Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Yud and The Hei

The Zohar teaches that the letter yud was added to Pinchas' name and the letter hei was added to Yosef's name [see Psalms 81:6] because they were both zealous about the prohibition of cohabiting with a non-Jewish woman.  Pinchas killed Zimri and Yosef resisted the persistent attempts of Potifar's wife.

This sheds light on Rashi's explanation why each of the family names included in the census consisted of their paternal father's names with a hei added at the front and a yud at the end:  ''The nation would taunt [Israel] saying ''Why do they trace their lineage by tribe? Do they really think that the Egyptians did not have their way with their mothers?''... So God placed His Name upon them, hei at one said and yud at the other, as if to say ''I testify that these people are indeed the sons of their fathers'' [Rashi to Pinchas 26:5].  Thus we see here that the same letters, yud and hei, were added to show that the Jewish people had been moral, like Pinchas and Yosef.

Why is this vigilance attested to by these two particular letters?  Our Sages noted that the Hebrew words for ''man'' אישׁ and ''woman'' אשׁה only differ in the letters yud and hei, which spell God's Name.*  On this, they remarked ''If a couple is found worthy, the Divine Presence will be with them''.  [Sotah 17a]  Here we see the Talmudic source that the letters yud and hei testify that God's people are pure and holy.

*When the letters yud and hei are removed, both words spell אשׁ - fire - showing that when God is not present in a marriage, there is fire.

Based on Likutei Sichos Lubavitcher Rebbe

6 comments:

  1. Interesting !!!
    Didn't Joseph marry an Egyptian who bore Ephraim and Mannaseh ??

    If Jewish lineage comes through the mother wouldn't that make Ephraim and Mannaseh Egyptian hence gentiles ??

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  2. To Anonymous, #1: What is not emphasized enough about Yosef and his wife is that his wife and the mother of his children was Osnat, the granddaughter of Yaakov Avinu and daughter of Dina. She had been sent by Yaakov to Egypt and he gave her an amulet which she wore around her neck. She was adopted by Potifar and his wife (who were childless). When Yosef saw Osnat and the amulet, he recognized it immediately and knew that she was his niece. His children were Jewish from both their mother's and father's sides.

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  3. Can you cite your torah source(s) ??

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  4. I heard that Osnat converted to Judaism...

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    1. ...so I heard and so is Ruth, Rahab and Moses wife.
      There is no direct evidences of these conversions in the tanach !

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  5. Don't have the direct sources, but have also read a number of times about Osnat (that's why her name is Osnat (raped). She was the offspring of Dina and Schem. Her grandfather sent her off to Egypt with a protective amulet, and was ultimately adopted by Potifar & wife (sages say he was a eunuch). She was Jewish. As far as Ruth, Rahab & Tziporah, they were all converted. The Torah is not a story book. That is why we have the Oral Law besides the Written Law, both received at Sinai. The sages (chazal) who had the holy spirit have interpreted every letter of every word with all their cantillations. The non-Jews read their Bible. Jews do not; they learn and study the Torah. Just as Yisro eventually converted so did the above mentioned women. Without our Oral Torah, we couldn't understand 90%. Jewish law is not to be taken lightly, all is of 'Divine' origin. Raizy

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