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Avarham Avinu was originally Avram - and Hashem added the letter Hai to his name and changed it to Avraham. Why from all letters was the letter Hai added?

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    Not HAI; rather: HEY. As in mi.yodEYa. May 20 '12 at 4:09
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    @AdamMosheh Same difference. It's just transliteration. Consider the English word: rain. Is that the sound you were looking for?
    – Double AA
    May 23 '12 at 13:51
  • @DoubleAA - Thus, we should rename our site as "Mi.Yodaia"? May 25 '12 at 4:44
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    @AdamMosheh No. We should keep all different transliterations as they are.
    – Double AA
    May 25 '12 at 6:04
  • @DoubleAA - Why? Alternatively, we could just avoid this problem if we wrote all Hebrew words in this site in Hebrew. Kind of like how CL&U.SE has many Chinese words written in Chinese. May 25 '12 at 15:27
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The name אברם numerically equals 243. Originally Avram was master of 243 of his 248 body parts: all except his two eyes, two ears, and male organ. [These are usually exposed to improper stimuli, even against a person's will.] However, with the Hei (numerical value of 5) added to his name, Hashem granted him control even over these [so that he no longer could see or hear anything that he shouldn't].

(Nedarim 32b and Tosafos there)

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    I didn't know the eyes and ears counted in the 248 limbs.
    – Double AA
    Oct 28 '14 at 22:09
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From some basic Googling found:

Abram = exiled father

Abraham = father of multitudes

Seems the meaning of the words also changed. So that would explain why "Hai."

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The Ham alludes to hamon. So like yydl said, he has become a "father of multitudes" - Av hamon. The reish stays because Hashem wants to add to Avrahams name, not subtract. (Ibn Ezra). Rashi adds that Avram alludes to being the father of just Aram.

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Chasam Sofer - Parshas Lech Lecha - Hishaleich says that as Sarai became Sarah - the Yud switched into a Hei. The remaining 5 went to Avraham.

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  • What happened to the Yud? May 25 '12 at 4:45
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    @Adam Went to Hoshea bin Nun to become Yehoshua.
    – user6591
    Oct 27 '14 at 7:56
  • +1. I've heard this also....have you found a source for this since posting this answer?
    – MTL
    Oct 28 '14 at 21:08
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I heard in a shiur from R' Moshe Wolfson that Avraham was given his new name in the context of the promise to have children and become a nation. The letter ה is the אות ההולדה, the letter of birth, as it is the feminine letter (the letter that turns a word into a grammatically feminine word). Avraham was being given the ability to father a nation, symbolized by the addition of the ה to his name.

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  • That's a bit strange. He needed an effeminate addition to be able to have children? Don't the kabbalists say the exact opposite about Yitzchok? That he had his effeminate nukba shechted by the akeida and afterwards hew was able to marry and have children?
    – user6591
    Oct 27 '14 at 7:58
  • @user6591 Avraham's barrenness and Yitzchok's were very different. The way R' Wolfson explains, Avraham was a new b'riah, and therefore he did not have the koach of a hemshech because he was not a hemshech. The faculty of reproduction was what was missing. For Yitzchok, he did not lack the nature of being a creation which can reproduce. He had a neshama from "alma d'nukva" and lacked zachrus (and not everyone agrees with that Ohr HaChaim). Oct 27 '14 at 18:19
  • Verrry interesting. I thought the Orh'ch h'k was quoting a Zohar?
    – user6591
    Oct 27 '14 at 22:57
  • @user6591 IIRC, the Zohar says Yitzchok had the neshama of nekeiva, and the Ohr HaChaim says that it got its tikkun and was switched for a zachar at the akeida. I could check it up though. Oct 28 '14 at 2:19
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R. Yitzchak Hutner (in Pachad Yitzchak to Sukkos) writes that the reason a "hei" was added was because Avraham was becoming a new creation, so to speak - being fashioned from new. As the Midrash writes, (Midrash Rabba 12:2) when God created the world, He did so with the letter "hei". Whatever that may mean, the letter "hei" is clearly symbolic (and maybe even metaphysically related) to recreation.

R. Hutner uses this idea, interestingly, to provide a source for the rule of the Rabbis that a convert who converts is like a newborn baby (regarding their previous familial relationship) and thus a new creation.

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It says expressly in Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 13a / 2:6:

יו"ד שנטל הקב"ה מאמנו שרה ניתן חציו על שרה וחציו על אברהם

The 'Yud' that Hashem took from Sarah (i.e. her previous name was Sarai with a yud at the end) was given half to Sarah and half to Avraham.

In other words, the Yud which has a numerical value of 10 was removed and split in two to becomes two Hei's (i.e. two sets of 5) of which one hei went to the end of Sarai's name to become Sarah and the other hei went to Avram to become Avraham.

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  • A very good start Dov. To complete the idea, consider her new title, שרה אשת אברהם, the concept of the union of husband and wife when compared to the creation and relationship of heaven and earth and later the sun and moon (the 2 great sources of light). Reflect on the 2 names of the Creator given to Moshe Rabbeinu and how these 2 names consisting of 4 letters change when they become one. And finally, how all the above is expressed in the first word of the Torah. Oct 12 at 10:56
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    Sorry that's too deep for me :-)
    – Dov
    Oct 12 at 11:46
  • If you are learning Yerushalmi, you will get there. ברכה והצלחה Oct 12 at 12:52
  • Omein!!! (15 char)
    – Dov
    Oct 12 at 13:16

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