AN INTRODUCTION TO THE NOAHIDE LAWS

 

God is alone.

The Ramchal, Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzzatto, explained in his “The Way of God” that “It is impossible that there exist more than one being whose existence is intrinsically imperative. Only one being can possibly exist with this necessarily perfect essence, and therefore the only reason all other things have the possibility of existence is that God wills them to exist. All other things therefore depend on Him and do not have intrinsic existence” (Ramchal, 35).14

In his work the Ramchal is summing up these important arguments to give us a manageable framework within which we can understand certain things about God. These things are imperative in a quest for truth—specifically in religion. The Ramchal has expressed very beautifully the core understanding of Judaism. God is uniquely One, His existence is necessary because without it nothing else could exist.15

Some, such as Hindus, assume an eternal and not-created World "birthed" by another; this is not illogical, but starts with entirely different assumptions that are problematic, since it appears "objectively" that the Universe is not eternal but has a start.

God is non-corporeal

In the history of monotheism, which began with Adam and continues to this day, the beginning of error often begins by attributing some type of physical existence to God. Such error is often the result of misunderstandings of passages in the Torah such as God sees or stands, or knows.

At times the teachers of Israel have had to correct these misunderstandings. The Rambam in “The Guide for the Perplexed” covers this issue in great detail. According to the Rambam, “We have stated, in one of the chapters of this treatise, that there is a great difference between bringing to view the existence of a thing and demonstrating its true essence.”16 The fact that God existed and his essence, what He is, are often confused with physical bodies since, “That God exists was therefore shown to ordinary men by means of similes taken from physical bodies; that He is living, by a simile taken from motion, because ordinary men consider only the body as fully, truly, and undoubtedly existing; that which is connected with a body but is itself not a body, although believed to exist, has a lower degree of existence on account of its dependence on the body for existence. That, however, which is neither itself a body, nor a force within a body, is not existent according to man’s first notions, and is above all excluded from the range of imaginations.” and he goes on to say, “…The perception by the senses, especially by hearing and seeing, is best known to us; we have no idea or notion of any other mode of communication between the soul of one person and that of another than by means of speaking, i.e., by the sound produced by lips, tongue, and the other organs of speech. When, therefore, we are to be informed that God has a knowledge of things, and that communication is made by Him to the Prophets who convey it to us, they represent Him to us as seeing and hearing, i.e., as perceiving and knowing those things which can be seen or heard. They represent Him to us as speaking, i.e., that communications from Him reach the Prophets; that is to be understood by the term “prophecy,” as will be fully explained.”17

The Rambam’s meaning is that since human beings are limited in their knowledge of existence because we only have and express knowledge through our senses. Human beings often misunderstand the figures of speech in the Tanach about God. Therefore, when we say that God spoke to a prophet it is often understood by most people that God spoke to that prophet through the same organs of communication that we use to communicate with other humans. This is one of the origins of idolatry—wrongly attributing human activities to God. That is why the term ‘prophecy’ will be explained, later in the Rambam's book “The Guide for the Perplexed, to make it clear what is meant by communication between God and a prophet.18

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