The other night I watched “A Serious Man” (2009) by the Coen brothers. I did not really like the film but it did offer an informative cynical peek into American Judaism through Jewish eyes. I just want to share a Hebrew word I heard repeatedly during the movie but had never heard before. This illustrates my ignorance of Judaism. I had to pause the movie to look it up. Had you heard of it?
In Hebrew “ha-Shem” means “The Name” and is what a Jew uses to refer to God. The Torah strictly forbids Jews to use the four-letter name of God – YHWH (יהוה). “ha-Shem” is used in casual conversation about God whereas in rituals (prayers, readings, blessings), other names for God are used like Adonai, El, Elohim etc… But in the movie, the word ha-Shem was used constantly by characters puzzled over what God was trying to teach them through the bizarre events in their lives. “ha-Shem” was their intimate word for God.
Source: Jewish Encyclopedia
See other “Word!” posts, here.