Summa I: pp. 53-74

Part II

The “Quest for Potential”
Unified Formulation

 

 

80.10    APPROACH TO CORE THEODICY RESOLUTION

Most theodicies, in formulating their particular schemas, first focus on the maximum limits of God’s capabilities in various areas. They begin by asking: What are the limits of God’s power, knowledge, mercifulness, etc.? However, this may not be the optimal line of approach.
The challenge of theodicy is closely linked with the question of the purpose of man.192 Consequently, approaching our problem by analyzing the extent of Divine power, without first focusing on the “purpose of man” question, may be approaching the question from the wrong direction. It may be that God limits Himself in responding to man’s needs or to God’s ultimate purpose(s). These factors will prove pivotal in pointing a way to a solution.
The God of Scripture is multifaceted and more subtle and complex than the God of the philosophers. God is singular, but not necessarily the monolithic super-unity posited by many distinguished Jewish and non-Jewish philosophers.
In their sincere attempt to understand the attributes of God in the abstract, as opposed to understanding His interaction with man, many highly rationalistic philosophers, in the end, only shift the problem of theodicy onto a different plane. The result often makes God’s actions less comprehensible or defendable. Articulating the incomprehensible can be a dangerous business.
If, however, we address the following questions, we may discern a more optimal line of approach:

What is the purpose of man?
Under the dominion of which of God’s possible manifestations—
can man come closest to God?
can man come closest to reaching his own potential?
 
A God who created the world and the universe for man may conceivably limit His own powers for the ultimate benefit of man. God’s use of His powers may be affected by man’s cosmic requirements, and in particular, by man’s quest for his potentiality. This is our crucial pivot. Without it, we are doomed to come up against the same insurmountable dilemmas in our solution as earlier formulations faced.

80.20     “QUEST FOR POTENTIAL” CORE THEODICY

80.21    Outline

The core of our theodicy runs as follows:

“Quest for Potential” Core Theodicy

1. The purpose of man is to quest for his potential—spiritual and other.
2. The greater man’s freedom, the greater his ability to attain his potential.
3. Freedom requires privacy, responsibility, and selfhood.
4. In order to yield man greater freedom (along with greater privacy, responsibility, and selfhood), God has contracted His here-and-now consciousness, in correlation to mankind’s ascent in knowledge.
5. With the Divine consciousness increasingly contracted from the here-and-now, and evil existent in the here-and-now, man is increasingly forced to confront evil on his own.

80.22     Discussion

I contend that this formulation essentially resolves the key issues and provides a theodicy option more satisfying than the preexisting ones. This five-point formulation handles the classic theodicy dilemma. God is indeed omniscient, omnipotent, and all-benevolent. At the same time this formulation reconciles the existence of God with the existence of gross evil. It addresses, as well, the “purpose of man” question; it addresses manifest Divine intervention in Pharaoh’s Egypt and the absence of manifest intervention in Hitler’s Europe; in addition it begins to address the question of how man’s freedom can be reconciled with an omniscient God.

80.23    Need for Unified Formulation

Having come this far, one is impelled by the prior inquiry and by the implications of the core theodicy to further develop the overarching philosophical structure. The Quest for Potential core theodicy will be clarified and elaborated as part of the nine-section (100-900) Unified Formulation.
The Unified Formulation also handles several other crucial theological and philosophical questions, in an attempt to provide a comprehensive and cohesive framework.

How does this quest for potential relate to the origins of man,
God, and the universe? From whence (infinite) God?
Why can there not be a world of bliss and full freedom
simultaneously?
Why are potential and freedom so crucial?
Why is there evil at all if God is omnipotent?

To address these questions and other, related ones, we must begin at the dawn of the universe.193 We must go beyond a mere theodicy, however relatively safe and elegant, towards a unified and comprehensive theodicy/theology. Therefore, instead of starting with the goal and working backwards, we must commence at “the beginnings of the beginning” and proceed onwards.194 Thus while we are entering a far riskier arena, we are certainly playing for far larger stakes.
One may view the theological problem of evil, not as a weak link in Jewish theology, but rather as a major direction-finder for Jewish theology/philosophy. The process of conceptualizing a satisfying theodicy leads to the correct formulation of the broader theological framework.195
 By definition, a postmodern Jewish theodicy must not operate in a vacuum. It should, furthermore, not begin in 1939 or with Abraham in 1900 B.C.E. It should attempt to start in the beginning of the beginning—as far as we can comprehend “beginning.”196 It must, moreover, be alert to the consistency level of its doctrinal flow, from creation through the highs and lows of Jewish experience, through the ultimate goals of man.
Halachic man is entitled to a comprehensive, palatable, unified philosophy of Judaism. The purpose of Jewish philosophy is not to pinpoint the exact parameters of God’s attributes, but rather to develop a cogent, unified philosophy. A palatable solution to the basic problems we address, that pushes Jewish doctrine to its outer limits, is preferable to a philosophy of Judaism that is safely tucked within the boundaries of common-wisdom Jewish doctrine, but which cannot adequately deal with major issues.

*

For purposes of the following discussion, the physical aspect of the cosmos will be called the universe. The term cosmos refers to all aspects, including the state of out-of-time preexistence “preceding” creation.

90.00    ETERNAL ORIGINS

90.01     Mainstream

Most mainstream theistic philosophies posit God’s eternity. One example from the Jewish tradition is the oft-cited phrase from the Adon Olam prayer (author unknown), “He [always] was, He [always] is, He [always] will be.”197 Inasmuch as these matters are beyond our comprehension, it is argued, further attempts at explication are not deemed necessary or possible, however desirable.
The Pentateuch commences with the creation of the world as we know it. The question of God’s origins is not addressed.
 
90.02     Fault-Line: Gap in Western Philosophical and Scientific Formulations

One may argue that the development of complex philosophical structures predicated on this unfathomable premise is severely flawed by its failure to explicate—in even the broadest of strokes—the existence, or emanation, of a “Somethingness” out of “nothingness,” or the wherefore of “eternalness.” Whether this entity is finite or infinite, existing in-time or out-of-time, holy or Holy, where is the bridge from “nothingness” to “Somethingness”? In particular, how does one begin to explain, in even the broadest of strokes, the existence of an infinite Somethingness?
This severe philosophical “fault-line” runs from Plato through Philo through Spinoza. The gap is not bridged. The situation is somewhat analogous to erecting a magnificent sky-scraper with no idea of the parameters of the foundation—theoretically possible, but somewhat inelegant and risky.
Those who postulate a creation at the hands of an inexplicably eternal God merely shift the origin question to another plane. Whereas before the origins of the universe were unfathomable, now the origins of the Creator of the universe, the Divine, are unfathomable.198 This situation, in turn, is somewhat analogous to that faced by those who “solve” the problem of the origin of evil by postulating Satan as the source of evil. But wherefore Satan?
It is interesting to note that the problem faced by science regarding the initial origins of the universe, and the problem faced by religion regarding the initial origins of the universe, are strikingly parallel.
The “Big Bang” theory postulates the origin of the universe in a tiny point of incredible mass. However, science does not go beyond this point. It does not address what existed before the “Big Bang.” Current research in physics leads scientists into searches for smaller and smaller subatomic particles. Refiners of the Big Bang theory postulate that at one point the total matter and energy in the universe fit into one very small point, the ultimate atomic explosive. But where did this point come from? Where/why did the smallest subatomic building block originate? Where/why did the first pulse of energy originate?199 Why should quantum physics exist at all? As the contemporary physicist Stephen Hawking asks: What “breathed fire” into the equations?
Mainstream religious doctrine posits the universe as having its origin from an infinite God.200 Gersonides maintains that God created the world out of “body which does not preserve its shape.’’201 But where did this “body” come from? Many religious philosophers, including the early Kalam,202 John Philoponus,203 Maimonides,204 and the mainstream view of the sages of the Torah205 maintain creatio ex nihilo—creation by God out of nothingness. However, wherefore the Divine?
Thus, when stripped to their essentials, both science and religion face the same formidable hurdle. What actualized that which you posit as having always existed? What/where was the essence of the initial actualization?206 How can any “entity” be posited as having always existed?
Classic philosophy is caught in a similar trap. Some philosophers maintain that the world has been generated and has passed away an infinite number of times.207 But where did the first world originate from? How was the first world actualized? The Neoplatonists maintain that the world was generated by God from something.208 This “something” is often referred to as primal matter. But where did this primal matter originate? What are the origins of the God who fashioned this primal matter? Some philosophers, most prominently Aristotle,209 maintain that the universe existed eternally. But wherefore the universe? Whyfor this universe? Whyfor any universe? Indeed, whyfor anything at all?210
The “eternal origins” question is in our view the twin intractable problem in religious philosophy to the theodicy question. In our view it is inextricably linked to the theodicy question; the correct solution to either question should yield the solution to the other.
 90.03     Partial Exception

There is one great exception to the approach of mainstream Jewish philosophy to the “eternal origins” question. Whereas questions of eternal origins and the dynamics of creation are not addressed by classic Jewish philosophy, the kabbalists concentrated their creative energies and their mental, emotional, and perhaps mystical powers, on these very areas. Specifically, they focused on the stages of Divine emanation and the stages of creation.211 Indeed, the kabbalists knew that they ultimately had to work their way back to the dynamics of creation—in order to reconcile the existence of evil in the Middle Ages. However, the kabbalists by and large leapfrogged the field of classic philosophy into the field of mysticism and imagery. And it would seem that they attempted too much.

90.04     Philosophical Terra Incognita

A significant step would seem to be missing in Jewish philosophy, one which takes on the challenging but viable goal of investigating the schematics of a solution without entering the world of mysticism. This approach would seek cohesiveness without trying to fill in all the unfathomable detail. This approach would put the discussion, however daring, more in the realm of philosophy and less in the realm of mysticism.
Until this middle terrain is fleshed out, however difficult the task, the truly complete solution to theodicy will always remain just out of reach. Thus, in a sense the theodicy dilemma forces us onto this most difficult and nonstructured of terrains.

In the Jobian finale, the Divine response to Job’s remonstrations challenges Job’s comprehension of cosmic origins, and cites his lack of understanding as the reason for his inability to become reconciled with God. The Divine response, a sui generic response of poetic splendor, maintains the precise theme throughout two complete chapters, commencing as follows:
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:

Who is this that darkeneth counsel
By words without knowledge?
Gird up now thy loins like a man
For I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto Me:
Where wast thou
when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Declare if thou hast the understanding . .
Whereupon were the foundations thereof fastened?
—Job 38:1-6212
 

99.00     THE UNIFIED FORMULATION: OUTLINE SUMMARY

THE UNIFIED FORMULATION

100
100.00    Holy potential is at the epicenter of the Divine.

200
200.00    Holy quest for potential is the underlying core dynamic of the cosmic order.

300
300.10    Two possible but mutually exclusive sets of dynamics were open to man (at Eden).
300.20    The two dynamics are:

    

300.30    In a world predicated on potential, man inexorably took the route of “Tree of Knowledge/Potential.”
300.40    “Natural evil” and “moral evil” would consequently forevermore plague and challenge man.

400
400.10    Evil is the implicit flip-side, or converse, of good. Evil is anti-polar to good.
400.20    With the creation of potential for good, which is required for man to be able to reach his spiritual potential, potential for evil indirectly, but nevertheless, inexorably, came into existence as a consequence.
400.30    To destroy evil would, at the least, destroy good.
400.40    While an omnipotent Deity may have an impact on nature, even an omnipotent Deity does not violate universal laws and dynamics implicit in the universal Deity’s essence, as violating them could unravel the cosmos.

500
500.10    Man is finite + seeking to approach Infinity
500.20    The purpose of man is to quest for his potentialities—spiritual, intellectual, and all other.
500.30    The closer man approaches the achievement of his spiritual and other potentialities, the closer he comes to fulfilling the primal quests of creation.
500.40    Man, (infinite) God, and the universe are all questing for their potentialities.

600
600.00    Man is innately free and striving for fuller freedom.

700
700.10    In order for man to reach his full potential, he must operate from a base of freedom. (This is a law of the universe in concert with balance of dynamics of Tree of Knowledge chosen at Eden.)
700.20    The greater the freedom component of man’s base, the greater his ultimate potential (inherent in Tree of Knowledge chosen at Eden).

800
800.10    Man is ascendant—at least in knowledge.
800.20    As mankind and Judaism ascend in knowledge (and possibly in consciousness) on the road to fulfilling a primal drive of creation, there is an implicit demand for fuller freedom. (This is implicit in our paradigm of the Tree of Knowledge.)
800.30    A demand for fuller freedom (as a consequence of an ascent in knowledge) has embodied within it a demand for greater privacy, responsibility, and self-hood—so that man can more ably quest for his potential.

900
900.10    As mankind ascends in knowledge, implicitly demanding more freedom, there is a proportional contraction (tsimtsum) of Divine here-and-now consciousness. This is a primary form of Hester Panim which yields man ever greater freedom, privacy, responsibility, and selfhood with concomitant potential.
900.20    As the contraction of real-time Divine consciousness continues, (as mankind ascends in knowledge and freedom) there is a commensurate lower incidence and level of direct particular Providence—for the sake of the general Providence of allowing mankind to quest for its full potentialities.
900.30    Quest for potential is an overarching and inviolate holy cosmic dynamic. A violation of quest for potential would be a violation of a core Divine dynamic—which was integral to creation itself, integral to the Divine essence, and integral to the potential of the cosmic order.

end/beginning

An in-depth treatment of the component elements of the Unified Formulation follows.

100

100.00    THE EPICENTER OF THE DIVINE

Holy potential is at the epicenter of the Divine.

100.01     The Divine Name

And Moses said unto God:
“Behold, when I come unto the Children of Israel, and shall say
unto them:
The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you: and they shall
say to me: What is his name? what shall I say unto them?”
And God said unto Moses:
I-WILL-BE-THAT-WHICH-I-WILL-BE; and He said:
“Thus shalt thou say unto the Children of Israel:
I-WILL-BE hath sent me unto you.”
—Exodus 3:13-14213
 
The name of the God of Israel first proclaimed to Israel—Eheyeh Asher Eheyeh, “I-Will-Be-That-Which-I-Will-Be”—is in effect a declaration that the holiest state of the holy is God of Potential. God is the actualization of potential in its conscious holy form. All that we know of God’s universal name is that which it stands for: holy potential within potential within potential ad infinitum. For the infinite God of Israel is a God of willed potential.
Holy potential is more than human potential writ large. “To whom will you liken Me that I shall equal?” (Isaiah 40:25, cf. 46:5). Holy potential transcends time, space, and the cosmos. Holy potential tracks to the forward wave of the cosmos, to the forward wave of time. Embedded within it are thus potentialities rippling infinitely forward, embedded within infinite concentric circles cycling outward to infinity.

Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood the foundations of the earth? It is He that sits above the circle of the earth  That stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, And spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.
—Isaiah 40:21-26 (cf. 44:24, 45:12)

100.02    The Primordial Divine

The infinite potentials/Potentials of the Divine, including the potentials to create the universe, within which God would create man to strive for his own munificent potentialities,214 are inherent in the eternal Divine.215

Who calls the generations from the beginning,
I, the Lord, First,
And the Last, I am He.
—Isaiah 41:4 (cf.44:6, 45:11)

the Holy seed
shall be the stock thereof.
—Isaiah 6:13

. . . who shut up the sea with doors,
When it broke forth,
and issued out of the womb?
—Job 38:8
Out of whose womb came the ice?
And the hoar—frost of heaven,
who hath gendered it?
—Job 38:29

*

Independent of time, matter, and energy, and indeed, independent of a universe, existed Holy Divine Potential—the primordial Divine.216 At the eternal origins of out-of-time: Holy Potential within potential within potential          ad infinitum—tracking to the forward edges of time.217
At the embryonic stage of holiness, deep in the womb of nothingness, deep at the core of out-of-time, hinged on an indefinable and infinite circularity, there was an ascending holy metaphysical fire: Yearning, imploring, calling forth into the void.218
[The concept of a primordial Divine has clear and direct precedent in the concept of the En Sof of Kabbalah.219 See section 100.03 below.]

Traversing the Bridge
And as nature abhors a vacuum, Holy Potential abhors nothingness. This is a cosmic axiom.
Simultaneous with the eternal origins of out-of-time, an equilibrium of nothingness was thrown into disequilibrium by its own Holy Potential. Exploding and imploding. Echoing through this day and racing towards infinite time, Holy Potential screamed forth.

Genesis
Flowing from the Essence of the Divine, the infinite holy potential of the Divine demanded more expression.220 Among these elements were the potentials for creation of the universe, and within the latter the potentials for man to quest for his spiritual potentia1,221 as well as others, including mercy, love, truth, justice, beauty, and harmony.222 The holy potential core of the Divine demanded more than just potentia1.223 For the potentialities of Divine creation are inherent in the eternal Divine origins and in the Divine Essence itself.224

At the eye of the primal cosmic storm, warping from out-of-time towards time, unzipping the cosmic void into positives and negatives, the infinite Divine blaze leapt forth. A creative supraconscious dynamic, transcending time, space, and eternity. Focusing its holy metaphysical force. Genesis.225

and God divided the light from the darkness.
—Genesis 1:4

A holy dynamic flows forth through this day, tracing its origins to the inner core of the Divine. Beneath the eddies and swirls at the surface of the cosmic stream, beneath the deep and powerful major cosmic currents, from out of the epicenter of the holy, flows the deepest primal current—questing, beseeching, and indeed, screaming—for ultimate potentiality.226

*

100.03    Kabbalistic Parallel

Lurianic Kabbalah can be refocused in the light of this formulation. Indeed, if one takes the liberty of stripping Kabbalah of its majestic imagery down to its very core, it would seem that major elements of kabbalistic doctrine were groping or heading in this very direction.
We would draw the following parallel and relationship:

    Infinite Holy Potential    En Sof
    cosmic quests for potential    Sefirot
 
A neo-kabbalistic variation of “infinite holy potential” would posit that the En Sof—the infinite, the root of the Ten Sefirot, “the Root of all Roots”227—demanded greater expression. Within the obscurity of mystical doctrine, one factor is clear: the En Sof—the Primal/Infinite Divine—had “neither qualities nor attributes.”228
Our neo-kabbalistic development would posit that the kabbalist’s Ten Sefirot, the next level of Divine emanation, demanded more tangible expression.229 The Ten Sefirot are variously described as the Ten Spheres, Regions, Faces, Manifestations, Crowns, Stages, Garments, Modes, Branches, Powers, Emanations—of God.230 The Ten Sefirot are “the ten spheres of Divine manifestation in which God emerges from His hidden abode.”231 They are most commonly enumerated as follows:
 
KETER ELYON     “Supreme Crown”
HOKHMAH     “Wisdom”
BINAH            “Intelligence”
HESED         “Love/Mercy”
GEVURAH         “Power”
RAHAMIM         “Compassion”
NETSAH        “Everlasting endurance”
HOD            “Majesty”
YESOD            “Foundation”
MALKHUTH    “Kingdom of God”232
 
One interpretation, which converges with our study, is that they are “the ten stages of the inner world, through which God descends from the inmost recesses down to His revelation in the Shekinah.”233 We would recast the Sefirot as primal quests for potentiality which enable Infinite Holy Potential to “traverse the bridge” from “emptiness” to “Somethingness” and mandating Creation. They are the “transition from En Sof to creation.”234
There is, indeed, a significant current in kabbalistic doctrine which links the Sefirot with the concept of potentiality.235

Every Sefirah is transformed from a general attribute of God into what the Kabbalists call a Partsuf, a “countenance” of God, which means that all the potentialities implied in every Sefirah are now brought under the influence of a formative principle.
—Vita1236

100.04    Buttress and Elaboration

God’s life-giving powers flow from the very highest degree of Holiness—from His Own Presence—down to the flesh-and-blood, cause-and-effect world in which we human beings live.
—Scherman237

Leviticus 12:1-4 presents the rule that when a woman gives birth she descends in purity.238 Moreover, when a woman gives birth to a daughter she descends twice the level of purity that she descends when she gives birth to a boy. The Or HaChaim explains that this perplexing formulation teaches us that during pregnancy a woman achieves a higher level of holiness, since she is carrying another life.239 The conception of a daughter who will maintain within herself a greater creative potential, raises her to a higher level of holiness. After the potential leaves her womb, her level of purity descends. Inasmuch as a female fetus represents a higher level of potentiality, upon the birth of a girl the mother’s level of purity descends doubly. For potential creation is indeed holy. And the level of creation potential is directly related to the level of holiness.
The cosmic fate is interlinked with the fate of God, the universe, and man.

Remember the former things of old:
That I am God, and there is none else;
I am God, and there is none like Me;
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things
that are not yet done.
—Isaiah 46:9-10

 Soloveitchik notes:

the Jewish people see their own fate as bound up with the fate of existence as a whole.    When the historical process of the Jewish people reaches its consummation and attains the heights of perfection, then (in an allegorical sense) the flaws of creation as a whole will also be repaired. “He bade the moon renew itself for those who were burdened from birth, who like her will be renewed and will extol their Creator on account of the name of His glorious kingdom” [from the blessing over the new moon].240

God is represented in Tanach as a many-faceted deity. It is for this reason that He is known by many Names.241 We postulate that the primal essence of God is potentiality, i.e., a supradimensional metaphysical intangible. Potential is implicit through God, and through God, the universe and man.242
The essence of God is eternal, timeless and infinite.243 The Primal Essence inexorably quests after its own infinite potentiality.244

Creation finds its expression in man’s fulfilling all of his tasks, causing all of the potentiality implanted in him to emerge into actuality, utilizing all of his manifold possibilities, and fully bringing to fruition his own noble personality. The power stored up within man is exceedingly great, is all-encompassing, but all too often it slumbers within and does not bestir itself from its deep sleep. The command of creation, beating deep within the consciousness of Judaism, proclaims: Awake ye slumberers from your sleep. Realize, actualize yourselves, your own potentialities and possibilities, and go forth to meet your God. The unfolding of man’s spirit that soars to the very heavens, that is the meaning of creation.
—Soloveitchik245

If man’s future potentialities are so crucial, with his existence and striving for spiritual and intellectual achievement energizing the universe, it would seem that the cosmic order itself might be jeopardized if man annihilated himself. Thus the imperatives of potential do not exceed the limits necessary for survival.246 On the other hand, if potential is at the essence of the Divine, we indeed have grounds for optimism. For only an awesomely positive potential down the road could dynamize all.

Radiant is the world soul,
Full of splendor and beauty,
Full of life,
Of souls hidden,
Of treasures of the holy spirit,
Of fountains of strength,
Of greatness and beauty.
Proudly I ascend
Toward the heights of the world soul
That gives life to the universe.
—Kook247

* * *

He hangs the world upon nothingness.
—Job 26:7248

Our conception adheres to classic Jewish doctrine of a spiritual and conscious God of infinity.249
The question then arises: Is spirituality at the beginning of the process or at its culmination? We are comfortable with the notion that it is at both the beginning and the end, a continuum. This is congruent with traditional religious thought. We add, however, that elements of circularity in time, God, or time/ God can be theorized to buttress the concept of a cosmos dynamized by potentiality.250 In the primordial realms of the infinite, potentialities and circularities reign supreme.
Somewhat in parallel to the construction of a geodesic dome, where all parts support one another, so too in creation, the potentialities of all creation support each other as well as the holy actualization spark. Thus, where the overwhelming thrust of classic Western philosophy is linear (i.e., A caused B caused C), our formulation is circular, with embedded potentialities providing the crucial supports and linkages.
100.05    Man—and the Quest for Potential

Man’s ultimate quest for potentiality is a primary imperative of the universe.
Soloveitchik notes:

Man initially is receptive, is pure potentiality. But creation, by definition, means spontaneity, actuality, action, renewal, aspiration, and daring.251

With respect to the very first reference to man in Genesis (1:26) “let us make man in our image,” Ibn Ezra comments: “Now I shall explain something you should know, namely, that the entire act of creation was for the purpose of man in accordance with the commandment of God. . Accordingly, since man’s rational soul never dies it is comparable in its eternity to God.    And, therefore, the prophet states that ‘he saw the Glory of God as the appearance of a man.’” 252

The portions of the Torah (Pentateuch) and Prophets read on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, focus on the belated conception of a child by Sarah and Hannah. The focus is not on the creation of the world, which would seem the natural selection. The focus is, rather, on the problem of conception faced by two important personages in Jewish history. Why this focus on Rosh Hashanah? Thus we might reinforce our notion that biological conception parallels the creation of the universe. For the potential of Sarah to conceive Isaac and the potential of Hannah to conceive Samuel are implicit in creation, which is itself predicated on holy potential. Thus the conception of Isaac and Samuel, each of whom would bring cosmic potential a significant step closer to fruition, are indeed events quite relevant to the anniversary of creation. The pain of the childless mother reflects the pain of the ultimate Creator who yearns for ultimate fulfillment of the goals of creation.
Thus, while creator potential is not the only potential, it is essential for the achievement of manifold other potentialities. (Peru urevu, “Be fruitful and multiply,” is the first mitzvah [Divine precept] and is categorized by some as mitzvah rabbah, a great mitzvah.) Other potentialities, including spiritual and intellectual attainment, are dependent on it. Consequently, creator potential receives a sanctity distinct to itself.

100.06    Linkage: Linkage of God’s Potential to Man’s Potential

I, even I, am He
that blots out your transgressions
for My own sake.
—Isaiah 43:25

And by Israel [the Lord] will be glorified/beautified.
—Isaiah 44:23

I will place salvation in Zion,
For Israel, my glorifier/beautifier.
—Isaiah 46:13

I was wroth with My people,
I profaned Mine inheritance [Israel].    
 —Isaiah 47:6

An already infinite God inexorably seeks His own potentialities, as difficult as this concept may be for the finite to comprehend. To any “infinity” one can add. This does not detract from the infinitude aspect of the original infinity. Divine perfection is Divinely enhanceable. This does not detract from the original perfection.
It is for this reason that the potential of the Deity is linked to, and influenced by, man’s striving for potential253 and by man’s ascent. The greater man’s freedom and consequent ascent, the greater the cosmic potentia1.254
Inasmuch as the cosmic Divine potential is intertwined with that of man, one must come to the conclusion that while man is totally dependent on the Divine, God is also somewhat dependent on man, to whatever small degree.255 That elements of a dependency exist, is recognized in Jewish tradition.256
The Midrash makes this point:
When the Israelites do God’s will, they add to the power of God on high. When the Israelites do not do God’s will, they, as it were, weaken the great power of God.257

“Ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord, and I am God” (Isaiah 43:12). That is, when you are my witnesses, I am God, and when you are not My witnesses, I am, as it were, not God.
—Midrash Rabbah, Psalms 123:1 258

Genesis 1:26 states: “And God said: ‘Let us make man in Our image’ ”  The Zohar responds to the question of why the plural “us” by explaining that man is a partner (shutaf) with the Divine in the creation of man.259 The rabbinic/kabbalistic concept of tikkun olam (“perfecting/completing the world”) further complements the theme of man’s partnership with the Divine.

Were it not for My covenant, day and night, the laws of heaven and earth I should not have ordained.
—Jeremiah 33:25
God is in need of man for the attainment of His ends.
—Hesche1260

When Israel performs the will of the Omnipresent, they add strength to the heavenly power; as it is said: “To God we render strength” (Psalms 60:14). When, however, Israel does not perform the will of the Omnipresent, they weaken—if it is possible to say so—the great power of Him who is above; as it is written, “Thou didst weaken the Rock that begot Thee.”
—Pesikta261

 


David Birnbaum Summa Metaphysica philosophy treatise proposes his original Quest for Potential (Q4P) Theory. See also David Birnbaum Cosmic Womb of Potential, Theory of Everything metaphysics Unifying Science & Religion.

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