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
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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.

Yaronimus-Maximus's picture

israel, everytime i try to understand your (or the kabbalistic) logic of things i get confused because things don't match.
you talked about two factors of the hebrew letters that indicate on the spiritual quality:
stability and openings.
if we look at the word "sheker" it has more openings to my opinion, than the word "emet" which is composed of relatively "black" letters. the "alef" and "mem" are very close. "tav" letter has an opening downwards "has only one opening, and open towards the bottom, indicating narrow-mindedness". so in short -"emet" is composed of narrow minded letters.

if i go with your logic - the letter "yod" which is holy (or isn't it?) is the most open but the most unstable because it can "fall". it floats but it's unstable by your logic.

>"Mehm is the middle Hebrew letter, indicating that truth must always be true, throughout everything we do."

now, i checked the hebrew aleph-bet:
alef bet gimel daleth he vav zain chet tet yod kaf lamed mem nun samech ain peh tsadik kuf reish shin tav.
so from this i learn that the middle letter is kaf and lamed (22/2=11), not mem.

gohebrew's picture

Yaronimus Maximus,

These are indeed excellent questions.

Be careful not to get too caught up in the question, and not being willing to look for an answer.

This is like those who look for truth, and then ignire it once they find it, because they enjoy too much the search. Getting back to your excellent questions...

You ask about the consistency between a Hebrew letter's openness, which seemingly indicates a greater flexibility and willingness to accept differences, and between a Hebrew letter's solidness, and ability to stand firm through diversity, an attribute of truthfulness.

Apparently, at times we need to be flexible, like the Hebrew saying in the Talmud, "Teheh rach kekanah", "be soft or flexible like a reed". This being flexible, open to challenges, is strength.

On the other hand, at times we need to be firm in our ideals, like the Jewish people are described in the Bible, "Am keshareph hu", "a stiff-necked people" (this is intentionally taken out of context), which is like the ytait if truthfulness.

If you think about it from a simple design perspective, you can't have it both ways: both being open and airy, and solid and firm, for to be solid and firm as you pointed out implies not being open and airy.

About the yuhd, you are right, but draw an incorrect conclusion. All the letters originate from yuhd, meaning their source in ruchniyut, spirituality, which is lofty, and ungrounded, like the yuhd, a point floating in the air.

Your most compelling question regards the seeming contradictory status of the mehm. I think if we inspect the actual words of Chazal, our Jewish sages, they only point out that it is a middle letter, and not the middle letter. As your graphic clearly shows, mehm is a middle letter, if you divide all the letters into three parts.

I think the overall lesson is that truth, like the Hebrew word "Emet", is true all the way through. It is consistent, and not with intervals of falsehood. Unlike the Hebrew word "Sheker", the order is backwords (shin to reish) and inconsistent (with kuf in the middle, that normally should come before reish in correct order, or after reish in backwards order).

Does this make sense to you now?

gohebrew's picture

...then ignire it once they find it,
read instead:
...then ignore it once they find it,

...like the ytait if truthfulness.
read instead:
...like the trait of truthfulness.

gohebrew's picture

Earlier the question was asked by Aziz about whether there was a non-sexual relationship between a man and women in this system of Jewish mysticism.

Although the relationship between a parent and child, or siblings, or certain relatives, is clearly non-sexual, as regulated by Torah law, usually a male-female relationship is sexual, like many aspects of creation and dimensions of reality.

In fact, the metaphor of a male-female sexual relationship seems to dominate Jewish mysticism. I was told by my teacher who was intimately well versed in Jewish mysticism that the marital union actually parallels the highest aspect of G-d, known as "Atzmut" or "the very Essence of G-d".

Do, we see that not only is "original sin" not a part of Judaism, but the very act of intimacy is viewed as most holy.

gohebrew's picture

I think Yaron's logo design for his name consists of a combination of Hebrew letters and elements of Hebrew letters. I am not surprised that he is an Israeli. Since this is a thread speaking about the design of Hebrew letter shapes, I don't think it's far-fetched to analyze Yaron's logo, if he doesn't mind.

I ask him to elaborate about it.

I see the Hebrew letter "gimmel" there. Is it my imagination?

Also, the tall element reminds me of the Hebrew letter "lamed", although the traditional middle and bottom portion is not there. The three "yuhd"-like heads of the Hebrew letter "shim" also seem to appear.

Am I somewhat accurate, or off the wall?

AzizMostafa's picture

1. Are the Hebrew Linguists constantly instructed by God to change letters?
http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/3_al.html
http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/3_bet.html
2. Or do they go on changing letters against God's Will?
3. Or do we have Early Middle Late Modern gods?

> Although the relationship between a parent and child, or siblings, or certain relatives, is clearly non-sexual, as regulated by Torah law, usually a male-female relationship is sexual, like many aspects of creation and dimensions of reality.

Repeating the 3 above questions for Torah laws + Regulations??

Please, No Fishy Answers, Yes or No will do me favor.

gohebrew's picture

Aziz,

> 1. Are the Hebrew Linguists constantly instructed by God to change letters?
http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/3_al.html
http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/3_bet.html

I think these explanations about the evolution of Hebrew letter shapes are in deed very interesting. Yet, like the theory of evolution itself, they will remain on bookshelves and not influence society for the better.

The laws of G-d recorded in the Torah, explained and expounded upon in the Talmud, and the accepted books of Jewish mysticism etc., do influence humankind not to devour itself, but rather to adhere to moral rules and decent regulations.

So, to answer your questions with a yes or no,

1. No. The true letters of Hebrew given by G-d are unchanged.
2. No. Nothing is done contrary to His will. This study is likely done by one uninformed about G-dliness.
3. No. G-d is always "emet", true" at all times, in the beginning, in the middle, and in the end.

jupiterboy's picture

Have a look at this,

http://www.friesian.com/yinyang.htm

and scroll down to the trigrams. You can see, in a very simple and elegant way, how the broken line represents a passive (Yin) state and a solid (Yang).

Also, in my experience, the attribution of gender roles to the polarities is usually problematic as each individual, regardless of gender, can be seen to have a balance.

Another good example would be Sanskrit. I’m not finding good examples of the pictographic nuances and all my books are packed at the moment, but the character for the word root as associated with the Muladhara doesn’t need much explanation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muladhara

AzizMostafa's picture

I have nothing to add but to say:
WB AIS of Israel,
Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
Marlboro College of Vermont,
Spertus College of Chicago,
Columbia College of Art (Chicago),
Yeshiva Tiferes Bachurim of Miami Beach,
Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim of Kfar Chabad,
Kollel Avrachim of Kfar Chabad
and Typophile should be Proud of GoHebrew

gohebrew's picture

jupiterboy,

> Have a look at this,

> http://www.friesian.com/yinyang.htm

> and scroll down to the trigrams. You can see, in a very simple and elegant way, how the > broken line represents a passive (Yin) state and a solid (Yang).

Clearly, this seems to be an equally balanced approach, with each side contributing to the other. This is certainly a very heathy relationship.

In Jewish mysticism, the male aspect is simply an influential movement from above downwards. The female aspect is a sort of beckoning or arousal from below upwards.

It is clearly sexual, whereas the yin/yang system stresses balance. I think the Jewish mystical systen is more attuned to reality.

> Also, in my experience, the attribution of gender roles to the polarities is usually
> problematic as each individual, regardless of gender, can be seen to have a balance.

I don't think that this reflects the reality of this world, at leasy from the human perspective.

Even the feminist movement which tried to suggest men and women were the same failed. Rather, more people understand that women's rights should equal those of men, but we are very different human beings. As the popular book series state, "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus".

True, the goal is a sort of balance, and should lead to a complementary relationship, but we are different; we each have something special to give the other.

gohebrew's picture

Aziz,

You see a progression, that my secular roots evolved to my Jewish roots, but ended up here, in the home of type design.

I entered the field of type design because I had very clear handwriting and wanted to be a "sofer", a scribe of Torah Scrolls, Tefillin, Mezuzot, and Megilat Esther. However, I am left-handed, and as such was considered by some authorities in Jewish law as unfit to be a sofer. Hence, I channeled this talent to type design, and endeavored to create fine Arabic, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Russian, and Vietnamese typefaces.

Today, I am concentrating on OpenType technology, Biblical Hebrew, and Contextual Processing strategies. Tomorrow, I want to do the same type of thing for Security Sensitive environments in many languages of the world.

jupiterboy's picture

Really? I know women that have a dominant active fire or earth aspect to their personalities, and men who have an adaptive or passive aspect. Clearly the combination of these is a way to view the myriad incarnations that present as the people we know.

I wouldn’t put too much stock in the sighted popular book you mention.

In some way of seeing the goal could be a mastery of the basic states and an invocation of the desired state to match a given task or situation. In that way we might not just have something to give, but rather choose something specific to give based on a desire to either create balance or disrupt balance.

I think the mistake I am talking about is our attempt to hang genitals on ideas that are universal. I didn’t catch weather that cloud was male or female?

gohebrew's picture

jupiterboy,

> Another good example would be Sanskrit.

> Ecce Homology - The Intersection of Art and Genomics

These examples seem fascinating, but very abstract. Please spell our what you are trying to say.

jupiterboy's picture

Think about the concept of root and earth and look at the lam character in the image featured in the link.

gohebrew's picture

A basic truth in Judaism is that Abraham had children through his marriage to Hagar, known later as Ketuba, after the birth of Ismael. He did not leave his main inheritance to any of Hagar's children, rather to Isaac alone, his only son through Sarah.

Abraham did give Ishmael a special blessing, as we see its fruition though his descendants, the Arab nations.

Abraham is reported as having given the other children of Hagar gifts, and sent then to the East. Some explain this as refering to the special languages and bodies of advanced knowledge and intelligence they have, which evolved or devolved into various pagan-like religions.

Even though the religions are very corrupt from a monotheistic point of view, and the peoples are very immoral, there is great knowledge and intelligence among those peoples, as we see in actual life.

jupiterboy's picture

A basic truth in Judaism

That sounds rather relativistic. ; )

BTW, did Ismael ever get treated for PTSD?

gohebrew's picture

jupiterboy,

> Think about the concept of root and earth and look at the lam character in the image featured in the link.

I could not find the lam character in the first link, http://www.friesian.com/yinyang.htm

> BTW, did Ismael ever get treated for PTSD?

What's PTSD?

I think that you do not see the aspect of male/female polarities in the spiritual and physical world, because your mind is simply notattuned to this way of thinking.

The Talmud relates that there was a certain sage from Babylonia who realized that in order for him to succeed in his studies in Israel, where the manner of study was very different than he was accustomed to in Babylonia, he would have to fast a long time and forget how he studied in Babylonia. Afterwards, he succeeded in his studies in Israel.

I are not attempting to "hang genitals on ideas that are universal" or to suggest that "clouds was male or female" (rain is generally considered male-like, and earth which is watered is female-like).

It's just a different way of looking at things, like learning in Babylonia versus learning in Israel, or men being from Mars are different than women who come from Venus. Different.

It's not a value statement, just a fact of life.

About the men who are passive like some women, and women who are macho like some men, I think that by citing the exceptions to the norm, just shows us how topsy-turvy much of life is today, where some men act as women, and some women act as men.

gohebrew's picture

jupiterboy,

> A basic truth

I referred to this as a basic truth, because it is written explicitly in Genesis, and explained simply by the commentator par excellance, Rashi. It's not rocket science, as they say.

jupiterboy's picture

Oops, I meant Isaac. That whole story still doesn't sit well with me (not that anyone is asking). The idea that your loyalty to your tribe is greater than loyalty to your own children? Lott’s daughters and all that? Very intense.

Here's the missed link.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muladhara

Note the discussion of rising and falling. I always think there may be two or more straws drawing from the same well.

gohebrew's picture

jupiterboy,

> That whole story still doesn’t sit well with me (not that anyone is asking). The idea that your loyalty to your tribe is greater than loyalty to your own children?

Understand, that Sarah was Abraham's wife. G-d instructed him to listen to his wife, Sarah. He did not say that about Hagar, even though she was a saintly woman, and gave up being a princess, daughter of Pharoah, to become Sarah's servant.

G-d blessed him to become a special nation through Isaac. He did not say that about Ishmael. If Sarah was his first and main wife, then Isaac was his "first" and main child.

So, it was not a case of being loyal to your tribe, and discarding your children.

> Lott’s daughters and all that?

I don't see how this episode about Abraham's nephew, Lott, has anything to do with the predominance of Isaac over his siblings.

I tried to show how all of them were very special, being Abraham's children.

The story of Lott and his daughters reflects how low people can become.

Nevertheless, the great Moabite Ruth is a product of one of these illegal unions, and her descendant was King David.

And King David's most famous descendant of course is the long awaited messiah, who will bring this bitter exile to an end.

jupiterboy's picture

Just commenting on the difficult issues raised in sacrificing one’s own child, as Abraham had the intent of doing, or as Lott offered his daughters to appease an angry mob.

PTSD is post-traumatic stress disorder, which might result if you father set you up on an alter and started in on you with his knife. I bet that was one silent evening meal after that episode.

William Berkson's picture

Israel, here is the story about emet and sheker in the Talmud (Shabbat 104a):

"Resh Lakish said: ...Why are the letters of 'sheker' close together, while, those of 'emet' far apart? Falsehood is frequent, and truth is rare. And why does falsehood stand on one foot, while truth has a brick-like foundation? Truth can stand, falsehood cannot stand."

Here 'close together' means close in the order of the aleph-bet.

I really think you are giving a wrong interpretation to this aggadah. It is not about the letters, but about the words. And the point of the story is not even about the words, but the moral lesson. The point of such stories is to make a moral point, and not to be taken as literally true. No one in the Talmud ever takes an aggadah as a basis for a practical decision, that I have heard of--the point is to learn from it, not take it literally.

If you take the story as a message about the weakness or strength of individual letters it becomes silly and easy to rebut. For example, 'Kodesh' (kof, dalet, shin) also has letters that "stand on one leg". So are we to conclude that holiness (kodesh) is to be rejected as no good? Following your interpretation it would.

I think the kind of loose logic or pseudo-logic you are applying to these beautiful stories, Aggadot, makes them silly rather than uplifting, and brings them down in respect and appreciation, contrary to your intentions. I don't know what is done in Kaballah, but such interpretation doesn't, I think follow any of the traditional principles for interpreting Talmud.

I know the conclusion of all your interpretations is that the letters are lessons that we should be pious and good, and your goal is commendable. But I do object to the logic, or rather lack of it you are using here, because I think that contrary to your good intentions it makes Jewish tradition look arbitrary and silly, which it is not.

gohebrew's picture

William,

> here is the story about emet and sheker in the Talmud (Shabbat 104a)

There is more than one story.

gohebrew's picture

William,

> Here ’close together’ means close in the order of the aleph-bet.

This is an extremely logical interpretation, taught by Reish Lakish.

Do you know his background, and demise?

gohebrew's picture

William,

> I really think you are giving a wrong interpretation to this aggadah. It is not about the letters, but about the words. And the point of the story is not even about the words, but the moral lesson. The point of such stories is to make a moral point, and not to be taken as literally true. No one in the Talmud ever takes an aggadah as a basis for a practical decision, that I have heard of—the point is to learn from it, not take it literally.

You begin by jumping to a conclusion, and conclude by contradicting yourself.

Clearly, the lesson I related is in deed much more moral than "orderly". I added graphics and gave the moral lesson a twist of Jewish mysticism. I didn't invent anything; it was as it was told ti me many times over 30 years.

I disagree that an aggadadic material is not used as a means of deriving a halacha, a practical instruction on Jewish law. I trust that you will not find much support for such a false notion; perhaps, there are minor viewpoints, like those that equate kabbalah with nonsense and reject the validity of Zohar. Remember, most Jews of your background (don't take this severity personally) reject the validity of halacha, the uniqueness of tzaddikim, and the very concept of a true miracle which defies nature.

William Berkson's picture

Israel, you are not answering my critique, which I think even applies within your framework of Chabad Chassidism. I said that the aggadah of Resh Lakish is not about letters, but words, and when you make it about letters it becomes silly, as my example of 'kodesh' shows. Please respond to my counterexample of 'kodesh'. And if you have sources that give your interpretation, could you cite one that I could look up?

Also can you cite an example of where in the Talmud an aggada was taken as a basis of a decision on halacha? I never heard of that, but I'm eager to learn.

gohebrew's picture

Let me clarify: certainly, some aggadata is rejected, and no halacha is not derived from it; other aggadata is accepted, and halachas are derived from it.

I think that its safe to say that the particular aggadata determines its outcome.

For example, the Bible relates that "Jacob didn't die." The Talmud asks that how is this possible? The Egyptians drained the blood from his body, and filled him full of spices (or embalmed him). Is there anything more death-like than that?

Yet, the Talmud in a different place informs us that the halacha of not speaking while eating is applicable where the subjects are not Torah ideas. What difference does it make to the safety of digestion, if the subject is the Mets, or the weekly Torah portion?

Answers the Talmud that the words of Torah protect a person from choking.

This is learned from the lesson that "Jacob never died".

Actually much is discussed in the Talmud around this notion of certain tzaddikim who live forever. Ain kahn hamakom.

gohebrew's picture

William,

> The point of such stories is to make a moral point, and not to be taken as literally true.

There is a fine line hear. If a lesson is only moral, and the details can not be learned from as well, the lessin belongs in Aesop's Fables, or a Greek book of mythology. In a true Torah lesson, every detail has a lesson. If you search, you will find. If you reject it from the beginning, you can never attain those lessons.

gohebrew's picture

William writes:

If you take the story as a message about the weakness or strength of individual letters it becomes silly and easy to rebut. For example, ’Kodesh’ (kof, dalet, shin) also has letters that “stand on one leg”. So are we to conclude that holiness (kodesh) is to be rejected as no good? Following your interpretation it would.

I think the kind of loose logic or pseudo-logic you are applying to these beautiful stories, Aggadot, makes them silly rather than uplifting, and brings them down in respect and appreciation, contrary to your intentions. I don’t know what is done in Kaballah, but such interpretation doesn’t, I think follow any of the traditional principles for interpreting Talmud.

I know the conclusion of all your interpretations is that the letters are lessons that we should be pious and good, and your goal is commendable. But I do object to the logic, or rather lack of it you are using here, because I think that contrary to your good intentions it makes Jewish tradition look arbitrary and silly, which it is not.

gohebrew's picture

William,

> I think even applies within your framework of Chabad Chassidism.

Chabad simply refers to the stages of organized thought, from the conceptual of CHochmah, the analysis in detail of Binah, and finally the application of the idea, known as practical knowledge of Daat.

Chabad then is a systematic approach to grasping ideas.

It doesn't relate to the issues you raise.

gohebrew's picture

William,

> I said that the aggadah of Resh Lakish is not about letters, but words, and when you make it about letters it becomes silly...

The lesson that I presented is not my own, nor in the name of Reish Lakish. The lesson how the Aleph Mehm and Taf are very distant from another, as opposed to the proximity of Shin Kuf and Reish, is about letters too. What do you mean?

gohebrew's picture

William,

> Also can you cite an example of where in the Talmud an aggada was taken as a basis of a decision on halacha? I never heard of that, but I’m eager to learn.

There is a aggadadic story of a great sage who "died", but as he felt compelled to assist his family Friday night and make kiddush, the great sage continued to do so after his demise as he did for decades before his demise.

The seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe points out that the Talmud relates that the great sage wore his special Shabbat dress clothes, and recited kiddush, and the family replied "Amen", and was exempt from having to recite kiddush themselves. Since they were exempt, analyzes the Rebbe, clearly he must have had his body, for a soul can not exempt another person with a mitzvah.

Therefore, we see, concludes the Rebbe, that the deceased can materialize themselves and "wear" their body.

This is an example of an aggadic story teaching a halacha that a person may be exempt in a mitzvah from a deceased person, if he or she is "wrapped" in a body.

gohebrew's picture

William,

> If you take the story as a message about the weakness or strength of individual letters it becomes silly and easy to rebut. For example, ’Kodesh’ (kof, dalet, shin) also has letters that “stand on one leg”. So are we to conclude that holiness (kodesh) is to be rejected as no good? Following your interpretation it would.

You suggest that "kodesh" means "holy". Period. And there goes the whole theory.

Kodesh like many Hebrew words have dual meanings that are opposite.

For a prostitute is called a "kodosha". The meaning here is hardly complimentary, or holy.

Spirituality is "ruchniyut" - but there is a sacred kind of ruchniyut and a profane kind.

Similarly, kodesh is used differently in different contexts. When it is spelled with a vov between the kuf and daleth, it means one kind of kodesh, I think the positive and complimentary kind. However, if kodesh is not spelled with a vov, it is the negative and uncomplimentary kind.

Btw, a vov is "hamshachah", symbolizing how G-dliness is drawn down to influence us. Woth a vov, kodesh becomes good; without avov, kodesh becomes bad.

gohebrew's picture

William,

> And if you have sources that give your interpretation, could you cite one that I could look up?

I will ask around. It may take a week.

I have heard this interpretation many many times, and never heard the one from Reish Lakish.

Ben Bahg Bahg says, "Hafoch bah, hafoch bah, hakol bah." "Look it up, look it up, everything can be found in the Torah."

gohebrew's picture

Regarding your view that some things lack logic and are silly.

Please don't take offense.

When a person has such a condescending attitude that what they cinceive is intelligent, logical, and mature, thinking that they must have intellectual honesty and integrity.

When a person rejects ideas that are considered "G-dly wisdom", that aim, as you notably do appreciate, to uncover the good within and let it shine, and prefer anti-Torah sources, only one common denominator exists both arogant character traits.

Such a person, according to the Torah's understanding is too full of themselves to find room to accept another view, or an idea different than their own.

When a person keeps all that they learn in themselves, the results are catastrophic.

A true G-dly person learns G-d's wisdom, that wisdom ascends, and the person remains "bittul" and "empty" to learn and appreciate more. But if that person lacks "bittul", there is little room to learn more. G-d looks inside, and there's no room to come inside. So, the person remains without G-d's presence, and unable to take in more.

gohebrew's picture

Phew, I think that's it!

david h's picture

> Similarly, kodesh is used differently in different contexts. When it is spelled with a vov between the kuf and daleth, it means one kind of kodesh, I think the positive and complimentary kind. However, if kodesh is not spelled with a vov, it is the negative and uncomplimentary kind.

First time that I hear that. We have the same Hebrew Bible, right?

There's only one word with vav — Daniel 11:30; rest of the bible — kodesh is without vav.

> For a prostitute is called a “kodosha”

Not kodosha, but Kedesha (shva, tsere, kamats); for example Gen. 38:21 & 22

William Berkson's picture

Israel, I am not citing anti-Torah sources in this discussion. I am citing Torah, Talmud and logic.

You say that I am rejecting ideas that are considered "G-dly wisdom" but you are not saying by whom. You clearly considering them Godly wisdom. I am sincerely doubting that, and you can remove my doubt by citing Torah sources and being logical, neither of which I am convinced you have done.

Your claim that my theory goes' is illogical because I was giving a counter example. If even one meaning of kodesh is an exception, it is still an exception, and makes my point: that taking the Resh Lakish aggadah as showing that some letters are 'weak' and words that use them bad is a silly conclusion, because 'kodesh' in the normal sense is a good thing.

And as David points out the word for Temple Prostitute is a different word. For a start it has a hey on the end, and a 'hey' has two legs--so it should be better according to the 'Torah wisdom' you are appealing to!

As far as how to read aggadah, the Encyclopedia Judaica cites the Jerusalem Talmud as saying "no halachah may be derived from the aggadot." (Pe'ah 2:6 17a) It goes on to explain to give other citations on the different rabbinic treatment of aggadah, and says that "many contradictions between aggadot are ignored". In other words, there literal truth is really beside the point, and the point is the lesson taught. Here the lesson is on the nature of truth and falsity, and taking the clever stories about the alphabet and letter shapes too seriously--as a solemn truth about letters to be used in other contexts--is really to miss the point.

gohebrew's picture

David,

You are refering to the nikkud, and I am referring to the spelling.

The different nikkud alter the pronunciation, but the spelling, the choice of letters, remain the same.

I am surprized that you never heard of how the addition of a vov alters the meaning, and the deletion of a vov is indicative of something, too.

Isn't it logical, that a word spelled differently has a different meaning?

gohebrew's picture

William,

Be like a yeshiva bachur. Don't take a discussion personal.

In yeshiva, brilliant understanding results when one can argue both sides successfully.

> I am sincerely doubting that, and you can remove my doubt by citing Torah sources and being logical, neither of which I am convinced you have done.

Fair request.

But I think you're still missing the point.

gohebrew's picture

William,

> that taking the Resh Lakish aggadah as showing that some letters are ’weak’ and words that use them bad is a silly conclusion,

The lesson that I repeated is one I heard repeated, and makes sense, even if your highgness views it as silly.

The lesson you related came from your pupick. You simply made it up.

gohebrew's picture

William,

> a ’hey’ has two legs

In tractate Menachot, folio 37, a women who is weak compared to a man. This is symbolized with the letter hei, as Rashi says, "hei - weak like a woman." Look it up.

Plus, every whore has two legs.

gohebrew's picture

William,

> As far as how to read aggadah, the Encyclopedia Judaica cites the Jerusalem Talmud as saying “no halachah may be derived from the aggadot.” (Pe’ah 2:6 17a)

There is also an opposing viewpoint. The resolution of the argument is that the acceptable aggadah that is used to derive a halacha is not an aggadah at all. Cute anwer.

The Ency. Judaica is considered an unreliable source for a simple logical reason. Many of its writers or researchers are anti-Torah, trying to show there is no G-d in the Torah.

It's like the old joke about the misnagishe rabbi. Ask him a question, and do the opposite.

Some people think that they are so wise, that Moses and Maimonides would be jealous.

gohebrew's picture

William,

> In other words, there literal truth is really beside the point, and the point is the lesson taught.

This is your view, based upon what?

William Berkson's picture

>Be like a yeshiva bachur. Don’t take a discussion personal.

I am trying to behave according to proper manners in a discussion, as specified in Avot 5; I have only been speaking to your arguments, not your character. Further I explicitly made clear that I ascribe to you only good intentions.

It is you who have been personal and negative, lecturing me on inadequate humility, and now sarcastically calling me 'your highness'. I have done no such thing, and won't.

>The lesson you related came from your pupick. You simply made it up.

Another ad hominem argument. I didn't give a distinctive lesson; I just quoted the actual source. I have argued against your lesson about letters, and said that this interpretation takes an valuable lesson about truth and falsity and makes it into a silly claim that is easily refuted, as I have done with just one example, kodesh.

added:

>based on what?

Based on my studies, including the series of convincing quotations in the Encyclopedia Judaica, the introduction to the Sefer HaAggadah (Book of Legends), and the fact that Nachamanides (Ramban) makes a similar point in his famous disputation with Christians criticizing Judaism using aggadot in the Talmud.

jupiterboy's picture

Plus, every whore has two legs.

Ever hear the one about the one-legged… oh nevermind.

So if every statement needs be based on a precedent, what precedent was this statement based on? Are you actually thinking for yourself and making a joke, or has an elder sanctioned a series of speculations related to women that do not meet your (er, uh G_d’s) moral standard?

david h's picture

> You are refering to the nikkud, and I am referring to the spelling.

No, I'm referring to the state of accuracy.

> However, if kodesh is not spelled with a vov, it is the negative and uncomplimentary kind.

Where's the negative?
Nehemiah 11: 1 & 18
Numbers 18:3, 5, 8,9,10


> the addition of a vov alters the meaning, and the deletion of a vov is indicative of something

Show. Don't tell. You have samples — Nehemiah 11: 1 & 18 ; Numbers 18:3, 5, 8,9,10; with or without the vav — where's the negative and the positive?

Who said that? Rashi? Ramban? Rambam?

AzizMostafa's picture

> Ever heared ... about the one-legged?
@ Ever heared ... about the one-egged?

gohebrew's picture

jupiterboy,

> Ever hear the one about the one-legged… oh nevermind.

What was the name of the other leg?

> So if every statement needs be based on a precedent, what precedent was this statement based on? Are you actually thinking for yourself and making a joke, or has an elder sanctioned a series of speculations related to women that do not meet your (er, uh G_d’s) moral standard?

Having a sense of humor goes a long way.

In fact, it is seriously considered by our sages as helpful, even essential, to inderstanding.

A certain rabbi in the Talmud always preceded his lesson by relaxing his students and making them laugh at the beginning of the class.

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