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honoring God in the arts ...; ..without insulting the Jewish community
Topic Started: Oct 15 2007, 10:45 AM (1,834 Views)
HelenaZF
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"more is more"

This is just a thought about being aware when bringing hebraic influence into our arts ministry. We may have received the revelation about our Jewish roots and are zealous to honor God and bless Him with the symbols, words and images of the cultural idioms in the scriptures. But we must also be aware and sensitive to how those things are used. We want to bless Israel, not anger Jews unnecessarily.

Posted Image Tetragrammaton
One area of controversy can be the tetragramaton... the 4 Hebrew letters that represent God's name. Some Jews consider it too holy to be spoken, so they pronounce it "Adonai" (the Lord) or "Ha Shem" (the Name). Also, anything carrying "the Name" must be treated with honor, and when retired, destroyed in a specific way. As Christians seeking to bring honor to the Lord, we might wonder if it is even wise to use those 4 Hebrew letters. Some will warn against it, saying that it would be an offense to observant Jews. The truth really is that it can be very honoring to display the Name for both the Christian and the Jewish community.

I have a set of banners of the Covenant Names of God that have the tetragramaton of God's Name displayed on the banners, along with the english translation and other illuminating symbols and scriptures. A Jewish person seeing the banners would read them as "Adonai Shalom", 'Ha Shem Nissi" etc., and would not be offended by seeing the Name used on a Christian banner. They would probably, as a friend of mine pointed out, be more offended by the Name being pronounced out-loud as Yah-way or Jeh-hoe-vah. But writing out the four Hebrew letters is not a problem, as it is not being physically spoken.

Another area that comes under debate is the use of the tallit. Is it appropriate to use an actual tallit in our presentations? Just be aware that when using the tallit dramatically or in a dance choreography, that you should be careful not to allow the fringes (tzit-tzit) to touch the floor. Some dancers I know have "tallit-like" garments constructed so that the sense of using a tallit is obvious, but they are not using an actual tallit with knotted fringes. It is a matter of knowing a bit about the customs and idioms and being as respectful as possible as we minister with these important symbols.

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DeanZF
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I was contacted "off-forum" by someone who shared that "There never was the name Jehovah for God". I think that contact was prompted by this thread, so I'll answer it here.

Believe me when I say that we know that. Believe me also when I tell you that there is an equal or greater furor over exactly what Messiah's earthly name was. As a Gentile, I came to know Him as Jesus, and I call on Him in that way. He seems to hear and forgive me if I've gotten it wrong. :)

I am not making light of the issue. Helena & I both feel strongly that there is power in words and words used correctly. Under normal circumstances, we do not use the name "Jehovah" as we know that it is offensive to our Jewish friends, and that in offending them, we do not honor our God. If the original post in this thread is read carefully, that's obvious, I think.

HOWEVER, there is a place for everything. I am also a big believer in meeting people where they are rather than slapping them in the face with an intellectual correction. Something about drawing more flies/ants/people with the sweet savor of life than the vinegar that we might provide by that sort of correction. If Messiah were to come back today and walk the streets of some "Deep South" town with a very thick accent, or certain areas of Chicago or any other large city and find Himself in a pocket where the street slang and accent were just as thick, how would He be greeted? Many people might feel as though His name is butchered in ANY language, and even moreso when those who have heavy accents or who don't read or speak well try to pronounce some local representation of His name. Would He wheel on His heel, stick His nose in the air, sniff and walk off disgusted? Nah! He'd talk with the people and get to know them so well that bad pronunciation would not matter. He knows us, and He knows that when we all get to heaven, we won't even HAVE to ask, we'll know instantly how to pronounce it.

The arguement is similar for the use of the tetragrammaton. And as with all arguements, there seem to be more than just two sides. Some people are hypersensitive to seeing any reference to the name of the Almighty in printed form AT ALL. Some fix the English rendition by using G-d or G_d so that we really don't print it. And some would add "wink wink nudge nudge" after that sentence. Folks know that whether we use God or G-d we're still talking about one and the same. If I am in a situation where I know that there will be people offended by the exposure of His middle letter (the "o"), I won't use it. Not out of piety or personal conviction, but because I don't want to throw up a road block for those who seem to be easily offended. Are they just looking for an excuse to criticize? Are they really so zealous for "The Name"? Do their daily lives and reputations line up with that zeal? These are all questions that go through my mind.

Yes, in Israel, there are those who are indeed offended when someone uses the G-word in conversation. Some are offended if it is used within their services!! Others are at times careless with it and some think that's a violation of the commandment. Think "texting" and the simple OMG that does not normally stand for "Oh My Gosh!" I remember absolute hissy fits being thrown when someone said "gosh durn it" knowing that it was a substitute for a cuss or curse word. Will those same folks be fussing when they see "G-d"??

And the word police (like DeanZF) who want as much accuracy as possible so that everyone knows who's being talked about. Capitalize the pronouns and the euphimisms so that we know Who is being discussed when we talk about "The Bread Of Life". Or do we not capitalize "the" and "of"?? Hmmmmm.

Sorry for the rant here and it's certainly not meant to insult or to seem defensive, but our Creator's intention was that we know Him and that we call upon Him by NAME. Are we going to get bent out of shape when there are SO many languages and each of them has several names by which He is known? El Señor, Dios, Deus, and more. And what of the new believer who doesn't have the lingo down yet? Is that person to be shot at dawn for getting "The Name" wrong? I think there's room in the inn for a bit of tolerance for those who don't know yet and for those who don't see it quite our way.

It'll be "okay". :innocent:
Blessings!

Dean
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HelenaZF
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"more is more"

For those wondering why the tetragrammaton is often pronounced "Adonai", it is an attempt to make a way to say the unsayable Name, the Name considered so holy that it cannot be spoken aloud.

The word "Adonai" is said to have been constructed from the vowel points used in the tetragrammaton. But since the Hebrew language was out of use for centuries and was reconstructed only in modern times, it could be argued that the word Adonai is a modern invention of the Hebrew language. But it is a word that is acceptable to speak, and is recognized as a standard in speaking "the Name" in Jewish culture. In deference to that sensitivity, it is appropriate, I think---that Christians are also cognizant of the proper treatment of the tetragrammaton, if for no other reason than to not make it a stumbling block between us and the other branches on the vine.
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Dave
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I don't have time for a detailed reply, just to say that I completely agree that we need to respect the Jewish people and not do things that offend them. Misusing objects and words is definitely out of order.

There is a cultural difference here - the concept of sacred items or words is alien to the evangelical mind. Hence you see tallitot used as tablecloths, shofars blown casually, and occasionally the sacred name spoken. All these are deeply upsetting to most Jewish people, and when you give gentle correction, often people fail to understand the issues involved and believe that their freedom in Jesus means it's OK. Sorry, but it's not. If we love the Jewish people, we need to know and avoid the things that hurt them. Gentiles are grafted in - guests at the royal banquet - so showing respect and honouring the hosts are essential.

Just on the subject of names, in Judaism you only say Adonai when actually addressing God (ie when praying) - anything else is considered irreverent and disrespectful, and to avoid this you say HaShem.

Jewish practices relating to the names of God are all about showing respect to the One who is Ribono Shel Olam (I'll leave you to translate that!) and we would do well to learn about them and follow them whenever it is appropriate. After a while, you'll find that they become completely natural.
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DeanZF
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Dave
Oct 16 2007, 03:28 PM
...often people fail to understand the issues involved and believe that their freedom in Jesus means it's OK. Sorry, but it's not. If we love the Jewish people, we need to know and avoid the things that hurt them. Gentiles are grafted in - guests at the royal banquet - so showing respect and honouring the hosts are essential.

The guest thing is a good way to think about it. Yes, we're grafted in, yes we are fully family, not merely invited guests, but to mis-use an old adage, "When in the New Jerusalem, do as the Jerusalemites do!"

I spend a lot of time playing with words and preaching and teaching about what words mean and why they're important.

"Freedom in Jesus" is one of those phrases. I know what Dave is saying here and I just want to clarify. Freedom is actually a very technical term and is NOT what we 21st Century English speakers try to make it out to be. "Free" usually means "not owned, in scriptural terms; as an object or a slave is owned". You give a slave his freedom, but that does not mean that he can do as he pleases. There are still laws and rules in the land. That's why a freed slave can enjoy LIBERTY. Big difference. Jesus brought freedom to the captives and abundant life within the LIBERTY that many of us enjoy as free men and women in our respective countries. By no means ALL of us, however.

So what I think Dave is saying really fits, actually. Yes, we are free in Jesus, but that does not give us the liberty of trampling other people's feelings, traditions, customs, etc. Sure, we could do that, but why alienate people that we're called to love unconditionally???

If we truly had "freedom" the world would live in total anarchy. Not a good or Godly thing.

Thanks, Dave. Good comments and images.
Blessings!

Dean
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