Clouds of Glory


There is a famous dispute between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Aqiva about what it is we commemorate with the mitzvah of sukkah.  The Torah reads (Vayiqra 23:42-43):

בַּסֻּכֹּ֥ת תֵּֽשְׁב֖וּ שִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִ֑ים כָּל־הָֽאֶזְרָח֙ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל יֵֽשְׁב֖וּ בַּסֻּכֹּֽת: לְמַעַן֮ יֵֽדְע֣וּ דֹרֹֽתֵיכֶם֒ כִּ֣י בַסֻּכּ֗וֹת הוֹשַׁ֨בְתִּי֙ אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בְּהֽוֹצִיאִ֥י אוֹתָ֖ם מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם אֲנִ֖י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶֽם׃

You shall dwell in sukkos for seven days; every native in Israel shall dwell in sukkos. So that your generations will know that I made the Israelites dwell in sukkos when I took them out of the Land of Egypt; I am Hashem your G-d.

The gemara (Sukkah 11b) records the dispute:

ענני כבוד היו דברי ר’ אליעזר ר”ע אומר סוכות ממש עשו להם

“They were clouds of glory,” these are the words of Rabbi Eliezer. Rabbi Aqiva says, “They made themselves actual booths.”

Among commentators on the verse, Rashi follows Rabbi Eliezer, that “I made the Israelites dwell” refers to the clouds of glory. Ramban quotes Rashi, and agrees. Rashbam and Ibn Ezra, on the other hand, focus on the word “basukkos – in sukkos” and understand the literal meaning of the verse to follow Rabbi Aqiva’s mention of physical booths.

In general, aggadic disputes are not decided by the rules of halachic pesaq. Here, however, the dispute has halachic outcome — the verse relays a halachic rule whether through its literal meaning or through a midrashic one. The Torah obligates us to sit in the sukkah “so that the generations will know.” At least lekhat-chilah (ab initio) one needs to have intent, to use the sukkah as a reminder of something. And therefore, which is it? Are we to sit in the sukkah and contemplate the sukkos our ancestors built in the desert, or to remember the clouds of glory Hashem provided us with?

The Tur, Shulchan Arukh, and Arukh haShulchan (Orach Chaim 525) side with Rabbi Eliezer, and we are told we sit in the sukkah to commemorate the clouds of glory. (My apologies to the rationalists.)


Why is Sukkos in the fall?

The aforementioned Tur says it’s so that we make it clear that we are sitting in the sukkah for the mitzvah, and not because it’s a comfortable way to spend a spring or summer day. (I’m not sure that in practice the underlying assumption holds for Israel’s climate.)

The Vilna Gaon gives an answer I found to be more profound, and related to the above dispute. When the Jews left Egypt, we were surrounded by clouds of glory. These clouds departed with the Golden Calf. After the Golden Calf, Moshe went up on the mountain for 40 days to obtain forgiveness for the Jewish People, and another forty days to get a second set of luchos. He returned with the second luchos on Yom Kippur, which is much of why the 10th of Tishrei is Yom Kippur.

On the 11th, Moshe instructed us about building the Mishkan. During the next couple of days people brought their donations, and on the 14th of Tishrei, Moshe had to tell them to stop — that they had everything needed.

So, as our sages compute is, on the 15th of Tishrei, the actual assembly of the Mishkan began. And, the Vilna Gaon notes, the clouds returned.

What we commemorate by sitting in our sukkos is not the initial gift, but the return of the clouds after Yom Kippur.


Returning yet again to R’ Shimon Shkop’s introduction to Shaarei Yosher (sorry for not being able to bring myself to ellide any of it):

One can use this to explain the whole notion of breaking the [first] Tablets, for which I have not found an explanation. At first glance, understanding seems closed off. Is it possible that Moses our teacher would think that because the Jews made the [Golden] Calf they should be left without the Torah? He should have just waited to teach them until they corrected their ways, not break them altogether and then have to fall before Hashem to beg for a second set of Tablets. Our sages received [a tradition that] there was a unique ability inherent in the first Tablets. As it says in Eiruvin (folio 54), “What does it mean when it is says, ‘engraved on the Tablets’[21]? Had the first tablets not been destroyed, the Torah would never have been forgotten from Israel.”[22] Which is, they had the power that if someone learned them once, it would be guarded in his memory forever. This quality Moses felt would cause a very terrible profaning of the holy to arise. Could it happen that someone destroyed and estranged in evil deeds would be expert in all the “rooms” of the Torah? Moses reasoned a fortiori from the Passover offering about which the Torah says “no foreign child shall eat of it.”[23] Therefore Moses found it fitting that these Tablets be shattered, and he should try to get other Tablets. The first Tablets were made by G-d, like the body of writing as explained in the Torah. The latter Tablets were made by man [24], as it says “Carve for yourself two stone tablets.” [25] Tablets are things which cause standing and existence, that it’s not “letters fluttering in the air.”[26] Since they were made by Hashem, they would stand eternally. But the second ones, which were man-made, only exist subject to conditions and constraints.

The beginning of the receiving of the Torah through Moses was a symbol and sign for all of the Jewish people who receive the Torah [since]. Just as Hashem told Moses, “Carve for yourself two stone Tablets”, so too it is advice for all who receive the Torah. Each must prepare Tablets for himself, to write upon them the word of Hashem. According to his readiness in preparing the Tablets, so will be his ability to receive. If in the beginning or even any time after that his Tablets are ruined, then his Torah will not remain. This removes much of Moses’ fear, because according to the value and greatness of the person in Awe/Fear of Hashem and in middos, which are the Tablet of his heart, this will be the measure by which heaven will give him acquisition of Torah. And if he falls from his level, by that amount he will forget his Torah, just as our sages said of a number of things that cause Torah to be forgotten. About this great concept our sages told us to explain the text at the conclusion of the Torah, “and all the great Awe Inspiring acts which Moses wrought before the eyes of all of Israel.”[27]

To my mind this can be connected to what our sages explained in Nedarim (folio 38) on the verse “carve for yourself”. Moses didn’t get rich except through the extras of the Tablets.[28] This is an amazing idea – [is it possible that] Hashem couldn’t find any way to make Moses wealthy except through the extras of the Tablets? But through what we said, we can explain this. Through this change of how Tablets are to be readied, there was given opportunity for those who receive the Torah to fear, to accept upon themselves the yoke of Torah. Through this it becomes appropriate for anyone entering the gates of Torah to separate themselves from all the preoccupations of his world. As they interpret the verse “‘it is not on the other side of the sea’[29] it is not found at salesman or importers.”[30] However, if the first Tablets had remained, then it would be sufficient to establish an easy hour for Torah, and spend most of your time trading and buying. For this reason the Holy One showed Moses as a sign to all who accept the Torah that He would prepare for them their income through the making of the Tablet; any “extras that are carved away” will provide them with income.

[22] Talmud, Eruvin 54a

[23] Exodus 12:43. To explain: If one offering can not be possessed by a non-Jew, how much more so should the entire Torah not be possessed by someone who is not merely a non-Jew, but an evil person.

[24] Moses

[25] Exodus 34:1

[26] Rav Shimon is using an idiom our sages used describe the destruction of the first Tablets. When Moses came down the mountain and the Jews were worshipping the Golden Calf, the letters fluttered up to heaven, and the tablets became heavy, and Moses threw them down. (Tanchuma, Ki Sisa 30; Exodus Rabba 46:1)

The same expression also appears in a description of R’ Chanina ben Tradiyon’s martyrdom. He was wrapped in a Torah, which was set aflame. He was packed with wet wool, so as to prolong his suffering. His students asked him, “Rebbe, what do you see?” He replied, “The parchment is burning, but the letters are fluttering in the air.” (Avodah Zara 18a)

Also possibly relevant is the idiom’s use in contract law, describing the paper or parchment of a contract as a critical component; for example, if the husband refuses to relinquish ownership of the paper, his writ of divorce is invalid, merely “letters fluttering in the air.” (Gittin 20b) The writing surface is an essential element of the text.

[27] Deuteronomy 34:12, the closing words of the Torah

[28] The words “for yourself” would seem superfluous. The Talmud (Nedarim 38a) explains that the carving was for Moses in the sense that Moses owned the stone he carved off the second Tablets, which was pure sapphire. This tradition explains why Rav Shimon continues to explain what seems to be overly mundane and trivializing something as important as the Tablet.

[29] Deuteronomy 30:13

[30] Talmud, Eruvin 55


The first luchos differ from the second luchos in a similar way to the distinction we just made with respect to the clouds of glory. The first set were given as a gift to the Jewish People with no effort on our part. The second required that Moshe make the preperatory step. Middos work, “carving for yourself “, is now a precondition for being able to receive the Torah.

And similarly, the clouds of glory didn’t return until people took a step by themselves. We first started assembling the Mishkan and only then did Hashem respond by providing the protecting clouds.

Viewed at this level, the Vilna Gaon provides a partial synthesis of the positions of Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Aqiva. Yes, we sit the sukkah to remember Hashem providing clouds that protected us. However, those clouds did not come on their own — they were in response to the human effort Rabbi Aqiva places primary.

Yom Kippur was a renewal of the covenant based on the terms that we must take the first step, and Hashem responds. We refine our middos to produce the tablets upon which Hashem engraves the 10 diberos. We build a dwelling place (so to speak) for G-d so that He dwells in our midst, Hashem provides protecting clouds to grant success to our efforts to protect ourselves.

If we but refine ourselves to be capable of cleaving to Hashem, He will cleave to us and grant us success beyond our efforts.


Now that the US’s role in Iraq has formally changed, I want to mention something about the city of Falluja. During the early years of US presence in Iraq, we heard a lot about violence there. E.g. four contractors were dragged from their cars, beaten and set on fire — and then their bodies were dragged through the streets and hung off the bridge.

Well, Falluja is well known to those of us who learned gemara, but under its Aramaic name, Pumbedisa, which was a borough of the larger area of Nehardea.

Shemuel (a 1st generation amora) had already established a school in Nehardea, but it didn’t really survive his death. His and Rav’s student (thus 2nd generation), Rav Yehudah [ben Yechzqeil] (220-299 CE), re-established the school in Pumbedisa, which already boasted a large Jewish population. Pumbedisa was the home of one of the two Babylonian academies that gave us the Talmud. (The other was in Sura.)

Rav Yehudah’s style of learning becomes part of Pumbedisa throughout the centuries that the academy survived. Rav Yehudah was dialectical, finding the exact distinctions between similar but not-quite-the-same laws. (See Bava Metzia 38b, Sanhedrin 17b and Chullin 110b.) We also find this identification in a discussion between Rav Sheishes and Rav Amram in Naharda’a (which we saw was the home of the predecessor school whose glory had faded), R’ Sheishes belittles R’ Amram statement by asking “Are you from Pumbedita, where they push an elephant through the eye of a needle?” (Bava Metzia 38b)

Pumbedisa produced very little aggadita (the non-halachic portions of Oral Torah); its names are known almost entirely for halachic statements.

In these two ways, Rav Yehudah sounded to me much like what Brisk later became. Rav Yehudah even determined that the center of Torah study was in Babylonia, and said it was prohibited therefore to leave Bavel for Israel (Kesuvos 111a) — perhaps prefiguring Rav Chaim Brisker’s anti-Zionism. (Gilgulim of the same soul?)

Rav Yehudah seems to have enjoyed exploring the meanings of words and precision in speech, both halachic (Pesachim 2a, Sukkah 50b, Moed Qatan 6b, Beitzah 35b), and as far as I can tell this is all of his aggadic statements (Taanis 9b, Gittin 31b, Nedarim 62b, Chullin 63a). And in regular conversation as well — Rav Nachman compliments him for it.

The Jewish Encyclopedia  conjectures that Rav Zeira rebelled against R’ Yehudah’s new mode of study, since he does leave Pumbedisa and goes to Israel. Adding my own 2 cents: Rav Zeira not only discusses aggadita, he is a figure in a significant number of its narratives.

During the Saboraic (the early ge’onim who lived before the Talmud was fully closed and therefore occasionally appear in it) and Geonic periods, Sura tended to have the more prominent role of the two schools — such as Rav Amaram Gaon and Rav Saadia Gaon. However, Pumbedisa closed later, and its last two heads, R’ Sherira Gaon and R’ Hai Gaon, who are also among the most famous of the geonim. The school finally shut down in 1038 (839 years after its founder’s death), with Rav Hai Gaon’s death, and the role of Sepharadic and Ashkenazic centers of learning came to the fore.

(Actually Sura didn’t really close. Yes, it ceased being the center of learning of geonim, but there was a school for the mainstream in existence with a direct lineage to Sura until 1958. That’s when the Baath Party, makers of Sadam Hussein, shut it down. Sura was the longest lasting institution of learning in human history, operating approximately 2100 years.)

But because Pumbedisa was the only Babylonian academy during this transition, most of our mesorah today comes via rishonim who took Pumbedisa’s Torah with them to Spain, Italy, Germany and France. It was Pumbedisa’s R’ Hai Gaon that taught Rabbeinu Gershom Meor haGolah and started the Ashkenazic line which produced Rashi, the Baalei Tosafos, Chassidei Ashkenaz, etc… He also taught Rav Yaaqov Gaon, who started a school in Kairouan, Teunisia, where Rav Yaaqov’s son, R’ Nissim Gaon (“the Ran”) studied, who in turn passes the torch to R’ Yitzchaq el-Fasi (the Rif), and eventually the Rambam.

And so, Rav Yehudah’s style of learning became the centerpiece of the Babylonian Talmud and of all learning since. (I would like to write in the near future about how the Yerushalmi’s style of learning differs, as seen from a look at its first 5-1/2 mesechtos. Part I, Part II – TBA)

It’s not an exaggeration to say כי מפלוג’א יצאה תורה!

Selichah, Mechilah, Kapparah, Yir’ah and Simchah

Caveat: Most of these entries are extrapolations from something I learned. In this case, the entry is a chidush on top of an earlier chidush.

In Mesilas Yesharim ch. 24, the Ramchal describes the various types of yir’ah (awe / fear). This is the topic of an earlier entry. To quote:

1- Yir’as ha’onesh: fear of punishment. This is the lowest of the three. However, since even fear of punishment is a motivator, even yir’as ha’onesh is viewed positively….

2- Yir’as Shamayim: fear of [the One in] heaven. This is the lofty goal. It, in turn, comes in two flavors:

2a- Yir’as hacheit: fear of sin. This is distinct from the fear of punishment; it is a fear of the sin itself, of the possibility of erring. Mesilas Yesharim continues that when a traditional source speaks of “yir’ah” without specification, it means yir’as hacheit (fear of the sin [itself])….

It is a kind of fear of heaven that one is worried about letting G-d down, about doing something that would ruin the relationship.

The Maharal (Nesivas Olam, Nesiv Yir’as Hashem chapter 1) writes that “yir’as hacheit” (fear of the sin itself, which the Ramchal called the default definition of “yir’ah“) comes from a love of Hashem. When you love Someone, you give great importance to not disappointing Him.

2b- Yir’as haRomemus: fear of the Grandeur [of G-d]

Note that as the Ramchal progresses, the translation for yir’ah as “fear” becomes steadily less compelling, and that of “awe”, or acting with “awareness of the magnitude of what one is engaging in”, seem more appropriate….

In Vidui, we ask for three things: selichah, mechilah and kaparah. (According to Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch these are in descending order — selichah is full repair of the sin, whereas kaparah is the containment of its punishment. I would like to suggest an explanation of the terms consistent with the Avudraham’s position that they are an ascending sequence.)

According to the Avudraham, selichah is being pardoned from any due punishment. This may also be the meaning of “veHashem yislach lah – and Hashem will forgive her” of her vow (Bamidbar 30:6,9,13), where the vow being annulled has not been violated. It is the release from a debt or responsibility.

Mechilah is forgiveness. There are no ill feelings remaining from the act. As Rashi writes (teshuvah #245), ““If he hugged him and kissed him, there is no mechilah greater than this.” The same idea is echoed by the Chasam Sofer (Derashos, Shabbos Shuvah). We do not obtain forgiveness from Hashem for sins done against another without first trying to obtain mechilah from the person offended. However, the Chasam Sofer writes, “In the time when the Beis haMiqdash stood, we do not find that there was an obligation for every Jew to seek mechilah from his friend on erev Yom Kippur. For it is the nature of the qorbanos to bring the hearts of men closer, and to make peace among them on their own.”

Kaparah is from the same root as “kapores“, the cover of the Aron, the “kofer“, pitch, used to cover wood for waterproofing, and the cover of “kefor“, frost, atop the manna (Shemos 16:14). And thus the preposition usually used with it is “al” (on), as we shall see, as it is also in the descriptions of kaparah through qorban in Vayiqra, 4:20, 26, 31, etc…. For whatever it’s worth, the cognate in arabic is /gfr/ which refers to covering or hiding. (This translation is that of the Ibn Ezra and Ramban, but not necessarily that of Rashi. See their respective commentaries on Bereishis 32:22, where Yaaqov’s appeasement gift to Esav is intended so that “akhaperah panav“. Also Rashi on 1:10. With thanks to R’ Avi Fertig for this last citation which pushed me to find the other rishonim.)

I would therefore suggest that kaparah is the containment of the inclination that led to the sin. This also explains the verse “Ki bayom hazeh yechapeir aleichem litaher eschem mikol chatoseichim, lifnei Hashem titeharu — for on this day, it will provide kaparah upon you to make you tahor, before Hashem you will become tahor” links kapparah to taharah. Taharah, purity (as in the “zahav tahor“, pure gold, of the menorah), is freedom from adulterations, negative habits inculcated into the soul. (See my earlier entry on the subject of taharah.) Kaparah, then is a prior step, their containment. Beyond pardon from punishment and restoration of the relationship, but starting the healing of the very self.

These three stages parallel the three types of yir’ah described above.

Selichah, pardon from punishment, is a resolution of the sinner’s yir’as ha’onesh (fear of punishment).

Someone with yir’as hacheit, who values His relationship with the Creator, is concerned with the impact of his actions on that relationship. That concern is resolved through mechilah, a restoration of that relationship.

Kaparah, by containing the cause of the sin, isolating off the personal flaw, is a step toward closing that gap between my finite self and the romemus, the greatness of the Almighty. From that kaparah, one can become a person with a healthier relationship with Hashem and with others, and from there all his debts to them would naturally be pardoned.

Teshuvah can thus be described as a return to Yir’ah.

This thought might explain why the last mishnah in Ta’anis includes Yom Kippur when it says, “There were no more joyous days for Israel than Yom Kippur and the Fifteenth of Av.” Returning back to that essay on yir’ah, there I compared the Ramchal’s yir’as hacheit (fear of sin) to Rav Avraham Elya Kaplan’s definition of yir’ah in BeIqvos haYirah (tr. R YG Bechhofer):

… To what may yir’ah be likened? To the tremor of fear which a father feels when his beloved young son rides his shoulders as he dances with him and rejoices before him, taking care that he not fall off. Here there is joy that is incomparable, pleasure that is incomparable. And the fear tied up with them is pleasant too. It does not impede the freedom of dance… It passes through them like a spinal column that straightens and strengthens. And it envelops them like a modest frame that lends grace and pleasantness… It is clear to the father that his son is riding securely upon him and will not fall back, for he constantly remembers him, not for a moment does he forget him. His son’s every movement, even the smallest, he feels, and he ensures that his son will not sway from his place, nor incline sideways – his heart is, therefore, sure, and he dances and rejoices. If a person is sure that the “bundle” of his life’s meaning is safely held high by the shoulders of his awareness, he knows that this bundle will not fall backwards, he will not forget it for a moment, he will remember it constantly, with yir’ah he will safe keep it. If every moment he checks it – then his heart is confident, and he dances and rejoices…

When the Torah was given to Israel solemnity and joy came down bundled together. They are fused together and cannot be separated. That is the secret of “gil be’re’ada” (joy in trembling) mentioned in Tehillim. Dance and judgment, song and law became partners with each other… Indeed, this is the balance… A rod of noble yir’ah passes through the rings of joy… {It is clear from the original Hebrew that this is a reference to the rods that held the boards together to make the walls of the Tabernacle. -mb} [It is] the inner rod embedded deep in an individual’s soul that connects end to end, it links complete joy in this world (eating, drinking and gift giving) to that which is beyond this world (remembering the [inevitable] day of death) to graft one upon the other so to produce eternal fruit.

Awareness of magnitude brings more weight to the event. It’s the difference between the joy of dancing at a siyum and that of dancing at wedding, or dancing at a friend’s wedding and dancing at one’s daughter’s. Because the wedding is so momentous, the joy is that much more intense. To return to R’ Avraham Elya Kaplan’s metaphor, the depth of my love for my son adds to the joy of dancing with him. Without the yir’ah, the awareness of what a big thing it is to put one’s son atop one’s shoulders, the joy wouldn’t be there.

Yom Kippur is a day of returning to yir’as Shamayim. And thus, a day on which we realize the depth of the gifts we receive, the accomplishments we have, and even begin to see meaning on the tribulations in our life. A day of joy.

Gemar chasimah tovah to all my readers, as well as to all who get this email and delete it unread (although those of you in that second class obviously couldn’t be reading this).

M-Theory and Creation

There is much todo in some circles about Stephen Hawking’s latest book, “The Grand Design”. Co-written by Leonard Mlodinow, but it’s Hawking’s name in science and sheer genius that gives the book its gravitas, not Moldonow’s explanatory abilities.

Here’s one sample review from The Washington Post. A snippet:

[They] have taken on that ultimate question in a somewhat more rigorous form by asking three related ones:

Why is there something instead of nothing?

Why do we exist?

Why does this particular set of laws govern our universe and not some other set?

With that background, Hawking and Mlodinow get to the real meat of their book: the way theories about quantum mechanics and relativity came together to shape our understanding of how our universe (and possibly others) formed out of nothing. Our current best description of the physics of this event, they explain, is the so-called “M-theories,” which predict that there is not a single universe (the one we live in) but a huge number of universes. In other words, not only is the Earth just one of several planets in our solar system and the Milky Way one of billions of galaxies, but our known universe itself is just one among uncounted billions of universes. It’s a startling replay of the Copernican Revolution.  The conclusions that follow are groundbreaking. Of all the possible universes, some must have laws that allow the appearance of life. The fact that we are here already tells us that we are in that corner of the multiverse. In this way, all origin questions are answered by pointing to the huge number of possible universes and saying that some of them have the properties that allow the existence of life, just by chance.

If there is a logical reason for there to be an infinite number of different laws of physics all coexisting in different places, then there is no surprise that some of them support life, produced life, and that that life reached sentience. The numbers allow one to apply evolution-like arguments to the laws of physics. Something is unlikely, but if you roll the dice enough times, even the unlikely will happen.

As USA Today quotes from the book:

Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.

Before I make my primary point, two smaller issues:

First, M-theory is not all that compelling. For that matter, the book came out at a time when the popularity of String Theory, upon which M-Theory is based, is starting to wane. See Roger Penrose’s review of the book in the Financial Times.  Penrose is another major physicist who made a name for himself writing popularizations.

Second, while Hawking and Mlodnow write “Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing”, they only shift the question to the meta-level. Given a multiverse that conforms to M-Theory, the existence of some universe that supports beings capable of wondering why we’re here does not require further invocation of the concept of a Designer. This answer gives Hawking a way to explain why the physical constants are tuned to such perfect values. But not why there are constants to begin with, nor why it involves these constants, these forces, these symmetries, etc…

Now, for the more fundamental issue. Two parts:

M-theory is not a theory. Here they more accurately describe it as a set of theories — but that set is open. There is as of yet no testable prediction that can be experimentally verified as showing that the actual physics of the world conforms to M-Theory or falsified by proving it doesn’t. And thus, M-theory still stands outside of the domain of science. (It’s the continued inability to limit the range of possible candidates for String or M-Theory so that they could find an experiment that could confirm or deny them that is largely fueling the defection of some scientists from researching in that area.) So, the book isn’t really about a scientific explanation.

Second, the whole explanatory power of M-theory is not the features of the M-dimensional branes (from the word “membrane”) that it involves. Rather, it’s from the concept of a multiverse — the notion that our universe is just one “corner” of a far grander idea. An infinity, or should I say “Infinity”, that can not be reached empirically, but still posited to exist for explanatory reasons.

Look at those two points (one in each of the previous paragraphs): both epistomologically and topically,  Stephen Hawking is talking religion. Hawking didn’t so much replace the need for G-d in the argument by design as posit his own kind of deity. One that lacks purpose and values, and thus poses no demands on the individual.