Wednesday, December 14, 2016

True Existence

This Chabad work, titled in Hebrew Mi Chamocha, and in English True Existence, is one of the source texts of Lubavitcher Chasidism.  It was written by the fourth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Shmuel of Lubavich in 1869.

This text or sermon is meant to flesh out one of Chabad’s prime theological positions, captured in the Hebrew phrase ein od milvado, or there is none beside him [G-d].  This is part of an overall biblical phrase regarding divine oneness, the classic position of monotheism.  There is but one G-d. 

But Chabad takes this quote in a more radical direction.  As the Rebbe explains, this phrase does not mean there are no other G-ds but G-d, or that God is one in a numerical sense, but that nothing else exists but G-d.  Our existence is radically contingent.  We appear to exist, as does our world, but it is only from our very narrow perspective.  From the divine perspective, there is nothing but the divine –  called monism in philosophy.

So ein od milvado becomes a Chabad rallying cry.  The closer we move toward monism, the clearer we see reality for what it is; in the process, our human concerns transform.  We are less attached to them, even as we fulfill them; we become more calm, compassionate, and involved. 

This book has a lofty goal.  But really, there is no goal.  We just need to open our eyes to what really exists.

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