Noahide Seven Commandments Torah classes
© 2017 by Rabbi Zvi Aviner
IDOLATRY-10/Y-H-V-H, the Beautiful Acronym of MERCY
Know your CREATOR, know yourself and know the difference
“Let Us Make an Adam in Our Form and Our Image.”
1: Could Adam become Very Good?
At the End of Days, we’ve learned, ELKM the JUDGE will conduct a comprehensive, decisive trial on EVERYTHING HE HAD DONE, the entire CREATION including Adam.
The stakes of that Final JUDGMENT are high indeed:
If ELKM finds CREATION Very Good, He would FINISH or end His Work, and enter the Sabbath. In other words: He would ABSTAIN from creating more creatures, ABSTAIN from Judging, and allow the World to enter the Next Day, the Seventh, the so called the Eternal Sabbath. (to abstain in Hebrew is Shabat. ELKM does not rest. He abstains.)
If ELKM would not find CREATION Very Good, He would FINISH or terminate it with wrath to nothingness, khalah!
The Threat is real, since ELKM had terminated numerous other Universes before ours (Rashi)
Who would elevate CREATION?
Since the Universe can’t elevate itself from being ‘good’ to ’very good’ in ELKM’s eyes,
Only the advent of Adam in it, the last to be created, could make this happening.
But how could Adam achieve such an enormous task?
Could Adam withstand ELKM’s harsh scrutiny, and win?
The rabbis said: No way. Adam would certainly fail.
Equipped with a strong Free Will, strong Self-Consciousness and powerful Bad Drives, Adam would have had no chance to become Very Good in ELKM’s eyes. The outcome of his trial was doomed in advance.
2: ELKM invited the Merciful YHVH
Recognizing the inevitable bad outcome of Adam’s final Judgment, ELKM in His kindness decided to offer him a better chance to win his trial and enter the next Day.
ELKM therefore turned to another Attribute of the CREATOR, the Attribute of MERCY, Y-H-V-H, and asked Her to join Him, saying:
“Let Us….” The tone of these words differs from the previous Commands He had issued during the Six Days, like “Let it be Light” or “Let the luminaries be seen in the sky.” This time He said “Let Us…” which sounds as if He was ‘consulting’ or even ‘begging’ the Merciful Y-H-V-H to join in the making of Adam. Yes, these last two options are true at the same time, as we’ll soon see.
Truly, the advent of MERCY in the NEW HEAVENLY COURT, of YHVH ELKM, would give Adam a better chance to survive his trial.
YHVH’s Presence in the new Heavenly Court, would help to postpone the final verdict, would allow Adam to REPENT, ask FORGIVENESS and start all over again; things unheard of under the previous Court of ‘ELKM alone.’
A human judge should emulate the Heavenly Court: The judge should first find out the whole truth and nothing but the truth and issue a truthful verdict, considering only justice. Then the judge would apply mercy to ameliorate or sweeten the verdict, if the case deserves it.
“Hear (Shema) Oh Israel,
Note that both ELKM and YHVH are Attributes of the One, Nameless, Infinite CREATOR who is beyond our conception and above any description. He/She reveals Himself to us by one of His numerous titles or Attributes at the appropriate time. At CREATION, He set on the Throne of Absolute Judgment as ELKM. Before making Adam, He revealed Himself to the world ALSO as the Attribute of MERCY, YHVH.
Note also that the Attributes ELKM and YHVH negate each other, and it takes a mental concentration and deep understanding to Unite them into ‘One and Only.’ As Moses said
YHVH, our ELKM
YHVH is One”
In summary so far; there are two Heavenly Courts:
ELKM’s Court, when He judged the Six Days awesomely alone,
YHVH ELKM Court, comprised of Mercy and Judgment, where the Attribute consult each other, in a constant Heavenly Dialogue, to issue a common Verdict! This Court made Adam, and we still live today under its jurisdiction.
3: ‘YHVH’ in the Ten Commandments
In our study of IDOLATRY, we’ve arrived at a new Holy Name: Y-H-V-H.
As you recall, 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
We have begun by studying the First, ‘positive’ Commandment that tells us the CREATOR’S Names. .
We have already studied the Holy Name ELKM, from Genesis Chapter One.
Now we’ll study the second Name, Y-H-V-H, also using Genesis Chapter One. As you see, the miraculous Chapter One leads you from one Attribute to another, from ELKM to YHVH.
Y-H-V-H is an acronym, made from the following words:
haYa (he was)
HoVeh (he is)
yHyeh (he will be)
Some translate it as Eternal but that is Inaccurate, since ELKM too is Eternal.
The acronym expresses the idea that the Attribute Y-H-V-H was before, is now, and will be active even when other Attributes, such as ELKM, have ceased to work!
Note that Y-H-V-H, as an acronym, should be pronounced as an acronym: letter by letter; the way you pronounce C-B-S, N-B-C, C-N-N. There are absolutely NO VOWELS spaced in-between the consonants Y-H-V-H.
Hence pronouncing it as JeHoVah, Yehowah or Yahwah is erroneous, betraying a total ignorance of the acronym’s meaning.
In Hebrew, the Name is pronounced letter by letter: Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh.
And yes, Y-H-V-H is the Attribute of MERCY, COMPASSION, FORGIVENESS, HOLINESS and LOVE.
1: The Groom who walks towards His Bride
But there is another metaphor for the relationship between the Attributes YHVH and ELKM, based on the same verse:”Let Us Make an Adam in Our Form and Our Image.”
The verse may sound as if ELKM is begging the Attribute of MERCY, YHVH, to join Him in creating Adam.
The story goes like this:
Way before making Adam, just after the Midday Trial of the Sixth Day,
ELKM the JUDGE turned to the Attribute of MERCY, Y-H-V-H, who Dwells in next Day, the Eternal Sabbath, and asked her:
Would you come over and to join me in ruling my world?
“And the Heavens and the Earth and all their hosts were FINISHED (Va-ye-khulu)
Not only the tone of His Words was softer than before, as if begging,
a new ‘look’ appeared in His eyes, a look of LONGING,
not unlike the longing of a Groom to meet his beloved Bride.
Remember, everything we say must be encored in the verses!
Who could be ELKM’s BRIDE?
She is either the Sabbath, or
Y-H-V-H who rules the Sabbath.
A hint for that lies in the verse, which says at the end of the Sixth Day:
And ELKM FINISHED (‘Khilah’) all His Work that He had done…”
The Hebrew word selected here for “finished”, Va-Ye-khu-lu, is derived from khalah, which may simply mean ‘ended peacefully.’ But as we’ve already seen, khalah can also mean “Consumed to nothingness” with wrath. This is the source for the two possible outcomes of the End of Day’s trial: either ELKM would finish, end his work peacefully, or khalah! Terminate His work with wrath.
Now we’ve arrived at a third meaning of khalah: A BRIDE!
Indeed, what is a bride, if not someone whom your heart is consumed with longing to meet?
Hence, at the End of the Sixth Day, our Day,
ELKM will conduct a comprehensive trial.
If ELKM has met, here in His world, His BRIDE the khalah, the Sabbath, or YHVH, He would feel ‘Very Good’ and allow CREATION to enter the next Day.
‘If ELKM has not met, here in His world, His BRIDE the khalah, then He would feel ‘very bad’ and deem CREATION to be ‘Very Bad’ and terminate it to nothingness, khalah.
Either I see my khlah, my Bride,
Or you may see khalah, annihilation!
Where does YHVH the BRIDE dwell?
YHVH reigns ‘alone’ over the next Day, the Eternal Sabbath.
ELKM has reigned ‘awesomely alone’ over the Six Days, before creating Adam.
ELKM is also called “the power that fills the World,” like the heart fills the body remember: ELKM Name appears 32 or Lb times in Chapter One; where Lb is ‘a heart’ in Hebrew)
YHVH is also called “the power that surrounds all worlds” and all attributes. When the Attributes clash or debate, YHVH usually prevails.
Note that the Eternal Sabbath is not another Floor over our Six Floor Universe.
It is, rather, the next phase of our ENTIRE Universe, which encompasses all other Floors. It is a phase into the entire Six Floor building would enter.
On the Eternal Sabbath ELKM will ABSTAIN from doing more work, ABSTAIN from doing more Judgment, ABSTAIN from inflicting punishments or giving rewards. It is a Day that knows no SORROW nor DEATH, but also no BIRTH. It is a Day full of LOVE, JOY and HOLINESS.
Our weekly Sabbath is only a taste of the true, Eternal Sabbath.
The Attribute’s gender
Neither YHVH nor ELKM has any gender. We tend to refer to YHVH in female terms, since MERCY, in Hebrew racham, comes from the word rachem, a womb. Indeed, it was Eve who perceived YHVH in full force after giving birth to Cain. Eve saw YHVH out of her own womb.
If so, we tend to refer to ELKM in masculine terms, in order to separate the Attributes.
Note that in Kabalistic literature, YHVH is sometimes described in masculine terms, and ELKM in feminine ones. ELKM in that context is perceived as the Female ‘Master of the House’, who provides and nourishes the world.
If you enter a Synagogue on Friday evening, at the “Welcome the Sabbath” service, you hear the congregation chanting: “Walk My Groom Towards the Bride.” It Is a very moving, joyful service. The Bride is either (1) The Sabbath (2) Creation (3) YHVH who dwells in the Sabbath (Rabbi Dov Soloveichick Z”TL)
2: A Heavenly Plan to make Adam
Answering ELKM’s invitation, YHVH entered our World-
As a thin Ray of Light, or
As shy Dove, or
As a beautiful Cherub.
She then OBSERVED ELKM’s world, not unlike a BRIDE entering her GROOM’s Home for the first time, assessing its furniture, living spaces, wondering whether She would FEEL comfortable dwelling there.
What did She say?
No one was there to record their ensuing Heavenly Dialogue. Tradition holds, that assessing our world, YHVH raised the following questions:
1. “How can I share with you your World, ELKM, where there is not creature capable of comprehending me and performing my work?”
Indeed, can the spider, crocodile or the snake comprehend MERCY, COMPASSION and FORGIVENESS? Even if these species would develop an intelligent, scientific society, could they ever comprehend YHVH’s features? No way!
2: “How can I share with you your world, ELKM, where there is no Place for me to REST my Wings?”
Indeed, in Her Domain, the Eternal Sabbath, Y-H-V-H needs no rest, for She neither creates nor judges nor works there. She seeks to ‘rest’ only here, in ELKM’S World. And wherever She would rest, be it our heart, our Temple or our weekly Sabbath, YHVH would fill it with Her Joy, Love, Forgiveness and Holiness.
Who then rests on the Sabbath?
Note that in the Ten Commandments, Moses says: “Thou shall observe the Sabbath…for YHVH has rested in it” (Exodus 20: 11.) The verb ‘rest’ never appears connected to ELKM. On the Sabbath He would ABSTAIN, but not ‘rest.’ It is only YHVH who seeks to rest on our Sabbath in this world.
3: Let Us Make an Adam
“Let Us Make and Adam in Our Form and Our Image.”
Having heard the BRIDE’S hesitations, ELKM the ‘GROOM’ said:
Adam will be our child,
In his heart, you could dwell…. if he invites you
In his Sabbath, you could rest...if he observes it
In his heart, we would Meet and Consummate our Love…
He will do your work in my world, if he listens to our advice….
Note that ELKM would NOT fill Adam’s heart with MERCY, COMPASSION, FOGIGIVENSS and HOLINESS. This is not what ELKM would do.
But ELKM would ‘carve out’ a room in Adam’s heart for YHVH, something He had never done with any other creature before, or in any Universe before.
He leaves it to Adam to invite the Merciful Y-H-V-H into his heart to dwell in there, so that She would defend him in the Heavenly Court.
As YHVH says to Moses: “And they (Israel) shall build me a Dwelling Place (Tabernacle, Mishkhan) and I shall Dwell IN THEM,” (Exodus 25:8)). “It does not say ‘Dwell Among Them’ but rather ‘In Them’ meaning inside their heart” (Midrash.)
The aspect of YHVH that Dwells in our heart (and in the Tabernacle between the Golden Cherubs) is the Shekhinah, the Dweller.
Increasing our liability
The advent of the Merciful YHVH in the Heavenly Court, increases our chances to win our trial.
On the other hand, the advent of Her increases our liability, since we need to ‘find face’ in Her eyes too, besides becoming Very Good in ELKM’s eyes.
In other words, we stand ELKM’s Judgment, and YHVH’s assessment.
4: Consolidating the World with Oneness
YHVH agreed, and the two Attributes ‘Flew’ over CREATION, Consolidating it by their mutual Love and Oneness.
Like two Cherubs in Love, Wing against Wing they flew over the entire Six Days, ‘establishing’ them so that they would not falter.
This is how Moses depicted them on the Holy Ark: two Cherubs holding Wing against Wing, their faces of a boy and a girl looking at each other with LOVE.
(The detail of this primordial Consolidation is given in the story of Eden, as we’ll soon learn.)
The Levite Choir of the Holy Temple used to chant every day a Psalm song that describes the events of CREATION that occurred on that Day.
On every sixth day of the week (Friday) the Choir sang the following Psalm:
“YHVH has reigned….
The World was CONSOLIDATED…
Henceforth it would not falter…”
In this Psalm song, the Choir recalled the events of the Sixth Day of CREATION, when YHVH ‘consolidated’ the world so that it would not falter.
5: Where does YHVH appears the first time in the verses?
At the End of the Sixth Day it says:
"And ELoKiM said let the Earth bring forth creatures, Cattle, creeping things,
And ELoKiM made the animals…cattle…and everything creeping
And ELoKiM saw that is was good,
And ELoKiM created Adam in His Image
And ELoKiM blessed them saying be fruitful and multiply
And ELoKim said let us make Adam in our form and our image
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 aShishi, (Sixth) (was over) (Genesis 1:31)
VaYechulu (and they ended)
HaShamyim (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..." (Genesis 2: 1-2)
“And ELKM said: Let Us Make an Adam in Our Form and Our Image.”
Here the Sixth Day, ruled by ELoKiM, is painted red
The Sabbath Day, ruled by YHVH, is painted blue
And as you see, the Acronym YHVH penetrates our Sixth Day from the Sabbath,
Half of the Acronym, the Y-H, dwells in our Sixth Day,
The other half, the V-H, still dwells in the Sabbath Day.
You can see in the Text how YHVH assesses our Sixth Day.
YHVH is like a lighthouse that shows our Universe the way to proceed in history.
Her presence here, the Y-H, acts like an encore that holds our World from wobbling, from getting lost in the Super Space.
Take YHVH away from us, from our heart, and the world would be lost. If YHVH is not here, our Universe would be left in the Hand of ELKM, and would be terminated under his HARSH Judgment, to khalah!
Allow ELKM to meet His BRIDE, the khalah, and the World would travel smoothly towards Her Domain, the Sabbath.
6: The Ideal, Very Good Adam
Now we can comprehend better how can Adam become Very Good in ELKM’s eyes.
If Adam invites the MERCIFUL YHVH into his heart, and UNITE Her with ELKM in his heart, mind and actions, Adam would make the Groom feel Very Good about His entire work, the entire CREATION, and would allow it to see the next Day.
Moreover, YHVH’s presence in Adam heart would feel his heart with Her JOY, WARMTH, MERCY, COMPASSION, and HOLINESS. Adam would become more than just another creature on the evolution ladder.
Without YHVH in his heart, Adam would remain an animal, though a smart one. But without YHVH in his heart, his smartness would lead him to self- destruction. Or better said: without YHVH in Adam’s heart, ELKM would bring the entire world to termination, khalah.
Adam is born to BECOME Very Good
You see this in the verse.
Prior to the making of Adam, ELKM said:
But since neither ELKM nor YHVH has any ‘form’ or ‘image,’ what does the verse really say?
Tradition explains (Rashi) that the verse should be read as if ELKM had an “Image and Form” of an ideal Adam on His Mind, when He spoke these words.
This ‘ideal Adam’ would bring YHVH into his heart and unit Her with ELKM, in his mind, heart and actions, thereby becoming a Very Good Adam.
Adam was not readily made an ideal creature.
Adam was made to become that “Form and Image” of him, that ELKM had on His mind.
Adam was made to embark on a personal and historical journey, where he would GRADUALLY learn about YHVH, learn to appreciate Her, learn how to invite her into his heart, unite her with ELKM, and become Very Good in ELKM’s eyes.
This may take many years, perhaps the entire human history.
Adam would never stop growing. He would have to constantly improve himself, not only in science and technology, but rather with his understanding and accepting the Merciful YHVH.
Therefore the next verse says:
“ELKM (then) created the Adam in His Image,
In the Image of ELKM He created him,” (Genesis 1: 7)
“….That which ELKM has created, to do.”
Although ELKM had said in plural voice: “Let Us Make Adam made Adam in Our Form and Our Image,” the next verse says otherwise, that ELKM made Adam in HIS Image. The verse, in fact, repeats it twice, to emphasize the point.
Because ELKM did make Adam, first of all, in His Image. He endowed Adam with all the tools and talents to thrive and be a king in his habitat, Earth. He gave Adam a precious Free Will, Self-Consciousness, a smart Mind, and powerful Passions and Desires. Adam can emulate ELKM.
At the same time, ELKM prepared a room in Adam’s heart, capable of accepting and harboring the Merciful YHVH and Her values. This way Adam would grow, personally and in history, and be Very Good in ELKM’s eyes.
Adam would gradually become Very Good and move towards the Eternal Sabbath.
These are not empty words.
This idea is reflected throughout the Book of Genesis.
Adam would first learn about YHVH in Eden, then on earth through Eve, Enosh, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Each story adds another aspect of YHVH tp be learned.
Adam is still learning. Mankind has been slowly moving from idolatry towards the understanding of YHVH. The road is still waiting, as the verse says:
Yes, there is still so much TO DO in history!
From here on, whenever you read the Torah text, PAY ATTENTION TO THE SPEAKER: IS IT YHVH OR ELKM? Much of the "confusions" would be immediately solved!
7: SOME POINTS TO THINK ABOUT
“Hear O Israel, YHVH is our ELKM,
(1) Had ELoKiM continued to rule the World awesomely alone, He would have terminated it with wrath.
(2) Had YHVH ruled ELKM’s world awesomely alone, this would have also brought its destruction. For without fearing ELKM, who wouldn’t sin? Or if any sin is assured to be forgiven, who wouldn’t sin?
(3) Our World is ruled by YHVH ELoKiM in Oneness
(4) The Torah focuses not on the futuristic Sabbath, but rather on our Sixth Day. Or better said: on the transition between our Sixth Day to the Sabbath.
(5) YHVH ELoKiM’s Oneness is not only a philosophical principle. There is, rather, a COMMAND to UNITE the Opposing Attributes into One, in our courts, our hearts and our lives.
(6) In her Domain, the Eternal Sabbath, YHVH does not appear as Merciful and Compassionate. After all, in the Sabbath there is neither sin nor retribution, no suffering and no pains. It is only in our World, ELKM’s world, that Her Light assumes the value of MERCY, COMPASSION and FOGIVENSS, in contrast to ELKM and His ways.
Note also that in Her Domain, YHVH neither judge not form a Heavenly Court. The Sabbath is a Day of unconditional loved without judgment. It is only here n our world that YHVH has accommodated Herself to Her Groom ELKM, and agreed to assess Adam by Her criteria, which are deferent than ELKM’s criteria.
(7) The ‘part’ of YHVH that penetrates our World, the Y-H, is also called The Shekhinah, meaning “the Dweller.”
The Y-H may be pronounced Yah, like in Jeremiah, Isaiah. But the full Acronym Y-H-V-H is always pronounced as such, LETTER BY LETTER! The V-H is pronounced letter by letter.
(8) YHVH is more than a BRIDE. Her presence in ELKM’s World is perceived as a BRIDE. But in truth, YHVH encompasses everything, even the Attribute ELKM. The Infinite Nameless CREATOR chose to appear first to the world as a JUDGE, who pays back measure for measure. But this sort of judgment is also an expression of MERCY, since it is a mercy for the world to see wicked people being punished.
When Mussolini was hung by the mob in the same square where he had cursed G-d, it was an expression of Mercy to the world.
Deeply thinking, ELKM and his Absolute Justice are MERCY to the world!.
(9) This is why Moses told Israel:
YHVH is One”
Although we live now under YHVH ELKM, we move in history towards YHVH alone.
Although YHVH is now the G-d of Israel, in the future YHVH will be the One for all nations (Rahsi)
Or better: We live now under the Heavenly Court of YHVH ELKM, but in fact YHVH is the only One!
Hear it! Think of it!
(10) Moses placed the two Golden Cherubs over the Holy Ark, to designate the two Attributes YHVH and ELKM, like a BRIDE AND A GROOM looking at each other in Heavenly Love (there are other interpretations.) Yet the Shekhinah of YHVH spoke to the Prophet of Israel from the Space Under the Wings, indicating that YHVH is more than a BRIDE. We’ll learn more of it in the story of Eden.)
Having learned about YHVH and ELKM, the names in line 2 of Moses’ Ten Commandments, the time has come to move on and study Moses’ line 3: YHVH ELKM’S KINGSHIP.
END OF TORAH CLASS IDOLATRY10