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Hebrew for Christians
BS''D
The Letter Hey
Alphabet
Dalet Vav

Chart

Phonetics

Manual Print (block)

Hebrew Script (cursive)

Practice

Summary

The Letter Hey

The fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is called "Hey" (pronounced "hey") and has the sound of "h" as in "hay."

In modern Hebrew, the letter Hey can appear in three forms:

Forms of Hey

Write the manual print version (or "block" version) of Hey as follows:

Hey Block

Note that there is a gap between the top of the horizontal line and the second vertical stroke.

And the cursive version:

Hey Script

Note that there is a gap between
the two lines.

Write the letter Hey (from right to left) in both manual print and script several times:

Practice Grid

Note: Hey is known as a guttural letter since it used to be pronounced in the back of the throat. Other guttural letters are Aleph, Ayin, and Chet. Note also that when Hey appears at the end of a word, it is normally silent.

Hey Summary

Note: The letter Hey may appear with a dot inside called a Mappiq that indicates that the Hey is to be pronounced as a "closing stop" (a faint "h" sound). If a Hey does not have a mappiq, it normally indicates an open syllable where the Hey would be silent. Grammatically, a mappiq may indicate direction as in "to" or "toward."

Mappiq

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Advanced Information

The letter Hey is the fifth letter of the Aleph-Bet, having the numeric value of five. The pictograph for Hey looks like a man with his arms raised, whereas the classical Hebrew script (ketav Ashurit) is constructed of two Vavs (of the Dalet) with an unattached and inverted Yod that functions as the "foot" of the letter. The meaning of the name "Hey" is "look," or "behold!"

  1. The Mystery of Hey
    According to the Jewish mystics, Hey represents the divine breath, revelation, and light (the word "light" is mentioned five times on the first day of creation (Gen. 1:3-4), which is said to correspond to the letter Hey). Since the numerical value of Hey is five, this corresponds on a physical level to the five fingers, the five senses, and the five dimensions. On a spiritual level it corresponds to the five levels of soul:
     
    • Nefesh - instincts
    • Ruach - emotions
    • Neshamah - mind
    • Chayah - bridge to transcendence
    • Yechidah - oneness

       
  2. Hey represents God's Creative Power
    "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth" (Psalm 33:6). In the Talmud (Menachot 29b) it is said that the "breath of His mouth" refers to the sound of the letter Hey - the outbreathing of Spirit.

    Moreover, in the fifth word of Genesis 2:4, the hey appears smaller than usual:



    This could be seen as "in Hey" they (i.e., the heavens and the earth) were created. Moreover, since Bet represents the Son of God (the Word of the LORD), we could read this as the Son breathed forth creation.


  3. Hey and the Divine Name
    The Sacred Name, , includes two instances of the letter Hey.

     
  4. Hey and the Divine Presence
    According to one midrash, Yod left Aleph to become part of Dalet, thus forming Hey. Since Aleph represents God and Dalet represents broken humanity, Hey is a picture of the presence of God within the human heart. This function of Hey can be seen when (Abram) was renamed to (Abraham) and (Sarai) was renamed to (Sarah).

     
  5. Prefixive Hey
    Hey functions as the definite article in Hebrew, a sort of demonstrative that points to the object and makes it concrete and definite. Thus (ish), a man, becomes (ha-ish), the man.

     
  6. Suffixive Hey
    Adding a Hey at the end of a noun "feminizes" it or allows it to be "fruitful" and reproductive.

     
  7. Hey and Teshuvah
    Since Hey is formed from Dalet and Yod, it can also be a picture of returning to God by means of the transforming power of the Spirit. Dalet stands for brokenness, and Yod stands for a hand. Opening the door of the heart then is a picture of the Spirit of God indwelling the believer, and this image also coheres with the idea that part of Aleph (God) is joined with Dalet to form the Hey.


     

Hebrew for Christians
Copyright © John J. Parsons
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