Re’ei: Concept 8: Introduction
Mitzvah/Concept 8: One May Not Destroy Anything With God’s Name on it:
Perceptions Matter: Our relationship with God is not really with God as God is, but rather with God, as we perceive God. Therefore, we cannot destroy His name. We cannot function without understanding and recognizing that when we speak of God, we’re speaking of our perceptions of God, not God as God is. And that’s why the nickname that we have for God is Hashem, the Name, meaning appellations we have given God, but not what God or who God truly is. Erasing God’s name would indicate that our perceptions are not reality, which, according to Jewish thought, is not true. If we begin to negate human perception we will forfeit much of our relationship with God.
The Sanctity of Things: A bible is printed with ink on paper, and yet this mitzvah/concept demands that we treat the bound paper and ink as being holy. If the Torah is properly written on parchment, with the required ink, it has acquired great holiness. It must be dressed; it has to be treated with respect, we should not even touch it with our bare hands. If a scroll acquires such great status because of what is written on it, imagine what becomes of a person who has fulfilled “al levavecha”, “these words shall be inscribed on your hearts”. We can acquire the same sanctity as a Torah scroll. This mitzvah/concept has implications for how we treat a corpse. It must be treated with great respect because it once housed a soul. It had sanctity. We must treat our living bodies as being holy.
The Dangers of Fundamentalism: This mitzvah/concept is actually introduced in the context of another mitzvah/concept #53: You should destroy idols and all that was made for them. “You shall break apart their altars; you shall smash their pillars; and their sacred trees shall you burn in fire…you shall not do this to God, your Lord.” (Deuteronomy 12:3-4) There is danger inherent in destroying the idols of others. It may lead to a loss of respect for God! (See the story of Asa, King of Judah; IKings , chapter 15, and TBSotah 10a)