The letter GIMEL

After Beith establishes the existence of two opposites, Gimel is the 3rd principle which arises to resolve and harmonize these opposites. Gimel links and balances between the Aleph and Beith. It is a dynamic balance between opposing powers, so Gimel is a letter of constant transformation, change and motion, and translates literally as camel, an animal we associate with motion and travel between faraway places. Gimel includes the opposites of both giving and receiving, and reward and punishment, creating balance and motion between these opposites.

Gimel resolves the giver and receiver (Aleph and Beith), so it represents giving and receiving. It represents kindness and cultivation, the organic nurturance that causes things to grow (Hebrew Gamol גמול means nourish until ripe, גמילה – wean child, ripen fruit ). גמול also means giving and the leg of the Gimel is said to represent the rich man running to give charity to the poor (represented by the 4th letter דלת). It signifies the Creator’s eternal benevolence to all creation, manifested with abundant life and prosperity.

The Gimel also represents reward and punishment. The word גמול represents the giving of both reward and punishment. The laws of the created world are based on the rule of judgment – blessings are able to flow to those who do good, while wrongdoing blocks the receipt of goodness and abundance. Thus both kindness and justice are maintained in balance.

Our Sages teach that the gimel symbolizes a rich man running after a poor man, the dalet, to give him charity. The word gimel is derived from the word gemul, which in Hebrew means both the giving of reward as well as the giving of punishment. In Torah, both reward and punishment have the same ultimate aim the rectification of the soul to merit to receive G-d's light to the fullest extent.

Reward and punishment imply that man is free to choose between good and evil. (The teaching of the gimel thus refers back to that of the open left side of the beit, from which it is born, as explained above.) The Rambam (Maimonides), in particular, places great stress upon free choice as being fundamental to Jewish faith. According to the Rambam, the World to Come, the time of reward, is a completely spiritual world, one of souls without bodies. On this point the Ramban (Nachmanides) disagrees and argues that since complete freedom of choice exists only in our physical world, the ultimate rectification of reality the reward of the World to Come will also be on the physical plane. Kabbalah and Chassidut support the opinion of the Ramban.

This is alluded to by the leg of the letter gimel which expresses the running of the rich man to bestow good upon the poor man. Running, more than any other physical act, expresses the power of will and freedom of choice (the Hebrew word for "running," ratz, is related to the word for "will," ratzon). In running, the leg is firmly in contact with the earth; through an act of will, the soul directly affects physical reality. The final reward, the ultimate revelation of G-d's Essential light, will thus justly be bestowed upon the soul in the very same context as its life's endeavor, the physical world.

The Torah says: "Today [in this world] to do them," from which the Sages infer: tomorrow [in the World to Come] to receive their reward." Only "today" do we possess the opportunity to choose between good and evil. And so in accordance with our choice do we, ourselves, define the reward and punishment of "tomorrow." Just as evil is a finite phenomenon, so is punishment. Not so good and reward, which are truly infinite. The gimel of "today" is the secret of better one hour of teshuvah and good deeds in this world than all the life of the world to come. The gimel of "tomorrow" is the secret of better one hour of serenity in the world to come than all of the life of this world.

The letter Gimel is connected to the movement of a pendulum between apparent opposites that are dependent on a third vector (which is usually unseen or unknown). It is an unseen bridge (Gesher) that is built upon the balance between giving and receiving. The letter Gimmel is mostly a hidden letter, for example, it is the letter that appears the least amount of times in the Pentateuch. This hints to its great importance, especially because it is less seen.


The part that is more seen is the part of giving and receiving – both (Gam ve Gam). The part that is less seen is the third vector, which exists in the unseen worlds of essences, entities and energies. Without the third vector, the two great forces in Creation would cancel each other. The third vector allows them to co-exist while maintaining their different and opposite natures and, therefore, functions both as a fence (Gadder) and as a bridge (Gesher). If to give and to receive is an eternal balance, then in Gimel begins a growth (Gdilla) that is beyond the initial balance.

Between giving and receiving there has to be a third principle that leads the will and the ability to give and to receive – such as, what is the reason for giving and receiving?