The Hebrew Alphabet -
The Letter Kaf (כ)


The Letter Kaf (כ)

This is the eleventh letter in the Aleph-Bet, and its numerical value is 20. It represents the word כֶּתֶר (ketercrown, and it is the first letter of the word.

The letter kaf is bent. It represents a כַּף יָד (kaf yadpalm of a hand, like its name – kaf. It is shaped like a vessel that could hold and accommodate things within it. Therefore, people who have the letter kaf in their name are said to be ones who can handle the difficult things in their life and know how to accommodate other people. They are people with good managerial skills and also possess strong financial capabilities. The curved, bent quality of the letter, also teaches that a person needs to be ready to bend themselves in modesty and to be accepting of others. You may have noticed that the ram’s horn blown on the Jewish New Year is also bent and curved, a sign that we must be humble and bend before the Master of the World.

As we mentioned the letter kaf represents the palm. When the Sabbath ends, there is a short religious ceremony called הַבְדָלָה (havdalah). This ceremony separates between the holy day of Sabbath and the ordinary weekdays. The havdalah includes three blessings, the third of which, involves using a candle. This blessing involves thanking G-d for fire. There is a custom to stretch one’s palms towards the light of the candle and to open and close them. This is as if to say that the open hand represents the calm and restfulness of Sabbath, and the closed hand represents the hard work of the week. We are preparing to leave the restfulness and return to the busy world of work.

The letter kaf also has a final letter form (when it appears at the end of a word). It is not bent, but rather vertical and stands straight. This symbolizes the person who humbles and bends himself for his friends, and then, in the end, he will get respect for this and become upright and vertical.

And, finally, in the Bible, there are a few select places in which there are small letters. Like the kaf in the following verse: “וַיָּבֹא אַבְרָהָם לִסְפֹּד לְשָׂרָה וְלִבְכֹּתָהּ” (vayavo Avraham lispod le’Sarah velivekotah) …and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her (Genesis 23:2). The commentators say that the small kaf indicates that Abraham held back his crying over Sarah. This was because he knew that she would merit greatness in the world to come, and therefore, didn’t publicize his pain, and so to those around him, his grief appeared small.

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Test yourself - how well can you manage in Hebrew?

How do you read the name of the following letter?

Do you recognize all of the following letters?
א – ש – ד – ג – ץ – ף - ס

Which of the following letters is not a special "final letter"?

How do you read the following word?

Can you differentiate between the following words and do you know what each word means?
שֶׁמֶשׁ – שַׁמָשׁ

How do you read the following word?

Which of the following words is not plural?

Complete the sentence:
אני ________ את הספר על השולחן

The meaning of the Hebrew word שְׁלֵמִים is:

Complete the sentence:
אֲנִי אוֹהֶבֶת _________ יִשְׂרָאֵל.

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