The letter BET

BET is the 2nd letter of the Hebrew alphabet, signifying the number two. Bet is the first letter of the story of creation, starting the entire Torah/Bible –ברא בראשית.

Bet represents the beginning of duality, with the One Creator bringing forth a created world, so that there can be both a giver (the Creator) and a receiver (the created world) for the Creator to bestow upon. This creates a dramatic leap from Absolute Oneness to the ability for there to be two. It also creates the possibility for all duality and opposites – yes and no, hot and cold, man and woman, up and down, etc.

Bet’s literal meaning and form denote a house, and it represents the universal concept of a container or vessel. Thus the created world is meant to house within it the spiritual. The physical world is meant to be a place for the Creator’s glory to manifest. The body is meant to contain the soul, allowing it to act in this world. The dual world actually contains within it the Ultimate Oneness, but concealed. The Bet is the tool, the source of all building, containing and then bringing forth all of the other letters.

The letter bet, from the word "house," refers to G-d's house: "My house will be called a House of Prayer for all peoples." The Midrash states that the Divine motivation for creation was that the Holy One, Blessed Be He, desired a dwelling place in lower reality. The fulfillment of this desire begins with the creation of man, a Divine soul enclothed in a physical body, and proceeds with the multiplication of man, to "conquer" the whole world and make it the kingdom of G-d.


The Torah precedes the detailed description of the Tabernacle and its vessels with the statement of its ultimate purpose: "They shall build me a Temple and I will dwell in them." Not "in it," the Sages explain, but "in them"--in each and every Jew. "Dwelling in them" is, in essence, the revelation of Divinity in the people of Israel, ever present but often "shadowed," as in the time of exile and destruction of the Temple. The innate sanctity of the people of Israel, the "sanctuary of G-d," when revealed and linked to that of the land of Israel, causes the Holy Land to expand and eventually encompass all the earth (lower reality): "the land of Israel will in the future spread out to all the lands of the earth."


Bet is numerically equal to the word "ta'avah," which means "desire" or "passion" (412). In general, "ta'avah" connotes a negative human property. However, in several places "ta'avah" denotes the positive passion of the tzadik, the righteous man. One passage in Proverbs states: "He will fulfill the passion of the tzadik," and a second says: "the passions oftzadikim are only good." The "ta'avah" of Gd, the "Tzadik of the world," is altogether above reason and logic. At this level one cannot ask "why." As expressed by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi: "About passion, there can be no question." As G-d is the essence of good so His passion is "only good."


"With whom did the Holy One, Blessed be He, take counsel whether or not to create the world? With the souls of the tzadikim." The "souls of the tzadikim" refers to all Jewish souls, as is said: "All your people are tzadikim." G-d's connotation as the "Tzadik of the world" refers to the absolute origin and unity of the Jewish soul in His very Essence. When the soul descends to be enclothed in the finite consciousness and experience of a seemingly mundane body, its task is to become the tzadik below in true emulation of its Source, the "Tzadik Above." This is accomplished through the refinement and purification of passion, ta'avah, to become "only good."

The "Tzadik Above" dwells in the House built for Him by the tzadik below. Here, the deepest passion of the Creator reaches fulfillment. The large beit, the first letter of the Torah and the beginning of Creation, expresses this ultimate purpose, as is said: "The final deed arose first in thought." In the first word of the Torah, Bereishit, the three "servant" letters--the prefix beit" and the two suffix letters, yud and tav - spell bayit, "house" (equivalent to the full spelling of the letter beit). The root of "bereishit," rosh, means "head." Thus the most "natural" permutation of bereishit reads: rosh bayit, "the head of the house." One permutation of the letters rosh is osher, "happiness." When the tzadik draws G-d, the "Head," into His House, it becomes a house of true and eternal happiness.


The drawing down of the "Head" to dwell in His "House" below, in true happiness, is the secret of bracha, "blessing," which begins with the letter beit. Our Sages teach that the "big beit" begins the Creation, and the Torah as a whole, with the power of blessing. G-d blesses His creation, which He creates with the attribute of lovingkindness, the attribute of Abraham, as will be explained in the letter hei. Abraham, the first Jewish soul, is subsequently entrusted with the Divine power of blessing, the "big beit" of Creation, as is said: "And you shall be [the one who bestows] blessing." Afterwards, at the time of his circumcision, he was given the "small hei" of Creation, the power to draw down and manifest the Divine blessing of happiness in the smallest detail of reality.


The Priestly Blessing is composed of three verses. The number of words progress in the order 3, 5, 7, with equal differences of two, beit. The number of letters progress in the order: 15, 20, 25, with equal differences of five, hei. Words represent full, or large consciousness, whereas letters represent particular, or small consciousness. The power to bless "fullness" is the power of the beit, as is said: "And full with the blessing of G-d." The power to draw down the blessing to the smallest detail of reality is that of he.


This service of Abraham, and all Jews after him, leads to the fulfillment of the ultimate intention of Creation, the realization of Israel's power of blessing, that the domain of the King (the "Head of the House") extend to encompass all reality and, thereby, bestow true happiness to all.

Creation is timeless; she is beyond time. Creation is the source of all things, which emanate from her and, if developed and refined, eventually return to her. Creation invites us to continue our life journey even beyond planetary time. She invites us back home – the highest home of all. She invites us back together with the consciousness that we succeeded to gather in our lives – a consciousness that corresponds with the different levels that exist in Creation.


At a more basic level, Bet is a home, which invites, protects, enables and supports, but does not allow entry to things below the accepted standards that exist in that home.* The home of Bet contains all the knowledge that can exist inside it – knowledge, which gives of itself according to the level of the petitioner.


The letter Bet is connected to the feminine and magnetic aspect of Creation in maintenance and safekeeping, in hidden knowledge and in the sense of foreknowing.


According to various esoteric sources, Creation has seven levels. Human beings live in the sixth level, which is the level of the planets – one level before the end. Human potential, in general, suggests that each person can develop, even beyond the level at which s/he was born. However, although “all is foreseen,” “permission is granted” – the permission to choose what kind of life to have and to which elevation to aspire.