It is not surprising that the sound one makes to invoke and/or represent silence in almost all cultures is, "Shhhh." The Hebrew word for "silence," Sh'tikah, begins with the Hebrew letter Shin and is, itself, pronounced, "shhhh." Parenthetically, the letter Shin can symbolize either Good or Evil, depending upon which of its branches is topped by a daglesh (black dot). When the daglesh is over the extreme right branch of the letter, it symbolizes "good," is pronounced Shin and looks as follows:
On the other hand, when the daglesh is over the extreme left branch of the letter, it represents "evil," is pronounced (quite literally) Sin, and is written this way:
Probably for this reason, the letter Shin (and, therefore, the Hebrew word for "silence") is Kabbalistically associated with the three columns of the Ten Sefirot -- right, left and center. The left branch is associated with the Left Column of the Sefirot representing darkness (i.e., evil); the right branch is associated with the Right Column, representing light (i.e., good); and the middle branch is associated with the Center Column, representing an integration of the two sides:
"There the hand of Yahweh came on me. I looked; a stormy wind blew from the north, a great cloud with light around it, a fire from which flashes of lightning darted, and in the center a sheen like bronze at the heart of the fire....And above [it] was something that looked like a sapphire; it was shaped like a throne and high up on this throne was a being that looked like a man." (Ezekiel 1:4-28)
Come and see: silence is the mystical tool, the divine technology whereby we who enter it can, like Ezekiel, transform Fire into the Glory of God, seated on his Heavenly Throne. But, like King Eglon, we must first send away all who are with us in order to receive His secret message.
"Twenty-two [Hebrew] letters: He ordained them, He hewed them, He combined them, He weighed them, He interchanged them. And He created with them the whole creation and everything to be created in the future." (Sepher Yetzirah 2:2)
Before considering the Kabbalistic subtexts in each of the twenty-five passages of the Old Testament where the word "silence" appears, I want to discuss the mystical meanings of the Hebrew letters comprising the Hebrew word itself, which transliterated into English would be Sh'tikah, spelled: Shin-Tav-Yud-Kaf-Heh.
Now, immediately, we see that this word contains the first two Hebrew letters of the Tetragrammaton, Yud-Heh-Vauv-Heh, in exactly the correct order, thus telling us that God Himself is to be found within Silence. Moreover, the Gematria (numerical value) of Sh'tikah is 820, as follows:
Sh'tikah = Shin (300) + Tav (400) + Yud (10) + Kaf (100) + Heh (5) + Total Number of Letters (5) = 820
Significantly, the Hebrew word Shamati ("I-Have-Heard"), although spelled differently, has exactly the same Gematria as Sh'tikah ("Silence"), which is 820. Thus, as we have said before, and as shown by the Holy Hebrew letters themselves, "Out of silence comes hearing." Significantly, two other Hebrew words have the Gematria of 820; they are:
This comes to tell us that "silence," at its deepest meaning, begins and ends with God -- first in His transcendent aspect of "Divine Power," but finally with the immanent aspect of His "Holy Sprit" -- and, by thus transforming God through our silence, we achieve, within ourselves, "perfection" and "holiness," at the very center of which (resting on the fulcrum of silence, as it were) is the Divine gift of partnering with God in the metaphysical re-creation of the world. In the words of the Ba'al Shem Tov:
"For he is hallowed and become another man and is worthy to create and is become like the Holy One, blessed be He, when He created the world." (Ba'al Shem Tov, "Instructions in Intercourse with God," trans. by Martin Buber in Hasidism and Modern Man, Horizon Press, 1958, p. 185)
It is here that Silence becomes so intimately associated with the Neo-Sabbatian practice of what we call, "Repairing the Face of God"; that is, restoring Him to the Unity from which He fell through the act of creation, or what Rabbi Isaac Luria has called Shevirit HaKelim, or "Shattering of the Vessels." Only in Silence -- as the twenty-five references to it in the Old Testament will show -- can we realize the words of the Prophet: "On the day the Lord shall be One and his name One, on that day the Lord shall be King over all the earth." (Zechariah 14:9)