The Most Sacred Name
An Overview

By Rabbi Shlomo Nachman © December 29, 2010 (last updated July 15, 2018)

** Please Note:
This page contains the Sacred Name for purposes of study.
If you print this page out please dispose of it respectfully.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יהוה
אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶך–הָעולָם
אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָנוּ בְּמִצְותָיו
וְצִוָּנוּ לַעֲסק בְּדִבְרֵי-תורָה.

Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam
asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu la’asok b’divrei torah.

"Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe,
who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to study words of Torah."

On Rumble

A Jew is a member of the Sinai Covenant with its 613 Mitzvot (Commandments) established between the One True G-d and the descendents of Avraham and Sarah through our Teacher Moshe, as recorded in the Torah. It is vital to understand this. The Most Sacred Name was revealed to our people in order to enhance the intimacy of our Covenant (Devarim 6:3). The Beloved and the beloved are in a most unique relationship often referenced as a "husband and wife."

Those who are not members of this ancient extended family are known as Gentiles (Hebrew: goyim). Those Gentiles who worship the G-d of Israel only are encouraged to embrace the Sheva Mitzvot B'nei Noach (the Covenant of Seven Laws given to Noach and his descendents). Both groups are fully accepted by the G-d of all the Earth.

The Giver of the Eternal Covenant has revealed a Personal Name. That Name is utterly sacred and is not to be spoken nor written lightly. Which is to say, without specific intention and purpose. Those who desire HaShem's blessings will honor His Sacred Name because they honor Him. HaShem and His Name are echad (One). He is exalted throughout all existence, and throughout all of time and space!

The Torah warns:

Shemot 20:7 "You shall not swear falsely by the name of the LORD your God; for the LORD will not clear one who swears falsely by His Name."
Another translation:
You are not to use lightly the Name of Adonai your G-d, because Adonai will not leave unpunished someone who uses His Name lightly.

The word "lightly" here is shav in Hebrew. As used in the Third of the Ten Commandments it refers to the sense of desolating a thing through an evil intent (falsely in broad terms). It prohibits using the Name with 'ruination' or through moral impurity. Figuratively here shav implies the prohibition of idolatry (as applied to a false subject). It also implies uselessness,which in this case would include using the Sacred Name as something common, as if it were the name of a mortal being. It is also interpreted as being prohibitive of using the Name "in vain," which is to say, uttering the Name pointlessly or without without cause (such as using it in common speech, posting the Name on Website banners and so on. It is also prohibited to use the Name falsely, such as in swearing by the Name to establish the truth of a thing (who are we to swear by the Name of the Holy One!). Shav is a very broad term and so is this Commandment. We are not to use the Sacred Name in ANY UNWORTHY OR DISREPECTFUL WAY.

This is a stern warning "for the Lord will not hold blameless anyone who takes His Sacred Name LIGHTLY. Our rabbis note that merely speaking the Sacred Name without good cause and proper attention brings about the displeasure of HaShem (may it never happen to us!). This is because the absolute Oneness of HaShem is all inclusive. In other words, HaShem and His Name are eternally One in ways we can not begin to fathom. To dishonor the Sacred Name is to dishonor the Named One. There is no Oneness like His Oneness!

It is true that in early biblical history the Sacred Name was spoken more freely, however by the Second Temple Period (530 BCE to 70 CE) uttering the Name became much less common as our elders began to grasp its utter holiness more completely. Eventually only the High Priest spoke the Sacred Name and that only once a year as he stood before HaShem in the Holy Place begging for the forgiveness of our people. Judaism is not static, its an ever evolving Path. As time passes our sages realize ever more clearly just how sacred the Name is and how important it is to honor it. They also saw how easily the Name might be unintentionally "taken lightly" and sought to prevent this serious error. With the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE its utterance was banned in order to honor and preserve its sanctity more completely.

In addition, according to the vast majority of Rabbinic authorities the correct pronunciation of the Sacred Name has been lost. Some blame this method of protection, pointing out that without uttering the Name we forgot how to do so properly. I disagree. Understanding that HaShem controls all things, we conclude that because of our collective sinfulness (not our protection of the Sacred Name by this method) we lost both the Beit HaMikdash (House of the Holy, the Second Temple where the Name was rightly uttered) as well as the correct pronunciation of the Name. When HaMashiach ben David arrives he will restore both the Temple and the knowledge of the Sacred Name so the priests of the Third Temple will again be able to utter HaShem's praises properly. Until then, while there are many guesses as to the proper pronunciation, the truth is no one knows for sure. Therefore ALL attempts at pronouncing the Name, regardless of intention, are incorrect and hence prohibited until the coming of HaMashiach.

It is also true that not everyone agrees with this rabbinic injunction, however history has shown that when the Sacred Name is commonly spoken it is seldom handled with the honor it deserves, as many people on Social Media make abundantly clear on their pages!

Since HaShem and His Sacred Name are One, honoring it is vitally important. The ban seeks to build a fence or hedge around the Sacred Name reminding us that we should be in awe of the Holy One at all times. Those violating this sanctity are advised to correct the transgression with all haste.

Of course, balance is needed in all things. We do not want to view the Sacred Name as something to be feared (awed yes, but not feared), nor to view it with superstition, which might make it as an idol. HaShem brings life and freedom not superstition and bondage. At the same time due to our deep respect for HaShem (literally "The Name") we avoid uttering it, acknowledging our unworthiness to do so. This includes using the Four Hebrew Letters individually as a name which is also specifically forbidden.

The Sacred Name is: יהוה

The Hebrew Name transliterates as the English letters: Yod, Hay, Vav, and Hay or YHVH -- blessed be He for all eternity. Despite the claims of some the proper pronunciation of this four letter Name is uncertain. Volumes have been written by both Jews and non-Jews alike seeking to support the diverse theories on the proper pronunciation. When HaMashiach comes he will reveal it, until then, the debates will continue (although debating this seems disrespectful to the Name as well in my opinion).

Even if we knew for sure how to pronounce the Sacred Name the rabbinic ban against doing so would still be in place. There would be little practical benefit to this knowledge.

The Sacred Name is Unique

In addition to our desire to show proper respect for the Sacred Name, may He be pleased, there are deeply religious, spiritual, and mystical reasons why we do not utter the Name lightly.

Common names merely identify the named: "That's Yochanan" (John) -- The name "John" is the Greek rendition of the Hebrew name Yochanan (ג'ון or יְהוֹחָנָן‎, meaning "יהוה is Gracious". John (in its various forms) is the second most common name there is (after the name Muhammad). But why "John?" John could just as easily have been named Tom or Bob because "John" is just a name despite the fascination many people have with them (origins, meanings, etc). There are a lot of people named John, around 5,117,915 in the US alone. For created beings living in the duality of time and space names are little more than identifiers within the community.

The point is, we are not our names. People named "John" do not necessarily have anything in common with one another nor with the original meaning of their name. We usually have a first, middle and last name in Western cultures. While naming customs have changed since biblical times, the last name usually identifies our lineage or family name while the first is our individual place within the lineage. "John is of the lineage of the Galt family" for instance. John could change his name if he wanted, but it would not alter who he is.

Its different with the Holy One, blessed be He. He exists without beginning, middle or end. Because the Eternal is echad or utterly One, He is utterly unique and completely independent. He is without origin and without lineage. And, He is One with His various attributes, unlike us. We "have" love but He "is" Love. Likewise He is One with His Name. In Him there are no divisions:

Sh'ma Y'israel Adonai Elohaynu Adonai Echad
"Hear, Israel, the Lord is our G-d, the Lord is One."

If we can get a handle on the immensity of this truth, we can understand how it is that while we have love, HaShem is Love. While we have justice, HaShem is Justice and so on. HaShem is echad, One. There is no being like Him. And "He" is without gender or other human conceptions of what makes one an individual. Ain Soph is utterly transcendent.

It is not that the Sacred Name is G-d's Name, like my name is Shlomo, it is that G-d and His Sacred Name are echad -- Blessed be He for all eternity. In other words, HaShem is non-different from His Name because He alone is truly One. By honoring the Sacred Name therefore we not only honor the Name, we simultaneously honor the Named. We acknowledge His Oneness even though the comprehension of it surpasses us. To "use His Name in vain" is therefore to use HaShem Himself in vain! May G-d protect us from such error!.

In Judaism most everything is debated. As my Rebbe, Rabbi Aryel Nachman ben Chaim, sometimes notes, Judaism is the perfect religion for heretics! This is because we welcome debate and study! This point is not debated however. Jewish authorities sometimes debate why we do not utter the Sacred Name without very good cause and what the exceptions might be, such as for study purposes as I do here, but they are unanimous that we don't do it. One should never utter nor write the Sacred Name without very good cause and then only with concentrated kavanah and emunah (with complete intention and faith that doing so is correct) in why and what one is doing.

Because the Transcendent Name is so Sacred, we traditionally use one of two titles rather than writing or pronouncing the Name. This is done to honor the Sacred Name not out of superstition against using it as some critics charge.


When reading the Holy Scriptures (and some traditional prayers) we see the Sacred Name written in Hebrew letters. The Sacred Four Letter Name is used in the Tanach (the Hebrew Bible) more than 7970 times. At such places we read the Sacred Name as Adonai ("LORD") rather than pronounce the letters on the page. This title is commonly pronounced in one of two different ways:

In practice the differences between these and other Jewish groups (such as the Adot HaMizrach -- "communities of the East," the B'nei Menashe, the Cochin Jews, Bene Ephraim, the Romaniotes of Greece; the Italkim or Bene Roma of Italia, the Teimanim Jews of Yemen and Oman, the African Lemba and Mizraḥi Jews) has more to do with historically observed liturgical traditions of their ancestors than with geography. This diversity is not relevant to our present study, however it is important to understand that the House of Judah (Y'hudah) is not a culturally, racially, nor linguistically monolithic tradition. Jews have been living in the Galut (i.e. outside of the Land of Israel) for so long (since the 6th century BCE and earlier) that they have adopted many customs and traditions from the other nations and developed many more within their own communities. One does not have to be Semitic nor a member of any particular movement to be fully Jewish (for more on this topic go here). This diversity adds to the richness of our Traditions and deepens the traditional Jewish respect we have for other cultures and belief systems. Or, at least it should.

Regardless of pronunciation, "Adonai" is usually translated as LORD (or L-RD), proclaiming that the Named One is LORD over all so-called lords. In the following verse note how the Sacred Name has been rendered as "ADONAI."

Shemot 20:7 "You are not to use lightly the name of ADONAI your G-d, because ADONAI will not leave unpunished someone who uses his name lightly.
Whereas the Judaica Press Version has it this way:
Shemot 20:7 You shall not take the name of the Lord, your G-d, in vain, for the Lord will not hold blameless anyone who takes His name in vain.


We more frequently employ the title HaShem outside of Scripture reading and certain prayers.

"HaShem" affirms that He is "the-Name" -- the Name of Four Letters or tetragrammaton in Greek. This ascribed title proclaims that the Named One is KING and MASTER over all so-called kings and all masters. For religious Jews (and Noahidim) the Named One is both King of kings and Lord of lords. And He is eternally echad, the indivisible One.

Both of these titles are accurate and both should be held in mind when referring to the One True G-d Who alone is King of kings and Lord of lords. These are the divine titles that are best used to refer to the Holy One, blessed be He although there are many others.

Some Jewish sages maintain that the prohibition against using G-d's Sacred Name in vain found in Third Commandment: "You shall not take His Name in vain" specifically prohibits taking oaths with the Sacred Name but that is not what the text says. While that certainly is part of it, it is not the complete prohibition as explained above. The great Jewish theologian Rambam (Maimonides) declares::

It is not only a false oath that is forbidden. Instead, it is forbidden to mention even one of the names designated for G-d in vain, although one does not take an oath. For the verse commands us, saying: "To fear the glorious and awesome name" (Devarim 28:58)." Included in fearing it is not to mention it in vain.

Therefore if because of a slip of the tongue, one mentions [G-d's] name in vain, he should immediately hurry to praise, glorify and venerate it, so that it will not have been mentioned in vain. What is implied? If he mentions G-d's name, he should say: "Blessed be He for all eternity," "He is great and exceedingly praiseworthy," or the like, so that it will not have been [mentioned entirely] in vain (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Vows 12:11).

The frequent command in the Bible to "Praise His Name" and so on does not direct us to pronounce the Sacred Name as some wrongly believe. Many sincere people inadvertently blaspheme the Sacred Name while intending to praise it. We are to honor the Name by "not using it lightly" (Shemot 20:7) and by holding the glorious and awesome Name with a sense of awe (Devarin 28:58). Regarding the Name as a thing of most precious beauty and utter sacredness we are protected from inadvertently dishonoring it and violating this serious commandment.

The commandment then, as Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi explains (see: Likkutei Torah, Behar 41a, et al), is based on the fact that our praises of G-d arise from our emotional and/or intellectual appreciation of His Greatness. Something so grand and sacred should never be used as part of common speech. The Sacred Name should be held close to our hearts and cherished.

How, the honorable Rabbi Schneur Zalman ponders, can finite beings such as we even begin to know about His Glory in order to offer Him due praise and worship? No one has seen G-d at any time (as we read in passages like Shemot 33:20). HaShem does not incarnate like the Pagan gods, so how can we know Him? How can we honor Him? In order that He can be conceived and known and praised HaShem reveals His Presence (His Ruach HaKodesh) to us through His Torah. His Torah proclaims His various Aspects, Names and Titles. This Torah knowledge brings us to emunah (active faith/trust) and emunah brings to us to Torah whereby we attain levels of devekut or connection to Him.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov therefore advises us:

1) Through studying Torah all our prayers and requests are accepted and the favor and standing of the Jewish people are enhanced in the eyes of whoever they have need for, materially and spiritually.
2) Studying Torah with all your might gives power to the forces of holiness and strengthens the good inclination against the evil inclination.
3) If you labor in the study of Torah you will be able to understand the hints and meanings contained in all the different things in the world and use them as a means of coming closer to God. Even if you find yourself in a place of darkness where you might think it hard to draw close to God, true wisdom will radiate to you and you will be able to draw close to God even from there.
And also:
The Mitnagdim (opponents of the Chassidim) say that the main thing is to study Torah. The Chassidim say the main thing is prayer. But I say: Pray and study and pray.
Siach Sarfey Kodesh 1-8

We understand that the command to "Praise His Name" refers to praising His attributes -- His Kindness, His Power, His Mercy and so on. We praise His Name when we give Him credit and thanks for everything in our lives. We praise His Name by studying His Torah. We praise His Name through our prayers and our praises in worship. HaShem's Oneness knows no division. He has no equals nor any partners. Through His various attributes, including His Sacred Name, we are empowered to enter, through the gates of emunah, into His Omnipresence with thanksgiving and joy (Tehillim 69:30, 95:2). With only a slight degree of comprehension of His greatness we receive everything we need, everything our souls long for. As we do this we hold the Sacred Name in ever greater awe as it deserves, as best we can.

Religious Jews and Noahidim (Gentiles who worship the G-d of Israel) always seek to carefully honor the Sacred Name as commanded by HaShem. See my Birchat HaShem study.

If one is to err it is better to err on the side of holiness. To this end rabbinic authorities "build a fence" or "hedge" around the Sacred Name by also restricting the use of the title Adonai and only using the term HaShem. We are encouraged to write "G-d" or "L-rd" rather than God and Lord for the same reason. Such khumra are like fences one might place around a flower garden to protect the plants from being accidentally trampled:

"Moses received the Torah at Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua, Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets, and the prophets to the men of the Great Synagogue [Ezra et al].
A khumra is a requirement that exceeds the actual commandment in order to protect the initial observance as intended. The rationale is based on this verse:
Devarim 22:8 When you build a new house, you shall make a guard rail for your roof, so that you shall not cause blood [to be spilled] in your house, that the one who falls should fall from it [the roof].

On this important verse Rashi notes:

... that the one who falls should fall: tells us that one [who would fall] deserves to fall [to his death on account of his sins]; nevertheless, you should not be the one to bring about his death, for meritorious things are executed through meritorious people, while things of ill-fortune are executed through guilty people. — [Sifrei 22:68]
There are a lot of people today who are treating the Sacred Name of G-d disrespectfully. Many of these people sincerely (albeit wrongly) believe they are honoring the Name by doing so. They utter the Name (or some mispronounced version of it) as though it were any other common name. They scribble it on web pages and blogs with no more thought than when they write "John Galt" or the name of some celebrity. These people do so at their own peril as the above verse from Exodus and the quote from Rambam make clear. If a person is going to dishonor the Sacred Name he/she will do as he pleases and dishonor the Sacred Name. We can not stop him/her. However those who love HaShem want no part of such blasphemy! For this reason, some add an extra "fence" around the Name so as to protect from unintentional "falls" (such as writing "G-d" and so on).

In any case, the Sacred Name should only be uttered or written with full intention and emunah and with all due respect. Then only when the alternative forms (Adonai, HaShem, G-d, etc) do not suffice to convey the intended meaning. It is the most Sacred Name and Sound Vibration in all of existence! If one is to err, as we all do from time to time, it is better to err on the side of holiness. I can not stress this point enough.

A Few Divine Titles

Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh

HaShem is not bound by time nor space. While the proper pronunciation of the Sacred Name of Four Letters is not known, His title Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh is. It is often referred to the "Great I Am," affirming that as a Mighty Wind the Eternal is Omnipresent. The Holy One is the Sole Being of Past, Present and Future (Hence, "I will be what I will be"). His Presence breaths life into all creation. As the most Mighty Wind, His Spirit Presence 'blows' whereever He chooses to send it. The people will want to know who You are, where You dwell, and what You will do. In reply HaShem affirms that he is the Holy One and will be and do as He pleases. Our choice is to accept this fact or reject it. Our acceptance or rejection changes absolutely nothing.


This is the most common of the early titles of HaShem and the first used in the Torah. Although "Elohim" is plural in form, the title is construed with a singular verb or adjective. This is unusual but not unheard of in Hebrew. It is a plural noun in a singular form. Hebrew scholars debate why this is so. Perhaps the most common explanation is that in courtly language the plural form of majesty and excellence is used to acknowledge high dignity or greatness. For instance, the Queen says, "We are not amused!" in reference to herself as sovereign of her court. This usage in no way implies plurality of the subject.

This view is supported by the similar use of plurals such as ba'al (master) and adon (lord). In Ethiopic, Amlak ("lords") is the common title for the one G-d. The singular Eloah is comparatively rare. It is mainly used in poetry and late prose (such as in Job where it is used 41 times). The same divine title is found in Arabic as ilah and in Aramaic as elah. The singular is used in six places for heathen deities (Divrei Hayamim II 32: 15; Daniel 9: 37, 38; etc.); and the plural also, a few times, either for gods or images (Shemot 9:1, 12:12, 20:3; etc.) or for the One God (Shemot 32:1; Bereishit 31:30, 32; etc.). In the great majority of cases both are used as names of the one God of Israel.

In essence this divine title identifies the G-d of the Torah as the Majestic God over all so called gods. It was broadly used prior to the revelation of the Sacred Name. The Tanach is abundantly clear that HaShem is Echad (Indivisibly One)..


The title El is synonymous with the English word god. It can refer to any god or to the One True G-d depending how it's used in the context. It is used in both singular and plural forms. As a title of the One G-d it is normally combined with another word, such as HaShem is "a jealous G-d" and so on. HaShem is El 'Elyon ("Most High G-d"), El Shaddai ("Almighty G-d"), El 'Olam ("Everlasting G-d"), El Ḥai ("Living G-d"), El Ro'i ("G-d of Seeing"), El Elohe Israel ("G-d, the G-d of Israel"), El Gibbor ("Mighty G-d") and so on. Such titles bring glory and recognition to the Holy One Who transcends all titles..

As for the title itself, its origin and meaning are both uncertain. Some scholars say the Hebrew root of El suggests the idea, "to be strong" but others argues that this is extremely doubtful because a similar root means "to be in front," "to be foremost," "to lead," "to rule," which would give El the meaning "leader" or "lord." But this meaning compounded with words commonly appended to El would it seem redundant so is also questionable. Others note that the "e" in El was originally "short" -- as seen in such proper names as Elkanah, Elihu, and in the Assyrian "ilu." This is seen as strong evidence against this derivation.

As in the case of Elohim, it seems necessary to admit that the original meaning is simply not literally known. These words date back to the beginning of human civilization and while we know what they mean in usage, their root details in some cases are lost.


Aside from its connection as El Shaddai ("G-d Almighty"), Shaddai, is also used independently as a name of G-d. It occurs mainly in Sefer Iyov, the Book of Job.

Shaddai is commonly translated as "the Almighty." The Hebrew root shadad, from which it is derived, means "to overpower," "to treat with violence," "to lay waste." This title would properly be used to refer to HaShem as the Devastator or Destroyer. While we may prefer to think of HaShem as the "G-d of love," when one is under enemy attack by a strong enemy, as we so often are, there is certainly comfort in knowing that HaShem is also Shaddai! He is our side and He is the Devastator of all who stand against His people (Bereishit 12:3)!


The title Elyon is used in conjunction with El, with יהוה, with Elohim, and also alone. Used in conjunction it suggests that El is the Most High, the Sacred Name is the Most High, and that Elohim is the Most High. In all cases it refers to HaShem as the Most High G-d. Evidence suggests that the Phoenicians used this same name for God as 'Eλιον.

Adonai and Ba'al

As discussed above, Adonai (the L-rd) is used as a title specifically for the Sacred Name of G-d. Apart from its use by the Masorites as a substitution reading of the Sacred Name, the word itself is likely derived from Adoni or "my Lord" and later assumed the usage of a proper title. Its simple form Adon means "lord" as in master, and is synonymous with the word ba'al.

The ba'al concept was utilized by certain Pagans to describe their semi-polytheistic belief in a single unknowable god (Ba'al singular) who sends forth demigods (ba'alim) or avatars (and assuras) into the earth for their own purposes, sometimes positive sometimes negative. There are lesser gods/ba'alim in charge of rain, harvest, sexuality, and so on. These also must be appeased in diverse ways. All areas of life according to the Pagans had overseeing spirit beings. Most ancient Pagans had their own istadeva or cherished god that presided over the household. For instance we know that the household of Muhammad worshiped Hubal-Sin, the moon god of the Sinai, who was later elevated as the monotheistic Allah of Islam.

The word ba'al was commonly used to indicate ones "master" and in such cases had no connection to the word as used by the Pagans. We find it in proper names, such as Jerubbaal, Ishbaal, Meribaal, etc. As an Chassidic Jew I seek instruction from Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer, known as the BESHT or the Baal Shem Tov. His title means "Master of the Good Name" and certainly has no connection with Ba'al worship. Just as not everyone who worships a "god" is worshipping the G-d of Israel, so too with this word. Context is vital.

Less Well Known Titles

Abir is the "Strong One" of Jacob or Israel.
Ḳedosh Y'israel is the "Holy One of Israel".
Ẓur is the "Rock" and Ẓur Y'israel is the "Rock of Israel"
Eben Y'israel is the "Stone of Israel
Ẓeba'ot "of Hosts" is frequently found in relation to the Sacred Name and the title Elohim as in Adonai Elohe Ẓeba'ot ("Adonai, G-d of Hosts") or simply "God of Hosts," or most frequently, "יהוה of Hosts." It is noteworthy that the name יהוה Ẓeba'ot is more than once directly associated with the Ark, which was the symbol of G-d's presence in the midst of the hosts of His people (see Numbers 10:35,36; I Samuel 4:4; and II Samuel 6: 2). Later, and especially in prophetic usage, the word was transferred to the heavenly hosts, or rather the heavenly hosts were added to the earthly hosts. For this idea of heavenly hosts joining their forces with those of G-d's people, or fighting on behalf of G-d's servants, compare Judges 5:20; II Kings 6:16,17; Psalm. 34:7.

The Seventy Two Hidden Titles of G-d

Borrowed from CHABAD

According to Jewish mystical traditions hidden within the following verses are seventy two Titles of G-d:

Then the angel of G-d, who had been going in front of the Israelite camp, moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved away from in front of them and stood behind them.
And he came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel, and there were the cloud and the darkness, and it illuminated the night, and one did not draw near the other all night long.
And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the L-rd led the sea with the strong east wind all night, and He made the sea into dry land and the waters split -- Exodus 14:19
Each of these verses, in Hebrew, contain exactly 72 letters. As Rabbi Moshe Ya'akov Wisnefsky explains:
The letters of these three verses can be arranged as 72 triplets of letters. But we are taught in Kabbalah that if we reverse the order of the letters in the middle set, the 72 triplets become 72 "names" of God.

In the Zohar (II:51b) it is stated that these three verses refer in sequence to the divine attributes of chesed, gevura, and tiferet. The harmonious blending of these three principle emotive attributes forms the basic paradigm of how G-d relates to the world. Thus,combined they form a composite Name of G-d, since a name is a means by which one is made known to others, i.e. manifests his attributes.

The fact that each verse contains 72 letters means that they can be aligned in parallel, forming 72 triplets of letters. In this configuration, the Zohar states, the first verse is to be written in its proper order, since it represents G-d's loving-kindness, or a direct revelation of G-d's goodness. The second verse is to be written in reverse order, from the last letter to the first, since it represents G-d's severity, which is an indirect revelation of His goodness. Although tiferet is a blend of both chesed and gevura the third verse is not to be written half in the proper order and half in reverse order, as one might expect. There are two reasons for this: (1) in tiferet, chesed dominates over gevura, and (2) as the ideal blend of chesed and gevura, tiferet is a direct revelation of G-d's goodness and glory rather than an indirect one.

(This array may be seen inter alia in the standard editions of the Zohar, volume 2, p. 270a.)
While I personally discourage delving into Jewish mysticism unless one is highly educated in and observant of both the Written and Oral Torah, and one has acquired a "face to face" teacher of authentic Jewish mysticism -- something quite difficult to find these days-- it seems appropriate to share this bit of information here since no consideration of the Sacred Name in Judaism would be complete without it.

Here's the point friends: The Holy One, the G-d of Israel and all the Universes, HaShem Yitborach, the Blessed G-d, has entrusted humanity with certain knowledge so we will be able to draw ever closer to Him. Among these entrusted treasures is the Sacred Name of Four Letters. May all who who cherish His Most Sacred Name be blessed for all their generations and on into the Olam Haba, may it soon arrive!.



ADVICE from RABBI NACHMAN, Online English translation of Likutey Etzot A compendium of Rabbi Nachman's practical teachings on spiritual growth and devotion. © AZAMRA INSTITUTE 5766 / 2006


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