Let there be light

Insights into Hebrew letters and their connection to the light of diamonds

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Transformative qualities

Does carbon hold the secret to the creation of matter? Perhaps the quintessential biblical verse, “Let there be light” actually refers to the formation of white rough diamonds. What does this possibility mean, and what role do diamonds play in the story of humanity?

Scientifically speaking, carbon is the only substance that transforms from black to white matter. Carbon consists of a single molecule, both in its original black powdered state, and when it transforms into white rough diamonds, the hardest substance on earth.

This metamorphosis may hold the key to one of the greatest secrets of creation.Yesh me ayin, or the ex nihilo creation of something from nothing, is one of the Divine mysteries upon which the world came into existence. While diamonds undergo a unique transformation of form, other related phenomena cannot be overlooked.

Partners in creation

In general, everything that G-d created in nature is perfect and complete. Trees, birds, mountains, lakes, and all that surrounds them exist in a finished and beautiful state. The anatomy of a bird in flight, the wings of a mosquito, and the radiant light of the moon at night are just a few examples of the perfection found in nature.

Diamonds, however, are different. Once unearthed, they require human intervention to reach their perfected state. Light must be extracted from them through cutting and polishing. In the spirit of ezer k’negdo, or a helping counterpart, a diamond can only be polished by another diamond.

Research into the light of diamonds began at the very early stages of humanity and took thousands of years to achieve. Only at the start of the 20th century did science manage to unlock the secret of light performance and reach perfection. Polishing diamond and reaching perfection is a state were Humanity is becoming Ezer K’negdo for G-d, same as “Mila” which constitutes the same letters of Diamond “Yahalom”.

Diamonds are mentioned just once in the Torah. They are the sixth stone in the breastplate worn by the High Priest Aharon when he entered the sacred Holy of Holies in the Temple. Why did Aharon need the diamond? And of all twelve stones mentioned in the bible, why have diamonds attained an unmatched level of fame and status in the world in every corner of the globe? What is so special about diamonds?

“Sacred” letters

Hebrew letters have tremendous mathematical and scientific significance. Scholars regard the Hebrew letters as a mathematical code through which the world was created and our reality evolved. Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, known as the Alter Rebbe, wrote in the first chapter of his fundamental philosophy work, the Tanya:

“Now, the word even, or stone, is not mentioned in the Ten Utterances of Creation. Nevertheless, life force flows to stone through combinations and substitutions of letters, which are transposed in the 231 gates, either in direct or reverse order. This is explained in the Sefer Yetzirah (a kabbalistic work), until the combination of the word even descends from the Ten Utterances, and is derived from them. This is the life-force of the stone.

So it is with all things created in the world. Their names in the Holy Language are the very letters of speech, which descend, degree by degree, from the Ten Utterances recorded in the Torah, through substitutions and transpositions of letters through the 231 gates, until they reach and become invested in that particular creation to give it life.

This descent is necessary because individual creatures are not capable of receiving their life-force directly from the Ten Utterances of the Torah. For the life-force issuing directly from them is far greater than the capacity of the individual creations themselves. They can receive life-force only when it descends and is progressively diminished, one degree at a time, through substitutions and transpositions of the letters, and by gematriot, or numerical values, until the life force can be condensed and bring forth a particular creation.

The very name by which an object is called in the Holy Language is a vessel for the life-force condensed into the letters of its name, which has descended from the Ten Utterances of Creation in the Torah. This force has the power and vitality to create a being ex nihilo, and imbue it with life forever, for the Torah and the Holy One, blessed be His name, are one.”

This magnificent description can be applied to the letters of the word Elohim, or G-d, which can be transposed to form the word yahalom, diamond. The theories described by the Alter Rebbe provide us with new understanding and insight.

The extra alef

Elohim (אלו-הים) and yahalom (יהלום) share the same letters, but Elohim contains one extra letter – alef (א).  What is the significance of this extra alef?

The bible starts with the letter ב, the second letter of the alef-bet. Many Torah scholars have discussed the possible reasons why G-d began the Torah with the letter bet and not alef. Alef is the first letter of many of the most important Hebrew words: Love אהבה, unity אחדות, faith אמונה, G-d אדו-ני and אלוהים, air אוויר, I אנוכי, and man אדם, just to name a few.

The “missing” alef in diamond, יהלום, may represent several things. But above all, Alef stands for אור, or light. Both the Torah and diamonds are objects of light. Alef is the light that transforms the divine spirit, or ruach Elohim, into the physical entity manifested within the diamond as the even.

The expression “Let there be light,” or ויהי אור, in the first paragraph of the Torah, does not refer to the celestial bodies of the sun and moon, for these were only created later, on the fourth day. Rather, “Let there be light” may refer to the manifestation of G-d’s alef – the concealed light, or אור גנוז, of diamonds.

In our quest to comprehend the light of diamonds, it seems that more than all of their material consequence, is their testament to the genius of the text of the bible, and their ability to continually fascinate humanity.