The Hebrew Letters: Vav

The Hebrew Letters

Vav: Connection

In the beginning of Creation, when Infinite Light filled all reality, G d contracted His Light to create hollow empty space, as it were, the “place” necessary for the existence of finite worlds. Into this vacuum God drew down, figuratively speaking, a single line of light, from the Infinite Source. This ray of light is the secret of the letter vav. Though the line is singular in appearance, it nonetheless possesses two dimensions, an external as well as an internal force, both of which take part in the process of Creation and the continuous interaction between the creative power and created reality.

The external force of the line is the power to differentiate and separate the various aspects of reality, thereby establishing hierarchical order, up and down, within Creation. The internal force of the line is the power to reveal the inherent interinclusion of the various aspects of reality, one in the other, thereby joining them together as an organic whole. This property of the letter vav, in its usage in Hebrew, is referred to as vav hachibur, the vav of connection”–“and.” The first vav of the Torah–“In the beginning G d created the heavens and [vav] the earth”–serves to join spirit and matter, heaven and the earth, throughout Creation. This vav, which appears at the beginning of the sixth word of the Torah, is the twenty-second letter of the verse. It alludes to the power to connect and interrelate all twenty-two individual powers of Creation, the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet from alef to tav. (The word et [which appears before the two instances of the word “the” in this verse, and is spelled alef-tav] is generally taken to represent all the letters of the alphabet, from alef to tav. Our Sages interpret the word in this verse to include all the various objects of Creation present within heaven and earth.)

In Biblical Hebrew, the letter vav also possesses the function of inverting the apparent tense of a verb to its opposite from past to future or from future to past (vav hahipuch). The first appearance of this type of vav in the Torah is the letter vav” which begins the twenty-second word of the account of Creation, “And God said….” This is the first explicit saying of the ten sayings of Creation: “And G d said [the verb ‘said’ being inverted from the future to the past tense by the vav at the beginning of the word–‘And’]: ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” The phenomenon of light breaking through the darkness of the tzimtzum, the primordial contraction, is itself the secret of time (future becoming past) which permeates space.

In the Divine service of a Jew, the power to draw from the future into the past is the secret of teshuvah (“repentance” and “returning to God”) from love. Through teshuvah from fear, one’s deliberate transgressions become like errors; the severity of one’s past transgressions becomes partially sweetened, but not completely changed. However, when a Jew returns in love, his deliberate transgressions become like actual merits, for the very consciousness of distance from God resulting from one’s transgressions becomes the motivating force to return to God with passion even greater than that of one who had never sinned.

Every Jew has a portion in the World to Come, as is said: “And all your nation are ‘tzadikim’; forever they will inherit the land.” The power of teshuvah to completely convert one’s past to good, is the power of the vav to invert the past to the future. This transformation itself requires, paradoxically, the drawing down of light from the future to the past.

Drawing the future into the past in the Divine service of man is the secret of learning the inner teachings of the Torah, that aspect of the Torah which is related to the revelation of the coming of the Mashiach. Rashi explains the verse in the Song of Songs: “May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love is better than wine” as alluding to the sweet teachings that will be revealed by the Mashiach. When a person intently studies the secrets of the Torah, he draws from the future into the past, in order to strengthen himself to return in complete teshuvah from love and thereby convert his past into future.

FORM:

A vertical line.

A pillar.

A man standing upright.

WORLDS:

Twelve pillars of Creation – the twelve lines of a cube. The twelve tribes.

Seven pillars of Creation – six directions and time. The seven shepherds.

One pillar of Creation the future. Mashiach.

The connecting rods in the Tabernacle.

SOULS:

Complete stature of man – standing on earth with head reaching up towards heaven.

The Jewish People standing together.

The “Golden Path” in the service of God.

The torso in relation to the hands, feet, and brit.

DIVINITY:

The pillar of Truth.

Consistency of the middle pillar.

Divinity piercing through the middle point of every Creation.

 

NAME:

A Hook

WORLDS: 

The connecting hooks of the pillars in the Tabernacle – concealment and revelation.

The axis of symmetry and the equilibrium between symmetry and asymmetry.

SOULS:

The power which links together the souls of Israel.

The points of will to do God’s Will engraved in the heart of every Jew.

The axis which connects the good points present within every Jew.

DIVINITY:

The connecting link between the separate Laws – engraved letters of Divine essence – of the Torah.

The force of connection between the Divine sparks inherent throughout reality.

 

NUMBER:

Six

WORLDS:

Six Days of Creation, and their six corresponding Divine forces active in creation.

Six letters of the word bereishit, “In the beginning.”

Six alefs in the first verse of the Torah.

Six-millennium duration of the world.

Six directions of the physical world.

SOULS:

Six wings (states of love and fear in the soul) of the fiery angels.

“Give truth to Jacob.”

DIVINITY:

Six orders of the Mishnah.

The six “wings” of the “Magen David.”

Six cubits – the dimensions of the Tablets received by Moses at Mt. Sinai.