In the Torah portion of Ki Tavo we read that when the Jews enter the Land of Israel and bring the first fruits to the Temple, V’samta bateneh, “You must place (the fruits) in a basket.” The word teneh, for “basket,” appears only in this portion of the Torah. Usually the word for a vessel is kli. One of the interpretations in Kabbalah and Chassidut for teneh, which numerically is equal to the word kli, 60, is that teneh is an acronym for three levels of the Torah; Ta’amim,Nekudot, Otiot; Cantillation notes, Vocalization symbols, and Letters.
It is also possible to discern four different levels in the Torah, which correspond to the four letters of G-d’s Name, yud, hei, vav, hei.
These are Ta’amim, Nekudot, Tagin, Otiot; Cantillation, Vocalization, Crowns and Letters. The Torah scroll has two revealed levels and two concealed levels. What one sees written on the parchment, in black on white, are the letters and the crowns above the letters. Although the crowns have no rational meaning, they have secret meaning. Some letters have three crowns, some have one, and some have none.Relative to the letters, the crowns are a concealed dimension. Nonetheless they are a revealed dimension in the sense that they are written and can be observed with the physical eye.
The two concealed levels, which are not seen, are the ta’amim, cantillation,and nekudot, vocalization. The ta’amim are the highest level of all.The word ta’am has two meanings. It either means a reason, or a good, sweet taste. The most inherent and deepest sweetness of the Torah is revealed and manifest in the cantillation of the Torah. Only the Mashiach will interpret this wisdom for our minds to conceive. When we sing the cantillation notes of the Torah, we experience a taste of its sweetness. But only the Mashaich will reveal to us what the ta’amim represent.
The letters of the Torah convey the Torah’s literal meaning. The ta’amim reveal G-d’s transcendent light which “surrounds all worlds.” This light hovers above and around the letters, as it were. In contrast, the nekudot, which vocalize the text, enter into the letters to enliven them, as a soul to a body. For this reason the nekudot are called tenuot, “motions,” for they give motion–life–to the otherwise static letters. The nekudot reveal G-d’s immanent light (the light which “fills all worlds”).
Since the crowns are just an extension of the letters, and there is no severance at all visible between the crowns and letters, they are often considered to be one level. Then the three levels of the Torah, from highest to lowest are Ta’amim,Nekudot, Otiot. Their initial letters spell the word teneh, the basket in which the first fruits to be brought to the Temple as an offering to G-d are placed. The first fruit is the essential power of the earth and of man who works the earth. It represents the choice and best spiritual energy that we possess. It is our fruit. We bring this as a sacrifice to G-d, recognizing that it is He who gives us the power to succeed in life’s endeavors. Recognizing thatthis power is only from G-d, and that one’s success is not a result of his own strength and power, is most manifest in the first fruits offering. We are commanded to place these fruits in a special basket, teneh, which serves as an acronym for the three levels of the Torah.The Torah serves as the vessel to contain our choice of spiritual energy.
Other chapters in this series:
- Teneh–Revealed and Concealed Levels of Torah
- Teneh – Categories of the Jewish People Correspond to Levels of Torah
- Hakhel – To Learn, to Hear, to Merit
- Taf (Children) – Drops and Prophecy
- Nashim (Women) – Breath and Soul
- Inner Dimension of Torah and the Inner Dimension of the Heat
- Redemption in Merit of Women and Children
- Search For My Inner Essence
- Two Levels of the Inner Dimension
- Israel, Torah, and God – Inner and External Dimensions
- Four Directions and the Four Worlds
- Emanation Consciousness – No Friction
- Face, Innerness, Glory, and Atzilut (Emanation)
- Awareness of a Higher Dimension Helps to Create a Good Year