Thursday, April 30, 2009

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by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Gematria is the study of the significance of the numerical values of Hebrew letters or concepts. In Hebrew, every letter is also a number. This means that every word or concept will have a numerical value. When we see that two words, groups of words, concepts with even radically different meanings have the same gematria, we are prompted to look for their underlying relationship. There must be such a relationship, or else they would not have the same numerical value.

Interesting gematriot are almost endless. To give a few interesting examples:

The Torah commands us to give ten percent of “your harvests” to the Levi. The gematria of the letters in the word “Your harvests” equals 460. Ten percent of the word “your harvests” is 46, which is the gematria of Levi. So we see the law is embedded in the words themselves.

We are told that to commit a teaching to memory we are to repeat it 101 times. “Remember” (זכר) equals 227, and “forget” (שכח) equals 328. The difference between remember and forget is 101.

When Yaakov had his famous dream of the angels going up and down the ladder, he exclaimed, “There is G-d in this place!” G-d is everywhere, so Yaakov had to be saying something more. “There is G-d in this place” equals 541, which is the gematria of “the commandments.” G-d is found in His commandments. G-d promised to give the place where Yaakov had that dream to Yaakov’s children forever. “There is G-d in this place” also equals “Israel.”

When we must cut our tzitzis for whatever reason, we are told not to cut them with a metal tool. It is recommended to cut them by biting them with your teeth. The reason for not using a metal tool is that metal is shaped into tools of war, which shortens life. And we should not cut our tzitzis, which symbolize the Torah, which comes to give life, with tools that come to take it away. But why cut them with our teeth? There are 32 single strands of tzitzis on our garment, and a normal adult has 32 teeth.

When you first see numerical values pointing out such wondrous relationships between apparently different ideas, it is truly amazing. Each time you see one it picks you up higher. You come to ask, how is it possible for even the Holy One to make all of the concepts in the Torah fit the reality of the world? But then you realize that G-d did not make the Torah to fit the world. He made the world to fit the Torah. The Torah was created first, and the world was created from the letters of the Torah.[ii] So it is only natural that the world fits the Torah.

All that we see with our eyes is the physical manifestation. We see the physical table, but not the spiritual table that makes the physical table possible. The physical table’s underlying, unseen realty is that its physicality is being manifested thorough the letters of the Torah.

Just as the chemical makeup of the entire physical creation runs throughout all matter, and similar chemicals will be found even in objects that appear totally different, so does gematria reflect spiritual relationships between concepts that otherwise would seem totally different.

After a while we are no longer amazed at all, not even at the strangest of relationships. We come to see it is just the way the world is being made.

[i] See “Spice of Torah Gematria” Judaica Press - G.Locks
[ii] “He looked into the Torah and made the world.” Zohar


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