Alef is the name of the first letter of the alefato, or, what is the same, the first of the consonants in the Hebrew alphabet. It is represented with the graphic sign “א” and, according to the Royal Academy of Language, in Spanish it should be written and pronounced “álef”.
Álef is also the first letter of the Persian alphabet, just as álef (or alif) is the first letter of the Arabic alphabet.
As Aleph is also known to Codex Sinaiticus, a manuscript of the Bible which was written around the fourth century after Christ.
The origin of the letter alef is recorded in the Bronze Age, about a thousand years before Christ, in the protocannial alphabet, which is the furthest antecedent of our current alphabet. Initially, alef was a hieroglyph representing an ox, and from there it went to the Phoenician alphabet (‘alp), Greek (A), Cyrillic (A) and Latin (A). In fact, if we invert a capital A, we can still recognize the head of an ox and its horns.
Álef in Mathematics
In Mathematics, alef is the graphic sign, corresponding to the Hebrew letter א, used by Georg Cantor in the formulation of his set theory to represent the cardinality of infinite numbers, that is, to order the transfinite numbers and thus differentiate the different infinity sizes. In this regard, for example, álef zero would be the cardinal number of the set of integers; It is the largest of the finite cardinal numbers and the smallest of the transfinite cardinal numbers.
Álef in Literature
As “The Aleph” is titled a story by the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, like the book where it appears collected. Borges describes the Aleph as “a small iridescent sphere of almost unbearable brilliance” diameter would be “two or three centimeters, but all space was there undiminished”. According to Borges, the Aleph is the mythical point of the universe where all acts, all times (present, past and future), occupy “the same point, without overlapping and without transparency.” From which it follows that the Aleph represents, as in Mathematics, the infinite and, by extension, the universe.
Aleph is also the title of a novel by Paulo Coelho, which derives from a mystical interpretation of Jorge Luis Borges’s story.