Quote of the Day

“Man has been created by God in order that he may finish what God has deliberately left unfinished. Not that God needs the help of His creatures, but it is His love which causes Him to impart His own Nature to the work of His hands, in order than man should have the privilege and joy of becoming His fellow-worker in this world, in natural as well as in spiritual life.

Moreover, in a certain sense God does need men, in order to exercise His kingship. A king needs a people that accept his rule voluntarily. God, by virtue of His character, needs a being to whom He can reveal Himself, whom He can love, and through whom He can shed abroad His light and life.

The ultimate issues of this truth are of the most vital and cosmic significance, for God Himself is affected by our life.”

Paul Philip Levertoff, “Love and the Messianic Age,” pg. 41.

About Rabbi Joshua

I'm a Rabbi, writer, thinker, mountain biker, father and husband ... not necessarily in that order. According to my wife, however, I'm just a big nerd. I have degrees in dead languages and ancient stuff. I have studied in various Jewish institutions, including an Orthodox yeshiva in Europe. I get in trouble for making friends with perfect strangers, and for standing on chairs to sing during Shabbos dinner. In addition to being the Senior Rabbi of Simchat Yisrael Messianic Synagogue in West Haven, CT, I write regularly for several publications and speak widely in congregations and conferences. My wife is a Southern-fried Jewish Beltway bandit and a smokin' hot human rights attorney... and please don’t take offense if I dump Tabasco sauce on your cooking.
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16 Responses to Quote of the Day

  1. Anonymous says:

    Levertoff was a heretic through and through. His apostasy was not limited to his "conversion" to Christianity, though. Here, in this telling, chilling Quote of the Day, Levertoff truly undermined the entirety of the the Jewish tradition from Sinai by declaring man on an equal footing with G-d, in a relationship wherein G-d actually needs something from man. Sheesh.

  2. Rabbi Joshua says:

    Anon.,Of course you could find fault with the faith of Levertoff, however the idea that we are partners with G-d in bringing redemption into the world is a central Jewish concept. If you were going to find fault with a Levertoff quote, this is hardly the one to do so.Here are just a few (of many) examples:-A YU parsha Shiur on being Partners with HaShem http://xrl.us/bh3xo6-A parenting book by Artscroll titled "Partners with HaShem" http://www.mesorah.com/Books/pwh2h.html-A textbook by Behrman House titled "Parters with G-d" http://xrl.us/bh3xpv

  3. Rabbi Joshua says:

    … Additionally, check out the various commentaries on prayers like Avinu Malkeinu, and other prayers reflecting this idea of HaShem as our king. This is exactly the concept Levertoff is drawing from .

  4. Gene Shlomovich says:

    "If you were going to find fault with a Levertoff quote, this is hardly the one to do so."Spot on, Joshua. Anonymous, this Levertoff's quote perfectly reflect the Hasidic Judaism he was raised in. Specifically his words are aligned with the teaching of the immensely influential 16th century mystic and Kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria, who taught that Jews are G-d's partners in tikkun olam.As far as G-d needing anything from his creatures, "in a certain sense" it's true – he does. But only when he choose to "need." Say if G-d wanted to express his love, his mercy, his grace – how could he do it unless there's someone to receive it? But in every case it's G-d's sovereign choice to do that or the other, to reflect his nature, and not out of some existential need that G-d may have.

  5. Rabbi Joshua says:

    Gene,Agreed.And just to note, Levertoff does begin this thought by making that point clear:"Not that God needs the help of His creatures …"

  6. Carl Kinbar says:

    I suspect that Anonymous is a Maimonidean (whether he knows it or not). In all of Judaism, the Rambam was the only major figure who did not affirm the partnership model.

  7. Rabbi Joshua says:

    Rabbi Kinbar,Interesting. Thanks for that note.

  8. zayin says:

    "I suspect that Anonymous is a Maimonidean (whether he knows it or not). In all of Judaism, the Rambam was the only major figure who did not affirm the partnership model."Agreed. some in the Charedi groups I have studied with would take this view. It is in stark contrast to those in the Chassidic circles. I guess that is a good example of some of the different opinions inside the Orthodox Jewish movement and shows that they don't agree on everything either.As one friend of mine who is an orthdox rabbi put it: "The Charedi's and the Chassidim (specifically Chabad, to put the quote in context) don't really get along."Ironically those in the Charedi circles don't always agree. I still have heard more in support of the view of a partnership model with G-d out of the Charedi's than I have heard otherwise.I would be interested to hear Anon.'s background.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Joshua,You're 100% correct that G-d has allowed us to be His partners in creation. By the same token, or maybe by another one altogether, He also seemed to "run the idea by" the angels, on the sixth day of creation, of making man in His (and, in some way) their image (Gen. 1:26). Did He need their permission? Certainly not. Did He teach us a thing or two about respectfulness, even when it isn't required of us when we hold the power, in interpersonal relations? Of course.I'm sure you know the famous story in the Talmud in which G-d happily laments that the power to dictate reality has in a certain way been handed down from G-d, in which He declares "My children have defeated Me". No one could defeat G-d! And yet, when He put the Torah into the Jews' hands, it became something of this world and not of the heavens, and with it and the exegesis and legislative framework He provided the Jews at Sinai, they indeed became His partners in Torah and in creation.Nonetheless, the concept of G-d needing anything is a tremendous heresy of the highest order. G-d is perfect, unchanging, and He existed without man even before time came into being. It is irrational for us to ascribe to such fully self-sufficient being our human concept of need, and it is obvious that because of His infinite goodness that He brought mankind into existence, not because He needs us–such could not be the case–but rather because He chose to lavish us with the chance to be, and to achieve closeness with Him for our benefit. There is nothing we can provide for Him that He cannot create more perfectly or more effortlessly than we. Additionally, He needs nothing that exists within creation; creation exists within Him and needs Him. It's a one-way street.Gene–it's nice to see you here!

  10. Benjamin E says:

    Levertoff said: "Not that God needs the help of His creatures…in a certain sense, God does need men in order to exercise His kingship. A king needs a people that accept his rule volintarily."I almost imagine Levertoff's, "in a certain sense," a kind of kiviachol. In other words, Levertoff does say that God does not need man's help, but, if one could say such a thing, God does need man inasmuch as men need to accept His sovereignty for His ways to become manifest. I can't seem to find any authority from mesorah that would suggest otherwise. The context of Levetoff's kiviachol is the need for people to respond to Him of their own volition, not that God couldn't do x, y, and/or z. God chose to give us the option to say yes or no. We have the responsibility to make that call.

  11. rik says:

    It seems to be right that this quote would come from a Messianic Jew. Yeshuas' mian doctrine seems to be partnership. I know I'm only scratching the serface here in references. The Gospel of Yochanan starts with Yeshua finding His recruits and ends with The Messiah commissioning them to "Shepherd my sheep" and "feed my sheep". All the way through to the beginning of the next Messianic Age, 1Cor.15:23 But each in his own order: the Messiah is the firstfruits; then those who belong to the Messiah, at the time of his coming;. In reference to the earlyer discussion of what is, and what is the focus of Messianic Judaism, Is this a referendum to the calling of Messianic Judaism ? As Reb Josh aready stated,"bringing redeption into the world is a central Jewish concept.

  12. rik says:

    Judah, Your critique is recived. The dictionary has always been a crutch. no excuses.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The "Gospel of Yochanan"?! Now, I've heard it all.Benjamin, you wrote "God does need man…. I can't seem to find any authority from mesorah that would suggest otherwise." Let me help you with that:* Gen. 17:1, "When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the L-rd appeared to him and said, 'I am God Almighty;'"* Is. 55:8, "'My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,' declares the L-rd."* Jer. 32:27, "'I am the L-rd, the G-d of all mankind. Is anything too hard for Me?'"Understand well that need is a feature or property appertaining to creations, and is by definition that which separates one from being almighty. Almighty G-d already has everything that could be imagined, and He is the only One with a capacity to bring that which could be imagined into existence, so the idea that He needs anything from his own creations is illogical.

  14. Rabbi Joshua says:

    Anonymous,You are reading way too much into this.

  15. Benjamin E says:

    Anon,You pointed me to verses that show God's sovereignty but you were dodging my question and quoting me without the context of what I wrote (the, "…" that actually contained the meat of my point).Just to clarify, I was explaining that the scope of Levertoff's assertion that "God does need men" was related to God's CHOICE to put it into people's hands whether or not to choose to make His ways manifest (i.e. Torah observance for am Yisrael). Can you point to any place in mesorah or TaNaKh that suggests otherwise-i.e. where it is suggested that God has chosen to forgo humanity's free will to respond to Him? I would agree that it might be good to phrase things in such a way that God chose to need man to follow Him out of free will, but I would like to honor His choice to do so (as I'm sure you would also).

  16. Anonymous says:

    Benjamin,One other note that may be illuminating for you on this topic, in case you haven't seen it already. There is a lengthy consideration of the question that if G-d is so omnipotent, then can He create a rock so heavy that even He can't lift it. This question, and the discussion thereof in Jewish sources, at least, goes directly to the heart of man's linguistic and logical/intellectual framework of inherent limitation, and our chemical inability to relate to the infinite. I hope you'll look into it.

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