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I was looking through the brachot this morning. Many are structured as identifying hashem as "one who __" such as "matir assurim" or "oteir yisro'el btif'arah." But the final three add in the letter hei before the verb to say "THE one who __" ("hanotein," "hama'avir" and "hagomeil").

Baruch she'amar ends with "melech mehulal" but yishtabach ends with "habocheir b'shirei..."

After borchu, we say "oseh shalom" and "yotzer" but before shma we say "habocheir." [in ma'ariv we say "hama'ariv" but then "oheiv"]

Is there any consistent rule which would help me understand why a bracha might or might not include the letter hei? This is potentially just explainable through a ruling of Hebrew grammar but I sense that there is (should be?) a theological difference between the words.

NOTE -- As source material I used the texts of the Siddur Tefilla Hashaleim (Askenaz and Sefard) - Greenwald, The Siddur Margalit Tovah (Ashkenaz, Eshkol Publishing), The Siddur Chazon Ovadia and some Artscrolls. The Artscrolls have "gomeil" not "hagomeil" and some texts have "asher heichin" instead of "hameichin."

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and also hashalom during aseres yemei teshuva –  Efraim Nov 25 '13 at 1:20

2 Answers 2

I think that grammar is a major part of the answer and can lead to a theological insight. It is pretty clear to me that even without the hey (called the hey ha'yediah), the phrases should be translated and understood as "THE ..." As a simple example without getting bogged down with too much grammar, think about the very familiar text, Baruch atah Hashem, Elokeinu - Melech Ha'olam Of course, this doesn't mean "one who is King of the world," but rather "THE King of the world." In case you are interested, this is a function of the way adjectives work in Hebrew.

On to the d'var torah - One way to understand the difference is like this: Without the hey, we are almost giving Hashem a title. Just like He is Melech Ha'olam, he is Yotzer Ha'meorot - The Creator of the Heavenly Bodies. One way to relate to Hashem is to see His actions as revealing truths about His absolute essence - He IS etc. Each of these titles, just like His names, reflect a different aspect of Him.

The second way (the brachot with a hey) to relate to Hashem is to try to understand Him through seeing and appreciating his many different actions on their own, knowing that we can never truly know Him entirely. For example - Baruch ata...Hamevareich et amo Yisrael Ba'shalom - Blessed are you Hashem...the King of the World, Who blesses his nation Yisrael with peace. We are focusing on God's actions, not on his Being.

These are two very different but very deep and essential approaches to Avodat Hashem which we get to experience every day!

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Welcome to Mi Yodeya, Michael, and thanks for the insights! Hope to see you around. :) –  Scimonster Dec 2 at 9:10

The 'hei' is the equivalent of saying 'asher' or 'that'

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