You might know that the design on Ed’s portal of truth is the Tree
of Sephiroth. What you might not know is that it’s actually two
trees. The Sephiroth are the ten virtues of God as described by
Jewish mystics, and eight of them appear twice on Ed’s door. What
about the other two, you ask? Well, the first Sephiroth, Cheter, is only shown once, at the top of the door.
The other Sephiroth* are then placed along the “branches” of the tree
and then again at the roots, branching out from the tenth Sephiroth, Malchuth
The first Sephiroth is missing from these roots, but there are still ten branches. Instead of showing the first one again, the fourth Sephiroth, Chesed, is shown twice on our left side of the door. I say our left because we are looking at it face on, but Edward is usually shown standing in front of it with the multiple Chesed on his right.
Now why does it matter which side the Chesed are on? Because Chesed, which means heavenly kindness or mercy, is symbolized by the right hand.
The right hand which Truth takes in exchange for Al’s soul, which Winry replaces at least twice, which Al sacrifices himself for in order to save Ed’s life, is represented three times on Ed’s door of truth. Ed’s right hand symbolizes the loving kindness shown between himself and his family, for whom he sacrifices his gate, which he claims not to need when he has the love and kindness of the people around him.
And that’s what I love about Ed’s final visit to the portal of Truth. It ties up so many of the messages about human bonding in the manga/brotherhood - that we form communities in order to survive, that our hope and trust in one another is our greatest strength - and especially since it’s shown directly after the Dwarf in the Flask’s final conversation with Truth, we see how different Ed and the father homunculus are. Instead of destroying others to build himself up, Ed sacrifices parts of himself to serve the people he loves. Because when you (to paraphrase Jesus) love your neighbor as yourself, their losses are your losses, and their victories yours. And if every human being made that choice, the things we could achieve together would be limitless.
Watching Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is an entire trainwreck of emotion for me. But after Mustang’s entire task force gets transferred and Hawkeye being forced to work for stupid Fuhrer King Bradley and Mustang is sitting there at his desk naming off the chess pieces:
HE CALLS RIZA HIS QUEEN.
I HAVE NEVER SHIPPED TWO CHARACTERS SO HARD IN MY LIFE.