By Shalom Olensky
Moshe tells the Jews, “You shall know today and you shall settle into your heart that G-d is the L-rd in the heavens above and upon the earth below; there is no other.”—Deuteronomy 4:39.
Does Moshe really think that Jews believe in another god, e.g. in the water below the earth; so much so that he must say “and settle it into your heart…”?!
The world was created by ten utterances which G-d spoke. The Baal Shem Tov and Rabbi Yitzchak Luria teach that the words and letters of those utterances are forever within each and every corresponding creation, giving it substance and life. If not for the continued presence of G-d’s word in the creation, the world would cease to exist, returning to the absolute non-existence which preceded creation.
Every single created being, whether man, beast, vegetation, or even something inanimate, has a soul – G-d’s word.
Hence, the faith in G-d’s constant individual providence, is logical. Since creation was preceded by total non-existence, and only by virtue of the creating force does anything exist, hence the created existence is constantly dependent on G-d’s perpetually creating it.
With this in mind, it is understandable how the true existence of each and every created being is nothing but the spiritual word of G-d. Since physicality is merely a projection of spirituality, and the spiritual source cannot leave its projection for even one moment, lest it cease to exist, hence the physical is truthfully nothing but its source – the spiritual.
If so, how come physicality exists as if an entity unto itself?
G-d’s creative power is called by the Sages, “Greatness,” for it is an expression of G-d’s infinity. This power is incomprehensible to man, for man lacks any ability or understanding of the power to create existence from non-existence. G-d has another power, called by the Sages, “Strength,” which refers to the simultaneous ability of the Divine to constrict and hide His creative force, all the while creating. This simultaneous exercise of both creation and constriction is incomprehensible just as the power to create existence from non-existence is incomprehensible. However, it is a distinct Divine power.
From the in-tandem operation of these two opposite Divine capabilities, understandably able to work together since they are both His, and since He is one so, too, they are one and united, we can find the interpretation of the above verse:
Since “G-d” – referring to His aforementioned “Greatness” – “is the L-rd” – referring to His aforementioned “Strength” – they are one and the same because they are one with G-d, who is one. Hence, with this in mind, one can “know today and…settle into your heart that…there is no other.”
Because of the constriction that goes along with creation we seem physical and self-sustaining. But since those two opposites in creation are really one entity united within their source – the one G-d – hence, there is not but Oneness, G-d’s presence. Physicality therefore only exists insofar as G-d does, for “there is no other,” no plurality. For “G-d” ( G-d’s Greatness”) “is the L-rd” (G-d’s Strength).
This pure faith of Oneness of G-d in creation is the foundation upon which one can build love and awe/fear of G-d, through contemplating on His greatness and his kindness towards us.
(Based on Tanya, Section II, Ch. 1-6)