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Many blessings open with the familiar formula:

ברוך אתה יהוה אלהינו מלך העולם

In additions, many blessings close with the familiar shorter formula:

ברוך אתה יהוה

Now, we know (Berakhot 40b, Rambam Berakhot 1:5, ShA OC 214) that a proper blessing needs to contain mention of both God's name and His kingship (Shem uMalkhut). Clearly "יהוה" is a part of the former of those requirements and "מלך העולם" is a part of the latter. Where does "אלהינו" fit in?

On the one hand, אלהינו is a name of God which cannot be erased (Rambam Yesodei 7:2, ShA YD 276:9) so it seems to be part of the "Shem" part of the formulation. Mishna Berura (214 sk 4) rules that אלהינו alone can function as the Shem in a blessing. Indeed the combo "יהוה אלהינו" appears quite frequently in Tanakh (with conjunctive Trop on the first word), and, even when unwarranted, people automatically run them together.

On the other hand, in the shorter closing formulation of longer blessings the chosen name of God to use is not "יהוה אלהינו" but just "יהוה". I can accept that Malkhut need not be mentioned again at the conclusion, but why should only part of the Shem be left out? It's worth noting that the name אלהינו has associations with Divine Judgement which in a certain sense fits more with Malkhut than Shem.

I note that in many prayer books there are Trop marks on the blessing preceding the Haftarah, opening with בר֨וך את֤ה יהוה֙ אלהינו֙ מ֣לך העול֔ם which, by putting the primary division on יהוה, indicates אלהינו is part of the latter phrase. However, these notes are of unknown origin and clearly do not conform to the regular rules of Trop (you can't have two Pashtas in a row unless they follow a Revi'i; I suspect the notes were just lifted from Chronicles 1:29:10 without much thought to context). Hence, I don't think this should be taken as conclusive evidence.

I note as well that in my experience, those who say "Barukh Hu Uvarukh Shemo" when hearing God's name in a blessing (cf. OC 124:5) do so after hearing the word יהוה but before the word אלהינו (eg. during the Chazzan's recitation of the morning blessings), indicating a separation in the blessing. As before though, this could be a carryover from, for example, the repetition of the Shemoneh Esrei where that phrase is regularly used in the context of the shorter closing formulae of blessings.

So which side is it? Is "אלהינו" in a standard blessing part of the Shem or part of the Malkhut? If part of the Shem, then why leave it off in the closing formula and pause between the two halves of the Shem? Proofs from earlier sources (≥Rishonim) are especially sought.

  • Note fwiw that Sh'ma… is one of the malchuyos verses. – msh210 Mar 15 '16 at 7:16
  • It seems that Tosfot on Berachot 40b considers "אלהינו" not to represent "מלכות" (he says that amida doesn't have "מלכות", and that its replacement is "אלהי אברהם"). He also explains why "שמע ישראל" is considered "מלכות", which also strengthens the idea that he didn't think "אלהינו" is enough. On the other hand, one can argue that he thinks that "אלהינו" isn't "מלכות" on its own, though I think the former is correct. Also Yalkut Yosef (214, 1) definitely thinks "אלהינו" is part of the "שם". – Cauthon Mar 15 '16 at 9:49
  • If it was shem, and one can have a construction with the shem and not malchut, would that make "Baruch elokeinu sheb'ra'anu lichvodo" a complete construction of a blessing? – rosends Mar 15 '16 at 10:16
  • @Danno Yes, I considered that. Particularly problematic if you think Eloheinu can function as both Shem and Malkhut. – Double AA Mar 15 '16 at 14:21
  • @Cauthon Yalkut Yosef here ateret4u.com/online/f_01355_part_15.html#HtmpReportNum0014_L2 says along the lines of the Mishna Berura. It's possible IMO that a Malkhut phrase could use a name of God in it without intending to be the Shem. In a case where Havaya was omitted, then we're breaking the standard structure anyway and Eloheinu changes it's function. – Double AA Mar 15 '16 at 14:26
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From the Kabale point of view, Elokeinu refers to Gvurah, which is usually translated into rigor and justice.

This world is under Gvurah attribute (Yalkut shim'oni).

Malkhut isn't Gvurah : Malkhut is reign. In fact, it is the attribute that is above and below in Sder Hischtalchelous. Which means Malkhut transfers all 9 attributes above her to the world below.

Then one knows why Elokeinu comes in this order: Malkhut is below (and above as well) the Gvurah attribute. However, making a blessing means elevating a profane object to being Kadosh. For this reason, you refer to all successive levels of Gd presence into the blessing, and there you go : Malkout is under Gvurah, in that case.

Now, Elokeinu functions as a common denomination in scriptures to describe forces that can be considered as divinities by men ('asseret diberos, parachas Kedochim...). So, it could appear not directly linked to Jews Gd.

However, Elokeinu is undoubtedly a Name; which has the Gmatria Hateva' (the Nature), and is the expression of Gd under the Gvurah attribute. Also, it is said "Havaye hou haElokim".

The fact that it can be used to describe other divinities as well is a proof of the fact that Gd's presence under those circumstances is a bit hidden. Elokim is hence a denomination of a leading divinity. This is the most direct reference for men who accept it as such. You hence got a "neutral" divinity on one side, and a direct proof of reign on the other (since it is also an attribute expression).

So that Elokeinu is both Malkhut and a Shem.

  • The parts of this post that address the question, simply say both themes I noted are real so it's both. It says this without sources, and without addressing why, if it is Shem, certain things are surprising as noted in the question. This answer is not very useful, as I could have speculated about it being both before you did, and your speculation lacks value as I don't know you that I should trust you. – Double AA Jun 10 '16 at 15:26

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