"How can anyone who is able to enjoy the beauties of a Virgil, a Tasso, a Shakespeare, who can follow the logical conclusions of a Liebnitz and Kant--how can such a one find pleasure in the Old Testament, so deficient in form and taste, and in the senseless writings of the Talmud?"
-Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Can God Love?

A reoccurring theme and accepted general aspect of basic Jewish Theology is that God Loves the Children of Israel.
Deuteronomy 4:37 And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt

Deuteronomy 7:6,7,8 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 7:13 And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee.

Deuteronomy 10:15 Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day.

Deuteronomy 23:5 Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee.

Deuteronomy 33:3 Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words.

Deuteronomy 33:12 And of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.


There are times when the bible uses terms for God so that humans can understand Him better. For example, "The Hand Of God" doesn't literally mean Gods hand. Regarding God's love for His people, this is not the case. His love is not a metaphor and can not be understood as one. God loves His people, literally.

I can understand God choosing a specific people to be His chosen nation, but loving them is another story.

God, last I recall, doesn't have emotion. If God doesn't have emotion, then God can't love. If God can't love, how can a basic principle of Jewish Theology be that God Loves us?

7 Comments:

There are times when the bible uses terms for God so that humans can understand Him better. For example, "The Hand Of God" doesn't literally mean Gods hand. Regarding God's love for His people, this is not the case. His love is not a metaphor and can not be understood as one. God loves His people, literally.


Whats your source for that?
Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:50 PM  
Source for what specifically?
Blogger Q, at 5:01 PM  
For the part I quoted...
Blogger Irviner Chasid, at 5:15 PM  
Well, there are a few ideas in the part you quoted. For example:

1-the bible uses terms for God so that humans can understand Him better

2-His love is not a metaphor

Anything in particular you would like to discuss?
Blogger Q, at 5:19 PM  
Oh.

I thought you had one source that stated that hand is a metaphor yet Love is not.

I'm more curious about your source for saying that Love is not a metaphor. The typical source for saying that G-d's hand is a metaphor is Rambam, and he is fairly explicit that all emotions are metaphors as well.

Atleast according to "Believing is Knowing" blog.
Blogger Irviner Chasid, at 5:23 PM  
I didn't know the Rambam says emotions, I could not find your reference on believing is knowing.

I don't have a source for love not being merely a metaphor. Although, if you look at the pesuking above, it is hard to understand the reasoning behind these expressions. What are their purpose? Why do we need to feel God loves us?

For example, would it not have been suffice to say :"but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee" instead of also mentioning "because the LORD thy God loved thee." What are we to learn from this except His expression of literal love?

If you want to take the Rambam to mean emotion and all that jazz, then chuck this question out the window. A lot of Jews from Reform to Chassidism believe that a fundamental to Judaism is Gods literal love for humanity. And for those, the poses and impossible question to answer.
Blogger Q, at 5:46 PM  
beleiving in a literal love from G-d, as in G-d can love you one day and not love you another day, is just as logical as saying that G-d has hands.

Infact, you have an even stronger question of how can G-d bless anything or do any verb. How can Gd "take us out of egypt"

Rather, I would say that we speak in these terms to not only understand how we should be relating to Gd on these issues, but also so that we can learn how to emulate Gd in our own ways. We also get a hint of what "Love" means from these verses. Lastly, we can see from these "emotions" what are the "possitive" affects of our actions in this world, and what the negetive affects are.
Blogger Irviner Chasid, at 5:54 PM  

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