* True Existence

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True ExistenceBy Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch (The Rebbe Maharash). This Chassidic discourse from 1869 C.E. explains why the false concept of a “partner” with G-d is not idolatry. It explains how everything in the physical realm has a corresponding root and source in the spiritual realms, and yet physicality itself is created directly by the Essence of G-d, and not by a cause and effect process.

Review by Rabbi Moshe Weiner, author of “Sefer Sheva Mitzvot HaShem” and “The Divine Code”:

Synopsis of the discourse:

The mistaken concept of a “sheetuf” (a “partner” with G-d) is the idea that there is an independent creation or being (for example, an angel) that functions independently of G-d. The Jewish people are commanded from the verse, “Hear O Israel, The L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One,” to believe and accept the truth that there is no independent existence other than G-d. Everything “else” is created and truly is only functioning according to G-d’s decree, like an axe in the hand of a woodcutter. The exception is a human being, who uniquely is given free will, and who is permitted by G-d to function as he likes. But Gentiles are not commanded to reject the concept of a sheetuf.

It seems from the Rebbe Maharash that Rambam also accepts this (this is not explicitly said in the discourse), because this is from the commandment “Hear O Israel…” (which Gentiles are not commanded), and not from the commandment, “You shall not have for yourselves any other gods before Me” (that is an obligation for Gentiles, from their Noahide Commandment that prohibits idolatry).

The Rebbe Maharash nowhere says that a Gentile has permission to worship some existence that he views as a sheetuf. And since the Rebbe Maharash differentiates between something classed as a sheetuf as an outcome of “Hear O Israel,” vs. as an outcome of “You shall not have for yourselves any other gods…,” it is obvious that he also holds that worshiping a sheetuf is idolatry. It is obvious that thinking that an angel is independent does not force one to worship it. Therefore a Gentile who worships any sheetuf is liable for transgressing the Noahide prohibition of idolatry. One who thinks or believes that such worship is a worthy conduct, even though he does not actually worship the sheetuf, is wrong, and in my understanding of Rambam, Laws of Repentance 3:7, he is a “deviant believer” (a “min” in Hebrew).

Note: mankind is even forbidden to worship people, who have the unique quality among the creations of having free will, which even angels do not have. Even one’s parents, who one is obligated to honor (who are free-will “partners” with G-d in the conception of a child), as the Rebbe Maharash explains in the discourse, are not classed as a special type of sheetuf that one would be permitted to worship, G-d forbid.

Published by Kehot (98 pages).