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Ain Ode MIlvado

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#1 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 08:25 AM

Can you cite some of the sources for me? Does it specifically say that Hashem is all-powerful, or do we infer this somehow? Andif it's inferred, how do we come to this conclusion? It's not so much that I doubt His omnipotence as much as I want to be sure of it. I don't need any more proof than what we have in the Torah

Sure. The best source is the posuk (אין עוד מלבדו (דברים ד:לה

“All-powerful”,when we apply it to Hashem, does not mean quantitatively more powerful than you and I. It's not that Hashem has more power than anyone else. Hashem's power is completely different than what we understand power to be in thisworld.

Power, to us,means the ability to overcome something. Perhaps to lift weight (overcoming resistance), to jump high (overcoming gravity), or to figure out a mystery (overcoming lack of knowledge).

Limits come into the picture when the power that we want to overcome is greater than the power we possess. A limit means that there is some other power greater than yours.

Power and limits are expressions of the same thing. It's just a matter of how much power there is.

None of this makes sense when it comes to Hashem. When we say, “Hashem is all-powerful” it doesn't mean that He has power like we have except that He has an infinite amount of it. That would mean that the difference between Him and us is that we can only overcome a limited amount of things, but He can overcome everything.

Nope. That's not the idea. It's not that He is stronger than any power, but rather that He is the only power. There is no opposing external force for him to vanquish, since He is the creator, maintainer, and controller of all power in the world.

If you want to say that Hashem does have limits, I would ask you what the source is of the power that you say is stronger than Hashem. Since we can prove that the world - the entire world - has a creator, then the power that you claim is stronger than Hashem also must have a creator. Which means, ultimately, that the creator of the world can have no limits, since He would be the creator of power as well. And if you create and control all power in the world, you cannot have any limits, because limits means there is a power stronger than you.

When you understand how Hashem created the universe, you realize that He must be all-powerful. Not because he has more power than anything, but because there isno power except Him.

Hashem is called “Makom"” (place). The reason, Chazal say, is because The world is not a place for Hashem,but rather Hashem is a place for the world”. This means that the entire world,the entire universe - reality itself as we know it - is only an expression of Hashem's will.

A good way to understand Hashem's existence versus ours (only as a moshol, of course) is to imagine a little worldthat exists only in your mind. Little people, little cities, little rivers and forests - all in your imagination.

This is a moshol to explain how Hashem created the world. Those people in your mind have real existence - they are little electrical impulses in your brain, which are involved in your thought process -but compared to you, they don't really exist at all.

So too we exist in some way, but only as expressions of the Will of Hashem. “Ain Ode Milvado” - there is nothing except Hashem. “This means nothing has true existence like Hashem” (Rambam YesodeiHaTorah 1:4).

In your imaginary world, there would be no such thing as you having limits on the power you possess. Since the entire thing is only an expression of your will, no power there can exist without your desire. It would make no sense to question whether you are “strong” enough to lift a big rock in your world or to revive someone from the dead, since the rock is only heavy by your will and the person is only dead because you imagined it so.

Your will controls everything and so no force exists except you.

When we say Hashem is all-powerful, we do not mean that He is stronger than anything, but rather there is no strength at all in the entire world except Him.

This is the simple meaning of “Ain Ode Milvado.”

#2 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 08:35 AM

How do we manage to have free will then? Yeah, I can imagine my own little world and nothing can happen that is against my will, but then my little imaginary people have no will of their own. They can’t even think. They just do whatever I imagine them doing. I don’t have to command them to do something. If I envision it, it’s done.

And another thing: When we disobey Hashem, we are going against His will. It would seem that we have become an opposing force. But then, it is He Who sustains us, so even when we rebel against Him we are only doing so through the strength and will that He has bestowed upon us. This doesn't make sense. In effect when we rebel against G-d, it’s almost like He's the one supporting our efforts to rebel. And that would be like Him rebelling against Himself.

I’m struggling now with thoughts of dualism, because I can’tsee this any other way. I know it’s wrong but it seems so logical, two opposing forces.

There’s no way to completely cut yourself off from G-d, isthere? Could you exist otherwise?

First, the question is a very good one. It shows that you understand what our Seforim tell us, that free will is a miracle. And you are correct; according to the way Nature is set up, free will can’t exist.

But Hashem found a way around that. What He did was, He created people out of a part of Himself. Meaning, your Soul was “sliced,” so to speak, from Hashem's essence.It is really a part of Hashem, but with your sentience superimposed on it. It’s like Hashem took pieces of Himself, with all the ability to make decisions, and animated those pieces by bestowing on them their own personalities. (Of course, this is not meant in a tangible, physical way - Hashem has no physical "parts," but in a spiritual manner, our souls are a חלק אלוה ממעל.)

When you rebel against Hashem you do so because He allows you to make the decision to rebel -and then, yes, He actually enables you to bring the decision to sin to fruition. Although the decision you made was against what G-d wanted you to do, this is not dualism because it is the Will of G-d that you be able to act in a manner contrary to His preferences if you so desire.

This is sort of like when you allow your kid to do something that you don’t want him to do, knowing that he will mess up by making this mistake - and you do not stand in his way to prevent him. You allow him to go ahead and do it because by doing it he will learn "the hard way" and ultimately be able to function better on his own.

So too, Hashem allows us to rebel because without the possibility that we might make the wrong decision, we would never develop the ability to choose right over wrong.

No, a person cannot escape from Hashem's control. All of reality as we know it is only “inside” Hashem.

#3 YReiner



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Posted 08 April 2011 - 09:26 AM

I quote:

“Our souls are a Chelek Elokai Me’Mal”


“Hashem is called “Makom"” (place). The reason, Chazal say, is because The world is not a place for Hashem, but rather Hashem is a place for the world”. This means that the entire world,the entire universe - reality itself as we know it - is only an expression of Hashem's will”

Now, if everything in this world is an expression of Hashems will, what is the significances that we are Chelek Elokai Me’Mal? Is it just a matter of us being a “part” of Hashem with less Tzimzum then let’s say a table? Is the difference all a matter of degree of Tzimzum?

#4 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 06:52 AM

This was one of Rav Chaim Volozhen's points in Nefesh haChaim, that אין עוד מלבדו should not result in people thinking, mistakenly, that a bathroom, for example, has the same Kedusha as a Bais HaMedrash. But this was part of the Briah (and yes the Tzimtuzm) that there are certain times, places, and things, that are endowed with more Kedusha and more Shechinah, and some with less. As far as a Neshoma goes, as a Moshol (and only as a Moshol) think of a little world in your mind, where nothing can happen unless you "think" it into reality. That's the world. Then imagine giving some people in that little world a part of your consciousness so that even they only exist in your imagination, they can still function by their own free choice, doing things on their own, inside of your mind.

That's kind of the way a Neshoma works. Everything in this world is only a manifestation of the Ratzon Hashem. But the Neshoma has properties that should not be able to exist because of the limitations of such a world. Hashem has miraculously created a Neshoma out of different "stuff" than the rest of the universe - although both the Neshoma "stuff" and the world "stuff" only exist by the will of Hashem.

Remember - logically, nothing can happen in the world without a cause. Only Hashem can be a First Cause. Yet Bechirah means total free choice, that a person can choose MItzvah or Aveirah on his own, without anything causing him to do so. That itself is a tremendous miracle. Human choice works without a cause (of course, Bechirah is not a real first cause, because it is the Ratzon Hashem that causes our Bechirah. As opposed to Hashem Himself, where nothing enables Hashem's abilities. You could thus say that humans are "secondary first causes."). This itself puts humans, or rather, the mechanism that allows humans to make Yirash Shamayim choices, i.e. the Neshama, on a different plane of existence than the rest of the world. Both the human choice mechanism (the Neshama) and the rest of the world are the Ratzon Hashem, but the human choice meachnism is endowed with a G-dly property that the rest of the world does not have.