G-d has no emotions. Zero. Nada. G-d is totally Simple. An emotional reaction - love, hate, loneliness, excitement - would mean, chas v’sholom, that…
Wait. Are you saying that when it says Hashem is merciful it doesn’t mean that literally? If that’s true, then what do we mean when we say Hashem is Rachum? And what about Hashem’s love for us? Isn’t that meant literally?
- He changes,
- He is affected by stimuli (whatever it is that caused the emotion in G-d obviously affected Him),
- Things have power over Him (since whatever it was that caused Him to feel the emotion controlled Him by causing the emotion in Him),
- He has boundaries (since emotions are exclusive of each other, each one has to exist separately from the others, and so some boundaries must exist that ensure that when one emotion is felt the others are not),
- He is made up of parts (since the emotions are a part, but not all, of Him),
- He is not the First Cause (anything that is made up of different attributes cannot be the First Cause since the combination of the attributes are its cause)
- ... and more.
When we say G-d “loves us” it means that G-d caused things to happen in such a way that it feels like He loves us. If someone else would have done that to us, it would be driven by love.
Hashem has no accidental attributes at all, meaning that there’s no such thing as anything being part of Hashem. There is no such thing as “G-d's knowledge”, “G-d's strength”, or “G-d's love” - all of those things would mean that He has components, which is not true.
G-d has no mercy in the emotional sense. He does, however, act in such a way that the results are the same as if He would have had mercy.
So when we ask G-d to have mercy on us, compassion, etc, we are asking for him to deal with us in a way that we define as mercy, compassion, etc? (It’s very hard to understand this because we think like humans and G-d can’t be defined in human terms, like you said.) But what I don’t understand is that, when G-d acts with mercy towards us, isn’t He having mercy, so doesn’t that mean He has mercy?
That’s what we mean when we ask G-d for mercy. We mean He should act in a way that seems merciful to us, although what we think of as human mercy is not His motivation.
When we say Hashem has “mercy” for instance, we do not mean that Hashem chas v’sholom has an emotion. We mean that Hashem at times acts in such a way that it feels to us as if He was merciful.
It's like, for instance, when you put the wrong software in your computer and it acts up. You may say, as a figure of speech, that the “computer doesn’t like the software” or even “the computer got angry”. The computer doesn’t really have any emotions or likes, but it acted in a way that metaphorically can be described as “anger”.
So too, when we say Hashem gets “angry” we mean that Hashem acts in a way that seems to us angry. But there was no emotion of anger involved.
So if we had a real Loshon Hakodesh dictionary there would be an entry like this:
an•ger n. - Hashem's actions toward us that seem as if He would have a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility.
“Anger”, when it refers to Hashem, is only a figure of speech.
You are asking that if our midos have nothing to do with Hashem's, and are merely homonyms, then how can we ever “resemble” Hashem in our Midos?
So if our actions can’t be compared to Hashem’s at all, how can the Torah say that our Midos should emulates G-d’s – ma hu rachum, af ata rachum? If all these Midos in regard to Hashem are only a Moshol, then how can we “emulate” Hashem by us having real Midos?
The answer is that when we say Hashem is “strong” it means He does not need strength because even without the attribute of strength He is never weak; when we say He is wise it means He does not need the thing we call wisdom because He is never ignorant, even without it; when we say Hashem is merciful it means that He does not need the emotion of mercy - even without it, He is not cruel. It is Hashem's perfection that causes Him not to have any of these traits; He is so perfect that He does not need any of them. Traits such as wisdom, mercy, and the like are only positive things if you need them. We do. Hashem does not.
So when we are commanded to be like Hashem, we are expected to use those traits that Hashem does not need, in order to mimic the actions that Hashem performs without them.
If fact, if you examine the way the Rambam quotes the Halachah of ma-hu-af-ata, you will see this idea explicitly. The exact wording of the Rambam is:
מה הוא נקרא רחום אף אתה היה רחום
In other words, Hashem is merely “called” merciful, but we are commanded to actually be merciful.
One more thing: if G-d doesn't experience emotion, then He must either be incapable of emotion or chose not to experience it. Surely G-d would choose to love His own people if it were a possibility, so then, is He incapable of love?
If so, wouldn't that be placing boundaries on a limitless G-d? And either way, what is the purpose of davening and fulfilling all sorts of requirements if not to please G-d?
G-d is incapable of emotion since He is incapable of change, since He is beyond time, and to change means to be a “victim” of time; and He cannot have emotions for various other reasons - it would contradict His simplicity and His perfection.
And no, this is not a limitation to G-d. Thinking so is just a trick of the mind. You ask: “If G-d is perfect, then can He make Himself imperfect? No?... Aha! The He can’t do everything!”
G-d cannot scratch His nose; He cannot kill Himself; He cannot be weak. No, no, no. The answer is a simple “No”. And no, it’s not a limitation to be always limitless and it’s not a weakness if you can’t be weak.
So let me get this straight....everything that's said about "G-d's love" isn't literal at all?
So G-d's feelings about us are totally neutral, or don't really exist? Sorry, it’s just kind of a weird realization to think that...but if G-d didn't really "love" us, and if He doesn't "need" or "want" anything, then what would be His motivation to create the world?
Right. G-d's “love” isn’t literal. Neither is His anger, or any other emotion. (But it's not that "G-d's feelings are totally neutral." It's that the whole concept of physical, subconscious, unconscious, brain-released-chemical-induced emotional changes.)
And your question that if G-d has no emotions and does not “love” us, then why did G-d make the world, is a wonderful one. By asking it you have uncovered one of the greatest teachings of Creation:
G-d created the world for our benefit, with nothing for Him to gain at all.
That is the difference between “generosity” as it applies to us and “generosity” as it applies to Hashem. For us, there is always a reason why we want to be generous. We always have something to gain - a mitzvah, a feeling of satisfaction, a little recognition, whatever. For Hashem, there was none of this.
He wanted to create us and give us Gan Eden - eternal, infinite happiness - only for our sake. He gains nothing. He did it because He wanted to. For us. With absolutely zero benefit for Himself.
The topic you brought up – the Purpose of Creation – is an important one indeed, but as you have just discovered, it can only be understood properly after we establish that Hashem’s actions do not have the same “reasons” as our actions. Our actions bring benefit to ourselves. Even “selfless” acts provide a sense of satisfaction and garner us reward for having done a Mitzvah. When Hashem acts, He does not get any benefit at all. He cannot benefit – that would imply a change, and some kind of gain. What is outside of time cannot change, and what is Kulo Poshut cannot “gain” anything at all.
The meanings of these terms are easily understood; but visualizing someone or something with these characteristics is impossible - not only for us but for Moshe Rabbeinu, too. When Moshe asked Hashem “show me your glory”, what he wanted to understand was the essence of Hashem, to which Hashem answered: “No living being can see Me.” This means that as long as we are physical beings, we cannot conceptualize these things.
When you say such things like "Hashem is One”, "He just is, He never began nor ever will end,” "Hashem is Kulo Pushut" etc. - do you fully understand what these terms mean or are you just referring us to different places where Hashem is described? Honestly, can we really comprehend what this truly means?
This is so because the human mind does not generate its own knowledge; rather, it absorbs information from the outside and rearranges it in the mind. So someone, let’s say, who was born blind, can never understand the difference between blue and red. There’s absolutely no way you can explain it to him.
Someone who never experienced infinity cannot imagine what he himself means when he says “space never ends”. And neither can he understand what it would mean if he’d say that space does end. Because we have experienced neither infinity nor anything outside of space, we cannot conceptualize those thoughts. Yet the infiniteness of space - or its having an end - can be understood “on paper,” even if our mind’s eye is not sharp enough to picture it.
So too, the things we know about G-d can definitely be understood “on paper,” but we will not be able to imagine them in our minds.
There is a great difference between “impossible” and “unable to be visualized.” There is no reason to say that a Muchrach HaMetzius is impossible. There is no logic that negates the possibility of such an existence. But just because something is real does not mean we can visualize it. Visualization is possible only if we experienced the reality that we want to visualize. Since we never experienced a Muchrach HaMetzius we cannot visualize it.
However, an infinite regression of causes, for example, is not merely impossible to visualize. It is impossible to exist. Because infinity never ends, the amount of causes in the past cannot be infinite, because those causes have already ended. Logic precludes the existence of an infinite regression of anything in the past. Therefore, when faced with the choice of an infinite regression of causes, which is impossible, or a Muchrach HaMetzius, which is not impossible, we conclude that a Muchrach HaMetzius must have been the First Cause.