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Greater than all Other Gods

the.guard Sunday, 26 February 2017
Part 1/4 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)

In Parshas Yisro, the Father in Law of Moshe Rabbeinu, having heard all the great miracles that G-d did for the Jewish people, comes to meet Moshe in the dessert and exclaims:

וַיִּחַדְּ יִתְרוֹ... וַיֹּאמֶר... עַתָּה יָדַעְתִּי, כִּי-גָדוֹל ה' מִכָּל-הָאֱלֹהִים, כִּי בַדָּבָר, אֲשֶׁר זָדוּ עֲלֵיהֶם

And Yisro rejoiced… and he said… Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods; for that which they had done (to the Jews) was done to them. (They had thrown the Jewish baby boys into the Nile, and G-d punished them by drowning them in the Yam Suf).

1) What kind of praise is it that Hashem is greater than all other Gods? After all, there are no other Gods!

2) Why did Yisro chooses specifically the fact that “what they did, was done to them” as the clincher that G-d is greater than all other gods? Wasn’t the fact that the waters split and even greater miracle to prove that G-d is greater than all other gods?

The Beis Aharon of Karlin (Parshas Bo) says that the word Elokim is made up of two words: אלה – meaning “These” and מי – meaning “Who?”, as the pasuk says: שאו מרום עיניכם וראו מי ברא אלה -Lift your eyes on high and see WHO created THESE. The word מי - “WHO?” denotes a lack of comprehension, while the word אלה denotes something we can point to and comprehend, “These!”

The word Elokim also has the same Gematria as הטבע – meaning ‘Nature’. Nature is simply a manifestation of G-d’s work, and not in any way separate from Him.

Pharaoh asked Moshe: מי ה' אשר אשמע בקולו? – WHO is Hashem that I should listen to His voice? Hashem responded later by saying למען שיתי אותותי אלה בקרבו – So that I may place THESE signs/miracles in his midst (i.e. that he should recognize Who is the real G-d). These two words, “WHO” and “THESE” combine to make the word Elokim, signifying that G-d is the One behind all of creation.

(Until here is from the Beis Aharon)

In nature, it always seems that one thing creates/provides for another. Gravity brings clouds of dust together to create stars and planets, thermo-nuclear reactions in the core of stars cause them to ignite and provide energy, and the sun’s energy allows life to flourish on Earth. The seas bring forth life, the earth brings forth plants, the rivers provide life-giving waters, the rain spreads its bounty over all living things, etc. There are so many forces in the universe that seem to be the ‘cause’ and providers for life on Earth.

So WHO created all THESE? If you ask a scientist, he will describe to you how the Big Bang led to the creation of the universe, and how star dust ultimately turned into humans over billions of years. Indeed, there always seems to be something ELSE that created the thing before it.

Perhaps these are the ‘Gods’ that the nations believed in, i.e. the forces of nature that CREATE and bring forth life. These forces of the universe, the stars and the sun, the seas and the rain, all these phenomenon were worshiped because they seemingly are ‘creators’ and ‘providers’ of life.

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