The Illuminated Hebrew Letter Series - Reish
In this verse of Ashrei, the letter reish begins the Hebrew word for “will”, rozon. Every morning we pray, “The beginning of wisdom is fear of G-d”. The word for “fear” in Hebrew, yirah, has many levels of understanding. Simply speaking we can say that the reish, is connected to the word rosh, meaning “head”. When we aspire to connect our will to the Will of Supreme Intelligence, we open ourselves to receive wisdom. Thus “fear” is a healthy awe before that which is greater than us, and we use our rozon to elevate our state of consciousness. Further, the Hebrew word for “running” ratz, is related to rozon. We are asked to run to do someone a favor, to run to carry out Hashem’s Will, the instructions, tools or commandments He has given us to reach our potential as creatures created in the Divine Image. We learn that the natural state of the soul is to “run and return” between its Divine Source and physical reality. By aligning our will with God’s, the soul affects physical reality. This is the pinnacle (rosh, “head”) we can strive for, and the beginning (reishis, see the letter beit) of true intelligence.
The form of this letter is likened to a bowing head. We pray on Rosh Hashanah (the “head” of the year) to be blessed to act as the “head” and not as the “tail” in the coming year, that our highest selves will lead us in righteous actions.
The reish is the numerical half-way point of the alef-beit.
In bowing in true humility, knowing our Source and our Beginning, may we be blessed to act upon this knowing, preceding all our actions and efforts with the prayer, “If it be Your Will…”
Text by Louise Temple from the book "Hebrew Illuminations"