November 2015 scroll article

My mother, Rabbi Halina Rubinstein, has been an invaluable source of knowledge as I have gone through my Jewish studies. 
During Rosh HaShanah at my parents’ chavurah, my mother offered a beautiful sermon about creating a personal understanding of G-d that I wanted to paraphrase and share. 
We read in the story of Creation that Adam was given the task of naming the animals of the Earth. A midrash in Numbers Rabbah 19:3 expands the Genesis narrative with Adam’s naming of himself and then G-d. 
The Holy One, blessed be G-d, asked him, "And I, what is My name?"
Adam replied, "YHWH [yud-hey-vav-hey], Adonai." "Why?" 
"Because you are master over all created beings." Hence it is written, in Isaiah, "I am Adonai, that is My name." (Isaiah 47:8) It means, "That is the name by which Adam called Me; it is the name that I have accepted for Myself; and it is the name on which I have agreed with My creatures.”
“What is this name that Adam gives G-d? The Tetragrammaton, the four letter name of G-d, which stems from the root havayah [to be], from the language of being- a rather amorphous concept which in a way defines G-d as indefinable, basically as a moving target, hardly something that can be frozen in time. 
This points to us that a name is much, much more than a word through which we identify something or someone; a name also reveals the essence of the possessor, to know someone’s name is to know what makes that person the way he or she is. In Jewish tradition, starting from the Tanakh, names were regarded not only as labels but also as symbols, magical keys, as it were, to the nature and essence of the given being or thing. 
Essentially, G-d is the timeless essence of all being. The truth is that we don’t even know how to pronounce G-d’s 4-letter name which some say has been forgotten, since the High Priest was able to pronounce it in the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur—but in reality we may have never known it.  Be that as it may, we have inherited the belief that uttering 
G-d’s name is more than forbidden- it is actually blasphemous.”
Rabbi Rubinstein then refers to an article from the New York Times written by Dr. Dan Siegel in which he discusses the importance of being able to notice and name our emotions, so that we can take a step back and make choices about what to do with them. Dr. Dan Siegel refers to this practice as ‘name it to tame it.’ Rabbi Rubinstein suggests, that “by naming your personal G-d, it will allow you to establish a meaningful relationship with an internalized being with whom you can safely share emotions including perhaps the most dangerous of all, anger which we so seldom are allowed ourselves to feel.
As Dr. Siegel would recommend, name it to tame it: name G-d to make it part of your spiritual life, part of your very being—it is perhaps the first step to an awareness that indeed G-d dwells in the depths of your soul.” 
Rabbi Rubinstein then concludes with this quote from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: 
“Goodbye,” said the fox. “Here is my secret. It’s quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes… It’s the time that you spent on your rose that makes your rose so important… People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said, “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible for what you’ve tamed…”
May these words inspire you, as they did me, to connect with the divine in a more meaningful way.
              Cantor Dannah Rubinstein