Ramak on the letters

Ramak explains a lot about the makeup, function, derivation, and the outcome of the combination of the letters in Shiur Komah (85). He says there that “the letters are (utterly) spiritual and subtle” in their source, but that “they become ‘light’, which is to say, somewhat revealed” or tangible “when they descend” into this world.

He says that they “are compound of the four lofty spiritual elements”, meaning to say of the “four animals of the Chariot” (see Ezekiel 1:5).

We learn there that each letter falls into a numerical grouping, as when Aleph (1) is aligned with Yod (10) and Kof (100); when Bet (2), Chaf (20), and Resh (200) are all aligned; when Gimmel (3), Lamed (30) and Shin (300) are aligned; etc.

He addresses their shapes and advises that one is to take their “length, which is (rooted in) Chessed” into account, along with their “width, which is (rooted in) Gevurah”, their “depth, which is (rooted in) Malchut”, and their “height, which is (rooted in) Tipheret” into account. That means to say that the shape and the amount of space each letter occupies determines it potency and makeup, and that the sages who know how to use that to our best advantage should take that all into consideration.

And he points out that “all of the letters should rightfully be square-shaped” since that would point to their fullness and potency, but they aren’t. Hence the world, which is under the sway of the letters, is less than perfect because like the moon, the letters are “round-shaped” instead of square, so “only a part of them shines forth” to help govern the world.

(c) 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org


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