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

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“Gracious and merciful is Hashem, slow to anger, and great in [bestowing] kindness.” Tehillim/Psalm 145:8

Chayn is the word for “grace” from which the first word of this verse derives.
Chet is said to be constructed out of a merger between the opposing forces of the letters vav and zayin, joined at the top by an arch. This presents the concept of the tension, or paradox, between the absolute unity of Hashem and the plurality of creation. The above verse reminds us that the Creator of this world is understanding and benevolent and mindful of these forces. The word, chessed, denoting the attribute of loving-kindness, begins with a chet.

Chai the word for “life,” is spelled with a chet and yud. This combination unites the presence of G-d (represented by the yud) to our existence in time (chet). The numerical value of these letters is eighteen, multiples of which are often given in currency as charity, to remind us of the gift of life and the benevolence that we are required to emulate. The word Chaya is the second highest level of soul, referring to the Source of life and life-force itself.

Chet is like an open gateway between worlds of consciousness. The number eight is connected to transcendence as it stands outside the seven days of creation. It is connected to the concept of Moschiach, the Messiah, and also brings to mind the eight days of Channukah which commemorate miracles that defy the laws of nature. It is a holiday on which we celebrate light, a way of seeing from a purified heart.

As we contemplate this holy letter may we feel the grace that permits us to soar through the archway of consciousness, while being fully grounded in our lives within the physical world.

“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"