Illuminated Hebrew Letter Series - Nun
Illuminated Nun - by Adam Rhine
Watercolor on Paper, 12" x 12"

For more information about this painting, email the artist at adam@hebrewart.com

It is significant that the letter nun is omitted from Ashrei (Tehillim/Psalm 145). In general, the nun corresponds in Torah to the image of falling, nefilla. This psalm is a prayer to instill in us, with every letter, a positive and elevated consciousness, to strengthen our faith and praise the Creator of all life with every fibre of our being.
The following letter, samech, means “support”, the full embrace of the divine, or, in other words, G-d’s transcendent mercy. These ideas express the spiritual concept of the descent (fall) for the sake of the ascent. Every so-called mistake or act of forgetfulness, can be a conduit for self-knowledge and a means to draw closer to Hashem. Thus, it is said, the nun does not appear but is supported by the samech. King David himself, sings constantly of this battle with the forces of negation, and the ascent (the Psalms) to praise the glory of G-d. The numerical value of his name is fourteen and nun is the fourteenth letter of the alef-beit. The form of the nun is like a bowing servant, representing subservience and faithfulness.

The numerical value of nun is 50, which represents transcendence. There are 50 gates of spiritual attainment; a cycle of 50 years culminates in the Jubilee, which is celebrated as a year of freedom in the Holy Land of Israel; there are 50 references to the Exodus in the Torah; the spiritual practice of Counting the Omer between the High Holy Days of Pesach and Shavuous is 50 days.

Nun begins the word ner “candle”, and neshamah, “soul.” We learn in the Talmud that “the soul of man is the candle of G-d”. As we know, one flame can light up a room of darkness. As we contemplate the nun, may we reflect on the hidden source of light that is within all of us ready to illuminate this world and to serve our Creator.


Text by Louise Temple from the book "Hebrew Illuminations"