The Palm Of The Hand
"For He is the Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful." - Revelation 17:14
The twelfth letter of the Hebrew alef-beit, lamed, is the only letter to ascend above the upper bounds of the letter script. Because it reaches up, it is intended to teach us to do the same. One way we can accomplish this is through learning. Speaking from a strictly rabbinical point of view, learning is one of man's highest endowments. The letter lamed conveys this concept for in name, lamed means "to learn, to teach."
The word m'lamed, derived from lamed, means a "goad" or "directing rod." A goad is a tool used to direct and control animal instinct. In this way the goad teaches the animal which way to go and which way not to go. The Torah, the Word, is the goad, the teacher, by which we learn. Thus, we understand that teaching and genuine learning penetrates the heart of man, resulting in a change in the path man chooses to take.
The greatest teacher, of course, is the Messiah who is the Living Torah. If you study the words of the Messiah carefully, you will see that He continually and consistently taught his audiences the true heart of the Torah. Interestingly, the first word of the Torah, b'reshiyt, begins with the letter beit. The last word in the Torah, Yisrael, ends with the lamed. Together these two letters form the word lev or "heart." Perhaps this gives new meaning to the command, "These words shall be in your heart" (Deut. 6:6).
One of the greatest if not the greatest expressions of worship - having a heart after God - is to study God's Word. Yet, study is not the ultimate goal, rather the deeds derived from study. Rabbinic literature states that, "If one's deeds exceed his knowledge, his knowledge will endure. But if one's knowledge exceeds his deeds, his knowledge will not endure" (Avot 1:17). Paul said it this way. "For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified" (Rom. 2:13; see also James 1:22-25, 2:20, 28).
A Peculiar Treasure
Ultimately though, the study of the Word should lead us to this conclusion: the goal of the Word - the true heart of the Torah - is to teach us of the Messiah. He is the Teacher and that which is being taught. It is by Him that we truly learn and it is through Him that we may ascend above the bounds and reach greater spiritual heights. As a matter of fact, God told Israel that, "You shall be unto me a peculiar treasure" (Ex. 19:5). The Hebrew word translated as "unto me" is li, and is comprised of the largest and smallest Hebrew letters, lamed and yud respectively. Thus the smallest people, Israel (Deut. 7:6-8) is joined to the greatest of teachers, the Messiah who is represented by the lamed.
The name Israel begins with the yud and ends with the lamed. This is said to demonstrate direction, goal and purpose. It is also to signify that, from God's perspective, even the most insignificant people can become the greatest of peoples if they are joined to God.
Our Strong Tower
In form, the lamed is thought to be the letter kaf that has a vav on top of it. This combination makes the lamed the tallest letter. For that reason, lamed is considered to be a tower. Furthermore, this combination also gives the form of lamed (comprised of kaf whose value is 20 coupled with a vav whose value is 6) the value 26, which is the value of the Holy Name of God, YHVH. Thus, lamed is our strong tower, the LORD.
Furthermore we understand that by virtue of its ordinal position in the alef-beit, the lamed is flanked on one side by the letter kaf, the crown, and on the other by the letter mem, which we will learn represents malkhut, the kingdom. Thus, lamed has become known as the letter of the one who represents both crown and kingdom - the king. In fact, these three letters, mem, lamed and kaf, form the word melekh or "king." Therefore, we are led to the conclusion that the lamed, the teacher, is actually teaching of Himself. When we learn of Him and are joined to Him, we the insignificant people that we are inherit the potential to become great, but in this sense. We are positioned to take refuge in Him, our strong Tower. He is our king and we are His kingdom. Because He towers over all others, He is not just any king, but the King of Kings. He is melekh YHVH. He is the Messiah, King Y'shua!