The sound “cha” in “ra-cha-mim” is pronounced like the Spanish “ja” in the word “Jalapeño.” “Ra-cha-min” is a noun, but it can also be used as a verb, as it often happens in prayer. When it is a verb, we say: “ra-chem” for “have mercy.”
It is amazing that the emotion “mercy” or “compassion,” “ra-cha-min,” is derived from the name of the most motherly organ in the human body: the womb, “re-chem.” This is where the strongest connection of compassion and love are bonded between the mother and the baby, respectively. Men may need to learn this, but if you are a mother, no further words are necessary; you have experienced this compassion first hand.
A good word about English: This language recognizes this connection between the mere words “woman” and “womb.” This is compassion. And indeed, every woman has more of the divine gift of compassion, not only mothers.
“Ra-chem,” (give or have mercy) is the imperative form (commanding or requesting something from others). The imperative form is considered an actual tense in Hebrew, in additional to past, present and future.
Example of “ra-chem” (verb):
1. “Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he a darling child? For whenever I speak of him, I earnestly remember him still; therefore my inward parts are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:20).
2. “He cried out, ’Jesus, you son of David, have mercy on me!’ (Luke 18:38).
Example of “ra-cha-mim” (noun):
1. “And I will show mercy to you.” (Jeremiah 42:12).
2. “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have stayed with me now three days, and have nothing to eat” (Mark 8:2).
It is interesting to mention that in all occurrences of “ra-cha-mim” in the Old Testament, it is mentioned as a “gift” where the text says “give mercy.” Unlike the English translation in example 1 above, the Hebrew text actually says: “and I will give mercy to you….” Note that there is a difference in showing mercy (which indicates emotion) to giving mercy (which indicates a choice of action).
Let us end this “Hebrew Word of the Day” with the blessing:
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”