THE ALEPH LAMED... What exactly is it

During his Yeshiva studies Yuval came across a commentary on Genesis that contained within the Hebrew text a very unique letter, or what would be better called a graphical representation of two letters, which he later discovered to be known as the Aleph-Lamed ligature. This unique combining of the letter Aleph with the letter Lamed to produce a printable version of one of HaShems, (G-d’s), known names, the name (K)el, (pronounced with the “K” out of respect for the utterance of our Creators name), has very ancient roots. In addition, (K)el is the ultimate aim of creation as it combines HaShem’s aspect of divine mercy with His aspect of divine judgment. Yuval's (re)discovery of this ancient, and currently rarely used graphical character really intrigued Yuval and has since been at the forefront of his linguistic and artistic endeavors.

Hold on, the going gets complex but once understood is very pleasing. From the point of view of it’s mathematical value, (Gematria), when the letters Aleph and Lamed are written jointly they equal 90. How this is achieved is as follows.

Let’s start with the Lamed. The Lamed, (written out fully as Lamed-Mem-Dalet), has a numerical value of 74, (as Lamed = 30, Mem = 40 and Dalet = 4). The Aleph, (which is normally composed of two letter Yud’s and a diagonal Vav), can normally be considered as equalling 26 as Yud = 10 and Vav = 6 therefore 10 (x2) + 6 = 26). However in the case of our Aleph-Lamed, the bottom Yud is missing from the Aleph when the letters are combined in this unique graphical character, thus the gematria is reduced by 10 and therefore now equals 16, (26-10=16,). Adding the Aleph and Lamed together then equates to a grand total of 90, (74 from the Lamed spelled out and 16 from the unusual rendition of the Aleph).

What then is the significance of 90? 90 equates to the Hebrew word Melech, (King), as Mem =40, Lamed = 30 and Khaf = 20, (40+30+20=90). And this is by far the most appropriate way to represent HaShem’s Name,…as a conquering King.

From the artistic point of view, the silhouette of the Aleph and Lamed together, looks very similar to a horse and rider, when the horse lifts its front legs as when confronted with a panic situation; such as happened at Kriyat Yam Suf, (the crossing of the Red Sea), when the horse and rider were together thrown into the sea, (see the Song of Moses, Exodus 15). This could therefore represent Hashem’s ultimate punishment for the Nations when King Mashiach, (Messiah), comes in triumph over HaShem’s ememies.

For those who desire to know the ramifications in Jewish law of the use of this character to represent HaShem’s name we wish to allay any fears of doing so.

If a person wanted to write the Name Elokim, but stopped after two letters, he would have written the Name (K)el. As this Name is also Holy, it must be treated with due respect, although it was written unintentionally because his original intention was to write the full Name of Elokim.

However by combining the Aleph and the Lamed together as one letter/character one has circumvented this problem, as these two letters are not now written in their full format, as they would be in HaShems Name (K)el when it is fully spelled out. In fact it is a graphical representation of HaShems name in much the same way as the double Yud is used (‘ ‘) to represent HaShems divine four-letter name (Yud-Kei-Vav-Kei).

The first Yud in the double abbreviation Yud-Yud (‘ ‘) comes from the first letter in the divine name and the second Yud is actually a partial representation of the second letter Hei of the divine name. Since the Hei is composed of a Dalet and a Yud, when the Dalet is taken away only the Yud remains. The resulting combination is the history behind the use of the Double Yud in place of the divine name. This is amazingly similar to the Aleph-Lamed combination!

As the Double Yud is not intrinsically “Holy” in and of itself, so also the Aleph-Lamed bears no special halachic precedence against it’s use. For those that wish to research this further please see the Gemara (Shavuot 35) and Rambam Hilchot Yesodei Hatorah, chapter 6, Halacha 4.