Hebrew Letters

online4_b_german.gifAwhile ago, someone posted a comment on my blog about visual effects of Zohar text. The question was presented this way:

As a beginner, I have what may be considered (and rightly so) a most naive and childish question. I’ve been reading some sites about the Zohar, where it is claimed that the letters (characters) themselves serve as a “vehicle” of sorts to open the Mind, and that “scanning” makes all sorts of wonderful things to happen.”

I heard these claims before, so let’s see what Kabbalah tells us about this.

To understand this small article, you have to be familiar with basic terms such as Kli (Vessel), Light, Reshimo. If you haven’t had a chance to research these terms, please make sure you understand them before you continue to avoid misunderstanding of the material.

As a quick reminder for folks who have read my articles in the past, when we talk about Kli, we’re referring to the one and only thing that was ever created – desire to receive. Light – what comes from the Creator and fills the Kli; Light has one key quality – desire to bestow. Reshimo – also known as Karma in Western civilization – is a ledger of desires that periodically arise in us, thus forcing us to take a specific action in our corporeal world. You can view Reshimo as a set of instructions that tells our bodies what to do. You probably ask yourself – if Reshimo tell us what to do each moment in our lives – where is our freedom of choice? Good question, but subject to another post.

So let’s quickly refresh our memories.

Stage 0 – Everything is filled with boundless Light. Creator decides to create the Creation

Stage 1 – a Kli appears, filled completely with Light

Stage 2 – the Kli feels shame from only receiving the Light, thus it decides to give it all back

Stage 3 – the Light is the source of Life for the Kli, and it can’t sustain itself without it, thus it decides to receive some portion of Light, and give some portion back

Stage 4 – as much as Kli wants to bestow its nature – the desire to receive – is bigger, and thus after seeing itself in previous stages, Kli decides to fill itself with the Light.

Stage 4 is called the actual Creation. Why? What is the difference between Stage 1 and Stage 4 as the Kli is filled with Light in both stages?

The difference is small, but substantial. In Stage 1, the Kli appeared filled with Light based on Creator’s thought, while in Stage 4 the Kli itself decided to be filled with the Light. These four stages provide important foundation to the entire Universe – they create an element out of something Divine and Perfect with opposite qualities to its Creator – and the most important part – with its own free will.

There are additional stages after Stage 4 of course, where all the details of the Universe are finalized, such as the five Upper Worlds (Adam Kadmom, Atzilut, Briya, Yatzira, Asiya), system of forces to oversee and govern the Universe (angels, etc), and of course the final, lowest stage of the creation is the place Kabbalists call “Our World”. It’s so remote from the Creator, that we can’t see the divine Light and can’t sense His presence.

The toughest thing to comprehend for people who start studying Kabbalah, is that there is nothing in the entire Universe except two elements – The Divine Light and the Desire to receive (Kli) that was created by it. Absolutely everything – the Worlds, Angels, Sephiroth, Reshimot – anything you can imagine – is only a combination of Light and Kli.

The diagram below depicts the structure of Partzuf – spiritual body. I don’t expect you to comprehend it yet, but want to point out a few elements.

partzuf.JPG

Ohr Yashar – Direct Light (Light that comes from the Creator into the Kli) and tries to enter the Kli. Based on Kli qualities, a portion of Light is allowed to be entered – this Light is called Ohr Pnimi (Inner Light). Ohr Hozer (Returning Light) is what Kli “reflects back” to the Creator.The action of Direct Light is called Taamim – cantillation (chanting) notes used when the Torah is read publicly, the cantillation marks indicating what notes to use; also called “flavors”

The action of Returned Light is called Nekudot – dots under the letters.

The feeling of Kli at the moment when Light enters it (Ohr Yashar) is called Tagin – (crowns on top of the letters), and thus provides first part of the Reshimo.

The feeling of Kli at the moment when it returns the Light (Ohr Hozer) is called Otioit – Hebrew letters.

The diagram below shows it.

Now I hope you understand that beyond every letter in Torah there is a detailed description of every spiritual object and every spiritual state of every element of the Universe. Thus Torah can be viewed as single comprehensive repository of Reshimo that describes everything that ever happened in the past, and will happen in the future.

Now back to the original question – can visual scanning of Torah (or Zohar, which is commentary on Torah) help a person in his/her daily life? Yes and no.

Imagine yourself a radio. There are dozens of stations, but you can tune to only specific ones. Until you tune to them – they don’t exist for you, even though their radio waves never stop being transmitted.

The same with letters from Torah – until you can “tune yourself to this mode” – you can scan the pages of this incredible book a thousand times a day, you can buy multiple copies of Zohar and put it on your bookshelves, you can even use the pages as wallpaper (hopefully you won’t do it, but who knows…) – yet it won’t do you any good.

There is only one method to tune yourself to this frequency – the frequency where these letters and stories start to make sense, the frequency that allows you to see and sense the entire universe without the need to blindly believe in something you can’t see, and this method is called Kabbalah!

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32 Responses to Hebrew Letters

  1. Never Mind says:

    This is amazing.

    Thanks!

  2. Helen says:

    That’s all I needed to hear!!! 😀

  3. Sally Hori says:

    Thanking you for patience in delivering again, some understanding of light.

  4. Marc says:

    Felix, thank you for this clear explanation. Just a question: I thought that Shame only appeared in Stage 4 and led to the first restriction of the light. In stage 2, I understood that what pushes the Kli to give to the creator is more a desire for imitation rather than shame. Like a child wants to imitate his father, but finds he cannot because he has not the required skills or strength. Is this correct?

  5. RUTH says:

    Thank you so much. I found this most illuminating.

  6. We can’t say Creator “dicides” because we don’t know anything about Him. Kabbalah starts from
    STAGE-0, which is called Makhshevvet HaBriya(the thought of Creator)The last stage of this Thought is called Ratzon Lehashpia(the wish of Creator to bestow its Creation),and This very wish of Creator implies that there is Creation that wants to get it,but at this stage-0″He and His Name are One”Kli is under absolute influence of Light and don’t feel or understand its own existance.It is the stage of Harmony,but on the UNCONSCIOUS level.Itis the moment of piece before the storm.The moment of ideal proportion between Kli and Llight.Light includes the Creator’squality of bestowing and Kli is a new quality which has come to life as a result of Makhshevvet HaBrieya,but hasn’t yet any idea about its own nature.
    Stage- 1. Kli doesn’t appear at this stage,because it appeared at stage-0.What happens at stage-1 is that Kli gets a FEELING that being filled will Light is a pleasure and that is why in TES this stage is called: Impossible and not passionate,Impossible-to be without Ore Hokhma(because it doesn’t know any other fprm of existance and not passionate- because it is filled with it( and Hissaron for something we get only after we’ve been filled with something and now we are empty of it.),so it has no passion for Ore Hokhma.
    Stage-2 is called Possible and not passionate:Kli UNDERSTANDS that Light comes from a source different from it in Its nature.And tries to be like the source of the Light.At this stage KLi prefers Ore de Hassadim over Ore Hokhma,but it isn’t because it must,but because it chooses it.That’s why it is called Possiple-it is possible for the Kli to be without Ore,Hassadim ,because the Ore of its existance is Ore Hokhma,and it isn’t passionate because it doesn’t feela need for Ore Hokhma at this point.
    Stage-3 is Impossible and Passionate Kli comes to the conclusion that it is impossible for it to exist withoutOre Hokhma.It understands that one the one hand it must get Ore Hokhma because it is made so that Ore Hokhma is the source of its existance and it can’t manage without it(that is why Creation couldn’t have stopped at stage-2) stage-3 feels passion for Ore Hokhma,and on the other hand it wants maximun resemble to Greator’s quality of betstowing, so it gets only Heerrat(minimum) Hokhma in Ore Hassadim.
    Stage-4 is Possible and Passionate.There is no need for getting all Ore Hokhma,because Heerrat Hikhma is absolutly enough for existance,But Kli feels very strong passion for Atzmut Ore Hokhmaand it WISHES to get it all.
    So the difference between Stage-0 and Stage-4 is that stage-0 is the root of the new reality while stage-4 is the final form of this reality. The difference between stage-1 and stage-4 is that in stage-1 Kli is filled with Ore hokhma and has no ideaabout any other possibilities.It is filled with it without its will or wish.Stage-4 knows that there is possibilities of stage-2 and-3, but it CONSCIOUSLY wishes to get Ore Hokhma in all its Power.Stage-1 is filled with Light and it ENJOYS it ,but doesn’t feel passion for it.Stage-4 passionatly wants it ,but CAN’T ENJOY IT because it already knows that getting it brings the difference in Quality(Shinnui Tzurra)and it prevents it fromm feeling enjoyment.It makes Stage-4 feel angear,shame,lack of fulfilmet and lack of perfection.And it brings to life the nessecity of finding the form which will give the combination of it natural quality-the wish to get fulfilment and a new form of this geting-Almannat Lehashpia.This need for Hishtavvut Tzurra makes Malkhut de Ein Sof to perform Tzimtzum and to Become KETTER de ULam HaTzimtzum.
    The difference of Lehashpia of Creator and lehashpia of stage-2 is that while there is no any Ratzon Lekkable in Creator as such,in stage-2 there is ratzon lekkabbel but it is overcome by Ratzon Lehashpia.There is Ratzon Lekkable in the nature of stage-2, but it prefers Lehashpia And that is why stage-2 is bigger Ovviut then stage-1.In stage-1 there is a feeling of pleasure of being filled with Light.In stage-2 there are TWO feeling-one of Ore Hokhma and the other of Ore Hassadim-awaerness of the quality of the Creator,and it CHOOSES(stage-1 has no this awearnes and no choice)Ore Hassadim by Hittgabbrut(overcomimg) ,and “raising” above the pleasure being filled with Ore Hokhma. So Creator is pure Ratzon Lehashpia,stage-2 is Hitgabbrut Ratzon Lehashpia over Ratzon lekaabel.Creator is UNPRECEDENTED wish to bestow and only to bestow,Stage-2 has Creator’s precedent and what to immitate it.Stage-2 “thought” it could be like Creatorexactly,but finnaly understood that it is Creation and should find another form,because Ore Hokhma is the source of existence for Creation and stage-2 is the root of the notion of Lekabbel Almannat Lehashpia.Stage-3 tries to implement this task, it makes first steps in this direction,but at the end it gets the wish to recieve Ore Hokhma in full volume and comes to stage-4 the second Hitgabbrut-this time of Ore Hokhma.
    Stage-4 is the finnal Creation because as TES said it is “possible and passionate”-it has possibility to choose between Heerrat Hokhma and Ore Hokhma and the enomous passion to get the last one.So stage-4 is Ovviut in its coplete form, but because it is the “decendent” of Creator, it has the need for Hishtavvut HaTzurra, in the form of Hitlabbshut of the notion of the quality of its Creator, in its passionatly desiring Ore Hokhma nature.So it decides to make Tzimtzum= to make place for something new, like Creator made place for something new that isn’t in His Nature at all-Creation=Ratzon Lekabbel.Malkhut de Ein Sof makes Tzimtzum=place for something new also that isn’t in its nature-Lekabbal Almannat Lehashpia,and in such a way to become Co-Creator and getting the Harmony of stage-0,but in the Form of “He is One and His Name is One”.The Harmony where Creator is the will to bestow Its Creation,and the Creation is the conscious,willing implementer of the Will of Its Creator.
    So after the Tzimtzum A we call this 0-4 stages- KH”B Z”N and not stages ,because stages mean the development of matter only, but KH”B Z”N mean matter of the Creation + Reshimmot from the state before Tzimtzum.(when we call these stages Attik, A”A,Aba ve Imma,z”n we spaek about matter of creation + Reshimmot + three -line-work of tzimtzumB and when we say TaNT”Ao we speak about matter +Reshimmot+ three-line-work of TzimtzumB+ the Man who is suppose to implement all this task of turning Lekabbael almannat Lekabbel nature to Lekkabel almannat Leashpia form.Baal HaSulam writes in Ore Baggir page 151, that there aren’t Taamim and Nekkudot in the Book of Torah, we Need the reading of a man to unit Taggin and Otiot of Torah wih Taamim and Nakkudot.)But to understand TaNT”Ao we have to mention some more facts about After Tzimtzum Reality.Malkhut Metzumtzemmet(restricted) has two kind of Reshimmo, one is of Hitlabshut of the notion of the quality of Greator to bestow in Malkhut de Ein Sof and the other kind of Reshimmo of Oviut which is the notion of its own nature-Lekabbel almannat Lekabbel which is now under restriction of Massakh- controler in indicater that the Kli gets almannat Lehashpia only-Conscious intereaction with the Light.
    So these two kind of Reshimmo are responsible for two kind of Zivvuggim,1st- on Reshimmo de Hitlapshut,where Reshimmo de Oviut is just inclueded, and the 2nd- on Reshimmo de Oviut with Reshimmo de Hitlabshut incluede.The 1st Zivvug is made inner Partzuf in the higher one after Hisdakhehut of its Massakh to Bkhinat Shorresh and the 2nd zivvug is made for a new outter Partzuf. These inner and outter Partzufim are connected through “inclueding”(Hitkallelut) only but it gives the unbrekable connection for the “Ladder” of spiritul ascend.
    So what we have is 1-Ore (that after Tzimtzum is called Ore Yashar),2- Kli(that after Tzimtzum is called Ore Hosser), 3-Reshimmo from Ore Yashar, 4-Rrshimmo from or Hosser. The same devision is expressed is TaNT”Ao, where
    TAAMMIN stands for Ore Yashar
    NEKKUDOT- for Ore Hosser
    TAGGIN- for Reshimmot from Ore Yashar
    OTIYOT- for Reshimmot from Ore Hosser
    The proportoin between Ore Yashar and Ore Hosser is built according to Hitlabshut for OreYashar and Ovviut to Ore Hosser and because the Reshimmo of Ore Yashar is always-“X+1” to Reshimmo de Ovviut-“X” it demands Hitgabbrut stronger then one has at present time to pass to the next step of spiritual development.
    We have to remember that TES tell us Hishtalshellut(development) of the Worlds from the Highest to Lowest(called this World),Above-below.We, on the contrary, come from this World and try to expand into the higher and higher one,Below-Above direction.
    SO SCANNING Torah or Zohar Texts, as the article explained,is of nearly and no use,because they both like complete TaNT”Ao,but reading and learning Torah, TES and Zohar several timesfrom the beginning till the end,though you don’t understand much is absolutly nessecarry,because when you will want to study and implement their teaching prectically(I don’t say you have to know them by heart,though Baal HaSulam did dimand it)you have to know the texts well enough to be able to make parallels of the text retelling the Hishtalshelut from Above to belowand your personnal inner work which goes from below to above.
    Thus, first we all want to know Taamim end even Sodot Torah, but we have to read Torah letters (Reshimmot from Ore Hosser),on the other hand Sages said that the Greator wants to give us more that we want to get, and Rabbash explains that though we think that we want,the problem is that we want Taamim and Soddot on the level of Muttarrot and not on the level of Hekhrakhiyot, till motivetied byReshimmo fromTaamim= Tagin we’ll make ourselves get a true Hissarron-Reshimmo from Nekkudot=Otiyot, in simple words -istead of looking for easy ways as “scanning” Torah or Zohar we begging to learn Torah,Zohar etc.,and this way we get real Hissaron, and When it is big enough, Creator gives us to Know from Taamim and
    Sodot at the level needed for our spiritual growth.
    so when they say that Rabbi Akiva knew to read Crowns(Taggin) over the letters of Torah, it means that he like us wanted to know Taamim and Soddot Torah,but he also was ready to give Higgiya which corresponds to each level of development. he knew Quantity-Quality ratio of each stage. There is always the chalenge of understanding this Quantity-Quality ratio for each step, and only when we work on the bases of Emmunna mial HaDaat ,and make all the efforts on our side with Kavvanat to get Hishtavvut HaTzurra( which is our Kli for the Light) for the Wish of Creator to bestow Its Creation to be realized. Now let’s see why this Unit-TaNT”Ao we call in this world by the Forth part of it which is LETTERS.it shows us that the only part of the process where we have place for work-because ore and Kli both are given to us by Creator,reshimmo from Ore-Taggin has the form of Ore Makkif,which “pushes” us to get what we started to wish is determined also by Creator.So the only free choice is -the work with Reshimmo from Ore Hosser-Otiyot which are the Quantity of spiritual work weshould complete before Hashem gives us Quality-Hishtavvut HaTzurra ve Kavvana LeShma corresponded to this stage.First we begin to learn,to pray to do Mitzvot and good deads, then we begin to understand what we are leraning and doing all this for, and then we understand what to do with this understanding of what we are learning and doing and etc.
    As in this world we have letters which unit into sylibles and then into words,clauses, sentences,chapters,book, Torah,TaNaKh etc.,the same in spiritual worlds.You are given your first TaNY”Ao- the sinplest situation:You want milk ice-cream and you’ve just eaten meat. Soyou are given desire for ice-cream on a certain level,to overcome it you should tell yourself that -yes, you have money and ice-creamis availible right now,BUT because it is the Wish of the Creator for you to wait six hours between meat-milk, I have to postpone the fulfilment of the present desire,which I WANT to be fulfilled right here and right now.I go Emmunna mial HaDaatand wait for six hours.
    Desire for ice-cream=money+ ice-cream
    Reshimmo de Oviyut(desire)=your present level
    Desire for Ice-cream is LESS than money+ice-cream+Believe that you should wait for six hour,so in first ratio the powers are equel ,while in the second ratio ,addition of Emmunna makes the desire less and it lifts you on the next step.We see that Emmunna Mial HaDaat puts us on the level of REshimmo de Hitlabshut-Taggin, and by Hittkallelut of this Reshimmo into the inner Partzuf of a Higher step it brings you NEW( of course only for you) field of spiritual work.On this new step the level of Reshimmo of Hitlabshut becomes the level of Oviyut-X and you should reach the higher Reshimmo of Hitlabshut,which is now X+1,where X is the strenght of your present Massakh and X+1 is the strenght of Massakh needed to complite the inner work on this stage, but the situation you are given now will be in the form of “Sylible” and not in the form of simple “letter” and etc.
    We see that like in 4 stages the forth is the most important so in TaNT”Ao the last is most important .and that is why we call this Unit by its last part-Otiyot.The same with Orot-Ore Yashar,OreHosser,Ore Pnimmi,Ore Makkif- the last one-Ore Makkif is most important Because it makes us desire for more( of course with Kavvana almannat Lehashpia).And though we never will get Light into Dalet de Dalet-this negative feeling can be turned into the possitive one,by seeing the possibility for endless and constant development.

  7. yehudith says:

    For those intrested there is a free course of Hebrew on aish.com, it may be very well conbined with your personal study and privite lessons with a teacher of Hebrew.

    As we said once and again, no website and no translations or explanations may be ever good enough and substitute your personal experience from reading and studing original Kabbalah texts.

    Good luck.

  8. yehudith says:

    For those who already read Hebrew there is a very good book by rav Zamir Cohen

    “HaZoffen, the secrets of the creation and the names of the people on the bases of the meaning of Hebrew letters”

    The basic information about each and every Hebrew letter is given and a lot of rules of getting additional information about the meaning of the letters are provided.

    Very enreaching, full of insights and deep interconnections.

    Enjoy reading, avalible to order from http://www.hidabroot.org

  9. yehudith says:

    To study more about the Hebrew letters and their qualities there is a must read article in the book of Zohar Itself, which is called ” Otti’yot( The Letters of) deRav Amnuna Saba” which is in Akdamat Seffer HaZohar and its study with a kabbalaist is very recomended.

  10. The following is an excerpt from Rabbi Ginsburgh’s seminal book on Hebrew titled, The Hebrew Letters, available in hardcover (501 pages) from our webstore: http://www.innermedia.org.

    The Hebrew Letters
    Alef: The Paradox of God and Man

    The alef is formed by two yuds, one to the upper right and the other to the lower left, joined by a diagonal vav. These represent the higher and lower waters and the firmament between them, as taught by the Ari z”l (“Rabbi Isaac Luria of blessed memory,” who received and revealed new insights into the ancient wisdom of Kabbalah)

    Water is first mentioned in the Torah in the account of the first day of Creation: “And the spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water.” At this time the higher and the lower waters were indistinguishable; their state is referred to as “water in water.” On the second day of Creation God separated the two waters by “stretching” the firmament between them.

    In the service of the soul, as taught in Chassidut, the higher water is water of joy, the experience of being close to God, while the lower water is water of bitterness, the experience of being far from God.

    In Jewish philosophy, the two intrinsic properties of water are “wet” and “cold.” The higher water is “wet” with the feeling of oneness with the “exaltation of God,” while the lower water is “cold” with the feeling of separation, the frustration of experiencing the inherent “lowliness of man.” Divine service, as taught by Chassidut, emphasizes that in fact the primary consciousness of both waters is the sense of the Divine, each from its own perspective: from the perspective of the higher water, the greater the “exaltation of God,” the greater the oneness of all in His Absolute Being; from the perspective of the lower water, the greater the “exaltation of God,” the greater the existential gap between the reality of God and that of man, thus the inherent “lowliness of man.”

    The Talmud tells of four sages who entered the “Pardes,” the mystical orchard of spiritual elevation reached only through intense meditation and Kabbalistic contemplations. The greatest of the four, Rabbi Akiva, said to the others before entering, “When you come to the place of pure marble stone, do not say ‘water-water,’ for it is said, ‘He who speaks lies shall not stand before my eyes.’” The Ari z”l explains that the place of “pure marble stone” is where the higher and the lower waters unite. Here one must not call out ‘water-water,’ as if to divide the higher and lower waters. “The place of pure marble stone” is the place of truth–the Divine power to bear two opposites simultaneously; in the words of Rabbi Shalom ben Adret: “the paradox of paradoxes.” Here “the exaltation of God” and His “closeness” to man unite with the “lowliness of man” and his “distance” from God.

    The Torah begins with the letter beit: “Bereishit (In the beginning) God created the heavens and the earth.” The Ten Commandments, the Divine revelation to the Jewish People at Sinai, begin with the letter alef: “Anochi [I] am God your God who has taken you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” The Midrash states that “higher reality” had been set apart from “lower reality,” for God had decreed that neither higher reality descend nor lower reality ascend. In giving the Torah, God annulled His decree, He Himself being the first to descend, as it is written: “And God came down on Mount Sinai”. Lower reality, in turn, ascended: “And Moses approached the cloud….” The union of “higher reality,” the upper yud, with the “lower reality,” the lower yud, by means of the connecting vav of Torah, is the ultimate secret of the letter alef.

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    A yud above and a yud below with a vav separating and uniting them simultaneously. The secret of the image in which man was created.

    Worlds:

    The upper and lower waters with the firmament between them.


    In the world:

    The upper atmosphere, the lower atmosphere, the ocean & water table.


    Energy waves, the atmosphere, the hydrological cycle.


    In the human body:

    The respiratory system, the diaphragm, the digestive system .


    The skull-water, the membrane, the brain-moisture.

    Souls:

    Feeling both close to God and distant from Him with commitment to Torah and mitzvot balancing these emotions.

    •”Crying is enwedged in my heart on one side, while joy is enwedged in my heart on the other side.”

    Divinity:

    Transcendent and Immanent Light with the contraction (tzimtzum) and impression (reshimu) between them.


    Man in perfect unity with the Infinite Will of God.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    Oxen; thousand; teaching; master.

    Worlds:

    Oxen–gross physical reality, the lower animal soul.


    Thousand–multiplicity in Creation, the “thousand mountains grazed by the ox.”


    The yoke of the ox yielding a thousandfold and returning to unity.

    Souls:

    “I will teach you wisdom”; the root of the soul is derived from the wisdom of God.


    Direct insight of Divine truth; to be nothing.

    Divinity:

    “Master of the universe.”


    The Divine “One” revealing itself throughout the plurality of Creation.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    One

    Worlds:

    First of all countable numbers.


    The beginning of process in nature and sequence of worldly events.


    One counts “something from something.”

    Souls:

    “One nation in the land.”


    The organic unity of all Jewish souls.


    One counts “something from nothing.”

    Divinity:

    “God is One”: the absolute unity of God.


    “There is none other besides Him:” “One, single, and unique.”


    One counts “nothing from something

    “The material contained on this page is copyright by Gal Einai Institute, a US non-profit organization dedicated to publishing the teachings of Harav Yitzchak Ginsburgh

  11. The Hebrew Letters
    Beit: God’s Dwelling Place Below

    The letter beit, from the word “house,” refers to God’s house: “My house will be called a House of Prayer for all peoples.” The Midrash states that the Divine motivation for creation was that the Holy One, Blessed Be He, desired a dwelling place in lower reality. The fulfillment of this desire begins with the creation of man, a Divine soul enclothed in a physical body, and proceeds with the multiplication of man, to “conquer” the whole world and make it the kingdom of God.

    The Torah precedes the detailed description of the Tabernacle and its vessels with the statement of its ultimate purpose: “They shall build me a Temple and I will dwell in them.” Not “in it,” the Sages explain, but “in them”–in each and every Jew. “Dwelling in them” is, in essence, the revelation of Divinity in the people of Israel, ever present but often “shadowed,” as in the time of exile and destruction of the Temple. The innate sanctity of the people of Israel, the “sanctuary of God,” when revealed and linked to that of the land of Israel, causes the Holy Land to expand and eventually encompass all the earth (lower reality): “the land of Israel will in the future spread out to all the lands of the earth.”

    Beit is numerically equal to the word “ta’avah,” which means “desire” or “passion” (412). In general, “ta’avah” connotes a negative human property. However, in several places “ta’avah” denotes the positive passion of the tzadik, the righteous man. One passage in Proverbs states: “He will fulfill the passion of the tzadik,” and a second says: “the passions of tzadikim are only good.” The “ta’avah” of G-d, the “Tzadik of the world,” is altogether above reason and logic. At this level one cannot ask “why.” As expressed by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi: “About passion, there can be no question.” As G-d is the essence of good so His passion is “only good.”

    “With whom did the Holy One, Blessed be He, take counsel whether or not to create the world? With the souls of the tzadikim.” The “souls of the tzadikim” refers to all Jewish souls, as is said: “All your people are tzadikim.” God’s connotation as the “Tzadik of the world” refers to the absolute origin and unity of the Jewish soul in His very Essence. When the soul descends to be enclothed in the finite consciousness and experience of a seemingly mundane body, its task is to become the tzadik below in true emulation of its Source, the “Tzadik Above.” This is accomplished through the refinement and purification of passion, ta’avah, to become “only good.”

    The “Tzadik Above” dwells in the House built for Him by the tzadik below. Here, the deepest passion of the Creator reaches fulfillment. The large beit, the first letter of the Torah and the beginning of Creation, expresses this ultimate purpose, as is said: “The final deed arose first in thought.” In the first word of the Torah, Bereishit, the three “servant” letters–the prefix beit” and the two suffix letters, yud and tav – spell bayit, “house” (equivalent to the full spelling of the letter beit). The root of “bereishit,” rosh, means “head.” Thus the most “natural” permutation of bereishit reads: rosh bayit, “the head of the house.” One permutation of the letters rosh is osher, “happiness.” When the tzadik draws God, the “Head,” into His House, it becomes a house of true and eternal happiness.

    The drawing down of the “Head” to dwell in His “House” below, in true happiness, is the secret of bracha, “blessing,” which begins with the letter beit. Our Sages teach that the “big beit” begins the Creation, and the Torah as a whole, with the power of blessing. God blesses His creation, which He creates with the attribute of lovingkindness, the attribute of Abraham, as will be explained in the letter hei. Abraham, the first Jewish soul, is subsequently entrusted with the Divine power of blessing, the “big beit” of Creation, as is said: “And you shall be [the one who bestows] blessing.” Afterwards, at the time of his circumcision, he was given the “small hei” of Creation, the power to draw down and manifest the Divine blessing of happiness in the smallest detail of reality.

    The Priestly Blessing is composed of three verses. The number of words progress in the order 3, 5, 7, with equal differences of two, beit. The number of letters progress in the order: 15, 20, 25, with equal differences of five, hei. Words represent full, or large consciousness, whereas letters represent particular, or small consciousness. The power to bless “fullness” is the power of the beit, as is said: “And full with the blessing of God.” The power to draw down the blessing to the smallest detail of reality is that of hei.

    This service of Abraham, and all Jews after him, leads to the fulfillment of the ultimate intention of Creation, the realization of Israel’s power of blessing, that the domain of the King (the “Head of the House”) extend to encompass all reality and, thereby, bestow true happiness to all.

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    Three connected vavs with an opening on the left, the “northern side.”

    Worlds:
    •”Evil begins from the north.”
    •Man’s ability to choose between good and evil.
    •The animal soul’s three positive character traits and the evil inclination. The open north side symbolizes the attribute of courage.

    Souls:
    •The open north side symbolizes the “fear of heaven.”
    •”All is in the hands of heaven except for the fear of heaven.”
    •The Mashiach will close the open side–The integration of free will and Omniscience.
    •Speaking Torah–revealing the innate spark of Mashiach.

    Divinity:
    •Closed Sides–Divine revelation–“You”–in mind, heart, and action.
    •Open Side–Divine concealment–“He”–in the hidden heart–the darkness above the light.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    House

    Worlds:
    •A physical house.
    •One’s metaphysical “house”–his relationship to reality.
    •The whole of Creation is a “house” in relationship to God.
    •Superconscious pleasure–“A man without a house is not a man.”

    Souls:
    •The feminine aspect of the soul represented by the house.
    •”A man’s house is his wife.”
    •The soul as a house for God–the daughter of the priest.
    •The power of pregnancy

    Divinity:
    •God’s desire to make for Himself a dwelling place in lower reality.
    •The House of Immanence and the House of Transcendence.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    Two

    Worlds:
    •The beginning of manifest plurality.
    •The dualistic nature of Creation.
    •Hierarchic complexity.

    Souls:
    •The soul is described as “the second to the King.”
    •Joseph: the Prism effect–the revelation of mind.
    •Mordechai: the Time effect–the revelation of heart.

    Divinity:
    •Divine power of Self to contain two opposites.
    •Concealment of Divine essence and revelation of His light.
    •Concealment and revelation of light to lower and higher states of consciousness.
    •The Torah begins with a large beit.
    •The Name Havayah and the Name Elokim.
    •”The two companions that never separate.”

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  12. The Hebrew Letters
    Gimmel: Reward and Punishment

    Our Sages teach that the gimel symbolizes a rich man running after a poor man, the dalet, to give him charity. The word gimel is derived from the word gemul, which in Hebrew means both the giving of reward as well as the giving of punishment. In Torah, both reward and punishment have the same ultimate aim the rectification of the soul to merit to receive God’s light to the fullest extent.

    Reward and punishment imply that man is free to choose between good and evil. (The teaching of the gimel thus refers back to that of the open left side of the beit, from which it is born, as explained above.) The Rambam (Maimonides), in particular, places great stress upon free choice as being fundamental to Jewish faith. According to the Rambam, the World to Come, the time of reward, is a completely spiritual world, one of souls without bodies. On this point the Ramban (Nachmanides) disagrees and argues that since complete freedom of choice exists only in our physical world, the ultimate rectification of reality the reward of the World to Come will also be on the physical plane. Kabbalah and Chassidut support the opinion of the Ramban.

    This is alluded to by the leg of the letter gimel which expresses the running of the rich man to bestow good upon the poor man. Running, more than any other physical act, expresses the power of will and freedom of choice (the Hebrew word for “running,” ratz, is related to the word for “will,” ratzon). In running, the leg is firmly in contact with the earth; through an act of will, the soul directly affects physical reality. The final reward, the ultimate revelation of God’s Essential light, will thus justly be bestowed upon the soul in the very same context as its life’s endeavor, the physical world.

    The Torah says: “Today [in this world] to do them,” from which the Sages infer: tomorrow [in the World to Come] to receive their reward.” Only “today” do we possess the opportunity to choose between good and evil. And so in accordance with our choice do we, ourselves, define the reward and punishment of “tomorrow.” Just as evil is a finite phenomenon, so is punishment. Not so good and reward, which are truly infinite. The gimel of “today” is the secret of better one hour of teshuvah and good deeds in this world than all the life of the world to come. The gimel of “tomorrow” is the secret of better one hour of serenity in the world to come than all of the life of this world.

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    A vav with a yud as a foot. A person in motion.

    Worlds:
    •The running of the rich to the poor, the full to the empty, inherent in nature.

    Souls:
    •The run and return of the soul between its Divine source and physical abode.
    •The hand of Jacob grabbing the heel of Esau.
    •The constant progression of the Jew.

    Divinity:
    •The expansion and contraction of the Infinite Light in the process of Creation.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    Camel; bridge; weaning; benevolence.

    Worlds:
    •The camel’s journey through the desert of this world.
    •The camel symbolizes the angel of death.
    •A bridge; the connecting force inherent in nature.
    •Primordial matter and Divine wisdom.

    Souls:
    •The soul nursing from its Source.
    •The process of weaning through which a person learns to be independent.

    Divinity:
    •God’s continuous bestowal of lovingkindness and the weaning of the tzimtzum.
    •The obligation to emulate God by giving to others.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    Three

    Worlds:
    •Numerical symbol of stability and balance.
    •Equilibrium between the three primary elements of Creation: air, water, and fire.

    Souls:
    •Three Fathers: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
    •Three divisions of Jewish souls: kohanim (priests), Leviim (levites), and Israelites.
    •The segol and the segolta.

    Divinity:
    •Three parts of the Torah: The Five Books of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings.
    •”Three bonds are bounded together: Israel, Torah, and God.”

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  13. The Hebrew Letters
    Dalet: Selflessness

    The dalet. the poor man, receives charity from the rich man, the gimel. The word dalet means “door.” The door stands in the opening of the house, the beit.

    In the Zohar, dalet is read as “that has nothing [d’leit] of her own.” This expresses the property of the lowest of the Divine Emanations, the sefirah of malchut, “kingdom,” which has no light other than that which it receives from the higher sefirot. In man’s service of God, the dalet characterizes “shiflut,” “lowliness,” the consciousness of possessing nothing of one’s own. Together with the awareness of one’s own power of free choice, one must be aware that He gives you the power to achieve success, and not to think, God forbid, that one’s accomplishments are “my power and the strength of my hand.” Any achievement in this world, particularly the performance of a mitzvah, the fulfillment of God’s will, depends upon Divine aid. This is especially true in one’s struggle with his evil inclination, whether it be manifest as external passion, stubborn resistance to accepting the yoke of Heaven, or laziness, apathy, and the like. As our Sages teach: “If not for God’s help he [man] would not have been able to overcome it [the evil inclination].”

    The Talmud describes a situation where one man is carrying a heavy object and another man appears to be helping him by placing his hands under the object, when in truth the first man is carrying all the weight. The second man is referred to as “a merely apparent helper.” So are we, explains the Ba’al Shem Tov, in relation to God. Ultimately, all one’s strength comes from Above. Free choice is no more than the expression of one’s will to participate, as it were, in the Divine act. One merely places one’s hands under the weight carried exclusively by God.

    “For to You, God, is kindness, for You pay man in accordance with his deed.” The Ba’al Shem Tov observes: Just payment in accordance with one’s deed is not an act of kindness (chesed), but rather one of judgment (din)! He answers: “in accordance with one’s deed,” can be read “as though the deed is his.” Thus God’s ultimate kindness is His enclothing the “undeserved” reward in the guise of deservedness, so as not to shame the receiver. The Name of God in this verse is Adnut, the letters of which also spell in Hebrew dina, “judgment,” implying the Divine guise of judgment, through which God’s kindness (chesed) is most fully expressed. The Zohar reads chesed as chas d’leit, “having compassion [on] the dalet,” i.e. he who possesses nothing of his own.

    In regard to an arrogant person God says: “I and he cannot dwell together.” The door to God’s house allows for the humble of spirit to enter. The door itself, the dalet, is the property of humility and lowliness, as explained above. The dalet is also the initial letter of the word dirah, “dwelling place,” as in the phrase “[God’s] dwelling place below.” Thus the full meaning of the dalet is the door through which the humble enter into the realization of God’s dwelling place below.

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    Two lines forming a right angle, with a corner point. A man bent over. Three levels of bitul.

    Worlds:
    •The corner point: Consciousness of the ego.
    •Bitul HaYeish.
    •Every creature’s unconscious awareness of its continuous re-creation by God.

    Souls:
    •The vertical line: selflessness.
    •Bitul Bimtziut; “Standing crowded.”
    •Collective consciousness; willingness to sacrifice one’s life for one’s people.

    Divinity:
    •The horizontal line: submergence of the soul in its Divine Source.
    •Bitul Bimtziut Mamash; “Prostrating wide.”
    •Letters being surrounded by white parchment. Willingness to sacrifice one’s life for God.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    Door; poor man; lifting up – elevation.

    Worlds:
    •Door–bitul, the entrance way to truth.
    •The servant who refuses to go through the door of freedom.

    Souls:
    •True lowliness of the soul.
    •The moon as a symbol of the soul.

    Divinity:
    •The elevation of the soul by God into Himself.
    •”I will exalt you, God, for you have lifted me up.” Not belonging.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    Four

    Worlds:
    •Four elements of the physical world: fire, air, water, and earth.
    •Solid, liquid, gas, combustion.
    •Hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen.
    •The four physical forces: gravity, electromagnetic, strong, weak.
    •Man, animal, vegetable, and inanimate objects.
    •Four seasons of the year; Four directions.
    •The four worlds: Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah.

    Souls:
    •Four matriarchs: Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah.
    •Jacob’s four wives: Rachel, Leah, Bilhah, and Zilpah.
    •The four sons and the four cups of wine of the Seder
    •The four expressions (levels) of redemption.
    •Four feet of the Divine Throne: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David.
    •Father, mother, son, daughter: the first commandment of the Torah: “be fruitful and multiply.”

    Divinity:
    •Four letters of God’s Name.
    •Four components of the Torah text.
    •Four basic levels of Torah interpretation.

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  14. The Hebrew Letters
    Hei: Expression – Thought, Speech, and Action

    The name of the letter hei appears in the verse, “Take [hei] for yourselves seed.” “Take” (hei) expresses revelation of self in the act of giving of oneself to another. Giving to others in the form of self-expression is the ultimate gift of self. In the secret of the letter gimmel, the rich man gives of himself to the poor man in the form of charity. The highest form of charity is when the giver is completely concealed from the receiver, in order not to embarrass him, as is said, “the concealed gift subdues anger.” Here, in the secret of the letter hei, the gift itself is the relation and expression of self, drawing the receiver into the essence of the giver. Joseph, the speaker of the verse “take for yourselves seed,” corresponds to the sefirah of yesod, whose function is to express self in the form of giving seed, as explained in Kabbalah. When Joseph first gave grain to his brothers, they were unable to recognize him, similar to the dalet in relation to the gimlet. Upon his revelation to his brothers (and thereby to all of Egypt), his giving became that of the hei. Instead of grain he now gave seed.

    The soul possesses three means of expression–“garments,” in the terminology of the Kabbalah and Chassidut: thought, speech, and action. The higher garment, thought, is the expression of one’s inner intellect and emotions to oneself. The process of the intellect and emotions becoming conscious through thought is similar to giving oneself (the essentially unconscious domains of the soul) to another (one’s state of consciousness). The two lower garments, speech and action, express oneself to others.

    The three lines which compose the form of the hei correspond to these three garments: the upper horizontal line to thought; the right vertical line to speech; the unattached foot to action.

    The horizontal line symbolizes a state of equanimity. The continuous, horizontal flow of thought is the contemplation of how G d is found equally in every place and in every thing. In relating to one’s fellow Jew, one must realize that each of us possesses an innate inner point of goodness, and that all Jews are equal in essence. This realization, the horizontal high plane of one’s consciousness in relation to another, sets the “scene” for all individual, personal relationships.

    The origin-point of speech, the right vertical line of the hei is directly connected to the line of thought and thereafter descends to express one’s thoughts and inner feelings to others. The root of the word speech in Hebrew, davar, means “leadership,” as in the expression “There is one leader [dabar] in a generation, not two leaders in a generation.” Leadership implies hierarchy, relative positions of up and down, and thus is represented by a vertical line. The King, and likewise every leader, rules through his power of speech, as is said, “By the word of the King is His sovereignty.”

    The separation of action, the unattached left foot of the hei, from thought, the upper horizontal line, reflects a deep truth about the nature of action. “Many are the thoughts in the heart of man, yet the advice of God shall surely stand.” The servant of God experiences the existential gap between his thoughts and deeds. Often he is unable to realize his inner intentions. Other times he is surprised by unexpected success. In both cases he feels the hand of God directing his deeds. The gap is the experience of the Divine Nothing, the source of all Creation in deed: something from nothing.

    We have now reached the culmination of the sequence represented by the three letters gimmel, dalet, and hei, the process of giving of oneself to another. The gift, represented by the foot, the unattached segment of hei, when fully integrated in the receiver, becomes his own power of action and giving of himself to others. Even more, now he fully realizes that the ultimate effect and potency of his deeds are in truth the act of Divine Providence.

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    Three lines; the two lines of the dalet together with an unattached left foot.

    Worlds:
    •Three dimensions of physical reality: ◦Width – horizontal line,
    ◦Length – vertical line,
    ◦Depth – unattached foot.

    •There is a dimension of reality beyond initial sensory perception.
    •”We will do and understand.”

    Souls:
    •Three garments (“servants”) of the soul: ◦Thought (meditative or involuntary) – horizontal line,
    ◦Speech (from the heart or from the lips) – vertical line,
    ◦Action – unattached foot.

    •The beinoni, who masters his “servants.”

    Divinity:
    •Three Divine manifestations: ◦Essence – horizontal line,
    ◦Transcendent Light – vertical line,
    ◦Immanent Light – unattached foot.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    To be broken; to take seed; behold; revelation.

    Worlds:
    •Breaking of the vessels and the resulting plurality of Creation.
    •The teacher breaking the brilliance of his comprehension for the sake of the student.
    •Broken existence resulting in unified existence.

    Souls:
    •Impregnating reality with the souls of Israel.

    Divinity:
    •Divine revelation – “Beholding” God.
    •Ultimate revelation of the Mashiach.
    •Small hei: potential Divine revelation.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    Five

    Worlds:
    •Symbol of division.
    •Five origins of speech in the mouth.
    •Five fingers of the hand.
    •Five visible planets in the solar system.
    •The five vanities in the opening verse of Ecclesiastes.

    Souls:
    •Five levels of the soul.
    •Five times “Bless God, my soul” in Psalms 103 and 104.
    •Five voices of the joy of bride and groom.

    Divinity:
    •Five Books of Moses.
    •Five voices at the giving of the Torah.
    •Five times light in the first day of Creation.
    •Five final letters.
    •Five redemption’s.

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  15. The Hebrew Letters
    Vav: Connection

    In the beginning of Creation, when Infinite Light filled all reality, G d contracted His Light to create hollow empty space, as it were, the “place” necessary for the existence of finite worlds. Into this vacuum God drew down, figuratively speaking, a single line of light, from the Infinite Source. This ray of light is the secret of the letter vav. Though the line is singular in appearance, it nonetheless possesses two dimensions, an external as well as an internal force, both of which take part in the process of Creation and the continuous interaction between the creative power and created reality.

    The external force of the line is the power to differentiate and separate the various aspects of reality, thereby establishing hierarchical order, up and down, within Creation. The internal force of the line is the power to reveal the inherent interinclusion of the various aspects of reality, one in the other, thereby joining them together as an organic whole. This property of the letter vav, in its usage in Hebrew, is referred to as vav hachibur, the vav of connection”–“and.” The first vav of the Torah–“In the beginning G d created the heavens and [vav] the earth”–serves to join spirit and matter, heaven and the earth, throughout Creation. This vav, which appears at the beginning of the sixth word of the Torah, is the twenty-second letter of the verse. It alludes to the power to connect and interrelate all twenty-two individual powers of Creation, the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet from alef to tav. (The word et [which appears before the two instances of the word “the” in this verse, and is spelled alef-tav] is generally taken to represent all the letters of the alphabet, from alef to tav. Our Sages interpret the word in this verse to include all the various objects of Creation present within heaven and earth.)

    In Biblical Hebrew, the letter vav also possesses the function of inverting the apparent tense of a verb to its opposite from past to future or from future to past (vav hahipuch). The first appearance of this type of vav in the Torah is the letter vav” which begins the twenty-second word of the account of Creation, “And God said….” This is the first explicit saying of the ten sayings of Creation: “And G d said [the verb ‘said’ being inverted from the future to the past tense by the vav at the beginning of the word–‘And’]: ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” The phenomenon of light breaking through the darkness of the tzimtzum, the primordial contraction, is itself the secret of time (future becoming past) which permeates space.

    In the Divine service of a Jew, the power to draw from the future into the past is the secret of teshuvah (“repentance” and “returning to God”) from love. Through teshuvah from fear, one’s deliberate transgressions become like errors; the severity of one’s past transgressions becomes partially sweetened, but not completely changed. However, when a Jew returns in love, his deliberate transgressions become like actual merits, for the very consciousness of distance from God resulting from one’s transgressions becomes the motivating force to return to God with passion even greater than that of one who had never sinned.

    Every Jew has a portion in the World to Come, as is said: “And all your nation are ‘tzadikim’; forever they will inherit the land.” The power of teshuvah to completely convert one’s past to good, is the power of the vav to invert the past to the future. This transformation itself requires, paradoxically, the drawing down of light from the future to the past.

    Drawing the future into the past in the Divine service of man is the secret of learning the inner teachings of the Torah, that aspect of the Torah which is related to the revelation of the coming of the Mashiach. Rashi explains the verse in the Song of Songs: “May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love is better than wine” as alluding to the sweet teachings that will be revealed by the Mashiach. When a person intently studies the secrets of the Torah, he draws from the future into the past, in order to strengthen himself to return in complete teshuvah from love and thereby convert his past into future.

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    A vertical line.
    A pillar.
    A man standing upright.

    Worlds:
    •Twelve pillars of Creation – the twelve lines of a cube. The twelve tribes.
    •Seven pillars of Creation – six directions and time. The seven shepherds.
    •One pillar of Creation the future. Mashiach.
    •The connecting rods in the Tabernacle.

    Souls:
    •Complete stature of man – standing on earth with head reaching up towards heaven.
    •The Jewish People standing together.
    •The “Golden Path” in the service of God.
    •The torso in relation to the hands, feet, and brit.

    Divinity:
    •The pillar of Truth.
    •Consistency of the middle pillar.
    •Divinity piercing through the middle point of every Creation.
    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    A Hook

    Worlds:
    •The connecting hooks of the pillars in the Tabernacle – concealment and revelation.
    •The axis of symmetry and the equilibrium between symmetry and asymmetry.

    Souls:
    •The power which links together the souls of Israel.
    •The points of will to do God’s Will engraved in the heart of every Jew.
    •The axis which connects the good points present within every Jew.

    Divinity:
    •The connecting link between the separate Laws – engraved letters of Divine essence – of the Torah.
    •The force of connection between the Divine sparks inherent throughout reality.
    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    Six

    Worlds:
    •Six Days of Creation, and their six corresponding Divine forces active in creation.
    •Six letters of the word bereishit, “In the beginning.”
    •Six alefs in the first verse of the Torah.
    •Six-millennium duration of the world.
    •Six directions of the physical world.

    Souls:
    •Six wings (states of love and fear in the soul) of the fiery angels.
    •”Give truth to Jacob.”

    Divinity:
    •Six orders of the Mishnah.
    •The six “wings” of the “Magen David.”
    •Six cubits – the dimensions of the Tablets received by Moses at Mt. Sinai.

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  16. The Hebrew Letters
    Zayin: The Woman of Valor

    The Maggid of Mezeritch, the successor of the Ba’al Shem Tov, teaches that the verse “A woman of valor is the crown of her husband” alludes to the form of the letter zayin. The previous letter, vav, portrays the or yashar (“straight light”) descending from God into the worlds. The zayin, whose form is similar to a vav, though with a crown on top, reflects the or yashar of the vav as or chozer (“returning light”). Or chozer ascends with such great force that it reaches a higher state of consciousness than that of the revealed origin-point of the or yashar. When reaching the initially superconscious realm of keter (the “crown”), it broadens its awareness to both the right and the left. In truth “there is no left in that Ancient One [the level of keter], for all is right.” This means that the awe of God (left) at this initially superconscious level is indistinguishable, in its nature to cling directly to God, from the highest manifestation of the love of God (right).

    The experience of or chozer, subsequent to the consummation of the creative process inherent in or yashar, the creation of man on the sixth day, is the secret of the seventh day of Creation–Shabbat. The Shabbat Queen” who, in general, signifies woman in relation to man–“the woman of valor is the crown of her husband”– has the power to reveal in her husband his own superconscious crown, the experience of serene pleasure and sublime will innate in the day of Shabbat.

    “Who is a good [literally, “kosher”] woman? She who does her husband’s will.” Chassidut explains that the word “does” also means “rectifies,” as said in the completion of the account of Creation (the seal of the seventh day, Shabbat): “that which God created to do”– “to do” in the sense of “to rectify” (thus implying that God has given us the task to consummate the rectification of His Creation), as explained by the Sages. Thus the “kosher woman” is she who rectifies her husband’s will by elevating him to ever new awareness of previously superconscious realms of soul.

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    A “vav” whose head extends in both directions and thus appears as a crown. Scepter of a King.

    Worlds:

    Rulership manifested in the world.
    “Natural” selection.
    Souls:

    “A woman of valor is the crown of her husband.” Sarah: the soul’s experience of Shabbat and Kabbalah.
    The election of the Jewish People.
    Divinity:

    Shabbat, Kabbalah.
    Returning light spreading, at its peak, to the left – fear, and to the right – love.
    Becoming a vessel for God’s blessing and sanctity.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    Weapon – sword; ornament or crown; species – gender; to sustain.

    Worlds :

    Weapon – a sword.
    Conflict as an inherent property of physical nature.
    Souls:

    Species or gender; the union of husband and wife.
    Man is the crowning ornament of Creation.
    God’s three crowns, two of which He gives to His children.
    Divinity:

    God sustaining the world.
    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    Seven – “All sevens are dear.”

    Worlds :

    Maximal compactness.
    The seventh day of Creation – Shabbat.
    Seven weeks of counting the Omer.
    Seven consecutive months in which fall the three Festivals.
    The sabbatical year; The jubilee year, after 7 times 7 years.
    The seventh millennium.
    Seven fruits of Israel; Seven seas; Seven heavens.
    Seven chambers of Paradise.
    Souls:

    Seven lamps of the menorah; seven categories of Jewish souls.
    Seven shepherds of Israel: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David.
    Seven circuits, seven blessings, and seven days of celebration of groom and bride.
    Seven Rabbinic mitzvot.
    Divinity:

    Seven “eyes” of God watch over all Creation.
    Seven lower sefirot.
    Tishrei, the seventh month:
    Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, the revelation of Divine Providence,
    Sukkot Seven clouds of glory,
    Simchat Torah – Seven Hakafot.

  17. The Hebrew Letters
    Chet: The Life Dynamic of Run and Return

    Chet is the letter of life (chaim, from the root chayah, whose most important letter is chet). We are taught in Chassidut that there are two levels of life “essential life” and “life to enliven.” God Himself, as it were, is in the state of “Essential life.” His creative power, continually permeating all of reality is “life to enliven.” So in the Jewish soul: the essence of its root, at one with God, possesses the state of “essential life.” The reflection of the light of the soul which shines below to enliven the body and its physical experience is at the level of “life to enliven.” The second level of life, life as we know it in general, manifests itself as pulsation, the secret of “run and return.”

    According to the Ari z”l,” the letter chet is constructed by combining the two previous letters, vav and zayin, with a thin bridge-shaped line, referred to as the chatoteret (“hunchback”). The new energy effected by the union of the vav–or yashar–and the zayin–or chozer–is the secret of “hovering” or “touching yet not touching.” The image of “hovering” appears at the very beginning of Creation: “And the spirit of God was ‘hovering’ over the water.” The word “hovering” (merachefet) is the eighteenth word in the Torah. It is the first word in the Torah which is numerically a multiple of twenty-six, the value of the Name Havayah (merachefet = 728 = 26 times 28). Twenty-eight is the numerical value of koach, “power.” Thus, the full secret implied by the numerical value of the word “hovering” is “the power of God.” In Kabbalah, this word is, in particular, the secret of the Divine power to resurrect the 288 fallen sparks that “died” in the process of the “breaking of the vessels” (merachefet being a permutation of meit rapach, “288 have died”). The Sages teach us that the “Spirit of God” here referred to is in fact the soul of Mashiach (which permutes to shem chai, “the living name”).

    “Hovering” is symbolized in Torah “as an eagle arouses her nest and hovers over her young,” as taught by the Maggid of Mezeritch. In order not to crush her young and their nest, the eagle hovers over her nest when feeding her young, “touching yet not touching.” The eagle here is a metaphor for God in relation to His children Israel in particular and to the totality of His Creation in general. Were God to either fully reveal His ultimate Presence or withdraw His power of continuous re-creation, the world would instantaneously cease to exist.

    Therefore, by “hovering” over created reality, God continues to sustain and nourish His Creation while simultaneously allowing each creature or, in the terminology of Kabbalah, each vessel, the ability to grow and develop “independently.” The letter chet thus hints at the delicate balance between the revelation of God’s Presence to us (the vav of the chet) and the concealment of His creative power from His Creation (the zayin of the chet).

    This state of “hovering,” “touching yet not touching,” is the beginning of the phenomenon of “life to enliven.” “Touching yet not touching” from Above thereafter reflects itself as “run and return” in the inner pulsation of every living creature. “And the living creatures [chayot] run and return like the appearance of lightning.” Do not read chayot (“living creatures”) but chayut, (“lifeforce”).

    The chatoteret, that sublime thin line that connects the two components or motion of the “life to enliven,” itself points upward. It hints at “He who lives at the summit of the world,” God’s “Essential Life.” In truth, His Essence paradoxically fills and sustains all created reality while simultaneously “hovering” high above the level of the “hovering” lifeforce itself, unfathomable and beyond all human perception.

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    A vav on the right, a zayin on the left, with a thin, hunchback bridge (chatoteret) connecting them above.

    Worlds:

    A gateway: the power to enter a higher energy level and exit therefrom.
    The ascent of all worlds on Shabbat and their subsequent descent after Shabbat.
    (At the level of Souls: the power to enter the mysteries of one’s own soul and thereafter return to worldly consciousness.)
    (At the level of Divinity: the power to enter the mysteries of the Torah and thereafter return to the consciousness of one’s task on earth.)
    Souls:

    The union of three partners in man: father (vav), mother (zayin), and God (chatoteret, chupah).
    The marital dance.
    Divinity:

    “God lives at the summit of the world”–the chatoteret.
    God “hovering” over Creation.
    The union of God’s immanence, transcendence, and the Jewish People.
    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    Fear; Life–whose full expression is love.

    Worlds:

    Loving God with one’s physical body.
    Lifeforce of the body.
    Souls:

    Loving God with one’s soul.
    Lifeforce of the soul.
    The heartbeat of the tzadik
    Divinity:

    Essential unity with God.
    Lifeforce of life itself.
    Resurrection of the dead.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    Eight

    Worlds:

    Eight vertices of a cube.
    Three-dimensional plurality.
    “God is one in the seven heavens and the earth.”
    Souls:

    The eighth day – the day of circumcision.
    The eight days of Chanukah – “The candle of God is the soul of man.”
    The circumcision of the foreskin of the lips on (Zot) Chanukah.
    The circumcision of the foreskin of the ears on the eighth day of Sukkot.
    The circumcision of the foreskin of the heart on Yom Kippur, the eighth day of the High Priest’s separation.
    Divinity:

    Gateway to infinity.
    God’s Transcendent Light.
    Origin of the Jewish soul and its descent through the seven heavens to earth.

  18. The Hebrew Letters
    Tet: Introversion – the Concealed Good

    The tet is the initial letter of the word tov, “good.” The form of the tet is “inverted,” thus symbolizing hidden, inverted good–as expressed in the Zohar: “its good is hidden within it.” The form of the letter chet symbolizes the union of groom and bride consummating with conception. The secret of the tet (numerically equivalent to nine, the nine months of pregnancy) is the power of the mother to carry her inner, concealed good – the fetus – throughout the period of pregnancy.

    Pregnancy is the power to bring the potential to actualization. The revelation of new, actual energy, the revelation of birth, is the secret of the next letter of the alef-beit, the yud. The yud reveals the point of “Essential Life” as realized in the secret of conception of the chet and carried, impregnated, in the tet.

    Of the eight synonyms for “beauty” in Hebrew, tov–“good”–refers to the most inner, inverted, and “modest” state of beauty. This level of beauty is that personified in Torah by Rebecca and Bat Sheva, who are described as “very beautiful [goodly] in appearance.”

    At the beginning of Creation, the appearance of light is termed “good” in God’s eyes: “And God saw the light was good.” Our Sages interpret this to mean “good to be hidden for the tzadikim in the Time to Come.” “And where did He hide it? In the Torah, for ‘there is no good other than Torah.'”

    The Ba’al Shem Tov teaches that the “Time to Come” refers also to every generation. Each soul of Israel is a potential tzadik (as it is said: “and your people are all tzadikim”), connected to the goodly light hidden in Torah. The more one actualizes his potential to be a tzadik, the more goodness he reveals from the Torah “womb.”

    In the first verse of the Torah – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” – the initial letters of “the heavens and the earth” spell God’s “hidden Name” in Creation (alef-hei-vav-hei), according to Kabbalah. The numerical value of this name is seventeen, the same as that of the word, tov, “good.” The word tzadik equals 12 times 17 = 204, the total value of the twelve permutations of the four letters of this hidden Name. Tzadikim, who are called “good,” possess the power of the hidden Name (derived from “the heavens and the earth”), the hidden goodness needed to unite heaven and earth and thereby reveal the inner light and purpose of Creation. Just as the alef possesses the power to bear opposites – the power of the firmament to join the higher and lower waters together – so does the tet possess the power to unite the upper and lower worlds, “heavens and earth.” Chassidut teaches that in the service of the soul, this power is manifest in man when he assumes the state of being “in the world yet out of the world” simultaneously. To be “in the world” means to be fully consciousness of worldly reality in order to rectify it. To be “out of the world” means to be fully aware that in truth “there is none other besides Him.”

    Another connection between light and good is found in the story of the birth of Moses: “And she [Yocheved, Moses’s mother] saw him that he was good.” Rashi quotes the Midrash, which explains that at the birth of Moses a great light filled the room. According to the early Masorah, the tet in the word tov (“good”) of this verse is written extra large. This hints at the Absolute Divine Good entrusted to the soul of Moses, whose life mission was to fulfill the promise of redemption from Egypt and the revelation of Torah at Sinai. The Egyptian exile is compared to a womb in which Israel was latently pregnant for two hundred and ten years. At Sinai, heaven and earth were united, as discussed in the letter alef.

    Thus, the full teaching of the tet is that, through the service of the soul, all of reality becomes “pregnant” with God’s Infinite goodness and beauty, thereby bringing harmony and peace to “heavens and earth.”

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    A vessel with an inverted rim; the sefirah of yesod; peace.

    Worlds:

    Form hidden in matter.
    Potential hidden in actual.
    Peace among the elements of Creation.
    Peace between water and fire in heaven: “He who makes peace on high.”
    Souls:

    The soul hidden in the body.
    Peace among the souls of Israel.
    The outer womb: the impure world; the inner womb: the pure aspiration of the soul.
    Divinity:

    God hidden within His Creation.
    Future revelation of universal peace.
    God’s presence impregnated in the world.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    Inclination; staff – snake; below; bed.

    Worlds:

    The snake in the Garden of Eden: the liver; innate behavior patterns.
    Lower worldly inclinations.
    The tendency to lie.
    Souls:

    The power to judge properly.
    The correct power of imagination.
    The twelve tribes of Israel.
    The twelve senses.
    Divinity:

    The breastplate of the High Priest.
    The bed – unity of man and wife in the Presence of God.
    Torah cantillation.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    Nine

    Worlds:

    Nine physical materials that form vessels which contract impurity.
    Nine levels of peace.
    Nine sefirot pouring blessing into malchut.
    Souls:

    The nine months of pregnancy.
    The nine positive commandments in the laws of Foundation and Character.
    Divinity:

    The numerical symbol of truth and eternity.
    Nine blessings of Musaf on Rosh HaShanah.
    Nine blasts of the shofar.
    Eternal life.

  19. The Hebrew Letters
    Yud: The Infinite Point

    The letter yud, a small suspended point, reveals the spark of essential good hidden within the letter tet. Subsequent to the initial tzimtzum, the contraction of G-d’s Infinite light in order to make “place” for Creation, there remained within the empty void a single, potential point or “impression.” The secret of this point is the power of the Infinite to contain finite phenomena within Himself and express them to apparent external reality. Finite manifestation begins from a zero-dimensional point, thereafter developing into a one-dimensional line and two-dimensional surface. This is alluded to in the full spelling of the letter yud (yud-vav-dalet): “point” (yud), “line” (vav), “surface” (dalet). These three stages correspond in Kabbalah to: “point” (nekudah), “spectrum” (sefirah), “figure” (partzuf). The initial point, the essential power of the yud, is the “little that holds much.” The “much” refers to the simple Infinity of G-d hidden within the initial point of revelation, which reflects itself as the Infinite potential of the point to develop and express itself in all the manifold finite phenomena of time and space.

    Before the tzimtzum, the power of limitation was hidden, latent within G-d’s Infinite Essence. Following the tzimtzum, this power of limitation became revealed, and paradoxically the Infinite Essence of G-d that originally “hid” the power of limitation now Itself became hidden (not in truth, but only from our limited human perspective) within the point of contracted light.

    From within this point of limitation is revealed the secret of the ten sefirot, the Divine channels of light through which G-d continually brings His world into being. Ten, the numerical value of the yud, is also the number of commandments (literally “statements”) revealed by G-d to His People Israel at Sinai. All the commandments, and in fact every letter of Torah, possess the power of the “little that holds much”; each is a channel for the revelation of G-d’s Infinite Light in finite reality.

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    A “formed” point: a crown above and a “pathway” below.
    The smallest of the letters; The only letter suspended in midair.

    Worlds:

    The “pathway” of the yud; The initial point of space and time.
    Natural wisdom: “The wisdom of Solomon.”
    Direction and purpose: the consciousness of the present moment.
    Souls:

    The “body” of the yud; The enwedged point.
    “The wisdom of G-d” as manifest in the judgment of Solomon.
    The power of self-nullification.
    Divinity:

    The crown of the yud above; The unenwedged point.
    “The wisdom of G-d” inspiring and directing Solomon’s genius.
    Revealed Omnipresence; The beginning and end of every letter (form).

    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    Hand; to thrust.

    Worlds:

    The secret of space; To thrust – the principle of action and reaction.
    The wave-nature of radiation.
    Souls:

    Intelligence; Friendship.
    To acknowledge – to make space for others; Empathy
    Divinity:

    G-d’s “hand” – the Infinite Will and ability to sustain the Creation.
    Charity, physical and spiritual.
    “Shaking G-d’s Hand”: identifying with archetypal souls and Temple service.
    G-d’s thought – the origin of the Jewish soul.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    Ten; “The tenth shall be holy”; the decimal nature of reality.

    Worlds:

    Ten Divine utterances through which the world was created.
    Ten things created on the first day.
    Ten things created at dusk at the end of the first Friday.
    Ten generations from Adam to Noah and from Noah to Abraham.
    Ten kings ruled the whole world; Ten nations given to Abraham.
    Ten pure animals; Ten categories of forbidden magic.
    Ten battles of Joshua; Ten essential limbs of the body.
    Souls:

    The sefirot – Spiritual Powers; Ten categories of the souls of Israel.
    Ten trials of Abraham; A minyan of ten men.
    Ten synonyms for prayer; Ten synonyms for song.
    Ten cardinal songs sung throughout history.
    Ten martyrs of Israel; Ten spiritual functions of the heart.
    Divinity:

    Ten Commandments; Ten plagues.
    Ten miracles in the Holy Temple; Ten days of repentance.
    Yom Kippur–the tenth day; The Divine Name ten times on Yom Kippur.
    Ten names of Ruach HaKodesh; Ten are called “the man of G-d.”
    Ten verses of Kingdom, Remembrance and Shofar-blast.
    Ten synonyms for teshuvah.

  20. The Hebrew Letters
    Kaf: The Power to Actualize Potential

    The two letters of the full spelling of the kaf, are the initial letters of the two Hebrew words: koach (“potential”) and poel (“actual”). Thus, the kaf hints at the power latent within the spiritual realm of the potential to fully manifest itself in the physical realm of the actual. God must create the world continuously; otherwise Creation would instantaneously vanish. His potential is therefore actualized at each moment. This concept is referred to as “the power to actualize potential ever-present within the actualized.” In Chassidut we are taught that this should be one’s initial awareness upon awakening. Since the literal meaning of the letter kaf is “palm” – the place in the body where potential is actualized – this awareness is reflected in the custom of placing one palm on the other upon awakening, before reciting the Modeh Ani prayer: “I thank You, living and eternal King, for you have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.”

    Placing palm on palm is an act and sign of subjugation, similar to the act of bowing before a king. Whereas in bowing one totally nullifies one’s consciousness in the presence of the King, in placing palm on palm one enters into a state of supplication and prayer to the King to reveal new will from His supernal crown (Will) to His subjects.

    Kaf is also the root of the word kipah (etymologically, the root of the word “cap” in English), the yarmulke or skullcap. In reference to the creation of man it is said: “You have placed Your Palm [kaf] over me.” Our Sages refer to Adam as, “the formation of the Palms [kaf] of the Holy One, Blessed be He.” The awareness of the presence of the “Palms” of God over one’s head, in His ongoing creation of him, becomes the cap (kipah) on his head. Even higher, the very power to actualize potential manifest in His Palms, as it were, derives ultimately from His crown (the power of will) above His head (i.e. “superrational” Will.)

    As a verb, kaf means to “subdue” or “coerce.” We are told in the Talmud that at the time of the giving of the Torah at Sinai, “He suspended the mountain over them as a barrel.” In Chassidut it is explained that the Divine motivation manifest in this act was actually one of greatest love for Israel. So much love was revealed by all the tremendous revelations at Sinai that the people were “coerced,” as it were, to respond in acceptance of the yoke of Heaven, in love. The mountain itself appeared to forcefully embrace the people. Here the secret of the kaf is the “much” revealed from the “little” point of the yud.

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    Three connected lines with rounded corners; the crown on the head of a prostrating king.

    Worlds:

    The totality of space surrounding the earth.
    The outermost sphere of the universe.
    Souls:

    Three connected properties of the crown: faith, sublime pleasure, and will.
    The three meanings of keter: “wait,” “crown,” and “encircle.”
    Divinity:

    Three stages of light before God created the world.
    The ability of the soul to relate to the Essence of God.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    Palm; clouds; power to suppress.

    Worlds:

    The power to suppress the forces of nature.
    The toil of labor.
    The power to rule.
    Physical clouds; expression of power.
    Souls:

    The power to suppress one’s evil inclination.
    The clouds surrounding Mt. Sinai – Jewish identity.
    Faith despite “dark clouds.”
    Clean palms – observance of the commandments between man and man.
    Divinity:

    The vessel to receive Divine pleasure.
    “I have engraved you upon My Palms.”
    The Clouds of Glory.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    Twenty

    Worlds:

    Twenty pieces of silver for which Joseph’s brothers sold him.
    Twenty cubits, the maximum height of a Sukkah.
    Souls:

    Twenty gerah, the full value of a shekel, symbolizing the union of two half-shekels.
    The age to become a soldier and pursue a livelihood.
    The twenty years Jacob worked for Laban.
    Divinity:

    The twenty sefirot of the two countenances of the crown.

  21. The Hebrew Letters
    Lamed: Aspiration – Contemplation of the Heart

    In The “Letters of Rabbi Akiva,” the full spelling of the letter lamed (lamed-mem-dalet) is read as short for the phrase: “a heart that understands knowledge” (lev meivin da’at). The numerical value of this phrase (608) equals “heart” (32) times “Eve” (19), i.e. “the heart of Eve.”

    In his commentary on the story of the Garden of Eden, the original episode of mankind, Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra states that Adam is the secret of the brain; Eve, the secret of the heart; the snake, the secret of the liver. In Kabbalah and Chassidut these fundamental correspondences are developed and explained in depth.

    Adam and Eve, male and female, are the prototype spiritual forces of giving and receiving. The marital union and gift of male to female relates to the secret of knowledge, as is said: “And Adam knew his wife Eve.” For this reason Adam and Eve are often seen to represent teacher and pupil. The teacher contracts his intellect into a point (yud) in order to convey his teaching to his student, whereas the student nullifies his previous levels of conception to become a fitting vessel for the new, wondrous teachings of his teacher.

    In particular, the form of the lamed represents the aspiration of the truly devoted pupil to learn from the mouth of the teacher. The literal meaning of the letter lamed is “to learn” (or “teach”). The seed of wisdom, alluded to by the letter yud, descends from the brain (Adam) to impregnate the full consciousness of the heart (Eve). The heart aspires (upwardly) to receive this point of insight from the brain. This is the secret of the form of the letter lamed, the heart ascending in aspiration to conceive and comprehend (“understand knowledge”) the point of wisdom, the yud situated at the top of the letter lamed.

    Our Sages refer to the lamed as “a tower soaring in air.” Three hundred laws relate to the secret of this “flying tower.” In our study of Torah, the “flying tower” is the expression of our love and devotion to the teachings of the Torah, our aspiration to conceive its inner truth, lifting us above the “gravity barrier” of earthly preoccupation. We are told that the Ba’al Shem Tov would place the palm of his hand on the heart of a Jewish child and bless him to be a “warm Jew.” The palm, the power to actualize potential, becomes manifest – at the inner spiritual level – in the “will [crown, keter] of the heart” to conceive and unite with God’s Will, the teachings of Torah. The lamed, the heart, aspires upwardly and connects to the yud of Divine insight. This is reflected in the form of the letter lamed, a kaf reaching upward to a yud. This is also the secret of the spiritual sequence hinted at in the letters of the word keli, “vessel” (kaf-lamed-yud): the power to actualize potential (the palm [kaf] of the Ba’al Shem Tov), manifest in the aspiration of the heart [lamed] reaching upward to conceive the secret of Divine wisdom [yud]. Throughout Torah the heart symbolizes the primary concept of vessel, the secret of Eve.

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    A vav – whose head (yud) looks downward – on a kaf.
    “A tower soaring in air.”
    The only letter ascending above the line.

    Worlds:

    A three-stage rocket ship soaring into outer space.
    Man’s aspiration to understand the universe.
    Souls:

    A heart of a wise man ascending to comprehend the wisdom of God.
    Learning in order to teach, learning in order to do.
    Divinity:

    Divine inspiration; the higher Shechinah.
    Prophetic imagination breaking through the limitations of rational intellect.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    To learn; to teach.

    Worlds:

    The power to direct and control the animal instinct.
    Learning secular skills; empirical knowledge.
    Souls:

    The yearning of the soul to learn Torah.
    Rectification of the power of imagination.
    Simultaneously learning in order to teach and learning in order to do.
    Divinity:

    Learning about the Essence of God.
    Creating new heavens and earth.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    Thirty

    Worlds:

    Thirty days of the month.
    “Malchut” is acquired through thirty attributes.
    Thirty-shekel value of an adult woman.
    The menstrual cycle.
    Souls:

    The thirty tzadikim in whose merit the world stands.
    Thirty generations from Abraham to the destruction of the First Temple.
    Divinity:

    Thirty levels of Kingship.
    Thirty categories of tzadikim in the World to Come.

  22. The Hebrew Letters
    Mem: Fountain of Wisdom
    by Rav Yitzhak Ginsburgh

    The mem, the letter of “water” (mayim) symbolizes the fountain of the Divine Wisdom of Torah. Just as the waters of a physical fountain (spring) ascend from their unknown subterranean source (the secret of the abyss in the account of Creation) to reveal themselves on earth, so does the fountain of wisdom express the power of flow from the superconscious source. In the terminology of Kabbalah, this flow is from keter (“crown”) to chochmah (“wisdom”). The stream is symbolized in Proverbs as “the flowing stream, the source of wisdom.”

    In particular, we are taught that there are thirteen channels of flow from the superconscious source to the beginning of consciousness. These channels correspond to the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy revealed to Moses at Sinai, as well as to the thirteen principles of Torah exegesis, the (superrational) “logic” of Torah.

    The mem is the thirteenth letter of the alef-beit. In Kabbalah we are taught that “thirteen mems,” as it were, appear in the “primordial air,” the (outer) “space” into which the letter lamed soars. Each attribute of mercy is in fact a contraction of relatively Infinite wisdom, at the level of the superconscious (“waters that have no end”), in order to channel and reveal a flash of wisdom on to the “screen” of consciousness. Conscious wisdom draws its points of insight primarily from that attribute of mercy referred to in Torah as “He retains kindness for thousands of generations,” whose initial letters spell the Hebrew word for “stream, “the first word in the previously quoted phrase, “the flowing stream, the source of wisdom.”

    In at’bash, mem transforms to yud, the point of wisdom or revealed insight, the drop of water emerging from the fountain of the mem.

    The words for “one” (echad) and “love” (ahavah) both equal thirteen, the secret of the letter mem. The closed, final mem, the source of the fountain of wisdom connected and included within its subterranean, superconscious source, corresponds to the secret of echad, “one.” The open mem, from which emerges the point (yud) of conscious insight, is the first manifestation of love (i.e., will to cling to another) in the soul. The connection between the two fountains of the mem, the “closed” fountain and the “open” fountain, is by the power of the Thirteen Divine Attributes of Mercy. This is the secret of G-d’s Essential Name Havayah – the “Name of Mercy.” The Name Havayah equals 26 = 2 times 13, the union of “one” and “love,” the power to draw into consciousness the wisdom of Torah.

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    The open mem – a square with a small opening at its lower left corner.
    The final mem – complete square.

    Worlds:

    The open mem – a flowing stream.
    The closed final mem – an underground stream.
    The womb.
    Souls:

    The soul – the flowing stream, the source of wisdom.
    The open mem – self-consciousness.
    The closed mem – unconscious states of being; the power of reproduction.
    Divinity:

    The closed mem – the arrival of the Mashiach.
    The waters of teshuvah.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    Water; blemish.

    Worlds:

    Water’s ability to glue substances.
    Water’s descending nature.
    The evil waters of false, external passions.
    The plenitude of water and life’s dependence on it.
    Blemish – the concealment of G-d’s Light in the lower worlds – Nature.
    Souls:

    The root of the soul is without blemish.
    The love of G-d flowing forth like water.
    Divinity:

    Water – a parable for Torah.
    The closed mem – the first saying of Creation.
    The open mem – the subsequent nine sayings of Creation.
    The open mem – the exoteric dimension of Torah.
    The closed mem – the esoteric dimension of Torah.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    Forty

    Worlds:

    Forty days of the flood.
    Forty seah, the minimum quantity of water required for a kosher mikveh.
    Forty years of wandering in the Desert.
    Souls:

    Forty days from conception to the initial “formation” of the fetus.
    “Forty less one”:
    The punishment of stripes;
    The categories of work forbidden on the Sabbath;
    The weeks of pregnancy.
    Forty days of Israel waiting for Moses to descend with the Torah.
    The (three) forty-year periods in the lives of Moses, Hillel, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai, and Rabbi Akiva.
    Forty generations from Moses to the completion of the Talmud.
    Divinity:

    Forty days of “lower teshuvah” for the sin of the Golden Calf.
    Forty days of “higher teshuvah” in which Moses received the second tablets.
    Forty cubits – the height of the entrance to the Sanctuary of the Temple.

  23. The Hebrew Letters
    Nun: The Messiah – Heir to the Throne

    In Aramaic, nun means “fish.” The mem, the waters of the sea, is the natural medium of the nun, fish. The nun “swims” in the mem, covered by the waters of the “hidden world.” Creatures of the “hidden world” lack self-consciousness. Unlike fish, land animals, revealed on the face of the earth, possess self-consciousness.

    The souls of Israel divide into two general categories, symbolized by fish and land animals. The two prototypes of these categories are the leviathan and the behemot. In the present, these two categories of souls correspond to the two innate tendencies and attractions of the soul, to either the concealed and secret or revealed and legal dimensions of Torah. In the future, the two prototypes, leviathan and behemot, will unite in battle, each “killing” the “ego” of the other, thereafter to blend together in true union. Their “meat” will then be served as the feast for the tzadikim in the World to Come. The souls of the tzadikim will actually consume the very root of consciousness of our present level of soul, in order to integrate (“digest”) it into a totally new and higher level of consciousness.

    “Leviathan” equals in gematria malchut, (“kingdom,” 496). In Kabbalah, malchut, in the world of Divine Emanation, is represented by the sea, whose tides are controlled by the power of the moon, the symbol of King David (upon seeing the new moon we say, “David the king of Israel is alive forever”). When malchut descends to enliven the lower worlds it is symbolized by the earth. Thus, the leviathan is the symbol of the Divine Source of “kingdom.” In Hebrew, nun means “kingdom,” and in particular, the “heir to the throne.”

    The “nun” is the fourteenth letter of the alef-beit, which equals “David,” the progenitor of the eternal Kingdom of Israel. The heir to David is Mashiach ben David, of whom is said: “As long as the duration of the sun his name shall rule.” Our Sages teach us that one of the names of Mashiach is Yinon (“shall rule”), cognate to nun. Mashiach is also referred to as “the miscarriage,” or, literally, the “fallen one.” As we will learn in the secret of the letter samech, the nun does not appear in Psalm 145, but is supported by God’s transcendent mercy, as expressed by the following letter, samech. In general, nun corresponds in Torah to the image of falling. The soul of Mashiach experiences itself as continuously falling and dying; if not for the ever-present Hand of God “catching” it, it would crash to the ground and shatter to death. The consciousness of fall is the reflection of the egoless state of the fish, in its natural medium of water, when forced to reveal itself on dry land. This is like the experience of a hidden tzadik when forced from Above to reveal himself for the good of Israel and the world. We find this exemplified in the life and teachings of the Ba’al Shem Tov, and so will be epitomized in the life of Mashiach. Ultimately, the “destiny” of Mashiach and his generation is to assume the level of sea on earth, to experience, paradoxically, selfless-self-consciousness, as said in the verse of Isaiah with which Maimonides concludes his Code of Jewish Law (whose final section, “The Laws of Kings,” culminates with the description of the coming of Mashiach): “for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of God, like waters cover the sea.”

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    A “bent-over” vessel – the “bent-over servant.”
    The final nun – an extended vav descending below the line – the “unbounded servant.”

    Worlds:

    The receiving vessel.
    The faithful one.
    Subservience and faithfulness.
    Souls:

    Humility – the vessel of true insight into halachah.
    Divinity:

    The final nun – extension of the Infinite.
    Light Above and below.
    Moses – the faithful servant.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    Fish; kingdom; heir to the throne.

    Worlds:

    Fish of the sea – the symbol of reproductivity.
    The selflessness inherent in “previous”-world consciousness.
    The rectified state of the world.
    Souls:

    The souls of Israel are kings and children of kings. Heir to the throne – Mashiach.
    The ruling power of the soul.
    Divinity:

    The Shechinah – origin of the souls of Israel.
    The kingdom of God on earth.
    Moses, “the great fish.”

    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    Fifty; the fifty gates of understanding.

    Worlds:

    The cycle of fifty years culminating in the Jubilee year.
    “Fifty years to counsel.”
    The fifty queries into the nature of Creation which God poses Job.
    Souls:

    Fifty references to the Exodus in Torah.
    “Her husband is known in the gates.”
    Divinity:

    Fifty images in Torah “supported” by the Name of God.
    Fifty days of counting the Omer between Pesach and Shavuot.
    Fifty thousand Jubilees of the World to Come

  24. The Hebrew Letters
    Samech: The Endless Cycle

    The circular form of the samech symbolizes the fundamental truth reflected at all levels of Torah and reality: “their end is enwedged in their beginning and their beginning in their end.” This realization and awareness of inherent unity between beginning and end, which, when comprehended in depth, implies equanimity at all stages of “the endless cycle,” is in fact the manifestation of God’s Transcendent Light (sovev kol almin), which encompasses equally every point of reality. This ever-present Transcendent Light is referred to as “He is equal and equalizes small and large.” In our service of God, this implies that in relation to worldly phenomena, all things should be related to and accepted equally. This is the attribute of equanimity as taught by the Ba’al Shem Tov, in interpretation of the verse: “I place [shiviti, from the root shaveh, ‘equal’] God before me always.”

    While at outer levels of consciousness one should remain unaffected by the transient events of this world, at deeper inner levels of consciousness, relating to Souls and Divinity, one should continuously be in a state of aspiration to achieve higher and higher levels of clinging to God and realizing His Will in Creation through Torah and mitzvot.

    In Chassidut we are taught that the saying of the Sages: “Who is wealthy? He who is happy with his portion” pertains only to worldly possessions, whereas with regard to spiritual matters we should never be satisfied with our present acquisitions but ever strive to obtain more. Nonetheless, as our inner striving takes place within the general context of external equanimity, it also proceeds as a circle, a spiral, in dynamic, ever-ascending motion. Thus an inner, dynamic circle exists within an outer, static circle. This is the secret of the phrase in the vision of Ezekiel: “the wheel within the wheel.”

    As mentioned in our discussion of the letter nun, the samech, which means “to support,” is the Divine power to support and lift up “the fallen one.” One verse reads: “she has fallen and shall not rise, the virgin of Israel.” A second verse reads: “as I have fallen, so surely shall I rise.” The first verse can be understood as referring to the service of the outer, static circle, the attribute of true equanimity in relation to all worldly phenomena. One can fall to the very “lowest energy level” of physical reality, unable to raise himself, and be totally reliant on the lovingkindness of Divine Providence to sustain him. The second verse, implying inner, active, motivation to rise, though surely dependent upon Divine support and aid, can be understood as referring to the service of the inner, dynamic circle of spiritual aspiration.

    As is the case for any two concentric circles, the bottom of the outer circle descends below that of the inner circle, yet its upper portion is higher in origin than that of the inner circle. This in itself is the ultimate manifestation of “the end” being enwedged in “the beginning.” “The end” here refers to the service of the outer circle itself. “The beginning” refers to the ultimate objective of the inner circle, the revelation below, in Worlds, of God’s very Essence, latently present in the simple faith inherent in the worldly service of equanimity.

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    A circle; a wedding ring.

    Worlds:

    The vacuum created by the initial contraction of God’s Infinite Light.
    The lower perspective of reality resulting from the initial contraction.
    Circular rings of evolutionary and historical cycles.
    The despair inherent in the “philosophy of the void.”
    Souls:

    The impression of Divine light “left over” in the vacuum.
    The tzadik – hidden foundation of the world.
    The equality of all Jewish souls.
    The marriage of two halves of a common soul.
    Divinity:

    “Their end is enwedged in their beginning and their beginning in their end.”
    The Transcendent Surrounding Light.
    “The Future to Come” (as opposed to “the Coming World”).
    The Divine presence in marriage.
    The dance of the tzadikim in the World to Come.
    The dance of the maidens on Tu b’Av.
    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    To support; rely on; ordination; construct form (in grammar).

    Worlds:

    Supporting the fallen.
    The miraculous continuation of life in the face of entropy.
    Welfare: support and encouragement.
    Souls:

    The support of one’s students.
    The secret of ordination.
    Signs and summaries.
    Divinity:

    Offering oneself to God (semichah).
    The experience of being supported by God at all times.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    Sixty.

    Worlds:

    Numerical symbol of an all inclusive state.
    The law of nullification, 1:60.
    Sleep is one-sixtieth of death; Dream is one-sixtieth of prophecy.
    Fire is one-sixtieth of hell; Honey is one-sixtieth of manna.
    Shabbat is one-sixtieth of the World to Come.
    The quantum leap from plane to plane.
    The nullification of lower dimensional spaces in higher dimensional spaces.
    Souls:

    Sixty ten thousands – 600,000 souls who left Egypt.
    The nullification of the individual Jew in the community of Israel.
    Sixty Guards of King Solomon; Sixty students of the Ba’al Shem Tov.
    Sixty queens in the Song of Songs; Sixty tractates of the Oral Torah.
    Divinity:

    Sixty Letters of the Priestly Blessing.
    Sixty bones in the two hands of the kohen.
    The Transcendent Light of God.

  25. The Hebrew Letters
    Ayin: Divine Providence

    “It [the land of Israel] is the land which God your God seeks; the eyes of God your God are always [looking] at it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.”

    The yearly cycle, from beginning to end (“end enwedged in beginning”), alludes to “the endless cycle,” the secret of the letter samech, as explained above. Divine Providence, the “eyes” of God in control of the cycle, is the secret of the following letter, ayin which means “eye.” Though the primary revelation of supernatural Providence is in the Land of Israel, the Jew-in-exile is commanded to create something of its sanctity in each of his Diaspora stations by recognizing Divine Providence wherever he is.

    Upon entering the Land of Israel, the second city to be conquered by Joshua was Ai, spelled ayin-yud, an abbreviated form of ayin (ayin-yud-nun, the nun falls) “the Eye.” Jericho, the first city to be conquered, comes from the Hebrew word reiach, the sense of smell. In Chassidut we are taught that the origin of the sense of smell is in keter, the superconscious sensitivity directing the motivation of Will. The Hebrew word for “the land,” eretz, derives from the word ratzon, “will,” as our Sages teach: “Why is it called eretz? Because it wills to do the Will of its Creator.” Sight is the first conscious sense, corresponding to the sefirah of chochmah, “wisdom.”

    In the conquest of Jericho, Achan – related to the word ayin [the kaf of Achan equals in gematria the full spelling of the yud (yud-vav-dalet) of ayin, 20] – coveted forbidden booty. The tragic result was the initial defeat of Israel in the battle of “the Eye.” Coveting is the spiritual blemish of the sight of the eye. Only when the sin of coveting was rectified was “the Eye” given to the Jewish People. Upon the initial defeat, Joshua fell on his face in despair but was commanded by God: “Rise, sanctify the people…. There is an accursed thing in your midst, Israel; you shall not be able to rise before your enemies until you remove it from your midst.” Joshua was told to “rise” though the people were unable to “rise.” This alludes to the secret of the two concentric circles of the letter samech: the outer, static circle supporting the fall of the nun, and the inner, dynamic circle directed, ultimately, by the Divine Providence of the ayin.

    The full spelling of the letter ayin equals 130 or 5 times 26, 26 being the value of the Name Havayah. In Kabbalah this phenomenon is understood to mean that the eye possesses five Divine powers. The right eye possesses five states of kindness, whereas the left eye possesses five states of severity or might. In Psalms we find two verses in relation to God’s Providence over man. One verse states: “The Eye of God is on those who fear Him.” The other states: “The Eyes of God are on the.” The attribute of fear of God refers to the consciousness of the sefirah of malchut, “kingdom,” likened to the woman of valor, “the woman who fears God, she shall be praised.” Malchut is constructed and directed by the five “mights,” the secret of the left eye of God. For this reason, in the verse “the Eye of God is on those who fear Him,” “Eye” is in the singular, referring to the left eye alone. In the “male figure,” corresponding to the six emotive attributes of the heart, Providence reflects the balance of both the five kindness together with the five mights of God. So, in the verse “The Eyes of God are on the tzadikim,” “Eyes” appear in the plural form, referring to both the right and left Eyes of God.

    We are further taught in Chassidut that the singular eye of the first verse possesses a hidden reference to the “ever-open eye” of keter, the superconscious. Here the singular is the secret of “all right,” as “there is no left in the Ancient One, all is right.” The fear of God which is the vessel in the soul to contain and reveal this most concealed and supernal level of Providence, is the awe in face of the awareness of the Transcendent Light of God, permeating each point of reality, as taught in the secret of the letter samech.

    In the Divine service of the soul these three levels of Providence correspond to the three stages of service: submission, separation, and sweetening, as taught by the Ba’al Shem Tov. All relate to his most fundamental and all inclusive teaching in regard to “particular Divine Providence.” The initial experience that even the minutest of one’s deeds is observed and recorded Above brings one to a state of submission and fear of the Kingdom of Heaven, whose Law and Order control the universe. One then experiences the Eyes of God lovingly watching over and guarding each one of his children Israel. This brings one to sense the existential separation of the holy from the profane, the righteous from the unrighteous, and to identify with the good. Finally one experiences the Infinite Eye of God directing every created being to its ultimate fulfillment of purpose in Creation, thereby bringing all Creation to realize its Divine Purpose. Here, one’s awe itself is in the face of the revelation of God’s Infinite Love for all (“all is right”). This is the secret of sweetening.

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    An elongated nun with an enwedged vav or zayin.
    The vessel of the nun receives God’s blessing, the vav.
    The two eyes and the optic nerves entering the brain.
    The right eye looks up at the samech; the left eye looks down at the pei.

    Worlds:
    •A poor man receiving physical sustenance.
    •The six (seven) days of Creation and man.
    •Shammai: the seven together; Hillel: the six separate from the seventh.
    •The right eye looking up at the sky; the left eye looking down at the earth.

    Souls:
    •The humble nun draws down joy in the service of God and integrates into itself God’s Will, halachah, as revealed in the six orders of Mishnah.
    •The right eye looks up to God; the left eye looks down favorably at the Jew.
    •The right eye dances; the left eye speaks.

    Divinity:
    •Moses, the humble nun, draws joy into God, as it were, and integrates into consciousness the hidden-most secrets of Torah.
    •The right eye looks up at God’s Transcendent Light; the left eye looks down at the Word of God.
    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    Eye; color; fountain; in Aramaic: sheep.

    Worlds:
    •Physical vision; Color spectrum; A fountain.
    •The fountain of wisdom and the ability to perceive wisdom.
    •The sheep looking toward the shepherd; the shepherd watching his sheep.

    Souls:
    •The “eye of Jacob” looking only at blessing, good, and life.
    •The eye of the soul looking at unification, sanctity, and blessing.
    •The “searching eye” of the soul looking upwards towards God.
    •Looking favorably on every Jew.

    Divinity:
    •”Gazing at the King and no other.”
    •Divine Providence.
    •Emulating God by looking “downwards” to help care for others.
    •The silent prayer: heart above and eyes below.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    Seventy

    Worlds:
    •Seventy archetypal nations and languages; Seventy oxen sacrificed on Sukkot.
    •Seventy years of life; Seventy cries of the deer during labor.

    Souls:
    •Seventy Jewish souls that descended to Egypt.
    •Seventy elders chosen by Moses; seventy sages of the Sanhedrin.
    •Seventy years of King David.
    •Seventy cries of the soul during “labor.”
    •Seventy years of the Babylonian exile.

    Divinity:
    •Seventy Names of God; Seventy faces of Torah.
    •Seventy words of Kiddush.
    •Seventy cries of the birth pangs of Mashiach.

  26. The Hebrew Letters
    Pei: Communication – The Oral Torah

    The mouth, the letter pei, follows the eye, the letter ayin. The five kindnesses and five mights of the right and left eyes discussed in the letter ayin are in fact the dual manifestations of the sefirah of da’at, knowledge, as taught in Kabbalah. Da’at is the power of union and communication. Providence is the power of da’at as revealed by the eyes. The power of da’at as revealed by the mouth – speech – is the more explicit form of contact and communication between individuals. Just as in the verse: “and Adam knew his wife Eve,” “knew,” the power of da’at, refers to the physical union of man and wife, so is “speech” idiomatically used by our Sages to refer to such union. So are we taught in the Zohar: “[the power of] da’at is concealed in the mouth.”

    Da’at, contact, at the level of the eyes, is the secret of the written Torah. In reading the written Torah in the synagogue service the reader must see every letter of the Torah scroll. Sometimes a “silver finger” is used to point, direct one’s sight, to every word. Contact at the level of the mouth is the secret of the Oral Torah.

    “There is no good other than Torah.” The pei is the seventeenth letter of the alef-beit, the numerical value of the Hebrew word tov, “good,” as discussed at length in the letter tet. The first words spoken by the “Mouth” of God, “Let there be light,” upon spontaneously being realized as the actual creation of light, were subsequently seen, by His “Eyes,” “to be good.” The word “good,” is the thirty-third word of the Torah, the sum of the ordinal values of the two letters ayin and pei (33 = 16 plus 17), thus alluding to the union of the two levels of da’at, contact (that of the eyes, the written Torah, and that of the mouth, the Oral Torah).

    Of the people of Israel it is said: “You are my witnesses, says God” and “God’s testimony is within you.” With closed eyes we testify twice every day: “Hear, O Israel, God is our God; God is one.” The ayin of the first word, Shema, “hear,” and the dalet of the last word, echad, “one,” are written large. Together they spell the word eid, “witness.” The soul of every Jew is an “eye”-witness to the essential unity of God. In this world we must close our physical eyes in order to reveal the inner eye of Israel which beholds the Divine Unity. By proclaiming our testimony verbally, we unify the two levels of contact, that of eye and that of mouth.

    Expression of wisdom proceeds from the inner eye of the heart to the mouth, as is said: “the heart of the wise informs his mouth.” Words of wisdom, when expressed sincerely and humbly by the mouth, find favor and grace in the eyes of God and man, as is said: “the words of the mouth of the wise find favor.” In Sefer Yetzirah we are taught that the “gift” to the holy mouth is grace. In good (“There is no ‘good’ other than Torah”) are inherent two essential properties: truth and grace. Though each dimension of Torah expresses the interinclusion of both of these properties, nonetheless, in particular, truth (the “male figure,” primarily defined by the sefirot of “tiferet” and yesod in Kabbalah) is the primary consciousness of the written Torah, whereas grace (the “female figure,” malchut) is that of the Oral Torah. The power of the pei, the mouth, is thus to express the grace of the Oral Torah.

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    A mouth containing a tooth.
    The white space within the pei forms a hidden beit.

    Worlds:
    •The mouth of the wicked.
    •Disease results from the evil mouth.

    Souls:
    •The power of speech.
    •The 32 teeth in the mouth correspond to the 32 pathways of wisdom.

    Divinity:
    •The “mouth” of God reveals the Torah through the mouth of Moses.
    •The “death of the kiss.”
    •The secrets of Torah from God’s Mouth to be revealed in the future.
    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    mouth; here (present)

    Worlds:
    •Here – the awareness of physical time and space.
    •”Blessed is He who spoke and the world came into being.”
    •Speech – the power to enter the “here and now.”
    •All Creation singing its song.

    Souls:
    •”The power of the Jew is in his mouth.”
    •”Knowledge is hidden in the mouth.”
    •The power of curse and blessing.

    Divinity:
    •Immanence. Sitting in the Sukkah.
    •The Oral Torah.
    •Traveling the odyssey of life by the Mouth of God.
    •The “Kiss” of God.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    Eighty; yesod – the power of marriage.

    Worlds:
    •”Eighty years to might.”
    •Eighty-thousand chiselers of rock in the building of the First Temple.
    •Hewing one’s children, the building-blocks of the Temple.
    •Eighty witches hung by the eighty students of Shimon ben Shetach.
    •Eighty-thousand Roman horn-blowing soldiers and eighty- thousand Jews killed in the defeat of Betar.
    •Eight-year periods of quiet in the period of the Judges.
    •Eight years of Mashiach and Temple.

    Souls:
    •Eighty pairs of kohanite brothers who married eighty pairs of kohanite sisters.
    •Eighty-thousand young men named Aaron.
    •Eighty tractates of baraitot.
    •Eighty ten thousands of Jews under the age of 20 left Egypt.

    Divinity:
    •The age of Moses at the Exodus.
    •The power of the soul to contact Divinity.
    •The discovery of the hidden light in Torah through pronouncing it orally.

  27. The Hebrew Letters
    Tzadik: The Faith of the Righteous One

    “The tzadik lives by his faith.” The form of the letter tzadik or tzadi, resembles that of the alef more than any other letter. The twenty-two letters of the alef-beit pair into eleven “form mates,” the two letters whose forms most closely resemble one another, as taught in Kabbalah. The “mate” of the alef, the Master of the Universe, is the tzadik, “the righteous one,” upon whom the world stands, as is said: “The tzadik is the foundation of the world.”

    The letter tzadik begins the word, tzelem, the Divine “image” in which God created man. In Kabbalah we are taught that the tzadik of tzelem corresponds to the three conscious levels of soul: mind, heart, and action, whereas the two following letters (lamed and mem) of tzelem correspond to the two transcendent levels of the soul, “the living one” (chayah) and “the single one” (yechidah), respectively, as discussed in the letter hei (tzadik in at’bash). These two levels become conscious as two states of faith in the inner awareness of the tzadik: faith in the Transcendent Light of God, the ultimate source of creation, and faith in the very Essence of God, the ultimate source of the revelation of Torah and mitzvot. For this reason the word tzadik (204) equals in gematria two times emunah, “faith” (102). Also in the verse “the tzadik lives in his faith,” the letters of the word b’emunato,” “in his faith,” can be read as “two levels of faith.” “Living in one’s faith” means experiencing greatest joy in one’s service of God, as explained in Tanya.

    The word eitz, “tree,” created on the third day, equals in gematria tzelem, 160, the “Divine image” in which man was created on the sixth day. “Man is the tree of the field.” In Kabbalah, the third day, tiferet (“beauty”), is the origin of the sixth day, yesod (“foundation”). Tiferet and yesod totally integrate in the secret of the “middle line” – “the body and the brit are considered one.” In Sefer Yetzirah we are taught that the twelve simple letters of the twenty-two letters of the alef-beit correspond to the twelve months of the year. Also, each month relates in particular to a specific “sense” in the soul. The letter tzadik is the letter of the month of Shevat, whose “sense” is that of “eating.” The fifteenth (middle) day of Shevat, Tu b’Shevat, is the New Year of Trees. (The Rabbinic word for tree, “ilan,” equals 91, the union of the two letters alef and tzadik, which is also the union of the two values 26 plus 65 [(2 · 13) plus (5 · 13) = 7 · 13 = 1 plus 2 plus … plus 13 = the “triangle” of 13], the value of the Name Havayah as it is written (yud-hei-vav-hei) and read (alef-dalet-nun-yud).

    The “king of trees” is the palm tree, of which is said: “The tzadik like a date palm will flower.” The root “to flower” (perach) equals 288, the secret of the 288 fallen sparks, elevated by the service of the tzadik in his Divine consciousness while involved in the act of eating. In all the seemingly mundane activities of the tzadik he “knows” (i.e., contacts, as explained above in the secret of the two previous letters of the alef-beit, the ayin and the pei) God, as is said: “In all your [mundane] ways know Him.”

    The original spelling of the letter tzadik is tzadi, which means “to hunt.” The holy “sense of eating,” the “sense” of the letter tzadik, is the ability to hunt in order to redeem and elevate the 288 fallen sparks of the breaking of the vessels, as discussed above. “The tzadik eats to the satisfaction of his soul” is the verse most relevant to the secret of the service of the month of Shevat. The redeemed sparks serve to elevate the consciousness of the soul of the tzadik to ever higher levels of Divine perception.

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    A yud enwedged in the upper right side of a bent-over nun.
    The yud faces either upwards or downwards, according to two varied traditions.

    Worlds:
    •Conscious power to actualize potential.
    •The lifeforce of Creation “running” towards its source Above.
    •The lifeforce returning – downwards.
    •Form and matter.

    Souls:
    •The nun represents the “Congregation of Israel;” the yud represents the tzadik of the generation.
    •”All your people are tzadikim.

    Divinity:
    •The thirty-two pathways of wisdom, the yud, unites with the fifty gates of understanding, the nun.
    •The higher wisdom (yud) and the lower wisdom (nun).
    •The consciousness of Atzilut uniting with the source of wisdom and descending to teach Creation.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    A tzadik; to hunt; side; in Aramaic: chaos. Tzadi becomes tzadik.

    Worlds:
    •Hunting for the fallen, broken vessels of the world of chaos.

    Souls:
    •Hunting for the soul’s lost sparks.
    •The lower tzadik – connecting souls.

    Divinity:
    •Hunting for God and Divine light.
    •The higher tzadik – revealing and drawing down Divinity into the world.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    Ninety; “total consciousness.”

    Worlds:
    •Total consciousness of worlds.
    •”At the age of ninety one folds over.”
    •Seasons.

    Souls:
    •Total consciousness of souls.
    •The age of Sarah at the birth of Isaac.
    •Ninety thousand elders danced before the ark when David brought it up to Jerusalem.

    Divinity:
    •Total consciousness of Divinity.
    •Ninety daily “Amens.”

  28. The Hebrew Letters
    Kuf: Omnipresence – Redemption of Fallen Sparks

    Two letters, a reish and a zayin, combine to form the letter kuf. The zayin, to the left, descends below the line, while the reish, to the right, hovers above it. The paradoxical union symbolized by the two components of the kuf is the secret of “There is none holy as God.” In general, the kuf stands for kedushah, “holiness.” The unique level of holiness inherent to God is expressed, in the words of the Zohar, as: “He is grasped within all worlds, yet none grasps Him.” The descending zayin of the kuf symbolizes His being grasped in all worlds, permeating even realms of reality “below the line,” i.e., worlds antithetical to those in whom God’s Presence is revealed. The reish, God’s ever-present transcendence, remains “separate” and holy (in Hebrew, “holy” means separate) in relation to His descending immanence.

    In the name of the letter tzadik, its initial reading, tzadi, “hunts” for fallen sparks. The holy spark, captured “below the line” in physical matter (“anti-matter,” relative to that of spiritual realms) is the secret of the following letter, the kuf, to which the tzadi connects to form the full, rectified name – tzadik.

    The tzadik is the eighteenth letter of the alef-beit, the gematria of chai, “life,” thus symbolizing the power to enliven the fallen sparks, as represented by the kuf. The kuf, the nineteenth letter, is the secret of “Eve” (Chavah = 19; in ordinal numbering, Adam equals 1 plus 4 plus 13 = 18 = chai), whose name also derives from the root meaning “life,” as is said: .”..and Adam called the name of his wife Eve (Chavah) for she was the mother of all life.” Nonetheless, of her is said: “her feet descend into death,” for in the primordial sin of eating (the “sense” of the letter tzadik, as explained above) from the Tree of Knowledge, she was ultimately responsible for bringing death to the world. Even within the “broken” (dead) corpse, a spark of life remains hidden, awaiting the power of the tzadik, (chai, life) to reinforce its dormant potential of life and to resurrect the body to whom it belongs.

    As well as the hidden inner spark of life, a hovering, relatively transcendent “vapor” is present above every corpse or fallen, “dead,” physical object. (The word for “vapor,” hevel, is also the name Abel, the second son of Adam and Eve, who was killed by his older brother Cain. Hevel = 37 = 18 plus 19.) These two components of life present within the seeming state of death, correspond to the two letters, the reish (the hovering vapor) and the zayin (the hidden spark), which compose the letter kuf. For this reason the kuf symbolizes in particular the reality of fallen sparks, as well as the paradox of the simultaneous omnipresence of God’s transcendence and immanence. The innate holiness of each spark insures its ultimate redemption and elevation by the tzadik (i.e., souls of Israel).

    The most fundamental significance in Torah of the number nineteen, the ordinal value of the kuf, is the nineteen-year cycle of the moon in relation to the sun, the basis of our Jewish calendar. The moon represents the female figure, the secret of the sefirah of malchut (“kingdom”), personified by Eve (Chavah = 19, as above). The sun represents the male figure (the bestower of light, whereas the moon is the receiver of light), and in particular the sefirah of yesod (“foundation”; yesod = 80 = 8 · 10, chet times yud = chai), as personified by Adam. Just as explained in the secret of the form of the letter zayin, “the woman of valor” who is “the crown of her husband,” when the letter kuf precedes the letter tzadik, the word keitz, the “end” of time, is formed. This hints at the verse: “…He has set an end [keitz] to darkness.” The “end,” the coming of Mashiach and the subsequent era of resurrection, is the ultimate revelation of the great light and energy latently present within the secret of the letter kuf.

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    A reish above with a zayin descending below the line on the left.

    Worlds:
    •”Shells” of impurity “suck” lifeforce in this world.
    •The zayin and reish spell zar, “foreign.”

    Souls :
    •The mission of the soul – its descent to clarify sparks of holiness.
    •The zayin and reish spell zeir, “crown.”
    •The “boomerang” property of the soul.

    Divinity:
    •”He is grasped in all worlds [the zayin], yet no one grasps Him [the reish].”
    •The reish and zayin spell raz, “mystery.”

    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    Monkey; to surround or touch; strength; in Aramaic: the eye of a needle.

    Worlds:
    •Monkey – vanity, the false imitations of this world.
    •The eye of the needle – the empty point of tzimtzum.

    Souls:
    •The touching and connection between souls.
    •The soul opening to God.

    Divinity:
    •Great strength as revealed in miracles.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    One hundred.

    Worlds:
    •The one-hundred year life span of the eagle.
    •”The youth will die at the age of 100.”
    •”At the age of 100 one is as though dead, passed away and ‘null’ from the world.”

    Souls:
    •The age of Abraham at the birth of Isaac.
    •”Go to you”: to the source of your soul or to enter your body.

    Divinity:
    •Perfect beauty.
    •The perfection of the square, 10 times 10.
    •The ten sefirot interincluded.
    •The one hundred daily blessings.

  29. The Hebrew Letters
    Reish: Process – The Art of Clarification

    Although the letter reish is situated close to the end of the alef-beit,”its primary meaning is “head” or “beginning.” There are four “beginnings” in the alef-beit (comparable to the four New Years enumerated in the beginning of the tractate Rosh HaShanah) relative to four different categories of phenomena. The ordinal beginning of the alef-beit is the letter alef. Phonetically, the vapor, the amorphous “matter” from which the pronunciation of every letter is formed, is the secret of the letter hei. In script, every letter begins from a point, the secret of the letter yud. In relation to meaning, cognizant intelligence or wisdom, reish means “beginning.” These four letters combine to spell aryeh, “the lion,” the first of the four “holy animals” of the Divine chariot of Ezekiel. They further combine to spell yirah, “fear” or “awe.”

    “The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God.” In Chassidut we are taught that the inner experience of the soul which serves as the vessel to arouse and contain ever new flashes of insight, wisdom, is bitul, “selflessness.” Fear, the beginning of wisdom, corresponds to the source of this state in the soul. Fear “shocks” ego, breaking the innate coarseness of the heart, that coarseness or egocentricity that prevents one from being truly receptive and perceptive to reality outside oneself in general, and the Divine Essence of all reality in particular.

    The two letters that fill the letter reish are yud and shin, spelling yeish, which means “something,” in general identified in Chassidut with the consciousness of ego or being a separate, independent entity – a “something.” Reish is the only letter “pregnant” with this “filling.” In Chassidut we are taught that though the lower “something,” the “created something,” appears to be totally separate from the consciousness of its Creator and the creative force which continuously brings it into existence, nonetheless its seeming separate “somethingness” serves, in truth, to reflect the Absolute and “True Something” who is truly and uniquely independent, the “Cause of all causes.”

    The insight of Divine wisdom is the “nothing” between the two states of “something,” whose ultimate purpose is to serve to draw the consciousness of the “True Something” into the experience of the lower “something.” In the power of the process of rectification, the ego must first be “shaken” by the fear of God, the beginning of wisdom. Thereafter one’s “matter” can be purified and clarified in order to become a fitting “mirror” to reflect the True Something. This process of clarification, dependent upon wisdom and its beginning, fear, is expressed in the verse: “You have made all in wisdom.” “Made” refers throughout the Torah to the process of rectification and clarification. The Zohar paraphrases this verse: “You have clarified them all with wisdom.” The “art of clarification” is the “beginning of the end”; the three final letters of the alef-beit, are the beginning, middle, and end of the end, respectively. Just as the tzadik connects to the kuf in its full spelling, so the “reish” “leads in” to the shin, all the clarifications of wisdom ascending upward to their Divine Source in the flame of the love of God and His people Israel.

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    The profile of a head; a bent over head.

    Worlds:
    •A man bent over in poverty and servitude.
    •Conformity to social norms.

    Souls:
    •The mind “bending over” in order to express itself in speech.
    •Devoted service to God.

    Divinity:
    •The revelation of God’s thoughts through speech.
    •The union of Kabbalah and halachah.
    •The presence of Shabbat in the weekdays.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    Head or beginning; poor man.

    Worlds:
    •The state of poverty of this world.
    •The experience of poverty prior to it leading to selflessness.

    Souls:
    •The conscious state of mind.
    •The second day of Rosh HaShanah – conscious beginning.
    •The power to procreate.

    Divinity:
    •The superconscious state of mind.
    •”My thoughts are not your thoughts.”
    •The first day of Rosh HaShanah – unconscious beginning.
    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    Two hundred.

    Worlds:
    •The upper limit of poverty – two hundred zuz.
    •The two hundred lights that shine out of the self.
    •”The sun is charity.”

    Souls:
    •Two hundred heads of the Sanhedrin from the tribe of Issachar.
    •Time.

    Divinity:
    •The numerical half way point of the alef-beit.
    •Creation begins from the “middle point” of God’s Infinite Light.
    •The evolving of the “Kingdom of the Infinite.”
    •The King and His people.

  30. The Hebrew Letters
    Shin: The Eternal Flame

    The letter shin appears engraved on both sides of the head- tefilin. On the right side, the shin possesses three heads, while on the left side it possesses four heads. In Kabbalah we are taught that the three-headed shin is the shin of this world while the four- headed shin is the shin of the World to Come.

    The secret of the shin is “the flame [Divine Revelation] bound to the coal [Divine Essence].” A simmering coal actually possesses an invisible flame within it, which emerges and ascends from the surface of the coal when the coal is blown upon. The three levels: coal, inner flame, and outer flame, correspond to the secret of chash-mal-mal, as will be explained in the next letter, the tav.

    One of the meanings of the word shin in Hebrew is shinui, “change.” The coal symbolizes changeless essence, the secret of the verse: “I am God, I have not changed,” meaning that relative to God’s Essence absolutely no change has occurred from before Creation to after Creation. The inner flame is the paradoxical latent presence of the power of change within the changeless. The outer flame of the shin is continuously in a state of motion and change.

    As in the above-quoted verse, the changeless Essence is the secret of the Name Havayah. The power of change, as latently present within God’s Essence before Creation and thereafter revealed in the infinite intricacy and beauty of an ever-dancing flame, is the secret of the explicit Name of Creation, Elokim, the only Name of God which appears in the plural. The number of the letter shin, 300, unites these two Divine Names as the “flame bound to the coal.” In at’bash, the Name Havayah transforms to the letters mem-tzadik-pei-tzadik, which total 300. The five letters of Elokim (alef-lamed-hei-yud-mem) when written in full, also equal 300.

    The three heads of the shin of this world correspond to the three levels of the changeless, potential, and actual change as discussed above. In this world, the changeless is symbolized only by a black, dark coal, not as the revealed light of the flame. Nonetheless the endurance of the flame depends upon the changeless essence of the coal. In the World to Come, the changeless essence will reveal itself within the flame. This revelation of the future is the secret of the fourth head of the shin.

    In the flame of a candle one sees three levels of light: the “dark light” around the wick of the candle, the white flame encompassing it, and an amorphous aura around the white flame itself. Each of these three levels of revealed light manifests a dimension contained within the invisible flame present in the coal. In general the flame symbolizes love, as is said: “as mighty as death is love…the flame of God.” The dark light corresponds to the love of Israel, souls enclothed within physical bodies. The white light corresponds to the love of Torah. The aura corresponds to the love of God. These are the three essential manifestations of love as taught by the Ba’al Shem Tov. The fourth head of the shin of the future – the revelation of the essence of the coal itself – corresponds to the love of the Land of Israel and, as our Sages teach: “the Land of Israel will in the future spread to incorporate all the lands of the earth.”

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    Three vavs, each with a yud on top, rise from a common base- point.
    Symbol of symmetry; Form of a flame.

    Worlds:
    •Stability and harmony in nature.
    •Positive and negative grace; Symmetry groups.

    Souls:
    •Finding grace in the eyes of God.
    •The grace of the Jewish people in each other’s eyes.
    •The 3 vavs represent the three Patriarchs; the 4 vavs, the Matriarchs.
    •The 3 vavs represent “Kohanim,” “Levites,” “Israelites”; the fourth, righteous converts.
    •”No lie can endure if not based on truth.”

    Divinity:
    •Divine Perfection and Grace; The three lines, or pillars, of the sefirot.
    •The “army of God”; The shin of the tefilin.
    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    A year; change; a tooth; scarlet; serenity; to sleep; to teach; two; sharp; old; viceroy.

    Worlds:
    •Natural changes in the yearly cycle.
    •Tooth – power of decomposition and entropy.
    •The fiery scarlet of the priestly garments.
    •”I am asleep…” “in exile”; Aging.

    Souls:
    •The fire of Torah; Sharpness in learning.
    •The second to the King; The double Shabbat loaves.
    •The Mishnah; “…yet my heart is awake.”

    Divinity:
    •The “immovable power” that causes all motion.
    •”I am God, I have not changed.”
    •Peace and serenity; The “shin” of the mezuzah.
    •The accelerated change of the future toward the changeless.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    Three hundred

    Worlds:
    •Three hundred foxes sent to burn down the fields of the Philistines.
    •Three hundred arrows pierced King Yoshiyahu.
    •Three hundred years Israel worshipped idolatry in the days of the Judges.

    Souls:
    •Three hundred fox-parables of Rabbi Meir.
    •Three thousand parables of King Solomon.
    •Three hundred firstborn Levites; Three hundred soldiers of Gideon.

    Divinity:
    •Three hundred halachot concerning “a mighty bright spot.”
    •Three hundred halachot concerning “you shall not let a sorceress live.”
    •Three hundred halachot concerning “the tower soaring in air.”
    •Three hundred halachot concerning “and the name of his wife was Meheitavel.”
    •”Is not my word like fire and like a hammer that breaks rock into pieces?”
    •”The spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.”
    •The full spelling of the Name Elokim (and the Name Havayah in at’bash).

  31. The Hebrew Letters
    Tav: Impression – The Seal of Creation

    The Zohar states: “the tav makes an impression on the Ancient of Days.” “The Ancient of Days” refers to the sublime pleasure innate within the “crown” (Will) of Divine Emanation. The letter tav (here referring to the “Kingdom of the Infinite One, Blessed be He”) leaves its impression on the “Ancient of Days.” The impression is the secret of simple faith in God’s ultimate omnipresence the Infinite present in the finite, for “there is none like unto Him” (the conclusion of the above quotation from the Zohar).

    This faith passes in inheritance from generation to generation, from world to world, the malchut (“kingdom”) of the higher world linked to the keter (“crown”) of the lower world. The tav, the final letter of the alef-beit, corresponds to malchut (“kingdom”), the final Divine power, in the secret of “Your Kingdom is the Kingdom of all worlds.” The impression of the tav is the secret of the power that links worlds – generations – together.

    The initial impression of true faith was that which was stamped upon the soul of our first father, Abraham, “the first of all believers.” This is the secret of Abraham’s purchase of the Cave of Machpelah, the original Jewish cemetery, for four hundred (the numerical value of tav) shekel, the secret of our eternal inheritance of “four hundred worlds of pleasure,” sealed with the stamp of simple faith.

    God’s seal (in Creation) is truth (in Hebrew, emet, spelled out by the final letters of the three last words in the account of Creation: bara elokim la’asot,” ” …God created ‘to do’”). The last letter or seal of the word emet, “truth,” itself – the seal of God’s seal – is the letter tav, simple faith, the conclusion and culmination of all twenty-two forces – letters – active in Creation.

    The three letters which spell emet are the beginning, middle and ending letters of the alef-beit.” The alef corresponds to one’s initial awareness of Divine paradox in the infinite source (where the higher and lower waters, joy and bitterness, are absolutely one). From this awareness issues mem, the fountain of Divine wisdom, ever- increasing power of insight into the mysteries of Torah. “The final end of knowledge is not to know.” The culmination of the flow of Divine wisdom in the soul (after all is said and done) is the “majestic” revelation of the infinite “treasure-house” of simple faith in God’s absolute omnipresence below innate in the soul of Israel. The culmination of truth simple faith is the secret of the “tav.”

    “All follows the seal,” in the secret of “returning light” from the tav to the alef, thereby forming the word ta, “cell.” Around the inner Sanctuary of the Temple were constructed many “cells” or “small chambers.” These “cells” were without windows, thus being completely dark inside. Chassidut teaches that these “cells” reveal the level of “He places His concealed place in darkness,” the awareness of simple faith reaching into the absolutely “dark” Essence of God.

    So we are taught: “Torah is the impression [the tav] of Divinity; Israel is the impression [the tav] of Torah.” Divinity is perceived first through the service of deepest meditation in complete silence (submission), the secret of the chash (“silence”) of chashmal. (Then, through the means of an intermediate stage of “circumcision,” comes a first expression of mal, “circumcision.” Torah is the secret of separation between good and evil – circumcision – the cutting off of the foreskin (evil).

    Israel, the ultimate manifestation of God’s Word in Torah (“Israel” is an acronym for the Hebrew phrase “There are six hundred thousand letters in the Torah”) corresponds to the final level of “speech,” the “second” mal of chashmal. Speech, communication of God’s oneness between souls, is the ultimate level of Divine service, “sweetening” all reality, as taught by the Ba’al Shem Tov. The tav, simple faith, is here seen to be the power of impression and linkage uniting the apparently paradoxical extremities of Divine service, from the utter silence of meditation to the loving communication between souls.

    ——————————————————————————–

    FORM

    A dalet joined to a nun.
    A stamp or seal.

    Worlds:
    •Physical “stamps” on reality – fossils, footprints.
    •Judgment and Law.
    •Primordial matter.

    Souls:
    •The tribe of Dan – humility and selflessness.
    •Returning the lost sense of purpose and direction.
    •Salvation.
    •Reincarnation; The “stamp” of previous lifetimes.

    Divinity:
    •The reading of the Name Havayah.
    •God as Judge.
    •God’s seal on all of reality: the source of teshuvah and the potential of individuality.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NAME

    Sign; impression; code; in Aramaic: more.

    Worlds:
    •The sign on the forehead of Cain.
    •Natural law and codes of life.
    •The music of Creation.

    Souls:
    •The sign of righteousness.
    •The tzadik is alive even in death.
    •Teshuvah, prayer, Torah.

    Divinity:
    •The Divine power of continuation present in the end.
    •The advantage of light which shines from darkness.
    •The last letter of the account of Creation: rectification, the seal of truth.
    •The last letter of the first word of Creation: the ultimate origin.

    ——————————————————————————–

    NUMBER

    Four hundred.

    Worlds:
    •Four hundred men of Esau.
    •Four hundred men of David.
    •Four hundred years of exile in Egypt.

    Souls:
    •The four hundred pieces of silver with which Abraham purchased the Cave of Machpelah to bury Sarah.
    •The four hundred gates of mutual knowledge amongst the four couples buried in the Machpelah.
    •Efron – evil eye; Abraham – pure eyes.
    •The dimensions of the Land of Israel – four hundred parsah by four hundred parsah.

    Divinity:
    •The four hundred worlds of Divine pleasure in the World to Come.
    •The God of Israel, the people of Israel, the Torah of Israel, and the Land of Israel.

  32. Vera says:

    Very insightful. Thanks!

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