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I was reading the Bible on Sefaria. This is one of my first times in Hebrew, wondering about the weird heh in Bereshit 2:4.

Bereshit 2:4

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    Welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for this first question. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Commented Apr 30 at 5:08

2 Answers 2

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There are several explanations:

A good starting point is Rashi who mentions two answers: (i) The verse teaches you that all of them (i.e. the productions of heaven and earth) were created on the first day when Hashem made earth and heaven.

(ii) The small hei splits the word בהבראם into בה' בראם - "He created them with the letter ‘ה". See Rashi in full over there, which draws on the gemara in Menachos 29b that has already been mentioned. Refer also to the Ramban for this approach.

The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh sees it slightly differently:

The word בהבראם may also be understood as בהם בראם, G-d created all these תולדות by employing heaven and earth as His agents.

A nice spin is taken by Rabbeinu Bachaye - whilst he notes the idea as brought down in Gemara Menachos he also notes interestingly that all the letters in the alef beis require some form of exertion, i.e. moving the muscles of mouth, tongue or throat, in order formulate it and say it audibly. However, the letter hei is the exception which demonstrates how Hashem did not experience any strain or fatigue as a result of having created heaven and earth.

He also offers a more esoteric, kabbalistic approach, noting how the letter hei is the last letter used in Hashem's four letter name. As such, it appears small as

it was emanated from the energy which is part of the attribute of אלוקים, and it was this part of G-d’s “energy” which created the universe.

Radak similarly picks up on these two points of the Rabbeinu Bachye.

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    The first idea quoted above from Rabbeinu Bechaye is actually a Medrash Agada, in the same piece I quoted earlier in my reply. Here is the source again: sefaria.org.il/…
    – Imanonov
    Commented May 1 at 8:30
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First of all, there are many letters in The Scriptures, which, according to tradition are mandatory either written smaller, or larger than the surrounding text. For each one there are explanations given. Regarding this instance, our Sages Menachot 29b teach us that G'd created this world with the letter "heh" and they read the word as be-heh-boreom = "He created it with the letter Heh". That may explain the small "heh" (although I have not seen that explicitely). Alternatively, our Sages Medrash Agada also tell us that the letters of this word can be formed to read "Abraham", as if to say that the world was mainly created for the sake of Abraham and his descendants i.e. The Jewish People. It could be (again my conjecture) that since Abraham was initially called Abram, with the "heh" added later, by writing the "heh" smaller, one can read both versions in this word.

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