Our tradition teaches us to avoid using the divine name. We are instructed not to pronounce it in vain, and not to refer to it directly in writing. Some permit the name to be spelled out in languages other than Hebrew, whereas I personally follow the stricter opinion and use other terms to designate the deity.
There is a statement in Jewish mystical literature to the effect that the end of every story is already implicit in its beginning, and that at least some elements of the story's beginning endure until its end.
One thought, and one thought only, preoccupied me that evening while I was in the car on the way to the weekly session of the class I was leading on the subject of basic Jewish concepts in the book of Genesis. I knew that this was the next to last class in the series and that soon I would have to be saying goodbye to Leon, Richard, and Simon. I wondered whether they too were similarly preoccupied, anticipating that the class would soon be over.
"We are stumped," reported Richard on behalf of the little group, who had just begun the Joseph story. "The narrative was fascinating, but we found it difficult to identify basic Jewish concepts in the midst of this intriguing plot."
I was beginning to learn a necessary lesson, one which I would advise all teachers to learn. It was finally dawning upon me that the most effective thing I could do with this little class of three was simply to listen. Richard, Simon, and Leon had much to say and they were almost always "right on." Had I come into the class each session with a prepared lecture, I would only have bored them and, worse, turned them off. By allowing them to present their own ideas, they were beginning to take charge of their learning, and, more impressive, of their Jewish religious growth.
It was the sixth session of the class, but like most teachers, I knew very little about the personal backgrounds of my students, Richard, Simon, and Leon. I was beginning to know each of them as students of Genesis and as open-minded young Jews, ready to learn all they could. But I had no clue as to their family backgrounds and as to whether or not they were married or had families of their own.