Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Wisdom of the Letters

As an editor and lover of words, I tend to look at Tanakh and biblical texts with the eye of an editor. How do I do this? Qohelet, for example, from an editor's standpoint does not read as a fluid, singular piece of literature. Likewise, it doesn't read as a series of acts to compose a play. From an editor's standpoint, it can easily be separated into a variety of small, thematically similar poems or songs.

So today, in Hebrew class, when the professor brought up the Hebrew word for truth-- emet -- I was elated with the rabbis' take on the word. I give to you, the word for truth. Do you notice anything?
The careful reader will notice that the first letter is an aleph -- the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The last letter in the word -- tet -- is the final letter in the Hebrew alphabet. And then you have the mem in the middle, which, interestingly enough, is the middle letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Beginning, middle, end, and we have truth. What does this mean? The rabbis explained this to say that truth is all encompassing. Truth, as such, should be sought out and espoused from beginning to end, throughout the middle, from point to point.

A beautiful little morsel, I think, worth considering. My intent? To read each Hebrew word with the care and delicacy of the rabbis so that perhaps I, a mere academic Jewess, can discover the details and wisdom in the letters.