Contemplating Hebrew Letters || Daleth (“dalet “)





(To Cleave)

    And God said, “It is not good that man be alone; I will make him a helper corresponding to him”. . . So God cast a deep sleep upon the man and he slept; and he took one of his sides and He filled in flesh in its place. Then God fashioned the side that He had taken from the man into a woman, and He brought her to the man, and the man said, “This time it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This shall be called Woman, for from man was she taken.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Genesis 2:18, 21–24

    Adam, the first man, was given the task of naming all the plants and animals of the earth. In the process, he realized that every animal had a mating partner, yet he was alone in the world. None of the animals seemed to make a match for him, and none of them had the powers of reason or language with which he’d been blessed.

    Eventually, Adam became saddened by this fact, so God created Woman. At first, Adam was so taken aback by this creature, a human being literally made from a part of him and obviously meant to be his partner in life, that he couldn’t find the right name for her. Instead, he used the term this to describe his new helper!

    The Woman represented a new reality for Adam. Although he possessed the ability to name the animals almost immediately and instinctively, when faced with another human being he became somewhat speechless. The Woman, in other words, presented the challenge for Adam of being faced with an equal partner.

    In fact, the phrase ezer kenegdo (translated here as “a helper corresponding to him”) literally means “a helper in opposition to him.” This isn’t meant to be taken negatively; rather, when two people who are really meant to be together are united, they help each other by challenging one another—by rendering the other speechless in a way—so that they learn a new way of relating to the world, and thereby come into themselves as fully aware adults.

    Soon, the Woman we later know as Eve (Chava in Hebrew) will eat from the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the couple will be banished from the Garden of Eden as a result, setting in motion the long history of mankind—one that’s filled with strife and pain as well as pleasure. But here, in these first moments of her creation, Adam realizes that their union is something that will never happen in the same way again. Men and women will mate, but they will never again be created from the same flesh and bones, and Adam recognizes this very clearly.

    The Hebrew verb LeDavek means “to cleave,” to hold onto something tightly. Just as two people literally become one in the sexual act, they also become one emotionally and spiritually when they unite as life partners and decide to create a new family unit together. To do this with a full heart, they have to leave behind their first home, their primary connections to their parents and siblings, and put this new person before all of them. This sort of tight bond needs to be taken very seriously and done with incredible intent—in other words, in order to form a real and lasting marriage, you have to cleave to one another unlike you have to anyone else before.

    The letter Dalet, however, is not one of closing off but rather openness. Notice its shape: a vertical line and short horizontal line at the top. The character is shaped with two open sides, illustrating the sort of wide-open willingness you need to possess in order to find that partner to whom you’ll want to cleave.

    The first union is like the ultimate yin/ yang dichotomy: Adam and Eve are made of the same materials, yet they’re opposites. They complete one another and form a whole new unit from which the rest of the world will be born, yet they are, from the very beginning, extremely different people with different approaches to life. Although they didn’t face the same challenges we do today (they only had one another to choose from, whereas we have thousands of potential mates from which to choose!), they’re still our first model of being open enough to one person to close ourselves off from the rest.


    The Dalet card represents paradox in relationship. Just as Eve was both the ultimate partner for Adam and the cause of his lifetime of suffering, our spiritual endeavors are both what bring us closer to our ultimate fulfillment and what keeps us up at night wondering what the meaning of life is.

    Deveikut, the act of cleaving, is not just used in terms of romantic relationships. Lovers cleave to one another, yes, but individuals also cleave to support networks, and souls cleave to a higher force that sustains them in darker times. And it’s often the person or idea with which we have the most difficult time that teaches us the greatest of lessons.

    Focus on the open side of the Dalet and allow yourself to be open to dependence. You’ll always be your unique self, although you may often fear losing that self by being absorbed into another person’s life. Just know that the relationships you enter, if you’re open to them sufficiently, have the power to create whole new worlds.

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