Based on this comment here.

According to Kabbalah, how do physical objects derive their life-force from their Hebrew name, if Hebrew doesn't have names for everything?

  • 4
    You could improve this question by providing a citation for the premise "physical objects derive their life-force from their Hebrew name."
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 14:51
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    This is a territory I don't have experience with, but could it be there is a Hebrew name that give life-force but we may not be privy to it? Any name that we do not derive from the torah, albeit in Hebew, may not be that name that gives the life-force.
    – YDK
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 14:59
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    Just because we don't know the name it doesn't mean it doesn't exist... Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 15:01
  • It was a suggested question in someone's very very old comment, so I posted the question.
    – avi
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 15:53
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    @avi, Please edit the provenance of your premise, whatever it is, into the question.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 19:49

2 Answers 2


R' Shneur Zalman of Liadi writes in Shaar Hayichud VeHaemuna

It is written: "Forever, O G‑d, Your word stands firm in the heavens." The Baal Shem Tov, of blessed memory, has explained that “Your word” which you uttered, viz., “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters" these very words and letters through which the heavens were created stand firmly forever within the firmament of heaven and are forever clothed within all the heavens to give them life ... And so it is with all created things, in all the upper and lower worlds, and even this physical earth and the realm of the completely inanimate. ...

He continues

Now, although the name אבן (“stone”) is not mentioned in the Ten Utterances recorded in the Torah, — how, then, can we say that letters of the Ten Utterances are enclothed within a stone? nevertheless, life-force flows to the stone from the Ten Utterances by means of combinations and substitutions of their letters, whereby an alef, for example, may take the place of a hei, since both letters are articulated by the same organ of speech, and so on, which are transposed in the “two hundred and thirty-one gates,” either in direct or reverse order, as is explained in Sefer Yetzirah,


The names [of all creatures] in the Holy Tongue are the very letters of speech which descend, degree by degree, from the Ten Utterances recorded in the Torah, by means of substitutions and transpositions of letters through the “two hundred and thirty-one gates,” until they reach a particular created thing and become invested in it, thereby giving it life.

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    I don't see how this answers the question. The question asks about things that have no name in Hebrew. This addresses things that have a name in Hebrew but whose name is not in the first chapter of B'reshis.
    – msh210
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 20:53
  • @msh210 it also explains, that the idea that something gets it sustenance from it's Hebrew name is not entirely accurate. It gets sustenance from the original words of creation and the 231 gates, both forwards and backwards. Those 231(462) gates (2 letter combinations) don't always correspond to Hebrew words.
    – avi
    Commented Jul 7, 2012 at 18:15

As the Maharal explains (as a side point) in his introduction to Tiferes Yisrael, a house is not a house, and a chair is not a chair, for example. A house is made out of wood, just shapes together like a house.

To use this as an answer, there may be no Hebrew word for "television," but there is a Hebrew word for the components which make up a television.

  • I'd be hard pressed to find all the biblical hebrew words which can describe the parts a television is made out of...
    – avi
    Commented Jul 7, 2012 at 18:07
  • @avi It makes more sense if you consider that the rishonim are of the opinion that everything can be broken up into the four elements.
    – b a
    Commented Jul 8, 2012 at 4:37
  • @b a I think the rishonim were also under the impression that Hebrew had a name/word for everything. (as it did back then)
    – avi
    Commented Jul 8, 2012 at 7:00
  • @avi I explained above in my answer that something is not really what it appears to be, but rather what it is made of. If you disagree, you're disagreeing with the Maharal.
    – b a
    Commented Jul 8, 2012 at 15:18
  • @b a I don't disagree. But a television is made out of silicon, electrical circuits, plastic, transistors and a bunch of other things people never dreamed of giving names to until recently. It was unheard of until 200 years ago, that something would be made out of anything other than basic building materials which all have hebrew names for them.
    – avi
    Commented Jul 8, 2012 at 18:18

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