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

For more information about this painting, email the artist at adam@hebrewart.com

“May my mouth speak praises of Hashem, and may all flesh bless the Name of the Holy One forever and ever. We will bless G-d now and forever, Halleluyah!” Tehillim/Psalm 145:21

In this final verse of Ashrei, King David, speaks of praise, tehillat, the plural form – tehillim – being a name given to the Book of Psalms. David sang Hashem’s praises even when battling great forces, in himself and the world around him. How can we emulate this? The last letter, or seal, of the word emet, “truth” is the letter tav which is the culmination of all the twenty-two letters, or forces, active in creation. We learn that Hashem’s seal in creation is Truth. This is spelled out by the final letters of the last words in the account of Creation – bara elokim la’asot – meaning, “G-d created to do”, alef-mem-tet spells emet. These are also the beginning, middle and end letters of the alef-beit. The culmination of truth, when all is said and done, is simple faith, and this is the secret of the letter tav, and to King David’s ability to remain in a constant state of praise.

The form of the tav is composed of a daled joined to a nun, resembling a stamp or seal. Fittingly, tav begins the word Torah, the Five Books of Moses that reveal the light of G-d’s wisdom, Talmud, the 63 volumes of the Oral Law given on Mt. Sinai with the written law, and the word for prayer, tefilla.

400 years of exile in Egypt; 400 pieces of silver with which Abraham purchased the cave of Machpelah to bury Sarah; the dimensions of the Land of Israel are 400 parsah by 400 parsah.

As we experience the cycles of life, may we recognize with simple faith, that the beginning, middle and end of all things bears the seal of Truth. In believing in the underlying Perfection of all things we will be given the strength to “bless G-d now and forever, Halleluyah!"


Text by Louise Temple from the book "Hebrew Illuminations"