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Drash on Yitro 2024

Rabbi Dr Orna Triguboff

Emanuel Synagogue

A God Allergy

“The God you don’t believe in is also the God I don’t believe in!” says Rabbi David Ingbar. The grey-bearded man on a throne in heaven, with clouds about, isn’t an image many of us can relate to.

Yet there are many names for God in Judaism, which reflect the different ways we can connect with the divine. In the first two of the ten commandments, God is referred to as YHVH and the One who took us out of Egypt. Let’s focus on the 4-letter Name of God – YHVH. Sages throughout the ages have pointed to the fact that if one rearranges the letters of this unpronounceable name, we arrive at the words:

HaYaH – past
HoVeH  – present
YiHYeH – future

This relates to the idea that God can be experienced as a timelessness or a feeling of being “beyond time”. When we have that feeling, we are connecting with the divine.

The word can also be rearranged to create the word:

HaVaYaH – ‘existence’, ‘experience’ and ‘being’

This relates to the idea that when you are simply present to an experience or when you are aware of the interconnectedness of all beings you are experiencing God.

Since in this week’s parashah we read the Ten Commandments, it is a good opportunity to contemplate this name of God and consider how you relate to it.

Similarly, the idea that God is the Liberator, gives us another guide for this week’s contemplation.

We ask ourselves: What can give each of us a new and improved sense of freedom? How can I actively partner with God to make me feel more liberated?

One of the fascinating sages of 13th Century Spain was Avraham Abulafia. He wrote manuals on meditation connected to the different names of God, one of them being connected to breath, sound, the letters YHVH and the number 10. If you would like to be included in an online class on Abulafia’s ‘Name of Ten’ Meditation, you are welcome to join.

Here is how to book:

Shabbat Shalom and Am Yisrael Chai.

Find more Parashat Hashavua