Torah Nondualism

The Letter Alef

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(Jay Cumming)

Alef.jpg


The Hebrew letter alef can be drawn by combining the letters yud, vov, and dalet into a single letter.

Yud-Vov-Dalet(3).jpg

One first draws a yud (tipped diagonally to the right), then a vov (tipped diagonally to the left), and then a dalet (inverted).

Alef(constructed).jpg

When drawn that way, the alef actually spells out the name of the letter yud (yud-vov-dalet). Consider, however, that a small inverted vov can be inserted into the lower-left corner of a dalet to form a hei. Therefore, the vov and dalet that are components of the letter alef can be combined to produce the letter hei.

Dalet-Vov(2).jpg

In this way, we can construct all the letters of the name yhvh from the graphical components of the single letter alef.

Let’s see how that is done, step by step...

The pen-strokes comprised within the letter alef, when uncurled and spread apart, spell out the name of the letter yud (yud-vov-dalet).

Yud-Vov-Dalet(3).jpg

And when the vov unites with the dalet, their individuality is nullified, and they appear together as a hei. Thus, the pen-strokes of the alef can be reconfigured to produce the letters yud and hei, which is, of course, the divine name YaH.

Yud-Hei(1).jpg

According to the Zohar, the letter yud of the name YaH corresponds among the sefirot to Chokhmah, also called Abba (“Father”), and the letter hei corresponds to Binah, also called Imma (“Mother”). If the hei then gives “birth” to the vov and dalet that it graphically comprises, then the latter two letters appear individually as a “Son” and a “Daughter.”

Yud-Hei-Vov-Dalet(1).jpg

In terms of the ten sefirot, the Son (also called “Brother” and “Zeir Anpin”) corresponds to the six-set of sefirot from Chesed through Yesod, and the Daughter (also called “Sister”) corresponds to the last of the sefirot, Malkhut.

ClassicalPictureofSefirot(2).jpg

But at this stage of our analysis, the letters hidden within the alef are yud-hei-vov-dalet (not yud-hei-vov-hei). The Daughter (represented by the letter DaLeT) is in a state of poverty (DaLuT), because she is separate from the Son and thus barren. The vov (the Son, or Zeir Anpin) must impregnate the dalet (the Daughter), perfecting her through their union. He does so by placing a tiny yud (a seminal drop) inside the dalet, thereby making her appear as a hei.

TheName(Vertical)(Compressed).jpg

When the vov (the Son) injects a tiny yud (a seminal drop) into the dalet (the Daughter), the Daughter, who is no longer barren, is elevated to the status of the Mother (the first hei of the name). Thus, Malkhut rises to the level of Binah, the dalet rises to the level of hei, and the four letter name becomes yud-hei-vov-hei, which is the name as we see it in Torah.

Yud-Hei-Vov-Hei(1).jpg

In other words, the name yhvh (which we have derived from the graphical components of the Hebrew letter alef) actually provides the basic structural elements of a myth involving divine personages who marry, conceive offspring, and then give birth; who suffer barrenness and poverty, and then attain their ultimate perfection. The name tells the tale of Chokhmah (Father) and his pregnant “wife” Binah (Mother). The Mother’s pregnant state represents the essential unity of Chokhmah and Binah. She then gives birth to a “son” (the six-set of sefirot from Chesed through Yesod) and a “daughter” (Malkhut). Next, the son (who is also called Zeir Anpin) and the daughter (Malkhut) marry, and the daughter becomes pregnant with the son’s seed.

AlchemicalWedding.jpg
Gemini by Johfra Bosschart

Here, one should put aside any objections one might have to a gender construction that values “married and pregnant” as the feminine ideal and that associates female infertility with poverty (DaLuT). At an archetypal level, there is redemptive significance in the stable union of complementary opposites, and this union is effectively conveyed by the sexual metaphor of impregnation. One also should not see scandal in the marriage of siblings; again, we are referring here to supernal archetypes, not to ordinary people. In terms of archetypes, the marriage of the Brother and the Sister represents the return to unity of that which began as unity. The brother and sister who are separated at birth and later marry is in fact a widespread motif of folklore and myth. (Cf. Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 58a; see also Genesis 20:12; Leviticus 20:17 [literal reading]; Song of Songs 5:2, 8:1-2.) At the level of the sefirot, the marriage of the Brother (Zeir Anpin) and the Sister (Malkhut) is a redemptive event.

[The foregoing study of the letter alef is taken mostly from the Sifra di-Tzni’uta and the Idra Zuta. See Zohar 1:51a, translated in Matt, The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, Vol. I, pp. 284-285; Zohar 2:123b [Idra di-Mashkena], 2:176b-179a [Sifra di-Tzni’uta], translated in Matt, The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, Vol. V, pp. 159-161, 545-586; Zohar 3:65b, translated in Sperling and Simon, The Zohar, Vol. V, p. 57; Zohar 3:290a-291a [Idra Zuta], translated in Roy A. Rosenberg, The Anatomy of God (KTAV Publishing House 1973), pp. 145-152.]

For more about the name yhvh and many other secrets of the Torah, you are invited to read Torah Nondualism: Diversity, Conflict, and Synthesis in the Pentateuch.

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Copyright © 2011 James H. Cumming