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. Flipside of Hindu Symbolism

On rare occasion, Onkelos leaves the Torah’s anthropomorphisms intact. When he does this, he has good reason, based on a given verse’s context. By way of example, the Rambam gives us Genesis 46:4, “I will go down with you to Egypt.” There, the Torah is relating what Yaakov heard in his vision, not something that God actually does in the narrative. Actions attributed to God – like “God descended upon Mount Sinai” (Exodus 19:20) do have their anthropomorphisms removed. (The Rambam provides a potential second reason for the anthropomorphism being left in Genesis 46:4. It’s possible that the “I” in “I will go down with you” refers not to God but to the angel who delivered God’s message to Yaakov. We will discuss this idea further IY”H in a future installment on the nature of prophecy.)

Certain things are beyond human ability to grasp, or we cannot comprehend them in their entirety. [I, 31] In this, our mental capabilities are no different than our physical capabilities. A person may be able to lift 50 lbs., but not 500 lbs. We can see things, but not at an infinite distance. Just as humans differ in their individual limits of physical ability, they differ in their intellectual capacities. One person can figure out a complicated matter for himself, while another person might never grasp it even after having it explained many times. So, just like no human being can bench-press a dump truck or read a book from a mile away, there are some things that are simply beyond the ability of any human mind to comprehend.