The Hebrew Alphabet -
The Letter Resh (ר)

ר

The Letter Resh (ר)

The letter ר (resh) represents wickedness, as the word for a wicked person רָשָׁע (rasha) begins with a resh. When a wicked person wants to correct their bad behavior and return to being a good person, he goes a step back, there he “meets” the letter ק, which as we said represents holiness. Here we see again, that even the order of the Hebrew letters is important and has significance.

The idea of the possibility of returning from wickedness (represented by ר) to holiness (represented by ק), teaches us that in each and every person there is a spark of holiness. Even when a person is in the lowest spiritual place, he still has that holiness within him. Therefore, it is forbidden to remind someone who has returned from their bad ways, of his past sins, since this past is erased and no longer exists.

It is interesting to note, that this letter also has a duality, as expressed in the verses below:

In Moses’ grand speech, before the Israelites entered the Land of Israel, he said to the nation:

רְאֵה נָתַן יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְפָנֶיךָ אֶת הָאָרֶץ: עֲלֵה רֵשׁ כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֶיךָ לָךְ אַל תִּירָא וְאַל תֵּחָת (re’eh natan Adonay Elohecha lefanecha et ha’arets; aleh resh ka’asher diber Adonai Elohey avotecha lach al tira ve’al techat) Behold, the LORD thy G-d hath set the land before thee; go up, take possession, as the LORD, the G-d of thy fathers, hath spoken unto thee; fear not, neither be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 1:21)

You may have noticed the word רֵשׁ (resh) in the verse which sounds like the name of the letter we are discussing. This verb that Moses uses refers to a type of inheritance. The nation is standing just days before entering the Land of Israel, which they will inherit and take possession of. This is a type of wealth.

On the other hand, there is another verse which uses the same letters רש, but with a different nikud and pronunciation and it means just the opposite of wealth – pauper, poor person. This verse is mentioned in the relationship between King Saul and David. Saul wants to marry off his daughter Michal to David. However, David feels that it is not appropriate for a simple and poor person like him to marry into the royal family, and so it says:

וַיֹּאמֶר דָּוִד הַנְקַלָּה בְעֵינֵיכֶם הִתְחַתֵּן בַּמֶּלֶךְ וְאָנֹכִי אִישׁ רָשׁ וְנִקְלֶה (vayomer David hankala ve’eineichem hitchaten bamelech, ve’anochi, ish-rash venikleh) And David said: ‘Seemeth it to you a light thing to be the king’s son-in-law, seeing that I am a poor man, and lightly esteemed?’ (Samuel I, 18:23)

David uses the word רָשׁ (rash) to express the poverty and simple state he is in.

What can we learn from the two meanings for this same letter combination? We learn that a person has two possibilities: If one acts with wisdom and proper thought, they can reach a great level of wealth. This doesn’t refer necessarily to economic wealth, but internal and spiritual wealth. On the other hand, if one gives up on oneself and directs their life to a low spiritual level, they will be impoverished.

Someone who has the letter ר at the beginning of their name is a person with influence on their surroundings. Other people listen to such a person’s ideas, and are enchanted by the charm of their personality. These people have great communication with people, and they have the ability to open the hearts of others, even those who are usually closed to their surroundings.

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