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Parshas Vayakhel

Excited by a Sacred Fire

By Rabbi Label Lam

Moshe said to the Children of Israel, “See HASHEM has proclaimed by name, Betzalel son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Yehuda. He filled him with G-dly spirit, with wisdom, insight, and knowledge, and with every craft. (Shemos 35:30-31)

Betzalel knew how to combine the letters with which heaven and earth were created! (Brochos 55A)

That sounds like pretty mystical stuff. We knew Betzalel was a talented craftsman but how do we understand his ability to combine letters? What is the practicality of us knowing this information? Not too many of us are Kabbalists! I’m not going to claim to understand it myself but perhaps we can gain a partial appreciation about the specialness and uniqueness of the Hebrew Letters and the Holy Language that we are busy with a good part of each day.

Every day we declare loudly, “SHEMA- Hear O Israel HASHEM is our G-d, HASHEM is ONE!” How can we comfortably appreciate that HASHEM is one? There are so many varieties and types of shapes and dimensions and species and textures and tastes in this multifarious world. The ancient and primitive view was to perceive a splintered congress of competing forces slugging it out for control or dominance. The poor frightened and confused constituent-man would not know which power to throw his support to or how to hedge his bet, just in case he was wrong. That was until Avraham Avinu strode onto the scene. He was a dedicated researcher that posited a unified field theory of physics and spirits.

Avraham is reputed to have written a book called Sefer Yetzira- “Book of Creation” which is still extant today. Here is a sample of what’s written there: “Twenty-Two foundation letters: He engraved them. He carved them. He permuted them. He transformed them, and with them He depicted all that was formed and all that would be formed.”

What does this mean? He is talking about the Hebrew Aleph -Beis! Was the world really created with the letters of the Aleph-Beis? Imagine artistically as you read the statement above from Sefer Yetzira that he is talking about elements on the periodic table: ‘He engraved them and carved them and permuted them and transformed them and with them he depicted all that was and would be formed!’ Amazing! Everything in the room, between us, and including us is made up of some combo of basic elements from that periodic table, from the lightest gases to the heaviest metals.

Now even more remarkable to consider and contemplate is the fact that all those various elements from Hydrogen to Uranium is all composed of the very same stuff with differing densities of neutrons and protons and electrons orbiting at various valences. When you open up any one of them, if you would be able, oceans of sublime energy comes pouring out. It’s all at the core a rich concentration of the same pure power.

An English scientist, Paul W. Davies concludes, “Undoubtedly the most awesome fact to emerge from our study of the micro-world is how exceedingly ingenious nature turns out to be… Mathematics and beauty are the foundation stones of the universe… No one who has studied the forces of nature can doubt that the world about us is the manifestation of something very- very clever indeed…Today it is fashionable to speculate that all forces have a common origin in a single ‘super-force’ that is explicitly revealed only at ultra-high energies.”

Now we can reinsert the Hebrew Aleph- Beis chart and reimagine a world built from letters and words and sentences as the Sefer Tanya states, “If the letters with which heaven was made were to remove themselves for an instant, G-d forbid, and return to their source, the entire heaven would become an absolute vacuum.” We affirm daily in prayer, “Blessed is He Who spoke and the world came to be…” And so our entire world is built by words, excited by a sacred fire.


DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.


 






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