Hebrew words have power:
We tend to take written language for granted. According
to Jewish legend, the Torah (the five books of the Bible)
was written 2000 years before the Universe was created,
and by implication, the letters themselves predated the
Universe. God used the Torah as a blueprint when He created
the universe. The Torah is the utmost truth; since the Torah
is a relatively small book, it is believed that the Torah
contains not just the "obvious" reading, but many,
many different hidden meanings as well.
example, in Genesis, it is written that "the Lord God
formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into
his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living
soul." Later on in Genesis, "Adam" is referred
to, but nowhere is Adam introduced - it's taken for granted
that the reader understands that "Adam" must be
the man in question. Now, in Hebrew, Adam is written like
consists of three letters (right to left): Aleph, Daleth
The word for "blood" in Hebrew is "Dam"
- letter Daleth and letter Mem. LetterAleph by itself not
only represents the "Ah" sound, but also the element
of air, or breath - so "Adam" is seen as blood
with the breath of life - the man created by God.
are many other such hidden meanings in the Bible - using
letters as numbers, using a "cypher" so that the
last letter of the alphabet corresponds to the first, the
penultimate letter corresponding to the second, and so on,
and hidden abbreviations. Scholars have spent many years
finding meaning in these, and the Talmud is a body of writing
which largely consists of commentaries - the "hidden
meanings" - on the Torah. Even today, Jewish scholars
are researching such hidden meanings. In recent years, the
"Bible Code" has received a lot of publicity;
this is a system where supposed hidden messages are teased
out of the bible by picking, say, every 31st letter in a
sequence, or every 42nd letter, to reveal new words.
Each Hebrew letter corresponds to a number; most Hebrew
bibles actually use the letters to indicate chapter numbers
and verse numbers. This means that every single Hebrew word
has a numeric value, and scholars have long been fascinated
by entirely different words that have the same numeric value
as each other. A simple example: the word for love is Ahebah
(Alef-Heh-Beth-Heh), which adds up to 13. The word for unity
is Achad (Alef-Cheth-Daleth), which also adds up to 13.
Thus there is a correspondence between love and unity. The
art of finding words with the same numeric value is called
gematria - the concept is vaguely similar to numerology
(where a person's name is reduced to a number, to indicate
their personality), except that gematria is usually conducted
on biblical names and the names of angels.
Hebrew letters are divided into three categories: three
"mother" letters, which correspond to the three
elements (Air, Water and Fire - Earth is considered to be
a combination of all three elements, and not an element
in its own right), seven "double" letters, which
correspond to the seven planets known to the ancients (Moon,
Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn). Double letters
are so called because they historically had two different
sounds; for example, the letter "Peh" can have
a "P" sound or an "F" or "Ph"
sound; some of these distinctions have now disappeared -
for instance, the letter "Gimel" only has a single
sound now (a hard "G"), but used to have two sounds
("G" or "J"). The remaining twelve letters
correspond to the twelve zodiac signs:
most early Semitic alphabetic writing systems, the alefbet
has no vowels. People who are fluent in the language do
not need vowels to read Hebrew, and most things written
in Hebrew in Israel are written without vowels. However,
the Rabbi realized the need for aids to pronunciation, so
they developed a system of dots and dashes known as points.
These dots and dashes are written above or below the letter,
in ways that do not alter the spacing of the line. Text
containing these markings is referred to as "pointed"
text. Below is an example of pointed text. For emphasis,
I have drawn the points in the illustration in blue and
somewhat larger than they would ordinarily be written.
And you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Leviticus
is another style used for handwriting, in much the same
way that cursive is used for the Roman (English) alphabet.
style is used in certain texts to distinguish the body of
the text from commentary upon the text. This style is known
as Rashi Script, in honor of Rashi, the greatest commentator
on the Torah and the Talmud.