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The Letter - ל - Lamed

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

By Rabbi Ytshak Ginsburg


Aspiration – Contemplation of the Heart


In The "Letters of Rabbi Akiva," the full spelling of the letter lamed (lamed-mem-dalet) is read as short for the phrase: "a heart that understands knowledge" (lev meivin da'at). The numerical value of this phrase (608) equals "heart" (32) times "Eve" (19), i.e. "the heart of Eve."



In his commentary on the story of the Garden of Eden, the original episode of mankind, Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra states that Adam is the secret of the brain; Eve, the secret of the heart; the snake, the secret of the liver. In Kabbalah andChassidut these fundamental correspondences are developed and explained in depth.

Adam and Eve, male and female, are the prototype spiritual forces of giving and receiving. The marital union and gift of male to female relates to the secret of knowledge, as is said: "And Adam knew his wife Eve." For this reason Adam and Eve are often seen to represent teacher and pupil. The teacher contracts his intellect into a point (yud) in order to convey his teaching to his student, whereas the student nullifies his previous levels of conception to become a fitting vessel for the new, wondrous teachings of his teacher.



In particular, the form of the lamed represents the aspiration of the truly devoted pupil to learn from the mouth of the teacher. The literal meaning of the letter lamed is "to learn" (or "teach"). The seed of wisdom, alluded to by the letteryud, descends from the brain (Adam) to impregnate the full consciousness of the heart (Eve). The heart aspires (upwardly) to receive this point of insight from the brain. This is the secret of the form of the letter lamed, the heart ascending in aspiration to conceive and comprehend ("understand knowledge") the point of wisdom, the yud situated at the top of the letter lamed.



Our Sages refer to the lamed as "a tower soaring in air." Three hundred laws relate to the secret of this "flying tower." In our study of Torah, the "flying tower" is the expression of our love and devotion to the teachings of the Torah, our aspiration to conceive its inner truth, lifting us above the "gravity barrier" of earthly preoccupation. We are told that the Ba'al Shem Tov would place the palm of his hand on the heart of a Jewish child and bless him to be a "warm Jew." The palm, the power to actualize potential, becomes manifest – at the inner spiritual level – in the "will [crown, keter] of the heart" to conceive and unite with God's Will, the teachings of Torah. The lamed, the heart, aspires upwardly and connects to the yud of Divine insight. This is reflected in the form of the letter lamed, a kaf reaching upward to a yud. This is also the secret of the spiritual sequence hinted at in the letters of the word keli, "vessel" (kaf-lamed-yud): the power to actualize potential (the palm [kaf] of the Ba'al Shem Tov), manifest in the aspiration of the heart [lamed] reaching upward to conceive the secret of Divine wisdom [yud]. Throughout Torah the heart symbolizes the primary concept of vessel, the secret of Eve.


Source: Gal Enai


 

Rabbi Moshe Perets is the Founder and Executive Director of NoahideAcademy.org, the world’s largest Noahide informational website. He accomplished his Rabbinical Studies at the Chabad Yeshiva and his medical studies at the University of Louvain in Brussels, Belgium.



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