– The Hebrew words for groom and bride — chassan and kallah — both feature the number 50. The word “chassan” ends with the letter “nun” whose numerical equivalent is 50. Similarly, the equivalent of the first two letters of the word “kallah” — kaf and lamed — when combined, equal 50.
The letter “nun” has two forms. When it appears at the end of a word, it is represented by a long line extending beyond the ruled lines. In the bent “nun” (the form used when the “nun” appears at the beginning or in the middle of a word) that extra portion is curved upward and contained between the lines.
The mystery of the 50 gates
The Tanya explains that each letter of the Hebrew alphabet represents a different channel of Divine energy. The letter’s form and shape reveal the pattern of the flow of the life force which is revealed through this letter. In this case, the two shapes of the letter “nun” represent two different expressions of one aspect of Divine energy:
1. The final “nun,” stretching below the line, represents the descent of G‑dly energy to the lowest bevels in order to elevate the G‑dly sparks in that realm. Similarly, a “chassan” is involved in descent, to the degree where our Sages explain that the term “chassan” itself is derived from the phrase “Choos Darga”—dropping down a level. To emphasize this relation, the word “chassan” ends with a final “nun.”
2. The bent “nun” taps the same level of G‑dly energy as the final “nun.” However, it represents a different phase of service, the ascent from below to above. To communicate this change of direction, the portion of the “nun” which extended below the line is curved upward, above the line. This movement is parallel to the service of a “kallah,” who similarly is involved in a process of self-elevation.
…On one hand, 50 represents a level of spirituality which transcends the world, as our Sages explained “Fifty gates of understanding were created in the world.” Yet even Moshe Rabbeinu, the most refined of all men, grasped only 49, the 50th gate being totally beyond human comprehension.
Yet, this 50th level is also found in the world; like the final “nun” explained before, its energy is drawn down into the lowest levels with the intention of elevating them and bringing them up to its transcendent height.
11 verses, 11 spices and number 50
This explanation of the qualities of the “nun” sheds light on the fact that there are 11 verses in the Torah which begin with a “nun” and end with a “nun.”
The number 11 is of great significance. Holy matters are connected with the number 10. The number 11 represents the forces of evil. Therefore, 11 spices were included in the incense offering in the Temple in order to elevate and refine the forces of evil. The 11 verses in the Torah which begin with a “nun” and end with a “nun” serve a similar purpose. The number 50, the “nun,” signifies the process of reaching down to the lowest levels and lifting them up to the highest levels.
… The number 50 represents taking the lowest aspects of the world and bringing them into connection with the Ayn Sof (the Infinite One). This concept is directly related to a wedding. There, the union of a man and a woman (and the child their union produces) reveals the power of the Ayn Sof in the world.
Based on the Rebbe’s talk on the 14th of Kislev, 5739 (1978).