Monday, November 2, 2009

The Letter Aleph


A startling fact: The first letter of the Hebrew Alphabet has no sound! Silence seems a very strange way to begin a system of communication.

But the Aleph is a letter of strength. Remember the proverb...strong like bull, dumb (silent) like ox. (In fact, it has been suggested that the shape of the letter is reminiscent of the head of an ox.) The shape of the aleph is firmly rooted to both the ground and the sky by its two feet. Kabbalistically, the aleph is viewed as being created from a tilted vav (the straight line) separating two yuds (the little lines). This combination is significant in two ways. 1) Physically, the shape of the aleph represents the connection between the upper world and the lower world (heaven and earth). 2) The letters yud and vav are two out of the three letters that are found in God's name.

Aleph is representative of God. In Hebrew, each letter has a numeric value, and the numeric value of aleph is one. Aleph is therefore a symbol of God's unity.

Aleph is also the first letter of the word anochi (“I, Myself”), the first word of the Ten Commandments. The Midrash (Jewish legend) relates that while God chose the letter Bet to start the Torah (Bereishith), He gave the aleph the honor of starting the Ten Commandments.

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