I’ve fallen in love again.
With the Hebrew letter Chet (say “hate” with a guttural “ch”).
One of my favs, Lawrence Kushner, observes in his Book of Letters about the letter Chet:
In the Torah, the Chet is written with a sharp jagged notch on its forehead.
It is almost as if there were two separate letters barely joined together.
They need each other to stand.
But they wish they did not.
So they barely
Chet is the agony of a soul torn apart from itself.
The top of your throat and the bottom of your throat fighting against one another (pronouncing Chet is like violently gargling at the back of your throat.)
Create the sound of the Chet. This is the reason why the Chet yields so many strange and conflicted word pairs.
To this I would add that Chet was originally the picture of a wall. It pictures division, separation, someone on the outside and someone on the inside.
And so, this week some of those strange and conflicted words – the first being the most foundational. Chai (not chai as in chai tea; gargle it. Get all you can out of that guttural Chet). Life.
Yes, life starts with a letter filled with violent gargling. Turbulent vocal chords clashing at the back of the throat, a sound struggling to get out. Life starts with a wail and leads to a wall. But on the other side of it is a hand reaching out. Yes. This is life. Something I can chet to say with guttural passion at times. But there is always a hand reaching out. Reaching forward.
From the wall.