In his book, Derech HaShem ("The Way of God"), R. Moshe Chiam Luzzatto wrote:
"God desired to be called by a Name. Through this Name, His handiwork can speak of Him and call Him. By uttering this Name, individuals can also bring themselves close to Him.
"God specified a unique Name (the Tetragrammaton) for His Glory, and regarding this Name it is written, 'This is My Name forever' (Exodus 3:15). To the extent that God desires to have a Name, this is His Name with respect to the Glory itself.
"Besides this, however, God also makes use of other Influences (Sefirot). With respect to these, He also has different Names.
"God also decreed and ordained that when an individual utters His Name, divine Illumination and Influence are bestowed upon him. This is what God meant when He said, 'In every place where I allow My Name to be mentioned, I will come to you and bless you' (Exodus 20:21).
"When a particular name of God is uttered and used to call upon Him, it results in the emanation of an Influence associated with that Name. The type of Influence transmitted will be that which God associated with the particular Name, by virtue of its mystery.
"When a particular Influence is transmitted, it will necessarily give rise to the results specified for it. Its particular effects will then spread through the entire sequence of creation, from the beginning to the end.
"This entire process, however, is circumscribed by the Highest Wisdom. God thus decreed that a Name should only transmit an Influence and have an effect when uttered under specific conditions in a defined manner. Otherwise, it has no effect at all.
"God arranged that some of the Influences motivated by the utterances of His names should have the power of suspending the natural limitations of the one making use of them. This individual is then able to bind himself to spiritual beings, and thereby receive information and enlightenment."
(Derech HaShem, Aryeh Kaplan, Tr.)
Professor Tom Hickey comments:
This observation on the Divine Name and its use corresponds very closely with the Vedic conception of a mantra and it use. In the Hebrew tradition, the Divine Name is the Tetragrammaton (YHVH) and in the Vedic tradition it is the Pranava (Om). The subsidiary Names in both traditions are related to the various attributes of Self-subsistence Existence, and proper use of these Names serves to culture corresponding attributes, along with greater closeness to Reality, in one who uses them properly. Again, in both traditions, proper use is prescribed by one who knows this.
Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto
posted on the Donmeh mail list
Sat, 22 May 1999
page historypage uploaded 18 June 1999