The Chalom (Dream) Series - Aleph
Chalom Aleph - by Adam Rhine
Watercolor on Paper

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“I will exalt You, my God, the King, and I will bless Your name forever and ever.”
Tehillim/Psalm 145:1

The letter aleph is the symbol of the unique oneness of the Creator.

Aleph is one, God is one.

It is the letter that begins Ashrei, the name of this psalm, “Praiseworthy”, and the first word Aromimcha, “I will exalt You”. Exaltation is the orientation of our connection to, and faith in the Essence of existence. Aleph also begins the word for “love” – ahava. This holy letter is composed of three parts: two letter yuds connected by the letter vav. The numerical value of these letters when added together is 26, which is the same number comprising the letters of the most sanctified name of the Creator denoting love and compassion, the unpronounceable tetragrammaton, spelled yud-hei-vav-hei.

With the limited understanding of human intellect we cannot grasp the Infinite One, and yet, paradoxically, at the revelation at Sinai of the Ten Commandments, G-d addresses the Jewish people using a personal pronoun, anochi, which begins with an aleph… “I (anochi) am the G-d, Your G-d, Who has taken you out of the land of Egypt…” This is a clear statement of both the transcendent and immanent in creation, and of the Creator’s participation in the world and in our lives.

In the form of the aleph, the yud below touches the Earth, and the yud above reaches heavenward, desiring to be close to Hashem. With the giving of the Torah, heaven and earth were united. Each of us can fulfill our purpose here by joining heaven and earth – revealing the hidden spirituality in the physical world - and seeking to know the underlying unity, the oneness of reality. The mediating force of vav, upright like a human being, connects the two yuds into one entity. The Aleph possesses the power to bear the polarity of opposites, paradox.

May we find balance and harmony in this physical world, as we honor and seek our source in the spiritual. In exalting G-d we stand strong and confident, knowing the true dignity of being human.

“Chalom ” in Hebrew means “Dreams, ” like that of Yakkov Aveinu (Jacob our Father) who dreamt of angels traveling up and down a ladder between heaven and earth. The gestural qualities of these paintings explore the dreamlike spiritual qualities of the Hebrew letters.

Text by Louise Temple from the book "Hebrew Illuminations"