Beshalach by Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron                                                           בס"ד

לשכנו תדרשו

Discover the Holy Presence in the Holy Land

The Seventy-Two Names of God

In continuation of our study of the Names of God that can be witnessed in the weekly parsha, we would like to discuss briefly some matters pertaining to the Seventy-Two Names of God that appear in this parsha. What is meant by the Seventy-Two Names of God is the three verses, each verse containing exactly seventy-two letters, mentioned one after the other just before (Shmot ch. 14) the splitting of the Red Sea. When the letters of these verses are joined in a specific way so that seventy-two three-letter “names” are formed, these “names” are essentially Divine Names. According to our Sages it is through these seventy-two Divine Names that the Red Sea was split, of course through the Divine Essence that gives these Names power. The Kabbalists talk extensively about the meaning of these Names, their power, and how they are hinted in many portions of the Torah.
Although these Divine Names are usually left for the use of the Kabbalists, there is one usage that everyone uses: the recital of “Ani Vaho hoshia na” – “Ani Vaho please save” said during the hakafot of Sukkot. What is meant by this peculiar expression? This recitation is mentioned in the Mishna found in tractate Sukka 45a. There the Tosafot explains that these two Names of the seventy-two Divine Names “Ani” and “Vaho” hint to Hashem’s Honor being so-to-speak “trapped in Exile,” for the Midrash interprets verses literally referring to the prophets “Ani” – “I” am within the Exile” and “Vehu” – “He” is trapped in chains,” to homiletically refer to Hashem being “trapped in chains in Exile” so-to-speak. What this means is that when Hashem’s Presence is hidden or disgraced in the world it is considered as if His Presence is in “Exile trapped in chains,” so-to-speak. Therefore, when we say this recitation on Sukkot, we are essentially asking Hashem to save Himself, so-to-speak, for His Namesake, so that His Name will not be disgraced in “Exile.”

Our Sages also explain that when Israel is in Exile, the Holy Presence is also with them, so-to-speak in Exile. Therefore, we more deeply understand why the Seventy-Two Names, that contain the two Names “Ani” and “Vaho,” were used for the splitting of the Red Sea. The splitting of the Red Sea was essentially a deliverance from Israel’s Exile in Egypt. Some explain that the two Names “Ani” and “Vaho” appear at the head of the two halves of the Seventy-Two Names, “Vaho” at the very beginning, and “Ani” as Name number 37. According to this explanation, these two Names act as the “heads” or internal essence of all the seventy-two Names. Therefore, we may say that these seventy-two Names, in general, may be beneficial in leaving Exile. This explanation beautifully unlocks the mystery of this recitation, specifically during the hakafot of Sukkot. According to our Sages these hakafot reflect the original “hakafot,” i.e. the encircling of Jericho when it was conquered at the time of Joshua. Jericho is called by our Sages the “lock of the Land of Israel,” meaning that once it was conquered, the entire Land of Israel was “opened,” i.e., much more easily conquered as a result.

The conquering of the Land of Israel can be seen as the ultimate end of Israel’s Exile, as Israel can finally settle in their homeland with no interference. Therefore, the usage of “Ani” and “Vaho” when encircling the bima fit perfectly with the conquering and settling of the Holy Land that ultimately end Israel’s Exile and the Exile of the Holy Presence. According to the Arizal, throughout the days of encircling during Sukot, one is to have the intent to the “Double Name,” i.e a spelling out of the Tetragrammaton so that its letters are doubled (heh heh, vav vav, heh heh) and its numerical value is also the Tetragrammaton (26) doubled (52) called by the Kabbalists “the secret of the Double Cave [of Hebron].” This matter fits perfectly with our identification of the encircling with the conquering of the Land of Israel and the end of Exile, for Hebron and its “Double Cave” stand as the Beacon and the Home-City of our People in our Holy Land.

Real Miracles:

A group of Israeli soldiers accidentally walked into a minefield. They have little choice but to poke around in the sand with their bayonets to try to find and disarm the landmines. Their chances of getting out of the minefield alive were very slim. Without warning, a wind arises that sweeps the sand off the landmines. In the moonlight, they can clearly see a safe path through the landmines, and they go on to carry out their mission and return home safely. Was this the result of a fortuitous, freak wind storm, or was it a real-life miracle? Source:

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