The Hebrew Alphabet -
The Letter Lamed (ל)


The Letter Lamed (ל)

This letter is the tallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Since it stands taller than all the other letters, it represents royalty. In fact, it represents the King of all kings, the Almighty.

It also represents the לֵב (levheart, as it is located in the center of the Hebrew alphabet.

The name of the letter – לָמֶד (lamed) – refers to לִימוּדִים (limudimstudies, or learning, which is the thing that most elevates people. Thanks to learning, a person’s spiritual level rises and soars and they understand the meaning of creation.

The name of the letter לָמֶד (lamed) comes from its shape – מַלְמַד הַבָּקָר (malmad habakarcattle prod or a shepherd’s staffMalmad habakar was a tool used in Biblical times. It was a piece of wood that was shaped like the letter lamed. The shepherd or farmer used it to direct his animals, as if he was מְלַמֵד (melamedteaching the animals the correct way to go.

In the Book of Ecclesiastes (3:1-8), there is a list of activities that a person does at different times:
א. לַכֹּל זְמָן וְעֵת לְכָל-חֵפֶץ תַּחַת הַשָּׁמָיִם
ב. עֵת לָלֶדֶת וְעֵת לָמוּת עֵת לָטַעַת וְעֵת לַעֲקוֹר נָטוּעַ
ג. עֵת לַהֲרוֹג וְעֵת לִרְפּוֹא עֵת לִפְרוֹץ וְעֵת לִבְנוֹת
ד. עֵת לִבְכּוֹת וְעֵת לִשְׂחוֹק עֵת סְפוֹד וְעֵת רְקוֹד
ה. עֵת לְהַשְׁלִיךְ אֲבָנִים וְעֵת כְּנוֹס אֲבָנִים עֵת לַחֲבוֹק וְעֵת לִרְחֹק מֵחַבֵּק
ו. עֵת לְבַקֵּשׁ וְעֵת לְאַבֵּד עֵת לִשְׁמוֹר וְעֵת לְהַשְׁלִיךְ
ז. עֵת לִקְרוֹעַ וְעֵת לִתְפּוֹר עֵת לַחֲשׁוֹת וְעֵת לְדַבֵּר
ח. עֵת לֶאֱהֹב וְעֵת לִשְׂנֹא עֵת מִלְחָמָה וְעֵת שָׁלוֹם

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

  1. 2. A time to be born, and a time to die`
    a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
  2. A time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

  1. A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
    a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
  2. A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
    a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
  3. A time to seek, and a time to lose;
    a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
  4. A time to rend, and a time to sew;
    a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
  5. A time to love, and a time to hate;
    a time for war, and a time for peace.

If you pay attention, you’ll see that all the verbs in these verses begin with the letter ל except for the verbs סְפוֹד (sefodmourn and רְקוֹד (rekoddance. The scholars understand from this that these two are different – they are both situations that remove a person from their learning – a funeral (when one is mourning) and a wedding (when one is dancing), which are both events that a person is obligated to go to, according to Jewish tradition.

It is also interesting to note that the Bible ends (in the book of Chronicles) with the letter lamed. From this the commentators learn that someone who reads and studies the Bible reaches elevated spiritual levels, just like the lamed reaches upward.

The name יִשְׂרָאֵל (yisraelIsrael starts with the letter yod, the smallest letter, and ends with the letter lamed, the tallest and biggest letter. This leads scholars to the idea that when individuals from the nation of Israel start to learn they are small, but when they finish learning, they are big and tall (spiritually, of course).
Other scholars bring the interpretation that the nation of Israel will start out in a small, modest way, but when the End of Days comes, the nation will be higher than everyone else and will teach the other nations the divine truth.

A person who has the letter lamed in their name is one who enjoys a comfortable easy life. He or she is also someone who compromises easily, is creative, and enjoys art and music. This person is someone who has a strong desire to give a lot to others and doesn’t ask much from them.

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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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