75 words for 75 years of Israel – Ruach/Spirit

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!

רוּחַ

RUACH

ROO-ACH

SPIRIT

“The earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a spirit from God sweeping over the water.” (Genesis 1:2)

והארץ היתה תהו ובהו וחשך על פני תהום ורוח אלהים מרחפת על פני המים.

“But when Moses told this to the Israelites, they would not listen to Moses, because of their shortness of breath and because of the cruel bondage.” (Exodus 6:9)

וידבר משה כן אל בני ישראל ולא שמעו אל משה מקצר רוח ומעבדה קשה.

Ruach, Hebrew for “spirit,” appears in the second verse of the Bible as “a spirit of God sweeping over the water” at the very beginning of the creation of the world. Similarly, divine inspiration is known as ruach hakodesh, literally translated as “holy spirit.”

The sages teach that “a person does not sin unless a ruach shtut, a spirit of folly, enters him.” Since a person’s soul is from God and always connected to God, only a spirit foreign to his soul can cause him to sin.

In other contexts, ruach means “wind” or “breath.” At the splitting of the sea, “God drove back the sea with a strong east wind (ruach) all that night, and turned the sea into dry ground” (Exodus 14:21). A few verses later, the word ruach appears again, this time meaning “breath.” After the children of Israel cross safely to the other side, they sing, “At the breath of Your nostrils the waters piled up” (Exodus 15:8).

After Pharaoh increased the burden of the suffering Hebrew slaves in Egypt, Moses sought to comfort the people. “But when Moses told this to the Israelites, they would not listen to Moses, because of their shortness of breath (ruach) and the cruel bondage” (Exodus 6:9). Their enslavement caused them such physical and emotional stress that they were unable to breathe normally or maintain a sense of calm and focus. In this painful emotional state, they could not even absorb God’s promise that they would soon be freed from their bondage.

The Israel Bible Team

Subscribe

Sign up to receive daily inspiration to your email

Recent Posts
Thwarting the Weapons of Technology
The Time is Now!
Broken Symbols, Broken Ideals

Related Articles

Subscribe

Sign up to receive daily inspiration to your email