Hebrew Alphabet: Beis, Beit

 The second letter of the Hebrew alphabet is the  

Beis (the b) pronounced BAITor BAIS, which has a numerica value of 2. The Beis follows the Alephwhich is the first letter and has the numeric value of 1. The beis is the initial letter of the Hebrew word for blessing and creation. The Midrash, a Hebrew commentary, relates that the beit was chosen because it leads the sentence in Hebrew that every being – from the heavenly hosts, to man, to the tiniest creature – blesses God with the saying: Blessed is Hashem forever, amen and amen. (Ps 89:53). 

With its gematria (numerical value) of two, the beis represents the concept of duality, for there is diversity in every part of Creation. Only in the Creator Himself does absolute oneness prevail. Literally, beis means house and alludes to the focal point of holiness on earth – the Sanctuary or Holy Temple in Jerusalem; and to the house of man, which he can transform in to a miniature sanctuary.

At its upper left corner, the beis points upward to Heaven, symbolically acknowledging the existence of the Creator, and testifying that the marvelous, intricate patterns of nature and the universe did not come about by chance, but were woven by One God. The base of the beis also points back to the aleph, the letter that symbolizes God’s Oneness. This indicates that man can best achieve an understanding of God through study of His Creation – represented by beis – since it is impossible to comprehend the Almighty in His Essence bu pure intellectual prowess.

Two Tablets: the Ten Commandments

God presented the Ten Commandments to Israel engraved on the Two Tablets of Testimony (Ex 31:18). One tablet contained five commandments governing man’s duties toward God, and the second tablet contained five delineating interhuman obligations. The word two in Hebrew indicates that the tablets were equal to one another in every way: physically, they were of the same size and weight; spiritually, they correspond to each other and are of equal importance.

The beis also corresponds to the idea of two leaders: Moses and Aaron and to two genders: Adam and Eve, references Commandments and Prohibitions, two drives and two hearts, meaning the natural inclinations toward good and evil, and two worlds: this one and the Olam Haba (world to come).

As well, the aleph and beis represent a fundamental partnership: Parent and offspring. The aleph represents the indivisible Divine intelligence in Torah that had existed in God’s Mind a thousand generations before He created the world with the Holy Letters.The beis (the world) was given birth by Torah and the two formed a union, as if to express the relationship between father and son. When this relationship is healthy, it symbolizess stability.

From: The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet, Rabbi Michael L. Munk.


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