‘Praise God’ could never be wrong in my book

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - RELIGION - RABBI MARC GELLMAN Send ALL QUES­TIONS AND COM­MENTS to The God Squad via email at god­squadques­tion@aol.com. Rabbi Gellman is the au­thor of sev­eral books, in­clud­ing “Reli­gion for Dum­mies,” co-writ­ten with Fr. Tom Hart­man.

Q: Why not gdsquad or g-dsquad? — From S

A: Af­ter Ed­ward Ev­erett vis­ited the Uni­tar­ian Church in Bos­ton he re­marked that the only time he heard God men­tioned was when the jan­i­tor fell down the steps.

We tend to use God’s name most of­ten as a curse in front of the word “damn,” and this is deeply dis­tress­ing to me. God’s name should be a pref­ace to joy and grat­i­tude — not anger and vengeance. That is the rea­son for the com­mand­ment to not take the name of the Lord God in vain. By pro­tect­ing the way we use the name of God, we pro­tect what we think about God — or what we ought to think about God. So a plea to us all: let us find a way to curse that does not splat­ter God with ver­bal mud.

An­other way to honor the com­mand­ment ac­cord­ing to many ortho­dox Jewish friends of mine, as well as oth­ers, is to re­frain from writ­ing the word “God,” but in­stead to write “G-d.” In spo­ken dis­course they will re­place the name God with the phrase “ha-shem” which means “the name.” The He­brew phrase for “our God” is “elo­heinu,” and they will pur­posely change that to “elokeinu,” which has no mean­ing but is a the­o­log­i­cally mod­est sub­sti­tu­tion.

My view about all this is that, as I said, we should never swear us­ing God’s name, and we ought to be care­ful in all other ways to speak God’s name with rev­er­ence. In Is­lam, Mus­lims, show­ing just such rev­er­ence, af­ter speak­ing the name of the prophet Muham­mad al­ways add the phrase, “Peace be upon him,” and Muham­mad was a prophet, not God. Rev­er­ence for the holy leads to rev­er­ence for all that is good. How­ever, writ­ing “G-d” does not work for me as an act of rev­er­ence be­cause “God” is NOT God’s name. God is from the Ger­man word “Gott,” not the He­brew word that is ac­tu­ally God’s name. In He­brew, God’s name is a four-let­ter name, YHWH. (He­brew: yod, hey, vav, hey). Sec­u­lar bib­li­cal schol­ars who are un­con­strained by re­li­gious cus­toms try to ren­der that name into English as Yah­weh. This name mor­phed into the English ver­sion, Je­ho­vah, as in Je­ho­vah’s Wit­nesses.

So I am OK with God and with God Squad but mostly I am OK with the phrase, “Praise God,” or the re­sponse to nearly ev­ery­thing in my life, “Thank you

God.” If this is wrong, I

hope they have a spellcheck pro­gram in Heaven.

***

Q: If God blessed the sev­enth day of the week, why do most peo­ple at­tend church on the first day? — From K

A: The two ways reli­gions dif­fer­en­ti­ate their be­liefs is by hav­ing dif­fer­ent be­liefs and dif­fer­ent cal­en­dars. By mak­ing the Sab­bath Sun­day and not Satur­day, Chris­tian­ity sep­a­rated its weekly cal­en­dar from Ju­daism and made it im­pos­si­ble to be both an ob­ser­vant Chris­tian and an ob­ser­vant Jew.

The early Chris­tians ob­served the Sab­bath like

Jews, but by the fourth cen­tury the reli­gions were suf­fi­ciently sep­a­rated. Sun­day, which was called The Lord’s Day from the be­gin­ning of Chris­tian­ity be­cause it was the day of the res­ur­rec­tion of Je­sus, be­came the of­fi­cial Sab­bath day for Chris­tians. The 17th-cen­tury West­min­ster Con­fes­sion of the Pres­by­te­ri­ans, states the at­ti­tude of most all of Chris­tian­ity,

“(God) hath par­tic­u­larly ap­pointed one day in seven, for a Sab­bath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the be­gin­ning of the world to the res­ur­rec­tion of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the res­ur­rec­tion of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scrip­ture, is called the Lord’s day, and is to be con­tin­ued to the end of the world, as the Chris­tian Sab­bath.”

In­ter­est­ingly, the Sev­enth Day Ad­ven­tist Chris­tians still ob­serve the Sab­bath like Jews from sun­down on Fri­day evening un­til sun­down on Satur­day evening. (But our chicken soup is bet­ter than their chicken soup!) ***

Note: My mail­box has ex­ploded with kind notes from so many of you, dear read­ers, who ap­pre­ci­ated my sign from Tommy. My mes­sage from Tommy that my dad Sol “is in charge” and that Heaven is more beau­ti­ful than I could ever imag­ine came to me through a friend, Michael, who is not a pro­fes­sional medium. It was a pure com­mu­ni­ca­tion of love and con­nec­tion through a dear friend from my best friend who is not with me since his death but whom I know now is with me for­ever. Thank you all for be­ing so kind and gen­tle with my gift and thank you for shar­ing your gift of mes­sages and signs from the next world that death is not the end of us.

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