Day 2: Is Hashem A Mentsch?

Day 2: Is Hashem A Mentsch?

Uncomfortable Day 2: Is Hashem A Mentsch?

This video is part of the series Uncomfortable

Transcript, references and audio version available below Yehoshua’s Reaction.

Yehoshua’s Reaction:

This was one of the harder concepts for me to swallow upon initial reaction. How can R’ Manis say something like that? Where does he get off on saying that Hashem has human traits? Hashem is all powerful, everywhere, master of all plans with no constraints!

“Ok, settle down… hear the man out.. Let’s see where this goes.”

This revolutionary concept was almost like water on a sponge.. the more I listened with an open mind, the more it absorbed. So let’s start with what I know. We are Human beings with feelings and emotions and needs. That’s a fact. We are created in the image of Hashem, that’s a fact as well. So its not far to say that our tiny feelings are an indicator of Hashem’s on a larger scale. Now here’s what clicked for me. We know that Hakadosh Baruch Hu has emotions, that’s nothing new either. We’ve seen countless places where Hashem is angry with Klal Yisroel, where Hashem has mercy on us, where Hashem is forgiving of us. So we know Hashem has feelings. Here’s the Kicker though.

The way I understood it was that we have it all backwards, we have these emotions on such a human level intertwined with all our failures and weakness so we assume it is preposterous for Hashem to have it as well. Because he is too all mighty for it. Here’s what I realized: Hashem had these emotions first, on the highest level of virtue and strength.

From our human perspective, these may seem like weaknesses but in the context of the awesomeness of Hashem who is the greatest of all it is actually a strength.

So if R’ Manis is tying this in to his greater concept of Hashem NEEDING our Mitzvos and his NEED isn’t like our human needs intertwined with weaknesses but NEED on a magnificent holy level, then that’s a fresh way of looking at it.

For me it’s like a puzzle, with some pieces connected, and some pieces still in the air that will help us understand further.

Note: Please be advised that these reactions are unedited.

Transcript & References

” והלכת בדרכיו” כך למדו בפירוש מצוה זו מה הוא נקרא חנון אף אתה היה חנון מה הוא נקרא רחום אף אתה היה רחום…”
“And you shall walk in His ways.” (Devarim 28:9)
Our Sages taught the following explanation of this Mitzvah:
Just as He is called “Gracious,” you shall be gracious;
Just as He is called “Merciful,” you shall be merciful;
-Rambam, Mishneh Torah. Hilchos Deos, 6.

“בכל צרתם לו (לא כ’) צר.”
“In all their troubles, He is troubled.”
-Yeshayahu, 63:9

We have a very strong commitment to ‘Not making The Aybishter sound human’, which is correct, because.. He’s not! However, we try so hard to make the Aybishter not sound human, that we’re actually making Him sound less than human; and that’s not Kosher.

So for example, a human being is sensitive to suffering. If we were to say, “Yeah, a human being is sensitive to suffering, but the Aybishter‘s not, He’s not human. So when I hear that somebody is suffering, it bothers me, but when the Aybishter hears that somebody is suffering, it doesn’t bother Him, ‘cause He’s not human…”

If a human being is good enough and sensitive enough to feel another person’s pain, the Aybishter is less than that? He goes on, but He doesn’t feel the pain? So He’s less of a Mentsch than me?

So somehow, we’ve gone way overboard! Of course you don’t give the Aybishter human limitations; but you deny Him human talent? Human virtue? We’re smarter than Him!

So imagine, if you are a little piece of G-d, and you have enough sensitivity to cry over another person’s pain – and you’re just a little piece of Him- imagine how He cries over it! He’s not less of a mentch, He’s more.

So.. I forgot what I did yesterday. I’m not going to say the Aybishter forgot because.. I shouldn’t forget either. So the weakness, my failings, I don’t attribute to the Aybishter. But my talents?! Whatever I have, He has infinitely! [1]

So why is it, that we don’t want to make the Aybishter sound human, but we insist that the Aybishter knows EVERYTHING. Why does He know? – He doesn’t know, He’s not human!

Oh c’mon, He’s gotta know, right? He’s gotta know more than us, so why doesn’t He have to be more sensitive than us? He’s more than us, not less! So yes, be careful not to give Him human weaknesses, but don’t turn Him into a sub-human, into less than a mentsch! He’s certainly not!

“נתאווה הקב”ה להיות לו ית’ דירה בתחתונים”
“He desired a home for Himself in the lowest of worlds”
-Midrash Tanchuma, Naso, Parsha 16.

A human being needs another human being. Not out of weakness, out of nobility! “Everything for me!?” That doesn’t feel right. Where do we get this from? We get it from the Aybishter. He existed Infinitely, Eternally, Perfectly, ‘Kol Yachol’, ‘Bli G’vul’, ‘Ain Sof’—and He creates a world. What does that tell you? He had a desire for something other than Himself, that’s where we get it from.

What’s a Mentsch without another Mentsch? A behaima! A guy who says “I don’t need anybody”, has stopped being a mentsch. So it’s a Mentschliche thing – it’s a virtue – that the human being recognizes the need for another human being, and the Aybishter doesn’t have that virtue? So where did I get this talent from? From Him!


A glimpse into the Chassidic perspective…

[1] “נשמע ונתבונן ממשל אור השמש המיוחד ובטל במקורו ואינו עולה בפ”ע רק שם המקור לבדו כך כל מדותיו של הקב״ה ורצונו וחכמתו אינן עולות ונקראות בשמות אלו כלל אלא לגבי הנבראים… וז”ש אליהו בתיקונים… כולא לאחזאה איך אתנהיג עלמא אבל לאו דאית לך צדק ידיעא, דאיהו דין ולאו משפט ידיעא, דאיהו רחמי ולאו מכל אינון מדות כלל:”
[1] “We can perceive and comprehend that just as in the analogy, the light of the sun which is united with and nullified in its source has no name of its own, only the name of its source, so too, all the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His Will and wisdom, are not designated and called by these names at all, relative to Him, but only in relation to the creatures…
And it is this thought that Elijah expressed in the Tikkunim…All [the revelation of the attributes] is to show how the world is conducted; but it is not that You have a knowable righteousness, which is law, (i.e., the attribute of Gevurah), nor a knowable justice, which is mercy, nor any of these [other] attributes at all.”
– excerpts from Tanya, Sha’ar Hayichud Viha’Emuna, Chapter 10.

This means to say that righteousness and justice exist as separately identifiable attributes only relative to worlds and created beings. As regards G‑d Himself, “it is not that You have” these attributes. In relation to Him, they do not exist independently at all, being completely unified with Him, just as sunlight enjoys no independent identity when within the sun.


Audio version:

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