People call God by many different names.
Allah. Vishnu. Almighty.
Buddha. Jesus. Tao.
God calls people to do one simple thing:
And typically adds some advice:
And very often offers a warning:
Beware of them and their ideas.
And we are still trying to figure out how to follow this simple command. We are also struggling about how best to stick together. Very often we become confused about whose ideas we are supposed to emulate and whose we should spurn.
Our hearts fill with questions.
Who are “them”? Who are “us”?
Perhaps it is not nearly as simple as some would suggest. We hear retorts. My faith does not believe in God. Does not this simple command transcend all religions? What is the true measure of doing good?
Living a virtuous life eludes us. We continue to grasp after it.
It appears so clear to Moses. God speaks to him and says, “I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shaddai, but I did not make Myself known to them by My name Adonai.” (Exodus)
Does the name clarify the command?
The remainder of the Bible grasps for answers.
Moses questions too. When first confronted by God, he asks, “When I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is God’s name?’ what shall I say to them?”
And God continues to respond: “I will be what I will be.”
And we continue to stumble along, straining after this elusive, but simple command, traversing the wilderness, trying our best to do good and endeavoring to stick together.
The rest is commentary.
Or perhaps another name.
Rabbi Steven Heneson Moskowitz is the rabbi of Congregation L’Dor V’Dor, a vibrant synagogue on Long Island’s North Shore. His writing appears in a variety of publications including Reform Judaism and The Times of Israel. He also blogs at rabbimoskowitz.com