How do we define God?

We now touch on the whole subject and definition of God — the object of our trust. How exactly are we to understand Him?

In his Introduction Ibn Pakudah defines God simply as the one who “directs everything”, and the entity from whom “all good and all harm” comes and upon whom “all authority rests”.

Notice that he doesn’t define Him as the Creator, but that’s because God is more than that, and also because His being the Creator is a given in his eyes: after all, what or whom would there be for Him to direct had He not created the universe, what good or harm would there be, and upon whom would His authority rest had He not created the universe?

At bottom this comes to an expression of pure and radical monotheism.

Notice, too, that Ibn Pakudah makes the point of saying that both goodness and harm — good and evil — derive from God. This isn’t the point to expand upon this vital though theologically vexing issue, but at bottom it comes to this. Since God created everything, He obviously created evil as well. Others have argued that evil is an entity unto itself or that another god had to have created evil, given that it seems to be absurd to attribute any malevolence whatsoever to God, but that’s not so. God created everything and maintains everything, too, including evil.

We’ll see, though, that this is an inadequate definition of God. We’ll first touch on the problems of the above definition, expand upon it, and then bring it back to trusting in Him in due time.


(c) 2015 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
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