© 2020 by Rabbi Zvi Aviner
IDOLATRY-3/Know Me by These Names
Know your CREATOR, know yourself, and k now the difference
1: Know me by these Names
We are studying IDOLATRY Commandment, first given to Adam and Eve in Eden, then repeated to Noah after the Flood.
Yet the first time IDOLATRY appears in the Torah’s text in the open is at Sinai revelation.
There it appears as two sides of the same coin. The First Commandment on the Tablets presents G-d, whom we should worship.
The Second Commandment on the Tablets spells the list of idols, whom we should not worship.
These two come as two options presented to Mankind: either worship G-d, or, if you’ve failed, you’d worship idols. There is not neutral choice of worshipping no one.
If you don’t worship G-d, you’d fall a pray to some idol- be it drug, alchohol, political party, science, art – you’d subject your life to them instead to G-d.
Transgressing the First Commandment, that presents G-d, is also IDOLATRY. Denying His existence, or His Names, would be tantamount to rebellion against Him.
Last class we have arrived at an explanation of the First Commandment as an obligation to KNOW Him by His Names and by the Order in which He presents to us these Names. We should do that for our welfare and success on Earth.
What then are these precious holly Names that appear in the First Commandment?
The First of the Ten Commandment says
the LORD your GOD
Who took you out of Egypt land.”
The Second of the Ten Commandments
”Thou shall not have another G-d, over my face,
“Thou shall not make yourself any carved statue or any image
of anything in the Heavens above and in the Earth underneath,
and in the waters that are under the Earth.
Thou shall not bow to them and shall not serve them…” (Exodus 20:1
Man is depicted here as torn apart by these two attractions: either he/she is attracted to G-d (the first Commandment) or is fallen a pray to the idols on the list of the Second Commandment.
But what are the holly Names and Titles of G-d on the First Commandment?
What Names? What way?
In line 1 – “I AM” – the Speaker presents His SELF
In line 2– “LORD your GOD”- the Speaker presents His ATTRIBUTES
In line 3– “Who took you out..”.- the Speaker describes His Deeds, His Kingship in the world.
LORD your GOD
As a rule, throughout the entire Bible,
LORD is always the English substitute for the Hebrew acronym Y*H*V*H
GOD is the English substitute for the Hebrew EeLoHiM
Y*H*V*H (LORD) stands for the Attribute of MERCY, COMPASSION and FORGIVENESS
EeLoHiM (GOD) stands for the Attribute of Judgment., the All-Mighty JUDGE
Thus, the First Commandment actually says in Hebrew
- Y*H*V*H your EeLoHiM
- Who took you out of Egypt Land
- I Am
- the Merciful, your All-Mighty Judge
- who took you out of Egypt land
What is the meaning of the Acronym YHVH?
What is the meaning of the Attribute EZeLoHiM?
Moses does Not feel the need to explain it here, at Sinai revelation,
Since he has already explained them in the first Chapter of Genesis, the beginning of the Torah.
We should therefore go back to Genesis, in order to comprehend that aspect of IDOLATRY.
Let’s remember that we are not talking about obscure Names of G-d, delegated to theologians.
We are talking, rather, on a Commandment given to Israel – and Mankind- for everyone to abide with. Every person on Earth should KNOW these Names and comprehend them and their special order by which they are introduced in the First of the Ten Commandment.
Suppose I enter your classroom and say: Hi –
- I Am (my self)
- Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner (my attributes)
- Note And I teach Torah (my deeds, kingship)
Note that have chosen my presentation carefully.
When I said “My name is Rabbi Dr” – I’ve chosen my titles carefully. I selected “Rabbi” before Dr. because to you, in this Torah class., the title Rabbi is more important than Dr. It infers that I am qualified to teach you Torah. I added Dr. to infer that besides Torah I’ve studied science enough to talk also about it.
To my patients in my clinic, I’d place the title Dr. before Rabbi, or omit the rabbi altogether. They are not interest in it.
Hence choosing the titles and their order is important, for it send a message to a specific audience.
Note also that once I’ve chosen a specific way to introduce myself, ignoring it or changing it would be improper and rude. It might breach in my authorit.
Likewise, distorting or misspelling my titles would not only be rude, but also betray wold ignorance of their meaning.
Distorting the Name YHVH, or EeLoHiM, would reflect ignorance of their meaning.
So, what are the Titles LORD (YHVH) and GOD (EeLoHiM) , exactly?
For that we need to go to the miraculous Chapter One of Genesis