The Third Foundation: God is Incorporeal

The third foundation of the Jewish faith is that God has no physical form and physical limitations by definition cannot apply to Him. Anything that describes God as moving or residing in a particular place – or having body parts like eyes or hands – is mere metaphor for our benefit. The Talmudic principle is that “the Torah speaks the language of people” (Brachos 31b). Just as we say “the sun rose” rather than “the earth rotated in such a way so that I was able to see the sun over the horizon,” the Torah might say, “God appeared to Abraham” rather than “Abraham became able to perceive God more intensely.” It’s simply a less cumbersome manner of speaking.

The Torah addresses this principle when it tells us, “You did not see any form (of God, at Sinai)” (Deut. 4:15).

In the Ani Maamins, this foundation is phrased, “I believe wholeheartedly that God has no body and physical limitations do not apply to Him. There is nothing resembling Him.”

In Yigdal, it is the line reading “Ein lo d'mus haguf v'eino guf; lo na'aroch eilav k'dushaso” – “He has no physical form and He is without a body; nothing is comparable to His holiness.”