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3.10 – Predestination vs. Free Will
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Chovos HaLevavos, Shaar HaAvodah chapter 8  ************************************ There are numerous verses that address the issue of God’s control of the world and predestination. Among these: Whatever God desired, He performed, in Heaven and on Earth (Psalms 135:6); God causes death and causes life, He brings down to the grave and raises up. God causes poverty […]
3.9 Impediments to Perceiving God
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Chovos HaLevavos, Shaar HaBechinah chapter 6  ************************************ The contemplation of God through observing creation can be impeded by numerous things. In Shaar HaYichud chapter 10, Rabbeinu Bachaye lists several things that impede recognizing God’s unity. Among these are polytheism, idolatry, attributing a physical form to God, and following one’s lowly physical urges. (This is not […]
3.8 Learning to Perceive God
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Sources refer to Rabbi Bachaye ibn Pakuda’s Chovos HaLevavos (Duties of the Heart)  ************************************ Seven Different Types of Signs (Chapter 4) There are seven different types of signs of wisdom in creation that we may observe and contemplate: The signs of wisdom inherent in the basic elements of the world. Regarding these, King David said, […]
3.7 – Examining Creation to Perceive God
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Sources refer to Rabbi Bachaye ibn Pakuda’s Chovos HaLevavos (Duties of the Heart)  ************************************ The Essence of Examination (Chapter 1) The essence of examination is to contemplate the signs of God’s wisdom that can be observed in creation and to appreciate them to the extent one can perceive them. This wisdom varies in appearance through […]
3.6 – Introduction to Shaar HaBechinah (The Gate of Examination)
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Sources refer to Rabbi Bachaye ibn Pakuda’s Chovos HaLevavos (Duties of the Heart)  ************************************ God’s kindnesses are universal as Psalms 145:9 tells us, “God is good to all.” Nevertheless, many people are unable to see this for themselves. There are three reasons why people fail to recognize God’s goodness: (1) People are too wrapped up […]
3.5 – Conceiving of God
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Sources refer to Rabbi Bachaye ibn Pakuda’s Chovos HaLevavos (Duties of the Heart)  ************************************ Conceiving of God (Chapter 10, part III) Since God is incorporeal, we cannot conceive of Him visually. Therefore, Tanach directs most praise to God’s Name, as in Nehemiah 9:5 (“May they bless the Name of Your glory”), Deuteronomy 28:58 (“To revere […]
3.4 – God’s Attributes
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Sources refer to Rabbi Bachya ibn Pakuda’s Chovos HaLevavos (Duties of the Heart)  ************************************ Attributes of God’s Essence (Chapter 10, part I) The attributes we use to describe God can be divided into those of His essence and those of His deeds. The attributes of God’s essence existed even before He created the universe and they […]
3.3 – God’s Unity
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Sources refer to Rabbi Bachaye ibn Pakuda’s Chovos HaLevavos (Duties of the Heart)  ************************************ The Creator is One (Chapter 7) Having determined that the world must have a Creator, we must now investigate whether He is One. We do this in seven ways. When we examine causes and effects, we observe that the causes are […]
3.2 – Determining That There Is a Creator
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Sources refer to Rabbi Bachaye ibn Pakuda’s Chovos HaLevavos (Duties of the Heart)  ************************************ Three Premises (Chapter 5) It is necessary to accept three premises in order to reach the conclusion that the world has a Creator: A thing cannot create itself; There are a limited number of causes, so there must have been a […]
3.1 – Shaar HaYichud: The Gate of Unity
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Sources refer to Rabbi Bachaye ibn Pakuda’s Chovos HaLevavos (Duties of the Heart)  ************************************ Introduction The most basic, fundamental principle in Judaism is the acknowledgment of God’s unity. This idea is what separates believers from non-believers; it is a non-negotiable concept for a practitioner of Judaism. This is why the first words spoken to the […]