The Way of G-d 2:6:3
Given the above, the fact is that G-d doesn’t judge the world according to His foreknowledge but rather according to the way He wants things to function in the world 1.
Another point to be made is that no Heavenly Tribunal renders a decision until the angels involved in the case are brought in. After all, G-d created angels to supervise what goes on in the world 2, so they’re to appear before the Heavenly Court and to attest to what they perceive to be true before the case is judged 3.
But as we’ve indicated a number of times, G-d doesn’t need any of this information, given His foreknowledge 4. This is simply the system that He instituted in His unfathomable wisdom.
So, various turns of phrase are used for this all in the Torah. Thus we’re told that “G-d came down to see the city and the tower” (Genesis 11:5) 5, “The day came when the sons of G-d 6 arrived to present themselves before G-d” (Job 1:6) 7, “G-d’s eyes flew all over the earth” (Zechariah 4:10) 8, “These are the ones 9 whom G-d has sent to walk the earth” (Ibid, 1:10), and the like. They all refer to G-d’s aforementioned system of administration 10, and to the angels who were appointed to carry it out and to attest to what happens, as if they were “G-d’s eyes” 11.
Hence, when G-d appears before one of these Heavenly Tribunals to act as a judge for one case or another, as He did, for example, when it came to instance of the building of the Tower of Babel, the Torah stated that “G-d came down to see” (Genesis 11:5) 12, as in other such instances.
But know that the only thing the Heavenly Tribunal has in common with earthly courts is the system of adjudication we described. Earthly courts carry out other functions differently 13. Because while the physical realm is based on physical phenomena, the spiritual realm is based on spiritual ones and on their components’ means of perceiving things.
1 That is, He allows the testimony of the angels referred to below, as well as the rules of logic, cause and effect, and the run of the natural course of events to influence His judgments.
2 See 1:5:2 above.
3 See Ta’anit 18a and Zohar 3: 99a.
4 The idea that G-d doesn’t use His foreknowledge isn’t only cited right above but also at the end of 2:6:2. Some contend that there seems to be some text missing from the original that would have expanded upon this idea in novel ways.
5 That is to say that He had His angels observe what went on.
6 I.e., the angels.
7 To report what they’d seen. See Zohar 2:32b.
8 This also refers to the angels, as is indicated below. See Zohar 3:99a.
9 I.e., the angels.
10 See Moreh Nevuchim 1:44.
11 See Tikkunei Zohar 153b.
12 See Zohar 2:33b.
13 See Clallim Rishonim 1.
(c) 2019 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
Feel free to contact me at email@example.com
Rabbi Feldman’s new annotated translation of Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag’s “Introduction to the Zohar” is available as “The Kabbalah of Self” on Kindle here. His annotated translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here and his annotated translation of Rabbeinu Yonah’s “The Gates of Repentance” is available here.
He has also translated and commented upon “The Path of the Just” and “The Duties of the Heart” (Jason Aronson Publishers).