In the translation below, the Zohar explains why the name of G‑d, spelled yud hei vav hei (referred to as "Havayah") is pronounced in a way unrelated to its spelling. The name is pronounced "Ado-nai", meaning "L-rd", but this is not even hinted at by the spelling. Another name, Elokim, is also used to describe Divinity in its aspect as creator, and our text explores the meaning behind the use of this name and what it means in our daily lives.
Why is it written in one place, "And Havayah [a name referring to the divine aspect of mercy] rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah" (Gen. 19:24)? What is the difference between this and the story of the Flood, where the name Elokim is used in every instance and not the name G‑d?
The only exception to this is when the text deals with the salvation of Noah and his family, such as "Havayah said to Noah, 'Come, you and all your house into the ark'" (Gen. 7:1), or "Havayah closed him in." (Gen. 7:16)
However we have learned that every place where it says "and Havayah" refers to Him and His Court of Judgment.
The intention is to show that Zeir Anpin, the higher merciful aspect of G‑d, has connected with Malchut. Just as a kingdom is ruled by law, so the connection of Zeir Anpin with Malchut results in the execution of judgment.
Where the name Elokim is used by itself, it refers to the aspect of judgment. When Sodom was destroyed, the verdict was not to destroy the entire world. As a result, Havayah [the name] became involved in the execution of the judgment [so as to ensure that there was limitation to the destruction]. This was not the case in the Flood. There, the whole world was destroyed and all those living in it. Wherever the name Elokim is used, all people need to hide themselves…
Now don’t think that [because] Noah and all with him were saved [there must have been judgment mixed with mercy]. He was hidden from sight and not seen [by the destructive powers and therefore was saved]. Because of the power of judgment, everything in the world was destroyed. From here we see that where the words "and Havayah" are used, it is possible to be revealed out in the open [like Lot] and yet be saved [because there is a differentiation made between the wicked and those who merit to be saved]. Wherever the name Elokim is used, all people need to hide themselves and remain guarded in a sealed place [like a bunker!]. This is because He [the aspect of judgment] destroys everything [not differentiating between the righteous and the wicked]. This is the reason that the name Elokim is used by itself in connection with the Flood.
[Here we skip a few lines that reinforce the above concept and move to a related topic that follows.] The Holy One blessed Be He hidden and revealed…
I have learned this secret. The Holy One blessed Be He is [both] hidden and revealed.
The hidden aspect is the name Havayah, which is forbidden to pronounce. The revealed aspect is the name Ado-nai.
The revealed aspect is His Court of Judgment below [Malchut]. The hidden [name] is the place from which issues all blessings. Because of this, everything which a person does in a hidden manner is blessed [since its spiritual source is in the hidden name of Havayah].
The blessing dwells over the activity because the forces of destruction, like pride generated by the honor received, and their spiritual parallel in the angelic forces of destruction have no place upon which to cling.
Everything that is done in a revealed manner [in the world, which is His Kingdom], is in a place where His Court of Judgment dwells [and is therefore subject to close scrutiny].
Zohar, Page 64b; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister
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