I was sitting with my son, Zach, this week as he completed some pages in his Hebrew workbook. We were talking about the words, and I was trying to make connections for him between the words and the ways in which we use those words in our Jewish practice. One of the phrases he kept saying was “Aron Hakodesh”, which is the Holy Ark where the Torah is kept in the sanctuary. Zach was very proud to tell me it literally means “holy closet,” because “aron” means “closet”.
Being the total geek that I am, I wondered about the spelling difference in Hebrew between aron (closet) & Aaron (brother of Moses and the first high priest of the Jewish people), so I did what any self-respecting Jewish geek would do — I opened the Torah App on my phone and looked for Aaron’s name!!!! And here’s what I found:
The spelling of the two words is the same except Aaron gets the second “a” sound from insertion of a “hey” in the middle of the word. And this was not the first time I had seen this idea — a “hey” inserted into a Hebrew word …
Before accepting the covenant with G-d, Abraham was Abram and Sarah was Sarai.
In fact, Professor Joel Hoffman claims the names of Abraham and Sarah were changed in the way they were (to include a “hey”) because it was one of the “magic letters” used in the four-letter name of the Hebrew G-d. The letters were “magic” because they made Hebrew readable by everyone, not just scribes, and the Hebrews were the first to create an alphabet that included letters for vowels. Hoffman also claims the special status of these vowel letters is why the G-d of the Hebrews was given the four-letter name consisting of these “magic letters” . . . a name that cannot be pronounced due to the simple fact that all the letters are vowels … but I digress!! 🙂
As further support for his claim that a “hey” was added to the names of Abraham and Sarah as a reminder, or sign, of the Hebrew G-d, Hoffman notes Elim, which is plural for god (“el”), became Elohim by addition of a “hey”, and Elohim is another name for the Hebrew G-d — the One who takes the place of the many.
So using the logic that Abram became Abraham to signify insertion of G-d into his name …
The first high priests’ name, Aaron, obviously means …
“G-d in the closet” ?!?!
… and the fact that my eight-year-old understands enough about Hebrew to really laugh at that joke made his laughter the sweetest sound I’ve heard in quite some time . . . Baruch HaShem!