Gen. 17 – Changing Our Circumstances
Dear family and friends, Genesis chapter 17 teaches us how we can change our circumstances By changing our name. Our name represents our essence. The name Abram, could not have children. Abram was not destined to be the father of many nations. The name Abram designated him to be אַבAv the father of אֵרַם Ah Rahm, Aram, his native country. אַבְרָם Abram was only a temporary name. אַבְרָם Abram was not the name scribed by The Lord God in The Book of the Living on the second day of creation. We know that because כִּי אַב־הֲמוֹן גּוֹיִםנְתַתִּיךָ Nih Tah Tee Chaw is in the past tense. נְתַתִּיךָ Nih Tah Tee Chaw has to be in past tense because according to Genesis Two everything in The Heaven and earth was completed. What is the point? The essence of the name Abraham was scribed In The Book of the Living on the second day of creation when The Heavens were completed. So in 2047 From Creation when Abram was ninety-nine years old God Informs Abram that everything from Aleph to Tav of his name Abram should cease and be replaced by the name אַבְרָהָם Abraham. Father of a multitude. Our sages teach that all of Abraham’s contemporaries would יִקָּרֵא call him, Abraham. Why? Because we call each other by the essence of who we are. Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz and Rabbi Nosson Scherman, The Artscroll Tanach Series – Bereishis Vol. I(a)(Brooklyn, New York: Mesorah Publications, Ltd. 3rd Impression, 1989), pp 362 – 363 When Abraham’s contemporaries began to call him by his true essence it changed his life course. Calling him Abraham prepared the way for Isaac’s birth and much more. When Sarah was noticeably pregnant months before the birth of Isaac, her pregnancy testified of the miracle.
Dear ones we should be careful to call each other by our correct name. That reinforces the essence of who we are. We should be careful about giving nicknames. We want our essence to be aligned with the name that The Lord God scribed in The Book of the Living.
Sometimes it is necessary to change our name or to insist that one be called by his / her true name. What we are called has the power to alter our course of life. On occasion, our rabbi may change our name to alter our course of living. One’s name may be changed to alter the course of deadly sickness. One’s name may be changed to alter one’s financial distress. So changing one’s name should not be taken lightly!
The Midrash Shares A Story About Names
Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai said, ‘When the Holy One, blessed be He, came to create Adam, He took counsel with the ministering angels, saying to them, ’Let us make man in our Spiritual Image,’ Genesis 1.26.
The Angels inquired, ‘What will be the nature of this man?’
The Holy One Responded, ‘His wisdom will exceed yours.’ Then The Holy One brought animals, beasts, and birds before the angels and asked them, ‘What is the name of this one?’ They did not know; ‘And what about this one?’ Again they did not know. Then The Holy One paraded them before Adam, and asked him, ‘What is the name of this one?’
Adam responded, ‘An ox.’
‘And of this?’
‘And of this?’
‘And of this?’
‘A horse.’ Thus it is written, And the man gave names to all the cattle, etc.,’ Genesis 2.20.
The Holy One questioned him,‘ What is your name?’
Adam said,’ It is fitting that I should be called Adam because I was created from the ground; i.e. ‘Adamah’.
Then The Holy One Asked, ‘What is My Name?’
‘It fits for You to be called Adonai; i.e. ‘Lord’ since You are Lord over all Your creatures,’ was Adam’s answer. Rabbi Hiyya said, ‘Thus it is written, ‘I am The Lord, that is My Name,’ Isaiah. 42.8; i.e.; which means, ‘That is My Name by which Adam called Me.’
Dear Ones, each of our Hebrew names were written and sealed in The Book of The Living on the Second Day of creating. The name of everyone that will ever live in our universe was written in The Book of The Living. The Book of The Living includes the names of every unborn and every aborted being/soul.
We are discussing The Book of The Living and the names of every soul written in it. There are places in The Torah where one subject is being discussed while at the same time we learn another. Genesis Chapter Nine is one of these places. The Everlasting Covenant of the rainbow is being discussed. From that passage, we learn about the life of every soul.
The Sages Share Stories of Abraham and Astrology.
Rabbi Eliezer, the Modiite said, that Abraham possessed an astrological power for reading the stars. Abraham was frequently sought after in the early morning at his gate by the potentates of the east and the west. Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai said, ‘Abraham had a precious stone hung around his neck which brought immediate healing to any sick person who looked on it,’ Bava Basra 16b.
‘Lord of the Universe! What benefit do I derive from all these blessings since I am about to depart from this world childless?’ Genesis 13.2.
God said to him: ‘Are you sure that your wife will no longer give birth to a child? ‘
Abram’s reply was: ‘ Lord of the Universe! My planet tells me that I will be childless.’
God asked, ‘So you are afraid of the planet?’ Then God commented,‘As you live, it will be as impossible for you to number your offspring as it is to number the stars of heaven,’ Genesis 15.5. Rabbi Judah the son of Rabbi Simon said in the name of Rabbi Hanin: It was then that God raised Abram above the vault of The Heavens and said to him: ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars, to determine if you are able to count them?’ Then God said to Abram: ‘So shall your seed be; That is: Just as you see all these stars and cannot count them, your children will be so numerous,’ Shemot 38.6.
The Rabbis say: [God said to Abram]: ‘You are a Prophet, not an astrologer,’ as it says, ‘Now, therefore, restore the man’s wife, for he is a Prophet,’ Genesis 20.7. Br R 44.12
Dear Ones, because we are discussing the subject of changing one’s behavior we will briefly include other areas that can alter our situation as well.
The Talmud Shares important teachings on changing one’s life course.
Rabbi Isaac said: Four things cancel the doom of a man, namely, charity, supplication, change of name and change of conduct. Charity, Rosh Hashana 16b
Charity / Righteousness
As it is written, ‘Charity / Righteousness delivers us from death.’ Proverbs 10.2
Supplication / Prayer
As it is written, ‘They cried unto The Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses.’
Change of Name
As it is written, ‘As for Sarai your wife, Do not call her by the name Sarai anymore, for her new name is Sarah. And I will bless her and moreover I will give you a son from her.’
Genesis 17.15 – 16
Change of Conduct
As it is written,‘And God saw their works, and God turned away from the evil which He said He would do to them and He did not.’
Change of Place– Some teach moving to a new location also avails.
As it is written,‘Now The Lord said to Abram, You get out of your country, and I will make of you a great nation.’ Genesis 12.1 – 2
Dear Family and Friends may we be careful when using the mystical teachings of Kabbalah. May we seek the direction of a rabbinical authority before we follow these mystical teachings. May we bring peace and healing to our world. May this coming Sabbath and every Sabbath be a blessed Day.
Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk