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16.4.15

Pantheism and "שיתוף" (Joining).

Pantheism is something I have thought for a while is a problem. But when ever I brought up the subject no one seemed interested.
But then, I  learned something in the Talmud which seems to relate to this issue.
The basic statement in the Talmud in Sanhedrin (page  63) is based on the  Mishna that there is a death penalty for accepting any being besides the Creator as one's god. [And the Talmud reads that mishna without a comma. That is: "One who accepts another being as ones god and says to it 'You are my god' is liable." That is, just accepting in ones mind is not liable. There has to be some words.] (note 2)
The actual discussion I forget, but at the end the Talmud brings an argument between R. Meir and R. Shimon Ben Yochai. R. Meir said: The Jewish people said to the golden calf, "These are your gods, Oh Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt.' If they had left out the "Vav" nothing would have been left of them. [There is a letter "Vav" in העלוך which (plural) brought you out. If there would be no "Vav" it would say העלך which (singular) brought you out.] That is the opinion of R. Meir. R. Shimon Ben Yochai said, "One who joins together the Name of God with something else is uprooted from this world."
כל המשתף שם שמים ודבר אחר נעקר מן העולם שנאמר בלתי להשם לבדו
The idea in that verse is that one who sacrifices to other gods gets the death penalty since one is allowed to sacrifice to God alone. R. Shimon learns from this that even joining another being with God is considered idolatry and gets the death penalty. This is not like the opinion of R. Meir.
 This subject comes up on the next page where Tosphot brings the opinion of R Meir. But we see that the Rambam holds by R Shimon.[The Ein Mishpat shows the Rambam goes with R. Shimon.]



What we have from all this is that "joining" God with another being is an argument between sages of the Mishna [tenaim].
Rashi in his explanation of Rabbi Meir makes it a point that the Jewish people by doing "שיתוף" joining were not denying God.
This is relevant to Christianity and Hinduism , etc.
Christianity we know has many of versions of the Trinity.

 The curious thing is that we saw in the Gemara Sanhedrin 61b that when a person is not claiming to be a god it is allowed to bow to them. But not if they claim to be a god. What happens in the case of Jesus where he did not claim, but others claimed for him? At least that is what it seems like in Matthew. When he said, "Don't call me good. Only call God 'good,'" it seems like he was not being modest, but had a perfectly good opportunity to claim that he is a at least a good person. But even that he did not claim. [John however is regular Neoplatonism with "the word" taking the place of the "word" (or shechina, the sephera of Royalty) in Kabalah or Neo-Platonic thought. That does not suggest what Christians later  read into it.] (note 1)
In Matthew there is a claim that Jesus was "the son of a man," not the son of God. And even "the son of God" is not unique. Thus in Exodus, God called the children of Israel, "the children of God." "Send out my son, my first born, out of Egypt." That means that each Jew is the son or daughter of God according to the book of Exodus.
In any case, this seems to be an argument between Rabbi Meir And R. Shimon.

 Pantheism got to be accepted in the insane religious world  as a kosher form of שיתןף "joining." I had seen  the idea originally in the Shelah  who brings it from the Remak. I was at the Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn where there was Don Segal who also seems to hold from this opinion. So it was natural for me to think it is as much a part of Torah as the 13 principles of faith of the Rambam. So when I saw this in the books of Rav Shick I did not think it was any problem. And so when I saw the Bhagavad Gita years later in a NY bookstore I thought it is just the same thing as Torah.

So what we have here is the Gemara which deals with it slightly. But the Gemara was in a different world --or zoroastrianism, so they were not thinking about this issue much.  The only time it states to get dealt with is the son of the Rambam, Reb Avraham and to some degree in the general books of Jewish thought from Saadia Geon to the Rambam.
So while the Ari does not hold from pantheism, it did start to slip into Judaism by way of Kabalah. And Israel Baal Shem did say a few statements that were going the direction of pantheism.  Pantheism became firmly embedded in  mystic circles.



With Isaac Luria we get a rather simple combination of the idea of Emanation up until the bottom of the world of Emanation. Also the idea of the vessels coming from the empty space meaning the light emanates and the vessels are something from nothing. In any case this is not pantheism, nor panethism.
It seems the further east one goes, the more pantheistic things become. The Russian Church  goes with Pantheism [or panetheism--same difference] and it seems likely this is where the Baal Shem Tov got the idea. Hinduism --at least the school of Advaita is Pantheistic.
Torah is Monotheistic. which is different. The Torah approach is mainly forgotten, since the insane religious world which hold strongly from Torah have no idea what Torah says about this matter and the Conservative and Reform are not as committed to Torah  as much as they ought to be.
Pantheism can be associated with laziness, --since  everything is good, nothing matters. Also a lack of good manners seems to be joined to pantheism.
Spinoza was pantheistic in a more secular way. The type of Pantheism you see in the insane religious world  is specifically from Hinduism and of a more religious variety. [What I advocate is not the insane religious world but Torah which is very different. {You could call my approach Torah Judaism perhaps. But it is simpler just to call it Torah.}]

Notes
(note 1) To Mark, Jesus is the son of God which does not mean what Christians think. What some and my learning partner is right that the closest thing you get to the Nicene creed in is John. But the proof from John depends on not knowing Hebrew or not knowing Greek. If you know Greek you know it says "Before Abraham I am." Not "I was." If you don't know Hebrew that is a great reference to the Burning Bush. But if you know Hebrew you know אהיה אשר אהיה means "I Will Be," not "I Am." As in "I will be in the store tomorrow," אהיה במכולת מחר  as opposed to "I am in the store" אני במכולת
In any case the Christology of John is not that of any of the other writers at all. And which one Christians take as representing  Christianity is in contradiction to the others.
(note 2) "Things in the heart are not things."  The Gemara does not say this reason here but you can see that the Gemara is looking for a reason why speaking words of acceptance of any being besides god as ones God is idolatry. But it is just I that is bringing in this other principle you find: "things in the heart are not things."דברים שבלב אינם דברים That is why when you sell or buy something you have to say something.
And the Rashba [Shelomo Ben Aderet] says (Kidushin pg 50) this is only when ones heart contradicts ones words or actions. But otherwise things in the  heart are things. So why would this not work here? We find for trumah [the 2% that one takes from his crop to give to the priest] that "things in the heart are things," but that is because of a special verse.
In marriage we do need words. Things in the heart are not things. The guy has to say to the woman "You are married to me by means of this ring (or sex or document)." If she says it she is not married.
See the book of Rav Elazar Menachem Shach the Avi Ezri which goes into this in more detail