The Secret of the Two Names of God

    June 2010            
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The Secret of the Names of G-d

By Nachum Mohl

Hebrew is such an interesting language. It has so many secrets to reveal, but only those who are fortunate to learn the Hebrew language can truly appreciate it. One of the more interesting aspects is that of the various names that are given to G-d. Two of the most common names are those which are shown above in the title of this article, pronounced A-donai Elo-hainu. These are two names of G-d which are used very requently in making blessings and praises to G-d and they are in the famous prayer, Shema Israel as shown below:

What is so special about these two names? (There are others, but we won't discuss them here now, perhaps at a later time.)

There is a world of difference between the two names! And we are going to see that literally:

If you read the Torah (in Hebrew), in the very beginning you will notice that when G-d creates the world, only the name Elo-heim is used. Elo-heim and Elo-hai-nu are really the same except that Elo-hai-nu is a conjugated form of Elo-heim (aspect of G-d) meaning our G-d. It is not until the Torah discusses the creation of man that the name A-donai is used. Also it is important to note that the name Elo-heim is really a plural form of the singular word is Elo-hah.

Our sages explain that Elo-heim is that aspect of G-d which refers to the creation of the physical world. They tell us that the gematria (the part of Jewish learning that uses the numerical equivalent of the letters) of the name Elo-heim (86) is the same as the Hebrew word for 'the nature', HaTeva (86). This is to emphasize that this name of G-d is bound up with the laws of nature. Or perhaps we can more correctly state that it is nature.

The name A-donai, is just the opposite. It is that aspect of G-d which transcends the world (or more correctly: worlds). This name of G-d is made up of four letters. The first letter is the yud; the smallest letter followed by a heh (a square-ish letter), the third letter is a vav (a straight line descending downward) followed by a heh again. All of this comes to tell us that this name of G-d comes from a dimensionless place that is of the aspect of the infinite. Kabbalah calls this the world of Atzilut, the highest world, the world of the infinite, the world of no measurement.

More specifically, the Cabbalists explain that this yud (from Atzilut) extends down and creates the next world, a world that has some dimension, hence the heh for the world of Breyah, then again there was an extension and the G-dliness descended lower (vav - a line extending from the top to the bottom) creating the world of Yitzirah, and finally another descension represented by the final heh, the world as we know it, the world of dimension, the world call Assiyah the world of doing. Once the world of Assiyah was created (this is the world in which we live in, the world of action and doing), the name of Elo-heim,, the name of the power of nature, becomes the channel through which the powers of G-d will be funneled into the world.

In other words the name A-donai is that aspect of G-d that transcends the world, it is that aspect which is so holy and separate from the world, so separate that it is in the world and out of the world unaffected by the world yet totally in the world, in everything that is worldly and outside of it, and all at the same time. This is the highest aspect of G-d's name. Elo-heim, again, is that aspect which is active in the world, that aspect which directs the world through the laws of nature, and that aspect which gives everything in the world its life and powers.

When we pray, we mention both names. We pray for ourselves here in the earth, who are bound by the earthly life, yet we realize that G-d is beyond the world. To affect any change in our situation, in our earthly and worldly bound life we must go above the powers that conduct the world. We recognize Elo-heim as being the natural laws of the world as G-d has set them up, but we try to reach higher, to A-donai to effect a change in our situation and the way that the name Elo-heim is set to run the world.

Just realizing this, that we must direct our prayers to the highest source, to the essence of G-d, since it is He and He alone who being the Al-mighty and Infinite, this is where our prayers should be directed. If we do this, we have the correct address for our prayers, and like a letter with the correct address, we have a better chance of having our prayers answered.


from the June 2010 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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