Thursday, June 5, 2014

#222 - SECOND in Charge

As I am beginning this post, there are still some Jews observing the final hours of the second day of Shavuot, celebrated as Yom Tov Sheni, "Second day of the holiday" (although from the Torah, it is only one day, as is observed in Israel) in the western part of the United States; while here in Israel it has already been over 30 hours since the conclusion of the holiday of Shavuot as one day.  It is kind of ironic when it comes to Shavuot, because at least according to Rabbi Yose in Tractate Shabbat of the Talmud, Matan Torah (Giving of the Torah) took place on the seventh of Sivan, the date of the second day of Shavuot which is observed specifically outside of Israel; while in Israel, it is back to the work week.

The reason that there is a difference of opinion as to the exact date that the Torah was given - the sixth of seventh of Sivan, is because the Torah itself does not directly specify the date, unlike with all of the other Jewish holidays.  On a practical level, Shavuot is observed on the 50th day from the beginning of the counting of the Omer, which is the name given to the barley meal offering that took place on the 16th of Nissan, the second day of Passover; and while today in our fixed Jewish calendar, the 50th day is always the 6th of Sivan, it wasn't necessarily always like that in earlier times when the new Jewish month was declared based on the sighting of the new moon, when there were times that both the months of Nissan and Iyar could have 30 days, making the 5th of Sivan as the date of the observance of Shavuot, or these two months could have 29 days, making the 7th of Sivan as the date of the observance of Shavuot.

And so, the question can be asked - Do we celebrate Shavuot strictly as an agricultural type of holiday, since after all, the observance of the date is based solely on when the Omer was offered, perhaps in thanks to Hashem for the bounty that He has provided us, and after all, in the times of the Temple, two special wheat loaves of bread, one of the few exceptions of Chametz (leaven) being offered in the Temple, was offered on this holiday; or, do we celebrate this holiday celebrating our receiving of the Torah?

In fact, in the holiday Shemoneh Esrei prayer, we mention Shavuot as Yom Matan Torateinu "The day of the Giving of our Torah"; and so, it would seem that this is the reason, or at least one of the reasons, why we celebrate this holiday.  However, if this is so, why don't we always celebrate this holiday on the exact date that the Torah was given, as any other event is celebrated on a date of the calendar; but rather, being based on the date of the 16th of Nissan when the Omer was offered?  And perhaps the most burning question is, despite on when we actually observe this holiday, if the Torah is the raison d'etre of the world's existance, why didn't the Torah mention the exact day that the momentous occasion of the giving of the Torah took place?

The answer begins with why the Torah did not specify the exact date of Matan Torah.  You see, while there is a specific day in the calendar that we observe this momentous occasion, we are in fact bidden to feel that on each and every day of our lives, that it is as if we are learning Torah anew, as if we were given the Torah on that day.  For certainly, it is very easy to feel that excitement about Torah learning, even as we stay up all Shavuot night to show our enthusiasm for Torah learning.  However, it is an even greater challenge to maintain that momentum throughout the year in terms of both learning Torah, and feeling excited about it, even if it is during the waking hours when we have nothing else to do.  In fact, the Torah doesn't even wait until the event of Matan Torah to teach us this lesson, but rather, from Rosh Chodesh Sivan, the beginning of this month when the Jews arrived at Mt. Sinai - BaChodesh HaShlishi "On the third month"...BaYom HaZeh "On this day" (Exodus 19:1), and as Rashi explains, each and every day, we are supposed to feel as if the Torah is new to us.  For certainly, the Jews were all excited about receiving the Torah in the days preceeding the momentous event, and so similarly, we are supposed to feel the same way, especially when we recite the Birchot HaTorah, the daily morning blessings for learning Torah, thanking Hashem for giving us the greatest eternal gift.

As pointed out to us, we offer the Omer offering, which consisted of barley, which is basically animal's food, symbolizing the fact that when we left Egypt, we were in a rather low spiritual level, hardly differentiating us from animals.  However, over the course of seven weeks, lifting ourselves up from the 49 levels of impurity to the 49 levels of purity, it was then and only then that we were able, ready, and worthy of receiving the Torah, and so, it is on this holiday that the meal offering, this time consisting of wheat, was offered, for this is a much more refined type of grain, eaten exclusively by people, and not animals.

Having mentioned this, while the holiday of Pesach (Passover) is certainly a very important holiday, in fact, so much so, that this is the only time in the entire year that it is forbidden to eat Chametz, which symbolizes the evil trait of haughtiness, making oneself to be high above others, just as the yeast that rises making the final product being Chametz (believe it or not, Matza can also be Chametz if one isn't careful about its production that is so crucial for Passover); nevertheless, it is in fact only a preparation for Shavuot.  For while it is true that Hashem took us out of Egypt not only as freedom from our physical slavery, but also from spiritual slavery for in fact, there were Jews who even worshipped idols in Egypt; the ultimate purpose of this was for us to receive and observe the Torah.

And now, I am going to get to the reason why I have mentioned the above in this post.  You see, among all the Jewish holidays, there are three that are classified as the Shalosh Regalim "Three Pilgrimate Festivals" - Pesach, Shavuot, and Succot.  And so while both in this list and in history, Pesach is the first holiday, consisting of seven (or eight days if outside of Israel) days, full of Mitzvot that Hashem commanded us even before Matan Torah,  it is Shavuot that is by far the more important holiday.  This may sound ironic, but as we see with many Jews who aren't all too observant, while they get together as family and all to have some sort of Seder on the first (or two nights) night of Passover, they don't celebrate Shavuot, which most unfortunately, many if not most of these type of Jews don't know anything about, the day that celebrates THE WHOLE REASON FOR OUR EXISTANCE AND THE EXISTANCE OF THIS WORLD!  And as detailed in the Gemara as to how Moses asked Hashem to give the Jews one more day to prepare themselves for the holy momentous occasion, the Giving of the Torah took place on the 7th of Sivan, which as a TWO day holiday observed outside of Israel, is the SECOND day of the SECOND of the three pilgrimage holidays, and of the Ten Commandments, Hashem directly spoke the first TWO Mitzvot of these commandments (Note: There are actually 14 Mitzvot in the "Ten Commandments" which should actually be translated from the Hebrew as "Ten Statements"), while Moses told them the rest, being that the Jews were too frightened from hearing Hashem's voice, which caused them to die fainting, but were revived with the dew that will be used for the resurrection of the dead in the future.

My friends, this is one instant in which it is the SECOND that is MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE FIRST.  In fact, this is nothing new.  You see, the Torah, which begins with the Torah She'B'Ketav (Written Torah) or Tanach (Jewish Bible), begins with the letter BEIT, the SECOND letter of the Aleph-Beit, rather than the Aleph, the first letter.  The truth is that this is not to say that the letter Beit is more important than the letter Aleph, because in fact, the letter Aleph represents the Alufo Shel Olam "Chief of the World", and it is the first letter of the Aseret HaDibrot (The Ten Commandments); but rather, the SECOND letter of the Aleph Beit serves a unique function as the first letter of the Torah, beginning with the word Bereishit "In the beginning".

For while it is Hashem Who created the world, He created the world for others, a world which is full of doubles or plurality - heaven and earth, light and darkness, male and female, etc.  And it is specifically in this world, a world that hides the spirituality, giving the impression to many that this is a world for us having pleasure in it, as if this were to be the main thing, that we are to observe the Torah.  For some on a practical level, especially for observant Jews, it is a matter of balancing one's time, energies and resources between the constraints of having to pray and work, learning some Torah and spending time with family.  However, even in our physical activities, we can devote our minds to the Torah and spirituality, and at times, even some of our physical activiites can be Mitzvot, not just as preparations for us to have the energy to serve Hashem, but because we are bidden to eat, such as eating special Shabbat and holiday meals, or eating Matza as a special Mitzva on the Seder night.   And so, while in fact, the Aleph may be even a more important letter than the Beit, it is the letter Beit that teaches us, even as the name of this letter implies as Bayit (similar to Beit), as a home, as this world is our present home for as long as we live in our physical bodies, in which to observe Hashem's Mitzvot, preparing us for our eternal home.

To note, while many will talk excitedly about the Jews being the only nation to willingly accept the Torah, the truth is that this refers only to the Torah She'B'Ketav.  However, it is the SECOND of the two parts of the Torah - the Torah She'B'Al Peh (Oral Torah) which is in the long run not only much more in content, but ultimately the most studied one by the big Torah scholars, and ultimately even more important than the Chumash or Tanach which makes up the Written Torah, because it is only through this Oral Torah that we learn the Halachot (Laws) of HOW to follow Hashem, which is the ONLY way that one can be and live as a proper observant Jew.  It was this SECOND and MORE IMPORTANT part of the Torah that the Jews were not ready to accept, and this is why Hashem threatened them with being crushed by the Mt. Sinai mountain, which forced the Jews to accept this part of the Torah.  It was only in the Purim story after seeing how Hashem saved us from the anti-Semitic nations that the Jews openly and willingly accepted the Oral Torah, and the proof of this is that Purim, which was enacted by the Sages of the time, a holiday not mentioned in the Chumash, was willing accepted by the Jewish people.

And as for the first mention of Moses, the Lawgiver of the Torah from Hashem to the Jewish people - his name is first mentioned in the SECOND Aliyah/Chapter of Sefer Shemot (Exodus), the SECOND book of the Torah.  And while on the subject of names as related to the concept of being the second, my namesake Shimon, the name of the SECOND son of Jacob and Leah, is mentioned as the SECOND word of the SECOND verse of the SECOND book of the Torah; as well as the SECOND word of the SECOND verse of the SECOND Aliyah of the SECOND Parsha (Va'era) of the SECOND book of the Torah. Coincidence?  Well, take a look at the beginning of Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) where Moses is the very first word, as it mentions that Moses received the Torah from Mt. Sinai.  But then the SECOND Mishna begins with the name of Shimon, that is Shimon HaTzadik (the righteous one), one of the few righteous Cohanim Gedolim (High Priests) in the time of the SECOND Temple, who was also among the transmitters of the Oral Torah, the SECOND part of the Torah.  And along these lines, Shimon is also the name of the author of the teachings of the Zohar, known either Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai or Rashbi as the acronym, who in fact was visited by Moses in being taught secrets of the Torah not ever taught in this world beforehand.

And by the way, as per my Jewish birthdate -the first of the SECOND month (1 Iyar)- mentioned TWICE in the first Aliyah of Parshat/Sefer Bamidbar (Numbers), my name Shimon is the SECOND word of the SECOND paragraph (as it appears in the Sefer Torah) of the SECOND Aliyah of this Parsha whose name Bamidbar consists of the letter BEIT=2 appearing TWICE in this word, including the first letter.  And then we see in the SECOND chapter of this Book of Numbers that in the arraingement of the 12 Tribes of Israel as four groups of three each in each of the four directions of the Israelite camp, the Tribe of Shimon is mentioned as the SECOND Tribe of the SECOND grouping of three tribes.

Then we see in the Book of Joshua, the first book of the Nevi'im (Prophets) section of the Tanach that of the lotteries of different sections of the Land of Israel for the Tribes, which wasn't apportioned necessarily according to birth of the ancestors of the tribes, but rather had two sets of lotteries - one for each of five tribes (Reuben, Gad, Judah, Ephraim, and Manasseh), and the other for the seven other tribes.  Of the set of the latter ones, the Tribe of Benjamin - whose name starts with the letter BEIT - had first pick, and then it was Shimon which had the SECOND pick of the land lottery, for which the first city mentioned is Be'er Sheva, this name starting with the letter BEIT (Be'er) and the SECOND letter of the SECOND word (Sheva) of the name of this city is also a Beit/Veit  (Joshua 19:1-9).  And then in the beginning verses of the SECOND book (Shoftim or Judges) of the SECOND part of the Tanach (Jewish Bible) which is Nevi'im, the Tribe of Judah invites the Tribe of Shimon to help fight their enemies together.

And for those who are familiar with the Sefer called Chok L'Yisrael, which is composed of Torah learning consisting of Tanach, Mishna, Gemara, Zohar, Halacha, Mussar apportioned for daily study, in the portion for the SECOND day of the week of Parshat Va'era, the SECOND Parsha, of Sefer Shemot, the SECOND book, in the Mishna chapter (Shabbat Chapter 14), the very first word is Shemonah (eight) which is similar to the name Shimon, and the very end of this chapter states "Rabbi Shimon says "All Jews are princes (literally "sons of kings")"".  But perhaps the most amazing thing here is that in the Mussar (ethical instruction) section for the day, which is usually from one of the classical Mussar books such as Sefer Chasidim or Sha'arei Teshuva, this day's portion is from the Zohar (authored by this Rabbi Shimon in the Mishna who when mentioned without any title or father's name refers to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai), ONE OF THE FEW TIMES of the 324 daily portions (for each of the 54 Parshiyot for the first six days of the week) that the daily portion of Mussar is from the Zohar!

Now, to note a few other examples of the letter Beit taking charge of the stage, the first letter of the name of the first tractate of the Mishna - Berachot (Blessings), begins with a Beit.  And for the name of the Talmud that is most commonly studied, the Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud), the first two letters of the word Bavli is the same letter Beit/Veit (Beit and Veit are basically the same letter, both spelled the same way in the Sefer Torah, but the difference when the letters are spelled with vowels is that the Beit is spelled with a dot in the middle). Also, the first letter of the word Bechor (firstborn), which by the way has the same Gematria as the number of this post - 222 (when spelled without a Vav), is a Beit.  In fact, we see that even in English, the second letter B, which is based on the Hebrew letter Beit, also takes on special significance as the beginning of something, such as the first letter of the word BEGINNING, which is part of the translation of the first word Bereishit, though ironically, the Hebrew word for beginning is Reishit, while the letter Beit itself means, at least in this context, "in", as well as the word BIBLE, though the Hebrew equivalent word is either Sefer or Tanach, and the word BABY, which is the first stage of a person's life, noting that both words BIBLE and BABY consists of two of the letter B.

Another phenomenal thing, as it relates especially to this year, is that Pesach Sheni "SECOND Passover" fell out on the fourth day - the MIDDLE day of the week, of Parshat BeChukotai, the name of the Parsha starting with the BEIT=2, which in turn is the MIDDLE of three Parshiyot whose names all start with a Beit - Behar, BeChukotai, Bamidbar.  Hence, this is one illustration of three number twos in a row, as illustrated in the number 222, the number of this post.

Having said this, as per my previous post where I mentioned the concept of Pesach Sheni, mentioned in this very week's Parshat B'Ha'alotcha, which takes place a month after the original Pesach, for those who didn't or weren't able to offer the Pascal sacrifice earlier, it is called Sheni (Second), just as the second day of a Jewish holiday outside of Israel is called Yom Tov Sheni. For in fact, it gives a chance for those who missed out earlier in fulfilling a Mitzva a chance to do it this time.  For while with many if not most Mitzvot, once the Mitzva has passed, it is too late to be observed, this is one Mitzva that teaches us the lesson that even if one has spent some of his life not living a G-dly life, one can still repent and become a better person, a better Jew, despite one's past.  And why is this hinted specifically with reference to the holiday of Pesach?  As the name of this holiday implies, the verb Pasach is jumping over, for Hashem jumped over the houses of where the Jews were residing in Egypt and killed only the Egyptian firstborn.  Similarly, despite the fact that some Jews missed that point in time for one reason or another to offer the Pascal sacrifice, Hashem grants them another chance by jumping over time to do so, even though Pesach Sheni is just a designated day for the makeup sacrifice for the original day of Passover, the date the observes the Exodus that took place on that date.

Interesting.  Pesach Sheni "SECOND Passover" takes place in the midst of the SECOND month (Iyar). And speaking of SECOND, let us take a look at the beginning of Sefer Bamidar (Numbers), where Hashem tells Moses to count the Jewish people, this taking place (both the command and the beginning of the count), mentioning TWICE the date of the first of the SECOND month, of the SECOND year from the Exodus.  As related to myself, I was in fact born on this very date of the first of the second month, which is the 1st of Iyar (or Rosh Chodesh Iyar), but another fascinating connection of the number TWO with this date is the Gematria of this date as Aleph (the letter Aleph as the numerical value of One (1)) and Iyar (221), making the total Gematria of 222 (the number of this post).  And as also related to myself, it is in the context of this that the names of the leaders of the 12 Tribes (diving Joseph into his two sons Ephraim and Menashe, and excluding the Tribe of Levi) are mentioned, in which the SECOND tribe mentioned is Shimon, my namesake.

And at a later point in Jewish history, both Temples began to be built, according to some, on this very date of 1 Iyar.  And certainly as not mere coincidence, we see that the Temple in Hebrew is called BEIT HaMikdash "HOUSE of the holy place", most similar to the name of the SECOND letter of the Aleph Beit- BEIT - which began being built in the SECOND month of the Jewish calendar, and the Hebrew word for building - Binyan, begins with the letter Beit.  And on a personal note, the Gematria of my SECOND Hebrew name Matisyahu has the same Gematria as the phrase Beit HaMikdash (861).

And speaking of the Beit HaMikdash, we see in the Talmud (Berachot 58a) that (the Sephira) Hod, as mentioned in a verse, refers to the Beit HaMikdash.  You see, the word Hod is the Gematria of 15, and as per our discussion in this post about Pesach Sheni, while the makeup Passover sacrifice was first slaughtered in the afternoon of the 14th of Iyar, the date that is dubbed as Pesach Sheni, the eating of it actually took place on the night of the 15th of Iyar.  Moreover, as we continue post by post corresponding to the 49 Sephirot combinations, in this post, we are up to the 30th Sephira of Gevura She'B'Hod, which falls out in our present calendar on the 15th of Iyar, in the midst of the week of the Sephira of HOD=15 (14th through the 20th of Iyar).  And in terms of the Aleph Beit, the letters Dalet, Hei, and Vav, making up the word Hod, are the SECOND set of three letters.  And as we see, the Mispar Katan "Small Number" of each three letters each comes out to six, for Aleph-Beit-Gimel as 1+2+3=6, Dalet-Hei-Vav as 4+5+6=15 and in turn, 15 as 1+5=6, and so on, just as the number of this post - 222, also add up to six as 2+2+2=6.

In fact, the number 222 reminds me of a Midrash where the holy day of Shabbat once complained to Hashem as being lonely, asking Him "All the other days of the week have a partner - Day One and Day Two, Day Three and Day Four, Day Five and Day Six.  However, who is my partner?"  Hashem answered the holy day of Shabbat saying that the Jewish people is its partner.

And so yes.  We live in a world in which the work week, represented by the first six days of the week (though ironically, at least in the States, a good percentage of the people don't work on Sunday, which is the first day of the week), seem to be in control.  After all, what we do for work seems to have a major influence on the financial lifestyle of one's family.  However, it is within this framework that we are supposed to infuse our time with spirituality, which for Jews, means Torah and Mitzvot, realizing that though there may be some that will look on one solely based on his or her financial standing, this world serves a purpose only as place to serve Hashem, and it is only working for a living that helps us achieve this goal, rather than the other way around as observing a few laws as a "side thing", rather than being the main focus of our lives.

Thus, when we follow the Torah in this world of complex paradoxes that at times challenge our faith, representing numerous pluarities, being subjected by the world with its DOUBLE standards being applied to Jews, such as the United Nations looking at Jewish Israel as being occupiers of land as though it belongs to others when it is clear from the Bible that many members profess to believe in but only what is convenient to them, that it in fact belongs to us, claiming how we poorly treat the "Palestinians" even though most ironically, this anti-religious Israeli government is busy attempting to show the world how kind we are to this sub-human enemies of ours by constantly providing them with food, medicines, and weapons; while on the other hand, ignoring the massive autrocities that some countries represented by the UN are commiting on others - it is then and only then that we can hope for Hashem to ultimately pay everyone according to what they really deserve, and set the standards straight - as to who is really first class citizens (the obervant ones among the Jewish people) and the second class citizens (the non-Jews who lived righteous lives), while everyone who lived wickedly won't even be second class citizens but will be eternally damned to hell.

Yes, being second can be a very good thing - especially if we live our lives as second to both Hashem and others, realizing that everyone else has something that is better than ourselves, thus helping us not to be haughty and think of ourselves as higher than others by putting them down, regardless of who is actually the greater one in spiritual or physical achievements.  For at the end, we are all public servants of Hashem, each one of us serving Him in our own personal level, circumstances, and talents.


8 Sivan, 5774

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

#221 - The Month of IYAR

This post will be dedicated to writing about my birthmonth Iyar; and as it turns out, the name of this month is the Gematria of 221, the number of this post.

To note, the present names of our Hebrew months weren't always in existance as month names; for as we see at least in the Chumash (Penteteuch), the months of the Jewish calendar are referred to as the first month, second month, etc.  However, later on in the Tanach (Jewish Bible), we see a few of the months being given specific names, but even at that, some of these names are no longer used as a different name is used today.

One such example is our present month Iyar.  In the Tanach, in the context of noting when the first Beit HaMikdash (Temple) was first begun to be built, this month is called the name Ziv (II Kings 6:1), which means brightness. This word is spelled with the letters Zayin and Vav, making up the Gematria of 13, noting that today is the 13th day of Iyar.  (While in other contexts, one might see this word as spelled with the letter Yud in the middle, the correct spelling is how it is spelled in the Tanach; just as the word Chodesh which means month may be found to be spelled with the letter Vav, but throughout the Tanach, it is spelled without a Vav).

Now, while the focus in this post is on the name of this month as Iyar, I do want to expound a bit on the name Ziv that is given to this month.  You see, all the months of the Jewish calendar have corresponding tribes and corresponding letters.  With this said, the month of Iyar's corresponding Tribe is Yissaschar, which is the tribe that learned Torah all the time while being supported by his brother Zevulun, the tribe whose corresponding month is the next month Sivan.  Now, the corresponding letters for these two months of Iyar and Sivan are Vav and Zayin, respectively.  Noting this, the word/name Ziv consists of these very two letters, except that the Zayin preceeds the Vav, just as Zevulun preceeds Yissaschar in the blessings of Jacob and Moses; and the reason for this is because the learning of Yissaschar all day is made possible only by the support of Zevulun, and so even though Zevulun was the younger brother, he is mentioned before his older brother Yissaschar in the tribal blessings.  And so, while in fact, learning Torah is the greatest of all Mitzvot and the most important thing in this world (not to put down doing good deeds for others, which have to be done at times even at the expense of Torah learning, but it is Torah learning that has the greatest spiritual value) and this month of Iyar's corresponding tribe is the one who learned Torah all day, we see with the Biblical name of this month as Ziv that its letters remind us of the value of the one who supports Torah learning who has in equal share in the Torah learning of the one whom he is supporting, as demonstrated by its two letters in which the Zayin whose corresponding tribe Zevulun, via the month of Sivan, comes before the Vav whose corresponding tribe is Yissaschar.

The truth is, there are two versions of how the month Iyar is spelled.  In certain contexts, the name Iyar is spelled with only one Yud, and while technically, it may make more sense in terms of pronounciation, it seems that the prevelant spelling is with two Yuds, which is followed in Hala cha as mentioned in Hilchot Gittin (Laws of Jewish divorce - Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer 126:23).  Accordingly, we see that in the conclusion of Chapter Six of Tehillim (Book of Psalms) - the first letters of the last four words Oyvai Yashuvu Yeivoshu Raga "My enemies will return ashamed in a moment" spell the word/name Iyar; noting that the letter Vav whose numerical value is six and the sixth letter is the corresponding letter of the month of Iyar.  And the other famous thing pertaining to the letters of the name of the month Iyar is that these letters are the first letters of the names Avraham-Yitzchak-Ya'akov-Rachel.

On this last point, there are a couple of questions that can be asked here: 1)What is the special connection between Iyar and the Avot (Patriarchs) along with Rachel, 2)What is the significance of Rachel of all the four Imahot (Matriarchs) being mentioned alongside with the Avot?

To answer this, we have to look at the spiritual accomplishments of these four, particular in terms of prayer. As is well known, the Avot - Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya'akov - instituted the Shacharit (morning), Mincha (afternoon), and Arvit (evening) prayers, respectively.  But perhaps what is not so known is that it was Rachel who composed the prayer for Rosh Chodesh, as we see that her name is spelled as the first letters of the first three words of the middle blessing of the Shemoneh Esrei Mussaf prayer for Rosh Chodesh - Rashei Chadashim L'Amcha  "New Moons to Your people have You given..."

Aside from prayer, we see a common theme with the prayer compositions of these four is that their prayers are based on a specific time, whether it is the time of day or night, or the time of the month.  And it is the month of Iyar that is especially connected with the aspect of time, because it is the only month in which we count the Sephirat HaOmer, the days starting following the first day of Pesach (Passover) until Shavuot (Pentecost), every single day of the month.

To note, the Gematria of these four names - Avraham, Yitzchak, Ya'akov, Rachel - is 876.  And noting the etymology of the name of this month, or rather, the NAMES of this month - the wording of Iyar is based on the word Ohr (light) and the word Ziv means brightness.  So as you can see, there is a direct connection between the two names of this month, as per the obvious connection between the concepts of light and brightness. This is nice, but what is the connection between the number 876 as related to the names whose first letters spell the month of Iyar and what I just wrote here?  You see, this relates to the holiday of Chanukah, which is called Chag HaUrim "Festival of Lights", as this holiday began as a direct result of the resumption of lighting the Menorah in the Beit HaMikdash (Temple).  Now, among the main Mitzvot that the Syrian Greeks banned the Jews from performing was the Mitzva of Chodesh, observance of the New Month, which was the sanctification of the New Moon in the determination as to which day Rosh Chodesh was to be declared.  And the reason why this was one of the Mitzvot that the foreign nation picked on was because they knew that the observance of the Jewish holidays as to the date of their observance was dependent on this determination of Rosh Chodesh whether it would be declared on the 30th or 31st day of the previous month based on the sighting of the New Moon.  And as we see, Chanuka is the only holiday during which in the midst of it is Rosh Chodesh, which in our present calendar, is only one of two times in the year in which Rosh Chodesh (Tevet) can be either one or two days, which makes the month of Kislev either 29 or 30 days, respectively, reminding us of how Rosh Chodesh used to be determined.

Oh, for the above Gematria of 876, there are three fascinating things to write about this:

1)It is a composite of two numbers - 861, which is the Gematria of the name of Matisyahu, the one who started the revolution of the Jews fighting the Syrian Greeks which led to the holiday of Chanuka, as well as the Gematria of "Beit HaMikdash" in which religious freedom was restored with the lighting of the Menorah; and 15, which is the Gematria of the name of the Sephira - Hod, which we see corresponds to the Beit HaMikdash (Talmud Berachot 58a), as well as its corresponding holiday Chanuka, as mentioned in the writings of the Vilna Gaon.

2)It is a composite of the Gematria of two of the names of the tribes - Yissachar (830) whose corresponding month is our month Iyar, and Levi (46).  It is these two tribes who were most devoted to Torah learning

3)We can dissect this number as three distinct numbers.  The number eight (8) signifies the eight days of Chanuka, and the last two numbers seven (7) and six (6) are the very numerical values of the letters that spell the word Ziv, the Biblical name for this month of Iyar.

Within the last 2,000 years, the highlight of this month is Lag Ba'Omer, which celebrates the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Rashbi), the author of the teachings of the Zohar.  It is surely no coincidence that his passing took place in this month of Iyar, for as we see, the name of the book containing his teachings means "shining".  Another way of looking at this is that both the first letters of the words/name Zohar and Ziv is the letter Zayin, and the last letters of the words/names Zohar and Iyar is the letter Reish. Moreover, the Gematria of the word Zohar is the same for the word Orah (212), the feminine wording for Ohr.  Another way of looking at this is that the word Orah consists of the word Ohr and the letter Hei=5, and as we see in the first day of creation which begins the Torah, the word Ohr is mentioned five times, and the first mention of the word Ohr is the 25th word of the Torah, which hints to the 25th of Kislev, the date that begins Chanukah.  Moreover, there is a prayer of praise called HaAderet V'HaEmuna which has mention of 22 stanzas each consisting of two words that begin a letter of the Aleph-Beit in order of the letters.  For the letter Zayin, the words are HaZiv V'HaZohar, hinting to the fact that Rashbi, the author of the teachings of the Zohar, passed away in the month called Ziv (Note: In some prayer books, it is worded a little differently as HaZach V'HaZohar).  As for Lag BaOmer itself, it is the date of Sephirat HaOmer whose corresponding Sephira combination is HOD She'B'HOD, the ultimate level of the Sephira of Hod that is related especially to Chanukah.

As a side note, having mentioned earlier about Rachel in terms of the month of Iyar, the corresponding tribe of Kislev, which includes the beginning of Chanuka, is Binyamin, the young son of Rachel.  Interestingly, it is Mordechai, as a parental descendant of Binyamin, who was responsible for the holiday of Purim.  And as we see in the Megilla (Esther 8:16), one of the four verses which are recited out loud by the congregation is LaYehudim Hayta ORAH V'Simcha V'Sasson V'Yekar  "For the Jews there was LIGHT, happiness, joy and honor", and as our rabbis tell us in the Talmudic tractate of Megilla, "Orah" refers to Torah.


ORAH-TORAH

If you see it in the Hebrew, the only difference between the words Orah and Torah is that Orah begins with the first letter Aleph and Torah begins with the last letter Tav, whose respective numerical values are one (1) and four hundred (400).  In reference to these numbers, I saw an amazing thing here only days ago in the Torah blog www.absolutetruth613.blogspot.com, along the lines that the nations of the world correspond to the sun while the Jews corresponds to the moon, it has been mentioned statistically that the Jews are 1/400th of the world population, or in other words, the ration of the world population to the Jews is 399:1. Amazingly, the size of the sun is 399 times the size of the moon.  And if this was not enough, the distance of the sun is 399 times further than the istance of the moon to the earth.  To more fully appreciate this, the light of the moon is a reflection of the sun's light.

With this said, it would seem that the opposite should be true.  You see, I mentioned that the difference between the words Orah and Torah pertains to their first letters where the letter Aleph (1) begins the word Orah.  Now, having mentioned that the Jews, who are 1/400th of the world population, correspond to the moon and that the moon's light is a reflection of the sun's light, it is the sun that is the source of the light and not the moon.  And yet, we see that the word Orah (light), as beginning with the letter Aleph=1 which reflects the Jewish population, seems to relate specifically to the moon, when ironically, it is the sun that is the source of the light where the moon gets its light from.

Perhaps an even greater question can be asked here.  If the raison d'etre of this world's existance is for people following what Hashem's says and wants, then how come Hashem didn't make everyone equal in terms of this, or at least a good percentage of the world population, aside from the Seven Noachide Commandments given to non-Jews?  In fact, it is a very small percentage of the world population who have been given the whole package of what Hashem wants from us.  Why should it be this way?

The truth is, we see that is how Hashem created this world to begin with.  For in fact, the total human population is far less than just about any species of creatures roaming the universe or the seas.  There are billions of certain creatures who have no soul, no commandments of G-d to follow, and yet, there are so many more of them than human beings.

Those who are in the business world, especially when it comes to business opportunities, well understand that it is in fact a small percentage of people who earn the vast majority of the money out there.  And in earlier times, before the modern day business model, we see that one who was wealthy typically had not one, but several servants to attend to his every need.

Indeed, what most perhaps shows the importance of the Torah and the observance of its Mitzvot in this context, is that Hashem created the world SOLELY for the few who would observe them.  It is everyone else, regardless of their spiritual level, whether good or evil, who are in this world merely to serve the few righteous ones, in all types of farming, construction, technology, etc. for this world to be fully functional for food, clothing, housing, transportation, etc. so the ones who are righteous don't have to spend all their time in physical survial for themselves, but rather, to spend a good portion of their time on spiritual pursuits.

As demonstrated with the letter Yud that represents the world to come, it also represents the righteous, being that the letter Yud is the smallest of all the letters, signifying that there would be relatively few righteous people, aside from the fact that it is this letter that begins' Hashem's main name as well as the name of the Jewish people, which are called by three names Ya'akov, Yisrael, and Yeshurun, all beginning with the letter Yud.  In fact, the very language Yiddish is based on the word Yid, which is etymologically related to the letter Yud, the numerical value of 10 and the 10th letter of the Aleph Beit.  For in fact, Hashem created the world with Ten Statements, as mentioned in the beginning of Chapter Five of Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) and the very beginning of the Midrash called Yalkut Shimoni, where it is asked as to why Hashem couldn't simply create the world with one statement rather than with ten statements.  The answer is to pay back the wicked ones who destroy the world which was created with ten statements, and to give good reward to the righteous who uphold the world which was created with ten statements. This means that people are punished or rewarded ten times the punishment or reward they would have received had the world been created with only one statement, since the amount of ten statements shows how much more the creation of the King of kings means to Him, and thus, one is so much more liable or worthy based on how little or much the creation of Hashem means to oneself.

One more explanation pertaining to the concept of the Aleph representing the Jews and the Tav representing the non-Jews via these letters' numerical values showing the ratio of their respective ratio populations is that the letter Aleph represents the Alufo Shel Olam "Chief of the World", and it is the Jews who best represent Him, beginning with Abraham the first Jew, whose name begins with Aleph; as well as the name of Adam HaRishon, Who was created directly by Hashem, and whose name is used as a term to refer to the Jewish people; and in terms of serving Hashem in the Beit HaMikdash, it is the Cohanim who are the main ones, who are parentally descended from Aaron, the first Cohen Gadol (High Priest), whose name begins with an Aleph, and whose son Elazar, who's name also begins with Aleph, became the next Cohen Gadol while still during the lifetime of Aaron's brother Moses.

In sharp contrast, the letter Tav begins the word Tachton (below) for the ones who don't observe Hashem's commandments, which are most of the non-Jews (with the exception of the few righteous non-Jews who observe the Seven Noachide Commandments) who are spiritual below, which includes a second Tav, which is based on the word Tachat which begins and ends with Tav; as well as the word Tehom (deep), which is used at times in reference to Gehinnom (Hell or Purgatory) for the wicked people who are indeed the biggest low-lifes, even lower than the ugliest, creepy creatures that Hashem created who aren't commanded or expected to observe any of Hashem's commandments.

And as far as the word Torah beginning with a Tav, the letter which especially relates to the non-Jews as per the above, the truth is that before Hashem offered the Torah to the Jews, He offered it first to the rest of the world.  Of course Hashem knew beforehand that none of the nations wished to receive it, but He didn't want anyone else complaining later that He didn't even give them a chance or that they would have claimed that had He offered it to them, they would have accepted it.  But the fact that Hashem offered it to them to begin with shows that in fact, they had the potential of being able to observe the Torah, if they would have just been willing to conquer their base desires and temptations to properly observe the Torah, and for this, Hashem could have had them go through a purification process, just as the Jews did to receive the Torah. True, even some of the Jews even after the Torah was given fell into temptation; in fact, it was hardly 40 days after the event of the Giving of the Torah that some succumbed to worshipping the Golden Calf. However, at least on a national level, the Jews overall were willing to accept the Torah, and hence, this was enough for them to be able to receive the Torah.


SECOND MONTH-SECOND PESACH AND THE CORRESPONDING SEPHIRAH

Just as the Torah, at least in the Chumash, calls the month of Iyar as the "second month"; so too, there is an observance of offering the Korban Pesach (Pascal sacrifice) a month later after the one offered on Passover eve for those who weren't able or didn't offer it the first time, which is held on the 14th of Iyar, called Pesach Sheni "Second Passover" (though it used to be in Talmudic times that it was Pesach Katan "Little Passover") when the Korban was slaughtered and then was eaten on the night of the 15th of Iyar.  

I will focus more on the "second" aspect as per this in my following post; but for today, I want to discuss the Sephirah count and combination for the date of Pesach Sheni, which in our present calendar, it always coincides with the 29th day of Sephirat HaOmer, whose corresponding Sephirah combination is Chesed She'B'Hod (Kindness within Glory). The reason I word it like this is because in earlier times when Rosh Chodesh was observed based on the sighting of the moon, it could happen that the month of Nissan would have only 29 days; and hence, the 29th day of Sephirat HaOmer would fall out on 15 Iyar, rather than on 14 Iyar; but even then, this Sephira date and combination still had a connection to Pesach Sheni, because it was on the night of 15 Iyar (Noting that we count the Sephira to begin with at night) that the Korban of Pesach Sheni was eaten.  Aside from this, the Gematria of Hod is 15, so whatever Sephira count it was on 15 Iyar, it always included the Sephira of Hod.

Anyways, as per the "Second Pesach" during the "Second Month", the connection with the 29th day of the Sephira is significant being that this event takes place around the middle of the month or with the full moon, and at least in our present calendar, there are always 29 days in the month of Iyar.  As per the Sephira combination of Chesed She'B'Hod that relates to Pesach Sheni, we see a phenomenal thing.  On each day of Passover, there is a Torah reading that relates to Passover, each in a different place in the Torah.  Anyways, on the sixth day of Passover, which is the fifth day of Sephirat HaOmer, the Torah portion about Pesach Sheni (Numbers 9:1-14) is always read.  But the phenomenal thing here is that the Sephira combination is Hod She'B'Chesed (Glory within Kindness), USING THE SAME SEPHIROT, BUT JUST IN REVERSE ORDER!  Certainly, this is no coincidence, as I will now demonstrate.

Reading about Pesach Sheni in the Torah during Passover is the aspect of Hod, this word which is etymologically related to the wording of giving thanks, such as Todah, for the fact that Hashem gave this Mitzva of Pesach Sheni for those who weren't able to bring the Korban Pesach on Passover eve, even though it is a month later, is a great kindness from Hashem for these people that they shouldn't be left out from doing this Mitzva.  Part of this is the fact that when in the following year following the Exodus, the command was given to perform the Korban Pesach, there were some Jews who were impure due to contact with the dead, in which case, it is forbidden to bring a sacrifice in such an impure state, and tahus were not able to bring the Korban Pesach on time.  But instead of saying that it wasn't their fault, they'll offer the Korban Pesach next year, etc., the fact that they would not be able to participate in the Mitzva of Korban Pesach like most of the other Jews bothered them enough to ask Moses to ask Hashem if there was something that could be done for them.  It was in reply to these good Jews that Hashem gave the Mitzvot of Pesach Sheni.  Hence, when we read this in the Sefer Torah during Passover, it is in essence giving THANKS to Hashem for the great KINDNESS of granting a special Mitzva to those who weren't able to perform the earlier Mitzva of the regular Korban Pesach on Passover eve, the aspect of Hod She'B'Chesed, the Sephira combination of the day on which we read about this.

Conversely, it is on Pesach Sheni itself that the Mitzva or Mitzvot of the day are performed as Hashem's great KINDNESS (Chesed) to the ones who weren't able to perform the Mitzva of Korban Pesach earlier that we read about earlier during Passover, as reading about Hashem's kindnesses is a form of GIVING THANKS (Hod) to Hashem, the aspect of Chesed She'B'Hod, the Sephira combination of the day of Pesach Sheni, which in our present calendar, is always on 14 Iyar.

Now, noting the connection of the Sephira combination of Chesed She'B'Hod with the 29th day of Sephirat HaOmer, the Hebrew number for 29 is Kaf-Teit, the first letters of the word Ki Tov "for it is good", a refrain mentioned in the Creation of the world.  It is also part of a Pasuk (verse) that is mentioned several times in Tehillim (Book of Psalms) - Hodu LaHashem Ki Tov Ki L'Olam Chasdo  "Give thanks to Hashem for He is good, for His kindness is forever".  As we see in this verse, the first word is Hodu "Give thanks", which is either at times spelled with a Vav between the Hei and the Dalet, thus the first three letters spelling the word Hod, or at other times when there is no Vav between the Hei and the Dalet, but it does end off with a Vav, thus the word Hodu having the same letters as Hod; and the last word is Chasdo "His Kindness".  Among the number of times of the mention of this verse in Tehillim, it is both the first and last verse - the 29th verse - of Psalm 118, the last of six consecutive psalms that make up the Hallel prayer.  In fact, this is the only chapter in the entire Tehillim that begins and ends with the same verse, ending as the 29th verse in which the phrase Ki Tov, whose first letters spells the Hebrew number 29 in the verse that mentions the concepts of the Sephirot Hod and Chesed.  Coincidence?

But just when you thought this was it, let us take a look at the names of the letters Kaf and Teit.  The word Kaf is spelled Kaf (20) and Phei Sophit (80), totalling the sum as 100, and the word Teit is spelled Teit (9), Yud (10), and Tav/Sav (400), totalling the sum as 419.  As we know, we recite at least 100 Berachot (blessings) a day, which is an aspect of giving thanks to Hashem, and the 419th Mitzva of the Torah, and as mentioned in the first paragraph of the Shema, is to love Hashem, which is partly motivated by realizing all the kindnesses that Hashem has done for us, so it should only be natural for us - howbeit having in mind to do so as a Mitzva - to love Hashem, just as we love someone who has done kindnesses for us.  In fact, the Sephira of Chesed is represented especially by Abraham, who by the way, is especially represented by the holiday of Pesach, which is the week of Chesed in terms of the Sephira combinations, and it is Abraham who is called in the Tanach as Avraham Ohavi, which can be translated either as Abraham who love Me, or as per his activites, the one who caused Hashem to be loved by others whom Abraham brought close to the wings of the Shechina (Divine Presence) especially by performing Hachnasat Orchim, inviting guests to his free steak meals in the midst of the desert, so long as they would thank Hashem afterwards for what they had just eaten.

And in terms of the Sephira combinations corresponding to the timing of the year in the Jewish calendar beginning from Hashana, this falls out around the week of Pesach, hence showing the clear connection between Pesach the holiday which begins its festivities with the Korban Pesach shortly before the holiday actually starts, and Pesach Sheni.  For indeed, Pesach most represents the aspect of Chesed from Abraham's activities to Hashem taking us out of Egypt, even though some of the Jews were hardly spiritually prepared to be redeemed; and so, one year later, Hashem continued His kindness to us by giving a Mitzva opportunity to those who were earlier spiritually unprepared, howbeit in a different way by having impurity as per contact with the dead.

Now, one more Gematria that will solidify one of the above concepts.  The Gematria of the phrase Hod She'B'Chesed or Chesed She'B'Hod is 389, and the Hebrew number for this consists of the letters Shin-Pei-Teit.  Now, if we reverse these letters, they begin the words as Tahor (pure) - Pesach Sheni, for while there were a number of reasons why the Pesach Sheni sacrifice was offered if the Korban Pesach wasn't offered, the reason that brought Hashem to give this Mitzva to the Jewish people to begin with were the ones who were spiritually impure from contact with the dead, who badly wanted to do the Mitzva of Korban Pesach, but were forbidden to do so because of their impure condition.  In fact, among other reasons for bringing the Pesach Sheni offering was if someone was too far away on Passover eve, which was also considered a reason beyond one's control; however, the only ones who were actually forbidden to offer the Korban Pesach were the ones who were impure; and so, while they may have missed the deadline as per their week long wait to get rid of the contact of the dead impurity, they now had another opportunity to bring the Korban Pesach one month later now as being TAHOR, and then and only then could they bring the offering on PESACH SHENI.

                                                                   
13 Iyar, 5774

#220 - Covenant Strength

Had meant to write this post on the anniversary of my Brit Mila (circumcision) on 8 Iyar, but I am not too far behind writing my posting which I have done much more lately.  But today is the 13th of Iyar, and as per the number of today's date, there are 13 Beritot (Covenants, plural of Brit) associated with this Mitzva (Commandment) of circumcision about which the word Brit is mentioned 13 times (Genesis Chapter 17).  In any case, I have to note that this year, it was my first Brit (short for Brit Mila) anniversary since the birth of my son Shevach who had his Brit this past Rosh Chodesh Elul (1 Elul).

In any case, as per my past two posts focusing on Adam, the father ancestor of all mankind, being that his name is the Gematria of 45 as I have recently begun on 45th year, I will be mentioning about him in this post again in relationship to the Brit.

The truth is, the first person who ever performed a Brit was Abraham.  You see, when Adam first entered the scene, Hashem had high hopes for him, but following eating from the forbidden tree, things changed, for had he not sinned, he would have reached the greatest spiritual heights, especially as being created by Hashem himself, unlike everyone else born from Adam and Eve who are formed in the womb of the mother.

In the Talmud (Sanhedrin 38b) on the fourth chapter of Sanhedrin that has the sole mention of Adam HaRishon in the Mishnayot, it lists the what took place on each of the 12 hours of that fateful Friday on which Adam and Eve were created.   It was in the ninth hour that Hashem told Adam not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge.  Hardly an hour went by, and Adam already did the sin.  The Midrash tells us that had Adam waited only for three hours until Shabbat night, the test would have already been over, and the Tree of Knowledge would have no longer been forbidden to eat from, and would have already earned Eternal Bliss.

In the Torah, we are given a Mitzvat Lo Ta'asei (prohibition) not to eat the fruit from a new tree for the first three years (Leviticus 19:23), during which time, is called Arlah (uncircumcised).  Only in the fourth year can the fruit be eaten when redeemed, and then in the fifth year and on, the fruit can be eaten without concern of this prohibition.  Hence, it can said that the THREE years of the prohibition of eating from a new tree corresponds to the THREE hours that Adam was prohibited from eating from the Tree of Knowledge.

And why the number three?  Well, we know that the Mitzva of the Brit consists of three parts - 1)Mila - Cutting the forskin, 2)Periah - Revealing the prepuce (head of pinus), and 3)Metzitza - Sucking the blood to prevent danger (There has been much discussion on this last part in recent years due to hepatitis cases that have happened, but I am not here to discuss the details on this or alternatives in terms of Halacha (Jewish Law).  One should consult one's Orthodox Jewish rabbi or a well recognized Halachic authority pertaining to this issue).  Also, the Gematria of the word Av (father) is three, and it was to Abraham, the first of the three Avot (Patriarchs, plural of Av), whose name is partly based on the word Av which begins his name, to whom Hashem first gave the Mitzva of the Brit.  The word Av consists of the first letters of the Aleph-Beit, and as we know, the first two Mitzvot of the Torah is 1)to be fruitful and multiply, and 2)To circumcise one's son (Note: As for the first Mitzva, women aren't commanded to have children as men because of the pains of pregnancy and all, but Hashem implanted in them a greater desire to have children than men.  As for the second Mitzva, women for the most part are not commanded with Mitzvot that are based on time, as with the Mitzva of Brit which is not before the eighth day, and is meant to be performed on the eighth day unless circumstances prevent doing so).

Now, as related to the number 28 which I wrote about in my previous post pertaining to the 28th Sephira combination, especially today being the 28th day of Sephirat HaOmer, being that the Hebrew number for 28 which consists of the letters Kaf and Cheit, the Mitzva of the Brit was first given to Abraham, the 20th generation descended on the parental line from Adam, and the ideal time for the Mitzva of the Brit is the 8th day of the baby's life, which was first performed as such on Abraham's son Isaac (20+8=28).

Having said this, let us see the letters of the names of these two letters Kaf and Cheit.  The word Kaf consists of the letters Kaf (20) and Phei Sophit (80), hence the total Gematria of 100; and the word Cheit consists of the letters Cheit (8), Yud (10), and Tav/Sav (400), hence the total Gematria of 418.  As per the word Kaf being the Gematria of 100, Abraham (the 20th generation as per the lettter Kaf) was in his 100th year when he performed this Mitzva on himself (the Torah states that he did it when he was 99 years old, hence his 100th year); and as per the word Cheit being the Gematria of 418, the reason why Abraham was the first one to be given this Mitzva to begin with was because of his declaring Hashem's unity, which is the 418th Mitzva of the Torah (which we mention in the first verse of the Shema), to the world at large (unlike some of his righteous ancestors whom while they themselves faithfully belived in Hashem and didn't sin like most of the world, they didn't go out to preach the word of G-d).  And as we know, Hashem pays back with reward or punishment as Mida Knegged Mida, paying according to the deed.  You see, since Abraham declared to the world that Hashem is Echad (One), noting that the word Echad is the Gematria of 13, Hashem paid him back by being the first one to be commanded the Mitzva of the Brit which consists of 13 Covenants.

Now, another way of Gematria as pertaining to five letters that appear only at the end of the word, whose letters are named with Sophit (end), which are Kaf, Mem, Noon, Pei, Tzadi is that their numerical value as the last letter of the word are 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, respectively.  With this said, the two letters of the word Kaf in this instance have the Gematriot as Kaf (20) and Phei Sophit (800), with the sum total of 820, which in turn is the Gematria of the phrase V'Ahavta K'Reiacha Kamocha "You shall love your friend (at least) as much as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18), the Mitzva of loving a fellow Jew.  And it was Abraham (the 20th generation as per the letter Kaf) who caused Hashem to be loved by showing his kindness and love to others, especially through Hachnasat Orchim, inviting guests who he fed both physically and spiritually, using his free meals for them as a springboard to recognize Hashem.  And as we know, the word Ahava (love), just like the word Echad, is the Gematria of 13.

And as per the number of this post - 220, let us apply the same type of Gematria in terms of the words for the Hebrew letters for the number 220 - Reish and Kaf.  The word Reish consists of the letters Reish (200), Yud (10), and Shin (300), hence the total Gematria of 510; and the word Kaf consists of the letters Kaf (20) and Phei Sophit (80), hence the total Gematria of 100.  Now, adding the two sums 510 and 100, the total is 610, and its Hebrew number is spelled as the letters Tav, Reish, and Yud, which also spells the word Trei, which in Aramaic means two (2).  With this said, adding these two numbers 610 and 2, the total is 612, and the word Brit consists of the same letters that spells the number 612 in Hebrew!


13 Iyar, 5774 - 28th day of Sephirat HaOmer



Sunday, May 4, 2014

#219 - First Day of Earthly Life

Technically, this is a continuation of my previous post which focused on Adam the first man, being that the Gematria of his name is 45, as I have entered my 45th year of life in this world a few days ago.  In my previous post, the focus about Adam was about him being the head of creation - though he was created last in Creation - being that Hashem created mankind superior to other creatures in various ways, since it is mankind in particular that is commanded to serve Hashem, so we need all the resources possible for this to happen.  Today, the focus about Adam will be about him being Adam HaRISHON, Adam the FIRST human being.

With this said, we must not forget that behind virtually every accomplished man, is the woman, his wife.  And so, we must mention Adam's wife Chava (Eve), the "first" First Lady (there is really only one first, this title designated for the wife of the U.S. President is just an honorary title); though it is true that it didn't start off this way, being that it was Chava who convinced Adam to eat from the forbidden tree, and the rest is history.
And just as I mentioned Adam's name in reference to Gematria, so will I will mention Chava's name as being the Gematria of 19, and today, as I am writing this, it is the 19th day of the Sephirat HaOmer.

But there is more than just this about today.  You see, just as Adam is called HaRishon, so is the first day of the week called Yom RISHON, though in fact, Adam was created on the sixth day of Creation.  And what is especially significant today about being Yom Rishon, as it relates to Adam, is that this coincides with the 19th day of the Sephira as it relates to the Gematria of Chava's name.  Now if you noticed, Chava is in fact not called HaRishona (the first in feminine form) as Adam is; presumably because Chava was not created at the same time as Adam, but only afterwards as the second human being, being created from Adam's rib. (There is in fact another view that mankind was first created with the figure of Adam on one side and Eve on the other, and only later were they separated as distinct human beings, but I don't wish to get into this in my post). Anyways, as it relates to me, today is the FIRST Yom Rishon in my 45th year.

And speaking of the "first Yom Rishon", there is some interesting information about the first Yom Rishon - that is, the first Yom Rishon of the week of Adam's life, which was the second Yom Rishon of the week from Creation.  The following will be a narrative that will help us imagine what it was life.

It was Motzaei Shabbat, the first Saturday night of Adam's and Eve's life.  After the chain of events that happened to them on the day that they were created, finding themselves doomed to a life with misery following their sin of eating from the forbidden tree and being kicked out of Eden Paradise, the two at least had a chance to spend their first Shabbat knowing that their lives had been spared - at least from not dying anytime soon for their misdeed.  In fact, on this very first Shabbat of Creation, Adam even sang what would later be known as Psalm 92, the Shir Shel Yom (Song of the Day) that the Levites sang in the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) on Shabbat, which begins with Mizmor Shir L'Yom HaShabbat, the only mention of Shabbat in the entire Tehillim (Book of Psalms).  Anyways, getting back to the present moment of time, while it seemed that earlier, there was some sort of spiritual light that they encountered throughout Shabbat, it was now after Shabbat, and all they saw was this darkness - the same darkness that we all see when it becomes night.  However, not knowing that this is how nature is in this world outside of Eden Paradise, they were quite scared, with thoughts going on in their mind as per their past misdeed, aside from the fact that they could hardly see anything, except with a little light from the cresent moon that appeared on the night of the third of the month (Tishrei), appearing slightly bigger than when it was the New Moon two nights earlier when the moon was yet be able to be seen. In any case, this hardly sufficed for them and were beside themselves.  All of a sudden, Adam thought of an idea.  He took two pieces of wood, rubbed them together, and...fire appeared.  It is based on this true story that in the Havdala service that we perform following the conclusion of Shabbat that we make a special blessing over seeing fire - Borei Meorei HaEish, the blessing that concludes with the words "the Creator of lights of the fire", marking the time of the week that fire first appeared in this world.

The next morning, Adam woke up on his first Sunday, his first day of what we call reality - no more Eden Paradise, no Shabbat for the next five and a half days, and felt tremendous remorse for his misdeed. He wanted to do something to somehow purify himself.  He decided to dip himself in a body of water that we call a Mikva (ritualarium), connecting himself with the opposite type of nature than what he encountered last night.  In the midst of this, he cried out to Hashem, begging Him for His forgiveness.  And if this was not enough, following this, he offered an animal sacrifice (Kudos to yeranenyaakov.blogspot.com for bringing this last point just days ago) on the very grounds of what would be the future site of the Temple.

So as we see, there is a very strong connection here between Adam HaRISHON and Yom RISHON.  To more appreciate the connection between the two here as it relates to us, the name Adam, which he gave to himself when naming all the various creatures in this universe, is actually based on the word Adama, which means earth, or more specifically, the dust of the earth, for it was from this source that Hashem created his body.  Moreover, it was his head, the ROSH (related with the word RISHON), that was created from the grounds of the future Temple.

Hence, we see here a paradox:  Adam was created from a very physical, earthly substance, from the lowest form of existance - both in terms of the level of existance, which is the lowest of the four (mankind, moving creatures, plant life, non moving), as well as its treatment, which is trodded upon by every creature that does not live solely in water.  And yet, with Adam being created, his head was formed from what would become the holiest spot of the world.

Having said this, let us now turn to Gematriot.  The word Adama is the Gematria of 50, while the name Adam which is based on the word Adama is the Gematria of 45.  In similar fashion, near the beginning of the Zohar, it mentions the concepts of Mi (Who) which is related to the heavenly sphere, and Mah (What) which is related to the earthly sphere, having the Gematriot of 50 and 45, respectively.

With this said, we see even an even greater paradox, or perhaps more of an irony.  You see, the Adama=50, being a most physical substance, became the very source of Adam's physical creation. However, unlike the Adama, Adam=45 (mankind) has the potential to rise up spiritually way above the Adama, for after all, this is the whole purpose of Hashem creating Adam to begin with.  However, in the context of the Zohar, the word Mi, having the same Gematria as Adama, represents the greater spirituality than the word Mah, which is connected specifically with this world.  What's the deal here?

True, it is only Adam (mankind) that has the potential to reach the greatest spirituality; in fact, even greater than angels who don't have the free choice that we do, since they are surrounded by spirituality, and aren't with a physical, earthly form which comes with its base pleasures and all.  However, believe it or not, it is specifically BECAUSE he was created from the Adama that this is possible.  The proof?  First, we know that the Adama itself can be holy, or become holy, and not just in the Temple either.  We see that when Hashem appeared to Moses for the very first time, He told him to remove his footwear since he was stepping on Admat Kodesh "holy ground".  But ultimately, the number 50, which is the Gematria of the words Adama and Mi, represents the 50 gates of purity, and the 50 levels of understanding.  In terms of the 50 levels of purity, the Jewish people reached the 50th level of purity on the day that they received the Torah, for being steeped in the 49 levels of impurity in Egypt, one step away from the 50th level of impurity which would be the point of no return, the Jews had 49 days following the Exodus to shed one level of impurity per day, and acquiring on level of purity per day.  And in terms of the 50 levels of understanding, Moses acquired 49 levels of understanding, and it was on the final day of his life that he reached the 50th level of understanding.

And so, while Adam (mankind) was created with the potential for base desires and temptations, this does not have to define him.  For ultimately, the roots of his source, the Adama, are from the highest levels of spirituality, but quite hidden in this world, and it is up to Adam to claim these levels.

And now, we see what brought Adam to bring a sacrifice on the grounds of the future Temple on that first Yom Rishon of his life.  We know that at least with a Korban Chatat or Asham (sin or guilt offering), a Jew who brought such a Korban was able to see that the animal was slaughtered, its blood was poured in a vessel and poured on the altar, etc., reminding him that in fact, what was happening to the animal really should have happened to him for his sin, except for the fact that Hashem is ever merciful, and it is His wish that we should rather repent and resume serving Him.  And so, while the animal itself is not what we would call a holy creature to say the least, for after all, an animal follows its base desires, it became the vehicle for a Jew to better his ways, being the cause for the Jew to serve Hashem better.  In fact, once an animal was formally designated as a sacrifice of whatever type, it became sanctified, and having illegal benefit from it was a sin, requiring one to bring a sin offering for inadvertently committing this sin.

And so, we see that objects other than mankind can become holy, such as the ground in the midst of the Divine Presence as it was with Hashem's revelation to Moses, and animals in the service of the Temple. Hence, before Adam would start his long life being busy working with the sweat of his brow, he first reminded himself with his animal sacrifice that really, he should have already been dead, especially since in fact, Hashem told him that on the day that he would eat from the forbidden tree, he would die.  However, Hashem in His great mercy reinterpreted His statement of "on the day", so to speak, since Hashem's own definition of "one day" is "one-thousand years", and so, instead of dying on that fateful Friday, Adam would be granted to live more than one physical day, but not to exceed 1,000 years.


AND FOR THE FIRST LADY...

O.K, so Eve is not called Chava HaRishona (Eve the First) in all of the Talmudic or Midrashic lore. However, being that after all, she was Adam's wife, her name that Adam named her requires explanation.

The Torah notes that the reason that Adam named his wife Chava is "because she was the mother of all living beings" (Genesis 3:20); in short, the ancestor of all mankind.  On this, Rashi notes that her name is actually based on the word Chaya, which means "living", for she grants life (as a mother) to her children, going on to explain the other part of the root word of the name Chava as related to the word "is".

This is very nice, but if this is the case, why couldn't Adam have named his wife as Chaya, which today is a very common name for females?  Was Adam trying to hide something here?

Actually, there are two answers that I have to offer here.  First, we see that the terminology of Chava is actually used in the sense of speech, which is in fact the ultimate feature that separates mankind from the rest of creation.  We see in Tehillim where it says V'Layla L'Layla YeCHAVEH Da'at "Night after night DECLARES knowledge" (Psalms 19:3), using the letters of Chava as a verb meaning declaring.  Second, it relates to the Gematria of Chava, which is 19.  In fact, my first answer is related to the Gematria of Chava's name, because the terminology of this word is in Psalm 19!

And why 19?  You see, this is the amount of blessings that we recite in the weekday Shemoneh Esrei prayer. In fact, it is based on this, as noted in the Talmud (Berachot 10), that we recite the verse Yihyu L'Ratzon "May it be Your will...", the final verse of Psalm 19, at the end of every Shemoneh Esrei, paralleling the first 19 psalms ending with this verse.  This is especially in light of the fact that in fact, we call our main prayer the Shemoneh Esrei, which means eighteen, rather than nineteen, because at one time, there were 18 blessings, but an additonal one was added at one point, asking Hashem to remove the evildoers from our midst.  In a similar vein, in the early version of Tehillim, as noted in the above Talmudic source, Psalms 1 and 2 were at one time one psalm, but was divided up later.

Noting that Chava's name is 19, which is the number of blessings that the Shemoneh Esrei prayer consists of, we learn from this that when we TALK to Hashem, we are in fact creating a relationship with Him, in similar fashion to how we create our relationship with our wives, and communication, which is usually through speech, is how we most relate to them (and vice-versa of course), and is the usual determinent of what makes or breaks a marriage.

Taking a brief moment within the Shemoneh Esrei prayer, we see that the FIRST time that the word Adam is used is in the fourth blessing, the first of 13 blessings that are recited during the weekday, excluding Shabbat (and certain Jewish holidays) - Ata Chonein L'Adam Da'at  "You grant knowledge to mankind", and it is in this very blessing, on Motzaei Shabbat, the beginning of Yom RISHON, that we recite a paragraph in similar fashion to the Havdala service that we perform over a cup of wine, declaring differences between what is holy and secular.

Now, one of these differences is the separation between Jews and the other nations (in terms of holiness). To note, the Hebrew terminology used for nations is Amim, rather than perhaps the more familiar term Goyim, plural for Goy.  It seems that in certain contexts, the term Goy or Goyim is used in a derogatory sense, especially when refering to anti-Semites.  However, in the Mincha (afternoon service) Shemoneh Esrei of Shabbat, we actually call ourselves a Goy - Goy Echad Ba'Aretz "One nation on earth", which is based on a phrase in the Tanach (Jewish Bible).  And why do I mention this specific point? You see, the word Goy is also the Gematria of 19.

Yes indeed, the entire human population, Jew or non-Jew, all come from the same two people who were created by Hashem Himself.  And while a human being looks like a human being, and not like an animal, it is Hashem Who made the distinction between Jews and non-Jews, specifically in term of holiness.  For otherwise, everyone else would be right - why should Jews behave differently and refrain from marrying outside their professed faith?  After all, if we really believe in G-d, Who created this universe, and we all come from the same people who were created from G-d, then what is determine who is holier or of a higher species than another, other than what we ourselves perceive to be a difference, such as color or race.  But just like we see physical differences that often determine with whom we will or will not spend the rest of our lives with; so too, Hashem decided that there would be spiritual differences.  However, unlike with color or race, this can actually be changed, because a non-Jew can decide to become a Jew, and then he or she is welcome to the Jewish fold, acquiring the same holiness that a born Jew has, and with the exception of marrying Cohanim, one who converts to becoming Jewish can marry - and only marry - someone else who is Jewish.

And so, unlike the claims of some who call us Jews racists, this could be nothing further from the truth.  For as Rabbi Meir Kahane, ZT'L, HY'D (may G-d avenge his blood) put it, being racist is saying that one cannot change to be something else, which would be applicable to color or race.  However, in terms of being Jewish, we state that in fact, one who is not born Jewish can change his status, can become Jewish, and color or race is not a factor in this.

After all is said and done, in certain contexts, it is specifically the Jewish people who are called with the terminology of Adam.  And the reason for this is because it is specifically the Jewish people who are accomplishing the ultimate purpose of the creation of Adam.  And as we know, had Adam not sinned, he would have been in the highest spiritual level possible.  In fact, the Torah states that Hashem placed Adam in the Garden of Eden "to work it and to guard it".  As our rabbis explain, working refers to the Mitzvot Asei (Positive or Active Commandments) and guarding refers to the Mitzvot Lo Ta'asei (Negative or Non-Active Commandments), which in essence is what we are commanded to do (the non-Jews were given only seven categories of commandments, but are not categorized as Mitzvot Asei or Lo Ta'asei as is done for Jews who were given 613 Mitzvot).  However, since Adam fell short of his mission, a large part of it would be resumed nearly 2,000 years later, when Abraham, whose name begins with the letter Aleph and ends with the letter Mem Sophit, as it is with Adam's name, would arrive at the scene, and on his own, derived the 613 Mitzvot commanded to the Jews.

One more connection of the number 19 as it relates to both Jews and non-Jews relates to the calendars - the solar and the Jewish calendars.  Now notice, I didn't write lunar calendar, for while the solar calendar that the non-Jews, or at least the Christian world uses, is totally based on the sun; the Jewish calendar, while it is based largely on the moon in terms of when a month begins or ends, its seasons are based on the sun, for every so often (in our present time, every two or three years), a 13th month is added to maintain a balance between the months and the seasons, unlike the Moslem calendar that is totally based on the moon, and its months in one year during one season will appear in the opposite season some 15 years later.  In any case, it takes 19 years of our Jewish calendar to fall out in the same time of the season as it is with the solar calendar, maintaining a extra month for seven out of every 19 years.

With this said, while there are some that want to maintain good connections between Jews and Christians, let's say, to have a better understanding of each others' religions and all, it must be remembered that the ultimate way that we can get the world to accept us for who we are is our own strict observance of our Judaism, which will set the ultimate example for the world to see how life should be lived and what is most important in life.  It is this and only this, that has served us in good stead throughout Jewish history, unlike the periods of the Holocaust for example when before this happened, there were many Jews whose only wish was to be the best Goy (living as a non-Jew in this instance) possible, but the day came when these most assimilated Jews were standing side by side with Jews who strictly observed our holy faith.

And one more point solidifying the similarity/contrast between the Jewish people and the other nations, the phrase Adam V'Chava (Adam and Eve) is the Gematria of 70, noting that there are 70 nations (aside from the Jews).  On our side, there were 70 "souls" who came to Egypt where we lived for 210 years, dealing with the struggles of assimilation; but at the end, we came out whole as a nation, to receive the Torah a mere seven weeks later.


IN THE MISHNA

As I have mentioned in the past, there is a study program of learning a Perek (chapter) of Mishnayot a day. Presently in its ninth cycle, the chapter for today's date is the FOURTH chapter of Tractate Sanhedrin (Note: the FOURTH letter of the word Sanhedrin is a DALET=4), the FOURTH tractate of Seder Nezikin, the FOURTH volume of the six volumes of the Mishnayot.  Being that the feature of this post is Adam, the middle letter of his name in Hebrew is Dalet, which is the numerical value of FOUR, and is the FOURTH letter of the Aleph-Beit.  Also, the three letters of his name - Aleph, Dalet, Mem - begin the words Adam, David, and Moshiach; for King David, to whom Adam granted 70 years of his life, partly rectified Adam of his sin, and it will be King David's descendant Moshiach who will finish the rectification, and then the world will be in a state like the Garden of Eden before Adam sinned.  As for King David's name himself, it both begins with a DALET and ends with a DALET.  And if we count the number of letters of these names/words Adam, David, Moshiach, the FOURTH letter is the first DALET=4 of King David's name.

Having said this, let us now turn to the very beginning of this chapter that is most connected with the letter FOUR - Echad Dinei Mamonot V'Echad Dinei Nefashot...  "The same law applies to both monetary laws and capital laws regarding the cross examination fo witnesses".  Amazingly, the first letters of the first three words of this chapter - Aleph, Dalet, Mem - spells Adam's name!  Now note, the very first word of this chapter is Echad, which means one.  Now in this post, I spoke of the first day of the week as Yom Rishon, and this is normally how we refer to this day, including in our prayers in the Shir Shel Yom (Song of the Day) for the first day of the week.  However, in the story of the account of Creation, the first day is refered to as Yom Echad, hinting to Hashem as Echad, for no other creatures were created on this day, and it was only on the second day that the angels were created.  And as for the number FOUR, the last letter of this first word Echad is a DALET=4, and the first letter of the next word Dinei is also a DALET=4, noting that the DALET appears here twice right next to each other.

Now, to more appreciate the significance of what is mentioned here - Dinei Mamonot (monetary laws), these are the opening words of Tractate Sanhedrin (which begin both the first and three chapters of this tractate), and as it relates to me personally, the chapter learned on my birthday of 1 Iyar a few days ago was the first chapter of Sanhedrin beginning with these words.  To note, the first letters of these first two words - Dalet and Mem - are the same letters as the Hebrew number for 44 - DOUBLE FOUR, and most significantly in my case, this day was my 44th birthday, or in another words, the day to reflect on my past 44 years of my life in terms of how I spend my years on a spiritual level and what I can now do to improve or move forward, now that I am beginning my 45th year.

But the main reason that I mention this first chapter particularly is because this phrase Dinei Mamonot is the same Gematria as HaTorah (the Torah) - 616, for the very reason of the Sanhedrin or any Beit Din (Jewish court) for that matter is to enforce the laws of the Torah and to decide cases, which are often money related cases, in accordance with the Torah.  Anyways, in the context of the first chapter of Sanhedrin, it states Dinei Mamonot B'Shelosha - "Monetary cases are decided by a Beit Din of three judges".  In terms of the phrase Dinei Mamonot having the same Gematria as HaTorah, the following word B'Shlosha which in some contexts can be translated as "in three", this is in effect saying "The Torah in three", for as we see in the Talmud in Tractate Shabbat, the Torah is referred to as the "Threefold Torah", whether in terms of the Tanach (Torah, Nevi'im, Ketuvim) or as Tanach-Mishna-Gemara.  Accordingly, we see that Adam's name consists of THREE letters.

Having said this, let us now turn back to the opening words of the fourth chapter of Sanhedrin where it starts off with the word Echad (one), for indeed, regardless of how the Torah is apportioned, the Torah is all ONE, the wisdom of the One.  Now, the word Echad itself is the Gematria of 13, and this is a most significant number both in terms of the Torah She'B'Ketav (Written Law or Tanach), as Moses wrote the first 13 Sifrei Torah (Torah Scrolls) on the day of his passing (this was done in a most miraculous way), and the Torah She'B'Al Peh (Oral Law or Talmud), for in terms of how the laws are interpreted, among the methods that make up the oral tradition are the 13 ways through which the Torah is interpreted.

Now, if this was the only mention or hint to Adam HaRISHON, especially being that this fourth chapter of Sanhedrin is always learned on Yom RISHON, as the Mishnayot consists of 525 chapters (which includes two chapters that are techincally not part of the Mishna) which is equally dividable by seven, would itself be very significant, aside from the fact that this is the first Yom Rishon of my 45th year as it relates to the Gematria of Adam's name - 45, and being the 19th day of Sephirat HaOmer as it relates to the Gematria of Adam's wife's name Chava - 19.  But in this chapter of all the chapters of the Mishnayot, IT CONSISTS OF THE SOLE MENTION OF THE PHRASE ADAM HARISHON IN ALL OF THE MISHNAYOT, as mentioned in the last Mishna of this chapter (Chapter FOUR (4), Mishna FIVE (5) - and putting these two numbers together, it spells 45=ADAM!), which mentions the word Adam (though not necessarily every time referring to Adam per se, but rather as "person") seven times.  So with no further ado, let me quote this Mishna directly:

"How was the process of frightening the witnesses for capital cases? They were entered into a room and were frightened with the following: "Is there a chance that perhaps you are giving witness out of estimation or hearsay such as from another witness or trustworthy person (ADAM)?  Or perhaps, you weren't aware that we would be cross examining you?  You should know that capital cases are not like monetary cases.  You see, when it comes to monetary cases, a person (ADAM) gives money that he is ordered to pay and he is then atoned for.  However, when it comes to capital cases, the blood of the accused and the blood of his would-have-been-descendants are dependent on the word of the witnesses until the end of time.  As we see with Kain (who was ADAM's firstborn) who murdered his brother (Abel), it is written "The bloods of your brother are crying" (Genesis 4).  It is not written as "The blood of your brother", but rather "The bloods of your brother" (in plural form), indicating not only his own blood, but the blood of his would-have-been-descendants (who would have been born otherwise had Abel not been murdered by Kain).""

"(The Mishna continues on with its own comments on the above verse following the statement from the court to the witnesses).  Another interpretation of the phrase "The bloods of your brother", for his blood was thrown on wood and stone.  Therefore, ADAM was created alone, to teach you

1)One who murders one Jew is considered by the Torah as if he murdered the entire world; while conversely, one who causes one Jew to live is considered by the Torah as if he caused the entire world to continue living.

2)There should be peace between mankind, so one person (ADAM) should not say to another "My father is greater than your father".

3)Those who don't believe in Hashem as the One and Only shouldn't claim that there are many Higher Authorities.

4)To declare the greatness of the Holy One Blessed Be He.  For a person (ADAM) mints coins with one seal, each one looking the same.  However, the King of kings, the Holy One Blessed Be He minted each person (ADAM) with the seal of ADAM HARISHON, and no one resembles one another.

5)(Therefore) Each and every one is obligated to say "For my sake was the world created""

Believe it or not, this is not the conclusion of this Mishna, but I am here to focus on Adam HaRishon.  But as you can see here, it is nothing short of Hashgacha Peratit (Divine Providence) that the first letters of the opening phrase of this chapter that especially mentions Adam HaRishon should be the very letters that spell Adam's name (in order of the letters)!  At this point, it is noteworthy to mention that there is one more chapter in all of the Mishnayot where the first letters of the first three words also spells the word Adam, the FOURTH chapter of Tractate Eiduyot (Testimonies), which is also a tractate in the FOURTH volume of the Mishnayot - Eilu Devarim M'Kulei... "These are the things that are among the leniencies of Beit Shammai...", and similarly, the word Adam (as person) is mentioned twice in the last Mishna of this chapter, in which this Mishna begins with the word Adam.


THE CORRESPONDING SEPHIRA

Moving right along with each post corresponding in order of the 49 combination Sephirot, this post corresponds with the 28th Sephira of Malchut She'B'Netzach.  Today, I am going to focus on the number of this Sephira - 28.  First, the very first verse of the Torah which begins off with the account of Creation which culminated with the creation of mankind, consists of 28 letters.  But as especially related to Adam, there is a Halachic Sefer on the laws that make up the first section of the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) in the Orach Chaim section about the laws of daily prayers, blessings, eating, Shabbat and holidays, composed by Rabbi Abraham Danzig, and is called  Chayei Adam (Life of a Person), for indeed, the laws of the Torah, especially the ones that we daily observe, is what are spiritual lives consist of, our daily spiritual nutrients.  To note, the Gematria of this first word Chayei is 28.  Significantly, one of the words in Hebrew which means strength is Ko'ach, which also spells the Hebrew number 28; for indeed, following the laws of the Torah gives one spiritual strength.  Moreover, the total Mispar Katan ("Small Number" refering to a reduced Gematria value) of the names of Adam and Chava adds up to a total of 28, as illustrated like this: Adam (Aleph=1, Dalet=4, Mem=40), where when we remove the zero and then add the three numbers together, the total is nine, and with Chava's name (Cheit=8, Vav=6, Hei=5), the total is a straight 19 as the regular Gematria of her name.  Now, as the number 28 is the combined Mispar Katan, or small Gematria of the names of Adam and Chava, we see that one's children are called one's strength (Ko'ach), as we see for example with Jacob's blessing for his firstborn Reuben where he states Kochi "My strength" (Genesis 49:3), as the children of Adam and Chava were the very first ones (Kain and Abel) who were born from the womb of the mother.


4 Iyar, 5774 - 19th day of Sephirat HaOmer

Friday, May 2, 2014

#218 - Head of CREATION

As my first post since my Jewish birthday on 1 Iyar, I want to focus today on the number of my present year of life in this world - 45.

First, aside from how the number 45 is spelled in Hebrew as the letters Mem-Hei, it also spells the word that reads Mah.  Typically, this word is translated as meaning "what", but at times, depending on the context in the Tanach (Jewish Bible), is means "how" - not necessarily as a question, but rather as an exclamation of praise, such as "HOW goodly are your tents, O Jacob; your living quarters, O Israel" (Numbers 24:5) and "Oh HOW do I love Your Torah, it is my conversation all day long" (Psalms 119:97).

More on this later, but first, I want to write about Adam, the father ancestor of all mankind, since his name is the Gematria of 45, and today is Friday, or the sixth day of the week, the first one in my 45th year, noting that Adam was created on the sixth day of the week.  Indeed, I have started a new beginning, so to speak, with the commencement of my 45th year.  Thank G-d, I am already a parent of both a girl and a boy.

While Adam is called Adam HaRishon, the first, this is not referring to him as being the first of creation, but rather, the first of all mankind.  However, Adam can rightfully be called the HEAD of all creation, since of the four categories of vitality in creation - speaker, living, sprout, and inanimate - it is mankind who is called speaker, since it is only mankind of all creations that are able to speak as coming from the soul (Note: While we see animals, birds, etc. using their mouths in communication, this is not on the same level as it comes for human beings).  The ultimate proof of this, aside from the fact that we know that it is mankind of all creatures that is expected to serve Hashem, is that mankind was created last of all creations.  You see, it is just as it is in a gathering that is together to meet the king, president, or some other important personage.  As it always happens, everyone else is together, and it is they who are waiting for the last one to show up - the important person that they are waiting for.  After all, this important person's time is very valuable, and neither does he have the time nor is it respectful to expect him to have him wait for everyone else to show up.  Similarly, Hashem created everything else first, so that by the time Adam and Eve would be created on the sixth day following the first five days, including the animals who were created on the sixth day, everything would be ready for them rather than them having to wait for Hashem to create other things that would be of service to them.

With this said, when it comes to the various parts of the body, it is the head that is both literally the head, or the top of the body, and also the leader of the body, because this is where the brain resides, without which, there is no way that the body could survive, and as we know, the various limbs of the body move according to the thinking and will of the brain.  Moreover, we usually communicate with each other by seeing each other's faces that are part of the head and speaking to each other with our mouths.  And so in essence, mankind is the brainpower of all creation; for after all, what other creature in this universe, for example, is able to create the various modern technologies that mankind has invented, which happen not only because mankind has far more flexibility in moving their limbs than animalistic creatures, but ultimately, it is their brains that are far superior to that of all other creatures.  And finally, an injury to the head is far worse than to other parts of the body; for if a part of the body is injured, it is usually just that limb that is affected, but an injury to the head affects not only the head, but quite oftentimes, the rest of the body as well, as is most evident when one is in a coma.

In any case, it is true that the word Rishon (first) is actually based on the word Rosh (head), for indeed, it is the head that is the first to know of something happening, and it is only afterwards that other parts of the body react accordingly.  And speaking of the head of creation, the word for creation in Hebrew is Beriah, the Gematria of 218, and this is my 218th post.

Now, I personally believe that if Adam and Eve would not have sinned with the forbidden tree, then Hashem would have picked a different couple who would have sinned.  To make this clear, Hashem knew beforehand that Adam and Eve were going to sin; though in fact, they had a choice not to sin, so it isn't like they were forced with eating food that they weren't supposed to eat.  However, if Hashem would not have wanted a world with suffering physically or spiritually, he wouldn't have had a couple as the first couple that were going to sin.  After all, the very reason why Hashem put us all in this world to begin with was in order for us to earn reward, rather than receiving it par bono, which would make us always feel bad that we are receiving something for nothing.  And so, if this world would have been without suffering or temptations, it would defeat the whole purpose of Hashem taking us from a high spiritual place to a rather very low one.  And so, even as Adam and Eve were righteous people, Hashem already knew that they were going to sin, and hence, since everyone descended from them who were stricken with punishment, we are all stuck with the same deal, whether it is men working with the sweat of the brow or women dealing with the pains and all of menstration and pregnancy.  Hence, since Adam and Eve, as the heads or ancestors of mankind were affected as a result of their sin, we as their descendants are all affected accordingly.

In a similar vein, we Jews started off good with Hashem giving us the Torah and in fact, the impurity that attached to everyone else beginning with Adam and Eve as a result of the original sin, hence causing death, was removed at first from the Jewish people, but was returned followed the sin of the Golden Calf.  However, as bad as this was, aside from the much shorter life now that the impurity returned to the Jewish people, it was the crying of the Jews at the evil report of the Spies on the night of the date of Tisha B'Av (9th of Av) that made a major spiritual decline, first delaying them from coming to Israel for nearly 40 years, and this resulted with Moses not being able to come with them to Israel when the time come, for as our Sages say, had Moses entered the Land with the Jewish people, the Temple would have never been destroyed.  However, not only one Temple, but two Temples were destroyed - both on this very date of Tisha B'Av, along with a multitude of other major sufferings that happened to the Jewish people on this date.

In any case, we see that the date of Tisha B'Ab is the NINTH day of the FIFTH month (counting from Nissan, the month of the Exodus and birth of the Jewish people).  The reason that I write this is becuase the number 45, which is the Gematria of Adam's name, is a multiple of NINE and FIVE.  Now, we see that following the sin of the forbidden tree, Hashem confronts Adam, and the very first word that Hashem says to him is Ayeka (Genesis 3:9), which can be translated as "Where have you been", meaning, asking Adam as to how he could have allowed himself to be brought down spiritually from committing this sin.  In any case, we see that the word in the text as Ayeka is the very same word, except with different Hebrew vowels, as the word Eicha, the word that begins the book in Tanach that is called Eicha (Lamentations) that is read on Tisha B'Av.

And having said this, it is nothing short of Hashgacha Peratit (Divine Providence) that this word Ayeka is found in Chapter 3, Verse 9 of Genesis - for two reasons.  First, the letter with the numerical value of three is Gimel and the letter with the numerical value of nine is Teit, and these two letters when spelled together as this, is the word Get, the name of the document that the husband gives to his wife in divorcing her, and in essence,  Adam and Eve were divorced from Hashem's Presence "He (Hashem) chased away mankind" (Genesis 3:24), this word "chasing away" or Vayegaresh in Hebrew, whose root word is used in Tanach in reference of divorcing one's wife.  Second, these two numbers together - three and nine - when put together, spells the number 39, and as the Zohar notes (Tikkun 48), there were a total of 39 curses as a result of this sin - 10 for the snake, 10 for Adam (men), 10 for Eve (women), and 9 for the earth (the source of the forbidden tree).  This is also related to the 39 types of work which are forbidden to be performed on Shabbat, as these types of work are related to the curse of working that Hashem placed on mankind which are forbidden to be performed on Shabbat, the source of blessing.  And by the way, the story of the destruction of the second Temple can be found in the midst of the fifth chapter of Tractate Gittin, the tractate that is all about Jewish divorces, of the Babylonian Talmud.

Now, in a more positive sense, the 45th day from Rosh Hashana (1 Tishrei), the date of the creation of Adam whose name is the Gematria of 45, is the Yahrzeit of Matisyahu (my second Hebrew name that I adopted six years ago) of the Chanuka story - 15 Cheshvan. And it is Matisyahu, who led the rebellion that led to the victory of the Jews over the Syrian Greeks that allowed them to reenter the Temple after an absence of time due to the foreign oppression to attempting to prevent the Jews from observing the Torah, who was responsible for the holiday of Chanuka, marked by lighting the lights of the Menorah for eight nights, and is the 620th and last of the 613 Mitzvot of the Torah and seven Mitzvot instituted by the Rabbis, and the word Keter (crown) consists of the letters that spell the Hebrew number 620.  The reason that I write this is because the first days of the year beginning with Rosh Hashana and culminating with Yom Kippur correspond to the total of 10 Sephirot (Keter, Chachma, Bina, Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod, Malchut) as mentioned in the writings of the Ramak (Rabbi Moshe Cordovero); and hence, Rosh Hashana corresponds to the Sephira of Keter.  With this said, the name of Matisyahu who was responsible for the 620th Mitzva is the same Gematria as the name of the holiday Rosh Hashana - 861, of which the first day (which is really only one day according to the Torah, but due to technical reasons related to the timing of seeing the new moon, eventually became two days) corresponds to the Sephira Keter whose name is the Gematria of 620.  Moreover, as in this 45th year of mine, Matisyahu's Yahrzeit of 15 Cheshvan falls out on Shabbat on which Parshat Vayeira is read, the latter half of this Parsha is read during the two days of Rosh Hashana.


ABOUT THE NUMBER FIVE

Yesterday, on my birthdate beginning my 45th year, I learned Tikkun 45 of the Zohar.  This is the very place in the entire Tikkunei Zohar, going in order of explanation on Parshat Bereishit, that it writes about the FIFTH day of Creation.  Amazingly, my 45th year began on the FIFTH day of the week, just as I was born on the FIFTH day of the week (as well as the day that I turned Bar Mitzva and the day that I became a full legal man according to the Torah at the age of 20).

With this said, let us see how some of the greatest Tzadikim (righteous people) bearing my namesake Shimon are especially related to the number five.  First, there is Shimon HaTzadik, one of the few righteous Cohanim Gedolim (High Priests) of the second Temple, whose Yarhzeit is 29 Tishrei, which is the first day of the FIFTH week from Rosh Hashana.  And then, there is Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Rashbi), author of the teachings of the Zohar, whose Yahrzeit is observed on Lag Ba'Omer, which is the FIFTH day of the FIFTH week of Sephirat HaOmer, and whose Sephira combination is Hod She'B'Hod, noting that the word Hod is a multiple of FIVE (as the Gematria of 15 or 5*3).  And as related to Rashbi, there was a Rabbi Shimon Lavie who composed the most famous song pertaining to Rashbi who passed away on Day 15=Hod of the FIFTH month (this is a special date known as Tu B'Av), noting that the Tribe of Shimon is the corresponding Tribe of the month of Av.  And as pertaining especially to the number 45, the song that this Rabbi Shimon Lavie composed includes the repeat stanza - Bar Yochai Nimshachta Ashreicha Shemen Sasson MeiChaveirecha  "Son of Yochai, fortunate are you that you have been anointed with the oil of gladness from among your peers", these last three words Shemen Sasson MeiChaveirecha coming straight from Tehillim Chapter 45 (Psalms 45:8), noting that some have a custom to recite the Psalm Chapter daily corresponding to the present age year that they are in, which means that Psalm 45 is my corresponding psalm as I am presently in my 45th year.  With this said, in this same song, there is a stanza that states  Na'aseh Adam Ne'emar Ba'avurecha "Let us make mankind (Genesis 1:26)" was said for your sake", noting that the word Adam, which is the Gematria of 45, is used here, as this was the 10th and final Statement that Hashem made in creating the world, creating Adam (and Eve) as the last creation.

In fact, we see in the Torah that the leader of the Tribe of Shimon brought special offerings on behalf of his tribe, in the midst of the leaders of the other tribes doing so, on the FIFTH day, which actually has three meanings - the fifth day from the dedication of the Tabernacle, the fifth day of Nissan, and...the FIFTH DAY OF THE WEEK!  And of course, the name Shimon consists of FIVE letters.


ABOUT TODAY'S SEPHIRA

Today is the 17th day of the Omer, and the Sephira combination of this day is Tiferet She'B'Tiferet (Beauty with Beauty).  With this, I am reminded of the verse that I mentioned in the beginning of this post Mah Tovu Ohalecha Ya'akov "How goodly are your tents, O Jacob..."  This verse begins with the word Mah which is the Gematria of 45.  To note, this is one of six places in the Torah that the Sofer (Torah scribe) is supposed to write at the beginning of a column, the FIRST word of this column being the word Mah, which is the same Gematria as the name of the FIRST human being called Adam.  Now, the very next word is Tovu (good in plural) which is the Gematria of 17, just as the day of today's Sephira, falling out on the first Friday, or sixth day, of my 45th year, being the same day of the week as Adam was created.  And then we see that the name Jacob, the name of the third of the Patriarchs, is mentioned here (though in this context, it refers to the Jewish people).

I am reminded of what it states in the Talmud (Bava Batra 58a) "The BEAUTY of Jacob (the Patriarch) is a reflection of the BEAUTY of Adam".   Now, whether this is supposed to be referring to spiritual or physical beauty, it is obvious that the creation of Hashem has to be perfect in the way that He wanted it to be created, since after all, Adam was to be the ancestor of all mankind.  In any case, we do see a similarity between Adam and Jacob; Adam being the ancestor of all mankind, and Jacob being the ancestor, or father, of the 12 Tribes of Israel, showing that the Jewish people, despite differences are in essence one, having the potential to maintain unity among each other, which is in fact, an aspect of beauty, because it is precisely with an array of colors that are together that show how different colors are next to each other, side by side.  (Note: The word for beauty in this context of the Talmud is a different word being that it is Aramaic rather than Hebrew.)

To note, the Sephira of Tiferet, of the seven active Sephirot (beginning with Chesed), corresponds to Jacob of the Seven Shepherds.  And so, this day being the Sephira of Tiferet She'B'Tiferet (Beauty within Beauty) falling out this year on the sixth day of the week, the day of the week on which Adam was created, is an amazing connection between Adam and Jacob in itself.  But if this was not enough, this date falls out this year (unlike last year when it also fell out on the sixth day of the week, or in other leap years when we read the previous Parsha) as the sixth day of the week of Parshat Emor, and the sixth Aliyah of this Parsha is all about the Mitzvot of the holiday of Succot, the third of the Shalosh Regalim (Three Pilgrimage Festivals) that corresponds to Jacob of the three Avot (Patriarchs).  This is highlighted by a verse that shows a special connection between Jacob and the concept of Succot  "Jacob travelled to Succot (name of a city) and while there, he built a home and he made Succot (booths) for his cattle; therefore, he named the place Succot" (Genesis 33:17).

And noting that the above verse is Verse 17 where the word Succot is mentioned THREE times, we see that this number 17 is unique to Jacob in quite a few ways:
1)The Sephira combination of Tiferet She'B'Tiferet, the THIRD Sephira within the THIRD Sephira, which falls out on the 17th day of the Omer, is most connected to Jacob.
2)As the seven days of Succot correspond to the Ushpizin or the Seven Shepherds (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, David), the third day of Succot, which is the 17th of Tishrei, the THIRD day of Succot, corresponds to Jacob.
3)As is mentioned at the very beginning of Parshat Vayechi, Jacob's last 17 years of his life were spent in Egypt, the beginning of the 210 years that the Jews were in Egypt "Jacob lived in the land of Egypt for 17 years" (Genesis 47:28), noting that this Parsha is always read in the month of Tevet, and the name of the constellation for this month is Gedi, the Gematria of 17.
4)The Mitzva of Gid HaNashe, the prohibition of eating the sinew vein of the thigh, is the THIRD Mitzva of the Torah (and the very first of 365 prohibition Mitzvot), which is a result of Jacob being injured at his thigh as a result of having a fight with an angel who looked to wrestle with Jacob.  The first word of this phrase GID Hanashe is the Gematria of 17.
5)In the phrase Mah Tovu Ohalecha Ya'akov "How goodly are your tents O Jacob", which we recite at the very beginning of our morning prayers following putting on the Tallit (prayer shawl) and Tefillin (phylacteries), the word Tovu, in reference to the name Jacob, is the Gematria of 17.  In the original context of the Torah, this is the THIRD verse of a poetry of blessings for the Jewish people that the evil Bila'am stated that Hashem made him speak instead of his original intended curses in his THIRD attempt of doing so.

Exactly one year ago on this date of 2 Iyar, the 17th day of the Omer, which is Tiferet She'B'Tiferet, Rabbi Ya'akov Yoseph ZT'L, a Rosh Yeshiva in Jerusalem who gave numerous Torah lectures in various places each week, son of the famed Rabbi Ovadia Yosef who served as the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel and headed the Shas party of the Knesset, passed away.  I already wrote about him last year since his passing, especially as he was a champion to the rights of not giving any parts of Israel away despite being surrounded by others who weren't in agreement of his views, following in the ways of his namesake Ya'akov Avinu (Jacob our Forefather) who was especially attuned to the trait of Emet (truth) - Titein Emet L'Ya'akov "Give truth to Jacob", but one thing of significant interest, as it relates to Tiferet, as that on the day of his passing, unlike many others who are also very sick and aren't conscious in the last so many days of their lives, Rabbi Ya'akov Yosef was fully alert, having recited the morning prayers with his Tallit and Tefillin, noting that the Tefillin is especially related to the concept of Tiferet.  Of this rabbi, it can truly be said M'Ya'akov Ad Ya'akov Lo Kam K'Ya'akov "From Ya'akov (the Patriarch) until (Rabbi) Ya'akov (Yosef), there was none who rose like Ya'akov".

As per the above verse "How goodly are your tents, O Jacob", we see that right from the getgo that Jacob was the epitome of Torah learning, because of which is dubbed "The chosen of the Patriarchs", even more than his father Isaac and his grandfather Abraham, as the verse writes of him in his youth V'Ya'akov Ish Tam Yoshev Ohalim "Jacob was a man of simplicity, a dweller of tents" (Genesis 25:27), referring to the tents of Torah learning, as in a Yeshiva setting, as this is referring to the tents of Shem and Ever, two of his ancestors who established the very first Yeshiva in the world.  And as Jacob is the THIRD of the Avot (Patriarchs), we see in the Talmudic tractate of Shabbat that the Torah is called the "THREEFOLD Torah" (which can be either Torah-Nevi'im-Ketuvim the Tanach or Tanach-Mishna-Gemara).

And noting that today is the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Ya'akov Yosef, which is the first Friday of my 45th year, the SIXTH day of the week on which Adam was created, and having mentioned above about the connection between Adam and Ya'akov Avinu in terms of Tiferet (beauty), there is one chapter in the entire Mishnayot that begins with the word Adam (referring to a human being), the SIXTH chapter of Tractate Ahalot (Tents), this tractate which discusses the spiritual impurity that one can attain as a result of being under the same roof as a corpse, which is originally mentioned in Numbers Chapter 19, in which Verse 14 states - Zot HaTorah Adam Ki Yamut B'Ohel...  "This is the law of a person who dies in a tent, whoever comes to the tent or whatever is in the tent will be impure for seven days".  Now, aside from the fact that both the Chumash (Penteteuch) and the Mishna chooses the word Adam, rather than one of the other three synonyms in Hebrew for a person, highlights the concept of death that began with Adam following his spiritual downfall. In a homiletic sense, our rabbis tell us  "From where do we see that Torah is attained by one who "kills" himself for it? As it says "This is the Torah (law) of a person who dies in a tent"" (Talmud Berachot 63b). Indeed, it takes much Mesirut Nefesh (giving up of oneself) to be a Torah scholar, as we know of numerous examples of rabbis of yesteryear who spent endless hours in their youth, with little sleep, and oftentimes with little food when there was hardly any, learning Torah, especially in the areas of the Talmud and Halacha (Jewish Law), as what Rabbi Ya'akov Yosef specialized in.

And to end off on a GOOD note - noting that the Hebrew word for good is Tov, the Gematria of 17, the number of today's Sephira - as is common in finishing off a piece of Torah, it states Ein Tov Elah Torah "There is no good but Torah" (Talmud Avoda Zara 19b)


2 Iyar, 5774 - 17th day of Sephirat HaOmer