In this week’s parsha, Parshas Lech Lecha, Hashem gives Avraham a bracha: “Ve’ha’asecha le’goy gadol, ve’a’va’rechecha ve’agadlah shimcha ve haya bracha” – “And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will greaten your name, and you shall be a blessing.” [source – perek:pasuk]
Rashi comments that the part of the bracha which states, “I will greaten your name,” refers to the phrase “Elokei Yaakov” that we say in the Shemonah Esrei. Yet why does Rashi connect these two phrases, and how does their connection fulfill Hashem’s promise to make Avraham’s name great?
Before answering our question he [who? Rashi??] answers a different question. Yaakov Avinu had an additional name, Yisrael, that the Angel of Esav gave to him. Yisrael is a greater name than Yaakov since it contains more letters. So why don’t we say “Elokei Yisrael” in the Shemonah Esrei instead of “Elokei Yaakov”?
When you count the letters of the words “Elokei Avraham, Elokei Yitzchak, v’Elokei Yaakov,” it adds up to 26 letters. 26 is the gematria of Hashem’s name: Yud = 10, Hay = 5, Vav = 6, Hay = 5. However, if we were to substitute “Elokei Yisrael” for “Elokei Yaakov,” there would be 27 letters, which does not add up to the numeric value of Hashem’s name.
Yet there is one way to say “Elokei Yisrael” and still have 26 letters in the aforementioned phrase. Avraham’s name could
be changed to Avram, getting rid of the extra “hey” and thereby cutting the letters down from 27 to 26. Yet Hashem promised Avram [at the time] that his name would be made great. In the context of Rashi’s explanation, this promise refers to adding the Hay of Hashem into Avram’s name and making it AvraHam – a greater name. When we say the Shemonah Esrei three times a day, every day, we use Avraham’s greater name and carry out Hashem’s promise.
Good Shabbos from the Land of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov [I made this change from “Good Shabbos from the Holy Land” but you can change it back if it’s too corny].
A student studying in Baer Miriam