#4. Letters of the Lord: The letter Shin
In this special series of blog articles at the Times of Israel we’re analyzing the gematria of Bereshith (Genesis) 1-2. I’ve published all the calculations for the first two chapters on Shematria (click here), but in these articles we’re going to go through them letter by letter and we’re going to look more deeply at how the math was constructed with the ancient system.
Today on this celebration of the fire festival of Lag Ba’Omer, we’re going to look at the theme of the ש – Sh – Shin, which is the creation of fire which dries out the earth. The letter’s theme is described by Brashith (Genesis) 1:9-10:
ויאמר אלהים יקוו המים מתחת השמים אל־מקום אחד ותראה היבשה ויהי־כן
And said Elohim “Let be gathered the waters under the heavens to place one, and let appear the dry”, and it was so.
As in the previous verse, מתחת (under) indicates there is subtraction in the calculation, and in this verse we are introduced to a new word with a set value of 3: היבשה (the dry). I call these types of words ‘mnemonic words’, because they recall the origins of the letters. Now recall from my previous blogs that we only count the nouns, and we arrive at this sum:
אלהים השמים – המים + א + ש = 93 (b.g)
To explain the significance of this sum, and the next we must study the gates of the lower part of the Seven Palaces:
If you recall from my blog on the letter Bet, each of the letters of the Holy Name corresponds to a section of the Seven Palaces. This green section is the final Heh of the name, and it sums to 93. The significance of that is that 93 is 3 × אל (God).
Note that the Heh of the first Palace is in the location of the earth, and that the shin is next to it and able to dry out the earth with its fire. We can also see a connection with the festival of Lag BaOmer here when we consider the other letters on the path between the Palaces of Daleth and the Heh. On this day, children across Israel used to go out and play with bows and arrows to remember God’s promise symbolized in the rainbow to never again destroy the earth with a flood. The letters הקשת are a gate on the seven palaces that mean ‘the rainbow’ and it has the value of 112 with biblical gematria which is the same as YHWH Elohim in Hebrew.
For the next calculation, we must look to the gate of the Palace of the Heh:
ויקרא אלהים ליבשה ארץ ולמקוה המים קרא ימים וירא אלהים כי־טוב׃
And called Elohim to dry Earth, and to the collection the waters called seas,
and saw Elohim that it was good.
This word ולמקוה (and to the collection) is another word that indicates multiplication of the next word by 2, and again ליבשה (to dry) is used with a set value of 3, for the sum:
אלהים + ש + ארץ + המים + המים + ימים = 670 (b.g & r.c)
This calculation results in the same sum in both biblical gematria and its reversal cipher. 670 is the gate of the Palace of the Heh. To calculate it we must take all the letters from the paths connected to the palace of the Heh, and also the letters from the Palaces on the opposite end and add them to the Heh. Thus working from left to right paths:
ה + ר + ד = 209
ס + ר = 260
ש + ת + צ + ק + ד = 201
209 + 260 + 201 = 670.
In the Zohar (Vayechi 13), Rabbi Aba tells us how the measurement of the span of God is 670 years from heaven to earth. I’m going to quote it here for your further reflection upon this holy day.
Vayechi: Verse 96
ר’ אַבָּא פְּתַח וַאֲמַר, מִי מָדַד בְּשָׁעֳלוֹ מַיִם וְשָׁמַיִם בַּזֶּרֶת תִּכֵּן, זֶה תּוֹר: שָׁוִין כִּבְיָכוֹל, ז’ לְר,’ ר’ לְת,’ ו’ לְה,’ זַרְתָּא דְקוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא, בְּשִׁית מְאָה וְשִׁבְעִין שְׁנִין, מֵהָכָא מִן שְׁמַיָא, וְעַד אַרְעָא, כֵּיצַד זֶ”ה תּוֹ”ר, זֶרֶת ו”ה ה”ו תר”ז, אִתְקַדְּמַת ה’ לְו.’ וְאִתְקַּדְמַת ו’ לְת,’ ת’ לְר,’ ר’ לְז,’ רָבוּעַ יִהְיֶה כָּפוּל זֶרֶת אָרְכּוֹ וְזֶרֶת רָחְבּוֹ כָּפוּל.
Rabbi Aba opened the discussion with the verse, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span?” (Yeshayah 40:12). ‘Zeh (Zayin-Hei)’ and the turtledove (Tav-Vav-Resh) are supposedly alike; NAMELY, THEY JOIN TOGETHER. Zayin OF ZEH joins Resh OF TOR, the Resh OF TOR joins the Tav OF TOR, AND FROM THIS COMES THE COMBINATION OF ZERET (ENG. ‘SPAN’). Vav OF TOR IS ATTACHED to Hei OF ZEH, TO FORM VAV-HEI OF THE NAME OF YUD HEI VAV HEI; ZEIR ANPIN AND HIS NUKVA. The measurement of the span of the Holy One, blessed be He, is 670 years, from heaven, ZEIR ANPIN, to earth, THE NUKVA. HE ASKS, How can this be? HE SAYS, Zeh – tor HAS TWO PERMUTATIONS, 1) Zeret – Vav-Hei 2) Hei-Vav – Terez, in which Hei OF ZEH comes before Vav OF TOR. Hei OF ZEH precedes Vav OF TOR, THE PRECEDENCE OF HEI ALLUDES TO BINAH, WHICH POURS ABUNDANCE UPON ZEIR ANPIN, WHICH IS THE VAV. The Vav before the Tav OF TOR and Tav before Resh OF TOR and Resh OF TOR before Zayin OF ZEH: THIS IS THE PERMUTATION OF HEI-VAV – TEREZ, THE SECRET OF 670 YEARS FROM HEAVEN TO EARTH. “Foursquare it shall be, being doubled; a span shall be its length, and a span shall be the breadth of it” (Shemot 28:26).