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The first letter of the Aleph-Beis is the Aleph.

The name Aleph is related to the word Aluph – אַלּוּף which means master, prince, chief. The prime position of the א can we see as witness to the sovereignty of the Creator Himself. Many Names of G-d start with the א. The Creator is One. And so is the numerical valou of the א one.

The א has no sound, just like the Name of G-d which we do not (cannot) pronounce.

Hebrew consists only of consonants (k-l-r-etc.)

In the Tenach, there are no nekudot (the dots and dashes below or above a letter). We can only know the pronunciation by relying on the Oral Tradition.

As long as the language was still fully spoken by everyone, it was not a problem to read the words. When the language was less spoken, it was the Oral Tradition that passed on the pronunciation to next generations. Around 750–950 CE people decided to create a special sign system, the Tiberian system of dots and dashes to use as vocal signs.

In the word אלף you see a “little table” under the א. This is called a Kamatz. It gives a long a-sound.

Under the second letter – the lamed – you see a “bunch of grapes”.

This is called a segol. It gives a short e-sound.

The last letter is the peh.

It is called a peh-sofit. The peh has a specific shape when it is at the end of the word.

Learn more about the Aleph

By Angelique Sijbolts

Sources: ChabadVideo en The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Artscroll

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