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Hashem's "motive" For Creation

Hashem The World creation

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#1 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 11:00 AM

So according to what you said G-d created the world b/c He wanted to share the good with us so WE could enjoy it too. So ultimately thegoal is for us to reach olam haba. Hashem doesn’t need our little mitzvos G-d forbid, He just gave them to us, so He can share His greatness with us and giveus olam haba, is that correct? It sounds kind of selfish on our part - we'redoing Mitzvos so we can get a reward in olam hab

Your question is asked by the Meforshim. They answer that no, it is not selfish. For since G-d wants you to get Olam Habah, then by you doing so, you are fulfilling the will of Hashem.

"For Hashem's sake" does not mean to benefit Hashem - chas v’sholom- He does not benefit from our Mitzvos. It means, rather, to do Mitzvos in order to fulfill Hashem's will. And Hashem's will is that we should get Olam Habah. Therefore, doing Mitzvos for Hashem's sake means that we have in mind that the reason we want to go to Olam Habah is because Hashem desires that.

Thus, the ultimate goal of Hashem - for us to go to Olam Habah - and our ultimate goal - to do Mitzvos for Hashem's sake, go hand in hand.

Yes but we cannot say that we have a good answer to why G-d created the world. We don't. Under our conception of G-d, He cannot have desires. He cannot decide to do anything either, because, with no desires, no needs, a decision would have no reason, would be arbitrary. One would not decide to do anything unless there was some value system that made decisions possible.You can't say both that we can answer the skeptics who say G-d could have no reason and also say that we cannot comprehend G-d and so we cannot understand how He can have a reason. I mean you can, but you cannot think this will be satisfying to anyone who does not already believe in completely in G-d.

What you’re saying is incorrect. You are not understanding what it means when we say G-d has no "desires".

It does not mean that G-d makes no decisions; it also does not mean that G-d has no reasons for making those decisions. He does. In that sense, G-d certainly has "desires", meaning, there are certain things that G-d wants and others that he does not. We call this type of desire “Ratzon,” and G-d definitely does things by way of Ratzon. However, when we say G-d has no "desires" it means that the reasons for G-d's decisions are not self-serving. The reasons, whatever they are, can never have to do with G-d benefiting in any way. G-d does things - He wants certain things to happen and certain thing not to happen, but not because He loses anything or gains anything either way.

This is perfectly reasonable to a rational mind. It is not the skeptic who cannot accept this but the cynic, who will say, "Well, if there’s nothing in it for G-d, why should He do it?" This question is based on the fallacious and narrow-minded notion that because our actions always involve some gain for us, therefore G-d's actions also must do the same.

The mistake in this is the assumption that there cannot be an entity which acts out of purely altruistic reasons. The fact that our motives always involve some benefit to us does not mean that motives without benefit cannot exist.There is no logical reason that a "reason for doing something" always has to involve "personal benefit." It is in our personal experience that this limitation exists. That does not mean that the limitation has to exist outside of our experience as well.

In asking this, the questioner does not consider the possibility that there are other realities which exist outside of his own experience. He thinks ,"Well, if I have never seen totally altruistic actions, then they cannot exist anywhere.” He projects his own experiences on the entire universe - even,in this case, on G-d, and that doesn’t make sense.

For the record, though, answers are not designed to satisfy people; they are designed to negate questions. If the answer objectively negates the question then it is a valid answer. If any particular human being - skeptic or whoever - does not want to accept the answer, that does not diminish the validity of that answer. It diminishes the validity of the opinion of the skeptic.

OK, so Hashem created the world because He wants to do good, but why would Hashem want to do good? Apparently He does have desires, or else what does He care to do good? Also, if I do “good” that means there’salready some kind of ethical or moral framework in existence that demands that I should do good. But Hashem didn’t have any such thing before He created the world? Did He? If He did, then He was bound to some ethical framework, and that means He wasn’t in total control. And if He didn’t have any ethical framework,then why did He want to do good?

You have two separate questions in there. One at a time:

Q: What would cause G-d to want to create the world?

A: G-d by definition is a First Cause. By contrast, our decisions are always caused by something - decisions cannot be random - there is always a cause behind them. However, since it is impossible for an infinite regression of causes to exist, the chain of causes stretching back must end with a Cause which caused everything but in of itself has no cause. This is simple math.

A first cause means there is nothing that affects it, nonetheless it caused the universe.

When we say nothing affects it, this means that whereas when we make decisions they are based on inducements and motives, when the First Cause caused things to exist it was not based on any inducements or motives - because then you are attributing prior causes to the process, and there were not prior causes before the First Cause.

So what you are asking - what would cause G-d to decide one way over the other - assumes that the decisions of a First Cause work in the same way that our decisions do, namely, they are induced by some cause. But by definition, that is not the case with Hashem, the First Cause. Hashem’s decision to do good and make the world was not induced by anything. That is what a First Cause means, and there had to have been a First Cause.

Q: What makes creating the world "good"? In order for that to be true, someone would have already created some framework for good and bad that would define creating the world as "good”. Where did this framework come from?

A: We have mixed up two definitions of "good". When we say G-d wanted to do "good" and so He created the world, we do not mean good as opposed to bad, as in morals or values. We mean good as in desirable. G-d wanted to bestow upon others that which would be desirable to them. And since what G-d would give to His creations by creating them would be a connection to Him, that by definition is desirable. G-d is Perfect, and by definition perfection is a desirable state, certainly more desirable than non-existence. But since there can be only one perfect being, G-d arranged a plan whereby others would have a desirable state of perfection through being connected to Him.

G-d did this not because He had to, in order to fulfill some kind of obligation, or because He had to "pander" to some kind of value system, but simply because it makes others happy.

If G-d had bestowed money or some other kind of benefit on people, you would be right in questioning why it is that creating people and giving them things is something that G-d would want to do. But because what G-d is giving to us in creating the world is a connection to Himself, you have your answer right there: G-d's existence is itself perfect, meaning it is desirable, which itself creates the framework for the definition of desirability.

A beneficial, desirable prize - something people would want - already existed before the world, namely, G-d's state of existence. All G-d did was allow people to benefit from it.

But no matter how you cut it, there is no way out of the facts, which are:

1) Fact: There had to be a First Cause
2) Fact: The First Cause created the universe
3) Fact: The First Cause could not create a universe for Its own sake, since by definition the First Cause cannot be affected by anything.
4) Fact: Since the purpose of creation cannot be for the First Cause, the only other choice is it must be for the sake of the creations, since the only things that exist in all of reality is the First Cause and its effects, i.e. the creations.

But then on one hand you’re saying that Hashem created the world because He wanted to do chesed, and on the other hand you’re saying that we don’t know why He wanted to do chesed, so we don’t really know why ultimately Hashem created the world … right? So the question isn’t really answered, is it?

Yes, it is answered. There are two distinct questions here. One of them we are answering; the other, a totally different and independent question, we are not. You are mixing up the two questions so you are getting confused. Whenever you ask what the purpose of an action is, your question can mean two things: (1) What does the action accomplish? Or (2) What motivated that person to perform this action?

These are two different issues. If you ask what the purpose of an automobile is, the answer will be, “to transport people from place to place”. But that’s if your intent is to ask what the automobile was designed to do (question #1 above). If you want to know what motivated the manufacturer to create automobiles (question #2), the answer is: to make money!

So too here. We are not asking, and never will ask, what motivated Hashem to create the world. That question is an error, as I will explain shortly, and in addition, it violates the prohibition of inquiring “mah lifnim” – what was before the creation of the world. What we are asking, rather, is: What was this world designed to do? Hashem created this thing called the universe. What does this universe accomplish? What is its purpose? The answer to that is, the universe is designed to give pleasure to its inhabitants – in the same way that an automobile was designed to transport people. What motivated the Manufacturer chose to create such a tool? That is not the question we are trying to answer.

That question is, to be sure, an error. Hashem is the First Cause. There are two responses to why the First Cause would want to cause something to be and they are really just two different ways of explaining the same thing:

(a) This is not a legitimate question, since in essence what we are asking is, "what is the cause that induced the First Cause to cause things?" By definition, there was no cause. If there was a "reason" that induced the First Cause to cause things, that reason would be the First Cause,and then you'd ask what caused that reason, ad infinitum, and since there cannot be an infinite regression of causes like that, we will have to concede to a First Cause which itself was causeless.

(b.) It is physically impossible for us to conceptualize why a First Cause would choose one course of action over another. The human brain does not generate its own information - it merely processes the information that it absorbs through its experience. Hence a blind man cannot conceptualize colors, and we cannot conceptualize the idea that there is an end of space, or that time is relative- both of which are legitimate ideas - because all our experiences take place within time and space, and so we cannot make sense out of anything beyond either dimension.

So too, we live in a world where every effect has a cause. Nothing happens without a reason. Whatever circumstance exists, it is because something caused it to happen or to exist as opposed to a different option. Therefore, after we establish that there must have been a First Cause, we now have proven the existence of another one of those entities that we cannot conceptualize of or understand. A First Cause by definition means something that has no reason why it is here, which means it could not have not been here - absolutely incomprehensible but also absolutely true, and it also means nothing affects it. Not time, not space, not length, width or breadth, not anything at all. So whatever the "reason" that prompted this First Cause cannot be a motive, or a desire, or a reaction to any cause whatsoever. And since in our world of cause-and-effect, such a thing cannot happen - because for us all action has a cause that induces it - we therefore cannot conceptualize of action without a cause that induces it.

But the First Cause by definition had to have constituted an action (i.e.the creation of a second cause) without any cause to induce it. So the "why" of why G-d created the world is, by definition, not going to be within our grasp.

Implying that G-d could not have created the world because why would He do that is the same as implying that space doesn’t end because what comes afterwards? The answer to both is the same: Our lack of understanding - of why or what - is not a valid benchmark to determine that there is no why or what. We know for a fact that any concept outside of our experience will not be understood, and so if we are talking about such a concept we cannot expect to answer why or what.

But just as we do not know "what" lies outside of space, we do know that it is not space.

And just as we do not know "why" Hashem decided to be benevolent,we do know that it was not because something caused Him to do so.

And the fact that we do not know "why" something happened does not mean it did not happen.

The bottom line is there is no choice in this matter. The four facts mentioned above are inescapable. The bottom line is that the world was created by a First Cause, and that it could only have been created for the sake of those created. The fact that we can’t figure out why the First Cause did that is perfectly understandable --- how in the world can we comprehend the reason for a First Cause? Whatever the reason is, it cannot have been caused. Since our experience is limited to actions that have causes, we cannot expect to understand anything different.

For more information on the First Cause principle see here.

#2 mamash



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Posted 18 August 2011 - 09:53 PM

What is the meaning of the midrash that says Hashem desired to create a dirah b'tachtonim?

#3 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 07:45 PM

What is the meaning of the midrash that says Hashem desired to create a dirah b'tachtonim?

It does not mean that Hashem created the world for some benefit to Him. That is impossible because Hashem cannot benefit from anything. Anything Hashem does is not for His sake, and therefore must be for the sake of others, i.e. a Chesed.

Therefore, when we say Hashem wanted a Dirah Batachtonim it means He wanted it for the sake of the Tachtonim, not for His sake. Moshol - l'havdil elef v'alfei havdolos - when Bill Clinton set up an office in Harlem, he did not set it up for his benefit - he had no need to be in Harlem. He set it up there for the benefit of the residents of Harlem.

So too - again, l'ahavdil - when Hashem set up His dirah b'atachtonim, He did it for the benefit of the Tachtonim, that they should have Him dwelling among them. By Hashem setting up His presence in this world He allows for it (and ourselves) to be sanctified by our deeds, which is the purpose of creation. But it is all for our sake - not His.

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