On Yom Kippur, the kohen gadol, during the day's service, said a particular name of Hashem. I had always thought that he said the 4 letter name, but in shul, the rabbi mentioned that it was the 42 letter name alluded to through Ana Bako'ach which explains why the poem is followed by the line "baruch shem k'vod…"

Was the shem hameforash that the kohen gadol said the 42 letter name and is there a source about this I can read?


According to the Rambam the Kohen Gadol pronounced the 4-letter name, see MT Avodat Yom haKippurim 2:6

Thus he mentions God's explicit name ten times on this day. On all occasions, he recites the name as it is written, pronouncing His explicit name (shem hameforash).

The Rambam elsewhere (Hilchot Tefila 14:10) defines the shem hameforash as yue-kei-vav-kei

They recite [God's] name - i.e., the name י-ה-ו-ה , as it is written. This is what is referred to as the "explicit name" in all sources. In the country, it is read [using another one of God's names]: אדני, for only in the Temple is this name [of God] recited as it is written.

This is also how Shulchan Aruch Harav 621:8 has it

Ten times in the course of Yom Kippur the High Priest would utter the Four-Letter name of G‑d as it is written — three times in his first confessional: “Please, Ha­Shem, I have sinned…; please, HaShem, atone…; ‘before HaShem you will be purified’ ”; three times in each of the second and third confessionals; and once at the lottery [concerning the goats to be offered], when he said [concerning one of them], “A sin-offering for HaShem.”

Your rav might have alluded to other views as mentioned there in note 23 "Other authorities understand the term Shem HaMeforash differently in this context (see the Reshimos of the Rebbe, Booklet #41)". One of these views might be the one of R Bachya ben Asher (quoted here).

  • If I recall correctly, the 42 Letter Name comes straight out of the Zohar and has no mention in Jewish Literature prior. – ezra Jan 14 at 15:37

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