1. Every Jew must know and believe that there exists a First Being, without beginning or end, who brought all things into existence and continues to sustain them. This Being is God.
2. It is furthermore necessary to know that God's true nature cannot be understood at all by any being other than Himself. The only thing that we know about Him is that He is perfect in every possible way and devoid of every conceivable deficiency...
3. It is also necessary to know that God's existence is imperative. it is absolutely impossible that He should cease to exist.
4. It is furthermore necessary to know that God's existence does not depend on anything else at all. His existence is intrinsically imperative.
5. It is likewise necessary to know that God's essence is absolutely simple, without any structure or additional qualities whatsoever..Admittedly, this is something far beyond the grasp of our understanding and imagination, and there hardly exists a way to express it and put it into words. Our intellect and imagination are only capable of grasping things bound by the natural limitations created by God...We begin our discussion, however, by acknowledging that God's true nature is beyond comprehension. No inference can be drawn to the Creator from what we see among created things...
1. Why is God called the "First Being?"
2. What are the three attributes of the "First Being?"
3. What is the only thing we can "know" about God? Why?
4. Why must God exist?
5. Why must God not depend on anything else to exist?
6. What does it mean that God is "Absolutely simple?"
7. Why do we have trouble understanding God's nature?
8. What may we not do when we observe the world? Why?
9. What is God?
10. Do you agree with Luzzatto that we can never really know anything about God?
11. Was there ever a time you felt especially close to God?
12. Was there ever a time when you felt distant from God?
Film: Oh God
In this scene, God finally gives Jerry (the prophet) his mission.
13. What doe God want Jerry to do?
14. What else does God want Jerry to tell the world?
15. Why would Luzzatto agree that this is all Jerry can do?
For the purposes of this discussion, belief in God is a given, no matter what the students "believe."
God is called the "First Being" because no being predates God. No being can. "First" can also mean "primary," most important. The first attribute is that God has no beginning or end. God is eternal. The last attribute is that God's presence is constant in the world. We can only know that God is perfect. God's true nature cannot be understood. This sounds easier to comprehend than it is. As human beings we naturally view God based upon our own experience. We see God in human terms. Luzzatto asserts taht any perception we have of God, any idea we have of what God is like, is automatically false. We are too limited to describe God much less understand God. This means that any statement made about God is by definition, false.
One point to consider: In every religious system there is a "leap of faith" that must be taken. In some faiths there is a great leap as some faiths require beliefs in miracles etc. To Luzzatto, the only "leap" reuqired is quite small. We must believe in God. Everything else will be explained in his theological system.
If God depended upon any other source of power to exist, God could not be God. God must be totally independent of everything in order to be all powerful. Yet the Creator is "absolutely simple" in that God is not divisible. God is one.
We cannot observe what goes on in the world and theorize about the nature of God based upon the actions of God's creatures. this is an important point In scientific theory, one builds a hypothesis based upon observation. yet, theologically, Luzzatto posits that this is exactly what must not be done. God is so totally "other" than us, so totally foreign, that we can never understand God's true nature.