If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.
Chapter 23 of Leviticus tells us of the Moedim, the Holy Days we are to celebrate to the Lord. These are the only God-commanded festivals that we are to observe; that doesn’t mean we cannot observe other festivals to the Lord, such as Purim, Hanukkah, and other biblical holidays. It is just that these are the ones we MUST observe, according to God.
But I am not going to talk about this chapter, or anything else in this parashah other than Leviticus 22:32-33:
And ye shall not profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel; I am the Lord who hallow you, that brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord.
The Jewish people do not pronounce the Tetragrammaton, the four-letters that make up the name of God, ever. We are afraid to profane his name, which is called Chillul Hashem. We do not even try to figure out how it is pronounced. Why? Because we are following God’s command not to profane his holy name. Any attempt that is wrong would profane it, even if we meant to honor it. The best and safest way to honor and not profane God’s holy name is to never pronounce it. By never trying to pronounce it we are practicing Kiddush Hashem, which is hallowing the name of God.
I do not believe there is anything wrong, so to speak, with the study of the Paleo-Hebrew, in which the Vav of the holy name is pronounced as a “W” instead of as a “V.” I do believe it is wrong to use the “W” instead of the “V”, and in any way try to vocalize God’s holy name. Judaism has added the vowel points for the word Adonai (Lord) to the four letters of the Tetragrammaton (Y-H-V-H) to symbolize God’s name. The way that would be pronounced is “Jehovah”, which isn’t God’s name. It might be, and if so, then we shouldn’t use it. The holy name of God is often abbreviated in Hebrew and even when we see the holy name in the Torah, we say Adonai to make certain we do not profane it.
I am upset when I see so many Christians who are trying to get to know their Hebrew roots totally ignore the traditional (and commanded) respect Judaism shows for God’s holy name. Worse than that, they misinterpret the bible and ignore cultural idioms to try to justify that we MUST use God’s holy name. In fact, some people have even presented the argument that if we do not use God’s name then we may be calling on demons or the Devil, himself! How utterly ridiculous!
I have been insulted and chastised when I ask Gentiles not to use God’s holy name, and that it doesn’t matter how it is pronounced- God knows who he is. If you call out to God with a contrite spirit, a humble attitude and an open heart, do any of you really think that God will reject your prayer simply because you haven’t used and properly pronounced his holy name? On the other hand, do you think he will be happy if you use the name that he specifically told you NOT to use?
I suppose someone could make an argument by first identifying what, exactly, is profaning the name? What usage of his holy name would God consider to be a profanation of that name?
I don’t know. But I do know I wouldn’t want to chance profaning Gods holy name.
Intimate knowledge of the Lord doesn’t include calling him by his first name and going bar-hopping with him. Intimate knowledge of God starts, first and foremost, with respect for him; how many times in the bible do we read that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom? And when we acknowledge that he is holier than anything and deserves respect more than anyone we can show that respect for him by forgetting our prideful need to know something nobody else knows, i.e., the correct spelling and pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton.
I appeal to everyone hearing or reading this that if you are one of those who wants to know how the holy name of God is pronounced to please reconsider. The fact is that today no one really knows how to pronounce Gods holy name, and because God told us we shouldn’t profane it we should not even try.
I believe we all should be faithful enough to know that when we call on God (using a name that is not his holy name) with a proper attitude of humility and repentance, he will hear our prayer.
The way we show respect to someone is by respecting their name, and God is more deserving of worship and respect than anyone else, so show the respect for his name that he demands of us.