Noahide Seven Commandments Torah classes
© 2017 by Rabbi Zvi Aviner
IDOLATRY-11/The Trial of YHVH ELKM Kingship
Know your CREATOR, know yourself and know the difference
“Let Us make an Adam in Our Form and Our Image.”
1: Kingship in the Ten Commandments
In our study of IDOLATRY, we’ve been following the first two of Moses’ Ten Commandments that say:
The first, positive Commandment
1. I Am (The Essence)
2. YHVH Your ELoKiM (The Attributes)
3. Who Took You Out of Egypt Land” (His Kingship)
The second, negative Commandment, listing the idols
1. Thou shall not make for yourself other ELoKiM’s
2. Over My Face…….
The first, ‘positive’ Commandment tells us whom to worship
The Second, negative one tells us about the idols, whom we should worship not
In the First Commandment, we’ve already learned about the Attributes YHVH and ELKM (line 2)
Now we’ll focus on line 3 that presents YHVH ELKM (G-d’s) Kingship.
2: Idolatry as a battle of Kingship
The idea of God’s Kingship implies that He is not only the “Primordial Mover” perceived by the philosophers, but ALSO a Living King Who Intervenes in our history.
The notion of KINGSHIP is expressed in line 3 of the First Commandment. The Speaker, G-d, presents Himself as the One Who Had Taken Israel out of Egypt. He intervened in history and saved Israel. He could have chosen another description of His intervention in history, such as “The One Who Has Saved Noah rom the Flood.” Speaking to Israel, the former Egyptian slaves, however, He choose to presents Himself as their REDEEMER. This sort of Kingship would be more meaningful to them.
Thus we’ve arrived at an important principle, saying that the acceptance of the Kingship of HaSheM should be PERSONALLY meaningful. We accept the “Yoke of His Kingship” on OURSELVES, with passion and Love, not on someone else. He is not only the ‘King Of The Universe,’ but also Our King, or better said: My Personal Ruler. (Later we’ll see that Abraham expanded that notion, seeing himself as a slave of his Master, AaDoNai)
We comply with HaSheM’s Kingship by addressing Him in our blessings and prayers. On the bread we eat, we bless:
1. You (against I AM)
2. YHVH (uttered AaDoNia, My Master) our ELoKiM
3. The King of the Universe,
for bringing out bread from the ground.”
We mention that He is the “King of the Universe,”
whose Kingship is expressed by bringing us bread.
On other occasions, we would mention other manifestation of His Kingship.
A battle of kingships
Not incidentally, line 3 of His Kingship sits st the junction between the First and Second Commandments. Man, ‘located’ at that junction, faces two choices:
Either looking up (to the first Commandment) and accepting the yoke of YHVH ELKM Kingship,
Or looking down (at the second Commandment) and accepting the yoke of the idols, listed there in full.
Hence, IDOLATRY can be defined as a battle between two Kingships: that of the true G-d, and that of the idols. We either surrender our lives to the true G-d, or to the idols. No escape from that trial. No neutral choice of being totally free! Why? For we are made to withstand that trial!
The Talmud distinguishes between idolatry and kingship.
One can believe in an idol, yet not necessarily accepts its kingship.
And more commonly: one can accept the kingship of something, yet not see it as an idol.
For instance: One may surrender his life to a party, like the communist party. The party controls his life, and blinds his moral decisions. The party is supreme. The same was true with the Nazi party. Yet these entities are not idols. They fall in the category of false kings. One violates line 3 by accepting their kingship.
Same is true with the kingship of drugs, and alcohol. These entities can conquer our being. The same holds true with the passion to pursue wealth, fame, power, sex, art, science. A person may be trapped into surrendering his life in pursuing them. They are false kings, rather than idols.
As you see, our generation faces the challenge of KINGSHIP, more than the challenge of sheer idolatry.
So let’s distinguish between
Accepting false kings, rather than the Kingship of our CREATOR,
And the trial of Kingship itself; the choosing of the correct TYPE of kingship.
Let’s elaborate on the last point.
Three Types of Heavenly Kingship
Genesis Chapter One presents three types of the CREATOR’S Kingship: (1) of ELKM (2) of YHVH ELKM (3) of YHVH. Let’s discuss them one by one.
Kingship type 1: ELoKiM ruling the World Awesomely Alone
During the Six Days, ELoKiM created the world by issuing direct Commands. He asked no one’s opinion, consulted no one’s wisdom, or begged anyone’s permission. Day by Day He created the World as a benevolent Dictator, “awesomely alone.” During all this long period, no one dared to object or refuse His orders. He ruled the World with an iron fist, paying retributions “measure for measure” in absolute justice, with no MERCY. Thus,
He said “Let it be light,” and light was there.
He said “Let the earth grow grass,” and grass grew.
He said “Let the luminaries hang in the sky,” and they hung.
He said “Let the waters swarm with fish,” and they were.
He said “Let it be Cattle, and Beasts,” and Cattle and Beasts became reality.
Let’s not look down at His Dictatorship. For Six Days, He advanced CREATION very efficiently from Day to Day, and He was pleased with His work, and deemed it ‘good.’
Teaching us that every tyranny, even a human tyranny, can work efficiently and achieve its goals, thereby pleasing its ruler. In tyranny, trains go out on time, workers never strike and the economy stabilizes. Everyone is employed, and people may feel good and secure.
But Tyranny can never excel to be Very Good. Tyranny faces a ceiling, above which it can’t rise. It can’t excel and be Very Good, even in its ruler eyes.
Then, Moses says, late on the Sixth Day, ELKM knew that staying on course would lead Him to destroy the world, as He had done to numerous other worlds before. He therefore decided to change the way He rules the world and make Adam.
Teaching us that every tyranny would tend to terminate itself. A tyrant would end up wishing to destroy his own kingdom, the one he has previously loved so much. If ELKM, as a Dictator, would have terminated His Kingdom, who wouldn’t?
Example from history? Too many to count. Mao, Stalin, Hitler, they all ended with a paranoidal thrive to bring chaos to their own kingdoms.
Kingship type 2: The King Who Consults
ELKM stepped down
Seeing that His Dictatorship would bring the world to an end, ELKM the JUDGE changed the way He rules.
As a first step, ELKM changed His tone. He stepped down from His high pedestal as a Supreme JUDGE, and spoke softly in plural voice, saying:
By this, He was a Dictator no more. Henceforth, He would be a King Who Consults, who speaks in plural, a Modest King, a ‘Democratic’ ruler.
A hint for this comes from the Hebrew word for ‘consulted,’ nimlach.
It can mean “he was enthroned,” also nimlach.
Hence: who is a King, a Melech? – One who consults, nimlach. One who rules by the art of consulting his subjects before issuing a decree. In short: a ‘democratic king.’
We’ve arrived at the third metaphor of the relationship between YHVH and ELKM.
(1) “Let Us…” the Attributes Consult each other to form the Heavenly Court
(2) “Let Us..” the Groom, ELKM, ‘asks ’ or begs His Bride, YHVH, to join him and create Adam
3) “Let Us…” ELKM, the King Who Consults form the Heavenly Kingship
He consulted the Angels with Modesty
To illustrate that great change, the Midrash tells the following story: (see Rashi)
When ELKM changed His tone, He turned to His Angels saying: “Let Us Make an Adam in Our Form and Our Image,”
Surprised, the Angles asked Him: “Our King! Why do you consult us at all? Are we not your faithful messengers who execute your will with no discretion?”
The Angles appropriately referred to ELKM as a King, for He ‘consulted’ them. They noticed that He was a Dictator no more.
They wondered, since ‘angel’ in Hebrew, ‘mallaah,’ means a messenger who has no discretion of his own. Hence: why did the King bother to consult them?
ELKM answered: “I consult you, my Angels, to teach Adam Modesty; that the Superior should consult the Inferior before issuing a decree,” (Rashi.)
He allowed a dialogue with Adam
ELKM changed His way of ruling and became a King Who Consults, you may say, to open up the door for Adam to enter a dialogue with Him.
Before that consultation, when ELKM ruled Awesomely Alone as a Dictator, no one could have spoken out at Him. So, by stepping down and becoming a Modest King Who Consults, ELKM opened His ears also to Adam’s supplications.
He opened a dialogue with the Merciful YHVH
Stepping down from His Dictatorship has also opened the door for ELKM to converse with YHVH, and for YHVH to converse with ELKM. A New Heavenly Court was established where the Attributes conduct a Dialogue between them. ELKM may talk as our prosecutor, while YHVH may defend us in Her MERCY.
YHVH too has stepped down
YHVH too ‘accommodated’ Herself towards ELKM, to form together the new Heavenly Court, of YHVH ELKM. Or the New Kingship of YHVH ELKM.
In Her Domain, the Eternal Sabbath, YHVH neither judges nor assesses anyone. In Her Eternal Sabbath, YHVH showers only unconditional love and holiness, without asking anything in return.
It is only in this world, to join the Heavenly Court, that YHVH “stepped down” from Her Absolute MERCY and accommodated Herself to Her ‘Groom,‘ EKLKM, to sit together in judgment.
It is only here, in our world, that the Merciful YHVH assesses Adam whether or not he has met Her expectations. To “find face” in her eyes, like Noah did, a person should exhibit features that YHVH loves: Mercy, Compassion, Forgiveness, and holiness. Only then She would AGREE to defend him.
Adam needs to emulate ELKM.
The same way that ELKM invited YHVH to enter His World,
So should Adam invite YHVH to enter his heart.
In the same way that ELKM descended from his High Pedestal and opened a Dialogue with YHVH,
So should Adam stepped down from his own high self -importance, bow his head in modesty and open a dialogue with YHVH, inviting Her to dwell in his heart.
Without this, Adam would be left in the hand of the harsh Prosecutor, ELKM.
The Kingship of YHVH ELKM
While in the past, during the Six Days, the world was ruled by ELKM alone,
We, in the rest of the Sixth Day, live under the Kingship of YHVH ELKM.
It is Kingship not only for its power, but rather for the fact that the Attributes CONSULT each other in a Dialogue before issuing a verdict.
The Modest Kingship of YHVH ELKM
Since YHVH ELKM’s Kingship depends on its subject’s approval, we are called upon to enthrone ‘YHVH ELKM’ ON OURSELVES day by day, all our lives.
Failing to do so, would cause YHVH to depart from the Heavenly Court, leaving the Court ‘no option’ but to revert to the Dictatorship of ELKM alone, to our detrimental.
Note that in Hebrew
A ‘tyrant’ is aa-ritz,
A ‘King Who Consults’ is Melech.
Hence by stepping down and speaking in plural,
ELKIM “the aaritz” became a “Melech, King.
This distinction is expressed in our prayers for Rosh Hashana. We enthrone YHVH ELKM on us, hoping the Court would not revert to the Beginning, when ELKM ruled as a Supreme Judge alone. We ask the Court to apply Mercy to our case.
Adam can emulate the CREATOR’s Kingship
Adam is blessed to “rule over the fish, the birds, and all the animals” (Genesis 1: )
Adam is appointed by ELKM to be a ‘small king’ over our habitat.
Adam, as a king, can emulate ELKM in two ways:
He may rule himself, his society and his habitat as a tyrant, considering no one’s opinion, consulting no one. Indeed, walking in this way Adam may build an efficient kingdom, like ELKM, yet his kingdom would face a ceiling: it would be good at best, never ‘very good.’
Moreover, if Adam walks in this way, he would finally desire to destroy his own kingdom to khalah!
On the other hand, Adam may emulate YHVH ELKM and rule by the art of listening, accommodating, in modesty. Choosing this way would make Adam’s kingdom Very Good in the CREATOR’S eyes, and his kingdom would see the next day, the khalah, the Bride.
A religious dictum
By a stroke of a pen, the Torah elevates here Democracy to a religious dictum. No other religion or philosophy has done that.
Moses says: “From among your brothers you shall appoint a king over you!” (Deuteronomy 16: 14 ). Thus,
(1) Israel should appoint a king over us, not that the king would enforce himself over us (Midrash)
(2) the king MUST be elected from among his future subjects. He can’t be an alien, or a semi human, or a semi- god. He must be capable to identify and comprehend his subject’s whims and answer them.
Thus, David for instance, although anointed by the prophet Samuel, he assumed kingship over Israel only after being elected by the elders of Israel’s tribes.
Moses himself was chosen by YHVH, yet he had to get the support of the elders of the Children of Israel.
Why was Adam made from Nature?
Now we can better understand why ELKM consulted the Six Days and made Adam.
Only this way, Adam could be eligible for ruling over his habitat. As Moses says: “From among your brothers you should elect a king.” Adam is not an alien in Nature, not an Angel. Being made of the Six Days, Adam is able to listen and consult his subjects.
Kingship type 3: The kingdom of YHVH
In Her Domain, in the Eternal Sabbath, YHVH reigns in a Holy Way we can hardly comprehend. She neither assesses nor controls anyone there.
Even when She entered our World as the Shekhinah, shown in Genesis Chapter One, She showed Herself as a Modest, Shy Bride, extremely sensitive to our approval of Her. So much, that She would ‘fly away’ from our heart, the moment She has sensed any rejection of Her. If that happens, we would be left in the hands of ELKM alone.
Indeed, this unfortunate outcome has happened once, before Noah’s Flood. YHVH was so saddened by Man’s evilness (Genesis 6: 6) that She ‘retracted’ and left the world for ELKM to execute the Flood (Genesis 5: 13)
They say that at the time of the Temple destruction by Rome, a Dove came out weeping from the Holy of Holy, and flew eastwards towards the desert.
The Modest YHVH hates human arrogance. “She and an arrogant person can’t be in the same room,” says the Midrash. For that reason, ELKM taught Adam Modesty first, before any other virtue.
The idea of the Kingdom of MERCY coming to Earth, has propelled human history like no other idea.
Who wouldn’t love to live under such sweet, loving Kingdom, where all sins are forgiven, where there is no sin, where there is no sorrow nor sickness nor death?
Who wouldn’t love to forgive sinners right way, looking at sinners with empathy, understanding and forgiving?
Who wouldn’t like to tolerate and embrace sinners, with grace and unconditional love?
We are all attracted, very attracted to the warmth and holiness of YHVH’s ruling alone, Her Kingdom of Mercy on earth.
But we should never forget that ELKM still sits by Heh side, and that so far we are still living under YHVH ELKM Kingship; till the End of our Sixth Day.
1. I Am (Self)
We can place all the above in a diagram made of Moses’s Ten Commandments, as follows:
2. YHVH your ELKM (Attributes of Mercy and Judgment) )
3. Who took you out of Egypt Land (Kingship, decree)
When the Heavenly Court is in session, the Self, ‘I Am’, hears the two sides in line 2: the absolute justice, then the Attribute of Mercy. The Self then acts as the Arbiter, deciding the final verdict. The Self then sends the Verdict to the Kingship of line 3 for execution in the real world.
We’ll see this clearly in the text, describing the Heavenly Court in session before Noah’s Flood.
Example: The USA Government
Consider for instance the structure of the USA government. it has the following:
1. The People’s will (I AM) which
2. Empowers a Congress (with different philosophies and parties: its attributes) who debates and decides and
3. Deliver its decision to the Presidency to be implemented in the real world.
We are in His Image
We are all built in our CREATOR’S Image. So we all have in us
1. A Self
2. Many competing attributes
3. That finally decide our action in reality.
The three Kingships can be seen in a diagram made of Moses’ words:
I Am……………………………………….I Am ……………….……….………….I Am
Ultra Sensitive King…………Democratic KING………….’Awesomely Alone’ Dictator
5: Shema Israel! Listen, Oh Israel!
“Hear O Israel! (Shema, Israel!) er
Moses says: (Deuteronomy 6: 4)
1. YHVH, our ELoKiM
2. 2 YHVH is ONE” )
In this eternal cry of Judaism, Moses orders Israel to know
That we currently live under YHVH, ELKIM (line 1)
And that in the future we’ll live under the reign of YHVH alone (line 2)
Moreover, he says that in the final analysis, YHVH is the only One.
For it is Mercy to the world to see in it ELKM judging the wicked ones.
How do I know that the Shema is a cry of Heavenly Kingship?
For after chanting it every morning (and veining) we acknowledge it by adding:
“Blessed is the Glory of His Kingship forever and ever,”
Since YHVH ELKM is a ‘democratic’ kingship, so sensitive to our approval,
That we support it loudly twice a day.
6: Rosh Hashanah
On the annual anniversary of Adam creation, the Rosh Hashanah High Holiday (the Jewish New Year) we ENTHRONE our CREATOR on us.
We blow the silver trumpets (in the Holy Temple only) to designate the ascent of ELKM on the Throne of Absolute Justice, as it was in the Beginning.
And we blow the ram horn to designate the ascent of YHVH on Her Throne of MERCY.
As you see, this is not a Jewish Holiday. It is rather Mankind’s Holiday.
END OF IDOLATRY CLASS 11