Meaning of the Hebrew Letter Forms & Designs

gohebrew's picture

According to ancient kabballistic literature, both the very origin and shapes of the Hebrew language and alphabet are unique and have special significance.

Origin
======
Without trying to sound chauvinistic, or holier-than-thou, Hebrew has its origin not like all other human languages, which are men-made, Hebrew is made in Heaven. Hence, it has divine aspects, higher than human intellect.

We see, simply then, that there may be things about Hebrew which are difficult to understand, but with much effort we can have a better insight into those things.

Design
======
Hebrew letter forms are attributed with many special truths or explanations, which reflect both their particular shape, their very meaning (of that letters particular name), their 'gematria' or numerical equivalent, and grammatical significance.

FOR EXAMPLE, one observation of the fact that Hebrew's origin is celestial is its direction from right-to-left. Actually, Hebrew is from left-to-right in its celestial source. This is known from the Medrash, a collection of books featuring various explanations of Biblical topics, phrases, episodes, and events. G-d showed a person a little of life above. The person noticed that writing of Hebrew below is a reflection of how it's done above. So, the opposite or reflection of left-to-right is a reflection of right-to-left.

There are two other strong indicators that the origin of Hebrew is not simply a man-made creation, but spiritual.

First, sacred Hebrew text, like the text of the Bible in Hebrew contains an unusually high percentage of "meaning-patterns" because of the Divinely inspired nature of the very text. The arrangement of its letters not only contain a surface meaning when we read the text at face value.

This special arrangement contain hidden meanings too. Books have written based on serious research discovering that this text has meanings layered beneath the face value of the words. If a certain number value is applied in a pattern between the words, like every 50 letters, then a name or word perhaps is spelled out in these increments of 50 letters. Then, we look at the subject of the text, where the name or word appears very most frequently, and we find that the topic reflects the name or word.

Similar studies were performed in other large texts in other language, such as Shakespeare, the telephone book, or Encyclopedia Britanica. However, no such patter could appear appear in a way which was a statistical impossibility. This indicates that not only is the text of the Hebrew Bible pre-arranged to include special messages, but the very letters can be used in this super-human manner.

Second, there is a computer-language-like quality to Hebrew, where the language is structured according to very fine and tight rules of logic, higher than human reasoning.
For example. Hebrew words are derived from two letter root sources, which are either doubled into a pattern of four letters, or into three letters (with a third letter added to the two letters preceding it). The meaning of the word is related to this two letter root source, with the meaning modified by the second letter, and further modified by the third letter. Verbs are simply these root sources arranged in one of seven manners. The same with adjectives and nouns. The whole system defies our thinking in that it is too perfect and logical. We understand it, we appreciate it, but we see that we would be foolish to attribute it to human intelligence.

gohebrew's picture

The Shape and Design of the First Hebrew Letter: Aleph
======================================================

The first letter of the Hebrew alphabet is the letter "Aleph".

Aleph is shaped, according to kabballistic literature as a combination of two other letters, the vov and the yuhd.

Vov is a tall narrow letter. In forming the aleph, the vov is tilted over, slanying with the top of it closer to the left, and the bottom of it at the baseline further to the right. There is an appriximate 60 degree angle.

Yuhd is a small fascinating letter, with much of its own significance, to be discussed later. In forming the aleph, two duplicates of yuhd are attached to the tilted vov. One yuhd is attached at the top right-hand side, rotated clockwise to attach to the upper third of the right-hand side of the vov. The other yuhd is attached at the lower left-hand side. The lower yuhd is almost upside-down, but corresponding to the angle of the upper yuhd.

Significance of This Shape
==========================
Vov symbolized a connection and relationship of the above, the spiritual realm of the heavens, and the below, the material reality in which we dwell. Vov is also representative of "him-shach-chah", "drawing down", from above to below, or "ha-al-lah", "lifting up", from below to above.

Parenthetically, vov is actually composed of a yuhd, with an extension from the upper body to the baseline. Actually, all Hebrew letters, relates Kabballistic literature, are derived from the yuhd.

The two yuhds (two parts of the 'yid') symbolize the two halves of every person. Each person has a heavenly part connected to an earthly part. The goal of the lower earthy part of the person is to draw down and become influenced by the lofty heavenly part (, and as a result become elevated and lift up their being to the heights of the spiritual part).

Beginning of Creation
=====================
Rhe Medrash (a collection of books featuring various explanations of Biblical topics, phrases, episodes, and events) relates that G-d sought a justification for beginning the text of the Hebrew Bible with a certain letter (as we said earlier about the uniqueness of Hebrew which the meaning of every word is most influenced by its first letter). G-d asked then each Hebrew letter to present its case, starting with end of the alphabet.

Each letter tried and failed to present a winning argument. It cited complimentary words that began with that letter. But in counter-argument, a negative word was also sighted. This continued for each letter.

Finally, it was beis' turn, the second letter of the alphabet. He argued that he should be chosen, because the word, "boruch", "blessed", bergins with a beis. And living a life is a blessing like creation itself. Well, it was a convincing argument.

Poor aleph didn't even have a chance to plead its case. G-d noticed how dejected aleph looked, and consoled him. "Don't fret, Aleph," said G-d, "you'll start the Ten Commandments." With hearing that, aleph was happy agasin.

The Solid Stance of Aleph Shows Truth
=====================================
The shape of each Hebrew letter is either sturdy and strong, or unbalanced and weak, from a physics standpoint. When a Hebrew letter is shaped sturdy and strong, this is called "emet", or "truthful". Similarly, when a Hebrew letter is shaped unbalanced and weak, this is considered "sheker", or "falsehood".

The aleph stands up in a balanced manner, sturdy and strong. It is considered a true letter, and even begins the Hebrew word for truth, "emet".

gohebrew's picture

A typical Aleph - from the popular standard Hebrew font,

Frankruhl.

gohebrew's picture

An Aleph, made up of two rotated yuhds, and a rotated vov - from Merubas, a new Hebrew font design, based upon the famous Vilna-Black typeface of the nineteenth century.

AzizMostafa's picture

Just few questions, I would be thankful if answered in short:
1. Is Divine/Heaven left or right-handed?
1+Rotates Clockwise or CounterClockwise?!
2. Did Divine/Heaven create One or more writing Systems?!
3. Why did Divine/Heaven make it difficult to Man to understand?!
3+ Or Man was created to do puzzles?!
4. Who Created the other langauges/writing systems? Arabic by Arabs?!
5. Was Man created to read from left to right or right to left?!
5+ From Top to Bottom like Japaneses or Bottom to Top like Rongorongo?
6. Does "smile" smiles in Hebrew? And "Suck" Sucks?
7. Is Hebrew Translitratable?
8. Is Hebrew crosswordable in Flowers?
http://www.wordandnumberpuzzles.com/flowers/WFlowers.htm
9. Did Devil create any script?

William Berkson's picture

Hmmm. In Pirkei Avot (Chapter 5) you have the statement that a lot of miraculous stuff in the Torah was created in twilight before Sabbath of the first week of creation. This includes writing, the stylus, and the actual inscribed Decalogue on rock, siting there since creation for Moses to find. This idea is an effort to solve the problem that the Rabbinic Sages accepted the Greek idea of the Cosmos, or nature according to orderly law. Thus they were uncomfortable with miracles that went against the laws of nature.

Personally, I find it a charming and clever solution, but quite unconvincing. In any case what engraved that was engraved on the sacred tablets is unlikely to have been the Aramaic script that Judaism adopted after the Babylonian exile--as the sages themselves recognize. Thus I find it a stretch to ascribe, even by Mishnaic standards, sacred status to the shapes of the current Hebrew alphabet, derived from the Aramaic rather than even the ancient Hebrew one. And Moses and the Israelites may well have been using another dialect.

Of course, if you go to mystical ideas, you can get anything--or not. I find the Hebrew aleph-bet rather magical, but also the Roman alphabet, which is derived from the capitals of the hated Romans. All scripts in long use have something mysterious and charming about them, in my view.

gohebrew's picture

Air-Spaces In The Shape of the Hebrew Letters
=============================================

Sometimes, Hebrew letters are designed as such as a total or partial enclosure.

Look at the final form of mehm (the mehm that comes at the end of Hebrew word):

gohebrew's picture

Sometimes, there is a small opening, like in the letter tes:

gohebrew's picture

Also, sometimes, there are two openings, like in the letter hei:

gohebrew's picture

Before I continue, let me respond to some remarks:

AzizMustafa,

> Just few questions, I would be thankful if answered in short:
> 1. Is Divine/Heaven left or right-handed?

Kabballistic literature states clearly that "ain smol lemaylah - no left exist above".

Polarity is based inly in our reality. In the heavenly realm, there is only right (sic).

> Rotates Clockwise or CounterClockwise?!

Direction again assumes dimensions. Heaven is beyond dimension, as dimension was created by Him, like time and space.

> 2. Did Divine/Heaven create One or more writing Systems?!

Our literature inly speaks of Hebrew. Plus super-human qualities found in Hebrew don't exist in other language systems.

Interestingly, both the Iranians, and the CIA, have invested serious resources to mastering Hebrew and the Talmud in particular, to derive the secret powers of the Israeli. Since this includes mastering Talmud, clearly the aim is not to merely fathom the language of the Israelis.

Furthermore, is it any wonder that the Israelis lead the technology race, even in front of the USA, as their mode of thinking is in Hebrew. For example their latest technology is to remotely disable an anti-missile system, rendering any country in effect defenseless of counter attack. I think that this is the ultimate weapon of deterrence.

gohebrew's picture

Aziz,

> 3. Why did Divine/Heaven make it difficult to Man to understand?!
> 3+ Or Man was created to do puzzles?!

A general principle in Judaism is that G-d created the world for us to do our part, Jew or gentile. Some people call thos, "tikun olam", making the world a better or 'corrected' place.

As I understand it, life is not meant to be easy, as we say, "man was created to toil".

Solving puzzles, putting all the pieces together to form a beautiful picture, surely is a part of this.

We even feel better with ourselves and what we do when it takes effort and requires creativity.

I think that's what type design is all about.

gohebrew's picture

Aziz,

> 4. Who Created the other langauges/writing systems? Arabic by Arabs?!

People.

gohebrew's picture

Aziz,

> 5. Was Man created to read from left to right or right to left?!
> 5+ From Top to Bottom like Japaneses or Bottom to Top like Rongorongo?

I think that people can do anything that they set their mind to. Each culture created the system best for them.

gohebrew's picture

Aziz,

> 6. Does “smile” smiles in Hebrew? And “Suck" sucks?

I don't understand your question.

People who speak Hebrew smile and suck; it's international! :)

gohebrew's picture

Aziz,

> 7. Is Hebrew Translitratable?

It is commonly done.

> 8. Is Hebrew crosswordable...

Check the Israeli newspapers; it's done every day.

9. Did Devil create any script?

Although Judaism speaks of a human inclination towards doing evil (ie. yetzer harah), and many middle eastern people's believe in an "evil eye", the Devil is not a Jewish concept. It's Christian in origin. I believe also Islam rejects the notion of the devil.

Jewish though does identify an angel with tremendous powers like Christianity's devil, but this angelic force is described as actually seeking good, and simply tests us to achieve our G-d-like potential. This is a radically different take on the purpose of evil than in Christianity which reduces and limits the power of the Infinite Being of G-d.

gohebrew's picture

William Berkson,

> Hmmm. In Pirkei Avot (Chapter 5) you have the statement that a lot of miraculous stuff in the Torah was created in twilight before Sabbath of the first week of creation. This includes writing, the stylus, and the actual inscribed Decalogue on rock, siting there since creation for Moses to find.

I don't think that this refers to writing, as writing certainly existed before Moses' time.

What does it say (Avot 5:6)? Ten things were created on the Sabbath evening, at twilight...the writing...

Our sages tell us that this refers to the writing of the Second Tablets. Although if we peruse the face value of the words, it says merely, "haketav" or the writing, so we would think that it refers to writing in general. However, Jewish people believe in the explanations of their predecessors, and don't take things at face value.

> This idea is an effort to solve the problem that the Rabbinic Sages accepted the Greek idea of the Cosmos, or nature according to orderly law.

I think that the Rabbinic Sages had much greater insights into knowledge and reality than their Greek counterparts. Why then did so many brilliant minds from among the Greek sages jump ship, and like Ben Hay Hay and Ben Bagg Bagg in Avot (5:21) and become Jewish? If Greek wisdom was to be admired, why was it rejected, and Jewish wisdom prefered?

> Thus they were uncomfortable with miracles that went against the laws of nature.

The Talmud, which was the basis of the thinking of the Rabbinic Sages, is filled with accounts of miracles that went against the laws of nature. To rationalize everything was attempted by the Maskilim in the nineteenth century, but failed. The Rabbinic establishment at the time made every effort to reject this approach. Although Talmudic Judaism appreciates the logic and rationale in the laws of nature, we accept that at times G-d intervenes into nature and does perform miracles, even more often than we recognize.

gohebrew's picture

Is there then a significance between a small opening, like that of a chet, and between a large opening like that of the hei?

gohebrew's picture

Let's look at the three letter Hebrew word for leavened bread, which we are allowed to eat all year atound, except for Passover. The three letters which make up this Hebrew word of "chometz" are chet, mehm, and the final form of tzaddik (the form of tzaddik which comes at the end of a Hebrew word, known as "tzaddik sofo" or the "longa tzaddik" in Yiddish).

gohebrew's picture

Compare it to another three letter Hebrew word for the kind of flat, unleavened bread, that we are allowed to eat on Passover. This flat bread is known as "matzah". The three Hebrew letters are mehm, tzaddik, and hei.

gohebrew's picture

What is the difference between the Hebrew words of "chometz" and "matzah"?

The difference between then has to do with an important lesson, reflected in the shape and air-spaces of Hebrew letters.

Both words have a mehm and a tzaddik. They only differ in their third letter, the chet and the hei. Let's look again at the different shapes of the chet and the hei.

gohebrew's picture

The chet only has one openning below, and not above. It is seeing things in a limited way. This is like leavened bread, which is full of itself, like a self-centered person.

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The hei on the other hand has two opennings, one below like the chet, and one close to above, on the left side towards the top.

This shows that it is flexible, much more open-minded, and less full of itself. This is likr the flat unleavened bread of matzah, that we eat on Passover.

In kabbalistic language, this "flatness" is called: "bittul", while "leavened" is called: "gaavah".

Bittul allows more to come in, because it thinks less of itself. Gaavah refuses Above (G-d) to enter, because it thinks so much of itself.

Since we should think more about G-d at Passover, and the miracles that He did for us which we describe at the Seder, we are then required to rid ourselves and our property of chometz, and eat only matzah.

gohebrew's picture

William,

> Of course, if you go to mystical ideas, you can get anything—or not. I find the Hebrew aleph-bet rather magical, but also the Roman alphabet, which is derived from the capitals of the hated Romans. All scripts in long use have something mysterious and charming about them, in my view.

I agree that letter forms are in deed very deep representations of something beyong our understanding.

Kabballistic literature call letters like rocks. When you assemble them together, like putting stones together to form a house, letters joined together make words. When the words are arranged together in a logical sequence, the sentences carry intelligence.

Assembled Hebrew letters and words carry with them not only intelligence, but some much higher than intelligence. For example, certain sentences in Hebrew also contain acrostics of other key words in the first or last letters of the words. Sometimes, these acrostics even form one of the very names of G-d, or the name of the author of the poetic prayer. Also, the gematria (numerical equivalent) of all the letters in the sentence equals the values of the gematria of significant concepts. Thos can only be done in Hebrew, even if there os great beauty and intelligence in letterforms, such as Roman/Latin, Georgian, Arabic/Urdu, Armenian, etc.

gohebrew's picture

William,

> Thus I find it a stretch to ascribe, even by Mishnaic standards, sacred status to the shapes of the current Hebrew alphabet, derived from the Aramaic rather than even the ancient Hebrew one. And Moses and the Israelites may well have been using another dialect.

You raise a very valid point, apparently.

Seemingly, the modern-day Hebrew letter forms do not hold the same significance as drawings which were found inscribed in stones, which we attribute to early versions of Hebrew script (or derived from Phoenician script, as it appears from a design viewpoint). If so, since these Hebrew designs are not similar, certainly then Moses and the Israelites were using another dialect that we know as Hebrew.

I disagree with this, though like much of which you presented, they make good tales.

The ancient Dead Sea Scrolls contain hand-scribed Hebrew letter forms very much resembling those of modern Hebrew letter forms.

The Phoenician-like truncated set of Hebrew letter-forms found from stone engravings indicate two things: a) the letters are a limited set, closer to the language used by the Phienicians, and b) the designs do not contain curve-like attributes, and designs most conducive to enraving in stone. Hence, they are not indicative of what Jewish people have commonly used as ink on parchment.

Furthermore, the Talmud relates that a special Hebrew letter form was reserved for holy scripts, like in a Torah scroll, tefillin rolls, or a mezuzah parchment (used to this very day).

Our understanding of the shape and design style of the modern-day Hebrew letter forms are actually not very modern-day at all. Many of the block or square letter forms were thought by most secular scholars to be related to the advent of the printing press over 500 years ago. They were unaware that drawings of hand-scribed Hebrew books featuring block or square letter forms existed prior to the invention of the printing press.

In fact, these thick square letter designs resembled very old drawings of Sephardic origin. Other ancient drawings, similar to the famous Koren type design, created by the late seventies Israeli type designer, Eliyahu Koren. (This is similar to the popular designs of the late Israeli type designer, Tzvi Narkiss, which stringly resemble the hand-drawn posters created in the Warsaw Ghetto of sans serif font designs - something which was not thought to have existed for Hebrew in the forties.)

So, clearly we see that "new" Hebrew designs appear to have been created recently, but in truth are derived from similar drawings of Hebre letter forms from very earlier periods, and perhaps back even to the times of the Bible. This brings into serious question of the historical validity of the ancient letter forms engraved in stone. Perhaps, they are a derivative of the Phoenician script which they resemble?

JCSalomon's picture

ישראל,

אז דו מאכסט פון טיפאפײל תורה, טארסטי דאס אױך נישט אין תשעה באב׃

—Joel

AzizMostafa's picture

GoHebrew, extracting answers from your answers:

1. In the heavenly realm, there is only right (sic).

Direction assumes dimensions. Heaven is beyond dimension.

2. ... I think that this is the ultimate weapon of deterrence.

http://counterterrorismblog.org/2008/06/nasrallahs_speech_hezbollah_ru.php

3. Man was created to toil... We even feel better with ourselves
and what we do when it takes effort and requires creativity.
5. Each culture created the system best for them.

Save Heavenly Hebrew?! Others were created to toil.

6. I don’t understand your question.

Rewording: Does Hebrew have Synonyms?
BTW: Arabic virtually has not.

7. Hebrew is Translitratable.
Then Judaism is Divinely/Heavenly regardless of the script?!
Otherwise means otherwise.

8. Any link to any Hebrew Flower Crosswords?!
8+ What is the longest word in Hebrew?
BTW, Flower Crosswords are good for 6-letter words or shorter.
Thus more suitable to Arabic — the mother of 6minus-letter words.

9. .. but this angelic force is described as actually seeking good,
and simply tests us to achieve our G-d-like potential.

Was Hebrew created by that good-seeking angelic force or?!
______________________
Thanks with Flowers

jupiterboy's picture

This is all interesting. My perspective, as weak as it is, has always been that the mystery schools used folk maps of the CNS, and that the real application had to do with combining various branches of what we now call psychology with initiation to create more fully functioning people. For example, through the study of various archetypes and through initiation the aspirant learns to become all possible minds within the collective human mind and to move with purpose from state to state. This tends to over-write the base level personality and give tools to get around certain limitations that nature and nurture impose. The convoluted nature of the system keeps the knowledge secret to anyone that is not properly instructed and initiated, as the practitioners and keepers tend to believe strongly that they have increased their powers of influence and want to keep these powers concentrated with those that are trusted.

The encoded geometry, in my mind, is very similar to other methods that are designed to exhaust the mind and eventually create a receptive state for the actual experience of learning how the mind can direct the electro-chemical activities in the physical body.

Q: Would the script be a component of a model like the tree, or would the tree be a secondary ideation that incorporated the script?

William Berkson's picture

Israel, I'm having a hard time seeing what these midrashim have to do with the design or use of Hebrew letters.

Also the midrash about matzah and chometz to me seems a little silly. I'm all in favor of being open minded and not arrogant, but it has nothing to do with eating with bread. After all, we eat bread the other 51 weeks, so should be we arrogant except on Pesach? I don't think the metaphor goes very far.

gohebrew's picture

William,

> I’m having a hard time seeing what these midrashim have to do with the design or use of Hebrew letters.

The discussion is around the topic of the shapes and the design of Hebrew letters.

So far, we've basically two types of examples:

a) the first regarding the letter aleph, and how it is formed from three elements, two letters of the yuhd and one other letter the vov.

b) the second regarding the difference between the chet and the hei: the chet only having one opening, symbolizing limited acceptance of G-d, and the hei having multiple openings, symbolizing great flexibility and a willingness to accept G-d.

I think the fact the design of Hebrew letter forms is the subject of analysis clearly shows us that this is significant, to better understand how to correctly form and use Hebrew letters.

> Also the midrash about matzah and chometz to me seems a little silly. I’m all in favor of being open minded and not arrogant, but it has nothing to do with eating with bread. After all, we eat bread the other 51 weeks, so should be we arrogant except on Pesach?

You raise a good question. I recall that in yeshiva, this question was raised also.

The act of eating fluffy bread or flat bread is not the issue. Arrogance and humility result from how we relate towards others, and the manner of importance we reserve for ourselves.

However, our Jewish sages apply to the act of Jewish people not eating bread on Passover, and eating only matzah, this meaning and symbolism. Kabbalistic yeachings add another dimension.

When we eat only matzah and rid ourselves of chometz during the eight days of Passover, this accumulated "bittul" lasts all year around, enabling us to eat chometz (the symbol of arrogance) during the rest of the year, and not be affected by it.

Does this answer your concern?

gohebrew's picture

Joel

> אז דו מאכסט פון טיפאפײל תורה, טארסטי דאס אױך נישט אין תשעה באב׃

Unfortunately, my mother spoke only English to me when I was a child, so my mother-tongue is English, and I don't understand many Jewish people's mama-lashon, Yiddish, except some small amount of words.

Hence, please translate your comment.

jupiterboy's picture

I’m all in favor of being open minded and not arrogant, but it has nothing to do with eating with bread. After all, we eat bread the other 51 weeks, so should be we arrogant except on Pesach?

But if you can cause the eating of bread to become a sacred act because it triggers and idea! The point is that there is a difference that is recognized every day during the eating of a meal. That sort of ritual works for the xtians as well.

gohebrew's picture

Aziz,

You have a very interesting name, which is derived in Hebrew from the word for 'strength'.

> 1. In the heavenly realm, there is only right (sic).
> Direction assumes dimensions. Heaven is beyond dimension.

I am unsure if this is a comment, or a question.

Having only right, which in kabballistic lingo is not dimensional, but refers not to polarity of right and left, but to a pure kind of simplicity beyond polarity. Differences only come about later when G-d creates physicality and these concept become applicable.

> 3. Man was created to toil... We even feel better with ourselves
> and what we do when it takes effort and requires creativity.
> 5. Each culture created the system best for them.

> Save Heavenly Hebrew?! Others were created to toil.

I don't think that one language competes against the other. Each language has its unique even superior qualities over other languages.

This blog and special interest section focuses on Hebrew. I have brought to people's attention interesting aspects of Hebrew type designs, and how these qualities are unique to Hebrew.

I think what might have ticked some people off is to attribute Divine qualities to Hrbrew, as claimed by our ancient Jewish sages. I have tried to show already, and hope to show more, examples that are unique to Hebrew and even have these Divine qualities.

...

> 9. .. but this angelic force is described as actually seeking good,
> and simply tests us to achieve our G-d-like potential.

> Was Hebrew created by that good-seeking angelic force or?!

I tried to explain that Judaism does not have the G-d-like Devil concept. It is a Christian concept which has become incorporated into the western mind and culture. I believe Christianity wrapped this popular notion because the masses related to it well. I believe it originate from an ancient Persian religion.

Judaism's concept good-seeking angelic force which test people to bring out their potential is not a creative force, be it a script, a language, a recipe, etc.

It is difficult to explain in detail the concept of Hebrew, but since though and souls exist above the creation of angels, the creation of Hebrew is likely also before the creation of angels, as thought requires language.

Does this answer your question?

gohebrew's picture

Aziz,

> 2. ... I think that this is the ultimate weapon of deterrence.

> http://counterterrorismblog.org/2008/06/nasrallahs_speech_hezbollah_ru.p...

I am unsure what the purpose of this discussion is. My remark was parenthetical.

As a person from New York city, who witnessed the destruction and clean-up of 9/11 upfront, and as a Jew who lived in Jerusalem at the time of bloody terrorist acts, or one who knew personally countless dislocated Israelis when Nasrallah unleashed an inhumane reign of terror and missiles, I only can say it can not happen sooner for all the evil Nasrallahs in the world to die a painful death and be gone forever.

Again, I truly think the ultimate weapon of peace is that which disables weapons of destruction.

Aziz, you seem to be a reasonable and proud man. You surely agree then that the ultimate strength of a human being is not to destroy one's enemy, but to change him or her into a trusted friend.

gohebrew's picture

jupiterboy,

> Emphasized I’m all in favor of being open minded and not arrogant, but it has nothing to do with eating with bread. After all, we eat bread the other 51 weeks, so should be we arrogant except on Pesach?

> But if you can cause the eating of bread to become a sacred act because it triggers and idea! The point is that there is a difference that is recognized every day during the eating of a meal. That sort of ritual works for the xtians as well.

I don't know who xtians are. Are they from Mars or Venus?

Actually, a meal with bread is not just a simple act of eating. Rather, when adjoined with a certain kind of washing of the hands, various blessings, and a dvar Torah (a Torah thought), with salt on the table, our ancient Jewish sages compared it to an act in the Holy Temple.

jupiterboy's picture

I don’t know who xtians are. Are they from Mars or Venus?

Now there’s a good question.

Actually, a meal with bread is not just a simple act of eating.

It is for a dog or chimp. And it is for lots of people as well. What you are talking about (excuse my presumption) is the transformation of the mundane or profane into the sacred through initiation and ritual.

gohebrew's picture

jupiterboy,

> the transformation of the mundane or profane into the sacred through initiation and ritual.

Actually, the aim of all the instructions of the Torah are to transforn mundane into the sacred. This is connected to the "lifting up of sparks" to correct the world.

A human meal with bread is one example.

For example, Jacob cut strips of bark to cause the sheep to give birth to striped offspring to achieve what Jewish men accomplish today with Tefillin. In Jacob's pre-Sinai times, the strips did not have a permanent effect to transforn mundane into the sacred. But today, in post-Sinai times, the placing of Tefillin do have a permanent effect to transforn the mundane leather straps into sacred objects.

The same with ordinary food (if its kosher), which becomes transformed into the substance of a holy meal because of a few simple actions.

jupiterboy's picture

Actually

I didn’t intend to imply that ritual and transformation were reserved for eating bread.

So this lifting up of sparks, and lighting of the lamp—how do you interpret these?

gohebrew's picture

jupiterboy,

> So this lifting up of sparks, and lighting of the lamp—how do you interpret these?

They are two distinct things.

The "lifting of sparks" is a kabbalistic concept. Basically, the world which know fell down, like all the other worlds above ours (kabbalistic literature describes our physical world the lowest one, of three other non-physical worlds above it), causing "holy vessels" to be shattered. Hence, there are sparks or pieces of these broken vessels which need to be raised, so they ascend back to the place from whence they came. When we do "mitzvahs", various good acts, we cause these sparks to be raised. As a result, the ordinary physical objects we use are transformed into sacred objects.

A lighting of a lamp is to illuminate the darkness. When this lighting is done for a sacred purpose, like to light the Sabbath candles, or to kindle the Chanukah lights, then those ordinary physical objects are transformed into sacred objects.

I hope that this is clear.

Even though the Hebrew letters illuminate and contain sparks, I don't think these discussions can be considered about the meaning of the shapes and design of the Hebrew letters.

jupiterboy's picture

Ah yes, this is your blog, and I’ve taken things off in another direction. I was thinking of a particular author that refers to the lifting of the sparks as the lighting of the lamp, but his take on it is that of a physical process where the lighting of the lamp is a culmination of the raising of the sparks—an metaphorical illumination.

I’ll tune in as you continue and try to learn something.

AzizMostafa's picture

1> ... it can not happen sooner for all the evil Nasrallahs in the world to die a painful death and be gone forever.
2> ... thee ultimate strength of a human being is not to destroy one’s enemy, but to change him or her into a trusted friend.

GoHebrew, (1) or (2)? How?

> I truly think the ultimate weapon of peace is that which disables weapons of destruction.

Peacefully or by more destructive WMD?!

jupiterboy's picture

I suspect there is some difference between yanking a plant out by its roots and neglecting to water or feed it.

The Tantrists focus on the worship of Kali. She is a manifestation of time, and her purpose is to destroy so that creation can begin again. Part of the mythology includes the idea that to unleash her power you must accept the lack of discernment in the destruction process. To begin the process of creation, Shiva offers himself, in a way, as a sacrifice by laying down in front of Kali.

This is the Kali Yuga. Maybe the reverent way to endure it is to be ready to lose everything, even one’s religion.

AzizMostafa's picture

> A lighting of a lamp is to illuminate the darkness. When this lighting is done for a sacred purpose, ... then those ordinary physical objects are transformed into sacred objects.

Thus GoHebrew+Hebrew letters reflect that sacred Light.
But if a mirror is transformed into a sacred object by that light,
will it reflect sacred sunlight? Or the (sun)light is sacred in origin?

gohebrew's picture

jupiterboy,

> Ah yes, this is your blog, and I’ve taken things off in another direction.

It was only because someone made an issue of this did I say that. Sort of a politically correct statenent.

>...a culmination of the raising of the sparks

A purely physical act devoid of purpose or G-dly intent remains only another physical act and not a culmination of the raising of the sparks, to the best of my understanding. I think that it's simply understood by everyone in this way.

Aziz,

> ... it can not happen sooner for all the evil Nasrallahs in the world to die a painful death and be gone forever.

After 9/11 and the war in Lebanon, any sane human being would agree with me. Only a mentally ill humam being would think these acts are just and good.

gohebrew's picture

Azizm

> > I truly think the ultimate weapon of peace is that which disables weapons of destruction.

> Peacefully or by more destructive WMD?!

I think pacifism doesn't work. Judaism rejects the notion to turn the cheek, but rather to kill first he who attacks you.

A weapon which disables a country's missile defemse system is not a weapon of mass destruction. It simply leaves an aggressor impotent to defend itself against counter-attack.

I think it's a brilliant solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis.

gohebrew's picture

jupiterboy,

> The Tantrists focus on the worship of Kali. She is a manifestation of time, and her purpose is to destroy so that creation can begin again. Part of the mythology includes the idea that to unleash her power you must accept the lack of discernment in the destruction process.

There us a somewhat similar idea expressed in Jewish mysticism. The world we live in is one of a series of worlds. Each world had to be destroyed to make room for the creation of another. I believe that this is the sixth world, before the last Sabbatical world.

gohebrew's picture

Aziz,

> Thus GoHebrew+Hebrew letters reflect that sacred Light.
But if a mirror is transformed into a sacred object by that light,
will it reflect sacred sunlight? Or the (sun)light is sacred in origin?

Actually the name, GoHebrew, was selected because it was catchy, easy to remember, and available as a domain name.

Most light is not sacred, like lighting a match for a cigarette, or staying out too long in the sun and getting burned.

Light becomes sacred if it serves a good purpose, like to light a stove to prepare a pot of soup for an expectant mother, or to do a mitzvah (as mentioned earlier).

If the person blinded by the darkness can see because of the light, this is sacred light too.

jupiterboy's picture

A purely physical act devoid of purpose or G-dly intent remains only another physical act and not a culmination of the raising of the sparks, to the best of my understanding. I think that it’s simply understood by everyone in this way.

Well this is another discussion. From a naturalist perspective, everything is purely physical. I’ve always appreciated those systems of teaching that didn’t banish the body to the backyard like a dirty dog.

AzizMostafa's picture

> If the person blinded by the darkness can see because of the light,
this is sacred light too.

Even if he/she is your enemy?!
What about the moving shadow (no light) that is created by the light+body?! Which one is sacred? One of them, none, or both?!
By the way, one needs light+mirror+open (eye)s to see one's own face,
what does it take him/her to see Divine/Heaven and Devil?!

Flowers 4 Profound Typophiles

AzizMostafa's picture

> Judaism rejects the notion to turn the cheek, but rather to kill first he who attacks you.

Regardless of the attacker's Religion or Race?! Or Judaism = infallibility?!

> ... simply leaves an aggressor impotent to defend itself against counter-attack.
I think it’s a brilliant solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis.

Or simply leaves an aggressor impotent to attack.
I think it’s a brilliant policy by the Iranians to their invented nuclear crisis.

jt_the_ninja's picture

Interesting information; having Jewish heritage on my father's side, Hebrew has always fascinated me.

I think, though, that you really need to worry about *not* worshiping the created rather than the Creator. Creation is great, but the Creator is greater. Regardless of how you feel, I hardly think it necessary to view Hebrew as a primitive in God's creation; after all, He excels in taking what man has made and using it to work His divine plan. God's Word doesn't need to be limited by human language, which is so provably fallible and mutable (I mean no respect to any language, least of all Hebrew - I love the system of consonantal roots).

Also, as a linguist, you're not going to get me to buy your origin of the Hebrew aleph-bet; the relation to other alphabetic forms is too strong, and in any case the Hebrew people weren't chosen until God spoke to a man of Ur named Abra(ha)m.

Another thing you might want to watch is your claims about Christianity. I'm a Christian, and you offended me when you claimed/insinuated that we Christians believe in a devil who is God's equal or in some way diminishing to His power. We do not, or at least I and those of my faith do not; that is known as dualism and is rather antithetical to Christianity.

In any case, very interesting information about how Judaism perceives it's writing system. Please post more; my interest is piqued :D

Oh, and if there's no direction in heaven, then there can't be any right, can there? Right is defined in opposition to left. Limitation of human language, I guess. Just had to say something about that, as a left-handed person (who admires Ehud).

Peace,
JT

William Berkson's picture

Just a couple of points of clarification.

Jewish mysticism is not adhered to by all Jews, including Orthodox Jews. I am not Orthodox, but you can be Orthodox and reject Jewish mysticism, and also the distinctive doctrines of Chassidic Judaism.

Israel here is portraying one variety of Judaism, which is genuine and authentic, but in fact most Jews do not agree with it.

JT, putting the Devil equal to God is indeed a heresy in Christianity, the Manichean heresy. But it remains true that in Christianity the Devil is a personal, active force in the world opposing God. And this is quite different from Judaism, which sees good and bad tendencies within every individual, but does not see them as centrally directed and supported by a supernatural figure who opposes God. I haven't read it, but I believe that Elaine Pagel's book Satan goes into depth on the history.

Also if you want to take offense at rejection of Christian views, you are going to be offended a lot if you talk to non-Christians. Christianity has the most adherents of any religion, but it remains true that most people in the world know about Christianity and reject it for what they think are good reasons.

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