The Lamed Vav are two letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Numerically, they represent 36, which, of course, 2 times the number 18. 18 is the number for “Chai” (Life). So Lamed-Vav is actually a double life. The Lamed (which is the crooked character on the right) indicates the outer-life of a Lamed-Vav, bent by the sorrows and trials of life, scarred and mis-shapen. The Vav represents the inner life – straight, upright, righteous, beautiful. It is the extraordinary that is hidden within the ordinary.
‘The Double Life‘
This program was awarded the Grand Prix Marulic 2008 for best Documentary …
The judges said:
The feature revisits the Jewish belief in the existence of thirty-six beings—the lamed vav tzaddikim—without whom the world would be much more troubled. The author-observer asks rabbis, mystics and others who these 36 beings are and what we can learn from them. She also finds a photographer who claims to have photographed the 36, and actually describes some of his snapshots. But the author-observer is also engaged in the search of those mysterious beings herself. Her reflections are like mini-poems on the mystery hidden in every one of us. ‘The Double Life’ impressed the jury as a beautifully-made radio feature on an unusual, fascinating subject, which was as informative as it was intriguing and evocative.
Thirty-six righteous beings, the lamed vav tzaddikim, keep the world turning, according to Jewish tradition. If they didn’t exist there would be greater strife in the world than there already is, yet we don’t even know who they are.
Radio producer Natalie Kestecher speaks to rabbis, mystics, scholars, and to photographer Todd Weinstein (see gallery) about the idea and, while it appears that it can be interpreted in a multitude of ways, Natalie finds that she is seeing these beings in the most unlikely places.
Sound engineer: Russell Stapleton
Producer and writer: Natalie Kestecher
The 36 Unknown: an exhibition by Todd Weinstein
View the image gallery
The Hunab Ku depicts movement and energy -the principle of life itself- in a balance design reminiscent of the Eastern yin-yang symbol. Hunab Ku combine in a sacred marriage of male and female, body and spirit, conscious and unconscious. The two are made one. When we enter into the symmetry of the Hunab Ku, we feel the same awareness of wholeness. ³As above, so below.² Each side of the Hunab Ku contains the seed and the essence of the other side. Hunab means “one state of being” and Ku means “God” Looking at the image, we know that we are at one with “The source”