Why Does the Torah Start with the Letter Beit (ב)?

In the world of Jewish mysticism, every element of scripture holds profound symbolism and significance. The Hebrew alphabet itself has mystical connotations and serves as a gateway to deeper understanding. For centuries, Kabbalah has explored these multifaceted meanings.

The first word of the Torah is "Breishit." It starts with the letter beit and means "in the beginning."

Interpreters point out that the first word in the Torah, Bereishit (“In the beginning”) doesn’t start with the first letter, aleph, but rather with the second letter, beit.

Torah is like Intuition

Notice that the letter beit has one closed side and one open side. The thin right wall can be seen as a filter, a “hedge of roses” in the words of 20th century kabbalist Rav Kook. It is semipermeable: both a boundary and a gateway.

The Hebrew Letter Beit is closes on one side and open on the other. It is the first letter of the Torah.

This duality suggests that while the wisdom of the Torah is accessible, it also requires our openness and receptivity. Like intuition: if we are open to it, then it is open to us. A fence made of roses lets some things pass through but not everything.

Beit stands guard at the opening of the Torah, revealing its mysteries to those sincerely open to learning and growth. Indeed, studying Torah only “works” if we invite newness and discovery along the way.

The very first letter of the very first book of the Torah is "beit." It looks like this: ב
A beit is open on one side and closed on the other. This is a hint to the nature of spiritual learning. If a person is open to Torah, then Torah will be open to them...

Embracing the unknown in Torah study is the first step to discovering its mysteries. As the kabbalists and Hasidic mystics all knew, every letter on every page is an opportunity to connect with Deep Reality. Our role as students of Torah is to allow the wisdom to touch our being, inform our understanding of the world and to transform how we live.

Indeed, just as each letter holds sacred possibility, so does each moment of our lives.

Embodied Kabbalah: Jewish Mysticism for All People by Rabbi Matthew Ponak

This article is based on an interpretation found in Embodied Kabbalah: Jewish Mysticism for All People by Matthew Ponak.