One or One?

Schmuel schmuel at
Tue Jan 29 03:00:36 EST 2002

Shalom B-hebrew,   (resending from earlier today)

>>On two different occasions (the most recent being yesterday), I have been 
>>that the Hebrew word "Echad" (one), means a "Composite unity" i.e. more 
>>than a
>>"Single" one; the examples of this were, Adam & Eve being "one" and your 
>>having many parts but it is "one" body (This reference was presented in a
>>discussion on Deut 6:4) .  This person also stated if you were talking 
>>about a
>>"Single" one, you would use the Hebrew word, "Yachid"; the example given for
>>Yachid was "One" moon or sun.

gfsomsel ---
>My initial response is the shema (Ex. 6.4) ..... Shema Yisroel YHWH 
>eloheynu YHWH echad
>Now for the question.  Do you suppose that the author is here saying that 
>YHWH is a "composite unity"?  I think not.  Hopefully, this will answer 
>your question.


tho I make no claims of Hebrew-savvyness, this is so important that at times
I have had to research it .. and I did a little more research today... :-)

"echad" is the counting number one, quite comparable to "one" in English or 
"uno" in Espanol...
(just walk around Yerushalayim and ask for one canteloupe at the shouk)

Of course one of anything can have "component parts" (one chair has four legs,
one molecule has multiple subatomic parts,etc)
so *in that sense* one can always talk about any "one" being a "composite 

Also one must be aware that Elohim will not be separated from His majesty, his
Hosts, his Glory, Wisdom, and even His manifestation for us (the Word 
become flesh).
In that sense yachid would be an inappropriate word (and this gets into the
Elohim Gen 1:26 usage as well)... as the chabad article below points out...

There are other words with similar roots...

Yachid would translate more like "alone" "only"

Yachad translates as "unity" or "together"
  (behold how good and how pleasant for we, as brethren to dwell in unity .. )
   Hinai matov....

There is a whole issue about Maimonides using "yachid" instead of "echad"
in his Shema..... whatever his reasons, imho it is simply a "pseudo-issue"

(it is possible he was already dealing with christians who were mangling
  the hebrew, and did it to avoid some debates.. just a guess...perhaps he
  felt it fit his theology better...)

The "echad" issue was raised to defend "trinitarian" theology, not because 
of any
innate special concept of "composite unity" in the Shema "echad"  (it would be
interesting to see when it was first raised, if it shows up in 
Origen/Celsus or
Justin Martyr/Trypho...)

...... it really leaves Messianics and Christians with egg on their face when
they use it in front of a native-born Hebrew speaker.... and you will find it
all over the Net .. a Traditional Jewish fellow named I believe Stephen
Jacobs once had a nice write-up about it.. though I generally consider
socalled "anti-missionary" sources "tainted" on scholarship, on this issue
you would likely find some better articles on their sites than from the 
"Christians" ...
ironically, on an issue that they should have good literature, they have 
little based
on my searching...

(extract here, a fellow in South Africa with deep Israeli heart and roots...)

Echad v. yachid

Denying mankind has made a mind-boggling controversy based on the otherwise 
elementary concept of the elementary term 'one' - echad.

My response? Ask any 3 year old Israeli who has barely started talking. 
'Echad' is one of the first words of vocabulary in the Hebrew language!  It 
stands for 'one finger pointed up', in response to an almost silly 
question. Ask the learned theologians and some interpreters amongst the 
Hebrew Roots Restorers which is fast flooding the world, and they will 
write chapters of 'Hebraic' wisdom on why 'one' is not one but a 
multiplicity. "Compound unity" is the magic buzz word. Does not this entire 
phrase (which professes to denote oneness) convey multiplicity? Deceit upon 

Chabad has an interesting discussion,  their chassidic kabbalistic view 
*could* be used
by the "Christian" echad folks, but I believe that would be a misreading....
... echad, a word that is the keystone of the Jewish faith. Every morning 
and evening of his life, the Jew recites the verse Shema Yisrael, Ado-nai 
Elo-hei-nu, Ado-nai echad--"Hear O Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is 
echad." The Jewish people are called "an echad nation on earth" because 
they reveal the echad of G-d in the world. And the era of Moshiach is 
described as "the day that G-d will be echad, and His name echad."

Echad means "one." The Shema proclaims the oneness and unity of G-d, which 
the people of Israel are charged to reveal in the world, and which will be 
fully manifest in the era of Moshiach. But is echad the ideal word to 
express the divine unity? Like its English equivalent, the word does not 
preclude the existence of other objects (as in the sequence "one, two, 
three..."), nor does it preclude its object being composed of parts (we 
speak of "one nation," "one forest," "one person" and "one tree," despite 
the fact that each of these consists of many units or components). It would 
seem that the term yachid, which means "singular" and "only one," more 
clearly expresses the "perfect simplicity" of G-d (which Maimonides states 
to be the most fundamental principle of the Jewish faith) and the axiom 
that "there is none else beside Him" (Deuteronomy 4:35).

Chassidic teaching explains that, on the contrary, echad represents a 
deeper unity than yachid. Yachid is a oneness that cannot tolerate 
plurality--if another being or element is introduced into the equation, the 
yachid is no longer yachid. Echad, on the other hand, represents the fusion 
of diverse elements into an harmonious whole. The oneness of echad is not 
undermined by plurality; indeed, it employs plurality as the ingredients of 

As one Chassidic thinker once put it, G-d did not have to create a world to 
be yachid. He was singularly and exclusively one before the world was 
created, and remains so after the fact. It was to express His echad-ness 
that He created the world, created man, granted him freedom of choice, and 
commanded him the Torah. He created existences that, at least in their own 
perception, are distinct of Him, and gave them the tools to bring their 
lives into utter harmony with His will. When a diverse and plural world 
chooses, by its own initiative, to unite with Him, the divine oneness 
assumes a new, deeper expression-- G-d is echad.
hmm.. hope that helps

Steven Avery
Queens, NY

Schmuel at

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