The letter RESH

The Resh, the 20th Hebrew letter, means head, leader and beginning. It is the symbol of choosing between greatness and degradation. In it is the word for poor רש Rash, but when it is filled the power of the Aleph it becomes Rosh ראש, head or first, expressing the Firstness, Oneness, and Eternity of the Creator, and the qualities of being a leader, not a follower.

Resh is a container, just as Bet(2) and Kaf(20) are containers. But while Kaf represents forms such as a cup or house, Resh(200) represents containing the infinite, exponential growth. It also represents the constant transition, flow and change of life. It is like a constant flow of energy, breaking through, breaking down into pieces, and building anew.

The Resh also relates to the Reshimo רשימו, the spiritual DNA we are meant to explore in life. It contains the secrets of Beresheet בראשית, the beginning. As the word ראש Rosh Head, it also refers to the secrets of the Crown Keter כתר, the highest of the Sephirot.

Although the letter resh is situated close to the end of the alefbeit,"its primary meaning is "head" or "beginning." There are four "beginnings" in the alef-bet (comparable to the four New Years enumerated in the beginning of the tractate Rosh HaShanah) relative to four different categories of phenomena. The ordinal beginning of the alef-bet is the letter alef. Phonetically, the vapor, the amorphous "matter" from which the pronunciation of every letter is formed, is the secret of the letter hei. In script, every letter begins from a point, the secret of the letter yod. In relation to meaning, cognizant intelligence or wisdom, reish means "beginning." These four letters combine to spell aryeh, "the lion," the first of the four "holy animals" of the Divine chariot of Ezekiel. They further combine to spell yirah, "fear" or "awe." 


"The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Gd." In Chassidut we are taught that the inner experience of the soul which serves as the vessel to arouse and contain ever new flashes of insight, wisdom, is bitul, "selflessness." Fear, the beginning of wisdom, corresponds to the source of this state in the soul. Fear "shocks" ego, breaking the innate coarseness of the heart, that coarseness or egocentricity that prevents one from being truly receptive and perceptive to reality outside oneself in general, and the Divine Essence of all reality in particular.


The two letters that fill the letter resh are yod and shin, spelling yeish, which means "something," in general identified in Chassidut with the consciousness of ego or being a separate, independent entity - a "something." Resh is the only letter "pregnant" with this "filling." In Chassidut we are taught that though the lower "something," the "created something," appears to be totally separate from the consciousness of its Creator and the creative force which continuously brings it into existence, nonetheless its seeming separate "somethingness" serves, in truth, to reflect the Absolute and "True Something" who is truly and uniquely independent, the "Cause of all causes."

The insight of Divine wisdom is the "nothing" between the two states of "something," whose ultimate purpose is to serve to draw the consciousness of the "True Something" into the experience of the lower "something." In the power of the process of rectification, the ego must first be "shaken" by the fear of G-d, the beginning of wisdom. Thereafter one’s "matter" can be purified and clarified in order to become a fitting "mirror" to reflect the True Something. This process of clarification, dependent upon wisdom and its beginning, fear, is expressed in the verse: "You have made all in wisdom." "Made" refers throughout the Torah to the process of rectification and clarification. The Zohar paraphrases this verse: "You have clarified them all with wisdom." The "art of clarification" is the "beginning of the end"; the three final letters of the alef-bet, are the beginning, middle, and end of the end, respectively. Just as the tzadi connects to the qof in its full spelling, so the "resh" "leads in" to the shin, all the clarifications of wisdom ascending upward to their Divine Source in the flame of the love of G-d and His people Israel. 

Resh ‘sings’ the song of the higher spheres, but it also gives permission from above to be and to do. A higher permission needs to be given, because permission that is taken without permission can become a deadly weapon.

In Resh there is the permission to wake up anew each day to a new life, as well as to ‘wake up anew’ in the life after life.


The letter Resh is related to progress, refinement, growth, learning and being reborn into a new net. It is the spiritual result of an honest effort to develop and the readiness to pay the price for doing so.


Development is a permission to join and serve Creation at the level into which one has developed. It is not an obligation or a requirement one is born with or has to fulfill, nor is it automatic; it is something one needs to want and be willing to work for. This permission contains a renewed freshness and a throughout healing.