“I believe.” Marcus Jastrow, in his Dictionary observations, “Amen”/”Belief”, is the same word translated, “to train a well drilled army to stand in straight lines and march in order.” It means to make skillful. It is related to the words of Isaiah 11: 2-3: The Spirit of the Personal Name is upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding; Counsel, or being like the tree, (In Hebrew counsel and tree are the same word), and strength, an assembly, (of facts or of people), and a looking to the Personal Name, and he will delight in looking to the Personal Name.
Amen means to make strong, which comes from good drilling in an army. We read of Moses, “The hands of Moses were heavy.” they took a stone, put it under him, and he sat upon it. Aaron and Hur, supported his hands, one upon one, and his hands were steady, (The Hebrew word is “Amen”), until the coming of the sun.” St. Paul speaks of this making strong when he talks of faith/belief/Amen, standing under, making strong those who hope. It tests the works not seen. “Belief” causes action. “Belief” drives Moses to Pharaoh knowing death awaits there.
Belief drives Moses to the promised land, knowing he will never live there. Belief is that inner strength Isaiah talks about when he talks about the spirit of the tree and the outer strength to go on in the face of danger, which we generally translate as fortitude.
Where do we get belief? 1 Kings 19:11-12 states: “You will go out tomorrow, and stand in the presence of the Personal Name; See, a wind great and strong will tear the mountains, breaking the rocks in pieces before the Personal Name. The Personal Name is not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Personal Name is not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Personal Name is not in the fire; and after the fire an inaudible (Dami) voice.”
This has important ramifications for who I am as the hypostasis of that which believes. Faith comes from listening to that silent voice, the voice of action, of nourishment of being in contact with God and neighbor.
Deuteronomy 30: 11- states, “This command which I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ It is not across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.
“Hear, If you listen to the Mitzvah of the Personal Name, your Mighty Judge, which I enjoin on you today, loving him, and walking in his ways, and keeping his Mitzvah, his customs and judicial decisions I give you, today, you will live and grow numerous. The Personal Name, your Mighty Judge, will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.
This promise comes to us through our baptism, which reminds us that we are human, of the earth, no matter how much we might like to think otherwise. Our Father constantly reminds us, no matter how much we think otherwise, we are all just human beings trying to get from the cradle to the grave in one piece.”
“I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.” This is the Mitzvah I give you today, “Choose life, that you and your descendants may live.”
The will of God is not some fuzzy thing up there. It is down here. It flows through our arteries and veins, literally. It is the command to life, for ourselves and everyone around us. There are no excuses, like, what the other guy did before caused his lot, and we are not responsible. The image of God in him suffers when any man suffers. We have only to see it. That is the Mitzvah of faith. That is the great amen.
We believe, we are strengthened in One God. He causes us to see the grander picture. In Hebrew and in Greek, “Prayer” is a reflexive verb. It is not us asking God for something. It is us sitting down with God and planning how to complete his will. As with small children, we may think we are sitting down with our father and coming to a conclusion on equal terms. God already knows what his plan is. He is being patient, sitting down with us and helping us to find our way in his plan.
We talk about how faith is what stands under those who hope. We have all seen the picture of the rabbit and the old woman. We have seen the hourglass and the two faces. We have seen the box which can be seen as looking from within or from without. Faith is like that.
This brings us back to the Rainbow of Noah. The Rainbow is a lens God set for us in the world to remind us of our place in the web of the world. It is said of the Jewish Baptistery, the article, “The mikvah offers the individual, the community, and the nation of Israel the remarkable gift of purity and holiness.” In the original Hebrew, the word used for “Seas” is “Mikvah.” “The world’s natural bodies of water — its oceans, rivers, wells, and spring-fed lakes, are mikvahs in their most primal form. They contain waters of divine source and thus, tradition teaches, the power to purify.”
Belief comes from the Mikvah that is always attached to the ground reminding us that, however much we might like to be otherwise, we are attached to this planet, this ordered cosmos. Belief comes from sitting down and listening with our father who reminds us constantly, no matter how much we think otherwise, we are all just human beings trying to get from the cradle to the grave in one piece, and some do not make it.
The rainbow reminds us to look at our world through the lens of Belief/Faith. Belief/Faith is the lens God asks us to see the world through. When I say, “I believe,” I give more than casual assent. This is the lens through which I see the world; this is the place from which I acquire my strength.