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G-d is not Corporeal

Immediately after the ten commandments are given, at the tail end of Parshas Yisro, there is a very peculiar little section.

And the people stood far away, and Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.  And the Lord said to Moses, Thus you shall say to the people of Israel, You have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.  You shall not make with me gods of silver, nor shall you make for yourselves gods of gold.  (Ex. 20:18-20)

And in this section, Hashem tells us a wealth of information! For example, by telling us that He was talking to us from heaven (and doing it, as He does, always near a thing like a pillar or darkness or the Tabernacle but never from the thing itself), Hashem is telling us that His voice is never emanating from a physical object. And when the Torah pairs this statement with the commandment to never make a physical representation of Hashem, Hashem is telling us that he is not in the physical world! So any representation that is physical is actually a lie. Our G-d is not corporeal. We must never think otherwise.

So where is Hashem? In this world, He exists in Torah and in mankind (since our souls are “on loan” from G-d). 

And where is heaven? We know that G-d speaks to us from heaven. In this section and elsewhere in the Torah, G-d’s voice does not come from within as it does for a prophet or to people when they pray. Instead, it comes from empty space. It could be said to come from non-material space, what Galileo called the “ether” — a matterless web that makes up the universe and could explain how forces like gravity can move objects from a distance. The Torah is fuzzy on the physics, but crystal clear on what it means to us: G-d’s voice emanates from heaven, which is in an untouchable space – either upward in empty space (in the case of Sinai), and it is upward

An altar of earth you shall make to me, and shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings, and your peace offerings, your sheep, and your oxen; in all places where I cause my name to be pronounced I will come to you, and I will bless you.

This is who I am and how you connect with me.

Comments are welcome!