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God: An Introduction

May 9, 2009 | by Rabbi Nechemia Coopersmith

Delve into some mind-boggling concepts in this exploration of the Jewish definition of God.


In the horror movie "The Blob", a jelly-like monster falls from outer space and swallows things whole, taking on the size of whatever it devours.

Imagine the blob stretching out and swallowing all of New York. It gets bigger and bigger, stretching out towards the Atlantic, Europe, the Middle East. The entire planet is swallowed up and the blob continues to stretch outwards forever, chomping on the universe.

Is the blob infinite or finite?

Is this blob infinite or finite?

It's finite, of course. Even though it's getting bigger and bigger, it has a circumference, a border. Its size can be measured; it's physical.

Infinite does not mean super-large. It means without limit and containment. Anything that exists within space is by definition finite, no matter how big it gets.


Try to picture God before there was a universe.

Where is God?

Most people imagine God being everywhere, expanding and filling up everything. But to be everywhere, you need a space. And space hasn't been created yet! Infinite means beyond space. Boundless. Incorporeal. No boundaries, no mass, no place.

Infinite means beyond space. No boundaries, no mass, no place.

If it feels like your mind just hit a wall, relax. It means you're getting a sense of the infinite dimension. There is a built-in difficulty in trying to grasp "beyond space" because we're stuck in a finite world. Everything we perceive is filtered through our finite minds with finite vocabulary. Even though we seem to define the quality of being beyond space, we can't fully grasp what our definition really means. [next article will explore this inherent difficulty]


Besides infinity in space, there is also infinity in time.

In the movie "Back to the Future", Marty McFly travels back and forth from the past to the future with his time machine. Does this make Marty infinite in regards to being outside of time?

Of course not. Even though he can move wherever he wants in time, he constantly remains within the framework of time.

Now we understand why in the movie, the Professor places limitations on Marty's travels, telling him that:

1) He can't change history.

2) He can't meet himself in another time coordinate. The Professor tells him that if the present 20-year-old Marty McFly were to meet the future 40-year-old Marty McFly, a time-warp would be created causing time to unravel, destroying the entire universe. (Hey - it's only a movie.)

This second limitation is a result of the finite aspect of time travel. How can one person be at two places at two times all at the same time?!

Impossible -- unless you are infinite, completely unencumbered and above time. Being outside of the timeline means being at all places at all times -- all at the same time.


Our forefather Abraham began his search for the infinite dimension when he was three years old with a very simple, yet piercing question -- the kind of question most three year olds ask when they see something for the first time.

"Whose is it?"

One day little Abraham sees the moon and asks his father, "Dad, who owns the moon?"His father answers in the way of any self-respecting idol worshipper: "It belongs to the moon god, son," as he pulls the moon god off the shelf to show him.

Abraham's next question is, "Well who owns the moon god?"

With this simple question, Abraham is on the cusp of discovering the source of creation. He realizes that finite gods have a beginning, something that existed prior that created them. So Abraham keeps going backwards through the process, searching for the beginning of it all, disregarding the finite gods that exist in time and space. Eventually he reaches God with a capital G, the Being that existed before there ever was time, and asks, "Well, who created God? Where did He come from?"

A being that exists beyond time doesn't come from anywhere.

A being that exists beyond time doesn't come from anywhere. He has always existed. If something created God, God would have a beginning and He'd be finite, not infinite. Beyond time means having no beginning and no end. Eternal. It means there is nothing that exists before God. 'Before' is a time-bound quality that applies only to finite entities. Therefore God is called "the First Cause" -- the Prime Mover -- the dimension that has no other dimension preceding it.

Abraham discovers the infinite source of existence, an Eternal Being, unhindered by time and space.

Every Jew must believe and know that there exists a First Being, without beginning or end, who brought all things into existence and continues to sustain them. This Being is God."[Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, in his 18th century work, The Way of God]


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