not in the sense of mark or pictogram, but rather meaning occurrence, wonder, phenomenon (“signs and wonders occur”). In addition to the literal meaning (“sign”), ot has a symbolic and mystical connotation and signifies the divine plan.

Letters form the foundation of the world: “God speaks and the world exists.” “It was the Work of God to create the world with his words.” (commentary Sefer Chamoniki, 10th century CE).

According to Kabbalistic-Jewish tradition, every alphabetical character is associated with a fundamental religious truth. The letters carry mystical energy; to understand them means to see the divine in the world.

Hebrew is written from right to left. Originally, the alphabet only consisted of consonants;  vowels are added and indicated as needed depending on the meaning of a word.

In the ALEF BET graphics, the characters appear as signs (“ot”) on metallic ground. This is a reference to Corinthian brass, a highly valuable alloy in classical antiquity. According to legend, Corinthian brass was first formed during the burning of Corinth in 146 CE, when the city’s vast treasures of gold, silver and copper melted together in the fire. Silver, gold and Corinthian brass are said to have adorned the doors of Second Temple in Jerusalem.


The first two letters of the Hebrew script, Alef and Bet, have become synonymous with our writing system as a whole: the alphabet. This tie illustrates the importance of Hebrew culture for one of the most important cultural achievements of mankind.

The beginnings of the alphabet were in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia around 1500 BCE. Hebrew evolved from the Canaanite letter set, over Classical Hebrew from 8th century BCE and into the present Hebrew square script starting around the 2nd century BCE. The famous Dead Sea Scrolls of Qumran date back to the 3rd century BCE, which is the beginnings of the Hebrew script that is still in use today.

The constancy of the Hebrew square script over three millennia is one of those phenomena that characterizes the deep cohesion of the Jewish communities dispersed all over the world. In Cheders, traditional Jewish schools, Jewish kids around age three learn how to read Hebrew. This practice is meant to enable early reading of religious writings and used to be reserved only for boys.

Traditionally, sedentary cultures tended to develop logographic writing systems based on symbolized pictograms, while nomads like the Hebrew people, developed abstract symbols. Hebrew OT (“letter”, “word”) also means “sign,” albeit