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The Letters of the Hebrew Alphabet

The Hebrew Letter ALEPH Aleph

Your introduction to the individual letters of the Hebrew Alphabet begins here.
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Click a letter to find out more Aleph Bet Gimmel Dalet Hey Vav Zayin Het Tet Yod Kaf Lamed Mem Nun Samekh Pey Ayin Tsade Kof Resh Tav

ALEPH. The first letter of the Hebrew alphabet

The letter Aleph

Pronunciation. Originally aleph was a glottal stop. In Hebrew today aleph is either a glottal stop or is not pronounced at all. The letter then acts as a "carrier" for the vowel sound attached to it.

Transliteration. The letter aleph is transliterated as an inverted apostrophe "ʾ".

When aleph occurs within a word the transliteration might look like this.
הָאָרֶץ (the land) is transliterated haʾarets. Syllabification. ha-a-rets.

Sometimes when aleph begins a word it is not transliterated at all.
E.g. אִישׁ (man) might be transliterated ʾish or ish. Syllabification. ish.

Gematria. Aleph has a value of One. Aleph points to the Eternal One. In aleph is representative of the Unity of God and all Creation. In the words of Shema Yisrael God is אֶחָד.

God is One

SPIRITUALITY in the letter ALEPH Aleph

The letter aleph is formed with two yuds and a vav. One vav descends from the upper realm while the second ascends from the lower. The two meet and are joined by a diagonal vav. Isaac Luria (16th Century, Safed) taught that on the second day of creation when all was "water in water" the spirit of God hovered over the surface of the deep and stretched the firmament between the the upper and the lower waters.

Kabbalah teaches that the primary purpose of both "waters" is the sense of the Divine—this is the essence of Divine Service. According to asidut* the perspective of the upper waters is the exaltation of the Divine in the oneness of all in the Divine being, and the perspective of the lower: the exaltation of God experienced in the reality of the separation and lowliness of human kind from God.

Luria taught that the place of meeting (the vav) is the place of pure truth—in that place rests the Divine power to bear two opposites simultaneously.

Midrash teaches that in the creation God separated the upper and lower reality; set them apart, for God decreed that neither the lower reality should ascend nor the upper reality descend. However, in the giving of the Torah at Sinai God annulled the decree and in that place of meeting (at Sinai) the higher reality descended (God) and the lower reality ascended (Moses.) Therefore, the union of the upper reality (the upper yud) with the lower reality (the lower yud) in the place of the connecting vav that is Torah is the secret contained in the letter aleph.
*Hasidut (חֲסִדוּת), from the word hesed (grace, charity), means Hasidic piety.

 

 

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