Models of Creation

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2 Responses

  1. Jim Reid says:

    Rabbai said: “no one is suggestion that Hashem actually constricts Himself. That would be suggesting a change in an unchanging G-d, and a reduction of His Absolute infinity.”

    I keep wondering how G-d limiting Himself is a reduction of His Absolute infinity. Is it possible that Hashem could exercise self limitation in a display of His freedom, autonomy, and sovreignty? Could this not also be a way of engaging humanity for the sake of humanity in humility and restraint? How many times G-d has restrained Himself from the utter destruction of humanity based on their blatant disregard for justice and righteousness.

    In Hosea and Jeremiah there are great examples of Hashem’s restraint of working through anger to state how different He is from humans: “I will not act on My wrath, Will not turn to destroy Ephraim. For I am G-d, not man, The Holy One in your midst: I will not come in fury.” (Hosea 11:9)

    Or has foregone wrath and turned it into an invitation to “glory in one’s devotion to Me. For I the Lord act with kindness, justice, and equity in the world for in these I delight.” (Jeremiah 9:23)

    Or how He changed His action after speaking with Moshe at Sinai, proposing to destroy the entire people and raise up a new generation through Moshe, who refused the offer. The Lord “renounced the punishment He had planned to bring upon His people.” (Exodus 32:14).

    Later, when Moshe asked to see the Lord’s face, the Lord granted only that Moshe could see His goodness, stating, literally, “I will grant the grace that I will grand and show the compassion that I will show.” (Exodus 33:19).

    Is this not a perfect expression of sovreignty and self-limitation, restraint and freedom all at once–that G-d will not use all force or gentleness but carefully responds to the level of human necessity based on human capability (“for man may not see Me and live”). Certainly I could be argued that the limitation was Moshe’s incapability as being human. But for the sake of creation does it not also indicate that, if all is G-d, G-d “constricts” Himself for the purpose of making something not completely Himself, but wholly derived from Himself.

    Even in math one can come to a solution that divides infinity into smaller units, though it is understood that each smaller unit is still infinity. If we can make reference to such a thing, how much more can Hashem limit Self without Self being infinite still. And doesn’t the teaching of tikkun olam base itself on G-d limiting (restraining) Self for the benefit of humans having a part in helping to fulfill creation in partnership with G-d?

    Note: Perhaps all this is really not a big issue. And please forgive my ignorance, for I am a gentile, even a Christian pastor. But I really do appreciate Jewish thinking on scripture and merely look for dialogue, not for proselytizing, to clarify what I read. I try to use your terms in reference to G-d, out of respect to you. I am not trying to come accross as a “hip” Christian. I’m just trying to learn more about the G-d who stepped in my path and changed my life.

    Jim

  1. כ״ה בסיון תשס״ז – Sun, Jun 10, 2007

    […] Baal Shem Tov notes that Hashem created the world through speech. (See this essay on the various models used for understanding creation for more on this topic.) It is not that […]

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