Thursday, March 17, 2005
SACRIFICES AND THE NAME OF GOD
Nachmanides (the Ramban) writes:
But the true (Kabbalistic) path has an elusive mystical reason for korbanot ... the name of God exclusively used in regard to the korbanot is not "El" nor Elohim ... rather YHVH, the unique name, ... that no one should think that the korban is in order to feed God.
Nachmanides reminds us that the name YHVH refers to the transcendent aspect of God; it is the name which indicates that God is beyond man’s understanding. The Torah employs this name in reference to the offerings --to the exclusion of all other names of God -- pointing up the incongruity of the idea of "God’s needs." The name Elohim, on the other hand, refers to God as judge, a concept which humans can grasp. Had this name of God been used in connection with offerings, one might have been tempted to imagine that a "bribe" is possible. But when we contemplate that the offerings are commanded by YHVH, we realize that no bribes can be offered.
Additionally, YHVH -- the singular, timeless name -- refers to God's trait of existing outside of time. This may help us understand how forgiveness takes place: If a man sinned yesterday, and repented today, how can his present attitude undo that which he did yesterday?
If we understand that God exists outside of time -- indeed, God created time -- when we try to reestablish a relationship with God, then time becomes less of a factor.
When man connects with the transcendent God, "yesterday" becomes limited to the human perspective, which no longer confines him.
Read the whole thing!