I have talked about how Hebrew is not like any other language in the world. Yesterday, we saw how mystical Hebrew letters are. I would like to follow up with some information showing how mystical Hebrew words are. One clarification that needs to be made is that I am talking the Hebrew we find in scriptures and not modern Hebrew. They Hebrew found in Scriptures is called the holy tongue, Lashon Hakodesh.
One big difference between Lashon Hakodesh and any other language is that the letters actually describe the essence of the word. If as an example, in English if everyone in the world agreed that from this day forward we should call a shirt a chair, and a chair a shirt, it would be possible. English like most languages is a living language that new words are invented every day. By the way, that is a nice chair you're wearing today. In Lashon Hakodesh the word describes the item. The word in Hebrew for "word" is Davar. Davar also is defined as "thing." An object and the word for that object are the same thing.
Let me give you an example that will demonstrate how the letters define the essence of a word. If I say in Hebrew "I speak" it would be "ani midabaer (אני מדבר)." The four Hebrew letters that make the word midabear (speak) are Mem, Daled, Bet, Raish. Each letter in Hebrew has multiple meanings themselves. The Mem often means "from"; the Daled can mean "door" (which is delet in Hebrew); the Bet means "in"; and, the Raish often means "head" (which is rosh in Hebrew). So, if you put the four letters together they say "from the door in the head." In other words, speech is described as "from the door in the head" (the mouth). All words in Scriptures are made up the same way, believe it or not. The shapes of the letters, the numerical value of each letter and the combination of letters all have significance. There are many books written that cover the mysticism of Hebrew letters and words.
Even names have deeper meaning. Adam, the first man is made up of three letters – an Alef, Daled and Mem. It is known that Adam came back again as King David and will return in the end of days as Moshiach. Hence the three letters of Adams name represent Adam, David and Moshiach.
The Talmud teaches that there are three partners needed for the creation of every human being: mother, father and Hashem. The three Hebrew letters in the name Adam have a numerical value of 45. Father in Hebrew has a numerical value of three; mother in Hebrew has a numerical value of 41. That comes to 44 which is made complete with the number one, Hashem.
What is the plural for Adam? The word does not exist in Hebrew. It is to make us aware of the fact that humanity began with but one person. That is why Jewish law warned witnesses in capital crimes to be extremely careful with their testimony, for "one who destroys even one person is as if he destroys an entire world; and one who saves but one person is as if he preserves an entire world." When we forget the singularity of every human being, that each person is irreplaceable, we take the first step of turning people into numbers, souls into ciphers. Six million victims of the Holocaust are incomprehensible, beyond human imagination. The very immensity of the number diminishes our sensitivity to the tragedy of every single soul. Anne Frank, as one counted teenager with whom we can empathize, makes the crime of the Nazis real and allows the horror to be grasped. Adam: every person is one, singular, unique, and can never be replicated.
It is interesting that even names of places today seem to have hidden meaning in the Hebrew.
- Russia is the Hebrew word for an evil person.
- Oslo, the famous accord that was set up for the destruction
of Israel, means toilet bowl.
- America, I am sorry to report, can be broken down to Am
Ricah – a nation of emptiness.
I would end with one of my favorite words – Truth. Emet, אמת has very great significance. First of all, the Talmud points out where the
three Hebrew letters of the word Emet are placed in the Hebrew alphabet. The three letters happened to be the first
then a middle letter and the last letter in the alphabet. The word for lie or falsehood is sheker, שקר. The Talmud tells us that the truth is hard to
find but lies are very prevalent. Even
in the Hebrew alphabet the letters of truth are spread apart and hard-to-find;
but, the letters of falsehood are together and easily found. Also the three letters that make up truth have
a solid foundation and can stand up by themselves. The letters for lies have a
single point at the bottom and cannot stand up by themselves. The truth is unshakable – falsehood cannot
stand by itself. In English we express
the concept of total truth by saying that something is true "from A-Z." We find the same concept in Hebrew from Alef
to Tav. Truth demands total accuracy
from start to finish including every point in the middle as well.
- Yisroel means, quite literally, "He has striven with Hashem,"
or "He has been saved by Hashem." The root connotes "esrah"
which means "help." I had to
give you one positive example.
From birth to death. That is the
ultimate truth of every human being. The
three letters of Emet אמת may be read in two combinations of beginning and end.
אמ - Em - Mother
From the cradle to the grave –
these are the unavoidable boundaries of our human existence. To know this truth is the first step for making the most of ourselves during the time we are granted by Hashem
on this earth. Truth requires
for its essence the first letter alef, the "One" standing for Hashem.
Remove the initial letter in Emet and
all that remains is met -- death. Without
Hashem there can be no truth. In its
place only death and destruction remain.
מת - Met - Death
That which is true is everlasting. The false and the wicked cannot prevail. Emet
has a numerical value of 441. Man
is a duality of both body and soul. Our flesh is mortal. It ages, decays, and withers. But that is not "the truth" of our existence. VeHaNeFeSh, and the soul: has a
numerical value of 441. And the soul –
that is the truth of our life and our immortality.
Hashem spoke to us at Mount Sinai and gave us the Ten Commandments, the
Decalogue. They begin with the word anokhi,
"I am"; of which the first letter is alef. The Mishnah, compendium of Oral Law, begins
with the word me-ematai – "from when does one
read the shema in the evening?" The
opening letter is mem. The Gemara, the
talmudic discussion of the Mishnah, starts with the word tanna, the Sage, with
an initial tav. Hashem makes Himself
manifest through His law. In its three forms,
Decalogue, Mishnah, and Talmud, its opening letters make the word Emet, as seal
of its truth.
I could go on for wait a long time with examples (we
know you can). The important point is to
know that no word, no letter in Jewish Scriptures is superfluous. I have not given you one drop from all the
oceans of the world for the examples are infinite. The proof of Hashem is unshakable. I said it before "if we could tie all the
computers of the world into one gigantic mainframe, and we can tie all human
brains of the world into one giant brain, we could still not write a
Torah. The infinite bits of proof could
have only come from an infinite Source of Intelligence. It makes the study of
Torah and life itself thoroughly enjoyable. Don't miss the enjoyment -- you'll
love it. By the way, the numerical value
of "In the Torah" BaTorah is 613.
מת - Met - Death