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We have many names for God. Elokim to emphasize God's justice, HaShem to emphasize God's mercy, and many other self-explanatory names, such as Adon Olam, HaKadosh Barukh Hu, Matir Assurim, Tzur Yisrael, etc., to emphasize other attributes of God.

The most mysterious to me is Ha-Makom, "The Place". Some say it refers to the fact that God is everywhere. (One could ask: "How so, since a "place" has boundaries, and God doesn't?", but let it pass for now.)

What I am asking is: When is it appropriate to call God "Ha-Makom"? To emphasize what? For example, we comfort a mourner with המקום ינחם אתכם -- May Ha-Makom comfort you... Why "Ha-Makom"? Sins committed against God are referred to as sins "ben adam la-Makom" -- "Between a man and Ha-Makom". Why "Ha-Makom"? Is it arbitrary? Would any other name of God fit just as well?

  • I’m not clear on what exactly you’re asking. Does judaism.stackexchange.com/q/8433 help at all? – DonielF Nov 29 '19 at 0:37
  • There seems to be a bit more flexibility with Hashem Tzivaot than with Ha-Makom but both seem to be reserved for certain situations and I'm not quite aware of the underlying logic (the fomer seems linked to His role in creation) – Josh K Nov 29 '19 at 1:16
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  • I had heard (somewhere) that the word indicates "the source" not just "the place". Now I'm wondering about the meaning of Bereishit 28:11 as "the stones of hashem". – rosends Dec 2 '19 at 13:40
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According to the medrash https://he.wikisource.org/wiki/%D7%91%D7%A8%D7%90%D7%A9%D7%99%D7%AA_%D7%A8%D7%91%D7%94_%D7%A1%D7%97_%D7%98

"ויפגע במקום" ר"ה בשם ר' אמי אמר מפני מה מכנין שמו של הקב"ה וקוראין אותו מקום שהוא מקומו של עולם ואין עולמו מקומו מן מה דכתיב (שמות לג, כא): "הנה מקום אתי" הוי הקדוש ברוך הוא מקומו של עולם ואין עולמו מקומו. א"ר יצחק כתיב (דברים לג, כז): "מענה אלהי קדם" אין אנו יודעים אם הקב"ה מעונו של עולמו ואם עולמו מעונו מן מה דכתיב (תהלים צ, א): "ה' מעון אתה" הוי הקדוש ברוך הוא מעונו של עולמו ואין עולמו מעונו. א"ר אבא בר יודן לגבור שהוא רוכב על הסוס וכליו משופעים אילך ואילך הסוס טפילה לרוכב ואין הרוכב טפילה לסוס שנאמר (חבקוק ג, ח): "כי תרכב על סוסך".

Apparently ha'makom was appropriate for Yaakov when running away from Esav and going to the house of Lavan because there was no place left from him in the world, so he had to appeal to Hashem to create a new holy concept of "place" (represented by the makom ha'mikdash) so he and his descendants could continue to exist in this world.

Maybe this is also why we say ha'makom to a mourner, whose deceased may have been driven out of this world to a greater or lesser degree, by the adversity afforded to the Jewish people in galus, which applies till Tziyon is comforted and restored.

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