Elliot R. Wolfson

in Alef, Mem, Tau

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780520246195
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932319 | DOI:

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This chapter explores the nexus of time, truth, and death as it emerges hermeneutically from the symbolic world of medieval kabbalah. It focuses on the letters alef, mem, and tau, the consonants of the word emet, “truth,” which stand respectively for beginning, middle, and end, the three points of the curvature of the timeline. The correlation of truth and divinity underscores that truth, which embodies in its semiotic constellation the triadic structure of temporality, is the mark of the divine eternally becoming in time. The letters of emet are examined to discern something of the truth of time manifestly concealed in the time of truth, the beginning that cannot begin if it is to be the beginning, the middle that remarks the place of origin and destiny, and the end that is the figuration of the impossible disclosing the impossibility of figuration. Linear time is eternalized in the circular rhythms of the sacred time of liturgy and ritual, a process exemplified especially in the celebration of Sabbath.

Keywords: medieval kabbalah; Sabbath; linear time; Christianity; kabbalistic tradition

Chapter.  1271 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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