Item ID : 716

The Shin Within

Item ID : 716

The Mystery of the Four Branched Letter ‘Shin’, the Symbol of the Institute

On the head-Tefillin letter ‘Shin’, the first letter of the name “Shadai”, appears twice:

As one lays Tefillin, on their left side will be the letter ‘Shin’ in a changed form – one that includes four branches rather than three, as does the regular, common ‘Shin’ appearing on the right.

Various meanings have been given to the four branched ‘Shin’.

Some tell that in the era preceding ours (“Shemittat Ha’chassed” which came prior to the “Shemittat Ha’deen”), the Shin had four heads or crowns, and was a symbol for grace and mercy, the era of Abraham, the first of the three biblical patriarchs, and in the future the Shin will restore its original form.

A slightly different interpretation sees in the three branches of the Shin a symbol of the three biblical patriarchs and views the four branches as a reference to the four matriarchs.

Another explanation uncovers that on the Tefillin, within the prominently embossed four branched Shin, one can find a regular, triangular shin engraved in the space between the branches. Therefore, the embossed four branched Shin also includes the three branched Shin. We have one Shin on the surface and another deeper yet. From this we learn to study the Torah not only superficially (Visible theory) but to the depth as well (mysticism). In the space between lines and letter, not only black ink on white paper but also in the “white fire” of the torah.

Some stressed the handwriting of G-d on the tablets of stone had also included engraved letters, legible only because of the high margins the letters left behind in the stone they were etched into. This teaches us that we are not familiar with the selfhood of G-d, but through looking into the results of his doing, the world of nature and the divine providence it reveals to us.

Lastly, a light anecdote: if we add up the numerical value of the two Shin letters on the Tefillin (the four branched letter and the three branched letter), each valued 300, the will numbers amount to 600. The combination of the two Shin letters when placed one next to the other composes the Hebrew word for “Six”, in which both Shin letters have 6 branches. So adding up a 6, and then a 7 for the seven branches of the two Shin letters (the four-branched Shin and the three-branched Shin), we will get a sum total of 613.

And so, the entire torah is contained within the “Shin” on the Tefillin.

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