Thursday, March 02, 2006

Hakol Tzofuy - All is predicted- a connundrum

The concept of divine transcendence is the key to all of Rambam's theology. He applies it to every aspect of how we view God. The idea is that God is an entity that is totally different than us and the same applies to all His possible attributes. We see the results of His "acts" and assume that He used some type of mechanism to accomplish those acts but in reality it is only our imagination that sees it that way based on our experience. God on the other hand says "Ani Hashem lo shanisi"- I God have not changed.

This applies to every aspect, including knowledge of the future. Even though God knows the future as there is no time from His perspective, still we have Bechira - freedom of choice. Rambam explains the apparent connundrum very simply - the question only exists because of our concept of knowledge. It does not apply to God because His knowledge functions differently.

Over the generations many had difficulty accepting this proposition, starting with Ravad in his comment in Hilchos Tshuva on Rambam's exposition on the connundrum. Mekubalim tried to explain it but ultimately Rambam remains the only logical acceptable position on this matter. That is why he spent so much effort on showing that all mention of physical attributes in Tanach are allegorical. Only if one really absorbs that idea can we understand all actions of God and conform them with our reality.

I read this morning a two page essay by R.Meir Simcha of Dvinsk in his Ohr Sameach, at the end of Hilchos Tshuva on this subject discussing the Mishna "Hakol Tzofuy Vehareshus Nesuno" - All is predicted however one is still free to chose. It is instructive as he takes us through the whole subject and arrives at the conclusion I summarized above. It is even more intersting how he deals with Kabbalah rationally. He respectfully disagrees with the Maharal and R. Meir Ibn Gabai ( one of the importnat Mekubalim) and really shows how wrong they are. At the same time he very cryptically explains the Kabbalah concepts so as not to conflict with Rambam. It is an eye opener because the picture is different than one gets reading books and seforim on the subject. I am sure Rav Kook and others of his stature were in the same wavelength.

I don't know too much about Kabbalah but I would be surprised if many of the contemporary Kabbalistic "greats" have any inkling what they are talking about. I say "many" as there might be a few hidden R. Meir Simchas. Unfortunately I doubt even that .


  1. Strange as it may sound, this knowledge is what kept me searching for God long before I knew anything about Judaism, let alone Rambam. Reading a description of his exposition cinched for me that I was in the right place.

    The fact that a mind can concieve of something so entirely beyond it's power and scope to REALLY think about is a powerful concept. Nothing really touched that spark of truth until Rambam. I could talk about this stuff for hours, but it turns out most people aren't interested. They like dealing with the concrete...

  2. GZ, I love this stuff too and I get a high from it. It is the most exhilarating thing I experience. On thsi note re prophecy you can access an article I wrote here: I would love to hear from you about it. You can email direct

  3. "He respectfully disagrees with the Maharal and R. Meir Ibn Gabai ( one of the importnat Mekubalim) and really shows how wrong they are".

    great post. Can you elaborate further on this point?

  4. I am reading this...I wish I had more time. I spend my days entirely working, studying, and then coming up with a post for the blog. (Not that it takes such long time for that last one, but I don't have much time to share is the problem.)