Thursday, July 26, 2007

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Aleph

by Reb Gutman Locks of the Old City, Jerusalem, Israel at Mystical Paths

A word on the portion of the week, Deuteronomy 3:23 - Va’eschanan.

The “Ten Commandments” are repeated this week. When they were first given, we mentioned [i] that these ten sayings sum up the entire Torah. Also, the first of these commandments sums up the ten, the first word of the first commandment sums up the first commandment, and the first letter of the first word sums up that word.

How can the five books that changed the world possibly be summed up in a single letter?

If a society had no other laws than these ten, its people could live in peace. Surely, as life became more complicated, more details would have to be added to its legal system, but these basic laws could guide a community to live a peaceful life.

If we knew only the first of these commandments, and knew very well that it was God Who took our ancestors out of slavery, we would always be thankful. We would be aware that He is Omnipresent and All Powerful. With this awareness, we would naturally not want to do those things that are forbidden. In fact, all of these commandments except for Shabbat are quite logical, especially to someone who knows God. So we can begin to understand the statement that the first commandment sums up the ten.

The first word of the first command is Anochi—I. If we could understand the depth of this concept, it would sum up the Torah. Remember, the Torah was given to us because we were not able to maintain the main requirement of life in the Garden of Eden—not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

A number of times we discussed how it is that all this diversity is here, yet there is only God. We saw how, in fact, He is the “Indweller” of all things, the “I” of All. There is one overall “I” and many, many little “I’s.” The little “I’s” are beams of the overall “I,” but this is hidden from them. They each think that they are a separate independent “I.” If a beam would really understand Anochi, the overall “I,” he would not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He would see that all is the doing of the one “I,” and he would happily work tending and keeping the garden.

And what about the first letter? The first letter is aleph. Here are just a few of the things that the aleph teaches:

1. The aleph is written by combining a yud, a vav and a yud. The gematria (numerical equivalence) of yud is 10 and vav is 6. The yud vav yud of the aleph adds up to 26, which is the gematria of Hashem (Yud Kay Vav Kay).

2. There is no particular sound to the aleph. Its pronunciation will vary according to its use. This is like the life force of all beings, Who takes on the “form” of whatever being It fills.

3. If you could completely unfold matter, it would actually disappear, just as your lap disappears when you stand, or as a fist disappears when you open it. When you fold an aleph in half diagonally, you see the secret to creation. The higher yud folds over onto the lower yud. This lower yud comes into being by folding the aleph. The upper yud comes down and is now lying on (becomes) the lower yud.

The higher yud has a point above it that points to the place from where it comes. This higher yud then points down as if pouring itself downward.

The top and bottom of the lower yud are parallel with its lowest corner, pointing slightly down. The parallel sides of the lower yud indicate that it is limited. The bottom corner that points down points in the direction where the lower yud goes.

Besides the folding, we see an aspect of “descending” by the letter vav. The vav represents drawing down and actually looks like a yud being drawn down. Here it also presents a “border” between the higher and the lower yuds.

We see that the lower world, the place where we live, is actually the higher world being drawn down onto it but made parallel or finite. And all of this—the higher, the lower and the border between them—is the aleph— One.

[i] See portion Yitro above

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