The letter QOF

The letter Qof (also spelled Kuf, or Khof) originally meant the back of the head, or the eye of a needle and which also means monkey. It is the symbol of both the sacred Kedushah קדושה, and the profane – the Klipah קליפה, the peel, cover, or husk which represents the negativities in the world. Qof has to do with the requirement of removing the husk of the superficial to reveal the holiness within.

In Hebrew, Qof means monkey, a creature which resembles a human but is purely animalistic, with none of the higher capacities of a human. This indicates the requirement for a human to overcome his purely animalistic nature and to emulate the image of the Creator he is made in, to realize his true spiritual nature beyond just the physical. The Qof is the only letter which extends below the line of the other letters, indicating descent into the lower world, but also the ability to ascend from there.

Quf is also הקפה – circle, go around. Qof represents all the cycles of nature, changing seasons, monthly and yearly cycles. It is the constant movement, circulation, and change of life. It could also represent that through the cycles of life that we see – evolution, growth, change, suffering, happiness, life experience – we are constantly worked on in order to evolve and realize our true spiritual nature.

Two letters, a resh and a zayin, combine to form the letter qof. The zayin, to the left, descends below the line, while the resh, to the right, hovers above it. The paradoxical union symbolized by the two components of the qof is the secret of "There is none holy as G-d." In general, the qof stands for kedushah, "holiness." The unique level of holiness inherent to G-d is expressed, in the words of the Zohar, as: "He is grasped within all worlds, yet none grasps Him." The descending zayin of the qof symbolizes His being grasped in all worlds, permeating even realms of reality "below the line," i.e., worlds antithetical to those in whom G-d's Presence is revealed. The resh, G-d's ever-present transcendence, remains "separate" and holy (in Hebrew, "holy" means separate) in relation to His descending immanence.


In the name of the letter tzadk, its initial reading, tzadi, "hunts" for fallen sparks. The holy spark, captured "below the line" in physical matter ("anti-matter," relative to that of spiritual realms) is the secret of the following letter, the qof, to which the tzadi connects to form the full, rectified name - tzadik.


The tzadi is the eighteenth letter of the alefbeit, the gematria of chai, "life," thus symbolizing the power to enliven the fallen sparks, as represented by the qof. The qof, the nineteenth letter, is the secret of "Eve" (Chavah = 19; in ordinal numbering, Adam equals 1 plus 4 plus 13 = 18 = chai), whose name also derives from the root meaning "life," as is said: ."..and Adam called the name of his wife Eve (Chavah) for she was the mother of all life." Nonetheless, of her is said: "her feet descend into death," for in the primordial sin of eating (the "sense" of the letter tzadi, as explained above) from the Tree of Knowledge, she was ultimately responsible for bringing death to the world. Even within the "broken" (dead) corpse, a spark of life remains hidden, awaiting the power of the tzadi, (chai, life) to reinforce its dormant potential of life and to resurrect the body to whom it belongs.


As well as the hidden inner spark of life, a hovering, relatively transcendent "vapor" is present above every corpse or fallen, "dead," physical object. (The word for "vapor," hevel, is also the name Abel, the second son of Adam and Eve, who was killed by his older brother Cain. Hevel = 37 = 18 plus 19.) These two components of life present within the seeming state of death, correspond to the two letters, the resh (the hovering vapor) and the zayin (the hidden spark), which compose the letter qof. For this reason the qof symbolizes in particular the reality of fallen sparks, as well as the paradox of the simultaneous omnipresence of G-d's transcendence and immanence. The innate holiness of each spark insures its ultimate redemption and elevation by the tzadik (i.e., souls of Israel). 

The most fundamental significance in Torah of the number nineteen, the ordinal value of the qof, is the nineteen-year cycle of the moon in relation to the sun, the basis of our Jewish calendar. The moon represents the female figure, the secret of the sefirah of malchut ("kingdom"), personified by Eve (Chavah = 19, as above). The sun represents the male figure (the bestower of light, whereas the moon is the receiver of light), and in particular the sefirah of yesod ("foundation"; yesod = 80 = 8 · 10, chet times yod = chai), as personified by Adam. Just as explained in the secret of the form of the letter zayin, "the woman of valor" who is "the crown of her husband," when the letter qof precedes the letter tzadi, the word keitz, the "end" of time, is formed. This hints at the verse: "...He has set an end [keitz] to darkness." The "end," the coming of Mashiach and the subsequent era of resurrection, is the ultimate revelation of the great light and energy latently present within the secret of the letter qof.

Qof is a final line* (Kav) – an end (Kets) to a certain phase and/or a porthole of opportunities to a new way or a new elevation.

Qof enables things to come to their end so that new things will be able to grow in their place, as in the “Cell Death Pathway”, without which, there is no space for new cells to be created, and, therefore, there is no regeneration of the organic body.

Qof, like the eye of the needle, enables only the suitable few to pass on through it to the high and renewing “Silver Grid” of Resh, Shin, Tav (Re-She-T is the Hebrew word, which is made up from the last 3 letters of the AlphaBet, meaning “grid”).


The letter Qof is related to standing steadfast against temptations and the lowering of standards. It is a window for a new permission and a higher service in a new elevation, which call for loyalty, honor and self control.