Looking at the famous phrase of Deuteronomy 6:4 I noticed the verse doesn’t state: “HaShem Hu Echad”, but only “HaShem echad” why is this?

It sounds like Yom Echad (one day) or Am Echad (one nation). In such a case the verse should be literally read as that there is one HaShem (no other like Him, he alone is HaShem), while normally it’s being interpreted to mean that He, HaShem, is one (one G-d, a single Being or Deity, the only G-d).

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    One seems to refer to the uniqueness of HaShem, while the other seems to speak about the unity of HaShem, so how should te words ‘HaShem Echad’ in this specific case be read; as that there is one HaShem, or as that HaShem is one? I know there are a lot more verses which proved He is One, but it intrigues me that the Shema seems to say there is only one like HaShem.
    – Y.Talmid
    Sep 22 '20 at 11:45
  • See also Deuteronomy 33:26, as well as other verses in the same vein, either within the Torah proper (Exodus 8:10, 15:11), or the rest of the Tanakh (Psalm 35:10, 71:19, 86:8, 89:8, 113:5; Jeremiah 10:6; Micah 7:18).
    – Lucian
    Sep 22 '20 at 15:39
  • See the Shaar HaYichud of Chovos HaLevavos.
    – N.T.
    Sep 23 '20 at 0:54
  • @N.T. Although I like the reference it doesn’t answer my question, it only shows how G-d is considered to be one. My question wasn’t about G-d being one, because there are a lot of verses which can prove He is. My question was how the phrase HaShem Echad should be rendered and understood grammatically. As it seems odd, why doesn’t it read HaShem Hu Echad for example.
    – Y.Talmid
    Sep 23 '20 at 6:48
  • My point was that according to the Chovos HaLevavos, both ideas are basically the same. Grammatically, I don't see a big difference between Hashem Echad and Hashem hu echad. Since echod is definitely describing Hashem (and not counting to one), the hu would be superfluous.
    – N.T.
    Sep 23 '20 at 10:49

It is to clearly reiterate the fact that He is the only G-d and equally, that He is the G-d of the Jewish people.

Rashi makes a clear analysis:

ה' אלהינו ה' אחד. ה' שֶׁהוּא אֱלֹהֵינוּ עַתָּה, וְלֹא אֱלֹהֵי הָאֻמּוֹת, הוּא עָתִיד לִהְיוֹת ה' אֶחָד, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (צפ' ח') כִּי אָז אֶהְפֹּךְ אֶל עַמִּים שָׂפָה בְרוּרָה לִקְרֹא כֻלָּם בְּשֵׁם ה', וְנֶאֱמַר (זכריה י"ד) בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא יִהְיֶה ה' אֶחָד וּשְׁמוֹ אֶחָד (ע' ספרי):

ה׳ אלקינו ה' אחד means, The Lord who is now our God and not the God of the other peoples of the world, He will at some future time be the One (sole) ה׳, as it is said, (Zephaniah 3:9) “For then I will turn to the peoples a pure language that they may all call upon the name of the Lord", and it is further said, (Zechariah 14:9) “In that day shall the Lord be One (אחד) and His name One" (cf. Sifrei Devarim 31:10). (Sefaria translation)

The Chizkuni notes further that whilst it stresses that there is none like Him, like Rashi, it stamps Him as being part of the Jewish people which is why it specifically has to be phrased as it is:

'שמע ישראל וגו, you are to listen in order to understand that G-d in respect to the aggadah quoted He is One, and no one preceded Him. He will remain thus, as He is eternal, the same G-d that existed even prior to the dawn of the universe. In all respects He is אחד, one, i.e. unique, not part of a twosome or threesome. No such self sufficient Being exists in His universe. Neither is there ever going to be a Being comparable to Him. A different interpretation of this verse: all the nations have claimed this Being as their household god. Now that the Jewish people have claimed Him as theirs, it has become known throughout the world that He is our G-d, seeing that He communicates with us directly. If the Torah instead of writing as it did, had only written: ה' אלוקינו אחד, “the Lord our G-d is unique,” this uniqueness would have been perceived as restricted to His nation Israel, just like they each worship their own national deity. They would have said so even more if the Torah had only written: שמע ישראל אלוקינו אחד, “hear Israel our G-d is One.”

  • If the phrase is meant to say He’s the only G-d could you help me explain why doesn’t it state Ha’El Hu HaYachid - האל הוא היחיד? Nor does the phrase reads HaShem Yachid, this specific phrase reads: HaShem Echad, there must be a reason for stating it this way.
    – Y.Talmid
    Sep 23 '20 at 9:06
  • Because the word echad is definitive - He is One - period. We don't need to say anymore than that. It is a complete acceptance of Hashem and His Kingship. See in Shulchan Aruch the kavannos (the intention) required in the way we pronounce it - sefaria.org/… which reinforces this idea
    – Dov
    Sep 23 '20 at 9:22

Excellent question!

The sentence you are quoting is the first sentence of the Shema, namely:

שְׁמַ֖ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ יְהוָ֥ה ׀ אֶחָֽד׃

And the essence of your question is, "I noticed the verse doesn’t state: “HaShem Hu Echad”, but only “HaShem echad” why is this?"

This really relates more to reading without the cantillation. In the sentence, the Mercha, which is also known as Ma'arich, under the letter Vav in the first appearance of G-d's name (יְהוָ֥ה), extends that word to the word which follows it, namely Our G-d. The meaning here in translation is:

(this particular) four letter name which we associate with our G-d...

The letter Heh of the word, Our G-d has Tifcha under it (אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ), which has a connotation of joining to the word which precedes it and also to closing the phrase. It serves sort of like a comma in English.

So together, the phrase means this four letter name which we associate to our G-d, (that/the) four letter name of G-d...

The emphasis here is that there is a distinction between our G-d, meaning G-d at His essence, and His name.

There are many different concepts discussed in the literature of the Torah explaining the many facets of these concepts. But on the simplest level, G-d at His essence is what we recall from the giving of the Torah at Sinai. We saw no form, etc. G-d at His essence transcends all of creation in every sense.

And yet, we have been given names that we are to associate with G-d. One of them that is particularly associated to the Jewish people is the four letter name in this sentence like is emphasized in Shemot 3:13-15.

And this name is comprised of four letters which have different shapes, values and sounds. This could imply that G-d, at His essence, also has these distinctions in some way because it is His name.

The sentence then continues (after the comma/pause from the Tifcha mentioned above) by repeating that same four letter name associated with G-d and has a Munach l'Garmeh after it, (which implies another rest/separation point from the word which follows which completes the thought) and states it (meaning this name) is one.

In terms of understanding the Munach l'Garmeh, consider it similar to a semicolon. It's a pause between two main clauses and is more than a simple comma. In this case, the first clause is HaShem is our G-d. The second is HaShem is one.

This has multiple meanings. It means that this name itself is one, contrary to what we might think because we see that it is comprised of individual letters. And this is similar to the idea of your body being comprised of many limbs. But the individual limbs of ones body are all a single being. So too here, these four letters are to be understood as a single being/concept.

But it also means that this name which we have been told to associate with G-d at His essence (and which could be thought of as separate and distinct from G-d), is one with His essence! And that is a true wonder and something impossible to truly comprehend. That we are to accept that this name is one in the same way that we are taught that G-d at His essence is one, transcending all aspects of creation with an absolute simplicity.

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    There is no munach legarmei on the second Shem Havaya. It’s a mercha with a pesik.
    – Joel K
    Sep 22 '20 at 20:06
  • @JoelK Different cantillation name depending upon Minhag. Same function. Sep 22 '20 at 20:13
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    I don’t believe that’s accurate. A munach legarmeih is a disjunctive. A pesik appears after a conjunctive mark to indicate that one should add a very slight pause
    – Joel K
    Sep 22 '20 at 20:16
  • @JoelK If I were trying to make an English grammar analogy, I would suggest a semicolon. It's a pause between two main clauses and is more than a simple comma. In this case, the 1st clause is HaShem is our G-d. The 2nd is HaShem is one. Sep 22 '20 at 20:24
  • I’m not following. What is analogous to the semi-colon? The tipcha on elokeinu or the mercha with pesik on the second YKVK?
    – Joel K
    Sep 22 '20 at 20:29

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