There is more to a name than what meets the Hay!
Hashem tells Avraham that he should go out from his land and from his family to the land that Hashem will show him.
Hashem tells Avraham that "I will make your name great".
In Pasuk (17:5) we find that Hashem tells Avraham
his name will be changed, and from then on his name is Avraham,
with an added "Hay".
If we look into Rashi of Pasuk(12:2), Rashi explains
that "Veh Escha Legoy Gadol", comes to tell us that
this is what is meant when we say "Elokei Yakov". What
is the connection between the two?
Comes Rav Shimshon of Ostropoli and explains that
if we take a look at the amount of letters that make up the names
of the Avos, we find that there are 13 letters total.
Avraham - 5 Yitzchak - 4 Yakov - 4 = 13
Now if we take a look at the name of our 4 Imahos,
we also find 13.
Sarah - 3 Rivkah - 4 Rachel - 3 Leah -
3 = 13
We know that 13 also represents the "13 Midos of Mercy".
Also 13 = "Eched" (one)
For the Avos and Imahos both spread the oneness of Hashem.
If we take all the letters together, we get 26, which
is equal to the name of Hashem (Ha-Va-.....)
This is the reason that there is a Gemarah in Berachos (13:a) which brings down that if one calls Avraham without the letter "Hay" he has gone against the Torah's commandment.
However, we also know that Yakov also had his name
changed from Yakov to Yisrael, yet if one calls Yakov, instead
of Yisrael, he is not punished.
Why is one permitted to call Yisrael, Yakov?
So he answers that if we were commanded to call Yakov
-> Yisrael, the sums that we calculated above, would be ruined.
And there is special meaning to their amount, as we saw.
If Avraham would not have had his name changed, than
Yakov would have to be called only Yisrael, in order to get 13
Therefore, by increasing Avrahams name with one letter,
Yakov remains with his original name.
Therefore Rashi is telling us that since "I
am increasing your name by one letter, 'Hay', therefore we now
say Elokei Yakov and not Elokei Yisroel, since Avraham had his
name increased, thus Yakov remains with his old name.
And we can also see why it is such a wrong doing
by calling Avraham without a "Hay".
The Imrei Noam brings down that there is also a difference in the way Avraham and Yakov, had their names changed.
By Avraham the Pasuk precedes with "Vehaya Shemcha Avraham", meaning that right away his name is changed.
While by Yakov it says, "Ki Im Yisrael YiYeh
Shmecha", meaning that only after time his name will be changed.
There are those that bring down in the name of the Vilna Gaon, that Yakov's name was not changed completely, and it still remained Yakov.
For we know that there are those that say that the Tefilos that we say every day (Shacharis, Mincha, Maariv) were set by the Avos.
This is hinted in the second letter of each of the
Avraham - Beit - Boker (Morning Prayer)
Yitzchak - Tzadik - Tzoharim (Afternoon Prayer)
Yakov - Ayin - Erev (Evening Prayer)
Thus his name wasn't changed completely, in order
to teach us that Yakov was the one that set the evening Prayer.
Rashi comes and tells us that in the beginning, before Avraham had his name changed, he was only "Av Aram", father of Aram. Which means, he was only the father of the place that he now lived in. And Avraham, with the added "Hay", makes him into "Av Hamon Goyim", father of many nations.
For this reason the Ramabam brings down that a Geir (convert to Judaism) is also considered one of Avraham's children.
This means that the spiritual mission of mankind,
which started by Adam HaRishon, was passed on to Avraham after
his name change.(Artscroll Chumash).
We can see how important ones name is, and what affects
it can have on him, his children, and even Goyim.
We see that Avraham left his dwelling place, to go to the Land of Canaan, and Terach his father left with him.
However, for some reason only Avraham and Sarah made
it to Eretz Yisroel, while Terach didn't manage to make it to
Rav Henoch Leibowitz brings down that there is a very important lesson that one can learn from the way Chazal explain this difference.
For there is a relationship between motivation from
the beginning and being successful.
He brings the Sforno on this Pasuk, which says that the difference between Avraham and Terach was not in there ability to travel long distances, but their commitment. Avraham left Ur-Kasdim, with great dedication to reach his goal to reach Eretz Yisroel, this was not found by Terach.
For we see in the Pasuk(12:6), "...they left to go to the land of Canaan...." .
That when Avraham left, his goal was 100% set on
arriving at Eretz Cannan, therefore, he arrived there.
Each one of us can achieve great levels, we have great capabilities.
Our spiritual capacity affects are ability to achieve more than our physical capabilities.
Especially when it comes to doing and keeping our
Mitzvos, at times it may seem hard, yet if we use all our spiritual
capabilities we can do what we may see as physically impossible.
In this weeks Parsha, Avraham was taught the commandment of Bris Milah.
I would like to discuss one of the Minhagim that many have the custom to do before the Bris.
This deals with a "Shalom Zachor".
It originates in the Gemarah, Baba-Kamah(80) that
"Rav, Shmuel and Rav Asi went to a "Shevuah Ha Bein"
and the Gemarah continues, "Veh-Amri Lah, Yeshuah Habein"
Rashi and Tosafos disagree on the meaning of this
statement of the Gemarah.
Rashi - Says it is a special meal that is done for Pidyon Habein of the first born son.
(Yeshua => Purkan => Pidyon)
Tosafos - Brings Rabbeinu Tam, unlike Rashi, and explains, that it is talking about any son born, not specificaly a first born, and we have the Minhag to make a Seudah then. Why?
So he explains that it is because the baby boy was
saved "Yeshuah" from his mothers stomach (Yeshuah Ha
There is also a Gemarah in Sanhedrin(32:b) that brings
down that because of the fear of decrees not to make a Bris...,
they would make a Seudah the night before the Bris. (Sefer Otzar
Dinim Uminhagim pg 112).
There is a custom to make a small Seudah the Friday
night, after a male child is born. There is also a similar Minhag,
the night before the Bris Milah.
It is specifically done Friday night, since people are then in their houses. Also, because ones Friday nights meal is called Zachor. (Terumat Hadeishein 269)
The Sefer Minhagei Yeshurun, also brings down the Minhag that after Davening on Shabbos morning, people would go and visit the new born baby boy, for he is an Avel(a mourner) for he forgot all the Torah that he had learned in his mothers stomach.
This is also one of the reasons for eating beans and legume's for they symbolize mourning (Sefer Matamim).
This visit is called a Shalom Zachor, for Chazal
say that when a new born boy comes to the world, peace comes to
The Ramah brings down that it is also a Seuda's Mitzvah,
when people come to the house of a new born baby, and eat something
at that persons house. (Ramah, Yorah Dea 265,12)
The Aruch Hashulchan (Yorah Dea 265, 37) brings down
the opinion of having a Seudah Friday night for the baby, yet
he disagrees with that opinion. And rather is of the opinion
of only eating some fruit at the house Friday night, not a Seudah,
this he calls a "Ben Zachar". While Shabbos after the
Morning Tefilah, there is a Minhag to go to the Yoledet's house
and wish a Mazal Tov, and this he calls a "Shalom Zachor".
Yet, he says that on this second visit, one should not eat anything,
in-order not to be a burden on the Bal-Habayis.
To end off, there is another interesting custom of
also visiting the new born, the night before his Bris.
Friends and family come to visit, and little kids say over the "Kerias Shema" and "Hamalach Hagoel Osi..."
This might have started off from the visit of the
Mohel the night before the Bris to make sure that the baby was
O.K., and since there may be a problem of Yichud, others would
also be present there.
While the kids say special prayers, in order to scare
of the Mazikim and protect the new born baby, as we see in this
weeks Parsha, "Veh Atah Eis Brisi Tishmor" (17:9), that
there is a need for Shemirah at the time of the Bris.
(The Above is taken from the following Seforim: Otzar Dinim Uminhagim, Sefer Minhagei Yeshurun, Otzar Ta-amei Minhagim, Aruch Ha-Shulchan...)
(The Above is not Psak, it is just here to increase some of your knowledge about Minhagim. For actual Halacha cases, one should ask his Local Reliable Orthodox Rabbi L.R.O.R)