Rabbi Abraham Stone opened his article in last week’s issue (JewishPress , July 16, 2004, “Expounding the Torah”) with an unqualified position that “Menachem Av” (“consoling Av”) may be defined as man’s “consoling of G-d”. He interprets the word “Av” to mean our “Father” in Heaven. Nothing could be further from the truth. As Maimonides and all of our Rabbis and Sages held, G-d has no needs - and not from man either. This basic, Judaic principle that G-d is self-sufficient, is one that Rabbi Stone has obscured from his readers, instead of enlightening them to our Yesodos – our Jewish fundamentals. G-d is the Creator - we are merely the “created”. The Creator has no “needs”, and not from those lumps of clay – mankind – which He created. Even more damaging to the reader is the insinuation that G-d requires consoling, as if He were a man, possessing the human frailty of emotion. The Torah portion of Balak read just a few weeks ago states, (Numbers 23:19) “G-d is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man the He should be consoled…”
If the Torah says a phrase such as “G-d was angered”, this does not mean human emotion is within His abilities, far be it. It means to teach us of what G-d does not desire “for us”. Conversely, when Noah’s sacrifices found favor in G-d’s eyes, it means that Noah acted in accord with G-d’s plan for man. But we never understand such phrases literally. Unkelos went out of his way to translate all such phrases in their proper light, and not literally. Maimonides discusses this.
Certainly, we do not suggest new phrases – unauthored by the Torah - as Rabbi Stone has done. We are destructive and misleading if we create such a phrase, which the Torah did not mention. The Rabbis coined a term, “If the Torah had not written it, it would be impossible to enunciate”. Through this phrase, the Rabbis taught that we must hold our tongue from any deviation from the Torah’s writings. Only that which G-d Himself instructed Moses to write, may we utter. This is the proper degree of humility and care that mortals must take when talking about G-d, about He, of Whom we have no positive knowledge. G-d told Moses, “for man cannot know Me while alive.”
The most primary of all ideas, essential to the remainder of our knowledge absorbed during this short and precious life, is to recognize what G-d is, and what He is not. And G-d does not need consoling, He does not need anything, nor can this unfathomable Creator be spoken about as if we understand anything about Him. Certainly, to project human emotion upon Him is against the Torah’s foundations.