Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim – Associate Rosh Yeshiva – PTI – Passaic Torah Institute – Parsha Breishis – Hashem’s Name – The Seal of Authority

A few years ago, a unique bottle of wine was sold at an auction. The bottle was found in an old Pennsylvania mansion and had the initials TJ imprinted in the seal. It was believed to have been part of Thomas Jefferson’s private wine collection and was sold at the auction for $8,373. The proud buyer invited his friends to a private dinner, where he was going to serve this bottle to his guests. The anticipation was palpable, as the host opened the bottle and tasted some of the wine. He tilted the glass and…spat it out! It tasted awful. So much for an $8,373 bottle of wine from Thomas Jefferson!

We find a much more incredible set of initials in the opening words of our Friday night Kiddush: Yom Hashishi Vayechulu Hashamayim (on the sixth day, the heavens [and the earth] were finished).The Baal Haturim notes the first letter of these four words spell out the name of Hashem “Yud Heh Vav and then the letter Heh.” That’s interesting, but what’s the significance?

A painter, composer, or poet will often write their initials or hide them in their composition, as is found in many of the Shabbos songs (e.g., Yom zeh mechubad – the first letter of each stanza spells Yisroel. The artist does this to link his name to the art. In the case of the creation of the world, Hashem also signed His name, so we will attribute the world to Him.

Why were these particular words used in the Kiddush? Rav Gedalia Schorr explains that the words Yom Hashishi (the sixth day) refer to the six days of creation, while Vayechulu Hashamayim (the Heavens were completed) refer to the day of Shabbos. Precisely here, at the juncture of the six days of creation to Shabbos, Hashem imprinted His name.

After experiencing a major high from the whole period of Elul, culminating in Simchas Torah, we are now plunged back into the work week. Who doesn’t worry about how to maintain the spiritual clarity and connection to Hashem we achieved? But we quickly forget this imperative, as we get back into the grind. This is where the letters in the name of Hashem come in. During the work week (Yom Hashishi), we might not have the highest awareness of Hashem. However, if we look for and find Hashem’s presence even in small things (e.g., a desirable parking space opening up as we arrive, or a doctor appointment being available immediately instead of a normal two week wait), then as we enter Shabbos (Vayechulu Hashamayim), it will be so much easier to feel our connection with Hashem, especially considering the inherent holiness of Shabbos.

Yom Hashishi (the sixth day) also incorporates a name of Hashem, in the first two letters of Yud and Heh. The Kli Yakar tells us this name of Hashem is used in reference to Kedusha – holiness – taking something mundane and making it holy. In fact, this is the name of Hashem imprinted in the Hebrew word “ish” – man, and “isha” – woman. The Gemara tells us both words have an aleph and a shin, but ish has the letter Yud and isha has letter Heh. If there is harmony in the home, then Hashem’s presence dwells with them. When we incorporate Hashem into our marriage, we turn our marriage into a holy union. The same is true with a work week.

Eight thousand dollars is a lot of money to spend for wine that is only believed to have belonged to Thomas Jefferson. Even if it was, do we know he was a good wine maker?? When we see Hashem’s initials in our words of prayer, we can be certain that holiness is being infused into our work day and into our Shabbos.

We can bring spiritual focus into our day, more than any other way, through Torah study. Learning Torah is the greatest way we can get close to Hashem. This is why we conclude Sukkos with Simchas Torah. A joyful link to Torah is like basking in Hashem’s presence in the Sukkah all year long.