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Pronouncing the Name

Ha'azinu (Deuteronomy 32 )

by Rabbi Shraga Simmons

Parshat Ha'Azinu includes the verse: "When I say God's Name, it should be with greatness." The commentators explain this to mean when we say God's Name, we must concentrate on the great significance of who God is - that He encompasses all of past, present and future.

We learn this principle from the high priest in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, who wore a gold plate on his forehead - upon which was written the Name of God. The Talmud says that while wearing this plate, the high priest was required to continuously concentrate on the Name of God written there. So if one is required to concentrate on God's written name, then all the more so are we required to concentrate when pronouncing God's name.

I have a friend who once counted how many times he said God's name over the course of one day. Between prayers in the synagogue, blessings over food, and Torah study - he pronounced God's name 900 times in one day! Figured over a lifetime, that's about 25 million chances to give proper honor and respect to God!

Which reminds me of a story. A religious man died and went to the Heavenly court for judgment. The court called for any angels to come forth and testify on the man's behalf. Thousands and thousands of angels appeared - angels who had been "created" every time this man did a mitzvah. But then the Heavenly court called for any accusing angels, who were created when this man acted inappropriately. Millions of angels appeared - representing each time the man said God's name without proper concentration.

The Almighty does so much for us, every moment, of every day. We should give Him our full respect and honor, for as it says in this parsha: "When I say God's Name, it should be with greatness."

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