Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The TET Offensive: 09/09/09

See this Yahoo article on Wednesday's unique date: 09/09/09. With a film coming out and apocalyptic overtones, it's worth looking at the Jewish angle to the number 9.

Given that each Hebrew letter has a numerical value, it is the letter Tet that equals 9. Looking at -a Kabbalistic web site analyzing the letter Tet, we discover that

"tet is the initial letter of the word tov, "good." The form of the tet is "inverted," thus symbolizing hidden, inverted good--as expressed in the Zohar: "its good is hidden within it." The form of the letter chet symbolizes the union of groom and bride consummating with conception. The secret of the tet (numerically equivalent to nine, the nine months of pregnancy) is the power of the mother to carry her inner, concealed good - the fetus - throughout the period of pregnancy."

....Of the eight synonyms for "beauty" in Hebrew, tov--"good"--refers to the most inner, inverted, and "modest" state of beauty. This level of beauty is that personified in Torah by Rebecca and Bat Sheva, who are described as "very beautiful [goodly] in appearance."

At the beginning of Creation, the appearance of light is termed "good" in God's eyes: "And God saw the light was good." Our Sages interpret this to mean "good to be hidden for the tzadikim in the Time to Come." "And where did He hide it? In the Torah, for 'there is no good other than Torah.'"

The Ba'al Shem Tov teaches that the "Time to Come" refers also to every generation. Each soul of Israel is a potential tzadik (as it is said: "and your people are all tzadikim"), connected to the goodly light hidden in Torah. The more one actualizes his potential to be a tzadik, the more goodness he reveals from the Torah "womb."

...Thus, the full teaching of the tet is that, through the service of the soul, all of reality becomes "pregnant" with God’s Infinite goodness and beauty, thereby bringing harmony and peace to "heavens and earth."

Richard Seidmand and Lawrence Kushner also comment that in Kabbala, "Tet may indicate a stage of shedding, like a snake sheds its skin." We need to ask what have we outgrown and what we need to make way for in order to bring about new life - a revival of the soul - something we are all seeking to do at this time of year. And he adds, "The Tov of Tet is a deep, profound inner goodness, the primal goodness of Creation, independent of circumstances."

So for Jews, 9, Tet, is a pretty lucky and harmonious number, as is its square root, 3. Nothing to be concerned about today. And if it happens to be your birthday (as it is for someone I know), all the more so!

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