Getting the Shakes

Yisro

Third in the Decalogue, “Do not take name of G-d in vain” is perhaps one of the lesser famous ‎statements. Still, when it was delivered at Sinai it produced a magical sensation unmatched by any of the other declarations. ‎This sensation was impressed on any court litigant who had to swear to his statement. Upon taking an oath they would inform him: Know that the whole world trembled at the time when the Holy One, said at Sinai: Thou ‎shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. ‎

Question

When Hashem said “I am G-d” the world did not quiver. At the second commandment “You should not ‎have other G-ds” the world was still. Yet, when Hashem said “Do not take G-ds name in vain” ‎the earth began to tremble. What is so special and unique about this commandment?

Answer

The beautiful world in which we live, was created by Hashem in Godly style using supernatural means. No hammers, cranes or ‎cement mixers where employed, in reality a rather different formula was exercised. Hashem spoke and by His pure utterances, planets trees and animals were formed. By ‎employing different combinations of His divine names diverse creations came into being. Everything that ‎exists is a manifestation of his Name, and it follows on that they all bear some divinity. Many sages throughout the generations were aware of how to ‎merge His letters to produce these physical effects. ‎

Reb Chanina and Reb Oyshia would study every Erev Shabbos the Book of Creation. In doing so they would create a calf which was one-third grown. And they would eat it. (Sanhedrin 65b).

One who makes an oath, calls G-d’s holy name to attest to his statement. The sinner who lies under oath calls Heaven to affirm his falsehood. He does more than ‎disgrace the honor of Hashem; he disparages and degrades the Divine names which are the underpinnings of this ‎world. The value of Hashem name had been dishonored and it follows that the whole world is now in jeopardy, for this evildoer is trifling with the very fabric and material out of which the globe is constructed. It is no ‎wonder that at the moment the commandment “Do not take name of G-d in vain” that the world shook, it’s very ‎foundations – G-ds name – were vulnerably exposed. ‎ 

Story

When King David excavated the foundations of the Temple, he dug one thousand five hundred cubits ‎deep, but he still did not reach the subterranean waters. In the end he found a pottery shard which he, ‎David wanted to remove. ‎

The shard miraculously spoke to the King: “You are not permitted to lift me”. ‎

‎“Why” asks David.‎

It rejoined: “Because I seal the deep waters of the deep”‎

David: “How long have you been here?”‎

Replied the shard: “From the day Hashem gave the Ten Commandments, at that time the earth ‎quaked and began sinking, and I was placed here to close the deep”.‎

Despite hearing this, David did not listen and lifted the earthenware. The underground waters began ‎to rise immediately and threatened to swamp the world. ‎

David knew how to remedy the situation, write the Divine name on pottery and cast it into the rising ‎torrent. The solution however gave rise to a dilemma, David was concerned that perhaps his action ‎might involve an objectionable consequence; the holy Divine name could conceivably become erased in the water.‎

Asked the king: “Is it permitted to write the divine name which will be cast into water, to insure the ‎waters return to their place?” ‎

No one answered.‎

Achitophel was standing nearby and said to himself, David will die now by the rising waters and I will ‎become king. ‎

David uttered the following curse: “Anyone who knows the resolution and refrains from enlightening ‎me, will end up being strangled to death.” ‎

Achitophel then advised David that for the purpose of saving the world it is permitted to write the Divine name even if it ‎will become erased. ‎

The king wrote the name on a shard cast it into the deep and the waters began to recede. For every ‎hundred Amos that the waters withdrew David composed one Shir Hamalos. ‎

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