75 words for 75 years of Israel – Gevurah/Strength

In honor of Israel’s 75th birthday, Israel365 is excited to launch a new series of essays that will unlock the secrets of the Hebrew Bible!

Excerpted from Rabbi Akiva Gersh’s forthcoming book, 75 Hebrew Words You Need to Understand the Bible (available soon!) these essays illuminate the connection between related Hebrew words, revealing Biblical secrets only accessible through Hebrew.

Enjoy the series – and happy 75th birthday to the State of Israel!

גְּבוּרָה

GEVURAH

GEH-VOO-RAH

STRENGTH

“Who can tell the mighty acts of the LORD, proclaim all His praises?” (Psalms 106:2)

מי ימלל גבורות יהוה ישמיע כל־תהלתו?

“Thus said Hashem: let not the wise man glory in his wisdom; let not the strong man glory in his strength; let not the rich man glory in his riches.” (Jeremiah 9:22)

כה אמר יהוה אל־יתהלל חכם בחכמתו ואל־יתהלל הגבור בגבורתו אל־יתהלל עשיר בעשרו. 

Gevurah, the Hebrew word for “strength,” is often used in the Book of Psalms to describe the greatness of God. An essential aspect of our praise and worship of God is understanding His strength and His ability to do anything He chooses to do.

Human beings can also possess gevurah. In Jewish thought, Isaac, the second of our patriarchs, is associated with this trait. But why is Isaac, who is nowhere described in the Bible as unusually strong, associated with the trait of gevurah?

In Jewish thought, gevurah refers primarily to spiritual strength and restraint, as opposed to physical strength – and it is Isaac’s spiritual strength that set him apart. Isaac succeeded in subsuming his personal ego, fulfilling the mission that God gave him and which the world so desperately needed. He understood that it was his role to humbly continue in the path of his father Abraham. Isaac was not called upon to create his own, individual path, but rather to internalize his father’s teachings, follow in his father’s footsteps, and ensure the continuity of his father’s legacy. He was proud to be “Isaac the son of Abraham” (Genesis 25:19).

The Talmud asks: “Who is the gibor, the person of strength? The one who conquers his negative desires.” More than physical prowess, the Bible favors spiritual strength, the ability to overcome one’s own self-centered desires for the sake of a much greater and more important goal.

The Israel Bible Team

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