Friday, November 8, 2013

Before One ...

"Before One what do you count?" This is a quote from the ancient Jewish mystical text "Sefer Yetzirah". Since this question is referring to the Creator, the intended answer is not "zero". The intention is to point to beyond the numerical. In other words, since logic is just another creation (just like mountains, trees and sky are), the Creator is beyond any kind of logic, including mathematics and numbers. If this is the case, how do we refer to the Creator as being One, which is seemingly such a numerical idea?

It seems to me that the idea of calling the Creator "One" is really an elimination of multiplicity. The word “One” is merely being borrowed as a convenience of speech. What is really being said is that the Creator is not multiple. This fits "hand in glove" with how Rabbi Bachya Ibn Pequda describes the Creator's Oneness in his classic "Duties of the Heart". His explanation moves towards the direction Oneness by first explaining that the Creator has no parts or pieces. Namely, that He's seamlessly One. Ultimately, he never really tells his audience Who the Creator is, but, rather Whom the Creator isn't. By eliminating multiplicity, he points to the Being beyond the numbers.

1 comment:

  1. From Facebook Post:

    Ze'ev: Interesting take. There is a great maamer of the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Rebbe Rayatz about this subject. He asks why Hashem echad? Echad is a number, which implies multiplicity because one is just a number which can then be added or subjected to e.g. One, two, three etc. Why not say Hashem is singular? The reason is to teach us that even multiplicity is all really one. All is Hashem. The shema is proclaiming that what is beyond nature and multiplicity - shem Havaya - and Elokim - the name associated with G-d creating the natural order - is all really one in the same.

    Choni to Ze'ev : Thank you for sharing. The teaching of the Rebbe Rayatz is seminally included in the idea I mentioned.