Saturday, January 16, 2010

Whats in a name ?

And these are the names of the children of Israel 
                                                                       Exodus 1:1  

And I was seen by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (and known to them as) E-l Shadai but by my name 
Y-H-W-H I was not known to them
                                               Exodus 6:2  

     I have been following with some interest and not a little amusement the ongoing discussion in America on the following question: What do American Jews who are neither Charedi or Conservative or Reform or unaffiliated call themselves ?                                       
    There is MO (Modern Orthodox),LWMO (left wing Modern Orthodox),RWMO(you guessed it) PO(post Orthodox, or maybe perhaps Orthodox) and finally OO ( open Orthodox).
    Confused? Me too. Although to be fair here in Israel we have or own names: Charedi, Dati leumi, Chardali(relatively new) and mesorati.

Are there any  names that have a real meaning? Exodus is Shemot, the book of Names. It begins with the names of the tribes, the sons of Israel , each having a special meaning relating to a special destiny, and continues with the names of  G-d who we can only know through His attributes as expressed  in His names.

HaRav Kook  ZTZL explains (in Midbar Shur derasha 32)That the different names of G-d express the interaction of G-d with the Jewish  people, its land and its destiny. Abraham Isaac and Jacob were spiritual giants chosen by G-d to bring His word into the world.G-d promised each of them, in turn father son and grandson That He would give them the land of Israel as an eternal posession but instead we see that Jacobs sons were forced by famine to leave the land of Israel and go down to Egypt. Why was this so? G-d was revealed to the 3 forefathers from behind the veil of nature. This  is the meaning of the name El Shadai. In Hebrew the word Dai means enough. It was enough for G-d to reveal Himself to them through his attribute as the master of  nature "El" Only later after slavery, exodus and receiving the tora on Mt Sinai when Israel became a nation could G-d reveal Himself as the master of  time Who was, is and and forever will be as expressed in the name Y-H-W-H. Only then would his promise to Abraham be fulfilled. The eternal G-d would give the eternal land to his eternal people, the People of Israel.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your words of support with becoming frum.

    I had no idea that there were so many different avenues of Judaism out there. I am blessed to have the Chabad in my town. I, of course, knew about reform, conservative and orthodox, but did not know there were so many other groups, like left-winged, right-winged, etc.

    I envy you for being able to live in Israel. That truly is a great mitzvot.