Thursday, November 5, 2009
The Letters Gimmel and Daled
Gimmel and daled, the third and fourth letters of the Hebrew alphabet, are paired together by the sages to represent the giving of charity. As has been pointed out, the numeric value of each number is considered significant. Gimmel (3) plus daled (4) equals 7, the number that represents completion. Acts of kindness, such as giving, are how human beings can work to bring the world to perfection.
Gimmel is the first letter of the Hebrew term “g'milut chasadim,” acts of kindness. The sages noted that the shape of the gimmel appears to be like a man with his foot stretched forward as if running somewhere... right into the daled. The daled, which is the first letter of the word dal, meaning a needy person, appears to be facing away from the gimmel, so that the gimmel cannot see the "face" of the daled. This pair of letters thus teaches a valuable lesson about how to give charity. One should run after the opportunity to give, but one should not embarrass the person in need.
The ultimate form of giving is enabling a person to become self sufficient...which is related to the concept of weaning - gomail. It is interesting to note that the form of the letter gimmel is similar in shape to a camel (not surprisingly called a gamal), an incredibly self-sufficient creature.
Not only does the letter daled face away from the gimmel, but it faces towards the next letter, hey, which is a component of the name of God.
Bibliographical acknowledgment: The Wisdom In The Hebrew Alphabet: The Sacred Letters as a Guide to Jewish Deed and Thought. By Rabbi Michael L. Munk. Published by Mesorah Publications, 1983.