SIDEBAR - "Skins of Light and Flesh"

Most languages contain some words that, although they sound the same, are spelled a little differently and can mean very different things.  The English phrase "there are too many two's to count" is one such example.  Three different words, each spelled a little differently, and meaning very different things.  And such is the case with the Hebrew language as well.  Lets take a look at one fascinating example.

Before proceeding, however, it would be helpful to download and install a self-extracting Hebrew font (sefer.exe) so that you can see the actual Hebrew text for our example.  This font is also used in the Footnotes section of our Derech HaShem study.

There are a number of people who believe that before Adam and Chava (Eve) sinned, they had bodies of light or bodies clothed with light, and that as a result of their sin, they lost their body/clothing of light.  When examining the Hebrew language, this is not hard to see.

The Hebrew word for "Light" is "OR" (variant:   'or), spelled "aleph  vav  resh" - rut
(Remember, Hebrew is written from right to left)
The Hebrew word for "Skin" is also "OR" (variant:  'or), but is spelled "ayin  vav  resh" - rug

The concept of man having a body clothed with light is not unfamiliar within Judaism as we can see in the passages of the Midrash Rabbah and Zohar shown below.  The most pertinent portions are highlighted in bold except in the Midrash passage which is entirely about this subject.

Two Other Interesting Characteristics about Hebrew

1)  Most people are aware that each Hebrew character has a numerical value.   Thus, Aleph (t) = 1, Bet (c) = 2, etc. up to Tav (,) = 400  (1-9, 10-90, 100-400).  Each letter can be combined together with other letters to represent a larger number (i.e. Mem + Gimel  dn  together equal 43, 40 + 3)

2)  What is little known about Hebrew is that the ancient form of each letter represented a pictograph, or word picture.  So, for example, Aleph represents an ox or bull, Bet represents a house, etc.  More information about this can be obtained from two sources: "The Hebrew Letters - Channels of Creative Consciousness" by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh 1 and "Hebrew Word Pictures" by Frank T. Seekins.

Now, here is where it gets even more interesting. The only difference between the Hebrew words for light and skin is one letter: Aleph (t) for light and Ayin (g) for skin.  Numerically, Aleph = 1 and Ayin = 70.  The difference between them is 69, represented by the Hebrew letters Samech (x) and Tet (y) or yx.  The pictograph of Samech is a prop, meaning, to support.  The pictograph of Tet is a snake.   Putting the two together, yx means, to support the snake!  In other words, by supporting the snake (supporting or going along with the snake's arguments/ways) Adam and Chava (Eve) lost their skins of light and had to be given skins of flesh.  And so it is that whenever we support or go along with the snake's arguments/ways we lose some of God's radiance in our lives and become more animalistic and debase in our nature.

But wait, there's more!  As mentioned earlier, the letter Aleph represents an ox or bull, and means strength, leader, or first.  The letter Ayin is represented by an eye and means to see, know or experience!   Thus, when Adam and Chava (the first people on Earth) ate the forbidden fruit their eyes were opened and they began to know and experience good and evil.

Midrash Rabbah - Genesis XX:12

12. AND THE LORD GOD MADE FOR ADAM AND HIS WIFE GARMENTS OF SKIN (‘OR), AND CLOTHED THEM (III, 21). In R. Meir's Torah it was found written, ‘Garments of light (or) ‘2: this refers to Adam's garments, which were like a torch [shedding radiance], broad at the bottom and narrow at the top. Isaac the Elder said: They were as smooth as a finger-nail and as beautiful as a jewel. R.Johanan said: They were like the fine linen garments which come from Bethshean,3 GARMENTS OF SKIN meaning those that are nearest to the skin. R. Eleazar said: They were of goats’ skin. R. Joshua said: Of hares’ skin. R. Jose b. R. Hanina said: It was a garment made of skin with its wool. Resh Lakish said: It was of Circassian wool, and these were used [later] by first-born children.4 R. Samuel b. Nahman said: [They were made from] the wool of camels and the wool of hares, GARMENTS OF SKIN meaning those which are produced from the skin.5 R. Levi said: The Torah teaches you here a rule of worldly wisdom: spend according to your means on food; less than you can afford on clothing, but more than you can afford on a dwelling. Spend according to your means on food, as it is written, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat (Gen. II, 16). Less than you can afford on clothing: AND THE LORD GOD MADE... GARMENTS OF SKIN, AND CLOTHED THEM.6 More than you can afford on a dwelling: for lo! they were but two, yet they dwelt in the whole world.7
rut light, instead of rug skin.
(3) V. supra, XIX, 1.
(4) When they used to perform the sacrificial service, before the priests were chosen for it; v. infra, LXIII, 13; Num. R. IV, 8.
(5) Viz. the wool that comes off it.
(6) I.e. only simple, not expensive garments.
(7) Cf. Pes. 114a; Hul. 84b.

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 36b

AND THE EYES OF BOTH OF THEM WERE OPENED. R. Hiya says, their eyes were opened to the evil of the world, which they had not known hitherto. Then they knew that they were naked, since they had lost the celestial lustre which had formerly enveloped them, and of which they were now divested. AND THEY SEWED FIG LEAVES. They strove to cover themselves with the (delusive) images from the tree of which they had eaten, the so-called “leaves of the tree”. AND THEY MADE THEMSELVES GIRDLES. R. Jose said: ‘When they obtained knowledge of this world and attached themselves to it, they observed that it was governed by those “leaves of the tree”. They therefore sought in them a stronghold in this world, and so made themselves acquainted with all kinds of magical arts, in order to gird themselves with weapons of those leaves of the tree, for the purpose of self-protection.’ R. Judah said: ‘In this way three came up for judgement and were found guilty, and the terrestrial world was cursed and dislodged from its estate on account of the defilement of the serpent, until Israel stood before Mount Sinai.’ Afterwards God clothed Adam and Eve in garments soothing to the skin, as it is written, HE MADE THEM COATS OF SKIN (rug 'or). At first they had had coats of light (rut 'or), which procured them the service of the highest of the high, for the celestial angels used to come to enjoy that light; so it is written, “For thou hast made him but little lower than the angels, and crownest him with glory and honour” (Ps. VIII, 6). Now after their sins they had only coats of skin (rug 'or), good for the body but not for the soul.

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 229b

‘Observe that man's soul does not ascend to appear before the Holy King unless she is first worthy to be attired in the supernal raiment. Likewise, the soul does not descend into this world until clad in the garments of this world. Similarly, the holy heavenly angels, of whom it is written, “Who makest thy angels into winds and thy ministers into flaming fire” (Ps. CIV, 4), when they have to execute a message in this world do not come down to it before they clothe themselves in the garments of this world. The attire thus has always to be in harmony with the place visited; and the soul, as we have said, can only ascend when clad in ethereal raiment. Adam in the Garden of Eden was attired in supernal raiment, of celestial radiancy. As soon as he was driven from the Garden of Eden and had need of forms suited to this world, “the Lord God”, Scripture says, “made for Adam and for his wife garments of skin (rug 'or), and clothed them” (Gen. III, 21). Formerly they were garments of light (rut 'or), to wit, of the celestial light in which Adam ministered in the Garden of Eden. For, inasmuch as it is the resplendency of the celestial light that ministers in the Garden of Eden, when first man entered into the Garden, the Holy One, blessed be He, clothed him first in the raiment of that light. Otherwise he could not have entered there. When driven out, however, he had need of other garments; hence “garments of skin”. So here also “they made residual garments to minister in the holy place”, so as to enable the wearer to enter the Sanctuary. Now, it has been already taught that a man's good deeds done in this world draw from the celestial resplendency of light a garment with which he may be invested when in the next world he comes to appear before the Holy One, blessed be He. Apparelled in that raiment, he is in a state of bliss and feasts his eyes on the radiant effulgence. So Scripture says: “To behold the graciousness of the Lord, and to visit early in his temple” (Ps. XXVII, 4). Man's soul is thus attired in the raiments of both worlds, the lower and the upper, thereby achieving perfection. Of this Scripture says: “Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name”; to wit, in this world-”The upright shall dwell in thy presence” (Ibid. CXL, 14); namely, in the other world.’

1.  The Hebrew Letters: Channels of Creative Consciousness - Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh
Insight into the infinite dimensions hidden beneath the surface of the letters of the Hebrew Aleph-Beit. Order online from

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