Creation Mysticism: Fashioning the World From Letters

An early group of Jewish mystics conceived of the Hebrew alphabet as the building blocks of creation.

Print this page Print this page

"He caused the letter Resh to reign over Seed, and He tied a crown to it, and He combined them with one another, and He formed through them: Mercury in the universe, the sixth day in the year, and the left nostril on the body of male and female."

"He caused the letter Tav to reign over Dominion, and He tied a crown to it, and He combined them with one another. He formed through them: Moon in the universe, the Sabbath day in the year, and the mouth in the body of male and female."

Finally there are the twelve simple letters (Hey, Vav, Zayin, Chet, Tet, Yod, Lamed, Nun, Samek, Ayin, Tzade, Kof) which correspond to humans' chief activities--sight, hearing, smell, speech, desire for food, the sexual appetite, movement, anger, mirth, thought, sleep and work. The letters are emblematic of the twelve signs of the zodiac in the heavenly sphere, the twelve months, and the chief limbs of the body. Thus, human beings, world and time are linked to one another through the process of creation by means of the Hebrew alphabet.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok

Dan Cohn-Sherbok is a widely published and eminent scholar of Judaism, and is currently Professor of Judaism at the University of Wales, Lampeter.