Oxford Jewish Thought

Lectures, essays, questions & articles

by Rabbi Eli Brackman

I am that I am: The existential name of G-d in the Oxford manuscript

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 11.34.54 am.pngOne of the perplexing ideas in Jewish theology is the fact that G-d does not just exist but has names by which He is referred to. Furthermore, we find that He is described by not just a single name but by different names throughout Scripture. In Genesis during the creation of the world, G-d is referred to by the name Elo-him[1]; Abraham referred to G-d with the name E-l and Sha-dday; Moses referred to G-d with the explicit name of G-d (Tetragrammaton), which is written Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey. Hannah and many of the prophets called G-d the Lord of the Hosts - Tz'va-ot. The concept of the names of G-d is prevalent throughout the scripture and the Hebrew prayer book. In total there are at least seven, according to some opinions ten[2], names of G-d t… Read More »

Marks of Genius: Wear and Tear in Maimonides’ Cairo Geniza Manuscript

One of the most precious Hebrew manuscripts at the Bodleian library is a handwritten draft edition of a section of the Mishneh Torah by Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, known as Maimonides (1135-1204)[1]. The Mishneh Torah was completed in 1180 and consists of a Jewish legal work by subject matter of the entire Talmudic and Gaonic literature of Jewish law. The manuscript, which was recently on display at the Bodleian Library, organized by the Oxford University Chabad Society, has ten leaves[2] and was bought from the Cairo Genizah through the Rev. G. J. Chester in 1890. The Cairo Genizah is a designated room attached to the old Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo where discarded pages containing the name of G-d were deposited, to preserve G-d’s name f… Read More »

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