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Volume 11 Issue 3
January 2017Teves 5777

Zeh Aliy : This is My God
 

This is My God

 

 One of the names of God, El, or Ayl, generally connoting “All-powerful,” or “Mighty,” comes up repeatedly in Scripture, as here (Exodus 15:2):

 

“This is my God - “zeh (this is) Aliy (my God)” – and I will glorify Him.”

 

Obviously, we’re speaking here of the One and only God – HaShem, Y, H, V and H, God of the Ivri – and no substitute or idol.

 

The Scripture in Exodus immediately continues (the Jews, singing at the seashore, just experienced the splitting of the waters and the drowning of Pharaoh’s Army. Their fathers’ God clobbered it, along with the “gods” of Egypt, further reinforcing the Bible’s central message: Who your God is matters):

 

“My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.”

 

Question. What if your father wasn’t Jewish and never heard of El, the God of the Ivri, the Hebrews? What if he believed in some idol, or in God Himself, but only – God forbid - by some misleading other “Name” for God? Does that mean that you can’t say zeh aliy, “This is my God ?”

 

“Let all who walk the earth recognize and know that You alone are the God over all the kingdoms of the earth.”
Ancient Jewish prayer, recited daily in the morning worship service

 

1) You are not your father. Blessed with knowledge unknown to him; blessed with the liberty to form and follow your own convictions that circumstances probably denied him, you can make an election; you can choose God.

 

2) Superior knowledge of God and godliness is the very definition of human progress; the whole point of Israel’s tenure on Earth is bringing all of humanity (not just the Jewish branch of it!), “under the wings of the Divine Presence” – under the “wings” of God.

 

3) The King of the Universe Himself calls to you – and all the world with you – to make that election, to worship, serve and honor Him, as your personal God, your only God.

 

This is First Covenant religion, the religion of the Ivri (the Hebrews), and all who follow the God of Abraham. It comes from the start of mankind’s adventures with God – from Adam and Eve, Noah, Methusalah, Shem and Abraham, among others – and, while it’s connected to Judaism, it’s not limited to any particular group of people: it’s for everybody.

Part of the great charm of the First Covenant is that it doesn’t require anybody to adopt this religion. Nor any religion.

 

A friend asks, “Why not Ten Commandments, why just seven (the 7M, the sheva mitzvot, the First Covenant’s Seven Noahide Commandments)”?

 

Because, while all Divine legislation has common elements, they are different sets of laws, with no Seven Commandments rules enforceable by police and courts against Noahides violating the seventh day Sabbath (Shabbot/shabbos), for instance, nor requiring you to worship any gods, or God.

 

The 10 Commandments are a holiness Code, for the People of Israel, to be enforced in Jewish Torah courts, only, pursuant to the covenant with Israel at Sinai; the First Covenant’s Seven Commandments are for everybody.

 

The First Covenant Law does not compel anyone in the matter of belief, religious or otherwise. It’s just that the wisdom in the law [a mere seventeen Hebrew syllables establishing a comprehensive definition of what it means to be human AND a complete law code!], together with the context of the law, in Scripture and history, are powerful proof of a) the great holiness of the Torah and the First Covenant system; and b) that everybody ought to follow Abraham and the Way of the Ivri, and worship God alone!

 

Nobody’s compelled.

 

Happy Hanukah

 

Hanukah – pronounced with an initial guttural, a gargling sort of h, often transliterated with a ch: chanukah – is one of the many “hooks” or draws of the Hebrew Revolution. Growing up, some of us ourselves would probably have been lost to Judaism and Torah, God forbid, but for Hanukah.

 

We wish you a happy holiday, if you wish to observe it. Hanukah starts, this year, just after Shabbot (shabbos), after dark on December 24th. It’s celebrated every night thereafter, with the lighting of candles, and special prayers, and food, and gift-giving, for seven more nights, until the evening of the 1st.

 

People mostly focus on the Hanukah miracle – against Christianity’s “birth of the god,” it’s “the oil for the lamp lasted for an unusually long time” – but the big miracle of Hanukah was the Jewish People fighting a blood-drenched war against the vast power of the Alexandrine Syrian-Greek Empire over 20-years, until the Empire collapsed.

 

Even the Vietnamese, in modern times, didn’t fight a war so costly, in terms of lives and wasted treasure per capita, or so long.

A great historical novel about the war, based largely on the ancient Biblical Apocrypha, Maccabees I and Maccabees II (found in Catholics’ Bibles), is “My Glorious Brothers,” by the best-selling author, the late Howard Fast.

It was, for us, a life-changing book. Years later, enthusiastically, we lent it to our teacher, an aged “black hat” or “yeshivish” – not at all a “modern Orthodox” – rabbi. Who hated it (what little he read of it). He thought of the Macabees, the “glorious brothers,” as “highly spiritual people,” as he put it; as devout Torah scholars who happened to be brilliant military leaders, not remotely like the hot-blooded characters of the novel.

 

This didn’t change our feelings for our teacher, nor his for us. We had a lot more that connected us than that!

 

Often, we’ve noticed a spirit of divisiveness among First Covenant people. When people don’t see eye to eye on any subject, they tend to break off contact.

 

We’ve commented on this before: that people who follow a path as rational and ineluctable – as logically unavoidable, inevitable and sensible - as the Path of Abraham shouldn’t need to keep company with vast assemblies of co-believers in order to reinforce their beliefs.

 

Still, it would be nice if such good folks as our friends and members could enjoy more fellowship with co-believers.

What would you like to tell us on this subject?

 

By Michael Dallen



We call on God for help. As the prayer that Israel says every morning just before reciting the Hebrew statement of faith known as the shema asks (please understand that this is richer in Hebrew than English): Our Father, the merciful Father, Who acts mercifully, have mercy on us, instill in our hearts to understand and elucidate, to listen, learn, teach, safeguard, perform and fulfill all the words of Your Torah's teachings with love. Enlighten our eyes in Your Torah, attach our hearts to Your commandments, and unify our hearts to love and fear Your Name. Amen.

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