God in Judaism

God in Judaism is the sole Creator and Controller of the universe. This fact was catalysed through the events of Yetzius Mitzrayim (the exodus from Egypt.)

Yetzius Mitzrayim is one of the central themes of Judaism – we say it in kiddush (sanctification) of Shabbos (Sabbath) and Yom Tov (festivals) (zecher leyetzius Mitzrayim - a memory of the leaving of Egypt,) we say it twice a day in the last paragraph of the Shema, (Ani Hashem Eloheichem asher hotzeisi eschem maeretz Mitzrayim…I am God your Allmighty, who took you out of Egypt…) and in many other instances.

God in Judaism

Let’s take a look at what makes the leaving of Egypt so fundamental to the understanding of the role of God in Judaism.

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (5:8) states: 10 things were created erev Shabbos bein hashmashos (on Sabbath eve [of creation] at twilight,) including the mouth of the land (that swallowed Korach,) the mouth of the (Bilam’s) donkey, the Keshes (rainbow.)

This Mishna contains two enigmas that need to be resolved:

  1. Why did these things need a special time and creation?
  2. What is special about bein hashmashos vis-à-vis these 10 things?
  • All ten things do not conform to the laws of nature
  • Bein Hasahmashos is an undefined time which is not delineated like other time.

H’ created the world in 6 days. This creation included the laws of nature (example: grass needs water to grow) and meta-nature, including the powers of maleachim (angels) and mazalos (stellar constellations) (example the Midrash says that no blade of grass grows without a mazal - spiritual force - knocking on it and saying grow (Breishis Rabah 10:7.)

Miracles could happen but only as meta-nature, for example, all the animals fitting in the tevah (Ark) of Noach, Avraham defeating the 4 kings with very little support and Paroh and his household getting sick over the capture of Sarah.

Until Yetzias Mitzraim which was Hashem Himself, as we say in the Haggada: lo al yedei malach … ela HaKadosh Baruch Hu Bichvodo Uve Atzmo (not through an angel … but Hashem Himself.)

At Yetzias Mitzrayim Hashem, as it were, installed a new operating system which now included a third level of control, supernatural, which translated to living in a realm beyond nature and beyond meta-nature. So, the plague of hail contained fire and water together which is anti-nature (supernatural.)

This is why the Book of Shmos is called Sefer Sheini, not just because it continues the creation but because it is version 2 of creation.

The things in the Mishna were on the boundaries of nature, they are an extension of nature, ie a donkey had a mouth, but this was an exceptional donkey mouth that could speak. Hashem gave them a special creation at a time that is undefined, to extend the laws of nature to include meta-nature.

This was because they were to teach people lessons –

  • the keshes was to show that it was a law of nature that Hashem would never drown the world again
  • the donkey was to teach Bilam that he could not curse a nation that through meta-nature was blessed from the times of Avrohom
  • the mouth of the earth was to teach Korach that just like he couldn’t change the laws of nature, he couldn’t change the laws of super-nature that Aharon was the Kohein.

At Yetzius Mitzrayim, we became the catalyst of direct super-natural intervention in the universe and this is a basic tenet of Judaism.

This is the ultimate example of the intervention of H’ in the lives of the Jewish People and is the foundation of the understanding of God in Judaism as not just Creator, but sole and eternal Controller.

Back to Being Jewish

The Torah Explorer

Give yourself an e-treat of innovative Torah thoughts to ponder for the month and keep up-to-date  on what's new at TorahConcepts.com. Sign up for 'The Torah Explorer' our monthly e-zine.