By Gila Jedwab, DMD
There is one way to my heart. One word that presses pause and makes my head turn in slow motion and ask, “What did you just say?” My attention is hooked on everything that follows. This word mutes all background noise and sets my spine at full attention. This word has me at hello every time.
This word, when spoken with discernible sincerity, stretches the wingspan of my ears. I can make out faint hoof beats of salvation galloping in from the future.
It is a simple three letter word, but it delivers glory. The word is G-d. Even typing it out now makes me feel better. You might ask, why would anyone want to say “G-d” right now; what benefit could there possibly be? Don’t you know we are in the middle of a pandemic? Well, there is a reason. A beautiful verse in the Torah that explains why saying this one word brings so much disproportionate relief. It goes like this.
“In every place My Name is mentioned, I will come to you and bless you.” (Exodus 20:21)
Oh, that’s why it feels so good. Wherever we speak G-d’s name out loud, He promises to touch down with an armful of blessings. He just wants to be included in the conversation, that’s all. It’s that easy to have Him to show up. What is this elusive Makom, this magnetic place capable of drawing down G-d’s blessings, that moves with us like a shadow everywhere we go? It is nothing less than the traveling Mishkan we create for G-d inside our hearts.
Because the word G-d so wholly grabs my fascination, I made an interesting observation. One political party and those affiliated with it tend to speak G-d’s name more frequently and more sincerely. The other party speaks it more colloquially and sometimes tries to sneak it out altogether. The saddest part of attempting to minimize or remove G-d’s name is that He humbly complies. He bows out gracefully. The promise held inside this verse works in both directions.
Speaking G-d’s name carries somatic relief. The relief of a lost child wandering the crowd who suddenly spots his father. Ah, there He is, still mine and still in control. G-d will cut through the chaos to reach you, slice through the lies to show the truth. He holds the endgame in the palm of His hand and can’t wait to surprise us. I remember the surprise four years ago. I remember the look on Wolf Blitzer’s face. G-d is funny. He can pull out a ridiculous victory like nobody’s business. I remember that euphoric feeling at four o’clock in the morning. I never felt anything as magical as when Trump took Pennsylvania, my home state. Fireworks went off inside my heart. I am forever grateful to Hashem for that night; the feeling stays with me. The whole world paused, redirected, and started spinning in the right direction again. G-d is the best kind of Waze — He can shave centuries off our arrival time.
I noticed the name of G-d spoken boldly in two places this week. The first one was posted on Facebook by an anonymous writer. This writer said easily what I’ve been struggling to say for six months. That this unprecedented global attempt to control a virus dangerously edged G-d out of the picture. Man suddenly and obsessively snatched all matters of life and death into his own hands. Our leaders became drunk on control and we became seduced by their alluring offer of “staying safe.” Look around—this is what a world fixated on controlling death and disease looks like. It isn’t pretty and it isn’t safe. We have backed ourselves and our children into narrow corners with only one way out, taking the first baby step of teshuvah and admitting we made a mistake. We have sunk to new depths when the sound of the shofar scares us for all the wrong reasons. I think most of us have grown tired of this dance of futility and want to hand the reins of life and death back to their rightful Owner in time for Rosh Hashanah. G-d has always been the One holding the controls. Did we forget? He can clean up this man-made mess easily; all we need to do is say His Name to restore the full strength of His Sovereignty back to our reality.
The next mention of G-d that caught my attention came from Vice President Mike Pence at the Republican National Convention. His poetic invocation of G-d’s name filled me with new hope:
“Let’s fix our eyes on the Author and Perfecter of our faith and our freedom. And never forget that where the spirit of the L-rd is, there is freedom. That means freedom always wins. And with Donald Trump in the White House for four more years, and with G-d’s help, we will make America great again. Again.”
I swooned again the following night when Donald Trump declared, “In America we don’t look to career politicians for salvation. In America we don’t turn to government to restore our souls. We put our faith in Almighty G-d.”
The crowd went wild. My kind of crowd.
May we continue to come out of this crisis and facilitate salvation by doubling down on our mentioning of G-d’s name. Let us bring G-d’s name with us wherever we go and pull His blessings over our lives. He gave us 72 names to work with plus a whole slew of nicknames I inherited from my Bubby. She spoke Hashem’s name more than anyone I know.
Ribbono Shel Olam, Aibishter, Bashefer, HaKadosh Baruch Hu, please help us! We need you! We thought we knew better and we took some strange turns. We are lost. We are tired. Recalculate and find us the quickest way out of crazy town. Hear us calling Your Name, bless us and guide us to the safest route home to You. The final destination feels so close.
“I sought Your Nearness. With all my heart I called to You. And in my going out to meet You, I found you coming toward me.” — Rabbi Yehuda Halevi.
Dr. Gila Jedwab has been practicing dentistry for nearly two decades. She graduated from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in 2000 and completed her residency in general practice at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Her dental practice is in Cedarhurst.