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Gimmel

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

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The letters of the Hebrew Alef Bet are unique insofar that they communicate meaning, and are therefore studied, independent of the words they form. This article offers brief insight into the form, numerical value, and the name of the letter Gimmel:1

Gimmel is the third letter of the Hebrew Alef Bet. There are a total of 2,109 Gimmel's in the Torah.

The Form:

ג

The form of the Gimmel reflects a person in motion. (Hebrew reads from right to left, so the figure is moving forward). It represents the notion of contribution2, accomplishment3 and connection4.

Mystically speaking, the design of the letter is made up a Vav and a Yud, which are the two masculine/giving letters/aspects of the Tetragrammaton (the two Hey's being the two feminine/receiving aspects).5

The Numerical Value:

Gimmel = 3

3 is the ability to connect, to combine two contrasting forces. One is alone. Two is division. Three is integration. 

Before there was a world there was just one dimension: spiritual. With the creation of the world came a new dimension, the physical. Presto, dichotomy appears. Then G-d revealed a third dimension: Torah. Through giving us the Torah - a guide to giving, achieving and connecting - G-d enabled us to fuse the physical and the spiritual. Such is the power of three.

"A certain Galilean lectured before R. Hisda: Blessed be the Merciful One who gave a three-fold Torah (Torah, Neviim and Ketuvim) to a three-fold people (Kohanim, Levites and Israelites) through a third[-born] (Moses was the youngest of three children) on the third day (of preparation for this event6) in the third month (Sivan7)."8

Gimmel symbolizes the ability to connect two components by introducing a third dimension.

The Name:

Gimmel is etymologically related to the word Gomel: Giving. It is also related to Vayi'gmal: Nourish until ripe,9 or wean.10 And to the Aramaic word Gamla, bridge.

We connect through giving. But the ultimate connection is not that of superior to inferior; rather a connection of partners. Thus the  objective of giving is not for the receiver to become dependent on you, but for you to wean him towards his own independance.11 Like G-d, you are meant to create creators, to give the ability to give. Once the receiver becomes a giver, he in turn will create givers. This creates an endless chain of giving, connecting the very first link, to the very last, and all in between. It is giving in motion.

The giving can be within creation (e.g. the haves to the have not's) or between creation and Creator. There is an endless cycle of giving: "G-d gives us material bounty for us to transform into something spiritual";12 the more we give, the more we get, enabling us to give even more.

And thus any sense of duality is integrated through the third dimension: its ability to be shared.

The Message:

In analyzing the Alef-Bet the Talmud comments on the juxtaposition of the Hebrew letters Gimmel and Daled: ג ד

The Talmud explains: "Gimmel Daled: 'bestow kindness' to the 'Poor'.13 Why is the foot of the Gimmel stretched toward the Daled? Because it is fitting for the benevolent to run after [seek out] the poor. And why is the roof of the Daled stretched out toward the Gimmel? Because he [the poor] must make himself available to him. And why is the face of the Daled turned away from the Gimmel? Because he must give him [help] in secret, lest he be ashamed of him."14

Footnotes

  • 1. See http://www.askmoses.com/en/article/228,2266616/A-Language-of-Letters-Inside-the-Hebrew-Alef-Bet.html
  • 2. I.e. extend self by giving.
  • 3. I.e. transcend self by acheiving.
  • 4. I.e. going/connecting point A to point B.
  • 5. It is explained that the four letters of the Tetragrammaton represent the 10 Sefiort. Yud - Chachma (father). Hey - Bina (mother). Vav - The Six emotional attributes (son). Hey - Malchut (daughter).
  • 6. Exodus 19:11
  • 7. The first Jewish month is Nisan (Exodus 12:2), followed by Iyar, then Sivan.
  • 8. Talmud tractate Shabbat 88a
  • 9. Numbers 17:23
  • 10. Genesis 21:8
  • 11. Maimonides (Laws of Charity 10:7) lists eight levels of charity. The highest level is giving financial stability to someone who’s down and almost out: a loan, or a job, so that he doesn’t need to rely on others.
  • 12. Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi as quoted in Hayom Yom 27 Tevet. He concludes "When occasionally it is not so at the moment (G-d has not provided the material wealth), then we must give G-d whatever we can, even a "pauper's offering," and then He gives generously."
  • 13. Daled, is etymologically related to the word Dallim; Heb. plural for poor.
  • 14. Talmud tractate Shabbat 104a

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Miscellaneous » Hebrew / Languages » Codes and Numbers
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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Kohanim
Plural form of Kohain. Priests of G-d. This title belongs to the male descendants of Aaron, brother of Moses. The primary function of the Kohain was to serve in the Holy Temple. Today the Kohain is still revered and it is his function to recite the Priestly Blessings on certain occasions.
Moses
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
Sivan
The third month on the Jewish calendar, normally corresponding to May-June. This month features the holiday of Shavuot.
Neviim
1. Prophets. 2. A collective name for eight of the books of the Bible: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Book of Twelve Prophets.
Ketuvim
The eleven books of Holy Writings: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra (and Nehemiah), and Chronicles.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.