January 27, 2022

Editor’s Note: Field of the Letter Vav

By Eden Pearlstein

Shay Arick, Mechanical Flower No. 2, dried flower and clock mechanism, 2021

The letter Vav, a simple vertical line, is the sixth letter in the Hebrew Aleph-Bet. Grammatically, the Vav functions as the word “and,” serving to connect ideas and entities to what lies beyond or outside themselves.

Biblically, the placement of the letter Vav before a verb can, in some cases, reverse the tense of the described action—transforming past into future and future into past. This Vav is known as the Vav haHipuch, the Vav that turns things upside down.

Like a bridge, the Vav brings distinct points into contact, yielding more complex constellations of relation. When seen in this light, the Vav becomes an instrument of both inclusion and inversion, expanding our frame of what is and what could be.

Like a frame, a field is a space both open and contained that supports meaningful observation and generative action—an area of open land, typically bordered by foliage or fences; a defined sphere of activity or interest; a range within which objects are visible from a certain viewpoint; the region in which a particular condition prevails.

The page, the screen, and the imagination are all fields of a sort: open, bounded spaces where communication and connection might occur, where new perspectives might emerge, where fences can be torn down, where one thing can be transformed into another.

From this vantage point, a Field of the Letter Vav might suggest a creative space in which one is invited to identify with others beyond themselves, and to travel in time—deeper into the present, back into the past, or forward into an imagined future.

The pieces collected in this Folio are gathered from the fields of poetry, fiction, memoir, prayer. Each work draws and traverses a line from one discrete point to another, pushing at the edges of our awareness.

This is the Field of the Letter Vav: an opening to encounter, an invitation to alignment, an opportunity to seek and find ourselves—anew.

The title Field of the Letter Vav is drawn from Alicia Jo Rabins’s poem “My Green Shul,” included in this collection. 

Eden Pearlstein is a poet, performer, editor, and educator. Since 2003, he has recorded and released numerous albums of original music with K Records and Chant Records, toured internationally, and directed multiple music videos (with Darshan, ePRHYME, and Ruthless Cosmopolitans). Over the last decade, Eden has developed, cowritten, and edited upwards of forty books focused primarily on contemporary Jewish spirituality, many of which have been translated into multiple languages. Eden is the author of the chapbook In/Flux: on influence, inspiration, transmission, and transformation, and has two Master’s Degrees from the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), in Jewish Philosophy and Experiential Jewish Education.