Hebrew Letters

The Hebrew Letters Ayin: Divine Providence

"It [the land of Israel] is the land which God your God seeks; the eyes of God your God are always [looking] at it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year."

The yearly cycle, from beginning to end ("end enwedged in beginning"), alludes to "the endless cycle," the secret of the letter samech, as explained above. Divine Providence, the "eyes" of God in control of the cycle, is the secret of the following letter, ayin which means "eye." Though the primary revelation of supernatural Providence is in the Land of Israel, the Jew-in-exile is commanded to create something of its sanctity in each of his Diaspora stations by recognizing Divine Providence wherever he is.

Upon entering the Land of Israel, the second city to be conquered by Joshua was Ai, spelled ayin-yud, an abbreviated form of ayin (ayin-yud-nun, the nun falls) "the Eye." Jericho, the first city to be conquered, comes from the Hebrew word reiach, the sense of smell. In Chassidut we are taught that the origin of the sense of smell is in keter, the superconscious sensitivity directing the motivation of Will. The Hebrew word for "the land," eretz, derives from the wordratzon, "will," as our Sages teach: "Why is it called eretz? Because it wills to do the Will of its Creator." Sight is the first conscious sense, corresponding to the sefirah of chochmah, "wisdom."

In the conquest of Jericho, Achan – related to the word ayin [the kaf of Achan equals in gematria the full spelling of the yud (yud-vav-dalet) of ayin, 20] – coveted forbidden booty. The tragic result was the initial defeat of Israel in the battle of "the Eye." Coveting is the spiritual blemish of the sight of the eye. Only when the sin of coveting was rectified was "the Eye" given to the Jewish People. Upon the initial defeat, Joshua fell on his face in despair but was commanded by God: "Rise, sanctify the people…. There is an accursed thing in your midst, Israel; you shall not be able to rise before your enemies until you remove it from your midst." Joshua was told to "rise" though the people were unable to "rise." This alludes to the secret of the two concentric circles of the letter samech: the outer, static circle supporting the fall of the nun, and the inner, dynamic circle directed, ultimately, by the Divine Providence of the ayin.

The full spelling of the letter ayin equals 130 or 5 times 26, 26 being the value of the Name Havayah. In Kabbalah this phenomenon is understood to mean that the eye possesses five Divine powers. The right eye possesses five states of kindness, whereas the left eye possesses five states of severity or might. In Psalms we find two verses in relation to God's Providence over man. One verse states: "The Eye of God is on those who fear Him." The other states: "The Eyes of God are on the." The attribute of fear of God refers to the consciousness of the sefirah of malchut, "kingdom," likened to the woman of valor, "the woman who fears God, she shall be praised." Malchut is constructed and directed by the five "mights," the secret of the left eye of God. For this reason, in the verse "the Eye of God is on those who fear Him," "Eye" is in the singular, referring to the left eye alone. In the "male figure," corresponding to the six emotive attributes of the heart, Providence reflects the balance of both the five kindness together with the five mights of God. So, in the verse "The Eyes of God are on the tzadikim," "Eyes" appear in the plural form, referring to both the right and left Eyes of God.

We are further taught in Chassidut that the singular eye of the first verse possesses a hidden reference to the "ever-open eye" of keter, the superconscious. Here the singular is the secret of "all right," as "there is no left in the Ancient One, all is right." The fear of God which is the vessel in the soul to contain and reveal this most concealed and supernal level of Providence, is the awe in face of the awareness of the Transcendent Light of God, permeating each point of reality, as taught in the secret of the letter samech.

In the Divine service of the soul these three levels of Providence correspond to the three stages of service: submission, separation, and sweetening, as taught by the Ba'al Shem Tov. All relate to his most fundamental and all inclusive teaching in regard to "particular Divine Providence." The initial experience that even the minutest of one's deeds is observed and recorded Above brings one to a state of submission and fear of the Kingdom of Heaven, whose Law and Order control the universe. One then experiences the Eyes of God lovingly watching over and guarding each one of his children Israel. This brings one to sense the existential separation of the holy from the profane, the righteous from the unrighteous, and to identify with the good. Finally one experiences the Infinite Eye of God directing every created being to its ultimate fulfillment of purpose in Creation, thereby bringing all Creation to realize its Divine Purpose. Here, one's awe itself is in the face of the revelation of God's Infinite Love for all ("all is right"). This is the secret of sweetening.


An elongated nun with an enwedged vav or zayin.
The vessel of the nun receives God's blessing, the vav.
The two eyes and the optic nerves entering the brain.
The right eye looks up at the samech; the left eye looks down at the pei.



  • A poor man receiving physical sustenance.
  • The six (seven) days of Creation and man.
  • Shammai: the seven together; Hillel: the six separate from the seventh.
  • The right eye looking up at the sky; the left eye looking down at the earth.




  • The humble nun draws down joy in the service of God and integrates into itself God's Will, halachah, as revealed in the six orders of Mishnah.
  • The right eye looks up to God; the left eye looks down favorably at the Jew.
  • The right eye dances; the left eye speaks.




  • Moses, the humble nun, draws joy into God, as it were, and integrates into consciousness the hidden-most secrets of Torah.
  • The right eye looks up at God's Transcendent Light; the left eye looks down at the Word of God.



Eye; color; fountain; in Aramaic: sheep.



  • Physical vision; Color spectrum; A fountain.
  • The fountain of wisdom and the ability to perceive wisdom.
  • The sheep looking toward the shepherd; the shepherd watching his sheep.




  • The "eye of Jacob" looking only at blessing, good, and life.
  • The eye of the soul looking at unification, sanctity, and blessing.
  • The "searching eye" of the soul looking upwards towards God.
  • Looking favorably on every Jew.




  • "Gazing at the King and no other."
  • Divine Providence.
  • Emulating God by looking "downwards" to help care for others.
  • The silent prayer: heart above and eyes below.






  • Seventy archetypal nations and languages; Seventy oxen sacrificed on Sukkot.
  • Seventy years of life; Seventy cries of the deer during labor.




  • Seventy Jewish souls that descended to Egypt.
  • Seventy elders chosen by Moses; seventy sages of the Sanhedrin.
  • Seventy years of King David.
  • Seventy cries of the soul during "labor."
  • Seventy years of the Babylonian exile.




  • Seventy Names of God; Seventy faces of Torah.
  • Seventy words of Kiddush.
  • Seventy cries of the birth pangs of Mashiach.


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