Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Sign Aleph

The Sign Aleph Hebrew letter
The following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass
This version includes corrections and new materials that do not appear on the printed version
The diagonal placing of the signs of the word ,אבא abba, in our Star is configured in the sign ,א aleph, itself. If we look at this closely, we see that אis in fact a combination of two Hebrew signs, namely ,וwav, and , י yod (Yota, in Greek), represented twice.
Yod stands for hand, or, as often as not, God's Hand everywhere, so to speak. It is a component of each of the 22 signs (otiot, letters in the Aleph-Beth), indicating that God's Might and Presence are manifest everywhere, whether we notice it or not.
Wavו ,, means hook - on which everything hangs. It is also the sign for the word "and". Symbolically, it stands for the integral man, to whom God entrusted His creation so that we may have dominion over it - in the image of our Creator, and not as a destroyer. Man with his double nature - physical body and spiritual soul - was created for this purpose, and it is he, and only he, who consciously and at will can and should link the material with the spiritual. As the Psalmist says: "Thou [God] hast given him [Man] dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet,"
However, in the sign aleph, the wav is not vertical, but occupies a diagonal position. This indicates that Man is in an ongoing process of growth. In this process, he finds himself with God's might hovering over him, as symbolized in א by the ,יyod, right side above; and the Divine spark within him, as symbolized by the ,י yod, left side below. Yet, we can see that the yod below is not exactly the same as the yod above. Maybe this is to remind us that the Divine spark in Man, though in its essence identical with the Creator, is not the Creator Himself.
A drop of water from the ocean is in essence identical with its source, yet it is not the ocean. So the Divine in us is far from being God. Created after His image and likeness, we can take part in His Creation, as co-creators, although without the power to create ex nihilo.
,א aleph, thus symbolizes God's creative spirit both before its manifestation in Creation, and in its manifestation, especially in Man. It is this spirit which raises Man from the animal state to that of true humanity. The Hebrew language brings this out in a beautiful way. It forms the word ,אדםadam, meaning Man or Mankind, by placing the sign ,אaleph, before the word,דם dam, which means blood. Thus , אדם adam , designates a living being of flesh and blood and linked to, and governed by, the spirit of God.

Dr Eder's notes to this chapter:

Interestingly enough, the numerical value of these components of א , aleph, is 26, like that of the tetragrammaton; v. Aryeh Kaplan, Meditation and the Bible, p.82 (Samuel Weiser, Inc; York Beach, Maine, 1978, ISBN 0-87728-364-8).

The Biblical term "let us make Man..." in Genesis 1:27 does not allude to a trinity or other plurality of God; it indicates that the "hosts of heavens" (including the sun, moon, and stars, v. Gen.2:1; Deut.4:19; 17:3) play a role in the process of "Man Making" (see notes 6 of chapter 7, and 8 of chapter 8). God did not say "let me make Man", or "I'll make Man". That would have reduced Man to a passive animal, which at most could be trained for specific limited work. Therefore, we are told: "Be not like a horse or mule, devoid of understanding, bit and bridle their ornaments..." (Ps.32:9).
As true humans, we are "made a little less than God", as said in Ps.8:6

Six Letters

Six Letters Magen DavidI made this Photoshop design in order to illustrate why the Star of David has six triangles - in Hebrew it is called Magen David and has six letters, each demands its own triangle. Of course in English, where it is called star of David you need more triangles to satisfy this demand...

Jewish Agency

Jewish Agency Magen DavidOne of the most famous Stars of David appears on the logo of the Jewish Agency. Photo is courtesy of Brer Rabbi who published it on Flickr.