Is G-D part of reality? No.
What is reality? Reality is whatever exists. It’s real. G-d is not part of reality. Reality is part of G-d. Reality is whatever existence makes. Since G-d is existence, He is reality. Reality emerges from G-d because G-d is existence itself. Whatever He makes is real. He is the One, not reality. There’s no such thing as a separate thing called “reality” and G-d is one of the things that is real. No! G-d is not part of reality, He is reality.
Where did the RaMCHaL come up with this idea, that G-d is existence itself?
What’s the name of G-d that we really cannot even pronounce it the way it’s written? Yud-hey-vav-hey. That’s called the “Tetragrammaton.” It’s comprised of four letters: “yud,” “hey,” “vav,” then another “hey.”
Why is G-d’s name “yud-hey-vav-hey”? The word spelled from yud-hey-vav-hey comes from the verb “lehiot”—the infinitive form of the verb “to be.” Translated, it means, “He was, He is, He will be.” G-d has the “name” yud-hey-vav-hey because what is He? He is BE-ing itself.
That’s why His name is “being.” Now you know where G-d gets his name—Being—because that’s what He is. G-d is existence itself. That is His essence.
In fact, when G-d told Moshe Rabbeinu to take the Jews out of Egypt, Moshe asked “What do I call you?” because everybody has to have a name, right?
G-d answered with the strange, “I am that I am” or “I will be that I will be.” There’s an entire midrash—commentary on that but, basically, what G-d is saying is: I am. You want to know Who I am? I am the “am,” the verb. There’s an “I” but who is the “I”?—the “am.”
English expresses the verb ‘to be’ as in “I am walking.” Why? You could say “I am walking” but how could you walk if you didn’t exist? Language, generally, uses the verb “to be,” uses “am” so you could say “walking.” Language assumes that, if you don’t exist, you can’t walk, right? So, English will always use the verb “to be” because “to be doing” something infers existence.
It’s interesting that Hebrew does not need the verb “to be” in this sentence. Ani holech—I go, or I walk, is how Hebrew articulates it, omitting the verb “to be.” Hebrew assumes that, if you are walking, you probably exist so doesn’t include the verb “to be.” English is not sure about that, it seems, so it inserts the verb “to be.”
G-d is saying I don’t have a name. The verb “to be” is My name because that’s basically what I am, existence itself. That’s why we have the yud-hey-vav-hey, from the word “lehiot,” that G-d is existence itself. It’s a very important concept and we see G-d refers to Himself that way.
How does G-d know that I am giving a shiur?—because He sees me? Yeah, He sees me, but how does He know? G-d doesn’t see me, He doesn’t “see” anything. G-d does not experience anything externally. He experiences it internally.
All of us exist because G-d is giving us existence, right now. Since G-d knows Himself, He knows us. He doesn’t know us because he sees us. He knows because we emanate from Him, or else how would we exist? That’s how He knows what’s going on here. That’s how He knows everything. Because He gives us existence and existence is Him, all emanates from Him.
The knowledge is Himself. He is the information and, guess what?—we are the information! That’s a tremendous difference between us and Him. He doesn’t know whatever because He’s looking at us or He’s seeing us. We are not external to Him. We emanate from Him because from where else would we get our existence? So, that’s how He knows what’s going on. Look how deep it is!
That’s when we begin to understand why it says, “You must satisfy your heart.” All we are talking about is oneness, that basically everything emanates from Him and that’s it. G-d is really, and only, One, as everything else is from Him and He creates everything and maintains everything’s existence.
We are only at level minus-two. Is there a floor minus-three?—yes. It’s amazing! Look how deep we are already!
One thing to understand and which we begin to see is that nobody can ever know who G-d truly is because He’s existence itself. Nobody has ever seen existence itself walking down the street. Have you ever seen existence itself?—no. Existence always has to be invested in something. We infer that, if you are walking down the street, you exist. But I’ve never seen existence itself, what that quality is. That’s why no being can understand Who G-d is, no malach—angel, nothing! They all have existence. An angel may have a different quality of being, have different attributes and essences and so on, a different structure and components but, ultimately, the angel also emanates from G-d, has to be given existence. He doesn’t know what existence is. Therefore, it is not possible to understand or to know G-d.
In fact, the only one who could know G-d is… G-d. He’s the only One Who knows Who He is. Not the greatest malach of all has an inkling Who G-d is. The malach emanates from G-d; how else could he get his existence? He doesn’t know from what he emanates.
So far, we’ve gone down just two floors. The first level is that G-d is One, there is nothing else external to Him, and there’s only one G-D. The second level is that G-d is simple. We’ve seen what “simple” is, that G-d is identical with everything that He is and, because of this, the only one who knows Who G-d is, is G-d Himself. Nobody can fathom the concept of “existence” in and of itself.
By Yoeri Schepens
Sources: a shiur by Rabbi Mendel Kessin, Derech Hashem series, who is G-d part 1 https://www.torahthinking.org/post/derech-hashem-who-is-god-part-1
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