Ayin and Aleph

In Hebrew numerology, numbers are represented by letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This happy year as we celebrate the 71st year of the independence of our country, the number 71 is joined by two welcome letters of the alphabet.

The number 70 is represented by the letter ayin. The number 1 is represented by the letter aleph.

What is so unique about these two letters? As it happens, both of those letters are the only two letters of the Hebrew alphabet which are completely silent. Neither of them has a sound unless accent marks under or over the letters are added.

This, hopefully, will be a sign for a good year for Israel…. A year of silence ! No sound of war! This is the ayin-aleph year of our freedom, of our rebirth in the land of our original birth.

We have not COME to Israel. We have RETURNED home to our ancient homeland. We have returned from all the continents of our two thousand year dispersion. We have returned…light skins and dark skins, Ashkenazim and Sephardim, religious and secular and we have brought with us the languages of 120 foreign nations among whose people we lived.

In the course of our integration most of us have abandoned the old foreign languages and opted instead to speak, read and write, in ivrit… the tongue of the prophets.

How happy Eliezer Ben-Yehuda would be to hear nine million of our inhabitants conversing in the ancient language which he revived and renewed from the dead. His multi-volume Encyclopedia of the Hebrew language…new words which he re-created from the ancient sources… is one of the largest language dictionaries ever published. More than twenty volumes I am told.

The best hope we can have for an ayin-aleph year in our turbulent Knesset, speakers completely engaged in rudeness, can be a year of silence.

Lieberman wins the Defense Kahlon wins the Finance Ministry, both non-Likud party members whose ranks are now merged in a new coalition government.

Katz got the Foreign Ministry and the firebrand Smotrich is still pleading his demand for the Ministry of Justice.

He is not versed in the laws but because of his intense dislike of our judges and court system who operate on a higher level, he insists that if appointed Minister of Justice he will reduce the powers of the judges, justices, magistrates and courts. He promises to initiate new laws preventing our High Court and Supreme Court from challenging laws passed by the Knesset.

It would be much appreciated if some stalwart and courageous members of the Knesset would apply the ayin-aleph combination to maintain his silence. His fiery words are not popular with most of our people and a strong opposition is well equipped to muzzle Betzalel Smotrich, a racist in his own dream-world of an Israel without Arabs.

Many of us dream of a Knesset based upon courtesy, respect and above all, friendship.


Our rabbinical classic texts written many centuries ago have offered views which Jews should apply and adhere to.

1) “The greatest gift of life is friendship”

2) “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light”

3) “Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Walk beside me and just be my friend”. (Camus)

4) “Give me friendship or give me death. A life without good friends is not a life”.

5) “Who finds a faithful friend finds a treasure”

If I had to determine exactly how many of our distinguished and less distinguished politicians follow any one of the five rabbinical views, my very unhappy answer would be none….zero !!!

Although weapons are forbidden to be brought into the chambers of the Knesset, some of our most vocal politician have nevertheless found the weapon to stab another in the back.

The shouting, the name-calling, the lack of decorum is shameful for a people who gave the Bible and its holiness to the world. If there are any remnants of courtesy and holiness in the air of Israel, sadly none have been able to penetrate the doors and windows of our Knesset.

This is our 71st anniversary of rebirth in the land of patriarchs, judges, prophets, priests and kings.

Let the kind words spoken be heard. And let the ayin-aleph people remain silent.

Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen.
A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.

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