17 March 2016

One 305,805-letter Word

From The Times of Israel, March 17, 2016, http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/one-304805-letter-word/

BeforetheeyesofallthehouseofisraelinalltheirtravelsANDgodcalledtomosesspeakingtohimfromthetentofthemeetinghesaidspeaktothechildrenofisrael (the end of Exodus flowing into the beginning of Leviticus)

My wife Miriam and I created the “Torah Tweets” blogart project to document the flow of our daily life in dialogue with the flow of Bible reading from the endless flow of the Torah scroll.   We disseminated it worldwide through the blogosphere and twitterverse as an invitation to others to bible blog their lives. 

See the last portion of the book of Exodus flow into the first portion of Leviticus in relation to our life together in Israel with photographs at:  http://bibleblogyourlife.blogspot.co.il/2014/01/leviticus-1-one-304805-letter-word.html.  The “Torah Tweets” blogart project evolved in to my book Photograph God: Creating a Spiritual Blog of Your Life http://photographgod.com.

The first portion of Leviticus, Vayikra/And He Called, is read from the Torah scroll on Shabbat, March 19, 2016. 



The first letter of the first word of Leviticus, Vayikra, begins with the letter vav meaning AND, and ends with an unusually small letter alef.

Vav (AND) links the last sentence of Exodus to the first of Leviticus in a continuous flow like a Torah scroll unwinding.

Small alef reminds us of to a time when the entire Torah was written as one continuous word like the on-going flow of life.

The single 304,805-letter Torah was divided into the 79,847 words in the Torah scroll we read today.

When the Torah scroll is rewound annually, lamed, the last letter of the Torah connects to beit, the first letter, to spell lev. 

Lev means 'heart.'  The heart of the Torah is where the end of the Torah flows into its beginning like the on-going stream of life.

SundayTrucks:  We see from our bedroom window trucks making their deliveries to the corner grocery store early in the morning.

MondayAmericanPizza: Mel had pizza for lunch in Jerusalem where he teaches.

TuesdayBook: Miriam holds the first copy of Mel's new book that explores narrative blogart as being both postdigital and Jewish.

WednesdayRain:  We were happy to wake up to the sound of rain in our parched land.  We photographed the puddle from our bedroom window.

ThursdayShopping:  We shopped for Shabbat at Avi's Kew Gardens Hills Fruit & Vegetable store across the street from out Petah Tikva home.

FridayBureakaBreakfast: We fed Moshe's mice staying with us until his wife Inbal (our granddaughter) and he could move into their new home.


The spiral is one of the major life forms in nature: from DNA, to a nautilus shell, to the growth pattern of palm fronds. It is also one of the major symbols of the Hebraic mind. Jews are called am haSePheR, usually translated “People of the Book.” But SePheR is a word written in the Torah scroll itself long before the invention of codex type books. SePheR means spiral scroll. It is spelled SPR, the root of the word “SPiRal” in numerous languages, ancient and modern. Jews, then, are People of the Spiral. In kabbalah, down-to-earth biblical mysticism, the SePhiRot are emanations of divine light spiraling down into our everyday life. And the English words “SPiRitual” and “inSPiRation” share the SRP root from the Latin SPiRare, to breathe.

In Judaism, form gives shape to content. The medium is an essential part of the message. Rather than the modernist viewpoint of art as “the language of forms,” Judaism shares postmodernism’s emphasis on “the ideas their forms might disclose.”

Weekly portions of the first five books of the Bible in the form of a Torah scroll are read in synagogue. The symbolic significance of the spiral form is so strong that if a Torah scroll is not available in synagogue, the Bible is not publicly read at all. The exact same words printed in codex book form convey the wrong message. If the divine message encoded in the Torah is trapped between two rectilinear covers, it loses its life-giving flow. The message of the Torah must not be enslaved in the rectangle. Form and content join together to symbolize the essence of Jewish values. The Bible encoded in a flowing scroll form provides a clue as to the nature of biblical consciousness as an open-ended, living system.

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