“Avinu Malkeinu” – Our Father, our King
COI Guidance – from the Judah Platform
The COI Vision is all about promoting Reconciliation between the two opposing and greatly divided Houses of the original Biblical nation of Israel, i.e. Judah and Ephraim. This destructive Family feud has been reigning for 2,700 years now – but it seems that we are reaching the end. Awakening is happening on both sides – reconciliation is in progress on various fronts and Peace is looming.
As in the case of a marriage restitution, issues that cause friction have to be discarded; actions disapproved of by either party have to be regulated and corrected to assure peaceful co-habitation. Even vocabulary needs adjusting and refreshing.
This beautiful and touching song emphasizes one such issue; the ever increasing usage by Ephraim of the word ‘Abba’ to refer to the Most High. Though a Hebrew word, ‘abba’ (father) is not in popular usage as a reference to the God of Israel which holds an extreme level of respect in Judaism. ‘Abba’ is the form of address used by every child in Israel towards their earthly parent, father. It is more in the sense of ‘Daddy’ while the more respectful word is ‘Av’ (father). There are similar occurrences in many other languages but we will discuss here only the English version: ‘Father’ as opposed to ‘Dad’. In addition there is Pappa, Daddy which are more familial enduring usages to address one’s earthly father. In common, ‘father’ is a more respectful way of address, as opposed to the more casual ‘Dad’ or ‘Daddy’.
Now fondly as this address of the Most Holy may be for Ephraimites, it does not say much for their submission to the One so lofty and respected by Judah. There are Ephraimites who, believe it or not, do not hesitate to refer to Him as ‘Big Daddy’ – and that after all is the impression that calling Him ‘Abba’ leaves with Jews. It is truly inconceivable that the Supreme Deity could be addressed as ‘Daddy’ and few Ephraimites would use this address in public. This does not refer to private and intimate communication with God by a worshipper. Then why use the Hebrew word which publicly infers disrespect? This does not make for Reconciliation.
Additionally, this form of address used by Ephraimites in Jewish company immediately labels reawakening Ephrainite returnees as ‘that opposing faction which does not revere the Judasim of the Bible and the Torah.’ It builds walls of Division rather than advance reconciliation.
And if there are words, as used in this stirring Song from the Jewish High Holyday liturgy which express the true respect and adoration for the Supreme One, then why not use that? May this rendering by Babra Streisand move our beloved reawakening Ephraimites to address Him as ‘Avinu’ – Our Father, as Ephraim’s NT renders it in ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ – or will they here also pray, “Our dear Dad Who is in heaven…?”
PS. ‘Avinu’ is the plural conjunction of ‘Av’, i.e. ‘our father’