Wednesday, May 22, 2013

“What’s In a Name?”

Sichos HaRan 95
Translated and annotated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom (Breslov Research Institute), pp. 219-221, with minor modifications.

A man’s destiny and mission in life are determined by the name he is given.[1]

Sometimes a man completes his mission before his destined time to die. He must then be given a new name.

A man’s name is the garment of his soul after death.

A name is a garment.

It is written (Isaiah 42:8), “ I am G-d [YHVH]; it is My name and My glory.”

Glory is a garment. Thus, Rabbi Yochanan would call his clothing “my glory.”[2]

G-d is called by the Tetragramaton — Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh.

This name comes from a root meaning “existence.”

It is this Name that gives existence to all creation.[3]

Above all worlds there is a place where G-d has no name. This is a realm where He cannot be grasped at all.

It is written (Psalms 138:2), “ For greater than Your Name is Your word.”

G-d’s action is the saying with which He created the world.[4]

“Your word” is therefore G-d’s action.

G-d has actions that are above all worlds. These are greater than all his names.

There is a realm above all worlds where there is absolutely no concept of name.

Regarding G-d’s word in such realms the verse says, “ For greater than Your Name is Your word.”

It is written that in the Future World (Isaiah 62:2), “And nations will see your righteousness... and they will call you by a new name.”

The nations will then perceive the true mission of the Jews and will therefore give them a new name.

There are people who complete the mission assodated with their name in the middle of their lifetime. They are then given a new mission, and hence, a new name. This concept contains many deep and awesome secrets.

It is customary to give a new name to a dangerously sick person.”[5]

The sick person has already fulfilled his destiny according to his original name, and is therefore ready to die. We then give him a new name, thereby also giving him a new mission. The sick person can now continue to live and complete the mission associated with his new name.

Our Rabbis teach us that our teacher Moses had many names.[6]

Moses had many missions in life. He therefore required a different name for each one of his great tasks.

[1] Berakhos 7b; Sefer HaMidos, Banim 68.
[2] Shabbos 113b.
[3] The Tetragrammaton comes from the root HaYah—to be—and its present tense, HoVeH. See Orach Chaim 5:1, Rashbam on Exodus 3:14; Rabbi Gedaliah Kenig, Chayey Nefesh, 56.
[4] Avos 5:1.
[5] Yoreh Deah 335:10, in Hagahah; Even HaEzer 129:18.
[6] In Sanhedrin 19b, the verse in I Chronicles 4:18 is interpreted to refer to the names of Moses, giving us Yered, Avigdor, Chever, Avi Socho, Yekusiel and Avi Zenuach as his names. Cf. Targum, Radak, ad loc. In Sotah 12a the name Toviah is also given. In VaYikra Rabbah 1:3 all these names are mentioned, as well as Shemayah ben Nesanel, from I Chronicles 24:6; cf. Targum, ad loc. See also Yalkut Shimoni on Exodus 2:10 (#166); Seder HaDoros, year 2368.

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