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KIPPOT is a plural form of KIPPAH, from KAF, meaning PALM. A KIPPAH also called a YARMULKE or SKULLCAP, has become a universally recognized symbol of Jewish identity.
The following explanation is from The Encyclopedia of Jewish Symbols, by Ellen Frankel and Betsy Platkin Teutsch (1992. Northvale: Jason Aronson. 90-91):
In the Bible, there is no explicit commandment to cover one’s head for prayer of other religious functions. The High Priest and the ordinary priests wore specially designated head coverings. But the common Israelite was given no direction. In later biblical times and in Talmudic times, covering the head was a sign of mourning.
The Talmud considered the covered head a sign of awe before the Divine Presence, especially when praying or studying mysticism. The de facto requirement that Jewish men cover their heads for prayer is a relatively recent phenomenon.
The Hebrew Letters featured in this painting are Caf Pey Vav Tav. Taken together, and reading from right to left, they spell KIPPOT.
Each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet has a special meaning and a story to tell. Here a few brief ones about the letters on this painting.
CAF is the 11th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, has a numerical value of 20, means PALM OF THE HAND, SPOON, CONTAINER and stands for bent objects. When the Caf has a dot in it, Caf makes a sound like the K in Kitchen. Without the dot it makes a sound similar to that made by the letter Chet. When functioning as a prefix CAF can mean AS, LIKE, WHEN, AT, ABOUT or ACCORDING TO.
The Caf is one of 5 letters: [Caf Mem Nun Pey Tsade] that have 2 forms - the regular [bent] form used in the beginning and middle of a word and the FINAL FORM,- SOFIT, used as the last letter of a word (Shabbat 4a).
[The writing of the letters] must be ‘kethibah tammah’ [perfect writing]; thus one must not write the… Beit as a Caf, or the Caf as a Beit (Shabbat 103b).
The word CAF first appears in Torah in Genesis 32:26 when Jacob wrestles with the Angel. CAF is the HALLOW or CONTAINER for Jacob's hip bone. Isaiah 49:16 - ‘I have engraved you on the KAPHIAM’ - PALMS of My Hands.
In Shabbat 104a there is a homiletic interpretation of the names of the Hebrew letters. Here the CAF is linked with the word KETER- CROWN. This passage states that if one masters UNDERSTANDING - ALUF BENAH (ALUF – MASTER, BENAH – UNDERSTANDING) and gives to the poor GAMOL DALEEM (GAMOL – REWARD, DALEEM – POOR) then the Holy One…will…bind a CROWN – KETER upon you for the World to Come.
At that moment, the Caf descended from its throne of glory and quaking and trembling said: O Lord of the universe, may it please Thee to begin through me the creation of the world, seeing that I am Thine own ‘Cavod’ (honour). And when Caf descended from its throne of glory, two hundred thousand worlds began to shake, the throne trembled, and all the worlds quaked and were about to fall in ruins. Said to her the Holy One, blessed be His Name: Caf, Caf, what do thou here? I will not create the world with thee. Go back to thy place, since thou stand for extermination (Kelayah). Return, then, to thy place and remain there. Immediately she departed and returned to her own place. O Lord of the universe, may it please Thee to begin through me the creation of the world, seeing that I [Caf] am Thine own ‘Kavod’ (honor) (Zohar 1984. Tr. Harry Sperling et al. New York: Soncino. 1:6a).
When sitting in the Caf, which means PALM OF THE HAND, I feel like I am being held in the PALM of the Universe. Very comforting.
YUD is the 10th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, has a numerical value of 10, means HAND, makes a sound like the Y in Year and is a simple point. It is the smallest letter in the alphabet and yet is frequently associated with the very large concept of EMANATION, the highest level in the Four World paradigm of Kabbalah.
Menachot 29b teaches that the WORLD TO COME was created by use of the letter Yud.
Yud has the important job of being the first letter of the Tetragrammaton - Yud Hey Vav Hey. Zohar states that, in this context, the Yud represents the head of all creatures (Zohar. 1984 Tr. Harry Sperling et al. New York: Soncino. 3:130).
[The writing of the letters] must be ‘kethibah tammah’ [perfect writing]; thus one must not write the… Vav as a Yud or the Yud as a Vav (Shabbat 103b).
[Zayyin Chet Tet Yud Kaf Lamed]: [this sequence teaches,] and if thou doest thus, the Holy One, blessed be He, will sustain[ Zan] thee, be gracious [Hen] unto thee, show goodness [Metiv] to thee, give thee a heritage [Yerushah], and bind a crown [Keter] on thee in the world to come (Shabbat 104a).
When meditating with the YUD, the YUD presents itself right in front of me. It then enters into me right away filling me with a most peaceful feeling. I like to sit with this feeling as long as I can. When I think of the YUD I thing of sitting still.
If you enter meditation and the Yud comes to you, ask Yud a question and wait for the answer. Amazing results. The
Yud is also capable of taking you any where in the Universe. Give it a try and let me know the results.
Pey is the 17th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, has a numerical value of 80, makes a sound either like the P in Peace or the F in Food, means MOUTH and is constructed of a Caf with a Yud situated at the top and rotated inward.
If one looks carefully at the Pey one can see that there is a Beit, which makes up the empty space within it. The Beit is the first letter of the word Bereshit, IN A BEGINNING, which is the first word of Torah. God opened up God’s MOUTH and out came the Beit, BEGINNING, CREATION.
Pey is one of 5 letters: [Caf Mem Nun Pey Tsade] that have 2 forms - the regular [bent] form used in the beginning and middle of a word and the FINAL FORM,- SOFIT, used as the last letter of a word (Shabbat 4a).
I [PEY] signify redemption and deliverance (Zohar 1984. Tr. Harry Sperling et al. New York: Soncino. 1:2b).
The bent Pey and the straight Pey [intimate] an open mouth Pey], a closed mouth (Shabbat 104a).
The medial (bent) Pey is almost closed. ‘A time to keep silence, and a time to speak’ (Ecclesiastes 3:7) (Shabbat 104a).
[The writing of the letters] must be ‘kethibah tammah’ [perfect writing]; thus one must not write the… Tet as a Pey or the Pey as a Tet Shabbat 103b).
Meditating in the Beit, which is inside the Pey, is like being in the vortex of creation. “God opened up God’s MOUTH [Pey] and out came the Beit,” BEGINNING, CREATION. I feel in meditation that I am in the primordial mix. It is a feeling of being one with everything and one with a nothingness at the same time. Ain Sof. There is power here.
VAV is the 6th letter, has a numerical value of 6, is constructed of a single vertical line, means HOOK and makes a sound like the V in Victory. When used as a vowel, Vav can sound like a long `o’ or a long `u.’ Translated it means AND. It is the GREAT CONNECTOR. Vav appears in the Four Letter name of God - Yud Hey Vav Hey.
“VAV is the sound of being joined. And VAV is a the sound of ‘and’. One and another” (Kushner, Lawrence. 1990. The Book of Letters: Sefer Otiyot.Woodstock: Jewish Lights Publishing. 35).
The 6 Sephirot represented by the Vav are - Chesed, Gevura, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod (Kaplan, Aryeh. 1979. Tr. The Bahir. York Beach: Samuel Weiser. 146-172).
What does the letter VAV resemble? It is alluded to in the verse “He spreads out light like a garment” (Psalms 104:5). For VAV is nothing other than six directions [ east, west, north south, up and down]? (Kaplan, Aryeh. 1979. Tr. The Bahir. York Beach: Samuel Weiser. 30).
The first word in Torah is Bereshit which t means IN A BEGINNING. If you divide Bereshit into bara and sheet it means HE CREATED SIX [sheet is 6 in Aramaic] Six what? The 6 days in which creation was completed? (Zohar . 1984 Tr. Harry Sperling et al. New York: Soncino. 1:3b. 13).
When used as a vowel, Vav can sound like a long `o’ or a long `u.’ Translated it means AND. It is the GREAT CONNECTOR. Vav appears in the Four Letter name of God - Yud Hey Vav Hey
“VAV is the sound if beiing joined. And VAV is a the sound of and. One and another” (Kushner, Lawrence. 1990. The Book of Letters: Sefer Otiyot.Woodstock: Jewish Lights Publishing. 35).
In meditation, the Vav is a place where you can leave your body in order to descend to a deeper place.
TAV is the 22nd letter in Hebrew alphabet - the last letter. It has a numerical value of 400, means MARK, SIGN. In 1500 B.C.E. the Tav was written as an X. Perhaps this contributed to its meaning. Tav makes a sound like the T in Tall. The Tav is composed of a Dalet and a Nun.
Hebrew Bible source - ‘And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark [Tav] upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof’ (Ezekiel 9:4)
“The [Hebrew] letter Tav advanced in front and pleaded: May it please Thee, O Lord of the world, to place me first in the creation of the world, seeing that I am the concluding letter of Emet (Truth) which is engraved upon Thy seal, and seeing that Thou art called by this very name of Emet, it is most appropriate for the King to begin with the final letter of Emet and to create with me the world. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to her: Thou art worthy and deserving, but it is not proper that I begin with thee the creation of the world, since thou art destined to serve as a mark on the foreheads of the faithful ones (Ezekiel 9:4) who have kept the Law from Aleph Tav, and through the absence of this mark the rest will be killed; and, further, you form the conclusion of MaWeTh (death). Hence thou art not meet to initiate the creation of the world” (Zohar 1984. Tr. Harry Sperling et al. New York: Soncino 1984. Tr. Harry Sperling et al. New York: Soncino. 1:2b).
Talmud - God said to the Angel Gabriel: ‘Go set a Tav [MARK] on the foreheads of the righteous so that they will be protected’ Shabbat 55a).
The Hebrew letters of EMET [Aleph Mem Tav] are located far apart in the alphabet, 1st, 13th and 22nd respectively, because TRUTH is found infrequently, at elongated intervals (Shabbat 104a).
They used to write a Tav for Teruma! [OFFERING, GIFT, DONATION, CONTRIBUTION] (Yevamoth 115b).
One can think of this in meditation with the Tav. The Hebrew letters of EMET [Aleph Mem Tav] are located far apart in the alphabet, 1st, 13th and 22nd respectively, because TRUTH in found infrequently, at elongated intervals (Shabbat 104a).
February 17th, 2019
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