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.

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.

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.

david h's picture


I'm talking about your samples: ulpanah, geulah; NOT the whole langauge! And it does not matter if it is modern, liturgy or modern liturgy.

> I figured that perhaps in Aramaic, a dagesh does not appear here


> most dagesh is missing in modern Hebrew with nikkud, except for the beit, kaf, peh, and taf. The dagesh in other letters is merely grammatical.


BTW, about Kehot — what did you say they have; the custom mark abvoe the sheva na, and what else -- kamats katan?

gohebrew's picture


Shay Lemorah has it all: shva-na, kamatz katan, hataf kamatz katan (because the publisher is in deed a recognized scholar), except for the furtive patach (Koren publishers and Feldhein publishers [recently] has it). The shva-na is a shva with an aterisk above the letter with a circle closely around it.

Kehot usually has only the shva-na, because the original yoshave rosh (the director), the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneersohn, insisted upon its inclusion. The new books since his demise have a very small asterisk only, as the new director wants to scrap it altogether (but since the Rebbe wanted it, it remains). ArtScroll had it, but recently not (perhaps, due to their software and font).

Haven't you seen nikkud text without the dagesh in many of the letters? I am trying to recall where I saw this occur commonly?

About ulpana and geula, let me research samples.

Btw, BestBuy is sending my scanner back to HP, and promises to return it in about a month. Patience...

david h's picture


> Kehot usually has only the shva-na

And I guess that you have books published by Kehot, right? And only with shva na, nothing else, right?

> Haven’t you seen nikkud text without the dagesh in many of the letters?

Show a sample.

gohebrew's picture


> And I guess that you have books published by Kehot, right? And only with shva na, nothing else, right?

Most nikkud texts from Kehot have shva-na. Some do not, from over two decades ago.

Ver few publishers in general have kamatz katan. ArtScroll doesn't.

Only Shay Lemorah has kamatz katan, and even hataf kamatz katan.

Feldheim, Koren, and I heard JTS too has the furtive patach.

Who has kamatz katan besides Shay Lemorah?

John Hudson's picture

Who has kamatz katan besides Shay Lemorah?

The ISO10646/Unicode proposal documentation for qamats qatan, submitted by Mark Shoulson & Michael Everson, included scans from three publications displaying this form of qamats in a manner visually distinct from qamats gadol. These were

Riahi, S. M., ed. ספר תהלים סימנים. Jerusalem: Feldheim Press, 2001.

Shiovitz, Jeffrey, ed. B’kol Echad בקול אחד. New York: United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, 2001.

Tal, Shlomo, ed. סדור רנת ישראל: נוסח אשכנז. Jerusalem: Keter Press, 1976.

gohebrew's picture

Thank you, John,

Clearly, these glyphs representing important Hebrew rules are becoming more and more widespread as they become standard parts of encoding standards and Hebrew typefaces.

Feldheim Press of Jerusalem, Israel/Monsey, NY and Keter Press of Jerusalem, Israel are two very large and significant Orthodox Jewish Publishers, third and fourth to ArtScroll/Mesorah Publishers of Boro Park, Brooklyn, NY and Kehot Publication Society of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, NY/Kfar Chabad, Israel.

Keter's prayerbook, סדור רנת ישראל: נוסח אשכנז, is one of the most popular prayerbooks, used by close to a hundred thousand Jews. Maybe much more. Orthodox do not submit to census.

United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism's prayerbook is used by even more Jews.

I was told by Rabbi Sue Ann Wasserman that the appearance of the kamatz katan is a standard part of Reform Judaism's prayerbook as well. She writes: "the [new] Reform Siddur Mishkan Tfilla and the Revised Plaut Torah Commentary differentiate between a kamatz katan and a kamatz gadol".

However, only the smaller Shay Lemorah Publishers of Jerusalem feature also the hataf komatz katan.

The largest Jewish publishers, ArtScroll/Mesorah and Kehot, employ the shva-na symbol, joined also by Shay Lemorah.

david h's picture

Israel, see the new thread.

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