Copy Right 2022
Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner
IDOLATRY-8/ The Merciful Attribute YHVH
Moses’ IDOLATRY Commandment
To understand IDOLATRY, we’ve been following
the First and the Second of Moses’ Ten commandments.
The First Commandment introduces G-d with His Names,
The Second Commandment lists all the idols in the world.
These two Commandments are two sides of the same issue. Thus,
it is not enough to avoid idols; we must also recognize and worship the true G-d.
And it is not enough to worship G-d, we must also abandon our idols.
In our quest, we started with Moses’ First Commandment
which introduces G-d and His Names.
Next, we’ll turn to the Second Commandment and study the idols.
The First of Moses’ Ten Commandments introduces G-d in the following way:
- I Am (His Essence)
- YHVH (Lord) your EeLoHiM (G-d) (His Attributes)
- Who took you out of Egypt Land (His Deeds, Kingship of the world)
We’ve already started learning about the Attribute ELoHiM (ELKM,)
the All-Mighty JUDGE. We’ve identified the way He rules and Judges
with Absolute JUSTICE, yet with no MERCY.
As Chapter One says, ELKM created the Six Days, as a BUILDER-JUDGE,
and He was pleased, as it is said at the end of each Day (besides the 2nd):
“And ELKM saw that it was good….”
Now, let’s turn to the other Attribute in Moses’ First Commandment, YHVH.
What does it mean?
In fact, the name YHVH appears first in the Torah at the beginning
of the story of Eden, as it says:
“These are the histories of the Heavens and the Earth,
when they were re-created, On the Day that
YHVH ELKM made Earth and Heavens…” (2:4)
Here, the Name YHVH appears the first time in the open,
but side-by-side with ELKM.
Thus, whereas in the Six Days we see in the text only the name ELKM,
appearing 35 times (including 3 times in the Sabbath,)
the story of Eden says otherwise – that Earth and Heavens were
re-created by YHVH ELKM. Why the change? What happened?
Let’s recall Rashi’s explanation:
“At the Beginning, ELKM, the Attribute of JUSTICE, created the world alone.
Seeing that the world would not withstand His harsh scrutiny, and would have
to be terminated, ELKM participated the Attribute of MERCY,” (YHVH.)
2: Describing YHVH
Note the following definitions: (By Rashi)
ELKM stands for the Attribute of JUSICE, Dayan, (Exodus 20:1)
YHVH stands for the Attribute of MERCY, Hessed, (Exodus 34:6)
YHVH is a Hebrew acronym that stands for:
He was/He is/He shall be
It should therefore be pronounced as an acronym, letter by letter:
Y-H-V-H, no vowels in between the consonants!
As you would pronounce CBS, ABC, CNN, etc.
Note that ELKM and YHVH are not ‘gods,’ but rather
Attributes of JUSTICE and MERCY respectively, of
the Infinite, Nameless CREATOR, whose Essence
is beyond our human comprehension.
On one occasion the Infinite CREATOR would wear the hat of a JUDGE,
on another occasion He would wear the hat of MERCY.
In fact, there are infinite Attributes and Names related to the CREATOR,
but the Torah focusses mainly on two: ELKM and YHVH.
While ELKM created the Six Days by Himself,
YHVH rules the ‘Seventh Day of CREATION’ by Herself.
Until the creation of Adam, each Attribute ruled over His/Hers Domain alone.
It is only prior to creating Adam, that the Attributes CONSULTED each other,
appearing as YHVH ELKM.
3: Why did ELKM invite YHVH to share the Court?
Thus, before making Adam, the two Attributes – that had been separated,
got together, as YHVH ELKM, to create Adam.
According to Rashi, for Six Days ELKM created the world “alone”
and He was pleased, as it is said at the end of each Day
(Besides the 2nd): “And ELKM saw that it was good.”
But as He was about to introduce Adam into CREATION,
ELKM knew that such a smart creature, equipped with Free Choice,
while driven by so many desires, would certainly fail His scrutiny
and would have to be destroyed, along with the rest of CREATION.
According to Rashi, that bad scenario had already happened before
With other universes created before ours.
“ELKM had built them and destroyed them” since they did not
withstand His harsh scrutiny.
This time, with our Universe, ELKM decided to offer it a chance to survive.
He therefore turned to the Attribute of MERCY, YHVH, who reigns over the
next Day of CREATION, the “Eternal Sabbath to Come,” and invited Her
to “come over” and share with Him the Heavenly Court that rules the world.
Since YHVH is the Attribute that stands for
MERCY, COMPASSION, FORGIVENESS and HOLINESS,
Her advent in the Heavenly Court would offer Adam
a chance to repent, ask forgiveness, be pardoned and
start all over again.
4: YHVH Entering the Sixth Day
YHVH agreed, so to speak, to come over and share the world with ELKM.
Bellow, is the unedited text describing the end of the Sixth Day,
as it turns into the Sabbath. It contains the creation of Adam,
as well as the entrance of the acronym YHVH into our Sixth Day.
Remember that a Day of CREATION refers to an era, a period in Earth history,
and that we, humans, live on the ‘Sixth Floor’ of the ‘Six Floor Building’
And EloKiM made the animals…cattle…and everything creeping
And EloKiM saw that is was Good…
And ELoKim said let us make Adam in our form and our image…
And EloKiM blessed them saying be fruitful and multiply…
And EloKiM said behold, I have given you all the grass…
And EloHiM saw everything that He had done and behold,
it was Very Good, and it was evening, and it was morning,
Y om (Day)
H a Shishi, (Sixth) (Genesis 1:31)
………………………………….The Sabbath ………………………………
V aYechulu (and they ended,
H aShamyim (the Heaves)And the Earth, VeHaaretz, and all their hosts,
And EloHiM finished all the work he had done,
And EloHiM finished on the Seventh Day His work which He had done,
And He abstained on the Seventh Day from all His work which He had done
And ELKM blessed the Seventh Day…” (Genesis 2: 1-2)
You see here the acronym YHVH overriding the gap between
the Sixth and the Seventh Days.
Half of it, the Y-H, is in the Sixth Day,
the other half, the V-H, still lies in the Sabbath.
YHVH, originally dwelled “in full name” over the Sabbath Day.
Here She is ‘responding’ to ELKM’s invitation, entering in part
into our Sixth Day, to share with ELKM the Heavenly Court.
YHVH is only in part in our world, as Y-H, since She would draw us,
with the entire world, into the Sabbath Day to Come.
While the acronym YHVH is pronounced only letter by letter,
the Y-H can be read as YaH, as in Jeremi-yah, Isai-yah and so on.
5: Planning Adam
Tradition depicts Her as a Shy Dove, a Beautiful Cherub,
or a BRIDE entering her GROOM’S home for the first time,
observing the new home, wondering whether She would
be happy here, whether She would find REST in ELKM’s world.
In Her Domain, the ‘Eternal Sabbath to Come,’ YHVH neither creates nor judges.
In her domain, there is neither birth nor death, no trials and no tribulations.
There, She ‘radiates’ Holiness, Love, Joy, Peace, Blessings.
There, She RESTS all the time.
Now, coming into our world to share the Heavenly Court with ELKM
The Attribute of MERCY YHVH has to accommodate.
In our world, She would assess, judge, and create,
things She never does in Her Domain.
Thus, observing our world, She wonders whether
She would find a Place here to REST Her Wing?
Would she find a creature here that can feel Her values?
Observing ELKM’s world, all She sees are creatures like
Vegetation, Fish, Birds, Crocodiles, Lizards, Beasts, Snakes
Spiders, Bees, Ants, Dragons, who are blinded to Her Values,
since, after all, they were all created by ELKM alone!
How then could She rule over ELKM’s world, bereaved of any
of her values of MERCY, COMPASSION, FORGIVENSS and HOLINES
Sensing Her hesitations, the ‘GROOM’, ELKM, said to Her:
“Let Us Make an Adam in Our Form and Our Image.”
Our child Adam would have
a room in his heart, where you could DWELL, if he invites you inside,
he would build a Temple for you, where you could REST your wing,
he would offer you a Sabbath day of his week, where you could REST in time.
Moreover, Adam would unite us as One, in his heart, mind and deeds.
6: Not Good, but Rather, Very Good
ELKM knew that although the creatures He had created are all “good” in His eyes,
they are not “good” in YHVH’s eyes, since they lack any perception of Her,
being locked into the endless cycle of JUSTICE: eat and be eaten.
None of them, therefore, would qualify to enter and live
in the Eternal Sabbath to Come, which is ruled by YHVH alone.
He therefore would prepare Adam to live in the Sabbath.
He would not plant MERCY and COMPASSION as a
natural reflex in Adam’s heart, but He would carve out a room
in Adam’s heart, capable of hosting YHVH’s values in it,
and He – with YHVH – would give Adam a guidance, a Torah,
that would make Adam not just good but Very Good
in YHVH and ELKM’s eyes
As it is said, after creating Adam:
“ELKM saw everything that He had created
and behold, it was Very Good
And there was evening and there was morning, Day Six (was over)”
Such an ideal Adam would be able and would qualify
to enter the next Day, carrying the entire Universe along with him
7: If Adam fails, then Khlah! Annihilation!
What would happen if Adam has failed his task to be Very Good?
According to the verse, it would be Very Bad for the world,
as it is said at the end of the Sixth Day:
“ELKM finished, khalah, all the work that He had done.”
Thus, ELKM would ‘simply’ finish His work and enter the Sabbath,
along with the entire world with Him, including Adam,
or “finish” it with wrath, terminate it, consume it to ashes,
as He had done to other worlds before.
8: ELKM Longs to Enter the Sabbath Day
When the Sabbath Day arrives, ELKM would
ABSTAIN from doing more work,
ABSTAIN from creating more creatures, and
ABSTAIN from passing more judgment.
The Hebrew word for ‘abstained’ is ‘shabbat.’
Hence ELKM would not “rest” on the Sabbath Day,
but rather “hold Himself” from continuing
what He had done before.
Hence, on the Eternal Sabbath Day to Come
ELKM would relinquish His authority and ‘allow’
the Attribute of MERCY, YHVH, to reign there alone.
The verse hints to the fact that ELKM Longs to arrive at the Sabbath,
Not unlike a GROOM longing to meet his BRIDE.
A hint for that is in the same verse that says:
“ELKM finished, khalah, all the work that He had done.”
Khala also means a BRIDE, who “consumes your heart with longing.”
Why would ELKM long to Reach that Day?
The Infinite, nameless CREATOR, created the world in order
to shower on us Love and Blessings.
At CREATION, though, He opted to appear as a JUDGE, ELKM,
so that we would EARN our credits and blessings,
rather than receiving them free out of Compassion.
Hence, the appearance of the CREATOR as ELKM is temporary.
And when the new Day, the Sabbath Day arrives,
ELKM would happily relinquish His reign, and allow
the Merciful YHVH to take over and rule the world ALONE.
This is why ELKM Longs to arrive at the Sabbath.
9: Adam too Longs to the Sabbath
Since Adam is made in the Form and Image of ELKM,
Adam too longs, by our nature, to reach HaSheM and the Sabbath.
Hence, IDOLATRY is only an error in identifying G-d.
Thus we are born with a desire, a sense of longing
towards our CREATOR. IDOLATRY therefore can be described
as a battle of attractions –
either we are attracted to G-d and cleave to Him,
or attracted to the idols and fall a prey to them.
10: Walk my Groom towards Your Bride
The notion that ELKM “longs” to arrive at the Sabbath Queen
Has led to the poetic song we chant every Saturday eve before
The entrance of the Sabbath. It says:
“Walk my Groom towards you Bride,
(Together) we’ll welcome Her…”
11: Hold YHVH’s Hands!
From the way YHVH is entering our world,
you can see how the Y-H is ‘stretched’ towards Adam.
In fact, since the Y-H is the ‘back part’ of the name YHVH,
It seems as if YHVH aspires to go up and back into Her Domain,
carrying our world with Her.
She is like a locomotor carrying a train, the Six Days, to the Sabbath.
Hence YHVH is not only for MERCY and COMPASSION,
She helps us to proceed towards the Sabbath.
She pulls us from IDOLATRY and EVIL, as we’ll soon see in the text,
and SAVE our world from extinction.
YHVH would reveal Herself in full as a SAVIOR,
in the story of the Exodus, where She SAVED Israel
From Egyptian’s idols as well as from the oppressive Pharaoh.
12: Implementing Oneness
On order for Adam to proceed towards the Sabbath Day,
It is crucial that he keeps YHVH and ELKM’s Oneness.
This is not only a philosophical matter, believing that
these two powers are Attributes of One CREATOR,
Not only the belief that deep inside them they are
reflections of One Truth,
Not only that we should unite these two Attributes to One
In our thinking, as well as in daily practice,
But also knowing that if we separate them apart,
If we follow or prefer one over the other,
believing either in YHVH ways alone,
or in ELKM’s ways alone,
this would sever our path to the Sabbath.
In that case, ELKM would take over the Heavenly Court
and terminate us to khalah, nothingness,
as He had done to other worlds before ours.
Example: On Noah it is said that
“Noah found face in YHVH’s eyes,
Noah walked with ELKM” (Genesis 6:7-8)
Hence, he kept YHVH ELKM’s Oneness,
Which is the reason why he was saved.
Since his name Noah appears in the verse
twice, side by side, it means that he saw
two Sabbath – ours, and the Sabbath to Come.
Indeed, inside Noah’s Ark there was no birth and no death,
the wolf did no prey on the lamb and a child could play
safely on the snake’s pit.