Gematria: The Essence of a Name ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of mysticism in Hebrew Gematria is dedicated in the loving memory of Mrs. Ethel Channah Sakash Belk, my loving momma, may she rest in peace.

In Haggar we have the desire to be holy like Yitzchok her husband, Avraham's son, yet in Katurah we actually have holiness. She (Haggar) even shared the same Gematria, 208, as Yitzchok, the holy sacrifice, (see blue above). As discussed in the article, "Making A Visible Change," Haggar was so close to righteousness, yet so far. Haggar was touched by righteousness more in an exterior sense. According to Genesis 21:14, "She {Haggar} went {away from Avraham's place of residing} and lost her way {strayed} in the wilderness of Beer Shevah."

To substantiate that this is more of an ideology, the word Vah Say Lek meaning 'and she went,' "implies that she knew her destination" according to Lifshuto Shel Rashi. Beer Mayim Chauim points to the fact that "Later when she speaks to the angel she does not ask for direction." Also her complaint was not that she was lost but that the lad would die without water. This could mean that the well that they anticipated to receive water from was dry. This point is supported by the fact that Avraham gave them just a skin of water which is a very limited amount. It would be certain death for them if no other source were within the range of that skin of water.

So the point is clear that Haggar lost her way ideologically! G-d forbid she returned to the idolatry of her past. She for a time forsook Judaism then returned. Now we know that Haggar returned, that she did shuvah, because Avraham took her as his wife at Hashem's direction. Avraham also gave her a new name, knowing that changing one's name also cancels one's doom. The Name Avraham chose was in accordance with her conduct according to the Midrash. "She had secluded herself from other men during the {38} years that she was separated from Avraham." Therefore Avraham gave her the name Katurah which comes from the basic root Kah Tar meaning 'to shut in, enclose', which is what Katurah did. An additional meaning is of the same basic root, Ke Tayr, meaning incense. The Midrash says, "Her deeds were as sweet as incense."

The Gematria for Katurah, 320, is the same Gematria as Vi Aw Shoo Vah, meaning "and I will return, (see purple at top)." Hashem looks compassionately upon the return of His children. Katurah was a converted child who returned to Hashem. How utterly great her reward and the reward of all who return! During this ten day period known as "The Ten Days of Repentance," it is the season of return. May we all do shuvah!

Avraham lived thirty-eight years after the death of Sarah, his first wife. Katurah was separated from Avraham for thirty-eight years. So thirty-eight are the years Avraham was separated from Sarah and Katurah from Avraham. Thirty-eight also represents Sarah's location, Vaw Oh Hel, meaning "in the tent," (see green at the top) The Midrash points to this when stating, "When Avraham married Katurah, he did not bring her to Sarah's tent. No woman besides Rivka entered that tent." Thirty-eight also represents the position that as Haggar she shared with Eisov, Yaakov's brother, who felt cheated, swindled, hurt and angry. Torah records that when Eisov spoke to his father Yitzchok after realizing that he had fallen short, that Yaakov had succeed in obtaining the blessing of the first born, "Eisov raised his voice and wept", Vah Yayv Chi, (see green at the top). This is undoubtedly how Haggar must have felt after Avraham, her husband, at the demand of Sarah expelled her and Yishmael from his area of residence with basically nothing. She also realized that she had fallen short. No doubt Haggar felt cheated, swindled, hurt and angry also. To be the wife of Avraham, G-d's servant, one minute and then to be destitute the next. What an awful feeling and situation for her.

Yet Haggar became the chaste, righteous Katurah, the one who determined "and I will return." She did not let her former failings dissuade her. She separated herself from the world so to speak and began walking the righteous path of return, SHUVAH! May Hashem help all of us to return to the path of Yiddishkeit as Katurah did!

If you would like to know more about the essence of your own name visit:

"What Is The Essence Of My Name?


Wishing you the best!

Dr. Akiva  G. Belk

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