Let My People Know

"With alef the world was created"


One can hardly compare Divine speech and human speech. 

Nevertheless, there is something we can learn:

The physicality of  human speech is based on the breath. 

This fundamental breath, still unsounded by any other tonal effort of the body, is usually depicted as the first letter, alef, a letter without any substance, as was said by the Ari. 

Hence, too, the expression—with alef the world was created. 

This breath, or silent nothingness, is the driving force behind all the other letters of  speech, which are formed, phonetically, by certain controls or Tzimtzumim (constrictions) of the breath by the lips, mouth, tongue, larynx, and so on.

From this, it may be gathered that the life soul of the first man, which includes the whole range of human experience, is formed by the fundamental, still unsounded breath syllable, that which precedes speech. 

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From The Sustaining Utterance, p. 120, by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz