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For the week ending 24 November 2007 / 14 Kislev 5768

Double-Yud

by Rabbi Yirmiyahu Ullman - www.rabbiullman.com
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
From: Aharon in Monsey, NY:

Dear Rabbi,
Why is the name of G-d written in the siddur as two yuds? In my siddur - “Tefillat Kol Peh” - it is written as two yuds everywhere that I looked, with the exception of shirat hayam (the song at the sea). Why is this so? I suspect that there is more to it than merely an editor’s whim.

Dear Aharon,

I’m afraid your suspicions are groundless. The phenomenon is purely a function of your siddur’s editor and printer. The double yud is not one of the names of G-d and has no kedusha (sanctity). It’s simply a substitute for the name of G-d and it appears randomly in various versions of the siddur. Some siddurim nowadays have the name of G-d written out fully all the time.

Essentially, the reason for using a substitute is out of respect. The name of G-d has kedusha and must not be erased or abused. Since two yuds isn’t a name of G-d, it was substituted so that if the siddur became worn out, torn or wasn’t treated properly it would be less serious. Especially today, with the availability of inexpensive printed siddurim, siddurim aren’t treated with the same care and respect with which they historically were treated.

We called Eshkol Publishers, makers of your siddur ‘Tefillat Kol Peh’. We asked them why in some places the name of G-d is written as two yuds and why in other places it’s written out fully. They told us that when they put together the siddur they copied (with permission) from various older siddurim by means of offset. Whichever way the name of G-d appeared in the old siddur, the new siddur had the same.

Given the reason for a substitute “printing” name of G-d, why two yuds?

The name of G-d is written one way and pronounced another way. It’s written with a ‘yud’, a ‘heh’, a ‘vav’ and another ‘heh’. However, we pronounce it as if it were spelled ‘aleph’ ‘dalet’ ‘nun’ ‘yud’. As you can see, the letter ‘yud’ appears twice, once in the beginning of the written name and once in the name as pronounced. Since it is a mitzvah to recall the meaning of both names while pronouncing the Tetragrammaton, the two yuds simultaneously remind us that G-d “was” (ha-ya), “is” (ho-ve) and “will be” (yi-hi-ye), and that He is the Master (Adon) ruling over all His creation.

Sources:

  • Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 276:1

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