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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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"Adonoy, Elohim, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your powerful hand that there is no power in heaven or on earth that can perform Your deeds and Your acts of power.

RASHI Adonoy Elohim: RASHI: Merciful in judgement.

What Is Rashi Saying?

The different names of G-d carry different meanings in the Torah and Tanaach. The four letter name, spelled "Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh" conveys the idea of "Mercifulness" It is a unique name and because of its special sanctity, is not pronounced as it is written. We pronounce it: "Adonoy" The word "adonoy" itself when written as it is pronounced "Aleph-Deled-Vav-Nun-Yod" means literally "my lord."

Another familiar name of G-d is "Elohim." We pronounce this word as it is written; it conveys the concept of "judge" or "judgement."

But our verse is unusual. The first name of G-d here is written "aleph-deled-vav-nun-yod" (adonoy) while the second name here is written as the special name of G-d "yod-heh-vav-heh." But in our verse it is pronounced as "elohim." (I hope I'm not confusing you!). We know how to pronounce these words because the vowels in Hebrew ("dots") under the letters are written as we are to pronounce the word.

In view of this unusual circumstance, the Ramban is critical of Rashi's interpretation. He says that Rashi's interpretation would be appropriate here had the two names of G-d been "yod-heh-vav-heh" and then "elohim." But in our verse this is not the case. The first name while pronounced like we pronounce "yod-heh-vav-heh" is actually written "aleph-daled-vav-nun-yod"

This is a difficult criticism of Rashi, because Rashi certainly was aware of the unique spelling here, nevertheless he gave his interpretation as "merciful in judgement."

The Mizrachi defends Rashi by saying that the Ramban misunderstood Rashi's intent. Rashi meant that the word which is spelled "aleph-daled-vav-nun-yod" (my Lord) also conveys the idea of "judgement" and this word together with the next name which is written "yod-heh-vav-heh" means Merciful in judgement." Another possible interpretation of Rashi's intent is that the second name here is spelled "yod-heh-vav-heh" but pronounced "elohim" here we have the one word containing both "mercy" and "judgement " in it. This may be the basis for Rashi's interpretation.

An added note: Those printed Chumashim that have G-d's name writtenwith two "yods" give the wrong impression. No Torah scroll has G-d's name written this way. This is a printer's invention to save space! It is never G-d's name.

Shabbat Shalom

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