Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Avarham Avinu was originally Avram - and Hashem added the letter Hai to his name and changed it to Avraham. Why from all letters was the letter Hai added?

share|improve this question
2  
Not HAI; rather: HEY. As in mi.yodEYa. –  Adam Mosheh May 20 '12 at 4:09
1  
@AdamMosheh Same difference. It's just transliteration. Consider the English word: rain. Is that the sound you were looking for? –  Double AA May 23 '12 at 13:51
    
@DoubleAA - Thus, we should rename our site as "Mi.Yodaia"? –  Adam Mosheh May 25 '12 at 4:44
1  
@AdamMosheh No. We should keep all different transliterations as they are. –  Double AA May 25 '12 at 6:04
    
@DoubleAA - Why? Alternatively, we could just avoid this problem if we wrote all Hebrew words in this site in Hebrew. Kind of like how CL&U.SE has many Chinese words written in Chinese. –  Adam Mosheh May 25 '12 at 15:27

6 Answers 6

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The name אברם numerically equals 243. Originally Avram was master of 243 of his 248 body parts: all except his two eyes, two ears, and male organ. [These are usually exposed to improper stimuli, even against a person's will.] However, with the Hei (numerical value of 5) added to his name, Hashem granted him control even over these [so that he no longer could see or hear anything that he shouldn't].

(Nedarim 32b and Tosafos there)

share|improve this answer
    
I didn't know the eyes and ears counted in the 248 limbs. –  Double AA Oct 28 at 22:09

From some basic Googling found:

Abram = exiled father

Abraham = father of multitudes

Seems the meaning of the words also changed. So that would explain why "Hai."

share|improve this answer

The Ham alludes to hamon. So like yydl said, he has become a "father of multitudes" - Av hamon. The reish stays because Hashem wants to add to Avrahams name, not subtract. (Ibn Ezra). Rashi adds that Avram alludes to being the father of just Aram.

share|improve this answer

Chasam Sofer - Parshas Lech Lecha - Hishaleich says that as Sarai became Sarah - the Yud switched into a Hei. The remaining 5 went to Avraham.

share|improve this answer
    
What happened to the Yud? –  Adam Mosheh May 25 '12 at 4:45
1  
@Adam Went to Hoshea bin Nun to become Yehoshua. –  user6591 Oct 27 at 7:56
    
+1. I've heard this also....have you found a source for this since posting this answer? –  Shokhet Oct 28 at 21:08

I heard in a shiur from R' Moshe Wolfson that Avraham was given his new name in the context of the promise to have children and become a nation. The letter ה is the אות ההולדה, the letter of birth, as it is the feminine letter (the letter that turns a word into a grammatically feminine word). Avraham was being given the ability to father a nation, symbolized by the addition of the ה to his name.

share|improve this answer
    
That's a bit strange. He needed an effeminate addition to be able to have children? Don't the kabbalists say the exact opposite about Yitzchok? That he had his effeminate nukba shechted by the akeida and afterwards hew was able to marry and have children? –  user6591 Oct 27 at 7:58
    
@user6591 Avraham's barrenness and Yitzchok's were very different. The way R' Wolfson explains, Avraham was a new b'riah, and therefore he did not have the koach of a hemshech because he was not a hemshech. The faculty of reproduction was what was missing. For Yitzchok, he did not lack the nature of being a creation which can reproduce. He had a neshama from "alma d'nukva" and lacked zachrus (and not everyone agrees with that Ohr HaChaim). –  YeZ Oct 27 at 18:19
    
Verrry interesting. I thought the Orh'ch h'k was quoting a Zohar? –  user6591 Oct 27 at 22:57
    
@user6591 IIRC, the Zohar says Yitzchok had the neshama of nekeiva, and the Ohr HaChaim says that it got its tikkun and was switched for a zachar at the akeida. I could check it up though. –  YeZ Oct 28 at 2:19

R. Yitzchak Hutner (in Pachad Yitzchak to Sukkos) writes that the reason a "hei" was added was because Avraham was becoming a new creation, so to speak - being fashioned from new. As the Midrash writes, (Midrash Rabba 12:2) when God created the world, He did so with the letter "hei". Whatever that may mean, the letter "hei" is clearly symbolic (and maybe even metaphysically related) to recreation.

R. Hutner uses this idea, interestingly, to provide a source for the rule of the Rabbis that a convert who converts is like a newborn baby (regarding their previous familial relationship) and thus a new creation.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.