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filipas  filipas is offline
Join Date: 04 Jan 2004
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 75

kwaw wrote:
I agree one has to be careful of one's sources about the meaning of the Hebrew letters. The only problem with the above is that some of these meanings are to be found in books on Judaic Kabbalah written by Jewish Hebrew speakers, are they in error too? For example teth as staff/serpent can be found in 'The Mystical Significance of the Hebrew Letters' by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg, a shortened version is available on-line here (link to the letter teth where you can see teth named as staff, serpent, inclination and bed):
Hi kwaw,

One of my favorite books on Jewish letter mysticism is Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg's "The Alef-Beit", which discusses these associations of the ninth letter tet; here is what he writes:

"The tet (TYTh) is the basic consonant letter in the words MTH ("staff"), HTYH ("inclination"), MTH ("below"), and MTH ("bed"). The symbol of the staff is related to that of the snake, as in the story of the Divine sign which Moses performed before Pharoah of the staff becoming a snake. According to kabbalah, the tet resembles a snake coiled head into tail."

Ginsburg doesn't claim that tet means 'staff' or 'serpent'. In fact, he makes clear that the associations of staff and snake have to do with the Hebrew letterform rather than with the letter's name. I doubt you would find any Jewish author saying that tet literally means 'staff' or 'snake', since it simply isn't true! This can be easily verified by simply looking up the word TYTh in a good Hebrew dictionary.


- Mark
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