infinite and out of scope.

HaShem is outside of any measure.  We humans, being as we are a creation and therefore perforce finite, cannot really comprehend infinity.  Any religion that tries to portray HaShem as defined by good, merciful, forgiving, etc (like Christianity and Reform Judaism) are necessarily giving a false portrayal.  They are doomed from the beginning, because they are built on a lie.  What is the practical result of this false foundation?  Good can only mean and can only be understood as the opposite of bad, merciful the opposite of cruel, forgiving the opposite of vengeful, etc.  That means that those portrayals demand that one contemplate something in reality that is not HaShem.

One-ness, on the other hand, does not need anything else.  "One" does not mean "not two"; "one" means nothing else.  One means "ein od milvado"; there is nothing besides Him.  Our fundamental belief and mission statement in declaring "HaShem is One" is the only way that a finite being can have any true comprehension that He is outside of any measure.  We cannot really know His Goodness, His Mercy, His Compassion; we can only know that any "-ism" that contradict His One-ness is necessarily false.

The Da'as T'vunos goes on to explain how this one-ness contradicts the five basic mistakes made by those who err in understanding reality. We should talk about that; b'ezras HaShem.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…