- אבד תאבדון את־כל־המקמות אשׁר עבדו־שׁם הגוים אשׁר אתם ירשׁים אתם את־אלהיהם על־ההרים הרמים ועל־הגבעות ותחת כל־עץ רענן׃
לא־תעשׂון כן ליהוה אלהיכם׃
You must destroy all the places where the nations you are dispossessing served their gods, whether on high mountains, on hills, or under some leafy tree. Break down their altars, smash their standing-stones to pieces, burn up their sacred poles completely and cut down the carved images of their gods. Exterminate their name from that place. "But you are not to treat Adonai your God this way."
(Deu 12:2-4 CJB)
THE MANY WAYS TO DEFACE GOD'S NAME.
"But you are not to treat Adonai your God this way." says Moshe by the mouth of Adonai. All these things that we are told to do to pagan shrines and names in HaShem's Land, we are not to do to Him nor to His Name.
*We must take note here that this commandment is specific to the shrines and names of pagan deities in the Land of Cana'an, not the pagans themselves not their temples and shrines anywhere else in the world!
On a literal level, within the Jewish community, this commandment has taken the form of not writing the Sacred Ineffable Name in any place where it could be soiled or defaced, such as:
- Clothing that ends up in the laundry basket alongside undergarments and soiled clothing.
- Bumper stickers that gets soiled with mud
- Anywhere where it can be discarded in a common fashion.
Another application of this commandment is to treat sacred books with respect, as in not taking them to a bathroom, or laying them on the floor using them as a footstool. It is traditional in Judaism that due to the possibility of prayer books being mishandled, HaShem’s name is inferred to with a double yod.
In ancient times, HaShem's Name was to never be mentioned except within the precincts of the Temple or for sacred ritual/ceremonial purposes. That is why the Tanach and the Brit mostly use circumlocution when referring to HaShem. Yeshua Himself used some of these circumlocutions. He referred to His own Father as:
- 'Father' אבא,
- 'Heaven' שמים,
- 'God' אלהים,
PAPA OR ...
As far we know through written records, Yeshua never referred to Him by any particular name. This practice is very much in line with the principle that we do not call our earthly fathers by their first name, but by their title: Papa, or Daddy. Even Paul was never recorded as referring HaShem by anything else but the accepted circumlocutions except perhaps in the Temple. Paul also tells us that the Spirit of HaShem within us calls out, "Abba אבא Father" (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6).
RESPECT THROUGH TITLES
I fear that our modern society has lost some sort of respect for things such as sacred buildings, places, books, or even people. This is a great irony as in truth, even in our society we are taught to not address earthly important personalities by their first or family names either. We say, Mr President, Mr Speaker, your Honor, your Majesty, etc…
AN INTERESTING EXPERIMENT
I am aware that some may disagree with me about these rules concerning the Sacred Name, and even would tell me that since the Brit seems to infer that now WE are the "Temple of HaShem", we can use the Name. To this I would say that if we really believe that WE are the Temple of HaShem, we should never set foot in palaces of worldly materialism such as Malls and department stores. We should never watch TV or listen to worldly music, as through our eyes and ears, we would bring ungodliness into the Temple which is forbidden. And even if we were to completely go out of this world and live somewhere by ourselves in a cave, we would at this point discover that iniquity mostly comes from our hearts, not our environment. Thus the depth of the truth of the Words of the Master, "For out of the heart come forth wicked thoughts, murder, adultery and other kinds of sexual immorality, theft, lies, slanders. . . . "(Mat 15:19 CJB) would very much come true. I have actually done the experiment!
MORE WAYS TO DEFACE HIS NAME
On a midrashic level, there are some other ways in which we regularly deface HaShem's Name. The Tanach teaches us that we are made in the similitude and image of HaShem, therefore, whatever wrong we do to those made in His Image, we do to Him.
Here are some examples.
- Whenever we lie to someone made in His image, we lie to Him
- Whenever we kill one made in His image we kill Him.
- Whenever we defame someone made in His image, we defame Him.
- Whenever we steal from someone made in His image, we steal from Him.
- Whenever we publicly shame someone made in His image, we publicly shame Him. (Deut 20:8)
- Whenever we refuse help or charity to someone made in His image, we refuse help or charity to Him. (Deut 15:8)
- Whenever we disobey the rulings of the judges of Israel who judge by His image, we disobey Him (Deut 8-13).
In light of this, we need to remember that Yeshua our Rabbi and Master established for us a Sanhedrin composed of His disciples (Mat 19:28), appointment which started right at the first Shavuot after the resurrection as we read in Acts 2, and that was vindicated by the death of Ananias and Sephirah as recorded in Acts 5:1-14)
The examples are endless and this time when we enter the season of introspection that precedes the Fall Festivals should cause us to review some of the standards of our lives. We should ask ourselves:
"How may I be guilty of defacing HaShem's Name in my selfish-proud-argumentative-abrasive-condescending-overall wrong attitude towards my parents, my spouse, my children, my friends, and all those that are in contact with me?"
IMPORTANT NOTE CONCERNING THIS EXERCISE
Make sure not to do the opposite and search how others deface HaShem's Name by treating you wrongly. Remember...
The King will say to them,
'Yes! I tell you that whenever you did these things for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did them for me!'
(Mat 25:40 CJB)
... as they did it to you ..., they did it to me.'
MAY WE LEARN TO LOVE AND RESPECT HIM BY LOVING AND RESPECTING THOSE MADE IN HIS IMAGE.
R' Gabriel Lumbroso