THE LEARNING LAMED
In this painting ALL 22 of the Hebrew letters are represented, but the letter featured is the Lamed.
LAMED is the 12th letter of the Hebrew alphabet and has a numerical value of 30. LAMED makes a sound like the L in Like. LAMED means both TO LEARN and TO TEACH. The LAMED is the tallest and most majestic of all the letters. Indeed Rashi interprets A TOWER FLYING IN THE AIR (Hagigah 15b) - as applying to the upper stroke of the LAMED.
The LAMED is generally considered to be constructed of a CAF (20) with a VAV (6). In this configuration the LAMED has a GEMATRIA of 26 - the same as that of the YUD (10) HEY (5) VAV (6) HEY (5) name of God (Haralick, Robert M. 1995. The Inner Meaning of the Hebrew Letters. Northvale: Jason Aronson. 180).
Since LAMED means LEARNING, it would seem that this would constitute a direct connection between LAMED, LEARNING and GOD.
The Rabbis of the Talmud regarded the letters as the basic elements of the universe, much as we think of oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and carbon (Rabbi Mitchell Chefitz, author of The Seventh Telling and The Thirty-Third Hour).
The story of ET...
Rabbi Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezritch, and a follower of the Baal Shem Tov, explains in Or Torah the secret of the verse Bereshit Bara Eloheim Et - IN A BEGINNING GOD CREATED ET. These are the first words of Torah - Genesis 1:1 - in a beginning God created the heavens and the earth. ET is a word that is not translatable into English. It is like a marker that says - "a definite direct object is next." Thus there needs to be an ET before THE heavens and THE earth. If there was no the, there would not need to be an ET. But Dov Ber points out a deeper meaning. ET is spelled - ALEPH TAV. And ALEPH TAV is an abbreviation for the ALPHA-BET. ALEPH is the first letter of the ALPHABET and TAV the last. So in a beginning God created the ALPHA-BET. And God did this before creating the heavens and the earth. God used the letters, the building blocks, to create the world.
R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the Alter Rebbe of Chabad explains that if the letters were to depart even for an instant, all of creation would become absolute nothingness (Zalman, Shneur. 1981. "Igeret Hateshuvah." Shaar Hayichud. Tanya. Brooklyn: Kihot. 289).
Some of you may read these words and laugh. Silly stories. But I challenge you to spend 5 minutes a day thinking about the letters. Perhaps you could practice drawing one letter for about a minute and then think about it of 4 minutes. See if you can do this every day for a few weeks. And watch what happens. They letters are ALIVE.
This work is accompanied by the kabbalistic explanation printed above.
The original 9x12 watercolor painting of this image is available.
mat color:: green