(By Christopher Fredrickson host of Brutal Planet and the PaRDeS Radio Parshat HaShavuah)
Many of you may have noticed in the past year I have slowly stopped using the sacred name for God, and I owe many of you an explanation and know my intention is not to offend but rather maybe bestow upon you a little mussar on the subject. There was an issue when I was reading the Parshat HaShavuah (weekly Torah reading) on the radio about a year ago I saw some variations that were rather striking in two different english versions and I started then to read the Portions on my own time in the Hebrew and in doing so I discovered many of the names for God that were actually used all through the Torah and the Writings and noticed it did not always translate to one particular way. Also in my rabbinic studies there was something once mentioned to me about something called the Shem HaMephorash which is the ineffable name of God and I was told it was made up of 216 letters, and in a reading in Deuteronomy in the Hebrew on my own time I was able to find it, and only in the Hebrew and not in the English. But I had a hard time with this cause I noticed that God had several names in the Tanach and in the Ketvim Netzarim (the writings of the Netzarim also known as the New Testament). Now in terms of the 4 letter name there is no vowel points and we will get to the history of this later on. But for now we need to look at one common issue.
All through the Scripture we see the verses that say, "in my name", "for my name sake", and "proclaim my name" and so this really put me on the fence here and I am saying, "well which one?" then I saw it said as well, "there is only through one name one can be saved" and the word for salvation is "Yeshua" and the light bulb went on at that point. I then said, well if my name were to be translated into Hebrew from the English in Hebrew form, my father's name would be added to my name, and given that my last name has not Hebrew equivalent it would essentially be "Christopher Walter (no Fredrickson cause Fredrickson cannot be rendered in Hebrew) son of John" so therefore it would be "Moshiach ben Yochanan" my father's name is attached to mine as would be your's as well, for you women it would be bat as opposed to ben. But we see something striking here. Cause notice those being spoken to in the exodus where these verses are always uttered to are "the CHILDREN of Yisrael" or "The sons of men" meaning to profane the name of God would be to have said to be attached to him and to act like a heathen. He is essentially saying when he says, "in my name" or "for my name sake" is that you are attached to Him and do not make Him look bad.
We constantly talk about the Torah being a marriage covenant between us and our Creator. So then when we look at that, if your spouse does something horrible, does it just reflect on them? Or does it reflect upon you and your family? How many times when you were younger and you messed up, did your parents talk about how you're actions gave a bad reflection of them? Chances are they did because you are a mirror of your parents and a wife is the mirror of her husband and the husband is a mirror of his wife and a student is a mirror of his rabbi and you are also a mirror of whom the God is you serve. That is what Hashem is stressing to us. For he is hoping we heeded the ideals he set forth at Sinai when he spoke against witchcraft in the book of Deuteronomy, incantations of witchcraft are dependent upon proper recitation of certain phrases and words for a witches incantation to be brought forth. This is essentially the same message of the fringe groups in the Messianic sect. So brethren when Hashem said, "in my name" He is not talking about phonetics and He hopes one would have at some point known we are not to follow after the ways of the heathen.
Can I prove that there is strong Biblical evidence this premise? Ohhh can I ever. But first we must establish the fact that the New Testament is a Jewish text, can we all agree to that? Good. The book of Luke, is written on what is called the Remez level of interpretation, which uses 14 rules from Rabbi Eliazar and I covered this in my video and mp3 teaching on Biblical Hermeneutics in terms of the 4 gospels and the 4 levels of interpretation known as PaRDeS. Now many scholars have derived that the book of Luke, even in it's purest state was transmitted orally for some time till it was written, which in the Jewish tradition I would say they are correct, given the fact the Remez level has a longer oral tradition than the Mishna and is known as the Gemera. So when a character is mentioned, you are to know who the guy is and his significance when the book of Luke mentions a character by name, otherwise Luke would have just said, "ugh some dude" as opposed to mentioning a guy's name especially one so highly revered in the Jewish community.
And now there was a certain man in Urishlim; His name was Shimon. And this man was just and righteous and was waiting for the consolation of Israel. And the Ruach haKodesh was upon him. And it had been said to him by the Ruach haKodesh that he would not see death until he saw the Mashiyach of Master Hashem. He came by the Spirit to the temple, and when his parents brought the boy Y’shua to do on his behalf as is commanded in Torah, He received him upon his arms and blessed Elohim and said, “Now dismiss your servant in peace my Master according to your Word. For behold my eyes have (seen) your mercy, That which you have prepared before the face of all nations, a light for the revelation to the Gentiles. And a glory to your people Israel.”
Many of you are saying, "ok big deal...so what?" Do you know who this man is? The verse tells us exactly who this is and it also fortifies the accounts as being accurate based upon the death of this man whom Luke calls "righteous". Therefore this man would have been known as "Shimon HaTzaddik" Simon the Righteous. Some individuals would say, "no the same guy because Shimon HaTzaddik died around 200BCE. I would then contest that even Hillel the Elder who created the calendar used by many today even cited that 400 years of history was lost during the diaspora. And the 200 BCE mark is based upon a gregorianized conversion of a calendar that has many missing years, which when we look at Luke chapter 1 we see that Elishwa's husband was standing guard during the time of Shimon HaTzaddik's time as high priest. This is also what the Talmud says about Shimon HaTzaddik.
During Simeon’s administration seven miracles are said to have taken place. A blessing rested on the offering of the first fruits, on the two sacrificial loaves, and on the loaves of showbread, in that, although each priest received a portion no larger than an olive, he ate and was satiated without even consuming the whole of it; the lot cast for God (see Lev. xvi.8) always came into the right hand; the red thread around the neck of the goat or ram invariably became white on the Day of Atonement; the light in the Temple never failed; and the fire on the altar required but little wood to keep it burning (Yoma 39b; Men. 109b; Yer. Yoma vi.3)
and the kicker......
After Simeon’s death men ceased to utter the Tetragrammaton aloud (Yoma 30b; Tosef, Soṭah, xiii.).
What also fortifies that this was indeed Shimon HaTzaddik who visited Yeshua at a young age?
The year that he died, he predicted, "This year I am going to die." When they asked him how he knew, he answered, "Every Yom Kippur an elderly man dressed in white and wrapped in white would enter and leave the Holy of Holies with me. Today, though, an elderly man dressed in black and wrapped in black entered with me but he did not come out with me." After the holiday of Sukkot he fell ill for seven days and then he died. That year the kohanim did not mention the Tetragramaton while reciting the priestly blessing (Yoma 39b).
Why is this significant? Many says that Yeshua was born during Sukkos correct? And notice that Shimon HaTzaddik died after Sukkos. Which makes sense of this verse in Luke 2. “Now dismiss your servant in peace my Master according to your Word. For behold my eyes have (seen) your mercy, That which you have prepared before the face of all nations, a light for the revelation to the Gentiles. And a glory to your people Israel.” And it was said in Talmud Berachos 64a "Simeon the Righteous said, 'for I will not go to my peace of rest until I have met the Messiah of Israel"
Now let it be known, I am not in any way attacking people who use the sacred name in any form. That is not my job, I used the sacred name for many years, and many who do not know Hebrew or Aramaic, will fall into the traps of the sacred name movement and I did for many years. But after much study and after reading the chumash in Hebrew, I personally have decided to hold the sacred name as something holy, and not something tossed around willy nilly, I personally now only recite it during the time of Yom Kippur and it is much more magnified when it is guarded in this way, it is then no longer common it is then something that has a major significance when it is said. Some early in their walk may be offended by this article and for that I am sorry, but after years of moving forward in your walk you will see the same thing.
Over the years of teaching Torah and Messiah and all the interesting characters I have come in contact with the song by Living Color, "Cult of Personality" seems to be playing on repeat in my mind. 90% of those who believe like me, that we must keep Torah and that Yeshua is the Messiah, are a few sheets away from handing out flowers at the airport.....well for many it may not be roses but grenades.
I spent the weekend watching a few documentaries dealing with some of the big cults that have turned up in the past 40 years and I have come to a startling conclusion, is the behavior in the "Hebrew Roots" (never been a fan of that term) is like all of them wrapped into one and it is not only startling but disturbing. Now I am not here to attack the belief that we all share that is the foundation of our faith, which is the will of Hashem but I do need to address the spirit of divination within Netzari Judaism, the Messianic faith and the Hebrew Roots.
Go After the Unstable
A cult leader loves to prey upon the fear of others, they love to increase the fear of people and that causes them to gain more control over their congregants or followers. As many of you know I have worked with many of the big name teachers all over the spectrum and I was shocked 2 years ago when I was told by a group of two house teachers that what they like to do to increase their webpage views, subscribers, donations etc is they would go into conspiracy theory forums on web pages like infowars or other websites such as that and copy and paste their link to their website into the forums. When I asked why, they said, "well a majority of those people have disposable income and are young and still living with their parents, and they love to be scared so if you can reveal to them some kind of truth that they feel has been kept from them then they will be followers for life". I then showed disapproval of such things and I was then told, "well do you not agree they need Yeshua?" and I saw then that I was as well being played through having an "ends justifies the means" style of answer given to me. Did not Jim Jones and Doe Applewhite do the same thing? This is very dangerous cause this is not only preying upon the fear of people who have a mental unbalance or whom may be being oppressed by the Yetzer Hara/the Adversary but it is also increasing their fear thus giving more power to the Yetzer Hara because now they have new enemies and new people to fear and whom they are trained to see as evil and it is a vast majority of the people in the entire world.
When a person is drowning and they can't swim they flap their arms and they can cause someone else to drown with them by grabbing a hold of those around them thus increasing the devastation. I have seen this happen oh so often in the body of Messiah and it is not by a small fraction of our faith I am sad to say.
Secret knowledge is bright and shiny object to the B'nei Noach (young convert) and there is no shortage of "secret knowledge" found in the realm of the internet in terms of .wordpress.com extensions, YouTube accounts, social media etc especially in terms of religions. I have gotten the fortunate opportunity of looking at several scrolls and base texts that many tout as "the oldest" and because a leader says it is the oldest we tend to take their word for it and we rely only upon the internal evidence and not upon that of the external evidence to verify the claim. We tend to say, "well I saw this guy on tv or I heard him on the radio so that makes him and expert", the cult leader relies on this a great deal. I almost left Messiah Yeshua at one point in my walk because many base texts I have been able to see photocopies of or the actual scrolls themselves and I was able to prove they were forgeries within 5 minutes in most cases because of grammar, the instrument used to write the words, or the paper it was written on, or by looking for the main mistakes that are in older documents. I was beaten down to a point to where because I found the Shem Tob, the DuTillet, and the Old Syriac were obvious frauds I was afraid of any other text that came my way, until I found one I tried to prove as a forgery and couldn't and luckily I did which actually strengthened my faith in Yeshua and was grammatically accurate, historically accurate and there was external evidence that left no doubt that it has existed in the early 2nd Century. But every month I hear of, these new scrolls that have been found that no one has ever heard of and there is usually a really far fetched story that goes along with how one had obtained these supposed scrolls (some of which you are not allowed to see and no one ever has). This is a dangerous witness and it is used to often encapsulate people in order to control them.
The Sacred Name
This is a very touchy subject for those first starting out in their walk and I think there is really some bad scholarship (or fake scholarship) on the subject. Often times a cult leader will push a certain pronunciation of the sacred name that they propagate and they use this to elevate, not Hashem, but themselves. When questioned they will say "well I have seen a scroll that has the vowel markers for the sacred name of God" to try and checkmate the person who is challenging them. I have seen over a dozen different spellings of the sacred name of God and many convincing arguments yet, the guy who pronounces it another way has equally convincing arguments. So the question then becomes, "is Hashem going to strike me down for not saying his name correctly?". Let's look at the facts, there is not a single authentic scroll in existence that can be seen by a member of the public that has the sacred name with the vowel points, sorry it does not exist. Also, Hashem wants you to know who He is, He does not want us to engage in voodoo or witchcraft in thinking special favor is given to us by phonetically spelling or pronouncing His name in a way that has been hidden by Him. Do we think we are above God?
Now let it be known I have no issue with anyway a person spells or pronounces God's name, not single issue but when you propagate that if you do not say it this way but you do this way then you are either in His presence or apart from Him, that is a control tactic to put the congregants in fear. After years of study of the Chumash, the Torah scrolls, rabbinical Hebrew and Aramaic documents I have yet to find the proper way to say God's name. There are many things as well in Judaism in terms of this that there is not one but 72 sacred names for the name of God, not only that but those whom have studied for over 60 years and dedicated themselves to the Torah have concluded there are 219 names each a part of God's attributes and they convey certain attributes of the Creator.
This obviously plays into the ideal as well of "secret knowledge" as listed above cause not only is it trying to confide someone to a certain spelling that honestly cannot be proven does way with all but one of God's attributes. When one has a limited perception of the Creator of everything, they often try and limit the attributes of God by restricting Him to their spelling or pronunciation that may or may not be right, cause they are not looking at his 219 names that are within the Tanach. And when people are limited in the perception of God's attributes then there is obviously an agenda.
Now in terms of the name of the Messiah we can say that definitely we know the pronunciation of his name thanks to the Khabouris codex, and there is a long form and a short form, the vowel markers are even there in the Aramaic. Yet, even though we have this knowledge a cult leader feels that if a person uses another name then there is some other teacher who is above him who taught his congregant this thing and so therefore the cult leader will become threatened because of the standing he has and lash out at the person who pronounced it differently or whom spells it differently and his control over the person he feels is limited. I have seen many times congregants in "messianic" cults get ostracized for this very thing. Be wary.
Conspiracy Theory and End Times
Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Castro, all the tyrants of history used one thing with great efficiency and that is the element of fear. Many wonder how it is that Hitler could cause his soldiers to kill 6 million Jews. The reason is simple, fear. There is an old Twilight Zone film where the power goes out in this old rural neighborhood and at first the people are fine but they then see one house on the block has power and instead of being logical they conjured up this grand conspiracy about the people in the house because they are different from them and because they had power in their home. In 30 minutes of being without power they raided the people's home and set it on fire killing a family of 4. There have been many congregations I have attended where one of the first things done is to read articles in the news and the rabbi or pastor who does this always tries to relate it to prophecy. And there is a conspiratorial undertone, and we are then told not to rely on God, but to rely on guns, rely on a bomb shelter and stock piling food etc. This then is a psychological move by the cult leader and he will often times casually insert conspiracy theory into the reading of the news before a message to get you fearful to rely on him and cling to him and to make you tune in next week to know if something really bad is going to happen. One of the most effective things cult leaders do is to make their congregants fear the entire world around them and to say, "we are in the end times".
Now lets look at this....ummm the book of Acts says we were in the end times then as well, we have been within them or close to 2,000 years. And every generation has cult leaders who say "we are in the final hours and everything is about to go down very very soon". Lets see here, David Koresh told people to stock pile guns and food and these people were so fearful of the world that they went and allowed David Koresh to burn them all to death because of the fact they were brainwashed by this cult leader and they feared the very people who were trying to help them. Jim Jones did the same thing and gathered over 1,000 people in another country in an area they could not leave and no one could enter in, and he used the end times and conspiracy theory to do it. Then there is Doe Applewhite, there is no bigger of a conspiracy theorist than this guy and he cause 30 some people to castrate themselves and also to never go outside of the house they were living in and ultimately to kill themselves. If someone sources infowars or Alex Jones as a reliable resource, I would then have to ask how many times has Jones been correct in the things he said were going to happen? Not a single time. But people still listen to him on CBS Radio why? Because again cult leaders prey upon those who may be mentally unstable. Listen to the callers him and George Norry get for their conspiracy filled radio programs, they are people who obviously have mental issues and also who are searching out evil. The fact is, if someone is looking for evil (even though many say they are there to expose it) then they will find it and it will make it's way within them and within the spirit within that of their home. That is just fact, Yeshua said to be the light of the world and your light will expose darkness. And light in the original word "mussar" means wisdom, and does a wise man always talk about who is wrong? Does he always feel he needs to "expose" something or someone? No a man of wisdom brings people to him because he knows what it is he believes and people connect to the things he teaches in his belief. Is it written anywhere also that Yeshua will say, "Good job you figured out all these things" or is he gonna determine whether or not we are faithful or unfaithful to what it is he taught us? For even the book of Isaiah says to pay no attention to conspiracy.
To Be Continued.....................................
Theological Insights from Rabbi Eved Banah at Beit Geulah in Morganton, NC (www.BeitGeulah.com)