The Rule of Colel

The cabalistic rule of 'colel' states that one digit can be added to, or subtracted from, the gematria value of a word without affecting its value. This seems to modern ears to be a cheat, however the cabalists explained the rule by pointing out that for them 'One' is not a number - the Monad symbolises the Divinity and can come and go as 'He' pleases, adding nothing and taking nothing away. Shakespeare refers to this concept in his Sonnets, when he writes, "Among a number one is reckon'd none."(1) The word 'colel' seems to derive from the Hebrew verb, 'KLL' - to make perfect or whole.

The rule of colel was described by Moses Cordovero in Pardes Rimmonim written in 1549 (later published in Cracow in 1592). A more modern reference to the rule is found in John Michell's City of Revelation (Garnstone Press, London, 1972, p. 7)

Despite this 'rule', I would only invoke colel as a side-note in any more precise textual analysis.

 

 
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Notes
1) Sonnet 136, line 8.

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