The Hebrew Letters: Tet

Introversion – the Concealed Good

The tet is the initial letter of the word tov, “good.” The form of the tet is “inverted,” thus symbolizing hidden, inverted good–as expressed in the Zohar: “its good is hidden within it.” The form of the letter chet symbolizes the union of groom and bride consummating with conception. The secret of the tet (numerically equivalent to nine, the nine months of pregnancy) is the power of the mother to carry her inner, concealed good – the fetus – throughout the period of pregnancy.

Pregnancy is the power to bring the potential to actualization. The revelation of new, actual energy, the revelation of birth, is the secret of the next letter of the alef-beit, the yud. The yud reveals the point of “Essential Life” as realized in the secret of conception of the chet and carried, impregnated, in the tet.

Of the eight synonyms for “beauty” in Hebrew, tov–”good”–refers to the most inner, inverted, and “modest” state of beauty. This level of beauty is that personified in Torah by Rebecca and Bat Sheva, who are described as “very beautiful [goodly] in appearance.”

At the beginning of Creation, the appearance of light is termed “good” in God’s eyes: “And God saw the light was good.” Our Sages interpret this to mean “good to be hidden for the tzadikim in the Time to Come.” “And where did He hide it? In the Torah, for ‘there is no good other than Torah.’”

The Ba’al Shem Tov teaches that the “Time to Come” refers also to every generation. Each soul of Israel is a potential tzadik (as it is said: “and your people are all tzadikim“), connected to the goodly light hidden in Torah. The more one actualizes his potential to be a tzadik, the more goodness he reveals from the Torah “womb.”

In the first verse of the Torah – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” – the initial letters of “the heavens and the earth” spell God’s “hidden Name” in Creation (alef-hei-vav-hei), according to Kabbalah. The numerical value of this name is seventeen, the same as that of the word, tov, “good.” The word tzadik equals 12 times 17 = 204, the total value of the twelve permutations of the four letters of this hidden Name. Tzadikim, who are called “good,” possess the power of the hidden Name (derived from “the heavens and the earth”), the hidden goodness needed to unite heaven and earth and thereby reveal the inner light and purpose of Creation. Just as the alef possesses the power to bear opposites – the power of the firmament to join the higher and lower waters together – so does the tet possess the power to unite the upper and lower worlds, “heavens and earth.” Chassidut teaches that in the service of the soul, this power is manifest in man when he assumes the state of being “in the world yet out of the world” simultaneously. To be “in the world” means to be fully consciousness of worldly reality in order to rectify it. To be “out of the world” means to be fully aware that in truth “there is none other besides Him.”

Another connection between light and good is found in the story of the birth of Moses: “And she [Yocheved, Moses’s mother] saw him that he was good.” Rashi quotes the Midrash, which explains that at the birth of Moses a great light filled the room. According to the early Masorah, the tet in the word tov (“good”) of this verse is written extra large. This hints at the Absolute Divine Good entrusted to the soul of Moses, whose life mission was to fulfill the promise of redemption from Egypt and the revelation of Torah at Sinai. The Egyptian exile is compared to a womb in which Israel was latently pregnant for two hundred and ten years. At Sinai, heaven and earth were united, as discussed in the letter alef.

Thus, the full teaching of the tet is that, through the service of the soul, all of reality becomes “pregnant” with God’s Infinite goodness and beauty, thereby bringing harmony and peace to “heavens and earth.”


FORM

A vessel with an inverted rim; the sefirah of yesod; peace.

Worlds:

 

  • Form hidden in matter.
  • Potential hidden in actual.
  • Peace among the elements of Creation.
  • Peace between water and fire in heaven: “He who makes peace on high.”

Souls:

 

  • The soul hidden in the body.
  • Peace among the souls of Israel.
  • The outer womb: the impure world; the inner womb: the pure aspiration of the soul.

Divinity:

 

  • God hidden within His Creation.
  • Future revelation of universal peace.
  • God’s presence impregnated in the world.

 


NAME

Inclination; staff – snake; below; bed.

Worlds:

 

  • The snake in the Garden of Eden: the liver; innate behavior patterns.
  • Lower worldly inclinations.
  • The tendency to lie.

Souls:

 

  • The power to judge properly.
  • The correct power of imagination.
  • The twelve tribes of Israel.
  • The twelve senses.

Divinity:

 

  • The breastplate of the High Priest.
  • The bed – unity of man and wife in the Presence of God.
  • Torah cantillation.

 


NUMBER

Nine

Worlds:

 

  • Nine physical materials that form vessels which contract impurity.
  • Nine levels of peace.
  • Nine sefirot pouring blessing into malchut.

Souls:

 

  • The nine months of pregnancy.
  • The nine positive commandments in the laws of Foundation and Character.

Divinity:

 

  • The numerical symbol of truth and eternity.
  • Nine blessings of Musaf on Rosh HaShanah.
  • Nine blasts of the shofar.
  • Eternal life.

 

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