Mazal Tov! We just concluded the penultimate (that’s a fancy word for second-to-last) Parsha in the Torah, Parshas Ha’azinu. It’s an incredible Parsha with incredible lessons. No matter what, through the most difficult and challenging times, the Shirah is a message of love – love of HaShem to his beloved people, the Jewish nation.
Indeed, Ha’azinu is a short Parsha, with only 52 Pesukim. Our Ba’alei Mesorah (ancient Torah Sages) had the custom to tell us one Hebrew word or phrase, which, when added up, would remind us how many Pesukim there are in the Parsha. That special word chosen for Parshas Ha’azinu are the letters כלב – which can also be read KiLev – “like a heart.” So, Parshas Ha’azinu is “like a heart,” signifying the deep love of HaShem.
And there’s even more!
The entire Shirah (and Parsha) of Ha’azinu is written in one chapter – chapter 32 of Devarim. Now, add up the letters of the Hebrew word for “heart, Lev (לב), and you’ll get… 32!
Ask anyone, even a young child, to draw a heart, and it will probably look something like this ♥. The truth is that a real heart hardly looks like that!
This heart shape (♥) has become a universal graphic symbol used to express emotions – especially the emotion of love and affection.
So, if it doesn’t resemble a real heart, who made this shape up in the first place?
People come up with all types of guesses, but it remains a mystery. Some say this heart symbol goes at least as far back as the 1400s, when it appeared on European playing cards, and it may even be older than that. The shape is pretty much a mystery, though. There are many other theories, but nobody knows for sure.
Get ready now for a wonderful ancient Jewish theory, that goes back even before the 1400’s and explains the shape!
Long ago, in the 1200’s, a great Kabbalist (someone who delved into the secrets of the Torah), by the name of Rabbi Avraham Abulafia, shared the most interesting insight into the Hebrew word for heart, לב.
Two (ב=2) Lamed’s (ל) face-to-face.
Now, look carefully at this “heart” jewelry and you’ll notice the two letter Lameds, facing each other – one flipped over. Do you see it? Look carefully.
So, it’s not to say that this symbol looks like a real heart, rather it symbolizes the Hebrew word for heart – לב.
Do you ♥ that idea? We do!
If you want to tell your mother you love her (and we highly recommend it), you may write something like this:
I ♥ Mom;
Or in Israel it would be:
אני ♥ אמא
Who came up with this idea?
It all goes back, to the year 1977, when a Jewish graphic designer named Milton Glaser, was asked to come up with a logo for a New York State government publicity campaign. He thought of the “I ♥ NY” logo in the taxi on his way over to his first meeting with the campaign organizers.
Everybody ♥ his idea and it caught on like wildfire! T-shirts, buttons, coffee mugs and jewelry and more, were made with the NY city logo, which earned New York city millions of dollars in profits and amazing publicity.
Since Mr. Glaser ♥ NY so much, he gave away his idea for free to the city and state of New York! BTW: If he had only sold the idea, Mr. Glaser would have been the wealthiest graphic designer in the world!
After the September 11 Terrorist attacks, the logo has become even more of a symbol, creating unity between the public. Mr. Glaser had even designed a modified version saying, “I ♥ NY More than Ever,” in response to the attacks. The heart had a little black spot to symbolize the attack on the World Trade Center.