From a Client: In conversation with Chris, we discussed a part of the Kabbalah called Gematria. He asked me to write a short piece sharing some of what we discussed. I hope you enjoy.
Trying to concisely define the Kabbalah is a difficult exercise, but for our purposes here let’s consider it as a collection of wisdom teachings, often connected with Biblical scripture. Traditionally, it has been associated with Jewish mysticism, but it’s worth noting that there are Kabbalistic schools that relate to Christian and Hermetic mysteries. That said, our focus here is on the Old Testament, which was written in Hebrew.
Hebrew is a language with 22 letters, each of which has distinct numerical value associated. Because of this, any Hebrew word can be thought of in terms of the numerical values of its constituent letters. In Kabballah, numbers are not just ‘things used for counting’ but are treated as divine and sacred creations – in many ways akin to souls. Gematria, a school of study in the Kabballah, is based on the assertion that the numerical value of a word expresses characteristics of the word, just as the word expresses characteristics of a number.
An example of this can be found in the Hebrew word for Life – Chai. Chai is comprised of the Hebrew letters Chet and Yod, valued at 8 and 10 respectively. It is for this reason that their sum, the number 18, is considered a ‘lucky’ number, and you’ll often find Jewish people seeking to donate to charities in multiples of 18.
When we come across two words sharing a value, the Kabballah invites us to consider that they also share a common meaning. Perhaps the most oft-quoted instance of this is the Gematriatic equivalency between the Hebrew word Echad (the number One) and Ahavah (Love). The teaching imparted here is an answer to the question, “What is love?” Love is unity. Love is the dissolution of the illusion of separateness. When you love someone, you completely connect and identify with them. You are not separate – you are a single whole, as expressed by the number, or soul, of One.
The numerical value of both Echad and Ahava is 13 – a number which in Judaism is considered a beneficent, rather than unlucky, number.