Hebrew lesson of the week: The letter Aleph
Promoted Content

Hebrew lesson of the week: The letter Aleph

In conjunction with The Times of Israel, eTeacherHebrew presents a short Hebrew lesson each week. Enjoy!

Learn Hebrew on The Times of Israel with eTeacherHebrew.com
Learn Hebrew on The Times of Israel with eTeacherHebrew.com

Aleph is the reconstructed name of the first letter of the Proto-Canaanite alphabet, continued in descended Semitic alphabets as the Syriac ‘Ālaphܐ, Hebrew Aleph א, and Arabic Alif.


Approximately 4,000 years ago the original picture for the letter aleph was the head of an ox. About 3,000 years ago the picture was simplified and around this time the Greeks adopted this alphabet for their own use and the Hebrew aleph became the Greek letter alpha. The Greek alpha continued to evolve into its modern form. The Romans then adopted the Greek alphabet which is the alphabet used today to write English.

In Modern Israeli Hebrew, the letter represents either a glottal stop, or has no pronunciation besides that of the vowel attached to it. The pronunciation varies among Jewish ethnic groups.

Aleph is the subject of a midrash which praises its humility in not demanding to start the Old Testament. In Hebrew the Bible begins with the second letter of the alphabet, Bet. In this folktale, Aleph is rewarded by being allowed to start the Ten Commandments. In Hebrew, the first word is אָנֹכִי, which starts with an aleph.

The letter Aleph has 3 distinct parts and 10 laws concerning its form. There is an upper Yud, a lower Yud, and a body that is similar to a Vav. There should be a clear connection from the body of the Aleph to the Yuds but none of the faces of the Yuds are allowed to touch its body. The face of the upper Yud should be slightly angled upward. The very bottom end of the Vav part should be slightly turned upwards.

Want to learn more about the Hebrew alphabet? Visit our page at www.eteacherhebrew.com and like us on Facebook – I Love Hebrew