The Origins of Tav
Taw, Tav or Taf is the twenty-second and last letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew Taw (Modern Hebrew: Tav) ת and Arabic alphabet Tāʾت (look below). Its original sound value is /t/. The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Tau (Τ), Latin T, and Cyrillic Т. Taf is said to have come from a mark; or asterisk-like marking, perhaps indicating a signature. Its literal usage in the Torah denotes a wound ; or in modern semantics, carving into a canvas.
The Pronunciation of Tav
Hebrew spelling: תָו The letter Tav in modern Hebrew usually represents a voiceless alveolar plosive /t/).The letter Tav is one of the six letters which can receive a Dagesh Kal. The six are Bet, Gimmel, Daled, Kaph, Pe, and Tav (see Hebrew Alphabet for more about these letters). Three of them (Bet, Kaph, and Pe) have their sound values changed in modern Hebrew from the fricative to the plosive by adding a dagesh. The other three have the same pronunciation in modern Hebrew but have had alternate pronunciations at other times and places. In traditional Ashkenazi pronunciation, Tav represented an /s/ (a form which is still heard today, especially among Diaspora Jews) without the dagesh, and had the plosive form when it had the dagesh. In some Sephardi areas, some Chassidic groups, as well as Yemen, Tav without a dagesh represented a voiceless dental fricative /θ/ without a dagesh and the plosive form with the dagesh.
The Form of Tav
The tav, formed by joining a dalet to anun, resembles a stamp or seal. (Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg, The Hebrew Letters. Channels of Creative Consciousness, p. 327) The shape of the ת Tav is comprised of two letters: to make a ת Tav you unite a ד Daleth and a נ Nun. You can see the Daleth on the right hand aspect of the Tav, and you can see the Nun in the left hand aspect of the Tav. The letters דנDaleth–Nun spell ‘Dan’ in Hebrew. ‘Dan’ means judgment. The Tav is a judgment; it is how we are judged; it is the summation of our action. When we reach the end, the completion of our life, we face a judgment—we receive a Tav, a seal, a stamp, a mark. That seal, Tav, is the mathematical completion of our every action. Every thought, every feeling, every movement of energy that has moved through us is summarized, calculated, and upon that final calculation is put a Tav, a mark; it is the synthesis of our life. From that mathematical equation we proceed to the next step, based upon that mark.
The letter שֶׁ and ת are close neighbors in the Aleph-Beis, yet they are worlds apart in the Talmud’s discourse on their symbolism. For שֶׁ represent שֶׁקֶר, falsehood while ת stand for אֶמֶת, truth (Shabbos 104a). Unlike the concepts represented by the earlier letters, which had the symbolic letter as their initials אֶמֶת is symbolized by its final letter. This alludes to the nature of truth: at first it may appear less attractive than falsehood, but in the final analysis truth will prevail, although its triumph may be long in coming. (Rabbi Michael L. Munck, he Wisdom of Hebrew Alphabets, p. 214)
Rashi explains that each letter of אֱמֶת stands on a solid foundation of two feet. But in the wordשֶׁ֫קֶר each letter has only one pointy foot to support it. The ש of Torah script comes to a point at the bottom. In Tikunei Zohar (475) this idea is expressed as: שקר אין רגליים, Falsehood has no feet. (Rabbi Michael L. Munck, he Wisdom of Hebrew Alphabets, p. 215)
Maharsha offers different explanation for the dictum “falsehood cannot stand.” He comments that the entire word שֶׁקֶר leans on the unbalanced single foot of the קֶ which extends downward further that the שֶׁ and ר, thus giving שֶׁקֶר a shaky foundation. However, all three letters of אֱמֶת stand on a steadfast, level base. (Rabbi Michael L. Munck, he Wisdom of Hebrew Alphabets, p. 215)
Even when it seems to be popular and strongly supported, שֶׁקֶר has limited duration and stability (as was the case with the false prophets). אֱמֶת has limited duration and stability (as was the case with the false prophet), אֱמֶת is stable and permanent, showing that truth permeates the world (Maharal) – as it is written “The lip of truth shall be established forever, but the lying tongue is but for a moment” (Proverbs 12:19) (Rabbi Michael L. Munck, he Wisdom of Hebrew Alphabets, p. 215)
The snake, which was the first creature on earth to lie, was cursed with the removal of its feet (Bereishi 3:14) It must crawl on its belly as punishment for its association with sheker, which likewise has no feet. (Rabbi Michael L. Munck, The Wisdom of Hebrew Alphabets, p. 215)
Maharal compares אמת to the life sustaining sun, which illuminates the world and cannot deviate one iota from its defined orbit. Si is אמת precisely bound; ifone deviates from it only slightly, he slips into the tangent of the שֶׁקֶר (Maharal). Likewise there is no such thing as just a little falsehood: even a trifle of it turns truth into a lie. Truth is eternal, but when even the smallest numerical unit of אמת, namely the א, is omitted, what remains is מת, death (Maharal). Moreover, Maharal states, even an incomplete truth is tantamount to a lie, for falsehood is not the opposite of truth but its absence. (Rabbi Michael L. Munck, The Wisdom of Hebrew Alphabets, p. 215)
Because it is so easy to slip from life-giving truth to deadly lies, the Torah prohibits lying with an usual expression. Rather than simply stating “Do not lie,” Exodus 23:7 demands, “Go far away from falsehood.” (Rabbi Michael L. Munck, The Wisdom of Hebrew Alphabets, p. 215)
The Form of TAV in the World
Physical “stamps” on reality – fossils, footprints. Judgment and Law. Primordial matter.
Previous states of being leave their impression or stamp on present reality. In nature, fossils are stamps of creature who lived in previous “worlds.” Our Sages teach that these “worlds” were created and subsequently destroyed, for they did not find favor in the eyes of the Creator (the entire process being designed from Above for the sake of the creation of this world.) These worlds were spiritual, not physical, as taught by the Arizal, though from the impression they make in the physical world they appear to have been physical. This total integration of the impression of higher reality on lower reality is symbolized by the union of the two components of the tav, the dalet (impression of higher reality) and the nun (so totally integrated in lower reality that it appears to have been a part of it). The two component letters, dalet (ד) and nun (נ), read (דנ), “to judge.” Just law on earth is actually the reflection and impression of higher spiritual law, as explained in Chassidut. (Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg, The Hebrew Letters. Channels of Creative Consciousness, p. 327)
Of course, there are also “footprints” of past physical events upon the present. In addition to actual human and animal footprints, nature is full of footprints, as the “paths” left by the elementary particles of quantum physics. (Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg, The Hebrew Letters. Channels of Creative Consciousness, p. 327)
The letter tav itself, the last of all the letters of the alef-beit, is actually the stamp and seal of all the previous letters. It possess nothing of its own (dalet) and completes the nine letters beginning with nun. (Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg, The Hebrew Letters. Channels of Creative Consciousness, p. 327)
The Form of TAV in the Realm of the Souls
The tribe of Dan – humility and selflessness. Returning the lost sense of purpose and direction. Salvation. Reincarnation; The “stamp” of previous lifetimes.
In the spiritual service of the soul, the two components of the tav, the dalet and the nun, represent selflessness and humility, as discussed above. Together, they spell the name of one of the Tribes of Israel – דן, Dan. Dan also denotes a camp of three tribes (Dan, Asher, Naphtali), the last of the four camps of Israel in our sojourn through the desert. When camping around the Tabernacle the camp of Dan was situated to the north (see the letter beit). The Sages teach that Dan assumed the responsibility of returning losses to all of the other (previous) camps. In Chassidut ae are taught that not only did Dan have an eye to find and return lost items but, on a deeper level, he found and returned lost souls (i.e., returned the sense of purpose and awareness of their task in life to souls who had lost this). his devotion to “finding” others greater and more worthy than himself. (Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg, The Hebrew Letters. Channels of Creative Consciousness, p. 328)
Jacob blesses Dan: “Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel.” The phrase” one of the tribes of Israel” refers to the tribe of Judah, the king (“one in the sense of “special” and “outstanding”) whose camps was first. Thus “the end is enwedged in the beginning”: the tav (whose form is ת) in the alef (“one”). In the construction of the Tabernacle, the two chief craftsmen were from the tribes of Judah (Bezalel) and Dan (Oholiav). The condition of the blessing of Dan is “To Your salvation I hope, God.” This is the only time the Name Havayah appears in Jacob’s blessing of the tribes. The power of both salvation from all of the evil powers of the north and their ultimate annihilation (with the coming of the Mashiach – the closing of the “open north side”) is the secret of the tav at the level of Souls. (Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg, The Hebrew Letters. Channels of Creative Consciousness, p. 328)
In addition, tav, (“impression”) is, at the level of Souls, the secret of re-incarnation, the impression of previous lifetimes on one’s present lifetime. Occurrences and situations of this lifetime serve to rectify blemishes (“return” lost items) of previous lifetimes (in addition to one’s conscious service of Torah and mitzvot). The “blemish” (פְּגָם, mum, related to מ, mem) inherent in the “impression” (ת, tav), the secret of “death” (תמ), comes to life (becomes rectified) by Divine Providence (symbolized by the alef, א), and the soul’s experience of God’s Presence in one,s past lifetimes, for the essence of rectification depends solely one one’s Divine consciousness in the present. One must experience the existential “freedom” of the present from the past (by the Infinite power of the Omnipotent One) in order to rectify the blemish inherent in the impression of the past. When “resurrected,” the blessing itself, the mum, opens its “scar” to issue mem, living waters of Torah insight (“no one is wise [in Torah] nut the master of [traumatic] experience,” and “one cannot understand the law unless one has stumbled over it [failed to perform it]”). The tav, the general impression of past lives, becomes the source of simple faith (“not to know,” after “all is know”). The resurrection itself depends on the alef, consciousness of Godliness in the present, in the full secret of the “seal” of God, אֶמֶת, “truth” (alef, אֶ, resurects the “dead,”), as explained in Kabbalah and Chassidut. (Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg, The Hebrew Letters. Channels of Creative Consciousness, p. 328-329)
The Form of TAV in the Realm of Divinity
The reading of the Name Havayah. God as Judge. God’s seal on all of reality: the source of teshuvah and the potential of individuality.
God’s Seal. A seal is a guarantee that an agreement is firm and will be carried out. The seal of a flesh and blood King may be nullified, as Herman’s sealed decree was nullified by King Ahasuresus (Esther 8:5) Not so is the seal of HASHEM, the Infinite One Whose wisdom encompasses the entire future, and Whose decrees are valid at all times. HASEM may take counsel with His Heavenly Court, but the final decision is His alone and will not change [subject to man’s ability to repent] His seal of Truth is synonymous with a stamp of permanency (Maharal, see p.229) (Rabbi Michael L. Munck, The Wisdom of Hebrew Alphabets, p. 216)
The only truth is the Torah. When God assured the angels that truth will prevail over all the falsehood of earth, He meant pure, unadultered truth, the Torah. Only it is a remedy against the untruth and distortion embedded in humans. HASHEM reassured the angels that the Truth of Torah would spring forth from the world of men and would overpower all its opponents (Yepheh To’ar) That Truth and Torah are identical is emphasized by the Prophet Malachi, who called it the Torah of Truth (2;6) (Rabbi Michael L. Munck, The Wisdom of Hebrew Alphabets, p. 218)
The two letters dalet and nun are the two middle letters of God’s Name of Kingdom, the “reading” of the Name Havayah – אֶר. These are the strong consonant letters of the Name, whose meaning is “Lord” or “master [of the Universe]” Who controls all of reality by Divine law and judgement – רן. At the level of Divinity, the “one” in the verse “Dan shall judge his people as one, the tribes of Israel” refers to the One Above, blessed be He, as revealed through His attribute of malchut, of which is said “the law of malchut is law.” Malchut is the end and seal of the sefirot, just as the camp of Dan is the end (“collector”) of the souls, the secret of tav, the end and seal of the letters. (Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg, The Hebrew Letters. Channels of Creative Consciousness, p. 330)
Self-consciousness and ego are the expression of the malchut (“kingdom”) of every world and creature. “Your Kingdom is the kingdom of all worlds’ means that the Divine malchut stamps its impression and seal upon every subsequent created malchut. The power if this impression of Divine malchut in every creation gives it the power to choose to transcend its own finite ego and subdue itself, and thereby to ultimately identify and unite with the true malchut of God. (Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg, The Hebrew Letters. Channels of Creative Consciousness, p. 330)
The consciousness of this impression produces an awareness that there exists something “beyond,” something much more essential that anything we can comprehend. The feeling of “beyond” entails the sense of individual as well as universal purpose – the true source, desire, and motivation of teshuvah. Even one moment’s experience of this sincere feeling of “beyond” stamps its mark on the soul forever. Imbued with this power, one shall eventually come to stamp the eternal mark of his Divine soul on Creation. (Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg, The Hebrew Letters. Channels of Creative Consciousness, p. 330)
The Significance of Tav
The Zohar states “the tav makes an impression on the Ancient Days.” The “Ancient Days” refers to the sublime pleasure innate withing the “crown” (Will) of Divine Emanations. The letter tav (here referring to the “Kingdom of the Infinite One, Blessed be He”) leaves its impression on the “Ancient Days.” The impression is the secret of simple faith in God’s ultimate omnipresence, the Infinite present in the finite, for “there is none like unto Him” (the conclusion of the above quotation of the Zohar).
This faith passes in inheritance from the generation to generation, from world to world, the malchut (kingdom) of the higher world linked to the keter (crown) of the lower world. The tav, the final letter of the alef-beit, corresponds to malchut (kingdom), the final Divine power, in the secret of “Your Kingdom is the Kingdom of all worlds.” The impression of the tav is the secret of the power that links worlds – generations – together.
The initial impression of true faith was that which was stamped upon the soul of our first father, Abraham, “the first of all believers.” This is the secret of Abraham’s purchase of the Cave of Machpelah, the original Jewish cemetery, for four hundred (the numerical value of tav) shekel, the sealed with the stamp of simple faith.
God’s seal (in Creation) is truth. (אֶמֶת the final letters of the three last words in the account of Creation: ברא אלוהים לעשות “”… God created ‘to do'”). The last letter or seal of the word truth (אֶמֶת) itself – the seal of God seal – is the letter tav, simple faith, the conclusion and culmination of all twenty-two forces – letters – active in Creation.
The three letters which spell truth (אֶמֶת) are the beginning, middle and ending letters of the alef-beit. The alef (אֶ) correspond to one’s initial awareness of Divine paradox in the infinite source (where the higher and lower waters, joy and bitterness, are absolutely one). From this awareness issues mem (מ), the fountain of Divine wisdom, ever-increasing power of insight into the mysteries of Torah. “The final end of knowledge is not to know.” The culmination of the flow of Divine wisdom in the soul (after all is “said and some”) is the “majestic” revelation of the infinite “treasure-house” of simple faith in God’s absolute omnipresence below innate in the soul of Israel. The culmination of truth (אֶמֶת), simple faith (אֱמוּנָה), is the secret of the tav (ת).
“All follows the seal,” in the secret of “returning light” from the tav to the alef, thereby forming the word תָא, “cell.” Around the inner Sanctuary of the Temple were constructed many תאים, “cells” or “small chambers.” These “cells” were without windows, thus being completely dark inside. Chassidut teaches that these “cells” reveal the level of “He places His concealed place in darkness,” the awareness of simple faith reaching into he absolutely “dark” Essence of God.
So we are taught: “Torah is the impression [the tav] of Divinity; Israel is the impression [the tav] of Torah.” Divinity is perceived first through the means of an intermediate stage of “circumcision,” come a first expression of מִלָ, from מִילָה כדיה , “circumcision.” Torah is the secret of separation between good and evil – circumcision – the cutting off of the foreskin (evil).
Israel, the ultimate manifestation of God’s Word in Torah ישראל “Israel” is an acronym of “There is six hundreds thousands letters in the Torah”) corresponds to the final level of “speech,” ל of תשמִל. Speech, communication of God’s oneness between souls, is the ultimate level of Divine service, “sweetening” all reality, as taught by the Ba’al Shem Tov. Tav, simple faith, is here seen to be the power of impression and linkage uniting the apparently paradoxical extremities of Divine service, from the utter silence of meditation to the loving communication between souls.
The Word for Tav
Sign; impression; code; in Aramaic: more. Saying with tav: “From Aleph to Taf” describes something from beginning to end; the Hebrew equivalent of the English “From A to Z”. The word tav (תוֹ, variant spelling: תיו, תאו) means a “sign,” “impression,” or “mark.” It also signifies “encoded lettering” or “notes.” In Aramaic, תו means “more” or “moreover.”
The Word of TAV in the Worlds
The sign on the forehead of Cain. Natural law and codes of life. The music of Creation.
After Cain killed his brother Abel and was punished to ever wander and be “lost” on earth “G-d set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.” The word “mark” (אוֹת), literally “letter” or “sign” (in the sense of “wonder”), is a permutation of אתוֹ (tav), which also means “mark.” Thus the final letter of the alef-beit is the “letter” or sign of all the letters. It is the “collector” (as the tribe of Dan) of all “lost”fallen sparks, one’s loss of sense of purpose and meaning in life, the result of sin. Though the “letter of the law” should have demanded immediate capital punishment for Cain’s sin, the wondrous “mark” of God saved him from being killed. (Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg, The Hebrew Letters. Channels of Creative Consciousness, p. 331)
When David “played mad” before Achish, the King of Gat, “he scribbled [וֹיתוֹ, from the word תוֹ] on the doors of the gate…” “The doors [dalet] of the gate” (nun, the fiftieth “unintelligible” gate of understanding) are the two components of the form of the letter tav. The seemingly unintelligible scribbling on the doors is the truth the secret of hidden “codes” in nature, which derive from sefirah of malchut, the source of the soul of King David. (Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg, The Hebrew Letters. Channels of Creative Consciousness, p. 331)
These secret codes of nature – DNA and the like – are similar to musical notation (תווי נגינה), for each and and every part of Creation sings, by the very essence of its nature, to the Creator. (Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg, The Hebrew Letters. Channels of Creative Consciousness, p. 331)
The Word of TAV in the Realm of the Souls
The sign of righteousness. The tzadik is alive even in death. Teshuvah, prayer, Torah.
Job said: “verily, in accordance with my impression [תוי] shall the Almighty answer me.” Rashi explains that “in accordance with my impression” means the words (inscription) with which G-d Himself had described Job at the beginning of the book: “and that man was perfect and upright and one that feared God and eschewed evil.” This is the mark of the tzadik at the level of Souls.
Of this mark we find in the prophecy of Ezekiel: “And God said to him, ‘Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark [חת ן upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations done therein… Slay the old, young men and maidens, children and women; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark [חת ן]…'” The “mark of life” stamped upon the forehead of the tzadik remains impressed upon him even in his apparent physical death: “Tzadikim in their death are called alive; the evil in their life are called dead.”
In the above text, the root tav (תָו) appears three times (תָהו , תָו ,והתויתָ) These corresponds to the secret of the three essential services of the soul which begins with the letter tav: teshuvah (תשובה), prayer (תְפִלָה), and Torah (תוֹרָה) (in correspondence with the three patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, respectively)
The first two words – והתויתָ and תָו – equal numerically three times the third word תָהו so (3*411=1233). That the three together equal four times the third
The Word of TAV in the Realm of Divinity
The Divine power of continuation present in the end. The advantage of light which shines from darkness. The last letter of the account of Creation: rectification, the seal of truth. The last letter of the first word of Creation: the ultimate origin.
The word תָו “more” or “moreover” in Aramaic, commonly appears in the Talmud in the phrase ותָו לא מירי, “and no more” (or, “nothing else). This phrase ends a discussion of listing of categories, just as the letter tav end the alef-beit. Paradoxically, the end (תָו) implies more, and must be negated (תָו לא) in order to state “no more.” This reflects the power of Divinity present in the end. This experience of “more” at the “end” can be imagined as the experience of an enthused and inspired concert audience applauding for an encore.
The “more” revealed at the end is the secret of “the advantage of light which shines from darkness.” The “dark” end (the tav of מוח, “death”) becomes the beginning of eternal תיקון, “rectification,” the secret of resurrection, the absolute “once more” of life. Thus (according to one spelling) the tav is full and “pregnant” with the beginning of light: אוך – תאוך, the reish of אוך equals (200) being the half of the tav of תָאו equals (400). This alludes to the infinite potential of darkness to shoot arrows (חֵץ, “arrow,” means “half”) of light (flashes of lightning, the “arrow” of G-d).
So, the final letter of the account of Creation is the tav of לעשות, “to do” (as interpreted by the Sages: “to rectify”). The final letters of the last three words ברא אלוהים לעשות “God created ‘to do,'” spell the “seal” of God, אֶמֶת, “truth.” In the final three letters of the beginning of the Creation account, , “In the beginning God created…,” the tav appears before the alef-mem of אֱמֶת. (The final letter of the next word, אֱת, reverts the permutation to אֱמֶת). This teaches us that all light and truth shines, ultimately, from the hidden Essence of God, the Absolute Darkness and End (of beginning בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית, “In the beginning”) before the beginning (of the end of בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים , God created”).
The Number of Tav
In gematria Tav represents the number Four hundred. (400), the largest single number that can be represented without using the Sophit forms (see Kaph, Mem, Nun, Pe, and Tzade). In representing names from foreign languages, a geresh or “chupchik” can also be placed after the tav (‘ת), making it represent /θ//ð/.
The Number of TAV in the Worlds
Four hundred men of Esau. Four hundred men of David. Four hundred years of exile in Egypt.
After residing twenty years in Haran, Jacob returned to Israel and sent angels as messengers to his brother Esau. They returned saying: “We came to your brother Esau and he also is coming to meet you with four hundred men [for war].” In Kabbalah we are taught that Esau is a reincarnation of Cain, while Jacob is a reincarnation of Abel. This, Esau seeks to kill Jacob as his predecessor Cain killed his brother Abel. His four hundred men represent four hundred fallen sparks that permeate nature, the domain (“field – Esau is called “a man of the field”) of Esau. Four hundred, the value of tav, the culmination of the alef-beit – and, in a certain sense, the consummation of the consciousness of number, as taught in Chassidut – is 20 (kaf) squarred. Kaf end the first half of the alef-beit, the first eleven letters from alef to kaf, just as tav end the second half of the entire alef-beit. Through the merit of Jacob’s twenty-year service of elevating the Divine sparks enclothed in the “trial” of exile, he possessed the power to subdue Esau and his four hundred men. These subsequently dispersed, and later appear in the Tanach, reincarnated, now at the true level of Soul, in the four hundred men of David (David himself, is the rectification of the “red one,” [the kingdom of] Esau).
The number four hundred first appears in Torah in the Covenant Between the Pieces, God’s first covenant with Abraham, in which He promised him the land of Israel. There is told that his descendants shall be in exile for a period of four hundred years. The four hundred years actually began from the birth of Isaac and only one hundred ninety years later did Jacob and his family descended to Egypt, to remain there for two hundred ten years. It was only for the lest eighty-six (the value of God’s name of Judgement, Elokim [אלוקים]) of these two hundred ten years that the Jews were subjected to their most oppressive enslavement. The suffering, both spiritual and physical, inherent in exile and slavery, elevates and rectifies fallen sparks in nature, though we may be unconscious of the process of rectification at the time.
The Number of TAV in the Souls
The four hundred pieces of silver with which Abraham purchased the Cave of Machpelah to bury Sarah. The four hundred gates of mutual knowledge amongst the four couples buried in the Machpelah. Efron – evil eye; Abraham – pure eyes. The dimensions of the Land of Israel – four hundred parsah by four hundred parsah.
Abraham purchased the Cave of Machpelah from Efron the Hittite for four hundred shekel. Four pairs of “living” souls (“tzadikim in death are considered living”) are buried in the Machpelah: Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah. Each pair has perfect knowledge of one another, in the secret of “her husband is known in the gates,” the fifty gates of understanding, of which is said: “If there is no knowledge there is no understanding.” The fifty gates of husband-knowing-wife and the fifty gates of wife-knowing-husband total the “one hundred gates” of Isaac (צחוק, from צחק. “laughter,” the holy laughter and joy inherent in the union of husband and wife). Four times one hundred are the four hundred shekel of the Cave of Machpelah. Eight times fifty (ת times נ) is the secret of חו, the grace and favor that one finds in the eyes of the other.
Efron (עפון) equals four hundred. “He said such but did not even a little” (he offered the Machpelah as a gift but actually took for it the highest price). he is the secret of רע עירָ, the “evil eye,” which also equals four hundred. Abraham is the secret, “pure eyes” (which also equal four hundred in Hebrew), the rectification of the four hundred of “the evil eye.”
The land of Israel (whose microcosm is the Cave of Machpelah, the first purchase of land in Israel by the first Jew, Abraham) is four hundred parsah by four hundred parsah. Every parsah is four mil (a mil being approximately a kilometer). This is the full measure of the land promised to Abraham at the Convenant Between the Pieces, the land of ten nations to be inherited only in the future with the coming of Mashiach. The land of Israel in relation to the other lands of the earth is identical with the soul of Israel in relation to other created souls. Just as the task of the soul is to reveal Divinity in Worlds, so the place most conductive to such revelation is the Holy land, over which the “pure eyes” of God continuously look.
The Number of TAV in Divinity
The four hundred worlds of Divine pleasure in the World to Come. The God of Israel, the people of Israel, the Torah of Israel, and the Land of Israel.
In the Zohar, the four hundred silver shekels of Abraham symbolize “four hundred world of Divine pleasure” (“pleasure,” from כסף, “silver”), the soul’s Divine inheritance of the World to Come. Of the seven metals of the Torah (silver, gold, copper, tin, lead, mercury, iron), silver is the metal of love, corresponding to the sefirah of chesed, the attribute of Abraham, the first Jew, who knew God in perfect love. In this world the soul’s full potential of love can never be actualized. The soul can never realize its infinite Divine resources of love. In the World to Come one’s love become consummate. Abraham truly achieve the desire of his life, the union with Sarah to bear infinite Divine images in the “land of the living,” “trees of life” (עֵץ [“tree”] = צלם [“Divine image”] = כסף [“silver”] = 160, a thousandth part of 400 by 400, the area of the land of Israel).
The tav, when spelled in full (תָיו), equals 416, which in turn equals 13 (אחד [“one”] or אהבה [“love”]) times 32 (לֵב [“heart”]), the “one heart” or “loving heart”. Two times tav (תָיו by תָיו) equals ארץ ישראל, “the land of Israel,” of which (in particular) is said: כל הארץ
“The God of Israel,” “the people of Israel,” “the Torah of Israel,” and the “land of Israel” (all “supported” – the grammatical “construct” form – by their common essence, Israel), correspond to the four letters of the Name Havayah, and are, in essence, one and the same. Moreover, these four correspond to the four pairs of the Machpelah, the Patriarchs and Matriarchs and Adam and Eve. Abraham and Sarah, in their love of God and life’s work to bring all people to recognize the unity of God, were the first to reveal “the God of Israel.” Isaac and Rebecca in their deepest, spiritual love for one another, in which merit they bore Jacob, “the choice of the fathers” and “general soul” of Israel, revealed the secret of the “people [souls] of Israel.” Jacob and Leah, whose love for one another was primarily at the level of mind, the wisdom of Torah, revealed “the Torah of Israel” (as in the secret of the birth of Issachar, the master of Torah). Adam and Eve – the origin of the souls of David and Bat Sheva – “the keepers of the garden,” first revealed the secret of “the land of Israel” (though with the sin its secret became hidden, only to be fully revealed by the Mashiach, who will complete the rectification of Adam and Eve’s sin). The land is the beginning and the land is the end, in the secret of “all was from the earth and all returns to the earth” and “I am first and i am last…” The four “one hundreds gates” of each level total four hundred, as above.
The soul of “the people of Israel” connect upward to “the God of Israel” through the means of “the Torah of Israel,” the “three links” of the upward flame of the shin. In the downward flow from God to the land, the ultimate purpose of Creation (the holy land being the physical context of the “dwelling place for God below”), the Divine Light and influx of “the God of Israel” pass through the souls of “the people of Israel” to their “soul-mate,” “the land of Israel,” through the means of (the souls’ devotion to) “the Torah of Israel.” This is the secret of the truly consummated love of God, His seal which stamps its impression, its power of “actualization” (the ultimate secret of the tav of אֶמֶת), from Divinity to Souls to Worlds. His seal is truth and “there is no truth but Torah.”
The Symbolism of Tav
Tav is the last letter of the Hebrew word emet, which means truth. The midrash explains that emet is made up of the first, middle, and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet (Aleph, Mem, and Tav: אמת). Sheqer (falsehood), on the other hand, is made up of the 19th, 20th, and 21st (and penultimate) letters.
Thus, truth is all-encompassing, while falsehood is narrow and deceiving. In Jewish mythology it was the word emet that was carved into the head of the Golem which ultimately gave it life. But when the letter “aleph” was erased from the Golem’s forehead, what was left was “met” — dead. And so the Golem died.
ת symbolized Divine Perfection, as expressed by King David, “The God Whose way is perfect” (Psalm 18:31) Perfection is not only Attribute of God. Mam must strive to attain this trait also – as the Torah commands “Be Perfect with HASHEM your God (Deuteronomy 18:13) (Rabbi Michael L. Munck, he Wisdom of Hebrew Alphabets, p. 219)
אמת is symbolized by its final letter, ת, since the power of truth lies in its results. It’s teh most fitting letter to symbolize man’s final destination. The sign ת as a Divine judicial pronouncement was used when God decreed the destruction of Jerusalem and ordered the angel Gabriel – as seen in a vision by the Prophet Ezekiel (ch.9) – to put a ת on the foreheads of the citizens of Jerusalem. To differentiate the righteous ones destined for life in the World to Come from the wicked who were doomed to perish in This World and the next, ink and blood were used respectively. A ת in ink was placed on the forehead of the righteous, denoting תחיה, you shall live; and in your blood for the wicked, denoting תמות, you shall die. (Shabbos 55a) (Rabbi Michael L. Munck, he Wisdom of Hebrew Alphabets, p. 219)
Ezekiel 9:4 depicts a vision in which the Tav plays a Passover role similar to the blood on the lintel and doorposts of a Hebrew home in Egypt. In Ezekiel’s vision, the Lord has his angels separate the demographic wheat from the chaff by going through Jerusalem, the capital city of ancient Israel, and inscribing a mark, a Tav, “upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.”
In Ezekiel’s vision, then, the Lord is counting Tav Israelites as worthwhile to spare, but counts the people worthy of annihilation who lack the Tav and the critical attitude it signifies. In other words, looking askance at a culture marked by dire moral decline is a kind of shibboleth for loyalty and zeal for God.
The Zohar states: “the tav makes an impression on the Ancient of Days.” “The Ancient of Days” refers to the sublime pleasure innate within the “crown” (Will) of Divine Emanation. The letter tav (here referring to the “Kingdom of the Infinite One, Blessed be He”) leaves its impression on the “Ancient of Days.” The impression is the secret of simple faith in God’s ultimate omnipresence the Infinite present in the finite, for “there is none like unto Him” (the conclusion of the above quotation from the Zohar).
This faith passes in inheritance from generation to generation, from world to world, the malchut (“kingdom”) of the higher world linked to the keter (“crown”) of the lower world. The tav, the final letter of the alef-beit, corresponds to malchut (“kingdom”), the final Divine power, in the secret of “Your Kingdom is the Kingdom of all worlds.” The impression of the tav is the secret of the power that links worlds – generations – together.
The initial impression of true faith was that which was stamped upon the soul of our first father, Abraham, “the first of all believers.” This is the secret of Abraham’s purchase of the Cave of Machpelah, the original Jewish cemetery, for four hundred (the numerical value of tav) shekel, the secret of our eternal inheritance of “four hundred worlds of pleasure,” sealed with the stamp of simple faith.
God’s seal (in Creation) is truth (in Hebrew, emet, spelled out by the final letters of the three last words in the account of Creation: bara elokim la’asot,” ” …God created ‘to do’”). The last letter or seal of the word emet, “truth,” itself – the seal of God’s seal – is the letter tav, simple faith, the conclusion and culmination of all twenty-two forces – letters – active in Creation.
The three letters which spell emet are the beginning, middle and ending letters of the alef-beit.” The alef corresponds to one’s initial awareness of Divine paradox in the infinite source (where the higher and lower waters, joy and bitterness, are absolutely one). From this awareness issues mem, the fountain of Divine wisdom, ever- increasing power of insight into the mysteries of Torah. “The final end of knowledge is not to know.” The culmination of the flow of Divine wisdom in the soul (after all is said and done) is the “majestic” revelation of the infinite “treasure-house” of simple faith in God’s absolute omnipresence below innate in the soul of Israel. The culmination of truth simple faith is the secret of the “tav.”
“All follows the seal,” in the secret of “returning light” from the tav to the alef, thereby forming the word ta, “cell.” Around the inner Sanctuary of the Temple were constructed many “cells” or “small chambers.” These “cells” were without windows, thus being completely dark inside. Chassidut teaches that these “cells” reveal the level of “He places His concealed place in darkness,” the awareness of simple faith reaching into the absolutely “dark” Essence of God.
So we are taught: “Torah is the impression [the tav] of Divinity; Israel is the impression [the tav] of Torah.” Divinity is perceived first through the service of deepest meditation in complete silence (submission), the secret of the chash (“silence”) of chashmal. (Then, through the means of an intermediate stage of “circumcision,” comes a first expression of mal, “circumcision.” Torah is the secret of separation between good and evil – circumcision – the cutting off of the foreskin (evil).
Israel, the ultimate manifestation of God’s Word in Torah (“Israel” is an acronym for the Hebrew phrase “There are six hundred thousand letters in the Torah”) corresponds to the final level of “speech,” the “second” mal of chashmal. Speech, communication of God’s oneness between souls, is the ultimate level of Divine service, “sweetening” all reality, as taught by the Ba’al Shem Tov. The tav, simple faith, is here seen to be the power of impression and linkage uniting the apparently paradoxical extremities of Divine service, from the utter silence of meditation to the loving communication between souls.
Tav and the Cross
What is exceedingly interesting about Christ and the letter ת Tav is that the ancient symbol of Tav is a cross. In ancient times, the Tav was written as a cross. It is interesting that the Christians think the cross belongs to them, but it does not: the cross is a Hebrew letter Tav. When Jesus, the Initiate, the Master, was crucified he was hung upon a Hebrew letter Tav, because he was a Jew. The ת Tav, the cross, is a Jewish symbol, but it is also Babylonian, Assyrian, Egyptian, Tibetan, and Hindu. You find the cross in every religion. You find it in the Odinic mysteries, Nordic mysteries, in the Aztec, even amongst the Maya. The cross does not belong to Christians. The cross belongs to the universe. The cross is Tav.
The cross is the mark, Tav, the synthesis of everything. Within the cross, everything is summarized, and this is why Christianity wisely adopted the cross as a symbol. That cross represents the ultimate sacrifice, the ultimate expression of the direct path: the path of the Bodhisattva, which is Tav—complete sacrifice, ultimate love, supernal compassion. That Light, that fire of Christ, is not dogmatic. It is not judgmental. The light of Christ is pure love, pure light, cognizant love.
The cross represents that; the cross unites the entire Tree of Life. If we place the Tav, the ancient form as a cross, over the Tree of Life, then the central pillar, the central column, is the center of the cross. Where does the vertical and horizontal beam cross the tree? תפארת Tiphereth, which begins and ends with ת Tav. So if you hang that horizontal beam on תפארת Tiphereth, those two ת Tavs in Tiphereth support the outer ends. The Tree of Life has a cross that bridges through Tiphereth. That is why Jesus was crucified on a cross. This is a symbol that the human soul must sacrifice all desire; the human soul must sacrifice itself for others; the human soul must die psychologically.
The Tarot Attribution for Tav: XXI – The World
The 21th trump of the Tarot, entitled The World, is attributed to the Hebrew letter Tav. It is usually the final card of the Major Arcana or tarot trump sequence. This card is showing within a flowering wreath a female figure, who has come to be known as The Virgin of the World. At the four corner of the card are the four cherubic animals of the Apocalypse: the man, the eagle, the bull (ox), and the lion. Those are the symbols of the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It also holds reference to the vision of Ezekiel of the “throne” or “chariot” of God in the Old Testament. The four figures in the corners of the card are also referenced in the Book of Revelation, 4:7, where the throne of God is described: “And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.” Later decks avoid such overt Christian symbolism, or ignore it altogether, choosing to explain these observers as representatives of the natural world, or the kingdom of beasts. According to astrological tradition, the Lion is Leo, a fire sign; the Bull or calf is Taurus, an earth sign; the Man is Aquarius, an air sign; and the Eagle is Scorpio, a water sign. These signs also represent the classical four elements. In some decks the wreath is an ouroborous biting its own tail. In the Thoth Tarot designed by Aleister Crowley, this card is called “The Universe.”
The World represents an ending to a cycle of life, a pause in life before the next big cycle beginning with the fool. The figure is at once male and female, above and below, suspended between the heavens and the earth. It is completeness. It is also said to represent cosmic consciousness; the potential of perfect union with the One Power of the universe. It tells us full happiness is also to give back to the world, sharing what we have learned or gained.
According to Robert M. Place in his book The Tarot, the four beasts on The World card represent the fourfold structure of the physical world, which frames the sacred center of the world, a place where the divine can manifest. Sophia, meaning Prudence or Wisdom (the dancing woman in the center), is spirit or the sacred center, the fifth element. It is the fourth of the Cardinal virtues in the Tarot. The World card is thus a symbol of the goal of mystical seekers. The lady in the center is its symbol. In some older decks, this central figure is Christ, in others it is Hermes. Whenever it comes up, this card represents what is truly desired.
Considered from the point of view of divination, we can say that there is in this card a major element of happiness is wholeness – the sense that everything is working together in harmony. Not in a static way, but with dynamic balance. Involvement is also important. To be happy, we must feel connected – engaged with what is around us. There is also accomplishment – knowing that we have goals and are moving toward them successfully. When all these elements come together, we feel fulfilled and blessed. The World represents these moments and all that goes into them. In readings, it is a very positive sign that you are in a position to realize your heart’s desire. What that is for you depends on the situation, but it will always feel great. Remember, though, that Card 21 is a symbol of active contribution and service. To hold the World in our hands, we must give of ourselves to it. That is the source of true happiness.
The Qabalistic Path Attribution for Tav
The 31th path of the qabalistic Tree of Life is attributed to the Hebrew letter Tav. This is the path joining Yesod to Malkuth. According to Israel Regardie, “this path represents both (a) the lowest dregs of the astral plane, to which is attributed Saturn as the great astrological malefic, and (b) the universe in toto, represented by Brahma and Pan as the sum total of all existent intelligences.” In the same category we have Gaea or Gé, which is nothing less but the incarnation and personification of the earth. Always in the same alley there is also the Norse Vidar, whose name indicates that he is the imperishable nature of the world, likened to the immensity of indestructive forests. And like the Greek Pan, he is the representative of the silent, secret, peaceful groves. We have seen that the symbolism of the associated Tarot card is displaying The Virgin of the World, which gives to this path added significance since it descends upon Malkuth, to which the Zohar allocates the final Héh, the Daughter, who is the reflection below of the Shechinah on high. According to Stephen A. Holler, in his book The Fool’s Pilgrimage, the keynote of this path goes like this: “From emprisonment in form, we rise to the consciousness of the vital force.” It’s kinda like a final illumination, the final step to wholeness. In the same book we learn that the motto of this path is “And we shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.”