Learning to love lamed.

hebrew letter lamed hebrica jewish papercut art kim phillips lamed pirke avot

hebrew letter lamed hebrica jewish papercut artA fellow convert to Judaism, in giving his "acceptance" speech to the congregation told us about a dream he had. Seems that, in the dream, his rabbi (also my own) had put him in charge of the Hebrew letter lamed. That's a lot of responsibility. Such a beautiful letter, extending above the line (Hebrew letters are oriented to the top line rather than to the base line), graceful, curved, female almost. 

Aside from its physical form, the Hebrew letter lamed is filled with meaning. The root, or shoresh, for the word lamed is actually lamed-mem-dalet; its root is inside itself. That particular root has to do with teaching and/or learning. The "and/or" part is beautiful... Hebrew words have flip-side meanings. Words with the L-M-D root may have to do with teaching or with the receiving of teaching: learning.

It is this back-and-forth, this push-pull of Jewish learning that is so engaging. Whether its Talmudic (the same root is in that word) disputation, studying in chevruta (pairs), or Torah study around the table in the synagogue, everybody can teach and everybody can learn.

Ben Zoma said, "Who is wise? The one who learns (halomed) from everyone." Pirke Avot 4:1

P.S. After my friend's speech, I asked the Rabbi, "What did you do to that poor man? He thinks he's in charge of lamed! Turns out, we all are.


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  • Kim Phillips on

    Connie—You’d have loved Torah study last week at our synagogue. It was lively to say the least! Vastly different points of view, excitement about digging into an ancient text, remarks from scholarly to emotional, sometimes loud… it was fun.

  • Connie McLeod on

    Such a beautiful graphic. I love the back and forth in Jewish learning. It’s so different than the faith I was raised in where I was told what to believe and to not question.

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