75 words for 75 years of Israel – Rachamim/Mercy

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!

רַחֲמִים

RACHAMIM

RA-CHA-MEEM

MERCY

“God is good to all, and His mercy is upon all His works.” (Psalms 145:9)

טוב יהוה לכל ורחמיו על כל מעשיו.

“Thus said God, Lord of Hosts: Execute true justice; deal loyally and mercifully with one another.” (Zechariah 7:9)

כה אמר יהוה צבאות לאמר משפט אמת שפטו וחסד ורחמים עשו איש את אחיו.

In traditional Jewish prayer, God is often referred to as Av HaRachaman, “Father of Mercy,” for mercy is one of His most central attributes. After the terrible sin of the golden calf, Moses returned to Mount Sinai and pleaded with God to forgive His people. After his prayers were accepted, Moses took advantage of this opportune moment and asked God to provide the people of Israel with a way to access His mercy should they fall into sin again in the future. God responded by sharing the secret of the 13 Attributes of Mercy (Exodus 34:6-7). These 13 Attributes are recited by Jews during the holiest moments of the year and form the basis of the holy prayers recited on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

The Talmud states that one who is not merciful is not considered part of the Israelite nation, for mercy is part of the chosen nation’s “spiritual DNA.” Only a merciful people can be the messengers who bring God’s word to humanity. “Keep the commandments of Hashem your God and walk in His ways” (Deuteronomy 28:9). The sages explain that we are commanded to emulate God in our lives: “Just as God is merciful, so must you be merciful.”

Rechem, the Hebrew word for “womb,” is linguistically related to rachamim. A fetus in the womb receives everything it needs to grow and to prepare for life in the outside world. The baby’s mother constantly gives of herself for the sake of the life inside of her, making the womb a place of unceasing love and mercy.

The Israel Bible Team

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