Fascinating Analysis of Hebrew Letters in the Zohar
Daniel Matt in the Pritzker edition has given us simply the finest Zohar ever to exist in history. I am so grateful for him and the enormous group of scholars and committees and translators who helped put this massive, astonishing, and incredible 12 volume set together. OK, enough Gagaing about it, lets look at a little something...
In the Tetsavveh, the last part of the commentary on the Book of Exodus in the Torah, the rabbis bring up (once again) the analysis of the letters. This time the letters of YHWH. The spend pages analyzing the four letters, their characteristics, their relationship to each other, to other letters, their shape, their meaning, their hidden meaning, the esoteric way in which they are formed and how this ties in with the Shekhinah and mankind, the ideas of creation, how the gematria of them work in relation to theological concepts in their religion, the expanded meaning of each letter as it is spelled, etc. I have just never in my life seen anything like this. It is fun, it is remarkable, it is careful, it is meaningful. I first noticed this remarkable phenomena of the letters as literally pictures in the Bahir. No single exposition of the letters are complete.
The story of each letter coming to the creator asking to be the letter for creation in the first volume of the Zohar is just fun. The actual drawings of the picture forms of letters and how they combine to get their shapes as developed in the Bahir is really fun to see and read also. All the Hebrew letters really do come from the almost simple dot that is Yod.
We also have various ideas on the letters and their relationships to a mysterious geometric figure described in the Sefer Yetzirah. I sincerely think one of the delights of studying the Jewish esoteric tradition are all these interesting far-away legends and serious dedication to their language. It meant something much more to them than merely record keeping for business purposes. There was and is a holiness to the Hebrew. A reverence that holds one in awe of Hebrew. Someday I will get to presenting some research on some connections I see with this incredibly uplifting, awe-inspiring attitude to one's own language.
In the meantime, anyone interested in the Jewish literature, the Matt translation of the Zohar is truly the top of the mountain with a full scale bird's eye view. There is nothing that matches it! You are cheating yourself if you let this go out of print before acquiring your own copy of this behemoth offering to mankind's spirituality.