Ani Maamin 03

30 Aug 2006

Third of the Thirteen Principles of the Jewish Faith laid down by the Rambam in the twelfth century, and the third of five principles relating to the Existence and Nature of G-d:

“I believe with complete faith that the Creator, Blessed is His Name, is not corporeal (has no body), is not affected by physical phenomena, and that there is no comparison whatsoever to Him.”

This is the Principle of Incorporeality. It is perhaps the most difficult to accept because, our common-sense training and scientific education teaches us to believe only in the evidence of our senses. Nevertheless, with this Principle, the Rambam here introduces us to the Spiritual World, as opposed to the Physical World. Our Torah education, especially the stories of the Avos, involving moral principles, the account of the experiences of Moshe Rabbeinu and the Children of Israel in Egypt, at Mount Sinai, where they received the Torah, and their 40-year sojourn in the Wilderness, the Written Torah and the Oral Torah in their entirety, serve to sensitize us to the Spiritual World which though invisible, is most important. We gain an appreciation of our inner natures, our conscience, our ‘neshamah,” or soul, which is considered a “chelek E-loah Mima’al,” a “part of G-d,” so to speak, “from Above.”

It is about the “neshamah” that we say every morning in the Introduction to the Shacharit Prayer, “My G-d, the ‘neshamah’ that You gave me is pure. You created it, You formed it, and You breathed it into me. You safeguard it within me, and eventually You will take it from me, and restore it to me in the Time-to-Come. As long as the soul is within me, I gratefully thank You, HaShem, my G-d and the G-d of my fathers, Master of all Worlds, L-rd of all souls. Blessed are You, HaShem, Who restores souls to dead bodies.”

Frequently, G-d is described in the Bible in human terms; as appearing as a young warrior, at the time of the Splitting of the Sea of Reeds , or as an elderly man, full of compassion, at the time of the Giving of the Torah, at Mount Sinai . He is sometimes described as having a “strong hand,” or as an “outstretched arm,” a “mouth,” “legs,” or other limbs. These are called “anthropomorphisms,” the attribution of human characteristics to One Who does not possess them, or need them, in order to make it easier for people to understand, to a limited extent, the Role of G-d in His World.

The poetic rendition of this Principle in “Yigdal,” is as follows:

“He has no semblance of a body nor is He corporeal; Nor has His Holiness any comparison.”