Trumah: Chapter 42

There is a place in civilization where people do not die


The rabbis here wonder why the destroying angel has no dominion over people while they are in the Temple. They ask Rabbi Shimon, who explains that God created the entire world with the secret of the letters and the engravings of the Holy Name. The letter Tet remained suspended over the place where the Temple would later be. God first threw a stone engraved with its secret of 72 letters into the water; the stone and the water sank under the altar and remained there, maintaining the world. Inside the Temple, we learn, all the letters dwell, and therefore the temple is equal to the whole world. It exists to atone for sins. The destroying angel was never given permission to enter there because he flees from the letter Tet, which supplies the first three Sfirot to the world. Wherever the letter Tet is, we learn, the letter Kof cannot settle, nor can the Other Side dominate. But when a person goes outside the temple, however, the Other Side has permission to dominate him. In Gehenom, we're told finally, the letter Kof dominates.


Only dimly do we perceive the power of letters and words, so how can we imagine that the destroying angel could be kept from his task by the presence of a single letter? Yet in English, it is only a single letter that separates us from God, that keeps us trapped in ourselves, the letter 'I.'

A lone letter can be likened to a single microscopic atom that is capable of releasing unimaginable forces of energy. Here we receive the Light of the letter Tet ט, and the power of the Temple, which brings us complete protection from pain, refuge from the Angel of Death, and liberation from the bondage of the Other Side. Our darkest, most unwanted traits flee us by virtue of this single letter and the death of Death unfolds before our very eyes.