Series on Hebrew Alphabet #4-Gimel

The third letter of the Hebrew alphabet (after the alef and beit) is pronounced gee-mal (hard g). This letter means to nourish until completely ripe. Since the bringing to maturity is a constructive and beneficial action that helps another, the term gemilus chessed (gim i less kh sed) is used to describe the performance of a kind deed.  

The shape resembles a camel with its long neck. It can endure great stress which enables travelers to survive the desert, hence it performs a kindness. The gimel is the third of the 3 pillars or principles which form the blueprint of Jewish lives: Aleph stands for Torah study to learn wisdom (Job 33:33). The Beit symmbolizes service, and the gimel – kindness.

 According to kabbalistic (mystical) symbolism, the gimel resembles the leader draining water from a roof, which channels thewater onto the ground through a spout. Symbolically the Eternal One pours His overflowing goodness and affection down to mankind by virtue of His gemilus chessed.

The gimel spans the gap between two opposing forces and merges them into one. Thus,the name is related to the Hebrew word gamla, used to mean a bridge that unites two areas. Gimel has the attribute of three – a number which alludes to the concept that two opposing factors must be blended to form a third, more perfect, entity. These signify units of ascending sanctity. It can mean the Talmud and other Hebrew sacred writings – it can mean the Holy One, Torah and Israel, (or, to Latter-day Saints, Heavenly Father, Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Ghost. Marlena’s inclusion).

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


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