Alef... bet... gimel... daled... hei...

His bright brown eyes have finally succumbed to the lure of sweet slumber. Warm baby breaths, audible, steady and reassuring, gently massage the thick night air. His eyes no longer absorb the lights and movements of a stimulating world of reality with the insatiable thirst of an infant. After much struggle, he has surrendered his senses to the pleasure of tranquil sleep.

Unable to tear myself away from the scene of a baby's innocent serenity, I gaze down at his gently heaving body in that small wooden crib – and marvel.

Vast sums of folk inhabit India. Countless gurus and temples. Legions of monks in Tibet. Any number of mountain retreats for seekers of the spirit. All over the world, individuals, groups and nations seek a glimmer of the divine. They desperately grasp at rays of heaven's elusive truth. Religions are formed and adapted. Cults created and collapsed. Meditation masters and systems abound. Many worship nature and the planet. Everyone, everywhere, is seeking to hold onto the handles of heaven's palace gates.

And this little boy? When he awakens, what will he see?

He will at first gaze upwards and examine the ceiling and light fixture. His eyes will then recall the wooden slats of his crib, those raised rows of delightfully identical, straight-backed wooden soldiers that stand guard on all sides.

And then...?

Perhaps his wide-eyed gaze will then shift to the corner of his crib, where a plush, white object dangles rather obtrusively. Undoubtedly, his keen eyes will alight upon the neat rows of colored squiggles, as they must appear to his uncomprehending, fascinated vision.

Gazing at those shapes, he will marvel at the range of colors, and wonder what they are doing in his crib, and why each is slightly dissimilar. He is far too young to realize that he is looking at the Alef-bet.

Image: "Three Mothers and Seven Doubles" by chassidic artist David Brook © 2009
Image: "Three Mothers and Seven Doubles" by chassidic artist David Brook © 2009

Nevertheless, his heart is embraced by a comfortable sense of familiarity – his soul has only recently left the heavens, where these very same letters filled the angelic atmosphere with G‑dly radiance and warmth of purpose.

But for now, he sleeps. And as the sound of his delicate breathing gently drives the hustle of everyday concerns from my mind – I continue to marvel:

Here in this small wooden crib lies one of the luckiest people in the planet.

A tiny baby, just a few months old; completely unaware of having been born into utterly immeasurable good fortune.

He need not travel to India, he need not climb mountains. Right here on the corner of the crib, dangles a plush toy – proudly bearing the letters that contain all that will ever exist.

A little boy who has only just been introduced to this world, who has not spent weary years exploring the planet, nor wandering the tangled paths of the mind, seeking, meditating, chanting, insisting, pondering... He has been spared the journey to and back from nowhere.

Instead, just above this sleeping infant's sweet head, dangles the very letters continuously being used by the Almighty to fashion and maintain all existence.

From the highest heavens and spiritual realms of angels, songs and souls, to the gigantic expanses of this physical universe, to the smallest rodent in the Sahara sand – all are utterly dependant on these same letters being articulated by the One who constantly whispers all existence into brilliant being.

"He Who spoke and the Universe came into being" spoke and still speaks the Alef-bet, incessantly insisting yehi ohr, yehi raki'a – "Let there be!", "Let there be!", "Let there be!"...

One plush toy, twenty-two tiny colored letters of infinite light.

At this point, my musings give birth to astonished wonder:

Who, then, placed the intimate secret of the cosmos on that plush toy dangling above this little boy's head?

Who sewed tiny representations of the sublime mysteries of divinity onto an infant's toy?

He shifts in his sleep, allowing a baby sigh to escape.

A sigh of pleasure, of a pure, tiny body perfecting the art of nocturnal rejuvenation. The sigh of a soul still cuddled by heaven's warmth, not yet entirely smothered by its entry into a world of obscurity. The wistful sigh of a bright and untainted soul reminiscing of angelic realms only recently departed.

The sigh of a little lad, whose last sight before dropping into slumber was a dangling object bearing the divine signature, building blocks of creation, language of the Torah, letters that form the mystery of life, kabbalistic secrets, names of the divine. Living letters that know all that has ever occurred, that vivify the present into being and see clearly into the furthest future, accompany my son to sleep.

Can I not help but marvel?

This boy could have been born anywhere in the world, to any nation. Had he been born elsewhere, perhaps he would have pursued gross materialism, uninspired with spiritual purpose – the dark matter of which much of our planet is comprised. Or he may have been drawn to embark on a lifetime's noble pursuit of divine reflections in tainted mirrors, climbing colorful rainbows that promise heaven, but ultimately lead back to an unchanged earth.

No; by divine providence, he was born a Jew.

The Almighty gave the Jews His Torah on a mountain called "Sinai," one meaning of which is sina, "hatred." He gathered us around Mount Sinai and introduced Himself, using the first letter of the Alef-bet to announce Anochi, "I am G‑d, Your G‑d!" At the same time, He introduced us to Sinai – anti-semitism; a mountain whose shadow is cast over all of history, a mountain so large that it cannot be uprooted or budged.

For as a result of what we received at Sinai, sparks forever shoot forth from the souls of nations jealous of a little boy who inherits sublime divinity on a plush toy; envious of an infant who receives ultimate truths unearned; resentful of a newborn surrounded in his crib with unlocked mysteries of purpose, existence and destiny.

All he must do is learn to read his people's ancient tongue; and then, like the Almighty, this youngster can proclaim, yehi ohr, yehi raki'a – "Let there be!", "Let there be!", "Let there be!"...

What ultimate power entrusted to one so very young.

What others seek and do not find, he has been born into. By divine will. Born to the nation charged by the Almighty to act as His witnesses on earth. Born to study His sacred letters and to observe His law.

As I watch, his cheeks dimple and his lips give way to an involuntary smile. A pleasant baby-dream perhaps? Or is he just excited to be entrusted, even as a tiny boy, with the letters that will dictate the destiny of mankind?

He has heaven at his little fingertips. With boundless love for an earthbound spark of Himself, G‑d has left His living autograph dangling on the side of his crib.

How could even the heavenly angels not be jealous?

A bold red mem, a bright yellow nun, a cute blue tzadik...

These are glimmers of divine radiance. No, these are none other than the infinite light itself – so very infinite, that it permits itself to be condensed and compressed into twenty two distinct colored shapes with distinctive twists and turns... and still remain infinite.

Goodnight, my son.

Sleep peacefully, son of Israel.

Rest well and gather strength, for you have the Alef-bet to learn and eternal life ahead of you.