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A sentence commonly said during prayer is "בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד". How do we interpret it? What does it mean?

It sounds like it means:

Blessed is/be the name of the glory/honor of His kingdom forever and ever.

(Note: "מַלְכוּת" can mean "the area under the control of a king", in this case the universe etc., or "the status or quality of being king". I'm translating it ambiguously as "kingdom", but ideally an answer explaining what the sentence means will clarify which meaning "מַלְכוּת" has.)

However, that doesn't make much sense to me. That would mean God's kingdom has glory. And the glory has a name. And we're blessing the name of the glory, or saying it's blessed. That seems very… odd.

So what does the sentence really mean?


The above is my question. More details follow, but you can skip it.

Thanks to Isaac Moses and Monica Cellio (in chat), I have a few other translations handy:

A slightly more palatable (to me) translation makes "כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ" into "His glorious kingdom", as follows:

Rabbi N. Scherman (ArtScroll):

Blessed is the Name of His glorious kingdom for all eternity.

Rabbi J. Sacks (Koren):

Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever.

It's more palatable, I say, because at least we're not claiming His kingdom's glory has a name — just that the kingdom itself does. It's still odd to me (that God's kingdom has a name), though, and that we're saying the name is blessed, or blessing it. Plus, we have the grammatical objection that "כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ" shouldn't mean "His glorious kingdom": that'd be "מַלְכוּת כְּבוֹדוֹ".

There is an even more palatable translation:

Rabbi J. Hertz:

Blessed be His Name, Whose Glorious Kingdom is for ever and ever.

Rabbi A. Davis (Metsudah):

Blessed [is His] Name, Whose glorious kingdom is forever and ever.

That makes the entire end of the sentence, "כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד", into a description of God; "Him whose glorious kingdom is forever" (or, one could even say, "Him whose kingdom's glory is forever", to avoid the "מַלְכוּת כְּבוֹדוֹ" issue). This, as I say, is the most palatable of the bunch: we're not saying a name is or should be blessed, nor glory, nor a kingdom, but God. But if this is the correct interpretation of the sentence, I seek a source for it (besides Rabbis Hertz and Davis).

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Another way you could look at it: כבוד מלכותו could be a description of Hashem, as he is the glorious one of his kingdom, or the one who brings glory to his kingdom. Then the whole thing is just an elaborate way to say "Blessed is the name of Hashem forever." –  Aaron Feb 20 at 16:46
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@Aaron, nice thought!! If you've heard/read it from someone reliable, please post it as an answer. –  msh210 Feb 20 at 16:55
    
Sorry, I posted it as a comment because I don't have a source. It's just they way I've thought about it. –  Aaron Feb 20 at 17:37
    
For the sake of answering (which I may or may not do), can I assume all you really want to know is what שם כבוד מלכותו would mean? As opposed to including what it means for that clause to be blessed, as well? And לעולם ועד. –  YEZ Feb 20 at 18:59
    
@YEZ, but the sentence parses differently according to R' Hertz ("לעולם ועד" is part of the description of the blessed) and according to R' Scherman ("לעולם ועד" modifies "ברוך"). I want to know how the whole sentence parses. But, yeah, you can assume I don't need an exact translation of "לעולם ועד" or "ברוך" if those are translated as usual. Note though that part of my issue with the sentence is that it makes no sense to me for a name of glory to be blessed; so you may need to explain how it makes sense for שם כבוד מלכותו (whatever you say that means) to be blessed. –  msh210 Feb 20 at 20:08

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שם - a name refers to reputation, or how something is known. טוב שם משמן טוב (Koheles 7:1) means a good reputation is better than oil. One who is מוציא שם רע - וְשָׂם לָהּ עֲלִילֹת דְּבָרִים, וְהוֹצִא עָלֶיהָ שֵׁם רָע (Devarim 22:14) - has created a bad reputation.

The idea of a name is that which you use for others to relate to you - one does not identify themselves by their name, it is there for others to reference them.

כבוד - Honor refers to a presence, the extent to which something is recognized. The Gemara in Bava Basra 3a records a dispute about the verse גדול יהיה כבוד הבית הזה האחרון מן הראשון (Chagai 2:9) - The honor of the later Temple will be greater than the former:

רב ושמואל ואמרי לה ר' יוחנן חד אמר בבנין וחד אמר בשנים

Which means: Rav and Shmuel, one said it means it was larger, and one said it means it stood longer.

Both of them agree the greater "honor" refers to its physical presence, just was it in space or in time. (As the Gemara points out, they were both correct.) This is also why "seeing" Hashem is often referred to as "seeing" His "honor" (e.g. Shemos 29:43, Vayikra 9:23).

The idea of getting honor means you are acknowledged. You get honor when you are recognized in some way.

מלכות - Royalty refers to making something manifest. Bringing something from the potential to the actual is the attribute of Malchus. Rav Pinkus in Shabbos Malkisa explains that this is why malchus is always at the end of a list (i.e. in Nishmas, in "לך ה' הגדולה," the list of middos in Yishtabach [not the praises], etc.), because malchus only comes after everything else, and brings it out to actualization.

The role of a king is to actualize the potential of the individuals that make up the nation. This is one explanation why מלך שמחל על כבודו אין כבודו מחול, a king does not have the right to forgo his own honor - because the honor is not really his, it is the projection of the nation as a whole.

R' Tzaddok writes (Resisei Layla 25) that the world was created with מדת המלכות - bringing out the infinite potential of creation into a finite actual was accomplished through Malchus.

The concept of ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו is that the perception of Hashem's Presence should be increasingly (ברוך means רבוי, increase - Rashba and Nefesh HaChaim) brought out from infinite potential into a perceptible reality. Thus, roughly: ברוך (Increased [should be]) שם (the relationship to) כבוד (the physically-apparent aspect of) מלכותו (the manifestation of Hashem).

In Nefesh HaChaim Sha'ar ג Chapter יד, in a gloss, he explains that Yaakov Avinu said ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו and Moshe Rabbeinu did not (when each respectively said Shema), because Yaakov was still on the level of acknowledging the realness of a finite reality, and therefore his perception of ה' אחד relied on bringing it down to this world. Moshe, however, was on the level of, to some degree, perceiving Hashem's essence, that there is no authenticity to finite reality (see the beginning of Sha'ar ג) and therefore did not need to relate to Hashem through translating His infinitude into finite manifestation. Nefesh HaChaim also sees this line as relating to the relating to Hashem (שם) through the bringing out (מלכות) of His Presence (כבוד) into this world.

We (and everyone except Moshe Rabbeinu, see Nefesh Hachaim immediately after above-quoted gloss) live in a reality in which we experience Hashem on the level of how He appears in this world, and that is the level on which our relationship with Him must function (see Maharal Nesiv HaAvoda ch. 12). We therefore pray that His manifestation in this world should increase, in order that we have a greater experience of that relationship. Baruch Shem Kevod is the Tefillah of asking for that increase. (It is placed where it is, immediately following Shema, because Shema is the declaration of Hashem's oneness which supersedes finite existence and declares that His existence is the only real existence. We have to "mitigate" that for ourselves into our realm of experience, which is the reality of this world.)

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"We therefore pray that His manifestation in this world should increase." See Yoma (37a), which explains the motivation for reciting this: "It was taught in a B'raisa: 'Rebbi said: "When I call out the Name of HaShem, ascribe greatness to our Lord" (D'varim 32:3). Moshe said to Israel: "When I utter the Name of the Holy One Blessed be He, you ascribe greatness [to Him]."'" This indicates that (at least on a פשט level) it is not a request, but is rather a means of praising HaShem (e.g. שם כבוד מלכותו is the source of ברכה for eternity). –  Fred Feb 21 at 2:43
    
@Fred See Nefesh HaChaim Shaar Beis Perek Beis - he says explicitly that Baruch is not a shevach or tehillah. It is the way of increasing and drawing forth. I may have used the term "pray" loosely, but it is an act of causing the increase. –  YEZ Feb 21 at 3:26
    
Interesting. The Nefesh HaChaim is based on Shu"t HaRashba (5:51,לשון ברכה תוספת וריבוי הוא... הכל מברכין אותו ר"ל נותנין הברכה ומודים שהוא אדון כל אותה הברכה... וככה ענין הברכות שאנו מודים לפניו... ומתפללים שיתמיד טובו לברכותיו כדי שידעו הכל שהוא ברוך). So there is a duality of hoda'a and bakasha. I think what R' Chaim Volozhiner meant by "אינו לשון תהלה ושבח כמו ששומה בפי ההמון" is that it doesn't mean that HaShem is great and has lots of blessings, but rather it is a hoda'a that He is the source of b'racha (see also, for e.g. Chinuch §420) as well as bakasha שיתמיד טובו. –  Fred Feb 21 at 20:11
    
Nonetheless, per the above-cited gemara in Yoma, it seems to me that the critical emphasis when reciting ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד is the hoda'a (which is also a shevach of sorts, particularly in this context which emphasizes that HaShem is the source of all b'racha), though I guess the bakasha element is still there. –  Fred Feb 21 at 20:21
    
@Fred I think you should read on in that section - he explains exactly what it means, and it is not a form of shevach in any way - it is למשוך חיים ממקור החיים (don't have it in front of me so that may not be exact), pulling down the שפע of beracha. It is not a declaration, it is an act of המשכה. (And parenthetically, I referenced the Rashba in my post as well). –  YEZ Feb 23 at 1:48

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