Weekly Torah Reading

Parashat Lekh-Lekha – The Semantic Insights

tree-of-life   Sculpture by Phillip Ratner.  Dr Yitzhaq Hayut-Man. This week we continue explaining semantically encoded messages in this week’s Parasha Lekh Lekha. This Parashah has much to do with names and their meanings – two names get changed: of Abram/Avram to Abraham, and of Sarai to Sarah; and two names are given from God to call the first two sons – Abram/Avram’s son Yishma’el and Abraham’s son Yizhaq. This strongly affirms the importance of given names in the Torah and that such names are loaded with meanings and secrets.


1. The name Abram/Avram

Abraham’s original first name was Abram/Avram (pronounced “Avram” means, literally, “High Father”). It has Gematria value of 243, which equals the fifth power of the number three (3x3x3x3x3 = 243). As noted in the appendix to our discussion of Genesis (Parashat Bereshit), the raising of a number to the fifth power signifies its association with five dimensions (5D) and 5D constructs. One to the fifth power still remains one, showing the unity of the One in all dimensions. Two to the fifth power equals 32 (2x2x2x2x2 = 32), the number of the  “wondrous Paths of Wisdom” in God’s created world, according to the opening of Sefer Yezirah (traditionally attributed to Abraham’s authorship), and three to the fifth power = 243. The 5D World of Bri’ah (Creation) is associated with the Sefirah of Wisdom (?okhmah) and it contains the lower, 4D, world of Yezirah.

The higher dimensions may best be grasped by considering the 4D (4-Dimensional) and 5D hyper cubes as products of integrations, similar to the integration of four 1D line sections to make a 2D square, and the integration of six 2D squares to form a 3D cube. Likewise we can imagine the integration of eight 3D cubes to form a 4D hypercube and the integration of ten 4D hyper cubes to create a 5D hypercube.[1]

Note also that “Avram” may be read as “Avarim – the 248 body members, from which is structured the human pattern – body and soul. So both the two names, Avram and Avraham, hint at the number of body members and/or parts of the soul that can be rectified. According to the Mishnah (Ohalot A, 8) the whole human body has 248 members – Avarim (which are connected via 365 tendons, Gidim). The significance of this system is that it also describes the non-material human soul that is made in the pattern of the Torah, which contains 248 positive commandments and 365 inhibitions. Fulfillment of the 248 positive commandments – Mizvot Ase – of the Torah can make a person into a Zadiq – a righteous person.

2. The changing of the name fromAbram” (ó 243) to “Abraham” (ó 248) reveals new characteristics. One letter is added, the letter H’e, fifth letter of the Hebrew Alphabet, which appears twice in the Holy Name of YHWH. H’e is also used as “H’e haYedi’ah” – the Letter of Knowing (also in the sense of coupling). When this last letter of the divine Name (bottom letter when the Name of YHWH is seen as a ladder to the higher worlds) is inserted to Abram/Avram’s name he gets access to the Divine Worlds.

The number 248 is product of two very significant numbers: 248 = 8 x 31. As noted, the 4D hypercube is the product of integrating eight 3D cubes and the number eight (8) is symbolic of the wondrous higher world.[2]

248 is divided by 8 to produce 31, and 31 is the Gematria value of El (??), which means “god”, “Power/Potency” and “Direction Towards”. As noted in our exegesis to this Perashah, Abraham’s journey of Lekh Lekha, means “Go to (or into) thyself, in order to rectify thyself”. It has to do with Lekh El – “go to” – which has a Gematria value of 81, and 81 = 3x3x3x3, three raised to the fourth power or to the fourth dimensions.  Thus all these numbers are associated with the 4-dimensional hypercube and with the hyperspace of the soul’s journey.

We have already seen that Noah built the rectangular Ark with its special proportions, but Abraham is associated with the construction of a more characteristic and complete cube, which endures till today. The Qur’an (Sura 22:16 & 2:127) and the Islamic tradition regard Abraham, along with his son Ishmael, as the (re)builders of the ancient shrine of Mecca, the Ka’aba, namely “the Cube“.[3] But as we shall show below and complete in chapter four (Parashat vaYera), the place of the hypercube and the peak of Abraham’s journey is at Mount Moriah.

248 is also the Gematria of the Hebrew root R?M, which involves Compassion – Ra?amim and from which comes he word Re?em – meaning Womb/matrix. El is, as noted, “Towards”. It involves marking a direction from a person to other persons and has the value of 31. Now let’s note that the 5D hypercube has 32 vertices and the 4D hypercube has 32 edges. 32 in Hebrew letters is LaB, and LeB (pronounced “Lev”) means “Heart”, and is phonetically redolent of the English word “Love”. The expression “One Heart” (Leb E?ad) has the Gematria value of 32 + 13 = 45, which is the same as that of Adam – the generic human entity that can be a person, all humankind, or a connected group. Imagine an array of 32 people seeking reconciliation ceremony intended to attain “one Heart”, each person has 31 directions to communicate with others and thus has 31 directions for reconciliation/completion (Hashlamah). So the number 248 represents a potential opportunity space.

Still another Hebrew word to have the value of 248 is BaMiDBaR, which is the name of the fourth book of the Pentateuch (in English “Numbers”). The word “MiDBaR” is commonly translated as “Desert”, but it actually means “place of leading the sheep”. This word derives from the root D.B.R. which means both “guiding” or “subduing” – as well as “speech” (since speech is the mean humans use to guide and navigate any issue). MiDBaR thus means “that which can be spoken” and is equal to the Greek word Logos, which appears in the New Testament at the beginning of the Gospel of John – “In the beginning was the Logos (or “The Word”) and the Logos was with God”. This makes some sense, since the Creation – BeReShIT – was through divine speech, and the capacity to speak must have preceded the actual speech. So the name of Abraham is associated with the expression “with the Logos/Word/Midbar“, and as we shall presently see, the acts of Abraham were to bring the possibility of divine speech, and speech to God, namely prayer, to the place destined for the “House of Prayer for all Nations” (Isaiah 56:7).

Finally (for now), 248 is one half of 496, which is the third “Perfect Number.[4] So with the shared change of names, of Abram to Abraham and of Saray to Sarah, there forms a fruitful whole couple and Abraham is the half of this wholeness. Interestingly, the joint Gematria value of Ishmael and of Israel (the two of Abraham’s seed who had twelve sons) equals 992, which is twice this perfect number 496.


3. SaRaY and SaRaH

Right next to changing Avram’s name to Abraham, he is commanded by God (ELoHIM) to change his wife’s name from SaRaY to SaRaH a change of the last letter from Y’ud (the tenth letter of the Hebrew Alphabet, with Gematria value of 10) to H’e (the fifth letter of the Hebrew Alphabet, with Gematria value of 5). These two letters are found in the Divine Name of YHWH. Sara was strong and great in prophecy – and beauty (Yefat Mar’eh) – and was actually in a still higher position than that “High Father” Abram, “all that Sarah tells you, do as she says” (Gen. 21:12). She was connected with such higher,, spiritual, powers that she could not physically beget a child. By taking 5 out of her name, she as if gets no longer associated with the high world of Divinity (Azilut), signified by the letter Yod of the Divine Name of YHWH, but with the worlds of Creation (Beri’ah) and of Action (Asiyah), signified by letter H’e, of the Divine Name of YHWH.

The Gematria value of the names of this blessed couple remains the same after their two name transformations. It is as if the former letter Y’od of SaRaY’s name, with value 10, was split to two equal parts, two letter H’e, and one of them was taken from Saray and given to Avram. This act somewhat recalls the creation of Eve (Gen.


4. Yishma’el and Hagar

The name of YiShMAEL means both “God will hear” and “(he will) hear God”. The Ismaelite culture is strongly vocal, adoring of the voice and of the spoken word.[5]

As mentioned above, there are connections of the names of Ishmael – YiShMAEL – and of Israel – YiSRaEL. Both names were Godgiven, both are in future tense and both would beget twelve sons. The Gematria of the name of YiShMAEL is 451, whereas of the name of YiSRaEL is 541, which are made of the same digits. The sum of the Gematria of these two names is 992, which is four times 248 – the number of Abraham. {we have seen somewhat similar relationship with the Tree of Life (EZ HaHaYiM, Gematria 233) and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (EZ HaDa’AT TOV VeRA, Gematria 932)}.

Likewise, the name of HaGaR is connected by Gematria to YiZHaQ – both have the value of 208 (see its significance below). This shows that the connections of the two branches of Abraham’s progeny were not completely severed at the expulsion of Ishmael (where the Yitzhaq branch represents Judaism and Christianity and the Ishmael branch represents Islam).


5. The Name of YiZHaQ (Isaac)

We shall deal with this name extensively in the next Parashah. Here it would suffice to point that with its Gematria value being 208, this name is a multiple of 26 – the Gematria of the Sacred Name of YHWH.

Thus it is coded that Abraham had the Divine Name of El in his spiritual combination, whereas YiZHaQ has the holy YHWH in his spiritual combination. With YiZHaQ there starts a dynasty of such YHWH People:

(Isaac) YiZHaQ ó 208 = 8 X 26
(Jacob) YaAQoB ó 182 = 7 X 26
(Joseph) YOSePh ó 156 = 6 X 26


[1] When we imagine cloning the 2D square and translating the clone in a direction perpendicular to its two dimensions (i.e. height) to a distance equal to the length of its edges, there would form a cube made out of the intial square, the new square and four sqare faces formed between the four edges of the initial square and the four edges of the moved clone (the other edges of these square cube faces are formed by the four vertices of the clooned square as they trace their trajectories in the 3rd dimension.

In a similar fashion, cloning a 3D cube and moving it to the length of the cube edges, but in an imagined 4th dimension perpendicular to the three space dimensions, will result in a 4D hypercube made out of the original cube and the translated cloned cube, along with connected six cubes created by the movement of the six square faces of the cube in the perpendicular 4th dimension.

And again, in a similar fashion, cloning and moving the 4D hypercube in a perpendicular 5th dimension will yield a 5D hypercube made of the initial and cloned 4D hypercubes along with eight new 4D hypercubes formed from the eight 3D cubes contained in the 4D hypercube as they move to connect with the eight 3D cubes contained in the cloned 4D hypercube.

[2] see the Maharal’s discussion of the 8 days of the ?anukah.

[3] This Qur’an version is supported, to an extent, by the Midrash that Abraham rode to Arabia to meet Ishmael there – Pirke deRabbi Eliezer 30; Midrash haGadol, vaYera).

[4] A “Perfect Number” is equal to the sum of all its divisors; here 1+2+4+8+16+31+62+124+248 = 496. Such numbers are very rare. Only four or five of them were known in the ancient world. Even with all present computer power, we know only about 30 of them.

[5]  See Rapharl Patai’s book “The Arab Mind”.

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