All the tribes get a mention (several times) in Bamidbar. If so, why is the word for Jews ‘yehudim’ - baring a striking resemblance to the tribe of Yehudah; what about all the other tribes? Here are two answers.

Firstly, the name Yehudah has the name of HaShem in it (the yud, the heh, the vav, and the heh).

Thus, in calling us ‘yehudim’ we are being told that our essence is godly, and that we have a special, innate connection to HaShem.

The second answer is that Yehudah comes from the word ‘hoda’ah,’ which means to thank/appreciate/admit. As the Ohr HaChaim and the Ramban point out a (if not the) central character trait of a Jew is his gratitude to HaShem for every breath he takes, everything that happens to him, etc.

The first word we say in the morning is ‘modeh’ (thanks), and in the Aleinu prayer the Jewish People are singled out for giving thanks to HaShem (korim u’mishtachavim u’modim). Therefore, the name ‘yehudim’ underlines this central Jewish trait of realising that one’s life, skills, and abilities come from HaShem.

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