Holy Names of God:
Pastor Fishman PhD.
Here are some truly sacred names that, when meditated upon, can comfort, transcend, and/or connect you.
Many people outside of Judaism recognize “names” of God that, to Jews, might be either inaccurately translated or misinterpreted. Think “Yahwey” YHWH, or “Jehovah”. To most religious Jews, this is a poor translation of the sacred name YHVH, a name of God once pronounced annually by the High Priest, repeated by the people, and then forgotten. Here are some truly sacred names that, when meditated upon, can comfort, transcend, and/or connect you to God.
Literally, this name means “the place”, which is a bit weird for a faith tradition that would never view the Divine as anything material that could be tangibly located. Yet have you ever felt YHWH or YHVH more strongly in a particular place? You might have built your own altar, or you experience the presence in nature, or at the burial site of a holy person. In this place, chant or whisper the name haMakom and see what happens. Or you might find “place” metaphorical - that is, wherever you are, YHWH or YHVH is in that place. Close your eyes and meditate on this sacred name.
El is the name which we translate as God, although this word in the Bible is also seen in many places in its plural form - elohim - and refers also to the gods of other religions, and sometimes to the God of the Abrahamic faiths, even in its plural form. Elyon, however, elevates this simple noun: it means supernal - something utterly transcendent. When we feel ourselves entering a particularly holy or transcendent space, there is where we might whisper the name El Elyon, allowing that reverent, quiet meditation to take you even higher.
Yah is both the end of the YHVH, only with a vowel, a name which Jews do pronounce, and also a name attached to words such as hallelu-Yah. This name exudes power because it can be breathed out in chant or meditation, slowly or rapidly. Its sound is breath itself - Yaaaahhhhh. You can try chanting it without any other words, or repeat hallelu-Yah, breaking apart the word and drawing out the sacred name. It can become a repeated cry of longing, or it can precede a spontaneous prayer to whatever you perceive the divine to be.
True, the majority of religious Jews do not pronounce this name, but kabbalists and others Jews certainly engage this name in a number of ways. Most simply, you can pronounce and meditate upon the sound of each letter: Yud, Heh, Vav, Heh. Many kabbalists write the letters in Hebrew, vertically or in another form, gazing upon the shape of the letters, and using this as a way into transcendence and connection. Judaism not only provides meditation techniques that depart from cerebral concepts, but it also offers techniques that engage our sense of sight and sound, touch, even smell and taste. Experiment and discover your path to God.
Whether or not you have ever made up a melody in your life, and whether or not you feel you “can sing” (everyone can), try this: hum a tune for a while, let it develop and change and fill your being, and then at some point, bring in the name Shalom and sing it softly, over and over. This name is a plea or an acknowledgment (whatever you need) of fulfillment and wholeness and a sense that all is working together in the world towards peace and purpose. It can make you feel that while sometimes life seems chaotic, there is a harmonic flow to the universe. Shalom.
Speaking of flow, the Ruach - breath or spirit or wind - is the Divine flow that is continually happening all around you. Sometimes we struggle to find YHWH or YHVH, to know our purpose in life, to understand why bad things happen, when all the while, the divine Ruach permeates and whooshes and whispers, and it’s simply our challenge and responsibility and privilege to jump in and experience it. Sometimes we just need to get out of our heads where things might not make sense, and immerse ourselves in the breath of the divine, where we can just breathe, where we can just be.
Sacred names provide us with an opportunity to connect to the divine in a variety of ways. Although Judaism has specific names that it finds particularly sacred, Judaism also would never limit personal discovery and connection, so open the Bible and if a word or phrase calls out to you, consider that the holy name that you need. Some studies seem to show that certain sounds have a mystical effect on us, so it might be best to find a free transliteration online, and whisper the Name in its original form or language. Use one or many senses, or just let go of everything and feel the essence of the name within. Shalom, Ruach, Yaaaaahhhhhhh.
Shalom & Many Blessing Bestowed Upon You All Amen!!!!