https://opensiddur.org/?p=19614 Some thoughts on God's proper, ineffable name, a d'var tefillah by Shoshana Michael Zucker 2018-03-28 08:54:30 Some thoughts on the ineffable divine name. Text the Open Siddur Project Shoshana Michael Zucker (translation) Shoshana Michael Zucker (translation) https://opensiddur.org/copyright-policy/ Shoshana Michael Zucker (translation) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/ Pedagogical Essays on Jewish Prayer דע לפני מי אתה עומד Know Before Whom You Stand Shem Havaya Ineffable Name Tetragrammaton Rashbam Divine Names
If God had a business card, what would it say?
God’s position might be “Creator of the Universe,” “Redeemer of Israel” or “Healer of the Sick,” or just “God.”
If “God” is God’s role, what is God’s name?
“Adonai,” “Holy Blessed One” or “Source of Life?”
Those are designations but not God’s proper name.
God’s proper name is Yod-Hei-Vav-Hei.
The Ineffable Name of which it is said, “Whose mysterious Name cannot be interpreted.” Cf. Ba’er Hetev on Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 591:5, Kaf HaChayim on Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 591:38:1, et al
Fortunately, “Unataneh Tokef” isn’t a legal text, because I would like to interpret that mysterious Name.
At the burning bush, God said to Moses,
“Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh – I Will Be What I Will Be…
Thus shall you say to the Israelites, ‘Ehyeh – I Will Be sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14  Moses’ change from first to third person, and the possibility of switching yod for vav is based on Rashbam’s commentary on Exodus 3:14
God calls Godself “אהיה – I will be” in the first person, as the speaker
When Moses reports to the people
he switches to the third person “יהיה – He will be,”
for God is unseen. In Hebrew grammar, the first, second and third persons are also known as “speaker, present, unseen (or hidden), respectively.
The letter vav substitutes for the second yod, yielding the name as written,
This name is derived from the state of being verb Is-Was-Will be.
אפשר (לפחות ברמת הדרש) להבין את צורת השם הנכתב באות וא״ו כמאגד יחד את כל הזמנים הדקדוקיים,
כי ”מֵעוֹלָם עַד עוֹלָם אַתָּה אֵל.“
The spelling with a vav can be understood as bringing together all three tenses in Biblical Hebrew: future, present, and past,
because God is God for all time. Psalms 90:2
At the bush God spoke in the first person.
Moses spoke about God in the third person.
We approach God in the second person, “You” as if God were present.
Filled with awe by the mystery, we do not pronounce this name, but it is printed in our prayer book.
When praying quietly, try not to rush to say “Adonai” immediately.
Take a moment to wait in wonder, in the presence of God who Is-Was-Will be, who Speaks, is Present and is Unseen.
הוד והדר, שבת משפטים תשע״ח
|1||Cf. Ba’er Hetev on Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 591:5, Kaf HaChayim on Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 591:38:1, et al|
|3||Moses’ change from first to third person, and the possibility of switching yod for vav is based on Rashbam’s commentary on Exodus 3:14|
|4||In Hebrew grammar, the first, second and third persons are also known as “speaker, present, unseen (or hidden), respectively.|
“Some thoughts on God’s proper, ineffable name, a d’var tefillah by Shoshana Michael Zucker” is shared through the Open Siddur Project with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International copyleft license.