75 words for 75 years of Israel – Olam/World

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!

עוֹלָם

OLAM

OH-LAHM

WORLD

“I declare, ‘A world of kindness will be built; there in the heavens You establish Your faithfulness.’” (Psalms 89:3)

כי אמרתי עולם חסד יבנה שמים תכן אמונתך בהם.

“A song of praise, of David: I will extol You, my God and king, and bless Your name forever and ever.” (Psalms 145:1)

תהלה לדוד ארוממך אלוהי המלך ואברכה שמך לעולם ועד.

Olam, Hebrew for “world,” is frequently used in the form of l’olam, meaning “forever.” When the Bible describes God’s dominion over the olam, the world, it does so by highlighting that God’s dominion is l’olam, infinite and eternal.

Olam shares a grammatical root with the Hebrew word ne’elam, meaning “hidden.” Jewish thinkers explain that many more worlds exist beyond the physical one that we experience in our everyday lives. These are the upper spiritual realms, including the realm of the angels, that both influence and are influenced by our physical world, specifically through human actions. The higher the world, the more singular it becomes, tending towards unity. At the very top of all of the worlds is the pure unity of God. To the human eye, however, the deeper aspects of our word remain hidden. We struggle to see and comprehend the way God is directly involved in each and every moment of our lives. The world’s true reality remains hidden from our eyes.

The Kabbalists explain that God created the world in order to give, as the verse states, “I declare, ‘A world of kindness will be built’” (Psalms 89:3). Before the world was created only God Himself existed, and there was no one to give to. God created the world so that there would be creations capable of receiving what He wants to give. “And God created man in His own image” (Genesis 1:27). By giving to others, man emulates his Creator and, together with God, fulfills the purpose of the world’s creation.

The Israel Bible Team

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