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Thursday, September 26, 2013

THE HEBREW LETTERS OF THE ALPHABET: The Channels, the Categories, and the Meanings Part I

Introduction

I often refer to the mystical meanings of the Hebrew alphabet in the words of the Old Testament in order to explain a theological point in the scriptures. I have also been known to discuss the numerology associated with each letter and word to show the depth of every passage, and its mystical intent. This is a critical part of understanding the scriptures, primarily because it helps us to connect and understand the language used by God to create the universe and the Law. By understanding the language God speaks, we can begin to understand His mind.

The scripture begins with God brooding over the chaos that must be contained for olam, or what we would call the universe. It is no wonder that the very first letter of the Old Testament book of Genesis is the Beis. The letter beis means container. It also tells us that there is a fence around what we see in the material world, that it has dimension, mass, and a beginning and an end. One end is open on the beis, as though we could enter into the heart of the letter and sit on the dagesh, or the circle or dot in the center, to be a part of the space within, and look out into the universe from a stool made just for us by God. The mystical aspects of the Old Testament comes to life when you plumb the depths of this letter, to see its implications in interpreting scripture and applying it to our lives. Imagine what mysteries all the letters hold for us if we take the time to study them. The Hebrew sages believed God left these letters as stepping stones for us to tread upon, to follow Christ to Heaven, to follow the road laid down for us to find our destiny and know God more intimately. The letters, in a sense, are the rungs on Jacob's Ladder, where we can have direct access to Heaven when we pray, study the scripture, and even dream answers to our problems just as Jacob did.

By studying the letters in a more meaningful way, scriptural oddities or confusing passages come to life with meaning, contradictions are no longer contradictions but enhancements, and what was once confusing becomes clear, adding to our understanding of the wonders God has in store for us when we follow Him toward our destiny.

Categories

There are twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. These are called the twenty-two channels of Divine creative consciousness. What this means is that each letter represents an aspect of the creative mind of God. The Hebrew sages believe that through the study of each letter's meaning and power, they could literally touch the mind of God, understand creation in a deeper way, and, therefore pray more effectively. An expression they use is: Praying with fire. As Christians, we know that by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we are putting on the mind of God, that we are praying with fire, the fire of the Holy Spirit. In the Acts of the Apostles 2: 1-4 the coming of the Holy Spirit is described as tongues of fire lighting upon each person. Christ's death and resurrection purchased for us the ability to call upon the Holy Spirit to guide us up that heavenly ladder, and while there we may come face-to-face with our Lord and God. However, even the most devout must learn to not become complacent, to feel as though they have nothing left to learn, or to think we have salvation locked up because one time we prayed a prayer to accept Jesus into our lives, that all we must do is read the scripture daily, commit it to memory, and seat our fanny in a pew every Sunday. There's more to it than that. We must strive to understand, to tikkun or repair what has been broken by knowing there is much more to do before we rest in God on that glorious day of resurrection.

Studying the scriptures by learning the language of God, the Hebrew of the Old Testament, enables us to understand the Who, the What, the Where, and the Why of God's creation. As children we learn our language by speaking it, naming things and describing emotions. When we are old enough to understand, we go to school and learn the alphabet of our language, the grammar and punctuation. This is where we begin. You are now going to school and learning the alphabet.

Each letter is like the marks or symbols on a builder's blueprint, and each symbol represents a world of meaning all its own. When we combine those worlds we create an entire universe, a structure that is transubstantiated into a spiritual whole. Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi said, "For the Torah (the five books of Moses) and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one." You cannot separate God from His language, for He is the language.

We begin by dividing the Letters into three categories:

  • Three "Mother" or "Primary" letters: Alef, Mem, and Shin
  • Seven "Double" letters: Bet, Gimel, Dalet, Kaf, Peh, Resh, and Tav
  • and Twelve "Elemental" letters: Heh, Vav, Zayin, Chet, Tet, Yod, Lamed, Nun, Samekh, Eyin, Tzadi, and Kuf

The Mothers or Primary Forces

The three Mother or Primary letters comes from the Hebrew word Binah, meaning understanding. The sages derive the word Mother for the word understanding from Proverbs 2: 3, "For you shall call Understanding a Mother." The three mother letters are believed to usher our consciousness through the portal of the transcendental, much like my description of the letter Beis where we enter into a room or a fenced area. There we have entered and sat on our little stool to watch the beginnings of creation as they stretch out before us forming worlds of words. As we exit through the portal, we are able to be guided through the rest of the language of God, letter by letter, like the stepping stones I mentioned before, or the rungs of a ladder that we must climb, like Jacob. When we understand something, it becomes a part of us, and spurs our ability to grow in knowledge and wisdom. Understanding, then, is our birth into the spiritual realm, as though the womb is the container where we were formed, and we are born once we exit that primary container, our entrance into a new life in the spiritual world.

In Exodus 31: 3, God says, "I have filled him with the spirit of God, with Wisdom, with Understanding, and with Knowledge." Likewise, in Proverbs 3:19, 20, the scripture says, "With Wisdom God established the earth, and with Understanding, He established the Heavens, and with His Knowledge, the depths were broken up." How could we possibly gain any knowledge of heavenly things without first understanding with God's Wisdom, and not our own.

The three letters, alef, mem, and shin spell out the word Emesh, meaning yesternight. This refers to the impenetrable gloom of waste and desolation. Job 30:3 refers to this in discussing the state of creation before God spoke, "Let there be light." Laban speaks to Jacob, "The God of your fathers last night said to me," in Genesis 31:29. This can be read in this way, "The God of your fathers, Emesh, said to me." Jacob also uses this term, "And Emesh gave me judgment," Genesis 31:43. They are both referring to the God who created language, who created the universe, without whom they would not even exist, that this God exercised judgment in the creation of the universe and man, as He hovered above the gloom and desolation. Emesh then is God in Genesis 1: 2, when everything existed only in His Mind where nothing was separated. Creation was one with the Holy One, as were we.

These Mothers or Primary letters represent cause, effect, and their synthesis between these two opposites. Shin is cause, Mem is effect, and Alef is the synthesis between these two. The correlation between the Trinity, the holy number three, is apparent in the discussion of this principle. There is an even deeper level of understanding that the three Mothers are the reconciliation of opposites. The sacrament of Reconciliation applies this principle. We are in sin, headed in the opposite direction from God. God desires us to turn around and walk toward Him. The priest is the principle that helps the synthesis; he points, he applies grace, he recommends ways to amend, he is the council that represents the entire community wishing to draw us back in. This concept cannot be penetrated through logic and it remains a mystery. Think about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father permeates and is everything spiritual and physical. The Son is physical and spiritual, but is confined within the structure of a human body. These are seemingly diametrically opposed concepts. However, the Holy Spirit connects the two in a way that we cannot fathom through logic. We must accept this on faith that we can only receive from the Holy Spirit. We then know, we understand the Truth of it.

The Dimensions of Reality

Each of the letters in these three categories are related in a one-to-one correspondence to an individual element of the three dimensions of what we perceive as created reality. They are:

  • Text Space Form of Letters
  • Number Time Numerical Value
  • Communication Living Soul Pronunciation and Name of Letters

According to the sages, the letters all have form and they occupy space. They have a corresponding number and exist in time. The letters communicate the Living Soul of God to us. These are the three methods of interpretation of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet.

Summary

We will begin the study the doubles and elementals in the next post. As for now, it is enough to understand the basic principles expressed in the Primary or Mother forces. There is much to learn and I will post the rest part by part.

I employ this study of the Hebrew letters directly into my novel, The Garden of Souls. The entire last half has to do with the letters of God's name and their implications for us as believers. The hero Liam must use these letters to open the doors leading to his destiny.

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