© 2020 by Rabbi dr. Zvi Aviner
Know your CREATOR, know yourself and know the difference
Let’s sum up the flow of thoughts we’ve followed so far-
It is a Commandment to Believe and Know God by the very Names and way He has chosen to present Himself.
Though the Ten Commandments were given to Israel, we follow the rule that every Commandment given to both Noah and Israel applies to both. Hence Noahide may study IDOLATRY from the Ten Commandments, essentially no differently that Israel. .
There is one difference though. For Israel, the First of the Ten Commandment is obligatory. punishable. In contrast, the Nations are expected to abide by it yet are not punished for not. The Nations are rewarded for it, yet not punished if they don’t know it. .
Last classes we identified the Heavenly Court of “YHVH your ELKM” (LORD your GOD) both in the Ten Commandments and in the story of Genesis.
So when the Speaker of the Ten Commandments says
- I Am
- The Merciful, the All Mighty JUDGE
- Who took you out of Egypt Land
He meant- I am the giver of the following Commandments, and you should know that I will judge you for them by both seeking the absolute truth and fact, then by applying my mercy and forgiveness.
It is a good news for us to know that we live under a Heavenly Court that exercise Justice and Mercy.
We wouldn’t like to live only under the harsh JUDGE ELKM, since who would win his trial under His harsh, meticulous and merciless scrutiny?
We would’t like to live under the Merciful YHVH only, since under Her endless Mercy, who would punish the criminals?
We like to live only under the Court of the Merciful YHVH and the Just JUDGE ELKM. Combining Justice and Mercy would ensure our lives in this world. .
Last class we saw that the Chapter One in Genesis is structured to presents the Court as follows –
ELKM- Six Days including Adam – YHVH
Now what are the ways of ELKM and YHVH?
For that we should ask, – .
1: Who created the world, and for what purpose?
Imagine that I stop an average person on the street of a major city and ask:
“Excuse me sir, lady, who created the world, and for what purpose?”
At first they would lough. Who in the world does not know the answer? But if I insist and repeat the question, most like the person would say “Of course, G-d created the world, who else? As it says – .
“n the Beginning, G-d created the Heavens and the Earth!” (Genesis 1: 1) ?
“If so,” I’d continue, “for what purpose did He create the world?”
“Purpose?” Now the person would wonder,. “the verse says nothing about a purpose!”
“Yes, it does,” I’d insist.
The person would try different answers, like “G-d created the world for the Messiah…for Israel…for good people…” all of which are unsupported by the verse!
Now, if one doesn’t know who created the world and for what purpose, what else could he know about the Bible?
2: The All Mighty JUDGE, ELoHIM
The answer, as you already knows, is given in the text in Hebrew that says
“At the Beginning, ELoHiM created the Heavens and the Earth….”
The difference? Instead of “GOD” it says “ELoHiM.”
The difference is huge. The Hebrew EeLoHiM means “The All Mighty JUDGE.” (Rashi in Exodus 20). Hence the first message of the Torah is
“In the Beginning, the All Mighty JUDGE EeLoHiM created the world to withstand JUDGMENT.”
it makes sense, since is what the JUDGE EeLoHiM dwoul do- create for JUDGMENT.
Now don’t get me wrong. The English term “GOD” expresses awe and reverence and is a holy Name. Only that it lacks the specific message that THE WORLD WAS CREATED BY THE ALL MIGHTY JUDGE TO WITHSTAND JUDGMENT.
And this message should never be overlooked.
Note that the Hebrew term ELoHiM refers to any judge, even a human judge. Like in the verse: “ELoHiM in your midst you should not curse, nor should you curse a prince in your nation…” (Exodus 22: 27.) Here “elohim” – like the prince – is clearly human
Since EeLoHiM is a Holy Name, we should not mention it in vain, even for study. Henceforth we’d replace it with EeLoKiM, or in short ELKM (skipping the vowels, as it is customary in Hebrew)
Let’s repeat: ELKM is not a separate God but rather a separate Attribute, a Title, describing the way the CREATOR acts at a particular time. Thus at CREATION, the CREATOR set on the “Throne of Judgment” acting as the All Mighty JUDGE,
On other occasions, the same CREATOR would sit on different Thrones, such as the Throne of MERCY, assuming different Names such as The Attribute of MERCY Y*H*V*H.
Thus the Infinite, nameless CREATOR may have infinite number of Attributes. He may wear different ‘hats’ on different occasions or sit on different Thrones at different times – as He wishes and as needed .
Thus the first message of the Torah is that that the world, including Man, was created to withstand a trial – whether or not we believe in it or accept it. The judgment is the purpose of CREATION
The world on trial?
How can Nature stand a trial? Does it possess a mind and discretion?
One good answer is that Nature must comply with the Natural Laws set up by its CREATOR, ELKM. Even a tiny deviation from those Natural Laws would incur a harsh retribution. A mere change in the size of the atom, for example, would yield a completely different Universe. Our Universe is “elegant and precise” and must abide by ELKM’s Laws. This is one aspect of Nature’s trial by ELKM.
You see that judgment in the story of Genesis. At the end of each Day of CREATION, ELKM passed a JUDGMENT to see whether the passing Day was good or not. A “good” verdict meant that the Day could stay on. A “not good” verdict meant the Day would be eliminated. Like the Dinosaurs that were terminated. This way” ELKM built and destroyed many worlds” (says Rashi.)
Adam’s trial is different than Nature. Since ELKM created Adam for a trial, He would give Adam a set of Laws- the Torah (Bible) – for his trial. As we’ll learn, the first time ELKM gave Adam a set of Moral Laws for Adam’s trial was in Eden, where He gave Adan the Six Primordial Commandments – IDOLATRY, ADULTERY, BLOODSHED, THEFT, JUSTICE and BLASPHEMY. After the Flood He would give Noah the Seventh Commandment, to Israel the Ten ones. .
Is our interpretation of the first verse of Genesis true? Is it genuine? Does ELKM stand for the All Mighty JUDGE?
As it turns out, we do celebrate the annual anniversary of CREATION, which is also the Jewish New Year. It is called “Rosh HaShanah,” the “Head of the Year.”
As opposed to all other New Years celebrations around the Glob, the Rosh HaShanah is celebrated as a “Day of Universal Judgment” for the entire world. The liturgy of the day (our prayer books) say the following:
“Today is the birthday of the world,
Today you ascend again on your Throne of Judgment
when all the creatures of the world pass before your Throne
as You examine each and every one of them
and dictates their fate for the next year…”
Like in Genesis , Rosh Hashanah is a day when the CREATOR ascends again on the Throne of Judgment as it was at the time of the Beginning. Only after one week, at the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, the Attribute of Mercy YHVH steps inand offer Forgiveness.
The 13 attributes of Judgment
The Torah wants us , as we start studying Genesis an the Seven Commandments, to clearly understand and delineate the ways by which the All Mighty JUDGE , ELKM, conducts His Judgment. This would stay with us as long we study Torah.
Reading the Story of Genesis, and following tradition, the rabbis came with several classical features of ELKM’s Ways. I’ve summed them up as the following 13 ways (attributes) of Judgments. They are:
1. ELKM judges the whole world every Day. You can see that In the story of Genesis where ELKM judges every Day of CREATION, usually at the end of the Day and sometimes twice a Day (like in Days 3 and 6). On the 2nd Day He skipped the Judgment.
This is true for our human days too. ELKM judges us every day, every hour and every minute.
2: ELKM pursues Absolute Justice and Truth
ELoHiM the JUDGE seeks ONLY the Absolute Justice and Absolute Truth. He is JUST.
He is called a “TRUTHFUL JUDGE.”
His nickname is “TRUTH,” Emeth.
His signature is “TRUTH,” Emeth.
For instance: at the cemetery we acknowledge His harsh yet truthful verdict by saying: “Blesses is the Truthful Judge.”
3: ELKM pays “Measure for Measure” (Midah for Midah)
ELKM exercises His retributions in a precise way, “measure for measure”. Under His rule, creatures are allowed to eat others, because they too would be eaten in turn. Creatures are allowed to inflict pains on others, since they too would suffer pains in return. Nature is built along these principle of Absolute Justice (with no mercy.)
An example: Years ago, I watched with my children a National Geographic video. It captured a small green snake crawling peacefully along a lakeshore, eating tiny frogs on the way. You could watch in awe their bodies moving down inside the snake’s belly. Then the snake passed by a huge frog that was patiently waiting for it. The moment the snake came close, the huge frog snapped the snake head and cut if off. In a moment it swallowed the snake, with the little frogs still twisting in the snake’s belly. Watching this, I jumped up and down shouting: “ELoKiM is here! Measure for measure…” – to the laughter of my children.
Note that being vegetarians won’t remove one from ELHM’s verdict. For who can value the life of a vegetable against the life of an animal? Only the CREATOR would!
4. ELoHiM’s judgment is harsh
As we’ve just mentioned, ELKM judges harshly (in our eyes) in just way yet with NO MERCY. At the time of CREATION, those creatures He deemed “not good’ were eliminated right then and there.
For instance: The Law “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” was given in the Torah as written by the “Finger of ELKM” (Exodus 32: 15.) it expresses the judgment that SHOULD HAVE BEEN implement in the sake of Absolute Justice. But as well see, another Attribute- the Merciful YHVH- steps in and changes the verdict to monetary compensation.
.This is a good example for the importance of paying attention to the Speaker. If you read the verse as “GOD said an eye for an eye…” you’d wonder what kind of Good He is. But reading the verse as it should – ELKM said an eye for an eye…” it makes perfect sense. In the eyes of the Attribute of Absolute Justice, an eye should be gouged out as retribution. YHVH, however, would change it with Mercy.
5: ELKM created the Six Days as a Dictator (“Awesomely Alone”)
During the Six Days of Genesis, ELHM created Day by Day using “orders.” He said “Let there be Light” and Light was there. He said “Let the Earth grow grass, ” and it did. He said “Let Luminaries hang in the sky to be seen” and they hung in the sky. He ruled Alone, and Nature complied with no rejection. Hence He ruled the world as a “Dictator,awesomely alone” asking no one’s opinion, consulting no one’s advice. This would change before making Adam.
6: ELKM the All Mighty JUDGE, the BUILDER
At CREATION, ELHM acted not only as a All Mighty JUDGE but also as a BUILDER of a “Six Floors Building” – Nature. Each Day comprised a Floor. At the end of each Day, or each Floor, the BUILDER came and checked the it whether it was ‘good’ or not. Good meant in the eyes of the BUILDER, that the Floor was solid, viable, capable of carrying another Floor on top. A “not good” verdict in the BUILDER’S eyes meant that the Floor would be terminated.
Since we still live inside CREATION, the BUILDER ELKM still keeps coming to check if we are good or not. We’ll elaborate on that later in due course.
7. ELKM is WISE
ELKM built our Universe in His Wisdom. A hint ig given in the Hebrew words for “In the Beginning, ELKM created the Heavens and the Earth” The Hebrew for “Beginning” – Be-reishit – can be read as “”In the Head of the events.”
Hence “ELKM used His Head” (the wisdom in His Head) to create the Heaven and the Earth. His Wisdom is reflected in Nature and its Laws. .
8. ELoKiM is KIND, the Ultimate Provider.
Merciless and Harsh He is, yet Kind. He is the Ultimate Provider who takes care of His creatures’ needs and provides them with all the talents needed for survival. Thus,
1.He gave the vegetation born on the Third Day the talent to perform photo synthesis
2. He gave the fish born on the Fifth Day the gills and fins to breath and swim in the water and eyes to see and a digestive system to consume vegetation
3. He gave the birds of the Fifth Day wings to soar up and catch fish
4. He gave the crocodiles of the Fifth Day the talents to lie like a log and catch birds
5. He gave the cattle of the Sixth Day the talent to consume vegetation
6. He gave the beasts of the Sixth Day he talent to prey on the cattle
7. He gave the crawling creatures of the Sixth Day the tools to bite and swallow other creatures
8. He gave Adam o. f the Sixth Day the tools and talents to thrive in our habitat, Earth. In His Kindness He also gave us the Torah to show us how to win our Judgment.
9. ELoHiM is at the “heart” of Nature
Is ELKM “above” or “below”? The Torah says He is INSIDE everything. How do we know? His Name appears 32 times in the Six Days, where 32 is written “Lb”. Now it just happened that Lb in Hebrew also means “heart.” From here comes the classical teaching that the CREATOR ELKM is at the Heart of Nature, sustaining it as the heart sustains the body. ELHM fills the World as the blood fills the body. There is no Place without Him
Miraculously, the numerical value of the word EeLoHiM is 86, the same as for ‘The Nature,’ Ha-teva. Hence, ELKM is the CREATOR of Nature (rather than Nature itself)
10. ELoKiM’s judgment uses waters
It is said: “And the wind (spirit?) of ELoHiM was hovering over the waters…” (Genesis 1:2.) The verse implies that
1. ELHM’s Throne of Judgment is hovering over waters
2. ELHM uses Water as a whip, as in Noah’s Flood
11: ELKM sees everything
ELHM’s Justice penetrates everything, like water.
12: ELHM’s justice is equal for all
Like water surface.
13 ELoHiM weights our merits on His Scale
Our merits on one side, our sins on the other.
The tilt of the scale would determine our verdict and fate
Righteousness and wickedness
When the scale tilts in our favor, we are RIGHTEOUS in His eyes.
When the scale tilts against us, we are SINNERS or WICKED in His eyes.
Hence “righteous” (Tzadik) and “wicked” (Rasha) are verdicts of the Heavenly Court (Maimonides) rather than our character
What then constitutes “good” or “not good” in ELKM’s eyes?
Read also: “Genesis Vs. Science, Can They Match?” By Zvi Aviner, at www.smashwords.com
END OF IDOLATRY- 5