Zohar on the letters

There is an entire discourse on the mystical significance of the Aleph-Bet and their place in the Divine names that’s known as Sitrei Otiyot (“The Secret of the Letters”) in Zohar Chadash (1b-10d). But the Zohar offers insights into the over-all importance of the Aleph-Bet from its inception when it says that “The letters (of the Aleph-Bet) were in hiding when God formed the world. But two thousand years before He created it He reflected upon the letters” and considered their role in it (1, 2b).

Here and there it offers a lot about the letters, including the ideas that “man was created by means of the letters” (2, 42b) and that “man (i.e., his makeup) alludes to the letters” (1, 34b; the letters are “from the point that emanates from Ein Sof (Himself)” (Tikkunei Zohar Chadosh 162b); they derive from four (non-material) elements (1, 80a; also see Tikkunei Zohar 8a, 105a); it confirms the role they played in creation (1, 204a); it tells of their lofty and inscrutable nature (3, 73a; also see 2, 179a and the end of Tikkunei Zohar Chadash to Shir HaShirim); it addresses the three Imot spoken of in Sefer Yetzirah (2, 159b; Tikkunei Zohar 104b) as well as the seven Kephulot (Tikkunei Zohar 104a); and it offers much, much more about the importance of the letters per se as well as about the unique role each individual letter plays.

(c) 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org


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