My Religion Is ....
Labels, some say, are meaningless. But labels help define us. They inform others who we are. They even help us know ourselves.
Who are we? What to call someone who worships God the Father, blessed be He; the Savior, God of Abraham? In our last missive [Sharing the Power, July 2016 Covenant Connection] we asked that (“My Religion Is…”), in the context of a friend saying, “I’m Jewish, except that I’m not Jewish. My religion is Jewish even though I’m a gentile.”
Right away, we heard one word: Ivri.
Dimitar Kosev, a First Covenant man, a Noahide gentleman who produces and processes rose oil in rural Kazanlak, Bulgaria, wrote back. "Ivri is the name of one who worships HaShem,” he says. “The man beyond the stupidity of society.”
The Bible speaks of Abram Ha’Ivri - Abram “the Hebrew” (Genesis 14:13), or, as the Midrash (ancient commentary) has it, Abram “from the other side.” This, of course, is the man known to all subsequent generations as Abraham, “the father of nations,” the prophet. Abraham is the spiritual father not just of the Jewish People but of all who worship God.
He came m’aiver, “from the other side” of the Euprhrates River (Joshua 23:3). The Midrash says that Ivri – Hebrew – comes from “the other side.”
“All the world was on one side, but Abraham was on the ‘other side.’”
(Rabbi Yehuda, Midrash, Genesis Rabbah 42:8).
Just to be clear, he, Abraham, is the devoted servant and prophet of God, blessed be He, the “jealous God” of Exodus 34:14: Who overflows truth and righteousness and abominates oppression and cruelty and vile false powers.
God, as Moses does His best to paint a picture of Him to Pharaoh, is “the God the Hebrews” - the God of the Ivrim (Exodus 3:18). He’s called HaShem, among other holy Names, blessed be they, including El, and Yah, Shaddai, and Adon.
Ivrim [plural of Ivri] are His followers.
This name Ivri defines Abraham and his spiritual descendants, Dimitar writes: Ivri is the universal title for those who chose the derech HaShem, the Way of God. “And let me say something heretical,” he adds. “B’nei Israel, the Jewish People, are a branch of the Ivri, along with certain B’nei No’ach.”
Ivri share a fundamentally Hebrew – “from the other side” - conception of ultimate values, and how the world works, says Dimitar. Ivri stand in opposition to the whole world of men in their appreciation of God and righteousness. This understanding is based, in large part, on Hebrew concepts, flowing from the Torah of Israel and the ancient wisdom of the Ivri.
Today, in our time, Ivri are mainly, but not entirely, the Jewish People. Some are No’achides.
“I have the sense that there’s a sea of people who’ve chosen the derech HaShem [the Path of HaShem],” Dimitar writes. “Becoming an Ivri is a personal achievement for a No’achide.”
By Michael Dallen