The letter PE
The Hebrew letter Pe means mouth and refers to the power of speech. In Kabbalah, speech is actually considered to be a spiritual power, which can cause good or evil depending on how it is used. In a certain way, what one thinks is how one is, and what one speaks has the power to become. Violent words lead to violent actions. The quality of the speech is considered to be the quality of the life’s essence and creative existence. The Pe teaches us to view our words as precious as gold, not to be spilled haphazardly.
The shape of the Pe is a Khaf with a Yod inside of it. This represents the spiritual spark of the Neshama soul, contained inside the physical body. With words and silence we can communicate the essence of our soul and existence. This requires that the inner and outer life match – that the physical existence is fully aligned manifesting the spiritual intentions of the soul within it. As it says in the Talmud Baba Metsiah “Don’t say one thing with the mouth and another with the heart.” The Yod is also the Nekudah SheBaLev, the point in the heart which spiritual awakening begins from. However, alignment of the physical with the spiritual level is no easy task. The normal balance of a human life is perhaps 1% or less spiritual and 99% physical, but the kabbalists say that right balance between these two would actually be the reverse.
The power of the Pe is a double-edged sword. As it says in Proverbs 18:21 “Life and death are in the hands of the tongue.” Because of this, the Pe represents the requirement to govern one’s own nature. Routine speech, speech to manipulate, all the distortions of speech must give way to viewing speech as a miracle, as gold too precious to be spilled. Then speech can be used for its true purpose – to speak one’s destiny and to activate spirit through the thoughts and the speech.
The mouth, the letter pei, follows the eye, the letter ayin. The five kindnesses and five mights of the right and left eyes discussed in the letter ayin are in fact the dual manifestations of the sefirah of da'at, knowledge, as taught in Kabbalah. Da'at is the power of union and communication. Providence is the power of da'at as revealed by the eyes. The power of da'at as revealed by the mouth - speech - is the more explicit form of contact and communication between individuals. Just as in the verse: "and Adam knew his wife Eve," "knew," the power of da'at, refers to the physical union of man and wife, so is "speech" idiomatically used by our Sages to refer to such union. So are we taught in the Zohar: "[the power of] da'at is concealed in the mouth."
Da'at, contact, at the level of the eyes, is the secret of the written Torah. In reading the written Torah in the synagogue service the reader must see every letter of the Torah scroll. Sometimes a "silver finger" is used to point, direct one's sight, to every word. Contact at the level of the mouth is the secret of the Oral Torah.
"There is no good other than Torah." The pei is the seventeenth letter of the alef-beit, the numerical value of the Hebrew word tov, "good," as discussed at length in the letter tet. The first words spoken by the "Mouth" of G-d, "Let there be light," upon spontaneously being realized as the actual creation of light, were subsequently seen, by His "Eyes," "to be good." The word "good," is the thirty-third word of the Torah, the sum of the ordinal values of the two letters ayin and pei (33 = 16 plus 17), thus alluding to the union of the two levels of da'at, contact (that of the eyes, the written Torah, and that of the mouth, the Oral Torah).
Of the people of Israel it is said: "You are my witnesses, says G-d" and "G-d's testimony is within you." With closed eyes we testify twice every day: "Hear, O Israel, G-d is our G-d; G-d is one." The ayin of the first word, Shema, "hear," and the dalet of the last word, echad, "one," are written large. Together they spell the word eid, "witness." The soul of every Jew is an "eye"- witness to the essential unity of G-d. In this world we must close our physical eyes in order to reveal the inner eye of Israel which beholds the Divine Unity. By proclaiming our testimony verbally, we unify the two levels of contact, that of eye and that of mouth.
Expression of wisdom proceeds from the inner eye of the heart to the mouth, as is said: "the heart of the wise informs his mouth." Words of wisdom, when expressed sincerely and humbly by the mouth, find favor and grace in the eyes of G-d and man, as is said: "the words of the mouth of the wise find favor." In Sefer Yetzirah we are taught that the "gift" to the holy mouth is grace. In good ("There is no 'good' other than Torah") are inherent two essential properties: truth and grace. Though each dimension of Torah expresses the interinclusion of both of these properties, nonetheless, in particular, truth (the "male figure," primarily defined by the sefirot of "tiferet" and yesod in Kabbalah) is the primary consciousness of the written Torah, whereas grace (the "female figure," malchut) is that of the Oral Torah. The power of the pe, the mouth, is thus to express the grace of the Oral Torah.
The letter Pe makes an opening for high things beyond the level of the local galaxy. Pe is related to the ability to connect and develop all the way up to the level of the stars. It is at that level that a person has not only the ability to be reborn, but also the ability to choose where and when to be born.
Pe has the ability to express high things, although it can express the low as well. The mouth is the opening to the human language, and language can either imprison us with morals of the past or set us free to express what is now coming in. Awareness of a new language brings us closer to the future and the future closer to us. During the course of history, the birth of a new language – whether in words or in different forms of art – always marked the approach of another phase in human development. Pe – the 17th letter – speaks of the first principle as it is expressed through the seven appearances of the rainbow.