Name of God (not G-d)

The name of God in Hebrew is yod-heh-waw-heh, with no vowel points, i.e. the Tetragrammaton (“four letters”).¬† Originally, that word would have had vowel points, but we don’t know what they are for sure.¬† In order to avoid saying the name of God, the Jews of antiquity changed the vowel points and said “adonai” (“Lord”) instead.¬† Now we have others who simply say “ha-Shem” (“the name”) which makes sense because yod-heh-waw-heh is in fact the name of God.¬† But the name of “God” for Jews is “yod-heh-waw-heh,” not “God.”¬† The word for “God” in Hebrew is “Elohim.”¬†¬† Thus:¬† “Elohim” = the concept of God; “yod-heh-waw-heh” = the name of God.¬† Some have started to spell the word, “God” in the form of “G-d,” equating this with the Hebrew.¬† This is English, however, and “God” is not a Hebrew word.¬† There is no need to use the spelling, “G-d,” which in fact communicates the misimpression that “God” is also a Jewish name–it’s not.¬† The name of God is and has always been “yod-heh-waw-heh.” ¬†The word, “God” is not the equivalent of “yod-heh-waw-heh,” but rather “Elohim.”¬† In my opinion, “G-d” is a misnomer.

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Judaism and Social Action II

This is an email response to a friend of mine:

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We both agree then:¬† The Government is US, and there are appropriate and inappropriate uses of government (federal, state, county, city).¬† And you’re right that the GI bill and the federal interstate highway system are projects WE commisioned government to implement.¬† That’s exactly my point:¬† “They” is “us.”

But here’s where we disagree.¬† The very projects that changed our lives are “improvement” projects.¬† They are a form of “social action.”¬† The GI Bill allowed a whole generation of people to move into the middle class.¬† The interstate highway program (even though it began as a defense project) made it possible to truck goods quickly and efficiently all across the country and helped to unify this county by making it accessible to a much larger percentage of the population.¬† Social Security and Medicare helped to transform the economic and social status of our elderly population.¬† Affirmative Action (flawed as it is) made it possible for large numbers of women and minoirites to enter into careers and companies from which they would otherwise have been excluded.¬† Etc.¬† This all involves improvement. ¬† If you call that “socialism,” then I guess we’re stuck.¬† I call it intelligent public policy.¬† And nothing is value-free.

Further, “improvement” is related to “stability.”¬† Look at Cincinnati and what happens when a city fails to deal with deeply rooted policies of racial prejudice.¬† City government in Boston did something different.¬† When confronted with the same problems, the mayor and council adopted a plan that changed the ethnic and racial makeup of its police force.¬† Guess what?¬† The problems diminished, and Boston (once synonymous with racial tension) has developed a reputation for decent community policing and relative ethnic harmony.¬† In other words, if you want stability, you also need “improvement.”¬† I don’t see how you do this without government (WE), though private corporations and non-profit groups are equally important.¬† Cliched as it is, “private-public partnerships” is an excellent and apt phrase.¬† By its very definition, government is involved in forms of social action.¬† Otherwise, I guess we’re back to the state of nature.

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