The Hebrew Alphabet -
The Letter Shin (ש)


The Letter Shin (ש)

It is thought that the most familiar and known letter of the Hebrew alphabet is the letter ש. It may be that this is because of its interesting and intricate shape.
There are those who see the shape of this letter to be a type of flame that rises up, which represents the fire of the sacrifices, and the constant fire that was in Holy Temple. Many commentaries ‘play around’ with the shape of the ש in order to find within it hints to the wisdom of mysticism (Kabbalah).

We all know that the first letter of the word שָׁלוֹם (shalompeace is shin. The ש is also the first letter of the word שַׁדַי (shadai) which is one of the names of G-d.
However here too, like with other letters, there is a duality. The letter shin also represents the word שֶׁקֶר (shekerlie, falsehood.
In the order of the Aleph-Bet, it appears after letters ק and ר. However, in order to create the word שֶׁקֶר (sheker), the shin must leave its ‘natural’ place and move to be before those two letters and thereby itself creates the falsehood. Therefore, as we understand falsehood is a crooked thing that is deviates from the straight, honest path. The order of the letters teach us to go on the straight path and not to go against nature or laws. If we do this, we are liable to reach the negative status of falsehood. The commentators also say that every lie has within it a bit of truth. When the spies in the desert spoke against the Land of Israel, they started their speech with a few truthful things. They followed those by false comments about the Promised Land (see Numbers 13).

Opposite the word שֶׁקֶר (shekerfalsehood is the word אֱמֶת (emettruth. The letters ש-ק-ר are all next to each other in the Aleph-Bet. However, the letters א-מ-ת are completely separate from each other; in fact they are the beginning, middle, and end of the Aleph-Bet. There are commentators who explain that people see falsehood before their eyes and go after it. On the other hand, truth sometimes requires investigation and deeper understanding.

As we mentioned, the letter shin represents the word שָׁלוֹם (shalompeace which is also used one of G-d’s names. This being the case, let’s examine the word and the letters that it contains, which are based on the base elements – fire, wind, earth, and water:
ש – the shape hints to and symbolizes fire (as we said earlier).
ל – the shape reminds us and hints to wind. The lamed is the tallest of all the letters and represents the both the physical and spiritual aspects of wind.
ו – hints at the world (earth) which was created in six days. All physicality is represented by the number 6 like the six sides of a cube, occupying space in the physical world.
ם – the letter mem (in its final form) hints to water, because the original shape of the letter came from the ancient pictograph for water.

Now we can truly understand what שָׁלוֹם (shalom) is – the connection of the reality of all that exists.

Someone who has the letter shin in their name is a person with a high level of spirituality, but this person is also subject to danger that is liable to make him fall physically or spiritually  He is a good speaker. This person is very practical, but because of the duality of this letter in their name, they are likely to lose their way and space out. Those with the letter ש in their name enjoy privacy, are critical, and inclined to change jobs.


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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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