Gimel (ג)


In the Talmud it is said that the Gimmel symbolizes a rich man running after a poor man (the next letter Dalet) to give him tzedakah (charity). (dalut) in Hebrew means impoverished. Gimmel thus represents the free choice to run after the teaching of Torah by practicing acts of chesed (loving kindness).

The גימל – gimel introduces us to the idea of the journey (in the existential sense of life-altering awareness, most often involving a struggle), specifically of riding the camel (גמל – gamal). The letter’s name forms the words גמל – gamel and gomel (“one who performs kind deeds”),57 representing the soul’s ability to give to and nourish others. Thanks to his courage, strength, and desire to help his master, the camel helps human beings to overcome the trial of crossing the parched and dangerous desert.

The spiritual lesson we learn from the camel (so deeply influenced by the shape and the spiritual energy of the gimel) is the ability to reduce our needs to a minimum. When necessary, this marvelous animal can abstain from drinking for thirty days. The camel thus performs a genuine act of self-limitation, forgoing its own needs for the sake of others. This is reminiscent of the primordial tzimtzum (“contraction”) that preceded the Creation of the world: God withdrew His infinite presence into Himself in order to give creation the “space” it needed to exist. A person who strives mightily and makes great sacrifices in order to reach an altruistic goal exhibits this same selflessness.

In the relationship between the letter gimel and the gamal (“camel”), we can see the symbolic teachings that the ancient Hebrews associated with animals. We consistently find throughout ancient cultures, including ancient and modern shamanic practices all over the world, the presence of animals as messengers, helpers, and guides. All shamanic cultures have a system of symbology associated with the animals most closely related to them (for example, the bear and the wolf in some Native American traditions, and the Siberian tiger and the snow leopard in Mongolia). When these animals appear either in nature or in meditative visions, they carry messages related to the symbolism between that animal and the culture that recognizes it as a helper.

The relationship between gimel and the gamal is evidence of how the dialogue with the cosmic soul of animals58 is basic to Judaism.

Source —> Secrets of the Hebrew Alphabet

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