The anonymous author of Sefer ha-Temunah (13th or 14th century C.E.) said that in each eon of world history the Torah is read in a different way and that in the current eon one letter of the Hebrew language is hidden. Moreover, he added, when that one letter is revealed, the Torah will have a whole new meaning. Could he have been referring to the hidden yud at the end of the name yhvh, the inverted yud that is concealed within a dalet to create the final hei, the yud that, when elevated, transforms the
name from yhvh to Yehudi? (For more detail on this hidden yud, click here.)
Numerous hints appear in Hebrew scripture about that hidden yud. Most of these hints are based on the fact that the Hebrew word “YaD” (“hand”) is spelled without vowels, and therefore its letters can just as validly be read as YuD, a reference to the Hebrew letter yud. At first, this hermeneutical idea may seem like post hoc invention, not a legitimate method of scriptural interpretation, but the Torah itself explicitly endorses this way of decoding its text.
The Torah relates that Jacob (Ya‘akov, in Hebrew) was born with his “hand” (YaD) clasping the “heel” (‘AQeiV) of his twin brother, and it states that therefore he was called Ya‘AQoV. (Genesis 25:26.) Note that in the Hebrew words written in the preceding sentence, the vowels that are shown in lower case do not appear in the Torah’s text, and therefore other vowels can be substituted without changing the text. Because the physical YaD (“hand”) of Jacob was grasping the physical ‘AQeiV (“heel”) of his brother, a letter YuD (Y) became attached to the letters of the word “‘AQeiV” to produce the name Ya‘AQoV
YaD + ‘AQeiV =
YuD + ‘AQeiV =
Y + ‘AQeiV =
Thus, the Torah tells us in relatively plain terms that any reference to YaD (“hand”) can be read as a reference to the letter YuD.
This bit of scribal wordplay tells us something about the metaphysics of Jewish ritual: The significance of what one enacts ritually may have nothing to do with its external appearance in the physical world, and it may have everything to do with building significant letter combinations in the spiritual world. Thus, ritual is a form of enacted writing in which divine powers are invoked without their names ever being uttered by a tongue or inscribed by a stylus or chisel. Only scribes could have come up with such a ritual system, and in fact the same metaphysics underlay the rituals that the scribes of ancient Egypt devised. Through enacted rituals, our time-bound world became, for them, a writing tablet on which one could record the archetypal events of the divine world. The commandment to “write for yourselves this song” (Deuteronomy 31:19), which rabbinical tradition interprets as a commandment to write a Torah scroll, refers to exactly this sort of enacted writing.
Through the story of how Jacob got his name, the Torah informs us explicitly that any reference to YaD (“hand”) is potentially a reference to the letter YuD (Y), and when we decode
the stories of the Torah as “enacted writing,” we find that the secret of the name yhvh is described repeatedly and explicitly — much too frequently to be mere coincidence.
The foregoing is an excerpt from Torah Nondualism: Diversity, Conflict, and Synthesis in the Pentateuch. For numerous examples from the Torah where the secret of the name yhvh is described using the scribal wordplay shown above, please read the book.
Please click here.
Please “like” or “share” this website on Facebook:
You can also “like” or “share” this page of the website using these buttons:
Copyright © 2011 James H. Cumming