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I know very well that the word Yahweh (יהוה) is considered so holy by orthodox Jews that they do not dare to utter it. Even in Torah, they substitute it with either Adonai (יְהֹוָה), Hashem (השם) or Elohim (אֱלֹהִים). Furthermore, if one is well-versed in Hebrew Linguistic, significant difference in syllabus interpretation can be spotted throughout numerous passages where this word is mentioned.

This incredible respect and discipline got me interested. My main question is:

Is there a Jewish worship ritual where this word (Yahweh) is procedurally uttered?

Because of the significance of the name both for Jews and Christians, this question is very dear and important to me. Furthermore, the almost mystical power ascribed to it by Jews fascinates me.

Thank you for your answers in advance!

P.S.: I'm sorry if I offended any Jewish believers by writing the Holy Name down.

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    How do you know it's "Yahweh" and not "Yuhwah" or "Yohwih"? – Double AA Oct 23 '17 at 18:30
  • That's exactly the point; we don't know the original pronunciation - but does any high jewish priest? A little historical context would be great. – user15925 Oct 23 '17 at 18:36
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    @GregorPerčič - If there is anyone who knows how it's pronounced, they wouldn't say it or tell anyone. The Name hasn't been pronounced for thousands of years now and won't be until we learn the proper pronunciation again when Mashiach comes. Interestingly, Josephus writes that the Name sounded like it consisted of only vowels. – ezra Oct 23 '17 at 20:24
  • @GregorPerčič - By the way, what do you mean by high jewish priest? – ezra Oct 23 '17 at 20:31
  • @erlzra most likely kohen gadol – robev Oct 23 '17 at 23:12
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As I explain is Reading God's 4 letter name, the vowels that we have are actually not part of the 4 letter Name. That Name is not pronounced with the consonants as written and the vowels show what to substitute for it. The vowels are a hint to the way we pronounce the name with the different consonents. Thus the vowels that are used in the transliteration that you show (A E) are not used. The transliteration used in the english word starting with J (E O A) are a hint to pronounce it as Aleph Dalet Nun Yud. In Yeshaya 50:4, 5, 7, 9 we see that the vowels used are for the pronunciation of Elokim.

In any case, that particular four letter word is not necessarily the specific Name that was said in the temple (may it be speedily be rebuilt in our day). Since we do not have the temple, we cannot have the service on Yom Kippur in which the High Priest would use the Name.

While I should note that there are those who state that the 4 letter word was not used in the Temple, I will bring some explanations that would apply if it was. Note that while it was known and used in early times (such as by Boaz), by the end of the second temple it was restricted as explained by Rav Tarfon.

the well-known tanna Ṭarfon witnessed this ceremony; and he declares that the high priest uttered the holy name of God so that his voice was merged in the song of the priests (Yer. Yoma 40d, below; Ḳid. 71a; Eccl. R. iii. 11)

The talmud (as shown below) condemns the use of it.

Abba Saul (2d cent.) condemned the profanation of the Tetragrammaton by classing those "that speak the Name according to its letters" with those who have no part in the future world (Sanh. 10:1);

SHEM HA-MEFORASH (Hebrew, )

the Mishnah (Soṭah vii. 6; Tamid vii. 2) says, in conformity with this interpretation: "In the Sanctuary the name of God [in the three blessings, Num. vi. 24-26] is to be pronounced in the Priestly Benediction as it is written []; but outside the Sanctuary it must be given the paraphrastic pronunciation []." The high priest spoke the name of God on the Day of Atonement in his recitation of Lev. xvi. 30 during the confession of sins; and when the priests and the people in the great hall heard him utter the "Shem ha-Meforash," they prostrated themselves and glorified God, saying: "Praised be the glorious name of His kingdom for ever and ever" (Yoma vi. 2). When a very young priest, the well-known tanna Ṭarfon witnessed this ceremony; and he declares that the high priest uttered the holy name of God so that his voice was merged in the song of the priests (Yer. Yoma 40d, below; Ḳid. 71a; Eccl. R. iii. 11),

Ṭarfon's account, that the voice of the high priest was drowned by the song of the other priests, also confirms the synchronous statement (Yer. Yoma 40b) that in former times the high priest uttered the Name with a loud voice, but that subsequently, when immorality had become more and more prevalent, he lowered his voice lest the Name should be heard by those unworthy to hear it. The mishnah (Berakot, end) mentions also an utterance of the Tetragrammaton outside the Sanctuary which was permitted and even commanded, saying that "it was ordained that the name of God should be used in the ordinary forms of greeting, which were the same as those exchanged between Boaz and the reapers [Ruth ii. 2], or the salutation of the angel to Gideon [Judges vi. 12]." According to Grätz ("Gesch." 2d ed., iv. 458), this injunction was given at the time of the Bar Kokba war, and the greeting, which contained the Tetragrammaton instead of the word "Adonai" (= "Lord"), was the shibboleth which distinguished the Jews from the Judæo-Christians, who regarded Jesus also as Lord. A haggadist of the third century, Abba bar Kahana, states (Midr. Teh. on Ps. xxxvi., end) that "two generations used the Shem ha-Meforash, the men of the Great Synagogue and those of the period of the 'shemad' [the Hadrianic persecution]." According to Sanh. vii. 5, actual blasphemy is committed only when the blasphemer really pronounces the Tetragrammaton ("Shem ha-Meyuḥad"; comp. Sifra, Emor, xix. [ed. Weiss, p. 104d]).

These details indicate that the long-sanctioned dread of uttering the Shem ha-Meforash was by no means without exceptions, and that the correct pronunciation was not unknown. Abba Saul (2d cent.) condemned the profanation of the Tetragrammaton by classing those "that speak the Name according to its letters" () with those who have no part in the future world (Sanh. x. 1); and according to 'Ab. Zarah 17b, one of the martyrs of Hadrian's time, Hananiah b. Teradion, was burned at the stake because he so uttered the Name. A Palestinian amora of the third century (Mana the Elder) exemplified the apothegm of Abba Saul (Yer. Sanh. 28b, above) by the statement, "as, for instance, the Samaritans who swear"; he meant thereby that in their oaths the Samaritans pronounce the Tetragrammaton exactly as it is written.

  • What line in the liturgy says that? – Double AA Oct 24 '17 at 0:51
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    "it would be restricted to the high priest during the Yom Kippur service in the temple" Why do you think that? That doesn't seem right – Double AA Oct 24 '17 at 0:52
  • Where did the OP say anything about "the vowels that we have" that you discuss it? What's "the way you show it"? – Double AA Oct 24 '17 at 0:52
  • @DoubleAA he probably means "וכשהיו שומעים שם המפורש יוצא מפי כהן גדול היה משתחוים וכו׳". – Oliver Oct 24 '17 at 1:11
  • @Oliver But that's not what that says... – Double AA Oct 24 '17 at 1:13

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