Hebrew In Israel | Compassion/Rachamim – Learn Torah

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Hebrew In Israel | Compassion/Rachamim – Learn Torah

Yoel Halevi No Comments

A word which keeps on coming up in conversation with friends and students is the רחמים- Rachamim -mercy/compassion from the root רחם.  What is interesting about this word is, that the root is used in other Semitic languages such as Aramaic and can mean “to love”.  As always we have to be very carful in comparing words, but I still find it interesting that compassion and love have a close relationship.  Even if the ח is historically different in these two words, we can still find a connection between them.

A good example of this we can find in Psalm 103:13
כְּרַחֵם אָב, עַל-בָּנִים  רִחַם יְהוָה, עַל-יְרֵאָיו
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
YHWH has compassion on those who fear him.
A father does not only show compassion because he can, he does so out of love for his children!
Now think about this point for a moment: doesn’t compassion come from our ability as humans to love one another?  Isn’t it in our nature to care for our fellow man?  Before we become adults and start viewing the world from a political and cynical point of view, don’t we treat everyone with love and compassion?
Another interesting case is the word for womb in Hebrew.  The word is also from the root רחם which might create a connection between childbirth, compassion and love.  The womb is also associated with relations of love between a man and a woman (Judges 5:30), making this an even stronger case that there is a connection between the words.  I admit that this goes a little into pseudo study, but the links seem to be there.
Originally Published:  24 May 2016

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