This Shabbat we will read Torah portion “Bo” – בא in the book of Exodus.
This Torah portion describes the three last plagues (out of ten) brought on Egypt.
Several commentators indicate that the hint to these last three plagues is contained in the name of the Torah portion בא
They refer to the numerical value (Gematria) – 3 of the Hebrew letters א (Aleph) and ב (Bet) which combine the name of this portion.
א = 1
ב = 2
The letters א (Aleph) and ב (Bet), are the first letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
The Hebrew word for alphabet is – ‘Aleph-Bet’, which basically is the names of the two first letters.
So, this time we wanted to devote our post to the sacred nature and the inner power of Hebrew letters and particularly that of the letter Aleph.
Let’s begin with a story:
An ignorant villager, did not show up for Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) night – he heard that one must eat and drink a lot before the fast, so he drunk himself into such a stupor that he missed the evening service – Kol Nidre.
When he awoke late at night, he wanted to pray, but he didn’t know any of the prayers by heart.
So he began to recite the alphabet over and over again. “Dear God!” he cried, “All I can give you is the Hebrew letters. Please arrange them in the right order and make a prayer out of them!”
The next morning he went to the synagogue.
The Rabbi (Kotzker Rebbe) summoned him and asked him to explain his absence at Kol Nidre the night before.
“Holy master!” he cried. “So eager was I to welcome the holy day with joy that I overdid it a bit and slept through the service.
When I awoke late at night, I tried to pray, but I did not know the proper words. For, you see, all I know by heart is the Hebrew alphabet.
So I just recited the letters and asked God to make words out of them.
”Were my prayers acceptable?”
The rabbi smiled:
“More acceptable than mine,” he said, “for you spoke them with your whole heart.”
Hebrew letters are not just ordinary letters.
Each letter is a symbol, full of many inner meanings, from literal straightforward meaning, to deeper spiritual meaning.
Understanding the letters provides essential insight into the deeper meanings of the Bible.
Many, after studying Hebrew letters in depth, feel that the letters express some direct spiritual communication that goes beyond words.
The 22 consonant letters of the Hebrew language are said to be the basic creative/energy structures that give rise to the manifest world. These are the DNA of the creation.
Let’s take a deeper look at the first Hebrew letter:
The Aleph symbolizes the one and only, eternal, omnipotent G-d. It is the symbol of G-d as the creator and master of the universe.
The numerical value of Aleph is one. This represents the one, unique and indivisible G-d who alone is timeless and changeless.
Aleph is related to the Hebrew word alooph (אלוף), which means master, chief or prince.
The graphic form of the Aleph symbolizes the infinite, eternal nature of G-d.
It consists of three parts:
The upper and lower arms are the letters י (Yud), the tenth Hebrew letter of the alphabet, connected in the middle by a diagonal ו (Vav), the sixth Hebrew letter.
The numerical value of the three letters that compose the Aleph is twenty six. (10+10+6=26)
This equals the value of the four letters of the divine name:
Y-H-V-H – י ה ו ה
which is the name that represents G-d as the eternal, for its four letter are those that form the words:
He was, He is, He will be
Aleph is the only silent letter of the 22 consonants – it represents the unrevealed, infinite spiritual.
The letters of the word Aleph read backwards is ‘peleh’
which means an inexplicable wonder – the wonder of the infinite spiritual being manifested within the finite physical!!
Many Hebrew words that express Divinity or spirituality start with the letter Aleph.
א-ל, א-ל-ה-י-ם, א-ה-י-ה, א-ד-נ-י
אמונה – (EMUNAH) – Faith
אהבה – (AHAVAH) – Love
אור – (OR) – Light
אמת – (EMET) – Truth
Let’s conclude with another story:
It happened in a Jewish school in old Russia.
One of the school boys forgot to bring his ink bottle and asked the boy at his side for some of his.
“No,” replied the latter. “I haven’t enough; you should have brought from home.”
So the first boy had to ask someone else.
The teacher noticed this and said nothing, but a half hour later he asked the second boy if he could show the class an Aleph, a Bet and a Gimmel (the first three letters of the Hebrew alphabet).
“Of course,” answered the child as he pointed in one of his books. “This is an Aleph, this a Bet, and this a Gimmel.”
“No,” said the teacher. “You are wrong.”
The boy was confused. “But teacher” he said, “this is what you taught us… this is what we have been reading for the last two years!”
“No,” the teacher repeated. “You are wrong.”
“Aleph is: When your friend asks you for ink, you give it to him.
“Bet is: When your friend asks for ink, you give it to him.
“Gimmel is: When your friend asks for ink, you give it to him.”
Yoel & Orly
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