Rabbi D. Zvi Aviner
IDOLATRY -3/Meet ELOHIM (G-D)
In our quest of learning about the IDOLATRY Commandment
We examined the First of Moses’ Ten Commandments that says
1 I Am (SELF)
2 YHVH (Lord) your EeLoHiM (God) (ATTRIBUTES)
3 Who took you out of Egypt Land (DEEDS, KINGSHIP)
Here , the SPEAKER – God – present Himself in a particular way
Expecting us to address Him in this way
In our prayers and blessings.
The Second of the Ten Commandments
defines the idols whom we should worship not
In it, the first line says
“Thou shall have no OTHER GOD (ELHM) beside me”
Defining idols as “OTHER GODS.”
Implying, that we first need to know who is God,
Then exclude all other false gods.
So, looking at the First of the Ten Commandments,
The Speaker mentions His Attributes:
YHVH (Lord) and EeLoHiM (G-d).
What is the meaning of the Hebrew terms YHVH and ELHM?
Moses does not elaborate on them here,
Since they are defined in Genesis Chapter One.
So, who is ELOHM?
Meet ELOHIM (G-d)
Moses’ basic question
Suppose Noah or Moses come to life in our time.
He stands at a corner of a busy street,
and he addresses peoples passing by:
“Excuse me sir, or lady, do you know the Bible?”
Many ignore him, taking him for a fool.
Some would stop for a fun, saying:
“Of course! We know the Bible!”
“If so,” Moses says,
“Who Created the World, and for what purpose?”
The people would lough. “Of course, God created the world!”
Moses rises his brow, so they add:
“Doesn’t the verse say that,
“In the Beginning, G-d created the Heavens and the Earth?”
“If so,” Moses says,” for what purpose did He create the World?”
“Purpose?” Now they are puzzled. And they would try different answers:
“He created it for good men.…”
“He created it for the Messiah…”
“He created it for Israel…”
But Moses would shake his head in rejection.
“Can you support your words by the verse?” He would ask.
They would try, but they would not find support in the verse.
Tears would run out of Moses’ eyes.
The basic, most important message of his Five Books
Has been erased from Man’s mind.
How could that happen? He would wonder.
The All-Mighty JUDGE
The correct answer to Moses’ question
Is based Dep on the Hebrew text that says
“In the Beginning,
the Heavens and the Earth!” (Genesis 1: 1)
Here, the English term G-d
is written as ELoHiM.
While G-d infers reverence and awe,
the Hebrew ELoHiM means the All-Mighty JUDGE.
The difference is not semantic.
The term ELHM sends a message:
ELHM, THE JUDGE,
CREATED THE WORLD FOR JUDGMENT.
The Hebrew term ELoHiM refers to any judge,
even to a human judge, as it says:
“ELoHiM in your midst you should not curse,
nor should you curse a prince in your nation…” (Exodus 22: 27.)
To avoid mentioning the holy Name in vain,
We would use ELHM instead of EeLoHiM.
The Essence Vs Attribute
Note that the term ELKM, JUDGE,
is an Attribute, a descriptive term for the CREATOR.
At the time of CREATION, at the Beginning,
He “set on the Throne of JUDGMENT.”
On other occasions, He would “sit” on other Thrones,
assuming other Names and Attributes.
His Essence, SELF, is beyond description,
and, therefore, can’t be described by name.
Even the term CREATOR, is restrictive
and cannot contain the Essence.
What does Chapter One
Tell us about ELHM?
Moses repeats ELHM’s Name 32 times
During the Six Days of Genesis Chapter One,
obviously, to tell us about ELHM.
Indeed, tradition derives manty conclusions
about the way the JUDGE, ELHM, “operates.”
Let’s try to count those ways.
The 13 attributes of Judgment
- 1 ELKM, the BUILDE-JUDGE
For Six Days, ELHM built the World, Day by Day,
as a Six Floors Building, placing each Floor
on top of the previous Floor.
At the end of each Day, each Floor,
ELKM – the BUILDER- comes and check the Floor
To see whether it is strong enough to carry
another Floor on top.
If the Floor is “good” in the BUILDLER’S eye,
Meaning: if it is strong and viable and capable
Of supporting another Floor on top,
The BUILDER would allow it to stay.
Whereas if the BUILDER finds that the Floor
Or the creatures in the Floor
Can’t support life in the next Floor,
He would deem it “not good”
And would eliminate it, or discard it
as a scaffold that is no more needed.
The BUILDER, therefore, acts also
as a JUDGE, assessing His CREATION.
Here the terms “good” and “not good”
Have no moral connotation, since
the animals and all other natural elements
have no moral consciousness.
During the Six Day, before making Adam,
the terms “good” and “not good” are
Verdicts of the BUILDER, who seeks
Efficiency and sticking to His Plan.
Being a part of creation,
Being made on the Sixth Day going to the Seventh
Adam’s judgment by ELHM
Is no different than all other creatures.
Adam – Mankind – is also being judged
at the end of our Day
Whether or not he is “good”
in the BUILDER-JUDGE’s eye.
whether or not we can support
the Sabbath Day.
But in addition to the criteria used by ELHM
When He Judges the creatures,
Adam is judged by his morality.
Annual Anniversary of CREATION
Once a year, at the Head of the Year
(New Year, Rosh Hashanah Holiday)
ELHM ascends again on the Throne of JUDGMENT
and He JUDGES the entire World.
On that awesome day,
all creatures pass before His Throne
as He examines them, deciding their fate
for the next year.
This is expressed
in the Prayer Book for Rosh Hashanah:
“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…”
2: ELKM pursues Absolute Justice and Truth
Tradition says that ELKM follows the Absolute Justice and Truth
He sees the fact and acts accordingly. Thus –
He is called “The truthful JUDGE,” (Dayan Emeth)
His nickname is “Truth,
His signature” is “Truth.”
Hence, wherever His Name appears in the text,
We should see this as a stamp of truthfulness.
Since His Name appears 32 times in Six Days,
the story must be true.
Later we’ll see if that is so.
3: ELKM pays “Measure for Measure”
(Midah for Midah)
ELKM’s retributions are precise.
He pays “measure for measure,” in exact fashion.
Under Him, during the Six Day,
creatures are allowed to eat other creatures
because they too would be eaten.
Creatures are allowed to inflict pains on others,
since they too would suffer pains.
Whenever you detect this in Nature,
think about ELHM the JUDGE,
whose Hands are behind the scene.
Note that it was the Finger Of ELHM
Who wrote on Moses’ Torah the rule:
“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”.
(Exodus 32: 15)
- ELoHiM’s judgment is harsh
ELKM’s Judgment is precise and harsh,
with NO MERCY.
Whenever He, as The BIILDER,
decides that a creature or a Day is “not good,”
He would eliminate it readily
Ion a blink of an eye, with no regret.
5: ELKM created the Six Days
as a Dictator, “Awesomely Alone”
During the Six Days of Genesis,
ELHM created the world by Commands.
He said “Let there be Light” and Light was.
He said “Let they Earth grow grass” and it did.
He said “Let Luminaries hang in the sky”, and they did.
During the Six Day He ruled “Awesomely Alone”,
discussing or consulting no one,
and no one dared to object Him.
Before making Adam,
ELHM changed His rule
And spoke in plural,
as if Consulting others.
He was no longer a Dictator.
- 6 ELKM is WISE
Nature reflects ELKM’s Wisdom.
The more we know about the Universe, by our Science,
the more we appreciate that Wisdom.
The rabbis found a hint for that Wisdom in the verse, saying:
: “In the Beginning, ELKM created the Heavens and the Earth”
The Hebrew word for “Beginning,”Be-reishit”
can be read as “At the head of the events,”
implying that He used His Head,
or the Wisdom and Science in His Head
to create the world.
How is it, that we, humans,
can discover that Heavenly Wisdom?
We’ll address that in due course
When we learn about the making of Adam
7: ELHM creates with precision
ELHM’s ways of precision
In building as well in judgment
Is reflected in Nature.
His Natural Laws are precise,
And can be expressed by mathematics
His Universe is” elegant.”
If you change the charge of the electrons just a bit,
You’d get another Universe.
- ELoKiM is KIND and the ULTIMATE PROVIDER
Merciless and Harsh He is, yet Kind.
He is the Ultimate Provider
who provides every creature
whatever it needs to survive and thrive.
To Him, all eyes are lifted in prayer.
1.He gave the vegetation of the Third Day
the talent to perform photo synthesis
- He gave the fish born on the Fifth Day
the gills and the fins to swim
- He gave the birds born onthe Fifth Day
the wings to soar up and eyes to catch fish
- He gave the crocodiles born onthe FifthDay
the talents to lie like a log to catch birds
- He gave the cattle born onthe Sixth Day
the talent to digest so much vegetation
- He gave the beasts born on the Sixth Day
the talent to prey on cattle
- He gave the crawling creaturesborn on the Sixth Day
the teeth to bite
- He gave Adam born on the Sixth Day
the mind needed to survive and progress
- 9 ELoHiM “sits” at the heart of Nature
Where is ELHM? Above? Below?
Since His Name appears 32 times in the Six Days,
And Since 32 is written “Lb”, a ‘heart’ in Hebrew,
We can say that ELHM is at the Heart of Nature
sustaining it, as the heart sustains the body.
the numerical value o “EeLoHiM” is 86
the same as for ‘The Nature,’ Ha-teva.
Hence, ELKM created Nature.
- 10 ELoKiM uses water as a whip
Verse 2 in Genesis says:
And the wind (spirit) of ELKM
was hovering over the waters.”
- ELHM’s Throne of Judgment hovers over waters
- ELHM uses water as a whip, as in Noah’s Flood
- ELKM is enthroned over water, as on Rosh Hashanah,
11: ELKM sees everything
ELHM’s Justice penetrates everything
like water. Nothing escapes His Scrutiny
12: ELHM’s justice is equal for all
ELHM recognizes neither royalty nor privileges.
His judgment is equal and even towards all,
like water surface.
13 ELoHiM weights our merits on His Scale
ELHM weights our deeds on His Scale:
merits on one side, sins on the other.
The tilt of the scale would determine
whether we are either
Righteous, or Wicked.
Note that ELHM does not judge us by character
But rather by our actions.
Now that we’ve delineated some of
The way ELHM acts and judges,
And that He seeks only the Truth,
We can ask: is the story of Genesis truthful?