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Shmuel the Prophet and the Secret of the Hebrew letters


​Shmuel is one of the prophets our sages compared to Moshe and Aharon. In some aspects, they explain, he attained their level of prophecy, and this is what prompted Korach to initiate his rebellion against them.This is based on a verse in Tehilim (Psalms) which says: “Moshe and Aharon are among his priests (cohanim), and Shmuel as those who call His name.

At first, this might sound like an exaggeration. However, Shmuel was not only a tremendous leader, but incredible spiritual fighter as we will soon see. It’s not for nothing that in his generation, there was a tradition that a boy of such a stature would be born, and every woman named her son Shmuel.

The reason is because Shmuel brought forth the era of prophecy when it would change the role of prophets, and inaugurated the era of kings by crowning King Saul and King David. Before he was born, prophets were called “seers” (Chozim) and lived separate lives from the rest of the commnity. It was only then that they began being called Nevi’im and acquire the role of leading the people.

Secrets of the Hebrew Letters

​According to Jewish tradition, Hashem create the world using the sacred Hebrew letters. They not onlyhelp us communicate, but also understand a thing’s essence. In Kabbalah, there are 2 main systems of understanding the spiritual worlds. One is through the Sephirot, also called “Komat Adam” (stature of “man”)which is the most studied system, and another is through the Hebrew letters which, although less well known, is expounded in Sefer Yetzirah and SeferHaBahir.

​Together with the Sephirot, the Hebrew letters are the vehicles through which Hashem channels his blessings and abundance in the physical world. This shows a little bit how wonderful Hashem’s Creation is, as he also bequeathed to us a way of drawing down the salvations that we need, through our prayer. There’s nothing magical about it, it’s just the world in itself is magical.

​We learn from Sefer Yetzirah and Sefer Bahir that the letters possess powers, each according to the idea it represents. For example the letter Chet ח is associated with life חי and also the number 8 according to its Gematria. The letter פ has the same phonetic sound as the word for mouth פה and so is associated with the power of speech, which can be used for good or bad.

A person’s name therefore has tremendous significance and hints to his life purpose and resources available to complete its mission. This is the reason for the Jewish custom to add a name or a letter to someone who’s ill, in order to change his Mazal or “upgrade” him to a new stage in life, as we find with Sarah, Avraham and Yehoshua.​


Secrets from Shmuel the prophet

​In Sha’ar HaGilgulim, the Arizal teaches that Shmuel inherited the 2 incredibly holy souls of Nadav and Avihu, sons of Aharon who died after offering an unwanted incense in the Tabernacle. These soulsreincarnated afterwards in Eliyahu, then Elisha, and then in Shmuel in the secret of Yibur (pregnancy). This is when a soul comes down temporarily to aid the host in doing good deeds, while at the same time rectifying itself.

​We find in the mystical intentions that Elisha אלישע took the three letters ELY אלי from Eliyahu אליהו , so too Shmuel take the two letters E-L אלfrom Eliyahu, hinting that he took Nadab and Abihu, who were originally in Eliyahu. These are clearly not just any letters, but key letters that control the entirety of Creation.

​Now, Nadav and Avihu represent the 2 “legs”/Sephirot called Netzach (victory) and Hod (splendor) from the world of Atzilut. It’s from these 2 sephirot that the prophets draw their prophecy from. Because of their sin, Nadav and Avihu had been captured by the evil angel Sa-tan and were imprisoned. It’s noteworthy that in the Zohar Mishaptim (2:111), we learn that this happened specifically because of the fight Yaakov Avinu had with the Angel of Esav, which dislocated his tight/leg. This caused a blemish in the upper words and as a consequence, Nadav and Avihusinned.

​Shmuel rescued them but it could be that it was in great part due to the merit of his righteous mother Chana. We know Chana as the one who prayed deeply to Hashem and gave a daring challenge to Him, that if she’d not be granted a child, then she would seclude herself with another man, and be found innocent. And the Torah promises an innocent woman who goes to the Temple after being accused of immorality a child, so she would be, in essence, forcing Hashem’s hand to grant her a son. Hashem acquiesced, but it’s also very interesting to see that the Zohar also teaches us that her intent was to “steal” the “tights/legs” from Sa-tan himself with her ruse: the tight of Yaakov Avinuthrough Shmuel and the tight of the Sotah test which she herself would steal.

​Clearly there are many more incredible secrets to learn but we all can derive inspiration and power from the Prophet Shmuel, who’s buried in the outskirts of Jerusalem. This is one of the destinations of our Prayer Treks and if you want me to pray for you there, follow this link!

​May the memory of Shmuel be for a blessing!

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