6. The Ramifications of Being Non-Corporeal

Yesodei HaTorah 1:11

Now that we have established that God does not have a body, it is obvious that bodily functions do not apply to Him. This includes connection and separation, location and measurement, up and down, right and left, front and back, standing and sitting, etc. He does not exist within time so He has no beginning, end or age. He does not change because there is nothing that can cause a change in Him. Death does not apply to Him, nor does life in the same way that it does to physical beings. Foolishness does not apply to Him, nor does wisdom in the same way that it does to humans. Other things that do not apply to God include sleeping and waking, anger and laughter, joy and sorrow, and silence and speech in the way that human beings understand speech. The Sages tell us that above, there is neither sitting nor standing, neither separation nor connection.

Yesodei HaTorah 1:12

Since all the terms detailed in 1:11 – and more such terms that appear throughout the Torah and Navi (the Books of the Prophets) – do not apply to God, their use is metaphorical. Examples include:

  • “The One Who sits in the heavens will laugh" (Psalms 2:4);
  • "They angered Me with a non-god" (Deuteronomy 32:21);
  • “As God rejoiced" (ibid. 28:63).

Regarding all such statements, the Sages tell us that the Torah employs the language of man.

This concept is proven as follows: In Jeremiah 7:19, God asks (rhetorically), "Are they angering Me?" But Malachi 3:6 says, "I, God, have not changed." If God were to be angered at some times and happy at others, then He would in fact be changing. Rather, all of these concepts only apply to us lowly people. God, on the other hand, is far above all this.