Monday, November 30, 2009

The Letter Tzadi



The letter tzadi is one of the five letters of the aleph-bet that has a sofit, a different form used when the letter appears at the end of the word. The regular tzadi is one of the most difficult letters of the Hebrew alphabet to write. The letter bends and folds while at the same time reaching its arms upwards. And yet the very shape of the letter helps us to better understand the letter.

The root word of tzadi means hunter. If one looks at the shape of the letter, one can envision (using one’s imagination) a hunter kneeling down with his bow, ready to strike. At the same time, the Hebrew word tzad means side, and the tzadi bends to one side while stretching to the other. Still again, the letter’s name is often mispronounced as tzadik, which means righteousness, and one can see in the stretched out arms of the letter the idea of humankind reaching up to heaven while striving to reach the Divine.

There can be no doubt about it, tzadi is an intense letter.

A tzadik is a righteous person, a person who has attained an extremely high level of righteousness in his/her life. But a tzadik is not perfect, because only God is perfect. Perhaps this is why the letter tzadi represents the numeric value of 90...just shy of 100, representing numerical completion.

Bibliographical acknowledgment: The Wisdom In The Hebrew Alphabet: The Sacred Letters as a Guide to Jewish Deed and Thought. By Rabbi Michael L. Munk. Mesorah Publications, 1983.

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