Finishing up on letters and words

Ramchal’s principal concern at this point in Klach Pitchei Chochma, though, isn’t letters and words themselves so much as names — Divine Names and their various permutations, as we’ll see. He does make one final point about the AlephBet here, though, which is very important and touches on a lot of his perspective on God’s governance of the universe.

He says in Petach 20 that the mystical import of these orders (of twenty-two letters) lies in and derives from the mystical concepts of Chessed (“kindness”), Din (“judgment”), and Rachamim (“compassion”), (which represent the) “right”, “left” and “center” (columns).

In other words, each letter is comprised of a left, right, and center component. Its right side speaks to its degree of Chessed (“kindness”), its left to its degree of Din (“judgment”), while its center speaks to its degree of Rachamim (“compassion”) which is actually a variegated blend of Chessed and Din. And each component expresses the mystical import of the AlephBet.

This principle often illustrated by the makeup of the letter Aleph, א, which is comprised of a Yod, ‘, (actually an inverted Yod) on its left side, another (not inverted) Yod on its right side, and a diagonal Vav, ו, at its center. Aleph is thus pretty balanced — not as perfectly balanced as the letter H is or a Samech (ס) is, but more balanced than a Bet (ב) for example or (an oversized) Lamed (ל).

And as he points out in his comments to Petach 20, “every action (that eventuates in the physical world) comes about as a result of the force produced by a particular combination of the three qualities of Chessed, Din, and Rachamim”. That’s to say that everything that is either kindly, harsh, or some combination of the two, is actuated by an element of one letter or another or a combination of them.

And they form different (different) combinations (and appear in formations represented as being) “closed” and “compressed” (in shape), or “open” and “expanded” (in shape) which is to say as a “line” or a “point” or otherwise, Ramchal points out in Petach 20.

This phenomenon bears a lot on what happens here in the world, Ramchal maintains elsewhere, given that “the world is governed … by the mystical principle of (the combination of) Chessed, Din, and Rachamim” (Adir Bamarom p. 188). “Each one has its function” in the world: “Chessed emits a lot of (beneficent) light and a lot of (similar) light emanates from it, while Din also emits a lot of light of the opposite sort (i.e., benevolent light), and the lights blend with each other in keeping with the mystical notion of Rachamim (i.e., to form one blend or another or “recipe” of both benevolent and malevolent elements). This combination of one or another is the basis of the Torah’s system of “pure” versus “impure” (i.e., “kosher” and “un-kosher”; “right” and “wrong”; etc.) elements, he goes on to say there, for specific reasons.

But that’s only relevant to the lower realms, he points out. “That’s not the intention in (the loftier realms of) Erich Anpin, where utter Chessed reigns” and where right, left, and center emanate pure Chessed alone. “The (graded and variegated) emanations that come into play in the lower realms, which is the site of (moral and ethical) war against The Other Side” are different from the ones in the higher realms where none of that comes into play.

Thus we see that while the letters and words certainly play a major part in the makeup of the world as we know it, the sort of letters and words that will be found in the higher worlds will be of a whole other order and far purer.

The upper and lower realms, as well as the roles they play in the governance of the universe, will all be discussed at great length later on in this work.

(c) 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

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