The Letter Gimel (ג)
The letter Gimel is the third letter in the Hebrew alphabet. The letter Gimel is actually the source of the Greek letter Gamma, as you can see by the similarities in the two letters’ names. The English letters “C” and “G” are ultimately derived from Gimel, as well. While the name of the letter remains a mystery, some have speculated that it comes from the word “gamal” meaning “camel” (the English word “camel” is actually derived from “gamal”) because some say the letter looks like a camel. Whether or not the letter actually looks like a camel, you can use this trick to try to help you learn the Hebrew alphabet and as you try to improve your control of the Hebrew language. While Gimel is generally pronounced like the “G” in “gap”, some dialects pronounce it differently in certain cases. Some Yemenite Jews, for example, pronounce it as more of a “J” in specific cases.
The shape of the Gimel also reminds of us something else. It looks like a man in motion. A nice lesson from the Jewish teachings actually pertains to this aspect of the Gimel. In Hebrew, the word “gomel,” which begins with and sounds like the letter Gimel, means a “benefactor” or someone who gives to others. The letter after Gimel in the Hebrew alphabet is the letter Dalet, which is the first letter of the word “dal” meaning “weak.” According to this teaching, the Gimel, the benefactor, is walking towards the Dalet who is weak. From this, we can learn that if we have something to give, we should always be quickly going towards those who are in need in order to help them.
Due to the fact that the letter Gimel is the third letter in the alphabet, it has the numerical value of three. In mystical teachings, three represents stability and is significant in a number of ways in Biblical teachings. There are three patriarchs, for example (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). Another well-known ancient Jewish teaching says that the world stands on three things: Torah, work (prayer) and acts of loving kindness.