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The meaning of truth, Lesson #1

10/20/2009

In the first couple months after I got my tattoo, there were mostly ooohs and ahhhs, some basic questions (did it hurt?) and a few pained looks. One of the first people to take it (and me) seriously was my friend Diane. She asked point blank whether I knew what it was that I had on my arm, i.e.:

“Emet” contains 3 letters: aleph, mem, and tav — the first, middle, and last letters of the alphabet. In other words, everything from A to Z is contained therein.

Beginning/creation, middle/life, and end/death. To understand the truth, we must come to grips with our ultimate fate: we are born, live a certain length of days, and die. To hammer the point home, the word contains an aleph (a letter commonly standing in for God and/or creation) and the entire word “met“, death.

This teaching is central to the Golem story, a mythological mud-creature of 18th century Prague vaguely reminiscent of the first human in the Garden of Eden (also nothing more than dirt until God’s breath was added). The creature has the word emet written on his forehead, and is destroyed when the chief rabbi wipes clean the letter aleph, leaving just “met“, dead.

The letter aleph is also the first letter in the Hebrew word “ani” (I) or “anochi” (God’s I). Once you’re dead, the I is gone (or perhaps, once the I is gone, you’re dead)(and whose I? yours? God’s?). I’m still working on all this.

What I know for sure is that I have more than just fact or honesty to contend with. I’ve got the whole cycle of creation on my skin. Not what I bargained for, but that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

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