Are All Golden Rules the Same?

 

Every “ethical” society seems to have a Golden Rule, some variation on Luke and Matthew’s “Do to others what you would want them to do to you.” Confucius stated it as a negative: “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others,” which is functionally identical to Hillel’s, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.”

And yet there is a gaping chasm between all of these forms (the Wiki link contains dozens of other examples), and the formulation which is the middle topic of the middlemost text (Leviticus) of the Torah (Lev. 19:18). In other words, the Torah formulation makes the Jewish version of the Golden Rule at the heart of the text. And it is, upon reflection, very different from the Golden Rule of Confucius and Luke and Matthew and Hillel. The Torah says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

How is this different? Consider firstly that the negative construction of Confucious and Hillel do not require any engagement – you can fulfill the Golden Rule by simply leaving other people alone. No relationship is required or even encouraged; people who separate from each other have followed the rule. Which is fine, as far as it goes. But this version of the Golden Rule does nothing to build relationships, to build families and communities and societies. It enables and condones solitude and isolation.

The positive constructions are better, in that one should treat others as you wish to be treated. But that in itself does not necessarily entail a relationship. Instead, it suggests a quid pro quo, doing to others as you want them to do to you. If you want to be left alone, then you can fulfill this rule merely by leaving others alone as well!

Perhaps most importantly, the distinction of “loving others” is that love is an ongoing investment, not a mere thing or product. To truly love others means that one needs to empathize with them, to care about them in ways that are not readily measured by keeping score of who was nice to whom. Love is a lifelong, ongoing and neverending process, not just the sharing of rations or the kind of polite courtesy with which decent people greet one another on the street.

So while people all-too-often “keep score” in their lives about whether they have received their due share, whether they have given more than they have received, etc., loving them as you love yourself means caring about someone else, about learning to see through their eyes, hear through the ears, and feel as they feel.

In this sense, then, the Torah is quite distinct from other ancient documents and texts. The existence of the non-Torah Golden Rule can readily be used as a defense of a godless moral society– after all, the Golden Rule surely suggests that civil societies can logically deduce an ethical social structure and body politic.

But for Judaism, the idea of loving someone else like yourself is much richer in religious overtones. Each person, we are told by the ensoulment of Adam, contains the very spirit of G-d within them. So when we love other people, truly love them, then we are drawing closer to G-d, by connecting with and empathizing with His spirit as it is found in each person. This is a positive commandment: we cannot fulfill it by leaving them alone as we want to be left alone or even by treating them as we want to be treated. In order to be holy, we have to connect with others in love, to try to see things their way, and seek to make them feel the love that we, in turn, want to enjoy ourselves.

Golden Rules are necessary for any ethical society. “Do/Don’t do unto others” represents a baseline in human rights. But “Love your neighbor as yourself” is one step up: love is a prerequisite for holiness.

For Judaism, this Golden Rule cannot be separated from religious faith. Loving other people is a way to love G-d.

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  1. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    You may be correct about the meaning of the passage, iWe.  Not for me to say.  But I will say that you are taking the passage out of context.  Maybe the context is irrelevant, but just for the record, here it is:

    “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”

    I think there are two points worth noting about the first clause of Leviticus 19:18.  First, it sets up “love” as the antithesis of seeking revenge or bearing a grudge.  It is not necessarily an expansive version of “love.”  Second, it applies to “anyone among your people,” and not to humanity as a whole.  Do those caveats matter?  Again, it’s not for me to say, but it is worth thinking about.

    • #1
  2. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    The Wikipedia article leaves out a couple of references that agree entirely with (and quote) Lev 19:18:

    Matthew 22:37-40

    Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your Gd with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

    Repeated in Mark 12: 29-31, and also Luke 10:25-28.

    Paul repeats it again in Romans 13:8-9, and Galatians 5:14.

    As for who is our neighbor?  Luke 10: 25-37, the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  Short answer: anyone in need is ultimately our neighbor (really, by extension, all mankind).

    But yes, you are entirely correct:

    iWe: For Judaism, this Golden Rule cannot be separated from religious faith. Loving other people is a way to love G-d.

     

    • #2
  3. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    Luke 10: 25-37, the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Short answer: anyone in need is ultimately our neighbor (really, by extension, all mankind).

    Or those who come to our aid—love is reciprocal. Indeed, love can somehow erase the distinction between who is helped and who is helping. At least, I’ve found it so. 

    • #3
  4. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Christianity is, or started as, an extension of Jewish Law, teaching, and practice. Many verses from Jewish scripture are revisited in the New Testament, and while we call what you cited the Golden Rule, that does not mean the other verse is not very strongly highlighted.

    Matthew 22:34 And when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they themselves gathered together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him with a question: 36 “Teacher, which commandment is the greatest in the Law?”

    37 Jesus declared, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”

    The same is found in The Gospel of Saint Mark, Chapter 12. It is definitely not as if Christians set this aside because that other phrase got named “The Golden Rule.”

    Of course, my favorite version was one I saw on a T-Shirt in my youth: “Do unto others, then split.”

    • #4
  5. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    The Wikipedia article leaves out a couple of references that agree entirely with (and quote) Lev 19:18:

    Beat me to it and more comprehensively. 😉

    • #5
  6. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    iWe:

    And yet there is a gaping chasm between all of these forms (the Wiki link contains dozens of other examples), and the formulation which is the middle topic of the middlemost text (Leviticus) of the Torah (Lev. 19:18). In other words, the Torah formulation makes the Jewish version of the Golden Rule at the heart of the text. And it is, upon reflection, very different from the Golden Rule of Confucius and Luke and Matthew and Hillel. The Torah says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

    What?  The Golden Rule of Jesus/Yeshua is Leviticus 19:18.  He quotes it as well.  He means the same thing by it.

    • #6
  7. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    On a less important point, Confucianism includes more than just the negative version of the Golden Rule.  More here!

    Anyway, iWe, thanks for the cool post!

    • #7
  8. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    iWe:

    The positive constructions are better, in that one should treat others as you wish to be treated. But that in itself does not necessarily entail a relationship. Instead, it suggests a quid pro quo, doing to others as you want them to do to you. If you want to be left alone, then you can fulfill this rule merely by leaving others alone as well!

    Ah!  A case well made.  You may be right.  If so, it’s still the case that “Love your neighbor as yourself” is cited by Yeshua/Jesus as the centerpiece of ethics and a commandment second only to “Love the Lord your G-d with all your heart [etc.].”

    James also quotes it in one of the New Testament letters: “If you really fulfill the royal law of the Scripture–“You shall love your neighbor as yourself”–you are doing well . . . .”

    This is also true of Christianity:

    iWe:

    For Judaism, this Golden Rule cannot be separated from religious faith. Loving other people is a way to love G-d.

    • #8
  9. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    iWe: But for Judaism, the idea of loving someone else like yourself is much richer in religious overtones. Each person, we are told by the ensoulment of Adam, contains the very spirit of G-d within them. So when we love other people, truly love them, then we are drawing closer to G-d, by connecting with and empathizing with His spirit as it is found in each person.

    Perhaps, my dear fellow, it is now the “next time” of which we spoke before (“Gratitude: Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition!,” page 3.)

    Now your views, which I first encountered at “What Is the Greatest Idea in History?,” I seem finally to have understood and summarized at # 62 of “Gratitude.”:

    Your claims (numbered for my convenience) seem to be these:

    1. that human beings have divine souls which are literally divine–G-d’s extended self;
    2. that human beings are also made of dust;
    3. that humans, as compounds of these two components, are not literally divine;
    4. that the having of the divine soul gives us access to divinity and makes us the image of G-d;
    5. that this has various practical consequences pertaining to human activity in the world, free choice, etc.;
    6. and that this is all taught in the Torah (claim 1 in Genesis 2:7 and Genesis 6:3).

    Now I have some enormous problems with this interpretation.  Shall we talk about them here?

    Edit: Apparently we should!  See # 18 and following, below!

    • #9
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    iWe: Perhaps most importantly, the distinction of “loving others” is that love is an ongoing investment, not a mere thing or product. To truly love others means that one needs to empathize with them, to care about them in ways that are not readily measured by keeping score of who was nice to whom. Love is a lifelong, ongoing and neverending process, not just the sharing of rations or the kind of polite courtesy with which decent people greet one another on the street.

    This particular statement really moved me. I’ve had young people ask me, when do you finally get to take it easy within a relationship? I either tell them, “never” or “when you die.” And a very important part is not just to love the other person, but to be loving, even when it’s difficult. Thanks, @iwe.

    • #10
  11. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    I am delighted to stand corrected on my reading of the NT. I was quoting Wiki, which offered first the Luke and Matthew formulations, but then later quotes the restatement of Lev 19:18. I certainly am no NT scholar.

    Larry, the quote is not out of context: the Torah states, depending on how you read it, some 38 or 39 times that we are commanded to love the stranger. Rabbi Sacks says that it is the only foundational text that does so (I don’t know if he is right). But surely the vast majority of societies throughout history have excluded outsiders. Indeed, loving the stranger is a dangerous proposition at best, if the only goal is a rational construction of society.

    Lastly, “love” in the Torah is absolutely about empathy. It is certainly much more than not bearing a grudge. All those times were are told to love the stranger? “Because you were strangers.” In other words, love is learning to identify with other people, to find commonality between us.

    • #11
  12. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    And I thank everyone who corrected me – you are right, of course. Christianity also holds loving others to be a core ideal.

    The world would be a better place if everyone were able to achieve such a lofty goal! But at least the Judeo-Christian world tries.

    To me, that desire alone is sufficient grounds to unabashedly trumpet our moral superiority.

    • #12
  13. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Now I have some enormous problems with this interpretation. Shall we talk about them here?

    Certainly!

    iWe: But for Judaism, the idea of loving someone else like yourself is much richer in religious overtones. Each person, we are told by the ensoulment of Adam, contains the very spirit of G-d within them. So when we love other people, truly love them, then we are drawing closer to G-d, by connecting with and empathizing with His spirit as it is found in each person.

    Perhaps, my dear fellow, it is now the “next time” of which we spoke before (“Gratitude: Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition!,” page 3.)

    Now your views, which I first encountered at “What Is the Greatest Idea in History?,” I seem finally to have understood and summarized at # 62 of “Gratitude.”:

    For starters, I am amazed and impressed by your memory, and ability to find things on Ricochet!

    Your claims (numbered for my convenience) seem to be these:

    1. that human beings have divine souls which are literally divine–G-d’s extended self;

    Yes. The text says so.

    1. that human beings are also made of dust;

    Ibid

    1. that humans, as compounds of these two components, are not literally divine;

    Ibid. (this is easy!)

    1. that the having of the divine soul gives us access to divinity and makes us the image of G-d;

    This is not quite what I think I have said. Close enough for now.

    1. that this has various practical consequences pertaining to human activity in the world, free choice, etc.;

    Absolutely.

    1. and that this is all taught in the Torah (claim 1 in Genesis 2:7 and Genesis 6:3).

    Oh, yes, indeed. Not limited to these verses, of course. The entire Torah continues to refer back to these foundational points.  We are partners with G-d. He stopped creating, and handed the world to us. Why would he do that? Because, as the Torah tells us, He created the world, invested Himself in mankind, then gave us the Torah as a guidebook for how to finish the job, how to reunite man and G-d.

    What problems do you have?

     

     

     

    • #13
  14. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    iWe (View Comment):
    To me, that desire alone is sufficient grounds to unabashedly trumpet our moral superiority.

    Is that loving your neighbor?

    • #14
  15. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    iWe: Loving other people is a way to love G-d.

    My favorite Bible passage, from Matthew 25:31, New Revised Standard Version:

    Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ 

    A great post, and an interesting discussion, as always, iWe. :-)

    • #15
  16. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    iWe (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Now I have some enormous problems with this interpretation. Shall we talk about them here?

    Certainly!

    Ok, thanks!  In a bit, a few posts down.

    For starters, I am amazed and impressed by your memory, and ability to find things on Ricochet!

    That’s very kind of you.  Others would have been impressed by my obsession, meticulous note-taking, etc.; they might reasonably have suggested a resemblance to OCD or some such shortcoming.  (I literally wrote it all down and found the important references I could remember and could track down before even daring to bring it up again.)

    Oh, yes, indeed. Not limited to these verses, of course. The entire Torah continues to refer back to these foundational points. We are partners with G-d. He stopped creating, and handed the world to us. Why would he do that? Because, as the Torah tells us, He created the world, invested Himself in mankind, then gave us the Torah as a guidebook for how to finish the job, how to reunite man and G-d.

    What problems do you have?

    For the record, I agree with rather a lot and think well of the Jewish humanism you articulate.  Objections to your interpretation of the Torah on this point to follow in due course.

    • #16
  17. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Saint Augustine (Comment # 6):

    What? The Golden Rule of Jesus/Yeshua is Leviticus 19:18. He quotes it as well. He means the same thing by it.

    Saint Augustine (Comment # 8):

    iWe:

    The positive constructions are better, in that one should treat others as you wish to be treated. But that in itself does not necessarily entail a relationship. Instead, it suggests a quid pro quo, doing to others as you want them to do to you. If you want to be left alone, then you can fulfill this rule merely by leaving others alone as well!

    Ah! A case well made. You may be right. If so, it’s still the case that “Love your neighbor as yourself” is cited by Yeshua/Jesus as the centerpiece of ethics and a commandment second only to “Love the Lord your G-d with all your heart [etc.].”

     

    I thought for a bit that I might have to stick with number 6.  I was thinking this: If it’s a weakness in the positive Golden Rule, then it’s a weakness in “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  If all I want in the way of being loved is to be left alone, then that’s how I treat others.  (Of course, the better approach would be to take it as a weakness in neither formulation, and to just admit that sometimes we don’t know how to love ourselves.)

    At the moment, however, I’m thinking that there is still a good case to be made for the more comprehensive nature of “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  It’s about how we love ourselves, not how we want others to love us.  Even someone who wants others to love him by just leaving him alone does not leave himself alone.

    • #17
  18. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    Now I have some enormous problems with this interpretation.

    First, if the human soul really is literally G-d’s extended self then every wrong choice and every human sin is literally made and done by G-d—from my sins and your sins to Hitler’s sins.

    (This presumes, of course, that our choices are made by our souls rather than by the body or by the soul-body combination.)

    Continued:

    • #18
  19. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Second, a problem I first suggested at # 9 of “What Is the Greatest Idea” (albeit targeting a poor understanding of your views): If G-d’s essence is not only in but actually is my soul, then to name G-d is to name no more than my soul.  The ancient Hebrew custom of not speaking the name of G-d is the custom of not speaking the name of my soul, the name of a part of myself.

    What sense does it make to say that I may not speak the name of a part of myself?  Clearly it cannot be that lowly I, “who am but dust and ashes,” am not worthy to speak the name of a holy G-d, since part of me is just as holy.

    To extend this just a bit, I have great difficulty imagining that ancient Jews who did not speak the name of G-d were thinking that their own souls are literally divine, “G-d’s extended self.”  Certainly the Pharisees and some other Jews in the New Testament record were thinking no such thing.  A number of them considered Yeshua a blasphemer in John 8 and John 10 because he said that he was G-d; their view is that “a mere man” cannot be G-d, and of course they are correct.  They would have been no less upset had Yeshua said “my soul is G-d.”

    Yet, on your view, “my soul is G-d” is always a true statement.

    Continued:

    • #19
  20. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Third, a non-enormous concern: I am not fully confident in your translation of Genesis 6:3 (Hebrew link).  I’m no Hebrew scholar, but it looks to me from the English translations listed at BibleStudyTools.com that the verb yā-ḏō-wn can be translated in the sense of “dwell” or “judge.”  I also read in the Talmud:

    The generation of the flood have no share in the world to come, and are also not judged, as it reads [Gen. vi. 3]: “Lau jodun ruchiy bheodom,” literally “My spirit shall not judge in man”–no judgment and no spirit.”

    I realize there are big translation and transmission issues (and especially with my citation of the Talmud), but it certainly appears that there is a strong tradition stretching from some ancient rabbis up to the present of translating Genesis 6:3 to refer to something other than G-d’s spirit inhabiting man.  Why should I take your interpretation over theirs (or vice versa, for that matter)?  I don’t know.

    I’ll grant the Septuagint is on your side: Its use of Greek vocabulary # 2650 is a translation based on dwelling or remaining rather than judging.  That’s not just how some ancient Greek-speaking Jews interpreted the Torah; it’s how some Hebrew scholars translated it, and how any number who knew both languages well enough let the translation stick.  I don’t know much it matters, but it does matter, and it does support your position on this point!

    Continued:

    • #20
  21. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Even if Genesis 6:3 refers to G-d’s rūah (Hebrew # 7303 at BibleHub) dwelling in man, we still have the fourth problem.

    Fourth, if G-d’s spirit dwelling in man is the human soul—if Gen. 2:7 teaches that G-d’s breath is an extension of G-d—then every living human always has the divine spirit dwelling in him.  Yet this is not the case.

    If it were the case, we would not be told that the divine rūah came upon Saul in 1 Samuel 10:10 and 1 Samuel 11:6; the rūah would already have been there.

    If it were the case, David would not have prayed in Psalm 51:11 that the divine rūah not be taken from him; there would be no need for such a prayer.

    If it were the case, the prophecy in Isaiah 59:21 would be meaningless: The divine rūah would always automatically be in all peoples, pagan polytheists in far-off lands no less than the recipients of the prophecy.

    If it were the case, we would not have the prophecy of Joel 2:28 about the divine rūah being poured out on all people.

    So what do we do with this?  Well, it’s pretty simple: If Genesis 6:3 refers to G-d’s rūah dwelling in man, then it only means G-d’s breath, and not the holy Spirit which may be regarded as an extension of G-d.  G-d’s breath (Gen. 2:7 and perhaps also Gen. 6:3) is what makes us the image of G-d and is not what makes us clay infused with G-d himself!

    Edit on 14 May, 2019: There’s also Ezekiel 13:3, where the word rūah is used to refer to the spirits of false prophets, which plainly are not G-d’s own Spirit.

    • #21
  22. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    Now I have some enormous problems with this interpretation.

    First, if the human soul really is literally G-d’s extended self then every wrong choice and every human sin is literally made and done by G-d—from my sins and your sins to Hitler’s sins.

     

    I have no problem with G-d making mistakes. The Torah tells us, many times, that G-d changes his mind. Isn’t that admitting a mistake?

    When we do well, we add to G-d’s glory. When we do badly, we detract from it. That is part and parcel of being G-d’s representatives on this world.

    • #22
  23. SkipSul Inactive
    SkipSul
    @skipsul

    MarciN (View Comment):

    iWe: Loving other people is a way to love G-d.

    My favorite Bible passage, from Matthew 25:31, New Revised Standard Version:

    Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

    A great post, and an interesting discussion, as always, iWe. :-)

    Used by the Orthodox on The Sunday of the Last Judgement, 1 week before the start of Great Lent.

    • #23
  24. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    Saint Augustine  

    Second, ….

    Yet, on you view, “my soul is G-d” is always a true statement.

    My soul (and yours!) contains a spark of the divine. It is NOT the same as calling a person G-d. And each person is more than just their soul anyway – they are both body and soul. Our job is to achieve holiness for ourselves, for mankind, for the world. That is, in microcosm, how each one of us can connect our body and our soul, to use that combination to elevate spiritually upward.

    • #24
  25. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Third, I am not fully confident in your translation of Genesis 6:3 (Hebrew link). I’m no Hebrew scholar, but it looks to me from the English translations listed at BibleStudyTools.com that the verb yā-ḏō-wn can be translated in the sense of “dwell” or “judge.”….

    Hebrew is rich with how many ways a word can mean something. The root of this word, for example, is the same word as “Eden” – as in the garden where man and G-d were to coexist and live. Except that they did not.

    The same two letters form the root of “judge” or “judgement.”

    Nevertheless, “settle permanently” and “contend” are BOTH widely accepted translations of the root word. In Judaism, these are not contradictory at all – we have no concept of harmonious bliss. G-d’s spirit dwelling within mankind is entirely compatible with G-d striving with man. The key is that G-d speaks of his spirit within man – whether dwelling or striving – that is the coexistence of dissimilar elements. “Creative tension” is the best possible outcome.

     

    • #25
  26. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Oh, here is an unimpeachable source:

    For love is everlasting
    And remember
    The truth that once was spoken
    To love another person
    Is to see the face of God.

    Les Mis (Not that I ever actually saw it)

    • #26
  27. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    So what do we do with this? Well, it’s pretty simple: If Genesis 6:3 refers to G-d’s rūah dwelling in man, then it only means G-d’s breath, and not the holy Spirit which may be regarded as an extension of G-d. G-d’s breath (Gen. 2:7 and perhaps also Gen. 6:3) is what makes us the image of G-d and is not what makes us clay infused with G-d himself!

    Now you have confused me.

    The concept of “ruach hakodesh” means divine inspiration. Whether that inspiration is from within or without, nobody can say for sure. But the idea is not about how someone is made – it is about what someone thinks.

    And here’s the thing: I believe everyone has a spark of the divine. (It is what keeps me from being a rational eugenicist.) But it is even more clear to me that very, very few people are self-aware enough to connect with that part of themselves. We are afraid, and we block out sources of uncertainty and instability. People instinctively prefer safety to real-life adventure. And so practically all people limit their potential in at least some ways. But whether or not we have divine inspiration depends in no small part on whether we are open to G-d, seek Him, and strive to connect with Him. 

    The difference between the ruachs is whether or not we are self aware of that possible connection, and strive to open it. The way we are made contains within it only a potential channel to G-d – when and whether we open that channel is up to us.

    • #27
  28. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    iWe (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    Now I have some enormous problems with this interpretation.

    First, if the human soul really is literally G-d’s extended self then every wrong choice and every human sin is literally made and done by G-d—from my sins and your sins to Hitler’s sins.

    I have no problem with G-d making mistakes.

    Are you literally saying that G-d committed the sins of Hitler, and all other sins as well?  That is quite a bullet to bite.

     

    • #28
  29. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    iWe (View Comment):

    The Torah tells us, many times, that G-d changes his mind. Isn’t that admitting a mistake?

    Not necessarily so.  Even if that language is not metaphorical, I can still change my mind without making a mistake.  I plan to send my kids to bed on time, they misbehave, and I change my mind and aim to send them to bed early; they clean up their act, they clean up the house, and I change my mind again and aim to send them to bed on time!

    Even so, not every mistake is a sin, and not every sin is on the level of a rape, murder, or genocide.  From “G-d changes his mind” to “G-d makes mistakes” is a minor leap, maybe a good leap by the standards of inductive logic.  But from “G-d makes mistakes” to “G-d is guilty of rape” would be a very significant logical fallacy.  So also from “It’s ok to say that G-d makes mistakes” to “It’s ok to say that G-d is guilty of rape.”

     

    • #29
  30. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    iWe (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    Saint Augustine

    Second, ….

    Yet, on you view, “my soul is G-d” is always a true statement.

    My soul (and yours!) contains a spark of the divine.  It is NOT the same as calling a person G-d. And each person is more than just their soul anyway – they are both body and soul. Our job is to achieve holiness for ourselves, for mankind, for the world. That is, in microcosm, how each one of us can connect our body and our soul, to use that combination to elevate spiritually upward.

    Yes, we established this at # 64 of “Gratitude.”

    And we have also established in # 13 of the current thread (and #s 62 and 65 of “Gratitude”) that, according to your view, the soul (that part of the person) literally is G-d.

     

    • #30

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