Torah Thoughts for Today
Thursday, March 18, 2004
#22-23: Seeing Double: Perfect Ideal - Imperfect Reality
Seeing Double: Perfect Ideal - Imperfect Reality
(Related to the DOUBLE Torah portions of Vayakhel-Pekudei (“Assembled”-“Instructions”), Exodus, chapter 35, verse 1 – chapter 40, verse 38, concluding the Book of Exodus. Dedicated to my parents. English text and commentary at http://bible.ort.org/books/pentd2.asp?ACTION=displaypage&BOOK=2&CHAPTER=35 )
“What’s in a number?” is a famous colloquial question with pretty much very wide usage! I tried doing a Google search on the origins and usage of this trite English expression, and so far, from what I can tell, it can be used any time anyone has a question to do with numbers of any sort, see http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=What%27s+in+a+number%3F+&btnG=Google+Search
It’s taken humanity thousands of years to reach the point today, when only relatively recently, has the significance of “numbers” come forth as a force in the D I G I T A L AGE we live in now. Of course, from the dawn of human creation there has been the existence of “bean counters”, wall scratchings, and abacus usage. But we are talking about a more powerful and potent sublime essence that lies within the whole construct of the concept of a “number”, when WE ask “What’s in a number?”
Why do I mention “numbers” and how is it related to this week’s Torah readings?
Firstly it is fascinating to note that the first time the usage of a “DOUBLE TORAH PORTION OF THE WEEK” appears, is with this week’s two portions of “Vayakhel – Pekudei”. Perhaps there is a “signal” here that sometimes it is VITAL to be prepared to “SEE DOUBLE”! A single telescope is great for a “telescopic” view! Yet BINOCULARS are far more fascinating because you use BOTH eyes and instead of “SEEING DOUBLE” you paradoxically get ONE UNIFIED VIEW, AS THE TWO LENSES MERGE THEIR IMAGES INTO A SINGLE BROADER VIEW THAN THE TELESCOPE’S ONE LENSE COULD EVER CAPTURE! It may well be that it is NO co-incidence that there are times when the Torah calls out to us to see things “WITH WIDE RANGING BINOCULARS” and leave aside the limitations of a “narrow view” of things.
There are several points in the Torah when it becomes necessary to “double up” the Torah portions on an individual Shabbat. One reason is that the Torah-Five Books of Moses-Chumash-Pentateuch is traditionally divided into 54 portions, two more than the available weeks. Another reason is that whenever a major festival coincides with a Shabbat, then the regular weekly Torah portions are not read and instead passages dealing with the festival are read. The Jewish calendar also has “leap years” when basically an extra month is added every three years, and then the “extra” portions are all used individually.
In addition, and most significantly, there is something seemingly REDUNDANT and extremely unusual that is described in this week’s Torah portion/s concerning the “MISHKAN” – TABERNACLE, the portable Sanctuary, when God instructed the Israelites to build it. The Torah seems to “repeat itself” when first, in earlier portions, it gives copious commands and details for everything that is to go into the making of the Tabernacle and the attire and functions of its Priests, the “KOHANIM”, and now it doubles up and repeats all the details again as to how everything was finally built and put together:
WHY DOES THE TORAH “REPEAT” THE SUBJECT OF THE TABERNACLE IN GREAT DETAIL TWICE?!
THIS IS A GREAT PUZZLE BECAUSE THE TORAH IS VERY ECONOMICAL AND MEASURED WHEN USING ANY LETTERS OR WORDS!
SO WHAT IS THE MEANING AND POSSIBLE EXPLANATION FOR ALL THE “TALK IN DUPLICATE”?
IN A NUTSHELL: WHY IS THE TORAH “SEEING DOUBLE” AT THIS POINT? DOES IT FIT IN WITH TORAH TOPICS THAT ARE SIMILAR?
Judaism believes that everything is ultimately derived from the Torah.
(For example, the great Sage of Vilna in Lithuania, the VILNA GAON [“GENIUS”], Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman Kramer (Lithuania, 1720 – 1797) is reputed to have mentioned that each and every Jew that has ever lived has letters or words that allude to him ONLY in the Torah. When asked where he, the GAON, was alluded to in a verse, he is reported to have cited Deuteronomy, chapter 25, verse 15: (in Hebrew) “Even Sh`leimah [Vatzedek Yiheyeh Lach…]” – “STONE OF ‘COMPLETION’ [of Honest Weight] AND RIGHTEOUSNESS YOU MUST HAVE…”. The Hebrew word “EVEN” means “stone”, but its letters equal: “E” for “Eliyahu”, “VEN” means “son of”, and “Sh`leimah” has the exact same letters as “SHLOMOH” – Solomon.)
So what is the significance of the two great descriptions about the Tabernacle?
There are a number of directions to go in answering these questions. I will mention more later, but here are what are probably vital avenues of understanding:
In Genesis, there are actually TWO seemingly separate narratives about the Creation of Adam and Eve and what happened to them. The famous Rabbi J. B. Soloveitchik (Poland, Germany, USA, 1903 - 1993), the greatest head of Yeshiva University, called it the “ADAM ONE” and “ADAM TWO” dichotomy. From Genesis, chapter 1, verse 1 till chapter 2, verse 3, all of Creation proceeds smoothly culminating with the creation of ADAM described as being BOTH MALE AND FEMALE: “God [thus] created ADAM with His image. In the image of God, He created him, MALE AND FEMALE He created them” (Genesis, chapter 1, verse 27), and then concludes with a climax of the Sabbath which is Sanctified. That is “ADAM ONE” before his downfall. The Torah then mystifyingly seems to “backtrack” and “ruminate” with another scenario seemingly dealing with the same period, from Genesis, chapter 2, verse 4 going into details of why and how Adam needed Eve and how the two of them botched up their positions and got themselves expelled from Eden ending with Genesis, chapter 3, verse 24. This is the saga of “ADAM TWO” after the sin of eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and bringing suffering and death into the world, thus ruining the ideal Utopia that God had in mind.
As far as Adam and Eve are concerned, in some ways they are the SAME and in some ways they are different. There is an IDEALISTIC beginning of the way things “should have been”, and then there is the way things turned out in “REALITY”.
But, the “IDEAL” is not “dead”, and “REALITY” need not be accommodated! The whole thrust of the Torah will be to point to the ways in which somehow or other people can clamber over the world of their shattered dreams, and a world broken by all sorts of “downfalls” and inch back to the highest peeks of bygone ideals! This is probably the essence of Judaism, that this imperfect world of ours can and will be overcome and humanity will yet return to a state of “PERFECTION”. Thus Judaism’s approach is to REJECT an acceptance and compromise with an abominable “REALITY” and declare that it is the so-called previously desired “fairy tale ending” of “living happily ever after” that is the ideal that must be accepted and lived as “REALITY”!
This pattern is repeated at the time of the Tabernacle. There is the significance of the Tabernacle BEFORE the SIN OF (WORSHIPING) THE GOLDEN CALF and the purpose of the Tabernacle AFTER the SIN OF (WORSHIPING) THE GOLDEN CALF.
Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum at http://www.azamra.org/Universal/TERUMAH.htm introduces this subject as follows:
“ABOVE SHALL BE BELOW, BELOW ABOVE:
From the portion of TERUMAH
onwards until the end of the book of Exodus – five portions, -- the central theme is the Sanctuary – ‘MISHKAN’ built by the Children of Israel in the Wilderness. The Sanctuary is the prototype of the Holy Temple destined to stand eternally in Jerusalem.
In TERUMAH it explains the design of the Sanctuary and its vessels, while the portion of TETZAVEH
explains the garments that were to be worn by those who were to minister in that Sanctuary -- Aaron and his sons. TETZAVEH also explains the sacrificial rituals that were to inaugurate the Sanctuary and its priests.
After TETZAVEH comes KI TISA,
which continues the explanation of the form of the Sanctuary vessels and the sacrifices. When this explanation is complete, KI TISA goes on to narrate the sin of the Golden Calf and how Moses secured atonement for the people through the 13 Attributes of Mercy.”
“Then come the last two ‘parshahs’ of Exodus, VAYAKHEL
which explain how Bezalel and the other craftsmen actually constructed the Sanctuary and made the priestly clothes. VAYAKHEL and PEKUDAY repeat practically word for word some of the corresponding passages in TERUMAH and TETZAVEH.
PEKUDEY then concludes the book of Exodus with the account of the inauguration of the Sanctuary and the priests on the New Moon of the first Nissan after the Exodus. This was exactly one year to the day since Moses received the first commandments while still in Egypt: the law of the New Moon and the Pesach sacrifice, prototype of Temple sacrifice.”
“At the close of TETZAVEH and Exodus, we read how God's Cloud of Glory dwelled constantly over the Sanctuary. Leviticus opens immediately with the Voice of God emanating to Moses from between the mouths of the Cherubs in the Holy of Holies, giving him the detailed laws of the Temple sacrifices.
From this overview of the remaining five portions of Exodus, we see that the subject of the Sanctuary -- central to the Torah and to the whole world -- is introduced in ‘sandwich’ form. TERUMAH and TETZAVEH explain the intended form of the Sanctuary and priestly garments BEFORE they were executed, when they were in the ‘mind’ and will of God. In the middle of the ‘sandwich’ is the account of the sin of the Golden Calf and it's atonement through the 13 Attributes of Mercy. Then on the other side of the ‘sandwich’ come VAYAKHEL and PEKUDEY, which tell how the Sanctuary IDEA was brought from POTENTIAL TO ACTUAL through the thirty-nine labors of the craftsmen who made it.”
“At the very center of this ‘sandwich’ structure is the account of the sin of the Golden Calf -- which changed everything for the Children of Israel. In the heady days of the Exodus and the Giving of the Torah, the Children of Israel were elevated to the greatest heights. Then suddenly, forty days after hearing the Voice of God at Sinai, in one single orgy they sank to the lowest depths of degradation. From then on they had to learn the terrible pain of retribution, suffering and contrition. This was a loss of innocence parallel to the eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
“But God had already prepared the remedy before the illness. Indeed, we might even say that the illness was sent with the very purpose of revealing the great power of the remedy. The remedy for sin is repentance, which saves man from himself and brings him back to the One God, bringing him atonement -- AT-ONE-MENT. The penitential ‘system’ of the Torah is contained within the Sanctuary and its sacrificial rituals, which are a teaching to mankind about how man draws close (‘KaRoV’) to God through his ‘KORBAN’ (‘sacrifice’) -- literally, his ‘coming close’. As the way of repentance for having elevated wealth to the status of a god, man is commanded to take gold, silver, copper and the richest fabrics in order to glorify and magnify the One True God. Man is taught how to configure the materials of this world so that instead of separating him from God through idolatrous uses and configurations, they will serve to draw him ever closer, until God Himself ‘dwells’ with man.”
“TERUMAH and TETZAVEH present us the Sanctuary and sacrificial IDEA before we have even learned about sin. The lesson of the Golden Calf in KI TISA is harsh. But it is sweetened, because immediately after Moses secured atonement for Israel through the 13 Attributes of Mercy, the very next day he assembled the people and told them to bring gifts of materials and to get busy making the ACTUAL sanctuary, as told in VAYAKHEL and PEKUDEY. Thus the bitterness of sin in KI TISA is ‘sandwiched’ between the sweetness of TERUMAH and TETZAVEH (the ‘Teshuvah’ IDEA [‘Return’ to God, i.e. REPENTANCE] in all its innocent purity) and VAYAKHEL and PEKUDEY (the ACTUALIZATION of ‘Teshuvah’ in the Sanctuary in this world.) [This ‘sandwich’ is reminiscent of how in Temple times, Hillel would eat his Pesach sacrifice with the bitter herbs in a ‘sandwich’ with his Matza.]”
“The Torah never wastes a word or a single letter. It is therefore a great wonder that many of the passages about the Sanctuary, its vessels and the priestly garments that we read this week and next in TERUMAH and TEZTAVEH are, as mentioned, repeated almost word for word in VAYAKHEL and PEKUDEY. The ‘mirroring’ of the explanation of the IDEA in the account of its ACTUALIZATION comes to communicate something that is at the very core of the Temple-Sanctuary idea. The Temple or Sanctuary are a ‘replica’ and ‘mirror’ of the Heavenly Sanctuary, which is in the ‘mind’ or will of God. They are a ‘replica’ in which the materials of this world -- metals, wood, fabrics, etc. -- are used to bring a ‘reflection’ of heaven into the minds and consciousness of ordinary people.”
“In this way, what is ‘above’ – ‘in heaven’ -- actually dwells and exists in material form in this world ‘below’. And through this, ‘below’ becomes ‘above’. ‘And they will take for Me an offering… And they will make Me a Sanctuary, and I will dwell WITHIN THEM’ (Exodus, chapter 25 vs. 2, 8).” 
Continuing at http://www.azamra.org/Universal/VAYAKHEL.htm Rabbi Greenbaum says:
The greater part of our portion, of VAYAKHEL is devoted to a detailed description of how Bezalel and his fellow craftsmen made the sanctuary vessels and its structural components in accordance with the plan whose details are studied three portions earlier in TERUMAH. While TERUMAH taught how they were to be made when they were still on the level of thought, ‘BE-KOACH’, in POTENTIALITY -- our portion of VAYAKHEL teaches how they came to made ‘BE-PHO'AL’, in ACTUALITY, on the level of ‘ASIYAH’, action.” 
And at http://www.azamra.org/Universal/PEKUDEY.htm Rabbi Greenbaum concludes :
“THE CENTRAL IMPORTANCE OF THE TZADDIK:
The ‘accounts’ of the Sanctuary project include blue, purple and scarlet dyes, one of the most important uses of which was in the garments of the High Priest. This leads us into the detailed account contained in our portion of how these garments were actually made by Bezalel and his fellow craftsmen. This description of the making of the priestly garments in ACTUALITY, on the level of ‘ASIYAH’, parallels the description in the portion of TETZAVEH of the form of the garments when they were in POTENTIAL, in the Divine Will. [Similarly, the description of the actual making of the Sanctuary and its vessels in the portion of VAYAKHEL, parallels the description of their form in TERUMAH.] The world of ‘ASIYAH’ [ACTION] attains its perfection when we take its best materials -- gold, precious stones, rich, colorful fabrics -- and use them to make the Sanctuary and priestly garments, which give expression to eternal truths about God's relationship to the Creation, and how man draws close to God. The description of the making of the priestly garments puts the spotlight on Aaron. It is the Cohen-priest, the archetypal ‘Tzaddik’ – ‘RIGHTEOUS PERSON’, who secures atonement through the Sanctuary services and through his very garments.” 
Perhaps the fact that the Torah has TWO descriptions of the Tabernacle is a major historical allusion (NOT illusion :-} ) to the TWO HOLY TEMPLES that eventually stood in Jerusalem for a little over 400 years each later in time. There would be an IDEAL beautiful “PERFECT” FIRST TEMPLE - “BAYIT RISHON” built of the most exquisite materials by King Solomon and untarnished by sin. It contained all the contents of the original ark plus more things that King Solomon added to it. However, after a period of 400 years the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah would succumb to the same ills that befell the Children of Israel at the time of the Golden Calf: Idol Worship; Sexual Immorality; and Shedding of Innocent Blood (Murder).
The destruction of the First Temple is also analogous to the downfall of Adam and Eve AND to the destruction of the FIRST SET OF TEN COMMANDMENTS. Then began the upward climb of rehabilitation. That the Children of Israel are forgiven and are granted a SECOND SET OF TEN COMMANDMENTS, analogous to God pardoning Adam and Eve and allowing them to live on in order to permit them to work towards rectifying their sin, AND to the rise of a later SECOND TEMPLE – “BAYIT SHENI”, that was not as holy as the first but was instead an embodiment of the forgiveness that had been granted.
The goal of the Torah and Judaism is to ultimately combine the BEST OF BOTH Temples, and merge them into ONE PERFECT, THIRD TEMPLE – “BAYIT SH`LISHI” that will be built by the Jewish Messiah at the end of time. In a way, this is comparable to synthesizing the “Perfect Ideal” world of Adam and Eve BEFORE they sinned with the “Imperfect Reality” of the world they had to function in afterwards, and somehow “harmonizing” the two so that instead of there being a split in all of Creation, there should rather be a unity between a mundane world raised to a supreme spiritual standard overlapping with a spiritual world transplanted on Earth. This is the ultimate “Acharit Hayamin” – END OF DAYS and the “Olam Haba” – FUTURE WORLD that will be ushered in by the “Yemot HaMashiach” – DAYS OF THE JEWISH MESSIAH, with the Third Temple being BOTH a combination of the essence of the first two as well as an “embodiment” of God’s HEAVENLY TEMPLE – “Mikdash Shel Ma`alah” above brought “down to Earth”. A total unification of all the “visions” woven into one unified and indivisible whole.
There is also the amazing fact that the Hebrew letter “BET”, the SECOND letter in the alphabet, and which also denotes TWO, also SOUNDS like the Hebrew word for HOUSE or HOME: “BAYIT” making for a direct connection between “BET” and “BAYIT”: “Indeed the Torah refers to the Sanctuary as the ‘BAYIT’ of God: ‘Bring your first fruits to the HOUSE – ‘BEIT’ of God your Lord…’(Exodus, chapter 23, verse 19), the dwelling place of the Divine Presence – ‘SHECHINAH’, God’s presence on Earth, where all of Israel experienced the proximity of God and which will in future days become the UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF PRAYER. As the prophet Isaiah says; ‘Ki BEITI, BEIT Tefilah Yikarei Lechol Ha`amim’ – ‘For my HOUSE will be called THE HOUSE OF PRAYER for all the nations’ (Isaiah, chapter 56, verse 7). THUS, IN THE BIBLE AND RABBINIC LITERATURE THE HOLY TEMPLE IS SIMPLY CALLED ‘BAYIT’ – HOUSE. As in Haggai, Chapter 2, vs. 8 - 9: ‘…build the ‘BAYIT” – Temple…My Temple – ‘BEITI’ which is ruined…’. After the Temple was destroyed, the proximity of God concentrates, albeit to a lower degree, in the ‘BEIT Hamidrash’ – HOUSE of Torah Learning, and in the ‘BEIT Hakneset’ - HOUSE of Prayer. The prophet Ezekiel terms each of these a ‘MIKDASH ME`AT’ – MINIATURE SANCTUARY (Ezekiel, chapter 11, verse 16). BOTH of these institutions are guaranteed to exist forever, even in the exile (as in Zechariah, Chapter 9, verse 7).” 
It is the great “BAYIT”, the “BEIT Hamikdash” – Temple that STOOD TWICE. In its very name is inherent its own DESTINY that it will stand TWICE, a characteristic that is connected to it being the embodiment of TWO in the Hebrew letters. Interestingly, a WIFE is also called a “BAYIT” – HOME as she is her husband’s partner and together, as a COUPLE, as TWO people functioning as ONE unit they work towards their mutual Torah family goals. It can therefore be said that the TWO Temples were somehow TWO FACETS OF ONE WHOLE. There are teachings that tie the Temples to the three Jewish forefathers. The First Temple is associated with Abraham. The Second Temple with Isaac, and the ultimate last Third Temple, which will a combination of the best of the first two is associated with Jacob!
Something else also came to mind when I was trying to arrive at a deeper source for “numbers” in Judaism. Let’s dive in on the “deep end” of Jewish teachings: Taking a glance at the mysterious and enigmatic “Sefer Yetzirah” – “The BOOK of CREATION”, see http://www.sephardicsages.org/SEFER-YETZIRAH.html#a classical Judaism’s oldest mystical text traditionally attributed to the Jewish forefather Abraham. It is obviously impossible for us to even begin to imagine, let alone understand, what this book really teaches at its core, but for our purposes it’s worth noting that the concept of NUMBERS, represented by the HEBREW LETTERS is at its CENTER. It teaches that “reality” and the “world” as we know it, be it the tangible “physical world” or the abstract idealistic “theoretical world” are all indeed derived from “Divine Words” that are ABSTRACT NUMBERS. In the Torah this is all wrapped up in the actual words and narratives that are used in the text, all based on the original Hebrew alphabet. From why the Torah starts with the second letter “BET”, for “BRESHIS” – “IN THE BEGINNING” till why it ends with the last letter “LAMED” of “YISRAEL”, every iota is loaded with powerful lessons, and even more importantly, foundations of the world itself.
Looking at Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s well-known translation for example, in the second chapter of “The BOOK of CREATION”, when introducing the subject and origins of the Hebrew alpha-bet it states that there are:
“TWENTY TWO FOUNDATION LETTERS…
HE [GOD] ENGRAVED THEM, HE CARVED THEM, HE PERMUTED THEM, HE WEIGHED THEM, HE TRANSFORMED THEM, AND WITH THEM, HE DEPICTED ALL THAT WAS FORMED AND ALL THAT WOULD BE FORMED…
HE ENGRAVED THEM WITH VOICE, HE CARVED THEM WITH BREATH, HE SET THEM IN THE MOUTH…
HE PLACED THEM IN A CIRCLE LIKE A WALL WITH 231 GATES.
THE CIRCLE OSCILLATES BACK AND FORTH…
HOW? HE PERMUTED THEM, WEIGHED THEM, AND TRANSFORMED THEM,
‘ALEF’ [THE FIRST LETTER] WITH THEM ALL, AND ALL OF THEM WITH ‘ALEF’,
‘BET’ [THE SECOND LETTER] WITH THEM ALL, AND ALL OF THEM WITH ‘BET’.
THEY REPEAT IN A CYCLE AND EXIST IN 231 GATES.
IT COMES OUT THAT ALL THAT IS FORMED AND ALL THAT IS SPOKEN EMANATES FROM ONE NAME…
HE FORMED SUBSTANCE OUT OF CHAOS AND MADE NONEXISTENCE INTO EXISTENCE.
HE CARVED GREAT PILLARS FROM AIR THAT CANNOT BE GRASPED.
THIS IS THE SIGN, [‘ALEF’ WITH THEM ALL, AND ALL OF THEM WITH ‘ALEF’].
HE FORESEES, TRANSFORMS AND MAKES ALL THAT IS FORMED AND ALL THAT IS SPOKEN: ONE NAME.
A SIGN FOR THIS THING: TWENTY-TWO OBJECTS IN A SINGLE BODY. 
See some commentary (written 932 C.E.) of SA`ADYA GAON, Rabbi Sa`adya ben Joseph Fayyumi (Babylonia [Iraq], 882 – 942) http://www.sephardicsages.org/SEFER-YETZIRAH.html#a
The great rabbis teach that there are a small number of extremely extraordinary Torah sages endowed with the requisite credentials of being truly God fearing men and possessed of supreme Torah knowledge who are actually capable of utilizing this knowledge to CREATE their own “spiritual worlds” emanating and radiating greater Torah and spreading Holiness throughout God’s world (starting here on our own “little” planet Earth,) and that is why the work is called “The BOOK of CREATION”.
Yet what we can see even on a very superficial plane is the centrality of “ALEF” (the “A” and the source for the Greek and Latin “alpha”) that is ONE, and “BET” (the “B” and the source of “beta”) which is two. There is a “level” before “one” and “two” called “zero” the “0” of “nothingness” from which “sprang” the Act of Creation – “Ma`aseh Breishis” of the Universe by means of the LETTERS of the Torah, starting with the very first letter in it, the “BET” of “BREISHIS”.
Why did the Torah start with the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet and not the first?
In his masterwork “The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet”, Rabbi M. L. Munk explains that the Hebrew letter “BET” with its numerical value of “TWO”: “Symbolizes our world, SINCE EVERYTHING EARTHLY IS EMBEDDED IN PLURALITY…All that was created for man’s use came in PAIRS: The Torah – WRITTEN and ORAL; The Commandments – ‘Mitzvot’ – POSITIVE and NEGATIVE precepts; The Intermediaries – MOSES and AARON; The World – HEAVEN and EARTH; The Luminaries – SUN and MOON; Human – MALE/ADAM and FEMALE/EVE;…Two Tablets – BETWEEN MAN and GOD and BETWEEN MAN and his NEIGHBOR;…Two Drives and Two Hearts – The EVIL Inclination and the GOOD Inclination;…Two Worlds – THIS WORLD – ‘OLAM HAZEH’ and THE WORLD TO COME – ‘OLAM HABAH’ 
If you look at the way our own human bodies are constructed, on each side of the torso is an arm and leg. Two arms, and two hands, and two legs with two feet are attached to the central core. Even internally, most of the organs come in doubles: The lungs, kidneys, and the inner chambers of the heart and the brain spread on two sides. The head has two eyes, ears, and nostrils. Yet all are rooted in the one, which brings the focus back on the first letter, the “ALEF” which was the FIRST LETTER ON THE TEN COMMANDMENTS when God sates “ANOCHI [HASHEM ELOKECHA]” – “I [AM THE LORD YOUR GOD] (Exodus, Chapter 20, verse 2).
Rabbi Munk says that the “ ‘ALEF’, ‘A’, symbolizes the ONE and ONLY, the Eternal, the Omnipotent God. IT IS THE SYMBOL OF GOD as the Creator and Master of the universe. Its numerical value is ONE…The Midrash teaches that God Himself addressed the ‘A’, saying that it stands at the head of the ‘ALEF-BET’ like a KING. ‘YOU ARE ONE, I AM ONE, AND THE TORAH IS ONE,’ God said, and He pledged to use it as the first letter of the Ten Commandments…As the initial of many of the Attributes and Names of God, ‘A’ also represents Divinity: ‘A’lokim’ – The Names that describe God’s Attribute of Judgment; ‘k‘A’l’ – The Name that describes God’s attribute of Mercy; ‘k‘A’heye’ – Represents God’s Timelessness…; ‘A’d`nai’ – Lord or Master; ‘A’don Olam’ - Master of the Universe; ‘A’dir’ – Mighty One; and ‘A’chad’ – ONE!…GOD IS ONE…; GOD, TORAH, AND ISRAEL ARE ONE…; TORAH IS ONE…;ISRAEL IS UNIQUE…; ‘A’ is for ADAM…; ‘A’BRAHAM IS ONE…WHO DEVOTED HIS LIFE TO SPREADING KNOWLEDGE OF THE ALMIGHTY…” 
The subject, like numbers themselves, is seemingly infinite!
Best wishes for a wonderful and relaxed Shabbat and please let me know what you think!
 Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum at http://www.azamra.org/Universal/TERUMAH.htm
 Ibid., http://www.azamra.org/Universal/VAYAKHEL.htm
 Ibid. http://www.azamra.org/Universal/PEKUDEY.htm
 The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet, Rabbi M. L. Munk, pp. 67 – 68.
 Sefer Yetzirah – The Book of Creation, English translation, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, pp. 95 – 136.
 The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet, Ibid., pp. 55 – 65.
 Ibid., pp. 43 – 49.