minutia press.
In the name of G-d?

Following Chris's post concerning the Philosopher's Stone and other mystical topics, I thought it prudent to post an interesting tidbit of which we Jews are reminded every Yom Kippur -- we have forgotten the name of G-d.

That remark is not meant figuratively but literally. In days of yore, when the central temple in Jerusalem was intact and animal sacrifices were in vogue, once a year the High Priest would enter the central-most portion of the Temple, where the stone containing the Ten Commandments was housed, and utter the actual name of G-d.

Following the second destruction of the Temple, those who knew the name perished and we no longer know the actual name of G-d.

If only it had been written down and put in a safe place.

This could be the basis of a plot for a new Indiana Jones movie: Indy goes back in time and enters the Temple to listen for the name of G-d, because utterance of the Name is supposed to cause powerful things to happen.

So to whom are we praying these days? In Hebriew, the actual name of G-d was never written, so in the Bible it shows up as the unpronouncable YHVH, which some say is "Yehovah"-- hence, the Jehova's witnesses. But that would be like calling somebody Mirr Smith because of the way one might pronounce "Mr.". We don't know any longer the "Mister" that matches the "Mr." for YHVH. We pronounce it "Adonai", which means "my master" or "my lord", but even that name we change slightly unless we really, really mean it. For example, even here, I write G-d instead of you know what for reasons that are explained here .

Some think that utterance of the Name will bring about the end of the world, and so they are using computers to grind out lots of names because they think there is a lot of mathematical stuff in the Bible.

That could be the next cs 101 assignment, but how could you grade an assignment that brings about the end of the world?


I found it interesting that, on the page explaining why you write G-d, it says Jews also spell out the number 15 differently. Perhaps this has something to do with why the number 12 is interpreted as Not a Number by the latest Java interpreter in the CEC...

Posted by: Chris Hill Festival at September 17, 2002 11:46 AM

Sometimes I really wish that I had been raised Jewish. With a cool language brought back from extinction and ultimate power though the name of G-d, what's not too like? Not to mention that a Bar Mitzvah is always a much better party than a Catholic Confirmation (more people, more food, more dancing...). And my best friend from childhood always profitted more from Hanukkah than I did from Christmas. No hell? Sign me up! Goodbye Catholic guilt!

Posted by: Charlie at September 17, 2002 11:55 AM

I'd have to agree with Charlie about the lack of "the fun" in the majority of Catholic events. From my personal experience, there is often very little food involved, be it a Baptism, Confirmation, First Communion, etc. The only exception is a wedding, but the strictly "Catholic" part of that is rather barren of food. The only time I left a Catholic event decently fed was my 3rd cousin's wedding. (Now they come from an Italian family, so I attribute most of the food to that rather than the wedding mass itself...) Plus Vatican II got rid of the last of our chances to say cool non-English words. There's something to be said for looking at a priest's back while he's muttering to himself in Latin.....ha.

Posted by: James at September 17, 2002 2:15 PM

Being Catholic isn't all about guilt and starvation, it's also about hypocrisy and public shame! But then again all religions have their little foibles, it's pretty hard for someone to agree with every aspect of their religion, especially when the aspects have changed so much (sometimes as far as to contradict each themselves) over the years.

Posted by: Chris Hill Festival at September 17, 2002 3:17 PM

"Goodbye Catholic Guilt!" -Charlie

You think Jewish guilt is any different? :-)


(yes, I'm Jewish. no, I don't have a blog of my own)

Posted by: Adam at September 17, 2002 8:17 PM

"Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving"
-- Erma Bombeck

I didn't intend to incite this kind of discussion. Some of my best friends are Catholic and I have been an organist for the Catholic Church now for 24 years. (watch for an upcoming post about that) I have more fun singing in the Catholic service than I do in my own services these days. Great music!

Posted by: rkc at September 17, 2002 9:18 PM

Adam --

Get a blog! Another blog to read is always welcome.

- Yet Another Catholic

Posted by: Amy at September 18, 2002 8:39 AM

This is going to sound kind of silly...but have you seen Pi? Aside from its amazing direction, it deals with the issue of "Judaism meets mathematics" very interestingly.

P.S. I am definitely not a mathematician, just so there's no question as to my complete and utter embarassment of posting a comment alongside real-life smart people. But I am a recovering Catholic...doesn't that count for something?

Posted by: Rachel at September 18, 2002 7:03 PM

There sure are a lot of Catholics in weblogland aren't there? And Pi was a disturbing, disturbing movie. michael owns it so Vanessa and I decided to watch it one night over the summer and it freaked me out. Between those Jewish guys with the numbers and the main character doing scary things to himself [shudder].

Posted by: Chris Hill Festival at September 18, 2002 10:00 PM

Adding Pi to my netflix list. Irrational of me, I admit :-)


Posted by: rkc at September 19, 2002 5:07 PM