• Moshe killed a mitzri by uttering a shem Hashem, name of Hashem, according to Rashi, Sh'mos 2:14.
  • Bilaam pronounced the 42 letter shem Hashem (known as the 'sod ha'affifah) and was able to fly.

What are some other examples of miracles performed by uttering Hashem's name?

  • 4
    Can you source your claims?
    – Double AA
    Feb 27, 2012 at 2:34
  • @DoubleAA, re Bil'am, see parsha.blogspot.com/2006/07/… and parsha.blogspot.com/2006/07/…: I don't see anything there about Hashem's name (w.r.t. Bil'am).
    – msh210
    Feb 27, 2012 at 2:40
  • hm, don't remember if he brings more examples, but definitely see R' Yaakov Hillel's Tamim Tiheyu (in English, Faith and Folly)
    – sq33G
    Feb 27, 2012 at 8:09
  • @HachamGabriel, my own downvote was because the question claims Bil'am used a name of Hashem to fly and links for support to a page that says no such thing AFAICT.
    – msh210
    Feb 27, 2012 at 21:11
  • 3
    This question won the weekly topic challenge for the week of T'ruma 5772!
    – msh210
    Feb 29, 2012 at 16:42

5 Answers 5


The gemarah in sanhedrin 95a reads

...He then mounted his [sc. David's] mule and rode off, and the earth contracted under him. Whilst riding, he saw Orpah his [sc. Ishbi-benob's] mother spinning. On descrying him, she broke off [the thread of] the spindle and threw it [the spindle] at him, intending to kill him. Then she said, 'Young man, bring me the spindle.' but he threw it on the top of her head instead, and killed her. When Ishbi-benob beheld him, he said [to himself], Now that there are two they will slay me. So he threw David up [in the air] and stuck his spear [into the earth], Saying. 'Let him fall upon it, and perish;' but Abishai pronounced the Divine Name, by means of which David was held suspended between heaven and earth.

...Abishai then [again] pronounced the Divine Name and brought him down [from midair, where he was still suspended]


The urim v'tumim was activated using the shem hameforash. See this post by Rabbi Yaakov Bieler (relevant portion excerpted below, and emphasis added).

What was the activating element of the Urim VeTumim?

So what exactly are the Urim VeTumim that were placed in the “Choshen”, and how was the High Priest thereby enabled to receive Divine Communications with regard to going to war, distributing land and other important decisions that would affect the Jewish people as a whole? RaShI, on Shemot 28:30 and VaYikra 8:8, defines the Urim VeTumim as the mystical power generated by the Shem HaMefurash (lit. the Explicit Name), i.e., the Tetragrammaton in written form.

We encounter the supernatural power of the Tetragrammaton, the most intense and specific version of the Divine Name, in two other Midrashic contexts in Shemot:

a. When Moshe slays the Egyptian taskmaster whom he encounters administering a potentially fatal beating to a Jewish slave (Shemot 2:12), Shemot Rabba 1:29 cites a Rabbinic position that rather than laying a hand on the Egyptian, all that Moshe did was invoke the Tetragrammaton.

b. The staff by which Moshe initiates many of the plagues is referred to in Shemot 4:20 as the “Mateh Elokim” (the staff of God). Midrash Sechel Tov 4:20 contends that the staff was particularly associated with God and therefore was able to cause various supernatural phenomena, because the Shem HaShem (the Name of God) was engraved upon it.

In terms of an association between the Shem HaMefurash and human beings discerning the Divine Will which more closely parallels the usage of the Urim VeTumim discussed in BaMidbar, a popularly known reference appears in “Eleh Ezkera” (lit., these I remember), one of the central “Piyutim” (liturgical poems) read on Yom HaKippurim. We are told how ten great Tannaim (Rabbinic scholars from the period of the Mishna) are tortured to death by their Roman captors. When they originally are informed of the evil decree, the Rabbis ask for time to verify whether their fates have been irrevocably sealed in Heaven:

“Give us three days, until it can be known whether this has been decreed from on High. If we find that we are truly guilty and sinful, then we will comply with this decree that must be based in Mercy.”

They all feared, trembled, and shook, and they finally turned their eyes upon R. Yishmael, the High Priest, with the expectation that he would invoke “HASHEM” (the Name) and thereby ascend to their Master, in order to know whether the decree originated from their God. Rabbi Yishmael purified himself and pronounced “HASHEM” with great trepidation. He ascended to the Heavens and inquired of the “man” dressed in simple white linen.

And he said to him, “Accept upon yourselves, holy beloved ones, because I have heard from ‘behind the curtain’ that you are trapped in this matter.”

  • 2
    rvi'i, thanks for this answer and welcome to the site. I hope you stick around and enjoy it. Please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features.
    – msh210
    Apr 2, 2012 at 15:02

The navi Isaiah used the name of God to escape (temporarily) King Menashe who was trying to kill him. Source: Yevamos 49b


I would argue that Moshe killing the Egyptian was using a Shem HaShem, but not necessarily an utterance. There is an original and highly natural and effective Jewish fighting system preserved among Habani Jews (a type of Temanim) that is needless to say, thousands of years old, first known to Avraham Avinu who was the son of a warlord of Nimrod's.

I learn this system for several hours a week and can attest first hand to its authenticity and effectiveness. The otiot of the Hebrew alef-beit are essential aspects of the moves and forms of this system. You can easily strike, block, take down, choke, and throw opponents via spelling words. I suggest Moshe struck his opponent in a way forming the letters of a Shem HaShem. It may sound questionable to someone who doesn't know the system or the fluidity of it - but it is extremely likely. It is using a Shem HaShem as well, just as Rashi comments.

This would be more in line with things like Shim`on and Levi, at a pre bar-mitzva age, destroying the city of Shekhem. Or the Makabim, a small band of Jewish warriors, literally slaughtering Greek armies.

To answer the question, one could say such things like the creation of a golem by Rabbi Yehuda Loew ben Betzalel of Prague. Among any others who have created a golem, it requires use of a Shem HaShem in its activation.

I think however, use of a Shem HaShem should be avoided by mequbalim. It can easily be considered witchcraft/sorcery for not being used for the right reasons, and I'm not even sure which reasons would even permit their usage. Bil`am was indeed an evil prophet, as well.

  • Are you referring to Abir?
    – HodofHod
    Feb 27, 2012 at 18:23
  • 1
    Also, it's a little bit difficult to say that he used a Shem Hashem in a different way than saying it, because the Midrash Tanchuma only learns out that a Shem was used at all because of the word "say" in the pasuk.
    – HodofHod
    Feb 27, 2012 at 18:29
  • HodofHod, I am indeed referring to Abir, and I've known the Aluf Abir personally for a while.
    – Aman
    Feb 27, 2012 at 19:15
  • 1
    Killing the Mitzri was done by speech, as we see from the fact the Rashi knows it was done with a shem from the words "ata omer".
    – msh210
    Feb 27, 2012 at 21:13
  • 1
    @Aman, a single downvote on a question hardly demonstrates anything about the Jewish people in general. It doesn't even say anything clearly about the reasoning of the person who downvoted, which could have been, e.g., because he/she thought your answer was poorly formatted. Regarding your particular claim, even if all of klal yisrael practiced Abir now, it would still be difficult to claim that Moshe did so in this instance without any evidence, and in the face of textual evidence to the contrary, as provided in previous comments.
    – Isaac Moses
    Mar 2, 2012 at 15:57

According to Rambam, Moreh Nevukhim 1:62 there are no magical properties to the name of God therefore any record of something supernatural happening through the use of the name of God should (according to Rambam) be interpreted non-literally. Thus the answer to your question is there are no examples of miracles being performed by using the name of God.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .