Monday, October 28, 2013
About a week ago, I was surfing through my plethora of emails and social media sites when I came across a posting which intrigued me. Being Catholic, and having a dickens of time getting my novel reviewed by all those famous fellow Catholics who review books (and you know who you are), I felt an instant kinship with this struggling author. The fact that he was writing about his conversion to Catholicism, and that he wanted to help those traversing the thorny trail toward entering the Church, was more than inviting, it was a put-up or shut-up moment for me. I agreed to do it.
One of the best parts of his premise, was that he wanted to explain why all those crazy Catholics do this and that, and why they believe that weird idea, in a simple this is what I found, straight from the heart way. He made my heart flutter with recognition. Almost thirty years ago, my husband and I, including our children, took the same path. I had stumbled across another fellow convert. Not just one of those who converts because they are marrying someone who is Catholic, but a knocked-down, crazy-in-love, finally-feeling-at-home, honest-to-God, fresh Catholic.
He sent me a copy for review: Waking Up Catholic: A Guide to Catholic Beliefs for Converts, Reverts, and Anyone Becoming Catholic by, Chad R. Torgerson. It's a quick read. Although, I would want more scriptural references and a deeper discussion about the continuity of Judaism into the Catholic Church, because, oftentimes, that's why the Church does this or that, this book definitely has its place. It works because it's from the heart. He speaks throughout the book about his conversion process, and the influence his brother-in-law had on him in those first tentative steps on his journey into the Church, without sounding preachy. He avoids that tone and exercises his frustration even with fellow Catholics, primarily because they don't participate as thoroughly as they should. I'm definitely with him there. He has all the ear-marks of a convert, though. He's sold-out. He sees the beauty when many Catholics sit and yawn. His eyes are open to the incomparable teachings, while many of his fellow pew-sitters snore through the Mass.
I believe this should be a book to give to an Evangelical. They should specifically read the chapter about the Trinity. It's true that Evangelicals can personalize their relationship with Jesus, but they can't tell you Who God is without spouting some Jehovah this or that, or How God can be Three Persons in One. He uses the classic Saint Patrick shamrock that has worked for hundreds of years because it's simple and true.
I recommend this book, not because it's well-written or because it's theologically accurate, or went through a perfect editing process, but because it came from his heart. I don't care about the English or the style, or the redundancy, because he wrote it in the belief he could reach someone, just as his brother-in-law reached him. For that, I applaud you Chad. I know there are a lot of people out there who will get what they need from this. And for all you nominal Catholics, WAKE UP!
You can purchase this book at: http://www.wakingupcatholic.com/book
Monday, October 21, 2013
In Part IV, the numerical value of the letters from Alef to Yod equaled the numbers One through Ten. All proceeding letters are multiples of ten, and one hundred. This only means that the individual letters are equal to that specific amount and does not mean that the other numbers do not exist.
Gematria (numerology) applies numbers of the letters thusly: The word Truth--emet or emes in Hebrew--is spelled alef, mem, tav. Emet is considered God's seal, or the seal of the Holy One. Is it no wonder that when Jesus proclaimed, " I am the Truth..." He was declaring that anyone who was sealed or marked by Him belonged to Him under that seal. This is a seal that cannot be removed because it is a seal of permanency. Truth never ceases to exist. It cannot be wiped out because it is connected to God, it is God. Kind David declared: "...the very beginning of Your word (the Torah) is truth." Psalms 119:160. This refers to the story of Creation, "In the beginning of God's creating" (Genesis 1: 1), the first three words end in tav, alef, and mem. Although, these are not in the proper order to spell emet, at the end of the six days the words, "God created [for man] to do..." is in the proper order. This indicates that Truth is attained only through effort. The sages also believe that through the examination of all the consecutive sets of three letters in the Alef-Beis, beginning with bet (the first letter of the Torah), they always add up to nine which is the mispar kattan or the digit sum of emet.
The word emet is also the acrostic of God is the Eternal King. When Moses requested a sign of assurance for the Israel, God replied, "I shall be that which I shall be," in Exodus 3:14. This is the basic truth of the covenant between the Children of Israel and God. The bond which holds, or the glue of the covenant is emet, and that emet will remain forever. This is the sentiment of Rosh Hashanah and is included in the prayers of that Feast. I realize all of this is a tad esoteric, but it expresses the methodology used by the sages to determine all the possible meanings of the words and their letters. I could write reams on the single word emet and its connection to Christ, but I shall proceed with the final letters of the alphabet.
Kaf equals Twenty
The letter Kaf is intimately tied to Jacob's achievement in wrestling with the divine. The angel wounded his thigh which represents where all his progeny would issue forth. He wrestled in the night, in the darkness, where our evil inclination dwells. The divine was the victor, and Jacob would indeed become Israel, the father of the twelve tribes. The divine used his hand, the hollow of his hand which is the meaning of the letter Kaf. This letter also changes its form when it appears at the end of a word. The right line becomes elongated instead of curving around. This is an indicator that the primitive impulses have been controlled through the divine assistance. Therefore, Jacob's primitive impulses were controlled and his progeny issued from his thigh were born with the divine spark.
The Kaf also means crown. The first crown is the crown of the priesthood, the second is the crown of kingship, the third is the crown of the Torah, and the fourth is considered the greatest of all by the sages, the crown of a good name. Even though the crown of Torah is the greatest, as expressed throughout the Talmud, and recited in the prayers of the Jew, the crown of a good name requires all the previous three. The crown atop the Menorah represents the fourth crown of a good name. Although the Menorah was not crowned the word Menorah has the same gematria as the phrase, "a surrounding golden crown." This idea is derived by God's declaration in Exodus 19: 6, "You shall be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy people." Our walk with the Lord is profoundly important under the crowning achievement of a good name. When someone does evil things or says evil things, then tries to evangelize, the effort cannot be successful. This is why pastors who fall are considered deadly wounds to the efforts of evangelization. They taint the good name of all efforts to bring Christ to a lost people.
Lamed equals Thirty
Lamed is the tallest of the letters, the majestic letter that rises above all of the Hebrew letters. The word Yisrael, or Israel, begins with the smallest letter, Yod, and ends with the tallest, Lamed. As grand as Israel is through the final letter Lamed, the word is tempered by beginning with the letter Yod. This means that Israel may have begun in humility, but because of that grace it has risen to the heights. This is a lesson for the world. All our efforts must begin in humility.
Lamed's connection with Learning and Teaching is not connected with the temporal, but with those ideas that come from the heart. It is also interesting to note that the root word Learn does not appear in scripture until Deuteronomy 4:10. This indicates that Learning comes from the Torah and not from anything else in the world. Lamed lies at the very center, the heart of the Alef-Beis, which also indicates the goal of learning the Torah is to penetrate the heart, become a part of our center, a part of our emotional and spiritual selves, "These words . . . shall be on your heart," Deuteronomy 6: 6.
Mem equals Forty
The letter Mem is so tied with water that it becomes part of the ebb and flow of our lives. The word for water, Mayim, begins and ends with the letter Mem. Moses and the Messiah are tied to Mem. This letter has two ways in which it is written. One is the open Mem which stands for the revealed, and the other is closed Mem--looking much like a box--which stands for the concealed. According to tradition, Moses tried to reveal the infinite Torah, but man was not capable of perceiving that level of knowledge. Moses hid it within the subtleties of the Torah, in the feasts, and the Hebrew letters. Glimpses were revealed in the prophecies of the coming Messiah, the gematria, the positions of the letters and the words, but, most importantly, in the framework of the Torah. The four-source theory shows an astounding lack of understanding in the way the Torah was put together. The adherents cannot imagine that Moses, a single man, produced such a beautiful work within the forty days that he consulted, learned, and was infused with the grace of understanding this knowledge while he stood face-to-face with God on Mt. Sinai. He also had forty years to complete the writing of the Torah, which was handed over to Joshua when the Israelites completed their forty years of penance and entered the Promised Land. Can you imagine coming face-to-face with God for forty years and then removed from the earth to be in God's presence in Heaven? What a thought?!
The concealed Torah was left to the Messiah to reveal to the world. And did He ever. Wow! Christ proclaimed three unbelievable and profound things to the world: First, that He is the Truth, the way, and the life (John 14: 6); Second, that the Temple would be destroyed and He would raise it up in three days (John 2:19); Third, that we must eat His body and drink His blood in perpetuity (Matthew 26:26). These three things were revelations of the concealed Torah, things that were impossible to the twelve Apostles, or any Jew. These things continue to remain impossible to a sinful world. The further that some Protestant sects move away from the original Church, the more they reject these three declarations. In society at large, more and more people are rejecting Christianity and Judaism, and rejecting God for a virulent form of atheism, proving that only those who believe are capable of understanding the depth of these revelations and how they connect us to the hidden Torah.
The number Forty is the amount of time necessary for the ripening process to flower, to produce fruit: Forty days Moses spent on the mountain immersing himself in the Torah before he descended with the tablets given by God; the Book of Proverbs begins with an enlarged Mem indicating that King Solomon fasted and prayed for forty days before writing it; forty years the Hebrew people wandered in the desert before coming into the Promised Land; and for forty days Jesus went into the desert to fast and pray before revealing His purpose by reading the passage from Isaiah 61: 1,2 (Luke 4:18-19).
Nun equals Fifty
Nun appears in two forms, also. The first is the bent Nun symbolizing God sitting on His Throne, and the second is the elongated version denoting continuity. The elongated version also represents the angels standing before God's throne, rising before their Creator, the Holy One. Nun also means the Soul who will testify before God on Judgment Day, and will reveal, without hesitation, every sin, every dark spot and blemish. The Soul is likened to a Candle that lights up all the dark corners and plumbs the depths of man's thought to be revealed before God. When the Soul is a resident of a body on earth it is attached and restrained like the bent Nun, but once it is released by death it rises like the straight Nun, like the angels standing before God on His throne.
After Moses died, it was the son of Nun who led the new nation of Israel into the Promised Land.
Samek equals Sixty
Samek as the number sixty comes to embody a large portion of one hundred and as such represents abundance and completeness. Like Vav that equals six which represents the number of days the universe was created, sixty also is a form of completion. The letter begins such words as Siddur, the Hebrew prayerbook; Sukkah, the booth or hut which is a shelter; Sefer, which means book; Sohirah, which means shield. Each of these items represent a container of some sort, or of sustenance and protection. These things can be of support to us, to help us through the dangers of our life on earth.
The sages teach that the use of simanim, or study and memory aids, while learning the Torah helps the student acquire the knowledge necessary to complete, sustain, and protect each student as he goes out into the world. The best known devices are:
- Gematria or numerical equivalents.
- Acronyms and end letters--like the acronym used to remember the ten plagues was made by using the first letter of each plague, not unlike one of many I used in my college classes. For instance, the one I used in my biology class to remember the phases of cell division: In Paris My Ass Tingles, which translates as; interphase, prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase.
- Alphabetical acrostics--like the first day of Passover falls on the same day of the week as the ninth of Av (darkest day of the year, Tisha B'Av), or the second day of Passover falls on the same day as Shavuos (Feast of the First Fruits, or, to the Christian, Pentecost).
- Proverbs, parables, allegories--allusions to a deeper meaning such as the second letter in Abraham's name, Bet, begins the word for morning. The sages determine that Abraham established the morning prayer. Issac's second letter begins the word for afternoon therefore he instituted the afternoon prayer, and Jacob initiated the evening prayer. Of course, the prayer itself determines the time of day, too, and the scriptures make references to the times of day.
- Notarikon, or contractions.
- Grouping and totaling of concepts--laws that are similar are grouped together like the four categories of damages, the thirty-nine categories of forbidden labor on the Sabbath, etc.
Ayin equals Seventy
Ayin, being the mutual seeing, or seeing eye-to-eye, became the ultimate goal for every Jew. Their greatest aspiration was to see eye-to-eye with God (Isaiah 52: 8). Moses appointed seventy elders to be the eyes of the community, and to help him judge in legal matters. These elders were given the grace of prophesy in order to help them judge with God's eyes. (Numbers 11:24-25) Vision is critical to understanding, but it can either lose its way through temptation or be a reflection of the universe. In Exodus 25: 8, "They shall build me a Sanctuary, and I will dwell in their midst." The scripture does not say in its midst, but in their midst. Therefore, the Shekinah dwells within the people. When they would look into each other's eyes they would see the Shekinah dwelling there. They would also see their reflection in the other's eyes, and pray that what they would see would be good, that they would see the Shekinah reflected in their image.
The number Seventy is crucial to understanding Spirituality. Seventy represents the turning points in the nation Israel's history. After the Flood, Seventy nations descended from Noah; Seventy languages emerged at the Tower of Babel; Seventy people came with Jacob to Egypt.
Pei equals Eighty
Pei, the letter of speech and silence, represents the mouth of man. He can either pray and sing the praises of His Creator, and study the Torah, or he can be silent in order to listen and learn. The mouth is also the organ that can utter evil commands, gossip, or lie. It has always been interesting to me that Martin Luther wanted to get rid of the Book of James, which has to do with the Power of Words and the Tongue. Could it be that he felt guilt by using words to break faith with the Church? And for placing too much emphasis on the phrase, Faith Alone, which does not exist in the scripture? Ignoring the traditions and the authority of the Church, he placed everything on his phrase, and it gave him the permission he sought to leave the Church where he had chafed under its authority. Instead of staying within the Church, and appealing to the powers above him about the uncontrolled purchase of indulgences, to seek justice, like the parable of The Widow and the Judge, he allowed the princes of Germany to appeal to his ego, and so, he left, and caused a schism, which is forbidden in the scripture, 1 Corinthians 12:25.
Tzadi equals Ninety
There are also two forms of the Tzadi; the bent and the straight tail. The bent represents the Tzaddick, the righteous one, and the erect Tzaddick comes in the straight tail. The bent is used at the beginning and in the middle of a word, while the erect one is used at the end. Righteousness is divine and human, and the righteous may suffer at the hands of the wicked, but because of his humility, represented by the bent letter, he will inherit his due in the next world.
Kuf equals One Hundred
Kuf is the fulfillment of the cycle, therefore complete and perfected, represented in the word Hakafa, which means cycle, and Kedushah, which means holiness. The letter dwells in both worlds of the old and the new, bridging them and challenging them to make peace with the change. Jesus bridges the old and the new, fulfilling the cycle and perfecting it with His sacrifice and resurrection. The present cycle will be completed upon His return and the transformation of the universe under His physical rule. The following letter, Resh, which means beginning or head begins the next cycle.
Resh equals Two Hundred
This letter is fascinating in how it relates as a passageway between Heaven and Earth. If a man becomes earthbound, only seeing the mundane life, he becomes a pauper, inheriting nothing. In Deuteronomy 1:21, Moses declares, "Go up and inherit the land." Kabbalistically it can be interpreted that if a man can elevate himself spiritually he can bring blessings down to the earth, but if he is focused on earthly desires the blessings from Heaven will stop. Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Remembrance, is also considered the Day of looking back to remember the good and the bad in order to repent of them and change our ways. Without repentance the universe would cease to exist, as it is one of the seven forces that existed before creation. Repentance is the key to walking the passageway between Heaven and Earth.
Shin equals Three Hundred
The Shin is elevated among the Sacred Letters because it exists in two names for God: All-Sufficient, Unlimited One, and Peace. The ends are often illustrated in flames of holy fire. Sometimes the Shin is drawn with four heads, to represent the Ten Commandments where the three heads is formed by four frames, one on each side and two in the middle. The Divine four-headed Shin can only exist because the Shin has exterior walls. This alludes to the limitation of the mind of man in its understanding of God and His ways. The Song of Songs begins with an enlarged Shin to represent the alliance and mutual love between God and Israel.
Tav equals Four Hundred
Tav is the consummation of all the letters and the symbol of Truth and Perfection. Truth is life sustaining for there is no such things as a little falsehood. Like leaven falsehood taints the whole, even with the smallest amount. Truth is eternal for it is God's Seal. David declares, "the very beginning of Your word is truth," Psalms 119:160 (I refer to this in the introduction). Creation depends on Truth. The conversation between God and the angels before the creation of Adam in the Midrash: Bereishis Rabbah 8:5, begins:
"God, in His modesty, took counsel with the angels regarding His intention of making man. They could not agree.
The angel named Chessed [Kindness] said, 'Create man for he will perform good deeds.'
Emes [Truth] replied, 'Do not create him for he will be full of distortions.'
Tzedek [Righteousness] rejoined, 'Create human beings for they will be righteous.'
Shalom [Peace] opposed man's creation for, 'He is full with strife.'
However, the Pslamist relates this debate in Psalm 85:11, "Chessed and Emes clashed; Tzadek and Shalom came together." God is said to have cast Emes down to the earth, as expressed in Daniel 8:12, and even though the Heavenly Host believed that it would degrade Truth, damage its integrity, the Psalmist answers this accusation in the next verse of Psalm 85. Verse 12 says, "Let Emes sprout from the earth." Truth is so potent that it will prevail over all its attackers, and even flourish on earth.
The Missing Letter
There is a Talmudic legend that tells of a twenty-third letter that appeared on the tablets of the Ten Commandments, but when the tablets were broken because of the sin of the golden calf all the letters flew back up to Heaven. When the letters returned with the second set of tablets, the twenty-third letter vanished, but it will return when the world is transformed, and balance is returned through the work of the Messiah. It's called the letter of the left-side. Some Jewish mystics have conjectured that the four-headed Shin is the twenty-third letter. On the tefillin, the black box worn on the head, the three pronged Shin is on the right side, and it represent the three Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But on the left is a four-headed Shin, in honor of the missing letter, and it represents the four Matriarchs: Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah. Some say the letter will only appear during the Messianic Age, and the world will be renewed with fire. The four-headed Shin is depicted with the flames of fire above its prongs to represent this missing letter. This will be the letter than will connect the Tav to the Alef and the cycle will be completed. It is the letter of all sounds, the letter of silence, the letter of the future and that which is unknown. It is the letter that the Messiah will bring into the world when He returns.
I have given you a taste of the delights of the deeper meanings of the Alef-Beis according to Jewish mystics and sages. There is, of course, much more to learn. I have only tapped the surface here. I have left it incumbent on you to seek those answers through the constant study of the scripture and through unceasing prayer. The Word of God has depths we can only begin to understand when we learn the language in which it was written.
Friday, October 11, 2013
In Part III, each letter was shown to have a numerical value. What, might you ask, does this have to do with learning the alphabet? And, why is a number meaningful? There used to be a show on television called Numbers, and the protagonist was in Law Enforcement. He consulted his brother who was a physicist to help him solve crimes through the use of the laws of chance. If you are an affectionado of astronomy, you are undoubtedly aware of the differing mathematic theories of Chaos, Einstein's Theory of Relativity, Schrodiger's Cat, String Theory, etc. The world of math can explain many things, and help to make sense of what appears to be nonsensical, and even ground the most bizarre ideas into a logical form. The origin of all things mathematical--queue up Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance and the Major General's song--begins with the creation story in Judaism. Numbering began on the first day, and it's been calculating ever since.
Gematria, an interpretive system based on numbers, is believed to have been derived in the second century either from the Greek word geometry or from gamma tria which means the third letter equals three. However, there are many who believe it was developed much earlier because of the book titled Numbers, or Bamidbar, in the Torah, which specifically explains the laws and history concerning the tabernacle. It also describes the tribes exodus from the second to the fortieth year, and elucidates the Levites and Kohanim's conduct in the dismantling and transportation of the tabernacle. But, more specifically, numbers became crucial in understanding the Torah, which was divided into five parts.
Although the Torah scroll is one long scroll, and there is a ceremony when the readings have been completed where the Rabbi rerolls the Torah scroll, it is understood to be divided in order to find and understand the differing parts more easily. The single hide was meant to show God's Oneness, and the continuous journey from the creation of the universe to the creation of the nation of Israel. The number five was related to the five senses, and the five extremities of the human being (arms, legs, and head), and this was the reason why the Torah represents man and his relationship with God.
Numbers became highly significant to the interpretation of the scriptures to the Ashkenenaz of Germany during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Abraham Abulifia and his circle in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries used gematria extensively, Lurianic Kabbalists in the sixteenth century wrote remarkable and beautiful interpretations of the scriptures making use of gematria, and, of course, the hasidic masters of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries used the gematria to help prove many scriptural points. Great minds of the twentieth and this century continue to write groundbreaking work, especially among the hasidic communities, adding to what has been derived from the preceding years. Today, with the use of computers, there has been much emphasis on deriving interpretations through complicated calculations and some substitution methods. All of this only adds to the idea that creation is continuing, originating from the Jewish idea that the eighth day of creation occurred in the Sinai desert when the Hebrews became a nation.
Alef equals One
One is God's number, expressing His uniqueness and indivisibility. It's connection with the letter alef is because of the silence in that letter and can only be expressed through the breath alone. Visions of the rushing wind in the New Testament's account of the upper room in Acts comes to mind when examining this concept of God's name only expressed through the breath. The soul was breathed into the man of mud, Adam, etc. It's not difficult to gather many other images throughout the scriptures and the Jew's prayer life to understand the concept of One.
The word One, ehad in Hebrew, begins with an alef and is pronounced by drawing out the breath at the end of the Sh'ma. Eyewitnesses to the death of Rabbi Akiva (I wrote the scene in my novel, The Garden of Souls, where my protagonist, Father Liam, actually witnesses Akiva's death) relayed how he used his final breath in the word ehad to release his soul back to God as a final act of reverence to God's Oneness. The number One represents wholeness, uniqueness, unity, and marriage. When a man and woman are married they are no longer two separate individuals (Genesis 2:24), they become one.
All of this, of course, is the positive side of One, but there is an opposite and destructive part of the number One. Pride, barrenness, and an unchangeableness which can be interpreted as stubborness. One, in the sense that God can never change, is considered good. Our faith tell us that we can rely on God's unchangeableness, in His love for us even when we sin.
Bet equals Two
The Jews believe that because Two can be divided it allows for demonic activity, or it can mean balance. Two represents the two tablets of the Ten Commandments, the two tefillin the Jewish man wears when praying, or the two cherubim on the seat of the Ark of the Covenant. It requires two to make a covenant, two to have a relationship. Two is also the number for the soul.
In Christianity we have the Second Adam, the Second Eve, and the opposite of Christ is the Anti-Christ.
Gimmel equals Three
There are numerous Threes in Judaism: Three Patriarchs--Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Three Angels who visited Abraham; Three musical sounds of the shofar--tekiah, shevarim, and teruah; Three pieces of matzah used at the Passover Seder; Three floors in Noah's Ark; Three sections of the Jewish Bible--Five books of Moses, Prophets, and Writings; Three walls required for a Sukkah in the Feast of Sukkot; Threefold priestly benedictions; Three categories of Jews--Kohanim, Levites, and Israelites, the three times a pronouncement is made to make an enduring office.
In Christianity the use of three is extremely important. Three represents the Trinity, the union of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The number Three figures prominently in each Mass: the prayers declaring the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world; the three Mea Culpas tapped on the chest; the three sections of the Mass--the Liturgy, the Prayers, and the Eucharist. Peter's enduring office was pronounced three times by Christ when He told Peter to "feed my sheep," in John 21:15-18.
Three is the number of reality, solidity, fullness. Think of the cubic measurement, or the measurement of up and down, right and left, forward and backward. These are the measurements of our existence. The first three numbers are the first prime numbers.
Dalet equals Four
Four is the number of the letters in God's name, YHWH, the name associated with the creation of man. YHWH is the Tetragrammaton, the unpronouncable name. There are Four Matriarchs--Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah; there are Four cups of wine at the Seder; Four questions asked at the Seder. The idea of quaternary boundaries defining human space are expressed in the Four corners of the tallit which is also bounded by a four-string fringe or tzittzit at each corner (doubled over to make eight). Four lines make a square, and Jewish belief is that Israel or man takes his place in the middle.
There are Four sections of the Torah in the tefillin boxes, and Four rows of precious stones on the breastplate of the high priest. There are Four couples buried in the Cave of Machpelah (the first surprise in my novel, The Garden of Souls). Four has always been connected to the earth: Four seasons; Four corners of the earth, etc. Four also figures prominently in the scripture: Four rivers issuing from the Garden of Eden--Genesis 2:10-14; Ezekiel's vision of the divine chariot had four cherubim with four faces and four wheels. There are also four species gathered for the celebration of Sukkot for the ritual of waving--palm, myrtle, willow, and the citrus fruit etrog. Each species represents four areas of Israel: Palm represents the lowland; the willow, the river; the myrtle, the mountains; and the etrog, the irrigated areas.
But four can also be divided into two opposed to two or separated, or the one opposed to three. It is also the sum of 1+3 or 2+2 denoting union.
Hei equals Five
The number Five has always been believed to bring balance even though it is considered an uneven number. Jews believe that even numbers can bring about division or strife, but uneven numbers provide a balance. This is why three judges are required for a Jewish court of law. The multiples of five--10, 20, etc. have been used because we have five fingers on each hand. Five represents the five senses and the five parts of the body. Five is associated with responsibility to use our senses and parts of our bodies to serve God.
Five represents the Torah or Chumash which means Five. There are Five Megillot which are books always represented with the Torah--Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther. Generally, the Megillot refers to the Book of Esther which is read during Purim, but the other four books are also read during celebrations. The Song of Songs is read on Passover (the Feast of the Unleavened Bread); Ruth is read on Shavuot (Christianity's Pentecost--see my earlier piece); Lamentations is read on Tisha B'Av (commemorates the destruction of the Jerusalem temples); Ecclesiastes is read on Sukkot (the Feast of the Booths).
Vav equals Six
Six is the second number of true division. It expresses limitation. There are six days of the week where man works, just as there are six days God worked. Correspondingly, there were six steps leading to the throne of Solomon. Nebuchadnezzar's idolatrous image is 60 cubits high and 6 broad. One sixth of Gog's host is spared (Ezekial 39: 2).
In Christianity Six is profoundly associated with Christ's death on the cross. In the sixth hour darkness began and it ended on the ninth. Everyone has heard of Revelation's 666, the mark of the beast. Most Jews find this number amusing, but if you dissect the meaning in regard to three successive threes that lead the man to believe he is God, it makes sense. Although, it is "the number of a man," the 666 is the vanity and impiousness of the one man aspiring to be God. Why many Jews do not understand this only smacks of their indifference to the New Testament and unwillingness to see the truth in Christ.
Zayin equals Seven
Seven is the number of perfection, it brings completeness. There are Seven benedictions given on the Sabbath; there are Seven processionals on Simchat Torah (the annual completion of the reading of the Torah); Seven marriage blessings and subsequently seven times the bride circles the groom; Seven days of mourning; Seven lamps on the menorah; Seven times the tefillin are wrapped around the arm.
If you count the six directions for a coordinate, the seventh is from your vantage point. Seven is the day God rested; there are Seven Noahide Laws prohibiting--idolatry, bloodshed, sexual sins, theft, eating from a live animal, blasphemy, and the obligation to establish a legal system. The Hebrew word for week is sheva which means seven. Once the Hebrews were established in Canaan, they were to bring their first fruits of seven species to the Levites as offerings. Those are specifically mentioned in Deuteronomy 8:8 and consist of--barley, dates, figs, grapes, olives, pomegranates, and wheat. They were to march in procession on the holiday of Shavuot carrying these first fruits to the Temple. Think of the first fruits of the new wine in that upper room in Acts. The assembly became the first fruit of the Church on the day of Pentecost or Shavuot.
Chet equals Eight
Eight is the day of the creation of Israel, a new nation dedicated to serving God. On the eighth day the infant boy is circumcised as a sign of the covenant between God and man, to commemorate the giving of the Ten Commandments, and his dedication to serving God. There are Eight different garments worn by the high priest. There are Eight days of Passover, and Eight days of Chanukah (The Festival of Lights). Eight represents a new beginning, the first day of the new week.
Tet equals Nine
Nine is the number through which goodness enters the world. Goodness flows from above into the container man. It is through this goodness that man is expected to execute right judgment, to rule with wisdom as Solomon did. The letter Tet can also represent mud, from which all of us came. This gives new meaning to the novena; the nine day prayer to undo wrongs, to set things right, to launch not just the new week day of the eighth day, but adding another to seek forgiveness and ask for blessings. The mud of man can be transformed into a vessel for good. But this letter is also used in the word for sin, therefore, it was excluded from the names of the tribes of Israel. The destruction of the first and second Temples was on the ninth of Av.
Yod equals Ten
The number Ten constitutes a minyan, or a quorum. There are Ten Commandments or Ten Words; Ten days of repentance; Abraham was tested Ten times; Ten Plagues in Egypt. There are ten principles of Minyan:
- Avodah be--Bittul or Meditation or the Annihilation of self as a separate entity.
- Gerushin or the Repetition of a sacred word or phrase such as: Ineffable One or Merciful One.
- Musar or Inspirational Reading and Reciting or Chanting of verses such as, The Psalms.
- Kavvanah or Attention; specifically to focus your attention away from self.
- Tzadakah or Generosity; to give without thought of where it goes.
- Gemilut Chesed or Kindness; this is giving of oneself such as, visiting the sick.
- Pitron Chalomot or Dream Interpretation; dreams are the gateway to the unconscious, and also a means of solving problems, and can be prophetic.
- Eco-kashrut or Ethical Consumption; matter matters and all things must used ethically and with restraint. We are not to poison our world, but to treat God's creation with respect.
- Teshuvah or Self-Perfection; to return to God, to repent constantly.
- Shabbat or Sabbath; to rest and follow the prescriptions of the Sabbath.
These are all the practices meant to enhance our life, to create a better world through our behavior, and to help us become closer to God.
Ending this part at the number ten is meant to show that all the other numbers are multiples of ten from this point forward. Even though the number twelve has significant meaning to the Jew, such as, The Twelve tribes of Israel; Twelve loaves of shewbread; Twelve Minor Prophets. Twelve is allied in meaning to the number Seven. When we expect Seven, because it is the number of completion, we meet Twelve. Although all of numerology is interesting in this respect, the next letter Kaf is equal to twenty. Gematria or Numerology is only meant to help enhance, not to stand on its own, and its mystical qualities bring a beauty to our rituals and readings. If I tell you to recite a prayer for nine days, you ask, "Why?" If I tell you that nine days represents goodness flowing into you from God, it has more meaning than just praying for nine days.
Mysticism is neither weird nor perverse. It exists to try and explain the scriptures in a more meaningful way, and it does not exist on its own without the constraint given it by the Bible. Sorry, Madonna, and all you Builders of the Adytum, and Rosicrucians. The Kabbalah cannot stand on its own. You have to believe in God and practice the rituals and ceremonies prescribed by the Bible before you can even begin to understand it. Mysticism without boundaries or rooting can be very misleading. It could shorten your life by leading you to believe you are a Master. Sounds like the Anti-Christ to me.
Because this was a study of the Hebrew Letters, I remain true to that. Numerology would have to be dealt with on its own.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
In learning the categories the Hebrew letters fall under, we begin to see a picture emerging of how the Letters worked together to do God's bidding, and how they represent differing aspects of God's creative power. We can also see that the meanings of each letter can alter the way we look at the words in the scripture. There begins to emerge a many layered and delicious cake to eat when we ingest the Word of God. It helps us dismiss the short-sighted and childish notion of the four-source theory. There is intention in every letter and in every word in the Torah and throughout all the books of the bible; that one cannot draw a true meaning from those words in the Torah, the first five books of Moses, by believing that they came from a differing source hundreds of years apart. The Torah was written by one hand, Moses, from one source, God, so that we may understand the Oneness of our Creator, and what is expected of us.
There lies an even deeper layer when we realize that each letter also has a number, that gives each letter a wondrous meaning. When I dissected the word Truth in discussing Jesus calling Himself, "I am the Truth . . ." in an earlier post, the position of the letters in the word explained something so profound that a simple or peshat understanding of what Jesus said comes no where near the beauty or His intent.
There Are No Vowels in Hebrew!
Each of the Hebrew letters is a consonant. The vowels are produced by the breath of the reader. Vowels are indicated by symbols above, below or beside each of the consonants. "Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place." Matthew 5:18 (New American Bible). In some translations the smallest letter is translated as jot and the smallest part of a letter is translated as tittle.These are the diacritical marks that alter the pronunciation of a letter, just as the accent mark over the Es in my name alter the pronunciation. However, in Hebrew it can make the letter take on a new life, and that new life is expressed as the breath is expelled while reading aloud. This means that Hebrew is an interactive language between God and man. Ancient Hebrew had little diacritical marks, which made the placement of these marks pulse with the energy of the reader. This give an even greater meaning to being created in the image of God. God was the first speaker, God breathed over all He created, God breathed a living soul into the man of mud, Adam. It has been said that because of this simple syntax, Hebrew is a language that "pulses with the energy of elemental human truth," Steven Mitchell. I would venture to say that it is even more that. Hebrew is the language that is the umbilical cord connecting us to God, because every word, every letter is a name of God.
The Rabbinic sages always felt that divination to foretell the future was improper, wrong-headed. Signs or divining meanings was meant to gain a greater understanding of God's intentions, of His thoughts, and what His words mean for our instruction and guidance. Abraham Abulafia wrote that all the letters were signs because the word Letter also means sign. He also believed that they spoke to us, just as a piece of beautiful artwork speaks to our soul, or a hymn or song speaks to our emotions and our experiences, the Hebrew letters are like physical individuals that speak to us about God.
The Garden of Nuts
In the Song of Songs, or the Song of Solomon, 6:11, the verse is translated, "I descended upon the deceptively simple holiness of the Second Temple to see your moisture laden deeds in the river beds; to see whether your Torah scholars had budded on the vine, whether your merit-laden righteous had flowered like the pomegranates filled with seeds." (Tanakh - Artcroll Edition) However, it is often translated as, "I descended into the garden of nuts . . ." Solomon picked up a nut and saw within its layers and hardness an analogy to the spirits that motivate man's sensual desires and those that can penetrate the hard shell around the soul with righteousness.
Solomon looked to the Torah scholars to crack open the simple people of Israel with their words used to soften that hard outer layer. He visualized them reproducing, flowering on the vine, and filled with seeds that would reproduce themselves and make a holy nation. He knew that teaching the simple masses with the power of the Word was critical to the future of Israel. His imagery laden Song of Songs was quite different from his Proverbs, from his metaphors that taught valuable lessons. His words painted images of lush gardens and romantic lovers, all meant to teach us that our relationship with God, with His Word would deposit us in a beautiful garden of delights, and bring us a never ending love that would never betray us or leave us wanting or hungry. This is remarkable imagery, unparalleled throughout the scripture, and this is the birthplace of the Kabbalistic view of the all of creation. It is in this garden and the lovers that mystics found their true home. Here we can examine the same nut Solomon did, and realize that the only thing that can crack the hard layer around our hearts and souls is the water of the Bible, its words and its letters.
The Letters and their Numerical Values
LETTER NUMERICAL VALUE
Alef 1 or 1,000, or infinity
These are the number and the corresponding letters that created the universe.
The Alphabet Story
The number 1 is primal, is cause because it is the first. Alef, as the first letter, is what makes everything follow. It's number is One to express the Oneness of God, the cause. But why is the first letter in Genesis a Bet? In my novel, The Garden of Souls, I spend a great deal of time drawing attention to the shape of the entrance to what the archaeologists find is the beginning of their journey to their discovery of self. Everything that follows begins with the Bet or Beis. The very reason I did that was to emphasize that all of creation, that the creation of our conscience, our first steps toward our vocation, always begins with a seemingly empty container that we fill with the images and words and experiences of our lives. Buried beneath an obscure dot in the center of that shape, the dagesh, is God's Law. The characters in my novel realize at the same moment that there is something buried underneath the dagesh. They rush toward it and dig out the dirt to reveal a heavy packet containing the shapes that need to be placed on the door to open the entrance of the cave. It is meant that our conscience is never empty. God place His Law there, and we are marked by those fiery letters burned through the stone of our conscience. However, the number Two is the primal force of the letter Bet, and not One.
Rabbi Akiva, the second century Rabbi, is famous for his mystical alphabet stories and for developing Talmudic argument. He is the central character in my novel, the force by which my characters begin their journey. In essence, he reaches from the grave to influence the entire story, to bear witness, to inform, and to provide direction. Akiva, as one of the greatest Rabbinic teachers, told the following story to his students in order to explain why the universe was created with a Bet, but the Alef was chosen to being the alphabet. (Note: When God explains why the letters cannot be used to create the world, He reminds each of them that they are used in words that are also destructive, or should be used elsewhere.)
When the Holy One decided to make the world, all the letters of the alphabet were in spiritual form. The Holy One held these dimensions of life within Himself for a long time. Before the beginning, He organized the letter energy intelligences, and breathed on them, activating their forces. They each presented themselves to Him:
The Tav stepped forward and said, "May it please Thee, O Lord of the universe, to use me first in the creation of the universe. I am the concluding letter of Truth, I am the true Law. Thou art called by these very names. Surely, it is most appropriate for the creation of the world to begin with Tav." The Holy One, blessed be He, said to her, "Though thou art worthy and deserving, but thou formest the realm of deadly sickness, pestilence, destruction, and death. Therefore, it is not appropriate to initiate the creation of the world with thee." The Tav returned to her place.
The letter Shin came forward and said, "O God, may it please Thee to begin the world with me. I am the initial letter of Thy name, the Almighty, and it is most fitting to create the world through that Holy Name, for by this Name the cosmos will have nourishment." The Holy One, blessed be He, said to her, "Thou art indeed worthy. Thou art good and true. But I certainly cannot begin the creation of the world with thee since thou formest the realm of falsehood: false thought, false speech, false action. Existing in your realm are the liars and the slanderers, who work toward destroying truth and good names. Existing in your realm is the hollow, the base, the depressed, the indolent, and the negligent." Having heard this the Shin departed.
The Resh and Qoph came together, but as they approached, the Holy One said to them, "Resh, thou art the realm of godlessness, wickedness, unrighteousness, lawlessness, injustice, and unlawful gain. Qoph, thou art the realm of collapse. I know how thou attachest thyselves to the Shin and formest the realm of conspiracy. Thou art conspirators together. Thy realm is of binding, tying, plotting, conspiring, the knotting. Thou makest it seem good to the man that I will create that he should desire things to be bound and limited, staying to the same. With such a desire, he will not want to aspire to the loftier spiritual heights and grow beyond and transcend wherever he has been. He will become godless and cause collapse. There is no need for thee to say anything. I will not create the world with thee." So they went back to their places.
The Tzadi stepped forward and said, "May it please Thee to begin the creation of the world with me, as I am the realm of righteousness and humility." But the Holy One said, "Thy realm is indeed the realm of righteousness and humility. And thou art worthy. But I cannot begin creation of the world with thee, for righteousness and humility must be concealed and not come out in the open, lest thou givest the world a cause for offense." Hearing this the Tzadi returned to her place.
The Pey presented herself, "May it please Thee to begin the creation of the world with me as my realm is the realm of speech and freedom. It by speech that your Holiness is communicated and it is by appropriate acts of free choice that redemption, and deliverance can come about." But the Holy One replied, "Thy realm of speech and freedom is indeed a worthy realm. But the very freedom inherent in thy realm permits transgression and blemish, flaw, and loss of value." Pey returned to her place.
Ayin pleaded, "May it please Thee to begin the creation of the world with me, as my realm is the realm of insight and consciousness, the hidden meaning of insight." But the Holy One said, "Only thy hidden realm is insight and consciousness. Thy revealed realm is the realm of perverseness, sin guilt, crime, and iniquity. The Ayin departed.
The Samek appeared, "O Lord, may it please Thee to begin the creation of the world through me. My realm is the realm of support. I uphold the fallen." The Holy One replied, "Thou art indeed worthy and playest a crucial role in upholding the fallen. But if thou art involved in the beginning of creation of the world, how can thy energy be devoted to upholding the fallen? What will be the fate of the fallen? Thou must remain in thy place." She returned to her place.
The Nun entered, "May it please the Lord to begin the creation of the world with me, as my realm is the realm of emergence, sprouting, spreading, propagating, shining, and flourishing. My realm is the realm of the wonderful." But the Holy One said, "Dear Nun. Thou art worthy and good. Thy realm is indeed the wonderful realm of emergence. But in thy realm is also the untimely emergence, the untimely birth, abortion. As well thy realm has the action of falling down, falling out, falling away, and sinking. In thy realm are the fallen. And these are the ones for Samek just returned to her place. Go return to thy place so that thy fallen can remain under her support." She immediately returned to her place.
The Mem came forward, saying, "O Lord, may it please Thee to begin the creation of the world through me, for my realm is the realm of perfecting and completing. This is the realm of the King, which is Thy title." The Holy One replied, "It is assuredly so, but I cannot begin the creation of the world though thee, for the world needs a manifest king. The world needs thee, the Lamed, and the Caph, for the world cannot exist without a king. Return, therefore, to thy place along with Lamed and Caph. At this the Mem understood and returned to her place.
The Lamed, following very carefully what had been happening, debated what she should do. She knew that her realm was the realm of learning, teaching, and therefore, purpose. If the world required a manifest king, then it would certainly require purpose, learning, and teaching. So the Lamed did not even venture forward.
Seeing that Lamed stayed in her place, the Caph left her place, descending from her throne of glory, saying, "O Lord, may it please Thee to begin the creation of the world through me. My realm is the realm of your honor, esteem, majesty, abundance, and glory. This is the realm of crowning achievement." As Caph left her place the thousands of the uncreated worlds began to shake. The throne trembled and quivered. The creation process was about to fall into ruins. The Holy One replied, "Caph! Why hast thou left thy place? What doest thou here? Nothing can exist without my abundance and glory. This is what needs your attention. Besides, within your realm is extermination, extinction, annihilation, and destruction. Also, within your realm is the transitory, the temporal, and the ephemeral. Return to thy place and remain there." Caph immediately departed and returned to her place.
The letter Yod presented herself, saying, "May it please Thee O Lord, to begin the creation of the world through me, since my realm is the realm of the creating and forming. Therefore, I, spirituality, stand first in your sacred name, YHWH, your transcendence." The Holy One replied, "It is sufficient for thee that though art engraved and marked in my transcendence. Thou art a channel of My Will. Thou cannot be removed from My Name." Hearing this Yod returned to her place.
Tet stepped forward, saying, "May it please Thee to begin the creation of the world through me, since my realm is the realm of goodness. Through me Thou art called good and upright." But the Holy One said to her, "I cannot begin the creation of the world through thee, since the goodness that thou representest is hidden and concealed within thyself. It is in concealment that thou runnest around with thy partner Chet. Joined together thou formest the word for sin, transgression, and fault." So Tet returned to her place.
Chet had heard the reply and understood that there was no point in pleading her case, even though hers was the realm of life.
Then Zayin stepped forward, saying, "May it please Thee to begin the creation of the world with me, as my realm is the realm of movement. As well, since I am the seventh letter, in my realm is rest and the observance of the Sabbath." But the Holy One replied immediately, "In the realm of movement is also arms and weapons. With arms and weapons I cannot begin the creation."
Then Vav stepped forward, saying, "May it please Thee to begin the creation of the world with me, as my realm is the realm of connection. Thy holiness cannot be revealed without connection." The Holy One replied, " Thou and Heh are letters of my Name, part of the mystery of My name, engraved and impressed in My name. Connection in thy realm and power of being in the realm of Heh are necessary for the manifestation of my transcendence. I cannot begin the creation of the world with thou or Heh."
Then Dalet appeared, saying, "May it please Thee to begin the creation of the world with me, as my realm is the realm of physicality. My realm is the realm of the doorway to the manifestation of your transcendence." But the Holy One replied, "Thy realm is indeed the doorway for the manifestation of My transcendence. But in the realm of physicality is poverty and leaness. This is the poor and deficient aspect of thy realm. Only when physical existence is coupled with the recompense of nourishment of good is physical existence balanced. Thou and Gimel must maintain and balance each other. Return to your place." Upon hearing this Dalet returned to her place and Gimel realized that there was no point in pleading her case.
The Bet entered, saying, "May it please Thee to begin the creation of the world through me, as my realm is the realm of blessing. My realm is the container for blessing. The blessings pouring forth from the man Thou wilt create will be of lasting comfort to creation." Now the Holy One replied differently, "Assuredly, with thee I will begin the creation of the world, for it is with blessings that creation can be appreciated and be meaningful. It is with blessings that the holy is acknowledged."
The letter Alef heard what was just said and just remained in her place. But the Holy One called her forth, asking her, " Wherefore comest thou not before Me like the rest of the letters?" And Alef answered, "But Thou hast already bestowed on Bet the gift of beginning the creation of the world. Wouldst Thou want me to try to take this gift away from Bet?" The Holy One replied, "Although I will begin the creation of the world with Bet, thou wilt remain the first of the letters. My oneness shall not be expressed except through thee, for in thy realm is oneness. Further in thy realm is the master, head, prince, and chief ruler of the unbridled force. It is by this dimension of existence, the dimension of the external dimension of Godliness, that the pulsating unbridled force of my being becomes known."
Then, the Holy One patterned all the letters, uniting the upper and lower worlds with them. Thereby the creation, the creating process, which always is, which always is beginning, and which always will be beginning, was begun with "In the beginning ..." The above story is taken from, The Inner Meaning of the Hebrew Letters, by, Robert M. Haralick.
As each letter steps forward to plead her case, and each case is presented in a logical form, God explains the duality of the letters, the good and the bad. In order for man to have free will, the letters that would spoken to create the universe possessed the duality necessary for man to make his choice, for his free will to flourish. It is also interesting to note that the Alef takes its place as the beginning letter of Deuteronomy. In fact, that particular Alef is made smaller than all the letters throughout the scriptures, than all the other Alefs because it is meant to show that we must possess the character trait of humility when learning about the Law.
I felt it necessary to tell the alphabet story at this juncture, in order for the entire picture to emerge about how each letter was used in the creation of the universe, as well as, man's role in creation. In the following and final part, I will discuss what each number means. Catholics and Protestants are already very aware of the significance of the number One and the number Three in regard to God. Some may know the significance of the number Seven, but I will draw on some Christian and Jewish sources in discussing the significance of all the numbers in Part IV.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
In Genesis, each act of creation is preceded by the words, "God said . . ." These decrees or statements by God brought the universe into being. The decrees were formed by words, and the words were formed by letters. Therefore, the universe was created by the letters of the alphabet emanating from the Mind of God. It is also believed that these letters sustain the universe, as God's Words are never halted, changed, or cease to be effective in any way shape or form. They continue because God's thoughts never cease. In Psalms 119:89, "Forever, O God, Your word stands in the heavens," means that the letters of creation also hold the universe together, as long as God keeps them standing in the heavens. If for one moment the letters were to be withdrawn by God, for whatever reason, the universe would cease to exist. When the Hebrew peoples accepted the Word of God from Moses, or the Law, or the Ten Commandments, their fiat enabled the continuation of the universe; for they had entered into a covenant with God that they would serve Him through following The Law, thereby, repairing what humankind had rent asunder. Deuteronomy 9:9 refers to the two tablets containing the Ten Words, the Tablets of the Covenant. In reality, the Words are the expression of that beautiful agreement between God and man. God made a new covenant with an entire nation of peoples in order that world would continue to exist, that the Hebrew people would work to repair the rift between God and man.
I have charted the letters below explaining the meaning of each letter within their category, its application and what not applying it properly looks like:
Letter Sound and Meaning Application Opposite
Alef: Silent - Leader, Unbridled Force, Oneness
Yoke of spiritual practice Nihilism
Mem: No vocalization - Perfection, Completion, Water, Womb, Mercy
Wholeness, Thankfulness Deception, Drowning
Shin: Shussing sound - Cosmic Nourishment, Fire, Peace
Joy, Learn and Study, Filled Consumed by flames of anger, lust, jealousy, etc.
The Sefirot, the Mothers, the Doubles, and the Elementals
Returning to the Book of Genesis, the division of the letters into the three Mother letters, the seven Doubles, and the twelve Elementals is derived from the creation narrative. Part of that narrative also divides ten of the sayings into Sefirah, which means texts or books, that communicate how the letters were used to create the universe and man. First I apply the verse to the Letter or Book, and, then, the category it falls under. The Letters are all highlighted. These names are divided into the following:
Scripture Verse Letter or Book Category
In the beginning of God's creating Keter (Crown) Sefira
The spirit of God hovered Heh Elemental
God said, let there be light Chakmah (Wisdom) Sefira
God saw the light it was good Bet Double
God divided between the light and darkness Vav Elemental
God called the light day Zayin Elemental
God said, let there be a firmament Binah (Understanding) Sefirah
God made the firmament Alef Mother
God called the firmament heaven Chet Elemental
God said, let the waters be gathered Chesed (Love) Sefirah
God called the dry land earth Tet Elemental
God saw that it was good Gimel Double
God said, let the earth be vegetated Gevurah (Strength) Sefira
God saw that it was good Dalet Double
God said, let there be luminaries Tiferet (Beauty) Sefira
God made two luminaries Mem Mother
God placed them in the firmament Yud Elemental
God saw that it was good Kaf Double
God said, let the waters swarm Netzach (Victory) Sefirah
God created great whales Lamed Elemental
God saw that it was good Peh Double
God blessed them, be fruitful and multiply Nun Elemental
God said, let the earth bring forth animals Hod (Splendor) Sefirah
God made the beasts of the field Shin Mother
God saw that it was good Resh Double
God said, let us make man Yesod (Foundation) Sefirah
God created man Samekh Elemental
In the form of God He created him Eyin Elemental
God blessed them Tzadi Elemental
God said, be fruitful and multiply Malkut (Kingship) Sefirah
God said, behold I have given you Kuf Elemental
God saw all that He had made Tav Double
In the the creation narrative, you notice that each of the ten Sefira are determined by the words, God said. The first verse, or Keter, meaning the Crown, is still considered to contain the words, God said, because it is implied and understood that the primordial soup was brought into existence through God's speaking. The twenty-two times God's name appears parallels the letters of the alphabet. The three times the words God made appears, parallels the three Mothers. God saw is repeated seven times and parallels the seven Doubles. The remaining twelve times the scripture uses the words God names parallel the twelve Elementals, as you can see by the chart above.
The three Mothers or Primary letters refer to the intellectual faculties (Understanding) that give birth to the seven emotions of man which are called Doubles. Doubles are the letters that have explosive and fricative sounds. Fricative sounds are through a rubbing action or friction. Explosive is through the pushing of air out in a short burst. It's an interesting notion that our emotions can be explosive and they do cause friction in the world for either good or bad. The sounds can either be hard or soft, just as our emotions can be hard or soft, rejecting or accepting. The seven Doubles also represent the Seven Days of the Week, and the Seven Years of Sabbaths. The following letters produce both these sounds:
Letter Meaning Emotion Opposite
Bet: House, Container, Blessing Belonging Loss
Gimel: Nourish, Ripen Loving-kindness Haughtiness
Dalet: Door, Gate, Portal, Threshold Humility Physicality
Kaf: Palm of the Hand, or Soul of the Foot Crowning Achievement Tyrannical
Peh: Mouth, Communication Freedom, Right Speech Gossip
Resh: Head, Principal, Leader Spiritual Poverty Self-Righteous
Tav: Mark, Seal, Torah, Prayer Repair and Peace Rend to Desolation
As you can see, the Seven Deadly Sins could be applied directly to each of these seven Doubles.
The Elementals each have a single sound and they represent the Twelve Months of the Year, the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and the Twelve Constellations or Signs in the sky. These letters are:
Letter Meaning Application Opposite
Heh: Power of Being Listen to the still, small voice Self-deception
Vav: Connection, Unification, Hook Discover one's path Codependence
Zayin: Movement, weapon Remembrance, Protect life Indolence, War
Chet: Life, New Grow Spiritually, New Beginnings Indulgence in the new
Tet: Goodness, Manifest Giving and Love Miring in the muck
Yud: Spirituality, the Hand, Power Become Righteous, Have Integrity Spiritually weak
Lamed:Learning, Teaching, Purpose Have Direction, Purpose Wicked, No Direction
Nun: Emergence, Jubilee Seek Enlightenment Coldness, Stifled
Samekh:Support, Reference, Pillar Find Balance Backsliding
Eyin: Insight, Consciousness Be Discerning Coveting, Greed
Tzadi: Righteousness, Humility Be charitable, Seek Humility Self-righteous
Kuf: Growth, Holiness Learn to Sacrifice Unholiness
Each letter not only has a meaning that is tied to it's shape, sound, position in the words, and it's force as presented in the creation narrative, but it has a numerical aspect. We will discuss the numbers and their significance in Part III. As you can see, in the above charts, each letter has an opposite, or deleterious effect. Because we are given free will, we have the ability to choose, to make our action do good or evil. We can focus on our soul, the divine aspect God gave us, or we can focus on our animal nature, and choose to succumb to our desires, our bodily urges. The effects of focusing on our animal nature is apparent in today's society. The things that have been traditionally good have become bad in order for those who love to focus on their sexual desires and animal emotions to feel better about their bad behavior.
It might serve us well to better understand the formula God prescribed for us, and what the Hebrew peoples answered Yes to in the Sinai desert those thousands of years ago. We might become more aware of our own slippage into the mire of evil, and where we can become a better Christian.