Posted on October 29, 2020 (5781) By Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein | Series: | Level:

A New Concept, a New Avoda

“From the day Hashem created the world, there was no one who called Hashem ‘Adon’ — Master — until Avraham came…” (Brochos 7b)

Tosafos questions this statement. We find that Noach used the proper name of Hashem, as in “Baruch Hashem, the G-d of Shem.” (Bereishis 9:26). Now, the Talmud says that we are not allowed to recite Hashem’s proper name. Rather, we substitute a form of Adon when we say it (Pesachim 50a, Kiddushin 71a). So, presumably Noach did the same. If so, Noach used the name of Adnus (mastery) before Avraham. Why is Avraham praised for its usage and not Noach?

Tosafos answers. Avraham was not calling Hashem “Adon” as a substitute for Hashem’s full name. The verse cited in the Gemara (Bereishis 15:8) actually refers to a separate word, “Master” (not written as the proper name of Hashem). Avraham has coined a new title for Hashem. Hashem is the Master of the entire world. He rules it, judges it, can change it at will.

What Did Noach Say? Theory of the Ben Ish Chai

The commentaries debate whether Noach actually used the substitute name of Adnus when he said, “Baruch Hashem, the G-d of Shem.” The Ben Ish Chai writes that Avraham himself was the first to introduce the idea that Hashem’s full name is not to be pronounced (“He called the name of Hashem,” Bereishis 12:8). Until then, they actually used Hashem’s proper name (Ben Ish Chai, Brochos, 7b).

Refutation of Chasom Sofer

However, see Teshuvos Chasom Sofer (5:192). The Medrash says that Adom Harishon referred to Hashem as Adon (Bereishis Rabba 17:4)! It must be that it was always known that it is forbidden to recite Hashem’s full name. The name for “Adnus” — mastery — was always the term substituted for Hashem’s full and proper name.

Nonetheless, Avraham has introduced a new title for Hashem. Hashem is the Master and King. “Adnus” is not merely a substitute term. This is the title by which we must address Him.

The Novel Approach

The commentaries explain. Even those who acknowledged that Hashem created, did not realize that Hashem remains in full control. The Creator exists in a realm beyond time and place. What does He have to do with the daily workings of the world? He is only called “Master” or “King” out of respect.

Avraham tells us that referring to Hashem as “Master” is not a mere formality. He is truly the One in control. (The Rashba hastens to inform us that there were always tzadikim who realized Hashem’s control — but none publicized the idea as Avraham does.)

Avraham addressed the managerial agency of Hashem in this world. Regarding the Master — Avraham knew he could converse with — debate with — try to convince. Hashem can accept our tefilos!

In Parshas Vayeira, Avraham debates with Hashem, and argues that S’dom should be saved on behalf of the tzadikim who may live there (Bereishis 18:23-33). Throughout this section, Avraham only refers to Hashem with the written name of “Adnus.” (We counted four instances.)

This was the beginning of Yiddishkeit. Avraham, the Jew, referred to Hashem as the master.

Avraham is called “ne’eman.” Nechemya 9:7-8: “You found his heart ‘ne’eman’ (trustworthy) before You…”

Avraham’s faith was so great, he believed so strongly in Hashem’s control — he felt that he, too, could achieve.