Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Spirit and Matter, God and Nature

The following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass
As mentioned, the six-pointed star may also illustrate the relationship between force and form, spirit and matter, Creator and Creation, God and Man.
This is not to imply that the Creator is outside His creation, or otherwise separate from it, even though nature reveals only part of His being. Were He separate from Creation, we would have to demonstrate this by means of two triangles, one on top of the other.
But of course, Creation as such is not God. Just as electric light is not electricity but rather a manifestation of it, Creation is merely one manifestation of God, the Creator.
The Hebrew word teva, usually rendered as nature, actually means expression. God is understood as the Prime Force, the physical universe with its laws of cause and effect being only one expression of His nature or one form of His manifestation. This being so, He can "make clouds His chariots, and walk upon the wings of the wind" (Ps. 104:3,4) or split the Red Sea (Ps. 136:13) - acts which are miracles in our eyes.
Other aspects of His infinite Being include His mercy, His severity and His forgiveness.
Mercy governed the creation of Adam, with in it severity and forgiveness are the hallmarks of the shaping of his life. God's educational process is aimed not at the suppression of nature but rather at its careful guidance, that is, until natural man attains his true and Divine nature. This idea is supported by sayings like: אני יי אלהיך" “, I am the Lord thy God; or ,"יי אלהינו" , the Lord is our God.
By relating the word elohim, to ,טבע teva, we can interpret these phrases as: "I am the Lord thy (true) nature”; or "the Lord is our (true) nature". Both these aspects of our nature are poles of one reality, Adam.
Teva (expression, nature) allows us to learn a lot about the Creator and His laws, but it is not given to us to know Him fully. He remains always above and beyond the knowable and reachable. We know some of the properties of electricity, yet no one has a satisfactory definition of what it really is. How much more presumptuous would it be to think that Man could ever comprehend God!
We may know about God
a) through observation of His Creation and its ways, which is the foremost but by far not exclusive object of scientific research;
b) through His revelations to His prophets, which are, or should be, the subject of religion;
c) through our own observations and experiences in accordance with the two preceding points.
These are the two or three pillars upon which everything is established.
All this shows us that God is imminent in His Creation, but as its Creator and Sustainer He is also above it, transcendent. This is beautifully symbolized by our six-pointed star. Its two equal triangles, although in opposite positions, are balanced and harmonious. If we consider its middle field to be our world of perception, and God as being above the fray, the small triangle above the middle field may then symbolize that part of Him which is beyond our comprehension. Though we are bound to the perceptible world, symbolized by the middle field, we are permeated by His being.
Since there is no above or below God, the other five triangles around the middle field may likewise symbolize His omnipresence and omnipotence.
As we read in Psalm 139:
"Whither shall I go from they spirit?
or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there:
If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there..."
On the other hand, as we are embedded in His omnipresence, so are His laws in us:"...thy law is in my bowels...".
In fact we can exchange any one of the six outer triangles for the top or bottom triangle, and would always get the same figure of two interwoven triangles.
But since the human mind needs to speak in terms of above and below, we can see the lower point of our Star as symbolizing Man who, "out of the depths", stretches his hands toward God. All human minds are finite, so we can never fully comprehend God. But God "comes down" to meet us halfway, embracing us with two arms - law and grace - and drawing us unto His heart in harmony and peace:
This figure portrays in fact accurately the core of Jewish believe (אמונה, liter. faithfulness), as expressed so picturesquely already in Jacob’s dream. There, he saw a ladder from the ground underneath reaching up to the heavens, with the angels of the Lord ascending and descending on it; and the Lord standing above it, said: “I am the Lord, God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac…” Here, man’s yearning for the Divine met the revelation from on high.
However, we should not imagine the Lord God merely as an overpowering force from above (like a ba’al). The Hebrew equivalent for this term is אדני, Adonai. Its root word דן, dan, judge, describes the authority which establishes right (that is, the right of those who were treated unfairly). From it derives also the word אדן, eden, a base, or window-sill, that is, a kind of support (the word אדן, eden, should not be confused with עדן, ‘eden, of the Garden of Eden). Thus, the word Adonai can well be understood as Lord and Judge, as well as Helper and Supporter in whom we are, and prosper.

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