Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, z”l, wrote of two aspects of G-d: the “impersonal” and the “personal.”

Maharishi 8a

Of the impersonal:

“The impersonal aspect of G-d is formless; supreme. It is eternal and absolute Being. It is without attributes, qualities or features, because all attributes, qualities or features belong to the relative [i.e. changing] field of life, and the impersonal G-d is of absolute [i.e. unchanging] nature…Everything in creation is the manifestation of unmanifested, absolute, impersonal Being, the omnipresent G-d.” [1]

Of the personal:

“The personal aspect of G-d necessarily has form, qualities, features and likes and dislikes…having the ability to command the entire existence of the cosmos, the process of evolution and all in creation [including all of human history], the personal G-d is Almighty.” [2]

The “G-d of Torah” would seem to be the “personal G-d.” Even regarding “form” — which later Judaism firmly rejects — Torah says:

“They [the B’nai Israel] saw the G-d of Israel; and there was under His feet the like of a paved work of sapphire stone, and the like of the very heaven for clearness.” [3]

The “G-d of Torah” is certainly “in command” of all creation. In Torah’s emphasis, this includes all of human history. This is also a G-d with Whom we interact, especially through worship.

Alef yantra 2

Yet, TaNaCh also hints at the “impersonal” G-d:

“I, the L-rd, change not…” [4] and “…I am the first and I am the last…” [5]

The Rambam states the “impersonal” form most clearly in his Mishneh Torah. [6] For him, “closeness” to G-d is synonymous with “knowledge” of G-d:

“…’the Supreme is incorporeal, and consequently…does not approach or draw near a thing, nor can [anything] approach or touch Him;…when a being is without corporeality, it cannot occupy space, and any idea of approach, contact, distance, conjunction, separation, touch, or proximity is inapplicable…’ [7]

For the worshipper of a “personal” G-d, closeness is achieved through love and prayer; for the “impersonalist,” according to Maimonides, it’s achieved through “knowledge” — the acquisition and internalization of “correct” ideas that G-d is in all and all is in G-d, culminating in a direct personal experience (as in a design by Rabbi Mosheh Cordovero, z”l):

Cordovero Unity 4

“There can be no doubt respecting the verses The Lord is near (קרב) to all them that call upon Him’ (Ps. 145:18); ‘They take delight in approaching (קרבת) G-d’ (Isa. 58:2); ‘The nearness (קרבת) of G-d is pleasant to me’ (Ps. 72:28); all such phrases intimate a spiritual approach, i.e., the attainment of some knowledge, not, however, approach in space. Thus also ‘who has G-d so near (קרובים) to him’ (Deut. 4:7); ‘Draw near (קרב) and hear’ (Deut. 5:27)’…” [8]

Despite debates in the medieval era (and sometimes in the current one) as to “which G-d” Jews worship, the fact is that, as Maharishi taught, both are “aspects” of G-d.

In Kabbalah, this is captured in the Sephirot: Keter, Hochmah, and Binah represent the “impersonal” aspect of G-d; Hesed is “the continuous emanation of the Infinite;” [9] Gevurah (or “Din”) is “the negation of all that is not G-d.” [10] “Tiferet” is the “personal” G-d, uniting the “impersonal” aspects in a personal expression. Some view the “upper” aspects as the spiritually “higher” ones, as they precede Tiferet hierarchically. Others see “Tiferet” as the spiritually higher, because it includes the others in itself. But Kabbalah has us regard these not as “opposing G-ds” — G-d forbid — but as aspects of G-d that differ only according to our own perspective.

To paraphrase something I wrote in a previous post:

“The G-d Who created the universe and took us out of Egypt is the ‘personal G-d.’ The G-d Who eternally pervades Creation, remaining unchanged, is the ‘impersonal G-d’.” [6]

I also wrote about this, regarding “Adon Olam” as a “script” showing us how to do contemplative prayer encompassing both the “impersonal” and “personal” aspects of G-d:

  [1] Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; The Science of Being and the Art of Living; SRM Publications © 1966; p. 272

  [2] ibid. p. 276

  [3] Sh’mot/Ex. 24:10

  [4] Malachi 3:6

  [5] Isa. 44:6 and elsewhere


  [7] Maimonides; Moreh N’vuchim; (Friedlander edition), p. 28

  [8] ibid.; see also

  [9] Schaya, Leo; The Universal Meaning of the Kabbalah; Penguin Metaphysical Library, © ; p. 47

[10] ibid., p. 48