Illuminated Hebrew Letter Series - Kuf
Illuminated Kuf - by Adam Rhine
Watercolor on Paper

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“Hashem is close to all who call upon Him, to all who call in truth.” Tehillim/Psalm 145:18

Karov, beginning with the letter kuf, means “close”. The idea of closeness with the Infinite One is hard to grasp intellectually and yet is the feeling tone of spiritual experience. We speak of an awakening (or an arousal) from Above, and an awakening (or arousal) from below. Sometimes it is as if G-d is calling (from Above) to us through creation, “Come close! And sometimes it is our yearning for Truth that calls out, and this is a personal awakening, in which the process of seeking is finding an ever-closer degree of closeness. The function of the Korban service (offering) in the Holy Temple, was to eliminate the sense of separation between the individual, who made the offering, and Hashem. In offering up our limited selves at the altar, in surrendering to the Source of life, we grow close to our inherent holiness and to who we are meant to be in the image of G-d. Kadosh is holiness, also beginning with the kuf.

The descending vav, in the formation of the kuf, symbolizes the potential for unholiness, while the kaf shape, anchored on the line from above, (the benevolent palm) is responsible for keeping the vav from descending completely.

Human temptation and the negative inclination are always present in our world. Kuf also means “monkey” in Hebrew. The nature of monkeys is to act on impulse and to imitate. They represent the restless, undisciplined aspects of human behavior that prevent us from coming close to our deepest selves.

100 is the age of Abraham at the birth of Isaac; 100 is the life-span of the eagle; 100 is the number of the daily blessings we say; 10 times10 is the perfection of the square; 19 is the ordinal value of kuf – the basis of the Jewish calendar is a nineteen-year cycle of the moon in relation to the sun.

Hashem is close. Come close! Listen to your calling! Call out and trust that you are being heard. Come close as you can!

Text by Louise Temple from the book "Hebrew Illuminations"