Is there any difference in meaning between lev and levav? In the Shema a person is commanded to love "b'chol levavcha" with all his heart. But in Shemot 9:14 Hashem says he is sending plagues "el lib'cha" to your heart. Lib'cha (and libecha) and levavcha (and levavecha) both appear textually. Is there any exegetical distinction which would help me more fully understand why one is used in a specific location and not the other? I have found mention online of one rashi which sort of addresses this but not in any comprehensive way, so any guidance would be appreciated.

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    Note the dagesh in libcha. The shoresh of this word is with two bets.
    – Shimon bM
    Feb 14, 2017 at 1:42
  • so if the shoresh is l-v-v why have 2 forms of it? Why is there a word lev and a word levav?
    – rosends
    Feb 14, 2017 at 1:49
  • Is this on-topic? Questions about the Hebrew language when not specifically about Judaism are off-topic.
    – ezra
    Feb 14, 2017 at 2:09
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    My question is about exegetical value in understanding tanach, not about the linguistic quirk that allows synonyms in a language.
    – rosends
    Feb 14, 2017 at 2:13
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    @ShimonbM absolutely. If there is nothing simply grammatical/semantic/linguistic which drives the choice, what does? What can we learn from the particular choice?
    – rosends
    Feb 14, 2017 at 3:08

1 Answer 1


See Rashi's commentary. He says with both of your inclinations - the good and the bad.

Frequently a word that has a double letter such as this one implies a "doubling". See similar example in one of the Hallelukah - חרב פיפיות בידם - means a double edged sword. In this verse, view Siftei Chachamim commentary on what Rash"i says. He supports exactly that theory as well as answering exactly your question on the usage of the double bet here.

  • Is that a generalizable understanding? And what does it mean for cases where the single vet version is used?
    – rosends
    Feb 14, 2017 at 15:00
  • @Danno I think that's a general understanding. But, I have to research a few other examples to confirm this. There is another usage of the double later in Devarim.
    – DanF
    Feb 14, 2017 at 15:35
  • @Danno I just viewed Devarim 30:2 and 30:6 which have the double form. All these verses seem to refer to the concept of loving and devoting the heart to G-d. You or I would have to run a search, I think, to see if there's a more general pattern throughout Tanac"h. From what I see, so far, it seems that the doubled use occurs within the theme of loving G-d. Not conclusive proof, but, there is some type of pattern, perhaps.
    – DanF
    Feb 14, 2017 at 16:03

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