The Hebrew Alphabet from Alef to Tav is of Divine Origin. Every letter of the Hebrew Alphabet is imbued with a living essence.
Lessons from the Hebrew Alphabet –The DNA of Creation
by Rabbi Mordechai Kraft
וימלא אתו רוח אלקים בחכמה בתבונה ובדעת
And Hashem filled Betzalel with a G-dly spirit, with wisdom, insight and knowledge… (Shemot 35:31)
Betzalel knew the skill of combining the letters with which the heaven and earth were created… (Berachot 55a)
The Zohar states that Hashem created the world using the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This is alluded to in the very first words of the Torah: “בראשית ברא אלקים את” –“In the beginning Hashem created את.” Breaking down the word “את,” it refers to the expanse of the alphabet from letters Aleph (א) through Tav (ת). The blueprint and DNA of creation is quite literally the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
When analyzing Lashon HaKodesh, there are four areas to examine: (1) the meaning of the word; (2) shape of the letter; (3) numerical value, also known as gematria (א is one, ב is two, ג is three…); (4) the first instance a letter appears in the Torah forming the root of a word.
In light of the profound depth of the Hebrew alphabet, let us journey through part of the Aleph-Beit and glean from its wisdom:
א (Aleph) in numerical value is one. It is also the letter which refers to Hashem, the One omnipotent Creator of the world. Spelling the word Aleph (אלף) backwards, we arrive at the word peleh, פלא, meaning wonder or amazement. Why is this so?
As finite human beings, we can never fully understand Hashem who is infinite. While we may be able to comprehend Hashem’s ways to a minute degree, we cannot expect to grasp everything. In our life, there will always be “peleh” of the “Aleph.” There will always be aspects of life which we do not understand and are beyond the scope of our limited mind. But that is because Hashem is above and beyond all human comprehension. All we can do is place our trust in Him and know that He is micromanaging the world.
It is for this reason that we place our hands over our eyes when we recite Shema. As we proclaim G-d’s oneness, we recognize that we are not always privy to seeing His hand orchestrate behind the scenes. We remain in the dark and unable to understand. But notwithstanding, we carry within our hearts the firm belief that Hashem is One and everything that He does is for our good.
Along these lines, the word used to describe nature is “Ha’Teva” –הטבע. Sharing the same numerical value of 86 with Elokim – אלקים – one of the names of Hashem, the natural world is full of G-d and His wisdom. The study of nature in this regard is meant to bring one to discover and detect Hashem.
However, at the same time, changing the vowelization of the word for nature –teva –we have the word “tava” –טבע –which means to drown. Man can either discover Hashem in nature or heretically drown in nature and believe that it came into existence by itself.
We are given the free choice to either believe in Hashem or deny His existence. Interestingly, the word for free choice is bachar, בחר. Rearranging the letters, we have the word חבר, friend. Scrambling the letters in yet another form, though, we are left with חרב, sword. Our free choice allows us to either become a friend of G-d or fight with G-d.
One of the marvelous aspects of our world is the miracle of human life. Given that an average month is thirty days with other months lasting 31 or 29 days, a nine-month pregnancy (הריון) lasts for 271 days. Not coincidentally, the gematria of הריון is 271, the exact number of days in a pregnancy.
The word for human being is Adam (אדם). Shifting the letters around, one is left with the word מאד, more. Man’s mission in this world is to always strive for more and become greater and never remain complacent. An animal, on the other hand, is called a בהמה. The makeup of an animal is reflected in the breaking up of the word into two –בה מה –literally meaning, “What is in it?” Bereft of a soul, there is no more to an animal than is externally seen.
A number of other words share the same letters, yet when rearranged, convey opposite meanings. The underlying concept behind such a phenomenon is that the very gifts we are given in this world can either be used as tools to spur us to higher spiritual plateaus or, contrarily, have us plummet downwards.
While every human being seeks pleasure (ענג), there is an inherent danger which presents itself when doing so. On the one hand, pleasure can most certainly be used as a means of drawing closer to Hashem and productively enriching one’s life. On the other hand, if overly abused, worldly pleasure can steer one away from G-d and all meaningfulness in life. In this regard, ענג, pleasure, will turn into נגע, affliction. Instead of using earthly pleasures to promote positive growth, we will be using them to sink into an abyss of self-ruination.
An abundant source of financial wealth (שפע) as well presents a challenge. Used properly, it can greatly enhance one’s own life and the life of one’s family. Conversely, if misused and treated negligently, such affluence can become a source of פשע, sin, and be directed towards destructive ends.
While we may perceive events in our life as bad (רע), ultimately every difficulty we experience is meant to awaken us (ער) to change our ways and improve ourselves. What may appear as a punishment (ענש) is in fact a means for us to grow and reach our potential.
This is most poignantly corroborated by the very spelling of the word ענש. The first letter – ע –pronounced as a word is עין, literally meaning “eye.” The job of an eye is to look, analyze and investigate. The last two letters – נש – refer to the act of “falling.” In example, an eagle is called a נשר. As verified by ornithologists, eagles undergo a molt, a process whereby their feathers fall out beginning with their head. In respect to this natural occurrence, the eagle is referred to as a נשר, literally meaning falling.
Considering the above implications, our understanding of punishment ought to be redefined. When something distressing and painful in life occurs, we are not being “punished” in the colloquial sense of the word. What Hashem is rather doing is enabling us to “see that we have fallen.” From within the tragedy experienced, we are meant to awaken ourselves to the reality that we have fallen from where we are supposed to be. Our behavior and habits need correcting and our life must be redirected. In short, we are to “עין נש” –closely analyze that we have fallen and look to pick ourselves up.
While we may have just scratched the surface of the profundity of the Hebrew Alphabet, one thing is certain: there is Divine authorship to Lashon HaKodesh. Such a language could not have possibly been the product of human imagination. Forming the building blocks of the world, every nuance contains layers upon layers of meaning. All we must do is open our eyes to see its breathtaking depth.