2 Unity of G-d

Mitzvah 2

Unity of G-d

Hear, O Israel; The L-rd our G-d is ONE L-rd

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהֹוָה אֶחָד

Hear Israel HaShem Elokeinu HaShem ONE

 Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6.4

HaShem is the Name of our G-d, the G-d of the Jewish people…Moses had to phrase this declaration of faith and acceptance in such a way that it unmistakably reflected our ( the Jewish People’s ) belief that (1) there is only ONE G-d deserving this Name (2) that He Is the G-d of the Jewish people, (3) that He Is unique in the universe, there is NO other G-d deserving the title.  He has NO partners, is not an amalgamation of different powers working in tandem. His Uniqueness is unmatched on earth, below it, or in the celestial regions.  Torah Commentary by Rabbi Bachya ben Asher pages 2415, 2416

The great goal of Jewish history, according to Maimonides, is Israel’s affirmation of the Unity of G-d.  The doctrine of the incorporeality of G-d – namely, that G-d is Spirit and not matter – as promulgated in Jewish religious thought, find its root and substantiation in the Commandment which establishes His Divine Unity … Nothing corporeal can be a unity, either because everything corporeal is divisible or because it is a compound; that is to say, it can logically be analyzed into elements; because a body can be said to be a certain body only when the distinguishing element is added to the corporeal substratum, and it must therefore include two elements; but it has been proved that the Absolute admits of no dualism whatever.  Ramban Maimoides The Commendments Volume 1 page 3


Echad – One

First occurrence:

וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִ-ם לָאוֹר יוֹם וְלַחשֶׁךְ קָרָא ל-לָה וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר יוֹם אֶחָד

And G-d Called the light Day, and the darkness He Called Night; And there was evening and there was morning, echad ( one   ) day:  Bereishit (Genesis) 1.5

עַל כֵּן יַעֲזָב אִישׁ אֶת אָבִיו וְאֶת אִמּוֹ וְדָבַק בְּאִשְׁתּוֹ וְהָיוּ לְבָשָׂר אֶחָד 

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall be echad ( one ) flesh:  Bereishit (Genesis) 2.24

Even Jesus acknowledged that G-d IS ONE

Mark 12:29

The most important one, answered Jesus, is this: Hear, O Israel: The L-rd our God, the L-rd is ONE. NIV

The three letters of the word אֶחָד  span across time and the ages in conveying not only G-d’s Essence but also the extent of His Rulership.

The Gematria of ECHAD

Aleph = 1 א

He began as One Alone before time itself, before anything or anyone came into existence.

Chet = 8  ח

The first to acknowledge the Almighty were the Jewish people.  It was Abraham, the first Jew, who accepted the covenant of circumcision, the mark of the Jew when he is circumcised on the 8th day after birth, symbolizing humanity’s role to continue perfecting what  G-d Purposely left incomplete in His first seven days of creation.

Dalet = 4 ד

The One G-d Accepted through the covenant of the 8th day will, through the example and the efforts of the Jewish people, become universally recognized to the four corners of the earth.

1+8+4=13.  13 is a most important number, and is the numerical value of echad one, and ahavah, love. It also alludes to the 13 Attributes of Divine Mercy.

The Shema is our affirmation of the Unity of G-d.

Shema means to hear, to listen, to obey

We are to hear with our outer ear, our inner ruach (spirit) and to contemplate the Perfect Unity of HaShem G-d.  In this world we cannot see with our physical eyes G-d’s Absolute Unity in Creation and for this reason we cover our eyes when proclaiming Hear, O Israel; The L-rd our G-d is ONE L-rd.  If we hear we will understand it in our hearts.

Rashi Comments: The L-rd is our G-d; the L-rd is ONE The L-rd, who is now our G-d and not the G-d of the other nations – He will be [declared] in the future “the ONE G-d,” as it is said: For then I will convert the peoples to a pure language that all of them call in the Name of the L-rd (Zeph. 3:9), and it is [also] said: On that day will the L-rd be ONE and His Name ONE (Zechariah 14.9).  Devarim/Deuteronomy The Sapirstein Edition page 70

All the nations will abandon their false deities and acknowledge that HaShem IS the ONLY G-d and does not share His Mantle with any other power. Rashi  The Talmud ( Pesachim 50a ) questions the meaning of this verse for it implies that G-d’s Unity will not be absolute until the ultimate redemption will have taken place [ on that day HaShem will be ONE – implying not before that day ] R’ Acha bar Chanina explained that unlike in this world where upon hearing good things one relates the blessing of Who is good and does good – and upon hearing bad tidings The True Judge [which may cause one to believe in a plurality in G-d for it is difficult to reconcile suffering and tragedy with G-d’s attributes of mercy and kindness], in the World to Come, all of the blessings will be Who is good and does good for at that time there will be no bad tidings [ and the unity of G-d will be fully acknowleged and appreciated].

And His Name will be ONE. G-d’s Name will be ONE because no one will mentions the names of other gods; only the Name of HaShem will be mentionedTrei asai The Twelve Porphets Volume 2 page 300

 Nothing corporeal can be a unity, either because everything corporeal is divisible or because it is a compound. 

All of our experiences impinging on our consciousness originate from one single source, HaShem G-d.  We should contemplate the truth that G-d, Whose Essence Encompasses all being, is the only Reality.  There is NO ONE besides Him.

The first of the Ten Commands is referred to in Kabbalah as Emuna (faith) in General,  this Command to Unify G-d in Emuna, is referred to as Emuna (faith) in Particular.  While Emuna in General is above us, Emuna in Particular is in front of us.

Emuna (faith) in General implies the experience of G-d Being with us and looking over us from above at all times.  G-d’s Transcendence is not removed from reality, but oversees reality.

Emuna (faith)  in Particular implies the recognition of G-d’s Absolute Unity in all facets of reality as they present themselves in the forefront of our consciousness from moment to moment.  Not only does G-d Oversee reality, but He is the very Essence of all reality.

If everything we experience is from G-d and ultimately is G-d, who is the Ultimate Good, then everything must be Ultimately Good.

The sages say if I get angry I am serving idols.  When things don’t go my way I get angry; the world is not conforming to my vision of perfection.  But since G-d is ultimately in control, I am saying with my anger that I consider my version of the world better than His.  I am enthroning my intellect and ego and paying homage to them instead of HaShem G-d.

We have various names for HaShem.  They are simply a means to express a particular attribute of HaShem.  i.e. Hayvayah (HaShem – both mean the Name ) is associated with mercy where as Elohim is associated with judgement.

The Name Havayah signifies G-d’s attribute of mercy whereas the Name Elohim signifies His attribute of judgment.

Hear, O Israel, Havayah, the All Merciful, is our  Elohim, who appears to us in nature through His Attribute of judgment, yet Havayah is One, all is but an aspect of His Absolute Mercy.

 The name Israel in this verse signifies the experience of the Jewish soul in its absolute, pure state, as an actual part of G-d above.  In this verse we find the essence of our soul root.

They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat, for like the days of the tree are the days of My people, and My elect shall outlive their handiwork. Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 65.22

Here Israel is symbolized as a tree.  Every Jewish soul corresponds to a letter of the Torah, the Tree of Life.  Life first appeared on the earth on Yom Sh’lishi (day 3) of Creation.  This day corresponds to the sefirah of Tiferet (beauty).  In the Torah the root of Tiferet is used to describe the beautiful foliage of a tree.  The Messiah is also referred to as a tree by the prophets.

Tifferet  תִפְאֶרֶת

For you are the glory (Tiferet) of their strength; and in your favor our horn shall be exalted:  Tehillim (Psalms) 89.18

Branch צֶמַח  

And speak to him, saying, Thus speaks the L-rd of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is the Branch (Zemach); and he shall grow up from his place, and he shall build The Temple of the L-rd:  Zechariah 6.12

Torah תוֹרָה  

One Torah and One Code shall be for you, and for the stranger who sojourns with you:  Bamidbar (Numbers) 15.16

When we internalize the Command Hear, O Israel, HaShem is our G-d, HaShem is ONE, we partake of the Tree of Life and rectify the primordial sin of eating the forbidden fruit of the other tree, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  We begin to know and understand that the ultimate origin of what appears to us to be good or bad is all Divine Goodness and Mercy.  We should place this in the front of our consciousness always.

Through this Command we become aware of our own Divine inner nature.  We should aspire to emulate our Creator.  Mercy is HaShem’s most essential attribute because Mercy implies empathy and reflects HaShem’s Oneness with His Creation.  Our mercy should first be directed at the G-dly Sparks within other people and then to all of Creation.  We redeem the G-dly Sparks from their spiritual exile by spreading the awareness of our Merciful G-d.

Hosea 10:12 Chesed – Mercy – LovingKindness

Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap according to loving-kindness, plow yourselves a plowing, and it is time to seek the L-rd, until He Comes and Instructs you in righteousness. 

Rashi Comments….

Sow righteousness for yourselves

But you have plowed wickedness; therefore, a tumult shall rise in your people.

plow yourselves a plowing Engage in the Torah and from there you will learn to go on the good way, to overpower temptation, like a person who plows the field to turn over the roots of grasses which sap the strength of the grain in the summer many days prior to sowing, and you shall set aside a time to seek the   L-rd, i.e., for the study of the Torah.

until He comes and instructs you in righteousness When you toil in it, He will Give you to understand to let you know its secrets with righteousness.  Trei Asar The twelve Porphets Vol. 1 Artscroll pages 104-105

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4.39

וְיָדַעְתָּ הַיּוֹם וַהֲשֵׁבֹתָ אֶל לְבָבֶךָ כִּי יְהֹוָה הוּא הָאֱלֹהִים בַּשָּׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל וְעַל הָאָרֶץ מִתָּחַת אֵין עוֹד

Know  therefore this day, and consider it in your heart, that the L-rd is G-d in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath; there is no other Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4.39

These are three levels of ascent here.

  1. To Know G-d – through prayer and study the mind then contemplates the Presence of G-d in our world.
  2. To Consider it in your heart –  our emotions are seated in our hearts. We should get emotionally involved in believing and knowing G-d.
  3. There is no other – nothing exists without G-d – everything that exists is somehow a part of G-d.

We can never logically know G-d but by prayer, study and contemplation we KNOW G-d in our hearts.  If we KNOW with our minds that G-d Exists then we would not have free will.

G-d Imprinted on the Jewish soul at Sinai the belief in His Transcendence, His Existence which when we study and apply Torah to our lives we then enable our minds to know him

Today not tomorrow.  Today know and consider it in your heart…  Only today in our lifetime here on earth and not tomorrow when we, G-d Willing, enter the Olam Ha-Ba, are we given the opportunity to know G-d.

It is necessary to know that G-d’s existence is absolutely simple, without combinations or additions of any kind. All perfections are found in Him in a perfectly simple manner…. In truth, this is a concept that is very far from our ability to grasp and imagine, there is almost no way to express it clearly and explain it in words, because our minds can only grasp those things which are bound by the laws of nature created by HaShem.    Derech Hashem I:1:5

May we try each day to learn about G-d, to follow His Ways and His Truth


Blessings and Peace

Rebbetzin Revi