Maimonides. It’s hard to finish the sentence. No praise can do justice and no words can encapsulate the magnificence of this brilliant light, eternal fountain of wisdom, and bright star in the skies of our history. He was a physician by profession, a philosopher by nature, and by heart, a teacher and student of Jewish Law. I won’t tire myself and try to write a short bio, that’s what Wikipedia is for. (Obviously, expect some inaccurate information and flawed judgement there, as you shall always.)
Anyway, in his theological defense of rationalism titled “Guide for the Perplexed,” he dedicates over 40 chapters to explain anthropomorphism in the bible, and how they be appropriately related to the Divine. In chapter 7 he addresses the word מקום (place) when referring to God:
Generally, the term מקום (place, space) applied both to a particular spot and to [the concept of] space in general. Subsequently, it received a wider signification and denoted “position,” or “degree,”… We say, this man occupies a certain place in such and such a subject. And is frequently used by authors, e.g., “He fills his ancestors’ place in point of wisdom and piety”
In the verse, “Blessed be the glory of the Lord from His ‘place’” (Ezekiel 3:12), ‘place’ has this figurative meaning, and the verse may be paraphrased: “Blessed be the Lord according to the exalted nature of His existence,” and wherever מקום (place) is applied to God, it expresses the same idea, namely, the distinguished position of His existence…
What he’s saying, is that while place usually defines a physical area or in a figurative sense, one’s position; when attributed to the Divine it refers to His Position as an Omnipotent and Almighty Being.
Then Maimonides adds an insightful twist.
We find, that God invited Moses to join Him in His Place, according to what we’ve just explained that would be impossible.
…But you must understand that the word מקום (place) has the same signification in the passage “Behold, a place is with me” (Exodus 33:26), it means a certain degree of contemplation and intellectual intuition, in addition to its literal meaning “a place,” being the mountain which was pointed out to Moses for seclusion and for the attainment of perfection.
He’s saying that God told Moses to climb to the mountain’s peek and stay there, but that is not God’s Place; it is a secluded place in the world of people. God told Moses to rise to an elevated dimension of conscientiousness, to enter a Divine state of mind and thereby join God’s Place.
Please digest this point for a second before we take this further… Okay, that was enough time.
I’ve always been drawn to the reality that in our mundane world, no matter how close two people get, they are always divided by space. People, like bricks cemented together, will forever remain two separate entities shackled together by a third; we can never really unite, for the laws of physics simply won’t allow it. This handicap, consequently creates a subconscious animosity between people; for everyone is in competition over space. By merely existing you are invading my space and stealing area that I could’ve occupied. Everything under the sun, in this sense, really resents each other.
However, Maimonides teaches us, this unspoken strife exists only in the physical realm where space is an actual thing. If we abandon our divisive, mundane world and climb to the mountain peek, connect our minds and soul to the place where God Alone exists, we blend into genuine Oneness.
So, let’s stop looking through the lens of physicality and let’s love one another beyond the barrier of flesh, for we will remain estranged and even enemies. If we can elevate ourselves and connect to each other in the World of Souls we can attain true harmony and unity.