Thursday, December 4, 2008

#12 - SEVEN in SEVEN

With the challenges of this past week in the world, and the hopes for a bright future for the world, there is a prayer that is begun to be recited outside of Israel starting tonight. Starting tonight - Thursday night - we start praying for rain on weekdays, in the 9th Bracha of the Amida
(Shemoneh Esray) - Barech-Aleinu all over the world.In Israel we started 4 weeks ago. If you forgot to add "V'Sein Tal U'Matar L'Veracha"; "and bless us with dew and rain", then:- If you remember before you finish the 9th Bracha then you insert it and continue from there.- If you already said "Baruch Ata Hashem" of the 9th Bracha then you insert it into Shma-Kolienu - the 16th Bracha - before "Ki Ata".- If you forget to say it in Shma-Kolienu then you need to go back to the 9th Bracha - Barech-Aleinu.- If you didn't remember until you finished the Amida (defined as saying "Yihyu Leratzon") then you have to restart the entire Amida.Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 19: 5, 6. (For this, and other daily Halacha posts, check out

Now, according to Halacha, the above prayer is begun to be recited outside of Israel on the 60th day of Tekufat Tishrei - "cycle of Tishrei" which in this year, began on 8 Tishrei, Oct 7 at Tuesday 3:00AM. Each cycle is exactly 91 days, 7 1/2 hours. Thus, this Thursday night begins Yom Shishi (8 Kislev) - the next day beginning with the night time, thus being the 60th day from 8 Tishrei. This prayer is begun virtually every year sometime in the month of Kislev, which kaballistically is represented by the letter Samech=60.

This Shabbat, we will be reading the 7th Parsha of the Torah - Parshat Vayeitzei. This is a very unique Parsha, because this is one of the few Parshiyot (and Parshat Miketz) in the entire Torah/Chumash that has no stops or brakes of extra space in the Sefer Torah. Why is this so?

Perhaps the reason for this is because this is the 7th Parsha of the Torah, and it is the Shabbat that makes the number 7 so special. Unlike during the normal 6 days of the week when work is permitted, and naturally, we feel like taking a brake in between work, and it is only on Shabbat we have an automatic Menucha/rest without making time for it in the midst of work, so is this represented by this 7th Parsha without any necessary brakes - it is one long Parsha without any extra spaces.

In fact, this Parsha has quite a few 7s in it. The following is the list of the sevens:

1) Let's start from the very beginning "Vayeitzei Yaakov M'Be'er Shava" - Yaakov left Be'er Sheva. The name of the city that Yaakov left on his way to exile means "Well of Seven".
2) Yaakov agrees with Lavan, his future father-in-law, that he will work for seven years to marry Lavan's daughter Rochel.
3) Yaakov celebrates his wedding week of seven days when he married Leah (a last minute mixup). It is from here that we learn out that if either the bridegroom or bride have not been married before, then they celebrate their first week of married life.
4)Yaakov winds up working another seven years for Lavan to "justify" marrying Rochel when he already married Leah.
5)When Yaakov and his family after him staying with Lavan after 20 years to finally leave Lavan's home,
it took Lavan one day to catch up to Yaakov & family who traveled for seven days up to that point.
6)One of Yaakov's sons is named Gad, which has the Gematria of seven.
7)Gad is the seventh son listed of Yaakov's sons (Later on, Gad himself had seven sons)

Now, I want to elaborate on one of the above points. But first, another word on the letter Samech, the letter of the month of Kislev. Pertaining to the tragic Mumbai events that happened last week during the week of Parshat Toldot (one of the Jewish victims was the son-in-law HY'D of the Toldot Avraham Yitzchak Rebbe of Yerushalayim, who is named as such as per the beginning verse of this Parsha that was read on Shabbat between the murder & burial), we see an incident in this Parsha where Yaakov was serving beans for dinner which was his father Yitzchak's mourning meal following the passing of his father Avraham. The reason that beans or eggs are served to mourners according to Jewish Law is because they are round symbolizing the cycle of life from birth to death. Accordingly, it is the letter Samech - the only entirely closed letter of the 22 Alef Beit - that represents this, and indeed in this year, the Mumbai tragedies began on the day (Erev Rosh Chodesh) before the new month of Kislev which is represented by the letter Samech.

Accordingly, the other side of the circle, as represented in this week's Parshat Vayeitzei, the second one that we read in this month of Kislev, is the part of life that deals with marriage - the foundation of the next generation. The first mention of a Jewish wedding (not just marriage) is in this week's Parsha. Remember when I mentioned last week that the letter Samech is the only letter that does not appear once in the account of the days of the creation of the world? Well, perhaps the following is another reason why. You see, the bride, which is Hebrew means HaKallah, having a Gematria of 60, walks around the Chatan/bridegroom in a circle for seven times when under the Chupa. The Hebrew word for wedding is Chatuna, which has a Gematria of 469. There are exactly 469 words in the account of the days of creation in the Torah - the beginning of the Torah - which concludes with the account of Shabbat when Hashem rested from the work that he did on the first six days of creation! Also, the words used for Hashem finishing his work is Vayechulu & Vayechal, both having a connotation of the word Kallah - bride. Indeed, the Shabbat is called a bride. Thus, we see a hint for the couple to celebrate their very first week of marriage, just like the Torah, which was given by Hashem to the Jewish Nation that is also called a bride, begins with a detailed account of the first week of the world's existance with Hashem creating the world. It's only in the 7th Parsha of the Torah, just like the word Kallah is hinted in the account of the 7th day of the week, Shabbat - that the first wedding is mentioned. It's also worthy to note that on each day of that first week of marriage, the traditional Sheva Berachot - the special seven blessings that are recited at the marriage ceremony, are also recited at the end of every meal that the new couple eat in public with other friends in their first week of marriage.

There is an factoid related to this Parsha - having no special spaces inbetween the verses - that will serve to be most fascinating in terms of Gematria. Counting the amount of verses in this Parsha - you will find two verses where the last word of the verse is the Gematria of the number of the verse in the Parsha. Thus, the 54th verse of this Parsha ends with the word Dan, having the Gematria of 54 - the name of one of Yaakov's sons. Interestingly, Dan is the fifth son of Yaakov that is listed, and there are 54 Parshiyot of the Chumash, which consists of five books, that we read during the Shabbatot of the year. Then, the 69th verse of this Parsha ends with the word Dina, having the Gematria of 69 - the name of Yaakov's daughter. Both names - Dan & Dina - connotes the word that means judgment. So, what's the connection of judgment as related to the birth of Yaakov's children? Well, the only thing I can think of offhand is that when Hashem created the world, He intended it to exist only on the attribute of justice, but when He saw that the world would not be able to survive this way - he mixed it with the attribute of mercy. Now of course, Hashem knew everything beforehand, we are just told that Hashem "intended" and "when he saw" to speak to us in human terms. But the bottom line is - the truth is that really, the world should be judged strictly according to its behavior, but being that there would hardly be any survivors based on virtually everyone's sins, Hashem brought mercy into the picture to give this world a better chance in making improvement and doing Teshuva/repentance. This indeed reflects a drawn out argument between two groups of Mishnaic rabbis. Beit Shammai held that it would have been better for a person not to be born, while Beit Hillel held that it was better for a person to be born. The ultimate verdict that was agreed upon by both groups is that indeed it would have been better for a person not to have been born; but now that he is born already, let him do it right by doing good deeds.

Some of the Jewish victims of the Mumbai tragedy led selfless lives helping others. What will we do to make this world a better place to live in? Well, I just discovered something today. You see, tomorrow, December 5 is International Volunteer Day in Israel. Of course, we are supposed to do good deeds and help others every day of the year. But in our regular routine in our weekday work and families, we don't always seem to have a chance to go out of our way for others. But sometimes, designating a day in our schedule forces us to brainstorm or push everything else out of the way to accomplish our desired goal. And in this year, it so happens that this day falls out on Erev Shabbat, when we are supposed to help get things ready for Shabbat. This may mean different things to different people. Some are gourmet chefs who know how to cook a storm for Shabbat. Others are always on the run, and are easily in a position to help others get things done, including helping others getting ready for Shabbat on time. Still others are in a position to give financial aid to those who will otherwise not have enough to eat on Shabbat. In any case, if you read this post at some later time - no need to dispair - think of something extra you can add into your schedule - every day, every week, every month, or on your own "Volunteer Day" when you have off from work to perform the special Mitzva of doing Chesed/kindness for others, included in the Mitzva of "V'Ahavta L'Reiacha Kamocha" - loving our fellow Jew, regardless of his/her observance, background, or beliefs - that you can befriend and in some cases, bringing him/her one step closer to the pleasant ways of the Torah.

P.S. The last word of this week's Parshat Vayeitzei is Machanayim - the place where Yaakov was in transit between exile and Israel. This is the last word of the 148th Pasuk of the Torah, which has a Gematria of 148. This comes to prove more than ever that the Torah wants to hint to us that this Parsha without interruptions of space in the Sefer Torah can be read as one long saga - to hint to us about Shabbat, the day of rest without interruptions of the busy daily life in this world, and the Shabbat of the future to come when we will have eternal rest from the labors of this physical world; and in reward for our good deeds, to bask in the spiritual delights that will be greater than any physical pleasure for all eternity.

NEXT TIME: What's significant about the MIDDLE DAY between Election Day & Inauguration Day?

8 Kislev, 5769


Danny Schoemann said...

True, ויצא has no stops or brakes of extra space in the Sefer Torah.

But nor does מקץ.

shimonmatisyahu said...

To Danny,

Looks like you're right - in fact, it so happens that many years ago, I tutored a boy whose name is also Danny for his Bar Mitzva whose Bar Mitzva Parsha is Miketz. In fact - there is something similar in these Parshiyot - Vayetze: Ya'akov in Galut, Miketz: Yosef in Galut.
Well, at least I know that someone is reading my blogs (along with a few others). Yishar Koach.