kaf1The Palm Of The Hand

Isaiah 49:16 "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands."

In our last discussion of the letter yud, we saw how yud represents both a hand and the revealed good of creation. In this discussion, we want to introduce the reader to the letter kaf, which symbolizes both of these concepts as well but in a slightly different fashion. While the yud is a hand, the kaf is the palm of that hand; contained within the palm are all the good things the Father wishes to reveal unto His children.

kaf2The root of the word kaf actually means "to contain" or "to receive" and so by extension, it has become the word for "palm" of a hand. It is the palm of the hand that holds something and it is that same palm that opens to accomplish something. Rabbinically, kaf is viewed as God extending His hands to us with open palms which contain blessings for His children. When we pray, we open our palms to receive from Him. When we receive from the LORD, it is possible to reach our potential.

Reaching one's potential, spiritually speaking, means for one to successfully suppress the evil inclination within us. In other words, we "bend over" (another meaning of the name kaf) in humility before our king. When we do this, our King will cover us.

He Is Our Covering

"While my glory passes by, that I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you with my hand while I pass by." - Ex. 33:22

The word that is translated as "hand" in the above scripture is actually kafi, or "my palm." Thus, the palm of the hand, represented by kaf, is viewed as being the means by which we are covered in addition to the concept of receiving. It is easy to see the concept of covering every time we as parents place our hands (palms) upon the head of our children as we bless them or even pet them.

To be under God's covering is considered to be a great blessing. Not only does it display His favor and protection but our subjection to His rule and His will. As a matter of fact, this one of the primary reasons that observant Jews wear a yarmulke or kippah. The kippah is considered to be God's palm on our head. Those who wear it are expressing the belief that He is covering them even as they strive to suppress the evil inclination within them. The very word kippah is directly related to the word kaf and could be interpreted as the "palm of HaShem (God)."

The Priest's Crown

"And you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak unto the children of Israel." - Ex. 19:6

It is believed that the English word "cap" is derived from the Hebrew kippah. It isn't too hard to imagine this to be true. Now, what is a cap? It is something that adorns the head. It is worn upon the crown and thus, in a manner of speaking, becomes a crown. Considering that the kippah represents God's palm upon our head and our subjection to His rule, it becomes a symbol of one who attempts to suppress the evil inclination within. It is an expression of the belief that God will help that person reach his full potential as a priest in the kingdom of heaven. It is, in short, a crown.

The Hebrew word for "crown" is r,f keter. Rabbinically, keter is said to be over everything just as the circle of the horizon crowns the earth. Thus, you and I are crowned by heaven. If keter is over everything, as a consequence, everything emanates from it. In other words, keter refers to God, symbolized by the letter kaf. And so, we learn that those who aspire to wear the crown of righteousness, do so because they submit their will to the will of the Righteous One. It is He who "crowns" them - placing His palm upon their head - in accordance with their humility and trust in Him as their King.

The Crowning Accomplishment

"There are three crowns; the crown of priesthood, crown of kingship, and the crown of Torah, but a fourth crown - the crown of a good name is superior to them all." - Avot 4:17

The manifestations of these four crowns are found within the Holy Temple, so say the rabbis. The crown of the Priest is symbolized by the altar of incense that sat before the veil and the Holy of Holies. This is where prayer and intercession was offered on behalf of the people, and thus represents the crown of the Priest. The crown of the King is embodied in the Ark of the Covenant which, for all practical purposes, served as God's throne upon earth. For this reason everything else in the Temple focused on this piece of furniture. It was the King's resting place. The crown of the Torah is symbolized by the Table of Shewbread. It is written that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Therefore, bread has come to symbolize the Word of God.

All three of these Temple furnishings were constructed with a visible crown around the top of them. Yet, the fourth vessel in the Temple, the Holy Menorah, did not include a visible crown, but contained one nevertheless. Its crown corresponds to the crown of a good name. The crown of the Menorah was the radiance that beamed when its seven branches were aglow with light. Likewise, though a man may not wear a visible crown, his good name radiates the greatest of crowns - that of being a humble and righteous man.

Interestingly enough, there is one who embodies all four of these attributes - Priest, King, Torah and a good name - that is, the Messiah Y'shua. He is our High Priest and intercessor; He is the bread from heaven, the Living Torah and the King of Kings. Yet, we also understand that Y'shua is the One who stood in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks (Rev. 1:13), radiating His Glory. He is, therefore, the One who wears the crown of a good name. Scripture declares that, "God has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name" (Phil. 2:9).

So ultimately, kaf teaches us that God's greatest gift to man, His crowning accomplishment, was to lay aside His own Kingly garments, replace them with the cloak of humanity in order to conquer Death, Hell and the grave. In this way, He places His palm upon our head and covers us with life everlasting. We in turn proclaim Him as King and declare that, "He is crowned with many crowns!"

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