Sunday, January 16, 2011

R. S. R. Hirsch: Dangers of losing grasp of G-d's personality is worse than dangers of corporality

Rav S. R. Hirsch (Bereishis 6:6): Regarding this and similar anthropomorphic expressions of G-d, we would like to make a general remark. For so long people have philosophized all round these expressions to remove the danger of the slightest thought of any materiality or corporality of G-d that at the end one runs very nearly into the danger of losing all idea of the personality of G-d. Had that been the purpose of the Torah, those kind of expressions could easily have been avoided. But this last danger is greater than the first. The two anthropomorphic expressions here save the two essential conceptions:the freedom, the free-will of G-d and that of Man. Not for nothing doesit say, "when G-d saw etc." The wickedness of Man was not a matter of necessity. G-d had to see it before He knew it. This expression gives us the guarantee of human free-will. And the fate that overtook mankind was not the result of physical causes which followed set laws, it was preceded by an examination by G-d and His decision; the decision itself pained the Decider. All this presupposes the personality and free-will of G-d and keeps this clear in our minds. The Raavad already, one of the most Jewish of our thinkers, is of the opinion that such consciousness of the personality of G﷓d is of much greater importance than speculating about it, as to whether this or that can be asserted of G﷓d.

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