Introduction to Jewish Meditation – Part 13

The Elements of Belief

Above is the commandment:

I am God, your God, who has taken you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

This, the first of the Ten Commandments, is the mitzvah to believe in God.

In particular, belief in God entails:

  1. belief in God’s existence, that there is a God.
  2. belief that God is omnipotent.
  3. belief that God, in His providence over all, redeems each and every soul from bondage.

The first three words of this verse–“I [am],” “God,” and “your God”—signify, in Kabbalah, God’s essence, His transcendent light, and His immanent light, respectively. The fact that the suffix “your” (in the singular) is attached to the third word–God’s immanence, as experienced in the exodus from Egypt–indicates that God, the redeemer, relates personally to each and every individual.

Clearly, these three aspects of Divinity correspond to the three elements of belief stated above: A Jew believes in God’s very essence, of which it is said, “I am that I am.” God’s transcendent light is referred to as the light that “surrounds all worlds”–“to surround” reality implies the power to control it. The belief that God, in His providence over all, redeems the soul from bondage corresponds to His immanent light, the light that “fills all worlds.”

But, for God’s immanent light–His Divine providence over all–to take us out of Egypt (a place deemed by nature to be inescapable) it must receive input from His transcendent light. His transcendent light and His immanent light must unite as do groom and bride. This union is ultimately effected by the power of God’s very essence. And so, all three levels of Divinity bind together to redeem us from Egypt: “I am God, your God, who has taken you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”

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