This use of yad, which means “power” and “strength” as well as “monument,” can be seen in the biblical description of a memorial to Avshalom, King David’s rebellious son: “Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself the pillar, which is in the king’s dale; for he said: ‘I have no son to keep my name in remembrance’; and he called the pillar after his own name; and it is called Absalom’s monument [yad Avshalom] unto this day” (2 Samuel 18:18).
There is indeed a stone tomb called Yad Avshalom (known in English as the Tomb of Absalom or Absalom’s Pillar) in Jerusalem’s Kidron Valley, though Israeli archaeologist Gabriel Barkay recently announced that it’s more likely to be the final resting place of Herodian monarch Agrippa I.
“Thus saith the Lord: Keep ye justice, and do righteousness; for my salvation is near to come, and my favor to be revealed,” reads Isaiah 56:1. In verse 5, we are told: “Even unto them will I give in my house and within my walls a monument and a memorial [yad vashem] better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting memorial, that shall not be cut off.”
Indeed, Yad Vashem, which was established in 1953, describes itself as “the Jewish people’s living memorial to the Holocaust.”
*Israeli Holocaust Memorial Day, which was yesterday.