Rabbi’s Reflections – Thursday, February 16, 2023

Go Ahead, Ask God – Romans, part 28

Romans 3:3 So what if some did not trust? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 May it never be! Let God be true even if every man is a liar, as it is written, “that You may be righteous in Your words and prevail when You are judged.”

Paul wrote the beginning of verse 4, “May it never be!”  Paul didn’t speak English, so what did he really say?  Paul didn’t speak Yiddish either, but if he did, he would have said, “Chas v’cholileh!: G-d forbid!.”  Well, what do you know, “Cholileh” is exactly the Hebrew word used by the translators of the Hebrew-English Bible.  It means the same in Yiddish and Hebrew.

Rabbi Trail:  (Warning: This is a big RT) I’m not sure if that word, Cholileh, was originally Hebrew or Yiddish, but to be sure, one borrowed it from the other.  It may have started out as the Hebrew word “K’lalah” meaning “curse.”  I think this is where we get our English word “calamity.”

Eliezer Ben Yehuda (https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/ben-yehuda-eliezer) founded modern (spoken and written) Hebrew.  Somehow, he knew that if the Jewish people were ever to be a real people (with their own nation) it would be language that would bind the people immigrating from all over the world into one people and nation.  (The same is true of the United States and English.)  How that happened is a great story we can investigate another time.

Jewish people throughout history have developed their own language wherever they have been exiled.  Three such examples are Aramaic, Ladino, and Yiddish.  Aramaic is a blend of Babylonian and Hebrew developed and spoken by the Jews exiled to Babylon in 586BC.  Ladino is a blend of Spanish and Hebrew developed and spoken by the Jews living in Spain in the dark ages.  Yiddish is a blend of German and Hebrew developed and spoken by the Jews of Europe in the middle ages.

In each case, these languages use the Hebrew characters (and many Hebrew words) so Jews could write and speak among themselves (in a type of local slang) without non-Jewish censors or eavesdroppers knowing what was being communicated.  Yiddish is still widely used today in orthodox Jewish communities that originated in Europe.  The use of Yiddish in Europe itself was practically wiped out by the Holocaust.  End RT.

Back to our original topic, “God forbid that the lack of faith of some should nullify God’s faithfulness.”  Paul then quotes Psalm 51:6b You are just when You speak, and blameless when You judge.  So many people like to say, “Nothing is impossible for God.”  But that’s not really true, is it?  God cannot sin, and God cannot lie.

God always tells the truth.  In Hebrew we acknowledge this with one word, “Betach,” meaning “you can count on it.”  We can always count on God….  Psalm 9:11(10) Those who know Your Name trust You— for You, Adonai, never have forsaken those who seek You.

I want to close this RR today with a word to those who may be seeking God.  What excuse will you offer the Judge on judgment day?  “Rabbis (scribes and pharisees) didn’t believe 2,000 years ago, so neither will I.”  Let me counsel you on this.  Don’t let their decision become your decision without your due diligence.  Make sure you seek the truth for yourself.  We can be like Gideon, and lay a “fleece” before God.  Ask Him to reveal the truth.  God is faithful to give His children good gifts.

God will answer you.  1 John 5:14 Now this is the confidence we have before Him—that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have the requests we have asked from Him.  Go ahead, ask!  He wants us to know Him.  Shalom, shalom.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Thu 16-Feb-2023 25th of Sh’vat, 5783
Ex 23:6-19 2 Ki 11-12 Ps 137 Jn 11:28-57 (2 Ti 3)