Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The meaning of the name of God

Today is the 25th of Shebat, 5770

The name of God is written in one way and is read in a different way. When this happens elsewhere in Biblical Hebrew, it is called keri/ketib, which means: a word is written in a certain way but must be read in a different way. To signal this event, the original word’s consonants are combined with the vowels of the word that should be pronounced. In our case, the four letters of God’s name are combined with the 3 vowels of the word AMONAY (read with D, instead of M): Chataf Patach, Cholam Chaser and Kamess. (It is confusing for the beginner because he might fail to see the Chataf Patach, which under a Yod became a Sheva…).

According to its writing, the name of God means “The Eternal.” The four letters of His holly name are the combination of the Hebrew “He was”, “He is” and “He will be”. The concept of “Eternity/Infinity” is obviously beyond our ability to grasp accurately.

Therefore when we read it we say: AMONAY (idem.): “The Lord” which in Hebrew stands for authorship / ownership. This concept is obviously more accessible to our understanding.

Whenever we pronounce the name of God we have to think about its double meaning: that He is Adon haKol, the Owner/Master of everything that exists, and that He is Ineffable, Infinite, Eternal, therefore, beyond our human, limited understanding.