Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Rambam: The Mysterious Rotation of the Earth



"This Being (G-d) – He is the G-d of the world, the Master of all the Earth. And He guides the sphere (the world) with a strength which has no end or completion – a strength without interruption. The sphere continually spins around, and it is impossible for it to spin without Someone who spins it. And He blessed be He is the One who rotates it without a hand and without a body."

Continuing the theme of the All-Powerful G-d, the Rambam shares with us another "global" rule. G-d is in charge of everything in the world. Nothing is able to do anything without G-d's awesome power in making it happen. It may seem (to the non-believer) that the world magically spins about all on its own. Perhaps there is a man upon whose shoulders the world stands and who has the laborious task of keeping it moving – while keeping himself invisible? Or perhaps the laws of science – gravity and the like are what the non-believer feels keep the world in a rotating state. Or for those more concerned with wealth as opposed to science, it may be money that makes the world go around.

The Rambam clarifies: There is no mysterious invisible man holding the world on his shoulders. There are no magical forces or cosmic energies that allow the world to spin so faultlessly each day, each week, each month and each year – in perfect synchronicity. There is an All-Powerful G-d, filled with an infinite strength that continues to "exert" His force upon the world to make it turn around continually – without interruption.

He has no hand nor a body that allows Him to do this. Though the prophets speak of the many human-like features of G-d – His "outstretched" hand, His anger, His jealousy, His joy, His sadness, His eyes, His mouth etc., they use these anthropomorphisms for the simple reason of allowing us to better understand the current behaviour or feelings of G-d. G-d created man in His image. When man looks at his hand, he understands (ever so slightly) what the G-dly "hand" looks like – what it can do. When a man smiles, he understands what it means for G-d to be happy. When a man frowns, he understands the sadness of G-d.

But G-d is beyond all human comprehension. He is like no man who requires physical power and features to make things happen. G-d operates in a mode far above any level of nature than anybody could ever imagine. His strength is not in action, not even in our understanding of speech or thought. His strength exists in His very essence – something impossible for any of us to understand.

But it is clear. He is the Master of the entire cosmos and the Milky Way Galaxy! He is the Master of the physical, the spiritual, the good and it's opposite. He is all these things and more. It is through His active and constant supervision and power that the world rotates continually – perfectly. He never tires nor weakens.

Without G-d – without this awesome Force, the world would be unable to rotate. In fact, not only could the world not rotate, it would not even be here.

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