The letter SAMEKH

Samekh is the symbol of support, protection, and memory. It means to lean upon, support, uphold. The perimeter of Samekh denotes the Creator and its interior denotes his creation, who he constantly supports and upholds and protects. It represents the Or Makif Surrounding Light of Kabbalah, indicating the general providence of the Creator, surrounding and sustaining all of existence, even as we perceive ourselves as separate. The Samekh is the container of all forms.

Samekh teaches us circular thinking. It tells us to think for the good of the whole, not just one’s self (an ability which comes from the Neshama soul), and to be inclusive of everything and everyone. It is the principle that the wisdom is not contained in just one vessel, in just one person, but is distributed in all beings. The Samekh teaches us that in order to know out Creator, we have to get out of our limited selves, out of what we know and the limitations of the physical, so we can get in touch with our essential inner self. We must empty ourselves in order to be filled.

The Samekh teaches us that once we have learned to clean ourselves of all the negativities and distortions, controlled the ego, found true humility and learned to listen to the inner voice of our souls, that we are automatically guarded, supported and helped. The combination of Nun and Samekh נס Nes means miracle. Once we have learned the lessons of these two letters, we can discover what the miracle really is.

The circular form of the samekh symbolizes the fundamental truth reflected at all levels of Torah and reality: "their end is enwedged in their beginning and their beginning in their end." This realization and awareness of inherent unity between beginning and end, which, when comprehended in depth, implies equanimity at all stages of "the endless cycle," is in fact the manifestation of G-d's Transcendent Light (sovev kol almin), which encompasses equally every point of reality. This everpresent Transcendent Light is referred to as "He is equal and equalizes small and large." In our service of G-d, this implies that in relation to worldly phenomena, all things should be related to and accepted equally. This is the attribute of equanimity as taught by the Ba'al Shem Tov, in interpretation of the verse: "I place [shiviti, from the root shaveh, 'equal'] G-d before me always."


While at outer levels of consciousness one should remain unaffected by the transient events of this world, at deeper inner levels of consciousness, relating to Souls and Divinity, one should continuously be in a state of aspiration to achieve higher and higher levels of clinging to G-d and realizing His Will in Creation through Torah and mitzvot.


In Chassidut we are taught that the saying of the Sages: "Who is wealthy? He who is happy with his portion" pertains only to worldly possessions, whereas with regard to spiritual matters we should never be satisfied with our present acquisitions but ever strive to obtain more. Nonetheless, as our inner striving takes place within the general context of external equanimity, it also proceeds as a circle, a spiral, in dynamic, ever-ascending motion. Thus an inner, dynamic circle exists within an outer, static circle. This is the secret of the phrase in the vision of Ezekiel: "the wheel within the wheel."

As mentioned in our presentation of the letter nun, the samekh, which means "to support," is the Divine power to support and lift up "the fallen one." One verse reads: "she has fallen and shall not rise, the virgin of Israel." A second verse reads: "as I have fallen, so surely shall I rise." The first verse can be understood as referring to the service of the outer, static circle, the attribute of true equanimity in relation to all worldly phenomena. One can fall to the very "lowest energy level" of physical reality, unable to raise himself, and be totally reliant on the lovingkindness of Divine Providence to sustain him. The second verse, implying inner, active, motivation to rise, thoughsurely dependent upon Divine support and aid, can be understood as referring to the service of the inner, dynamic circle of spiritual aspiration.


As is the case for any two concentric circles, the bottom of the outer circle descends below that of the inner circle, yet its upper portion is higher in origin than that of the inner circle. This in itself is the ultimate manifestation of "the end" being enwedged in "the beginning." "The end" here refers to the service of the outer circle itself. "The beginning" refers to the ultimate objective of the inner circle, the revelation below, in Worlds, of G-d's very Essence, latently present in the simple faith inherent in the worldly service of equanimity.

Samekh is a reference (Simukhin) and a point of leverage,* Samekh is a secret (Sod), and Samekh is reliance. The question is: Does what I rely upon in life control me? Which drug (Sam) do I allow myself to be drugged with and to place a screen between me and life itself? Did I choose the things I rely on, or did they choose me? Do I make free choices?


The letter Samekh is related to a tendency to rely on things, which can become a dependency or an addiction. The secret of being free from the dependency lies in our decision to help ourselves – a decision that will lead us out of the ring of ignorance and release us from the circle of enslavement.


Samekh symbolizes the perfection of a circle – a perfection that creates security but can also limit and even imprison the person inside it. The question is: What do we choose? And the choice is not a matter to be done with in one day, but rather an ongoing process.