In honor of Israel’s 75th birthday, Israel365 is excited to launch a new series of essays that will unlock the secrets of the Hebrew Bible!
Excerpted from Rabbi Akiva Gersh’s forthcoming book, 75 Hebrew Words You Need to Understand the Bible (available soon!) these essays illuminate the connection between related Hebrew words, revealing Biblical secrets only accessible through Hebrew.
Enjoy the series – and happy 75th birthday to the State of Israel!
“You are My witnesses, declares Hashem, My servant, whom I have chosen. So that you may know and believe in Me, and understand that I am He: before Me no god was formed, and after Me none shall exist.” (Isaiah 43:10)
אתם עדי נאם יהוה ועבדי אשר בחרתי למען תדעו ותאמינו לי ותבינו כי אני הוא לפני לא נוצר אל ואחרי לא יהיה.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:13)
לא תענה ברעך עד שקר.
The word Eid, “witness,” is found in many different contexts, particularly in the Bible’s extensive laws concerning testimony in a court of law. In fact, one of the Ten Commandments obligates us not to bear false witness, highlighting the seriousness of speaking only words of truth, particularly when they impact another person.
In almost all situations, Jewish courts require the testimony of two witnesses and will not accept the testimony of a single individual. This is to ensure that more than one perspective is taken into account as the court strives to reach the fairest verdict possible.
As human beings created in the image of God, we are charged with the task of bearing witness to God’s creation of heaven and earth. While we can and should do this every day of our lives, Shabbat, the holy day of rest, is set aside as a day of bearing witness to God’s act of creation. In the Jewish prayer book, Shabbat is called “a remembrance of the creation of the world.”
In Judaism’s most important prayer, the Shema, we also bear witness to the existence and oneness of God. The two Hebrew letters that make up the word eid appear in the words of the Shema itself. To highlight this connection, in the section of the Hebrew Bible where the Shema appears, these two letters are written larger than the other letters, ensuring we remember to bear witness to God as we recite the holy words of the Shema.