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Unread 04-01-2012, 02:05 PM   #8
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Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 607
I've noticed this apparent monolatry too and my opinion is that the Torah indeed mentions foreign 'gods' ruling over their own Nation as HaShem ruled/s over the Jews.But it goes without saying that those 'deities' were already in those times deemed false.
There is a concept in Judaism that every nation has an angel that "rules" over the specific nation, determining its character and its path in history. The angels are not thought of as independent beings; they are tools of G-d for ruling over the nations and defining the nations' character.

Since you bring it up now, I will ask: How are we to view "Elokim" (plural) as being compatible with the ONE G_d of Abraham?
Elokim is one of many Names of G-d. It's a somewhat complicated subject (the best source to see what Chassidus says on the topic, available in English translation, is Derech Mitzvosecha, Mitzvas HaMaanas Elokus -- here), but basically, everyone agrees that Names do not represent the Essence of G-d.

Some people (those belonging to philosophical school) say that Names represent modes of G-d's behavior. So, when G-d is acting as the Creator of the world, He is described as Elokim. The plural number of the word hints at the nature of Elokim -- to create division and multiplicity.

According to Kabbalah and Chassidus, Names correspond to Spheroes -- aspects of G-dly Light, which is neither a creation nor G-d Himself, but more of an expression of G-d that is unified with G-d but not the Essence of G-d. (The book I referenced to above, as well as many other works of Chassidus, in particular, works of Rebbe Rashab, discusses what specifically they are and the nature of G-d's relationship with them.)

So, to answer your question very simply, G-d is one and completely singular and undefinable. At the same time, precisely because G-d is undefinable, He is also limitless and can express Himself in an infinite number of ways. Ten of those main ways are called G-d's Names and are the tools through which we relate to G-d. (Although there is much discussion in Chassidus that it is also possible to relate directly to G-d's Essence, even not through the Names.) Elokim is one of them.
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