I read here that in Kabbalistic tradition the four pronged shin (such as that on the tefillin) was once part of the Hebrew Alphabet but was lost, but I was not able to find a source for this tradition. Does anyone here know the source of this tradition?

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    I read somewhere that the 4 pronged shin is actually the outline of the stone. I.e., on the luchot, 4 prongs were etched into the stone leaving 4 holes. But, when looking at the stone, you have 3 solid parts of stone. If you believe that as the origin, you can understand that when the luchot were lost, so was the 4-pronged shin. – DanF Nov 13 '17 at 22:24
  • I read about that too... but one is not connected to the other. I'm looking specifically for this kabbalistic tradition. – Bach Nov 14 '17 at 1:22
  • related judaism.stackexchange.com/a/10304/759 – Double AA Nov 14 '17 at 1:32
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    Paulist Press, the publishers and perhaps the translators of the book you link to are a Catholic publishing house. Looking at the footnotes on the page and how they explain Da'at reveals that they don't know what they are talking about. Da'at is the union of two types of intellect. Emotion (Middot) has nothing to do with it. That means, at best, it is a pretty loose translation of the Tchernobler Rebbe's texts. More likely, it is not faithful at all. The footnotes are likely the opinion of the translator only. – Yaacov Deane Nov 14 '17 at 19:01

I found the source for this kabbalistic tradition in the Magen David of the Radbaz. Basically he's using the kabbalistic concept of שמיטין to explain the anomaly of the shin. The idea in short is, that in a previous shemitta (7,000 years) the shin had four prongs, but in the current shemitta it was lost and the shin only has three. According to him that is the reason were missing so many good things in our world.

I'm not sure though if there is an older source for this idea, or if its the Radbaz's own theory. If you know of anything please post as an answer.

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