Sunday, December 27, 2009

#53 - The Best Chanuka Gift That I Ever Received

"Hashem, my G-d, forever will I thank you". Quoting from the end of Psalms 30, the Psalm that is customarily recited during Chanuka, I will forever be grateful to Hashem for the best Chanuka gift that I ever received - my wife Yael. On the second day of Chanuka, the big moment that I had waited for so many years finally happened. No matter how hard I tried finding a Shidduch through endless calls to matchmakers, websites, etc. and using different spiritual ways of accomplishing this through charity, praying at the gravesites of righteous people, trying to help others find a Shidduch, etc., not to speak of the endless, wasted time, effort, energy, and money on dates who were truly not serious about getting married - both in the United States and then in Israel, it seemed for all that I knew that perhaps Hashem did not wish for me to get married for whatever reason.

For one thing, I had people pray on my behalf during three different periods of 40 days each - during the very same time periods that Moshe Rabbeinu was on Mt. Sinai with Hashem - during my 40th year, at the holiest area in the world on the grounds of the Western Wall. It was also in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, the holiest city in the world, that I put up only one flyer about myself on a bulletin board, while almost 500 other flyers were placed in some other town. The very next day, my wife Yael, a resident of another city in Israel, was visiting the Old City when she saw my flyer, and four months later, we found ourselves under the Chupa.
For those who want prayers said on their behalf at the Western Wall for 40 days, turn to

Unlike most other people, I can truly say that my exclusive Shadchan/Matchmaker was Hashem. Aside from those who meet their spouse-to-be face to face at an event, workplace, etc., many others get introduced by friends or matchmakers. Indeed, there is a concept of paying your matchmaker, even if that matchmaker never asked for payment. In my case, since Hashem was my direct matchmaker, it is to Hashem that I have to pay. The truth is that there is no way of adequately thanking Hashem for anything that we receive in life, for whatever we can give Him Who owns everything is nothing compared to what Hashem has given us and continues to give us. One of the ways that I can pay back to Hashem is publicizing my story and encouraging others who have had a hard time finding a Shidduch to not give hope but to continously pray, and to turn to Hashem as the ultimate Shadchan, the One who set up the very first Shidduch - between Adam and Eve.

Originally, I was planning to write Post #53 during my Sheva Berachot ("Seven Blessings" which are recited under the Chupa and during the first week of marriage)/wedding week. But as many know, Sheva Berachot week means going to a daily party celebrating the marriage, and between the longer Chanuka davening in the morning which coincided with my wedding week and running to Sheva Berachot with my wife taking the bus from our residence to Jerusalem for the most part, there was not much time for else, and I didn't want to be up most of the night and have a hard time getting to synagogue during my Chanuka/wedding week as I did not want to miss the morning prayers which included the reading of the Torah for Chanuka, and then I caught up on work last week as I had to spend time preparing everything before my wedding; hence, I didn't write my blog until now.

After waiting to get married for so many years, I could not care less as to what time of the year on the Jewish calendar that I would get married. But as Hashgacha Peratit/Divine Providence had it, my Chatuna/wedding fell out on the second day of Chanuka on a Sunday. Unlike many, including many religious Jews in the United States who typically get married on a Sunday, as few work on this day (most of the more religious circles avoid marrying on this day in the States as this can be a problem of celebrating the Sabbath of the Christians), in my case, my wedding was in Israel where Sunday is just another day of work, and in fact, it was my Israeli wife who suggested this day when picking the week of our wedding. In any case, getting married involved the entire Chanuka. The first day of Chanuka which fell out on a Shabbat this year was my Ufruf - being called to the Torah on the Shabbat before the wedding, and as I got married the very next day on the 2nd day of Chanuka, my Sheva Berachot week of seven days encompassed the rest of Chanuka until the end of Shabbat on which was the eighth and last day of Chanuka. The fact that I got married on Chanuka enhanced my wedding celebration, especially as I always felt Chanuka to be a very special time.

With this being said, as the letters on the dreidel, the popular Chanuka toy, are Noon, Gimel, Hei, Pei - the beginning letters of the phrase Neis Gadol Haya Poe - "A big/great miracle happened here" (outside of Israel, it is the letter Shin instead of Pei which stands for the word Shahm - "there"), it was indeed a big miracle for me to get married as far as I am concerned. The first two letters Noon & Gimel - spelling the words Neis Gadol "Big/great miracle" - spell the Hebrew number 53, and indeed it is in this 53rd Post that I am using to thank Hashem for the big miracle that He performed for me to allow me to enter the Chupa with my wife, whose first name Yael is the Gematria of the word Neis/miracle, which equals 110! Indeed, my wife Yael is my personal Chanuka miracle.

Speaking of Jerusalem and the Western Wall in relationship as to how my wife and I met, it is really of no big surprise. After all, the verse that I recite in the end of the Shemoneh Esrei prayer corresponding to my first name Shimon, which begins with the letter Shin and ends with a Noon Sofit as my name, is the verse Shabechi Yerushalayim Et Hashem Halleli Elokayich Tziyon - "Praise Hashem, O Jerusalem, laud your G-d, O Zion" (Psalms 147:12). And it is during the entire eight days of Chanuka that we say the Hallel prayer (Psalms 113-118) consisting of psalms of thanksgiving which mentions Jerusalem - "In the courtyards of the House of Hashem, in your midst, O Jerusalem, Hallelujah" (Psalms 116:19). And if this was not enough, the Hebrew word Gadol - big/great - from the Neis Gadol - "BIG miracle" of Chanuka, is the Gematria of 43, having got married in the 43rd year from the liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem which included the Temple Mount, the grounds of the Temple in 5727/1967, now annually celebrated as Yom Yerushalayim - Jerusalem Day, which occured on 28 Iyar, the 43rd day of the Omer (see Blog #29). Indeed, a parallel can be drawn between Chanuka & Jerusalem Day besides their connections to the number 43, for both of these victory days occured in the midst of a war fighting non-Jews. On Chanuka, the Maccabbes entered the Temple in Jerusalem which was previously under the control of the Syrian-Greeks who forbade Jewish observance, and lit the Menora with oil from the seal of the High Priest that was not spiritually contaminated by the idolatrous non-Jews; in 5727/1967, the liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem including the area of the Temple took place in the midst of the Six Day War.

On another note of a personal connection, the 2nd day of Chanuka on which I had my wedding has to do with my Jewish birthday of Rosh Chodesh Iyar - 1 Iyar, the head of the Jewish month of Iyar. You see, the Torah reading for Chanuka is about the Priestly Blessing, the dedication of the Mishkan/Tabernacle, the Korbanot - animal sacrifices that the leaders of the Tribes of Israel brought following the dedication, concluding on the 8th day of Chanuka about Aaron the High Priest lighting the Menora (Numbers 6:22-8:4) (NOTE: Sephardim and those living in Israel start the Chanuka reading with the Priestly Blessing, while Ashkenazim outside of Israel begin with the sacrifices from Numbers 7:1). Corresponding to the days of Chanuka, we read on the 1st day of Chanuka of the sacrifices that the leader of the Tribe of Judah brought. On the 2nd day of Chanuka, we read of the sacrifices that the leader of the Tribe of Yissaschar brought (outside of Israel, the concluding Aliya is the reading of the sacrifices of the next tribe mentioned, but in Israel where the miracle of Chanuka happened, it is only the sacrifices of the first day of the dedication of the Tabernacle that we read on the 1st day of Chanuka, the sacrifices of the second day on the 2nd day of Chanuka, etc. that are mentioned).

And as mentioned by the Chasidic book called Bnei Yissaschar written by Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov, the Jewish months of the year correspond to the Tribes according to the order that the leaders of the Tribes brought these sacrifices during the 1st 12 days of the Tabernacle dedication. Hence, it is the month of Iyar, on which I was born on the first day of this month, that corresponds to Yissaschar. Morever, Chanuka is nicknamed in Israel as Chag HaUrim - "Holiday of the Lights", and the name of the month Iyar is related to the word Ohr/Light. Indeed, I was born on 1 Iyar, and my Brit was on 8 Iyar - the first eight days of Iyar, just like there are eight days of Chanuka. And it was in this month of Iyar that the modern miracle of the liberation of Jerusalem took place.

As mentioned by Rashi, it was Netanel Ben Tzuar, the leader of the tribe of Yissaschar, who came up with the idea of the leaders of the Tribes to bring these sacrifices upon the dedication of the Tabernacle to begin with. While it was the leader of the tribe of Judah who was the first to actually bring these sacrifices, it was the leader of the Tribe of Yissaschar who had the great merit of coming up with this idea to begin with. And speaking of getting married during Chanuka, particularly on the 2nd day of Chanuka when we read of the sacrifices that the leader of the Tribe of Yissaschar, the one who initiated the idea of the leaders of the Tribes bringing these special sacrifices, one of the spiritual things suggested in helping one find a Shidduch is the recital of this very chapter of these sacrifices (Numbers 7).

And this would not be complete without mentioning why Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov named his book Bnei Yissaschar. He noticed that every year on Chanuka, he felt specially spiritually elevated. Upon telling this to his Rebbe, the Chozeh of Lublin, his Rebbe told him that his soul has a spark of one of the members of the Beit Din/Jewish Court led by the Hasmoneans who brought the Chanuka miracle, as these members of the Beit Din were descended from the Tribe of Yissaschar. As mentioned in a verse from Chronicles (I Chronicles 12:33), there were some 200 heads of the Beit Din who were descended from this Tribe of Yissaschar, as there were well versed in the Torah being that they learned Torah all day while amply supported. Hence, it is from this verse where it says Bnei Yissaschar that this Chasidic Rebbe gave his book this name.

Speaking of the Torah and names, I had given myself a 2nd Hebrew name almost two years ago on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, on a Sunday - the very date and day of the week that the dedication of the Tabernacle took place and the leader of the Tribe of Judah brought his sacrifices. This name is Matisyahu, naming myself after the patriarch of the Hasmoneans/Maccabbees, who was the one who initiated the struggle against the Syrian Greeks. I first wrote about this on my 8th blog entitled Matisyahu - "Gift of Hashem", which is the meaning of this name. While he didn't live to see the day that the Jews would enter the Temple once again, it was Matisyahu who was responsible for the holiday of Chanuka, and we mention his name in every Shemonei Esrei and Bircat HaMazon/Grace after Meals during Chanuka. And it was on the 616th day from that day of Rosh Chodesh Nissan 5768 that I gave myself this Hebrew name that I had my Ufruf - Aliyah to the Torah on Shabbat for getting married the coming week. The word HaTorah - the Torah - is the Gematria of 616, and Kriat HaTorah - reading of the Torah - is the Gematria of my present full Hebrew name Shimon Matisyahu, equalling 1327! This reading of the Torah that I was called up for and I personally read on Shabbat Vayeishev, the first day of Chanuka, was the Maftir portion special for Chanuka, which is the reading of the very events of the Tabernacle and sacrifices of the leader of the Tribe of Judah that took place on Rosh Chodesh Nissan - Sunday, the very date and day of the week less than two years ago when I gave myself my Hebrew name of Matisyahu! This is bearing in mind that this name which means "Gift of Hashem" is similar to the name of the above leader of the tribe of Yissachar - "G-d gave".

Along these lines, the Bnei Yissaschar in his Sefer in which each chapter is given a special name or title, the title of Rishon Hu - "It is the First" is the title that he uses for both his chapter on the month of Nissan - which is the FIRST of the Jewish months, and for his chapter on the FIRST day of Chanuka in which the Hasmonians came to the Temple and lit the Menora after an interruption due to the Syrian Greeks.

Shortly before I met my wife Yael, it was on Tu B'Av, the annual date of finding love based on what used to place in Temple times on this date, that I wrote Blog #38 about this special date and about a Hebrew book on the subject of finding love using spiritual means entitled Mah Zot Ahava "What is this love?" authored by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg -, which I found on the eve of this day, the title of which in Hebrew is the Gematria of my name Shimon (466). I had also mentioned that Rabbi Shimon Lavi, who composed the famous song Bar Yochai about Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, author of the teachings of the Zohar, passed away 421 years ago on Tu B'Av 5348 (1588). What I didn't mention then is that my 2nd name Matisyahu could be used as a sign to note this 421st Yahrzeit of this Rabbi bearing my first Hebrew name Shimon. The first two letters of Matisyahu spells Meit - dead or died, and the following four letters Tav/Sav (400) Yud (10) Hei (5) Vav (6) add up to 421. Little did I know that shortly after finding this book and writing that blog piece that I would meet my wife. Amazing signs from Hashem!

And my wedding week, which occured on the remaining seven days of Chanuka beginning on Sunday when I received my GIFT OF HASHEM, was the 89th week from when I gave myself my 2nd Hebrew name of the Chanuka hero Matisyahu on Rosh Chodesh Nissan on a Sunday, and Chanuka is the Gematria of 89! Even if I weren't to get married that week, the fact alone that the 89th week from the naming fell out on Chanuka having the Gematria of 89 would be remarkable on its own, but the fact that this was my wedding week - from Sunday through Shabbat, or in other words, the first week of married life, comes to highlight the great connection that I have with Chanuka.

Indeed, the beginning of the account of the dedication of the Tabernacle, part of my Ufruf Aliyah, starts with Vayehi BeYom Kalot Moshe "It was on the day of Moshe finishing setting up the Tabernacle...". Rashi notes that the word for finishing - Kalot is spelled as Kaf Lamed Tav without the letter Vav in the middle of this word as is normally spelled, as it is similar to the word Kalla/Bride, for on the day of the setting up/dedication of the Tabernacle, the Jews were like a bride entering the Chupa.

And speaking of the word Kalla, this is the Gematria of 55. This was doubly revealed in my case. The 55th day from the day that we met in person for the first time on the 7th of Elul (5769) was the day that my wife Yael and I got engaged on 2 Cheshvan, and the 55th day from the day that we became engaged on the 2nd day of Cheshvan was our wedding day on 26 Kislev - the 2nd day of Chanuka! (And no, we didn't get engaged too soon after our initial date, and we didn't marry too soon after becoming engaged; it was about time that we started our lives together).

So the question begs to be asked - so what's with the first day of Chanuka which was not included in my 89th week since my Matisyahu naming, though it is on this very day that the miracle of the Jews entering the Temple and lighting the Menora took place? For this, I turn to the work Likutei Halachot authored by Rabbi Nathan Sternhartz, main disciple of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, whose Yahrzeit just occured yesterday on Asara B'Tevet (10 Tevet), the name of this work having the same Gematria as HaTorah - the Torah (616) - who quotes from a Kabbalistic source that the main spiritual light of Neir/candle of Chanuka is through the aspect of the name (related to Hashem) Nachal/river, the beginning letters - Noon Cheit Lamed - of the concluding words of the first blessing recited on lighting the Menora on Chanuka - L'Hadlik Neir Chanuka (NOTE: In Nusach Ashkenaz, the word Shel (of) is part of this phrase, but is considered an unnessary word by all other textual prayerbooks), which is the aspect of THE TORAH (Orach Chaim, Hilchot Betziat HaPat 5:27). With this in mind, these letters add up to the number 88; hence, this first day of Chanuka this year was the 616th day from my Matisyahu naming, the concluding day of the 88th week from the Matisyahu naming. And as mentioned here about a Neir/candle & Torah, these two words add up to the Gematria of 861, the same Gematria as Matisyahu! Hence, this past Chanuka was the ultimate proof that it was no coincidence that I was spiritually inspired to give myself this Hebrew name of Matisyahu, and as especially related to my wedding which was connected with ALL eight days of Chanuka.

And as Rashi, an Ashkenaic Rabbi, who wrote the commentary on the Torah & Talmud which is the most learned commentary until this day, mentioned about the concept of the Chupa/wedding in relationship to the dedication of the Tabernacle and the sacrifices of the leaders of the Tribes named as Chanukat HaMizbeiach, the dedication of the Altar, which is read all throughout Chanuka, it seems appropo to mention the connection that the Rambam/Maimonides, a Sephardic Rabbi makes between Chanuka and marriage.

I had mentioned in my previous post about the Hidden Codes hinting to the Rambam, especially relating to this year 5770, it is every 5770th letter that spells equidistantly in the Chumash - the phrase Sefer Rambam (Book of Rambam), the only such phrase occuring as such in the Chumash. According to the worldwide shedule of learning one chapter a day of his magnum opus, Mishneh Torah, encompassing the laws of the entire Torah, the two chapters on the laws of Chanuka fell out on Erev Chanuka and the 1st day of Chanuka. The very last paragraph of these laws states that if a poor person has a choice between spending his last money on Neir Beito (Shabbat candles) and Neir Chanuka, or Neir Beito & wine for Kiddush, the right choice is Neir Beito - Shabbat candles, because these promote Shalom Bayit - peace between husband and wife, as the pathways of Torah are peace; hence concluding with this word Shalom/peace, the concluding word of the Bircat Cohanim/Priestly Blessing, included in the reading of the first day of Chanuka which was my Ufruf day!

Following this, it was the first chapter of Hilchot Ishut, the laws of matrimony in the Rambam's work, particularly about getting married the proper way, immediately following the laws of Chanuka, on the 207th day of the learning schedule of this work, having the Gemaria of the word Ohr/light (as mentioned earlier about Chanuka - particularly the 2nd day of Chanuka) that was learned on the 2nd day of Chanuka, the day of my wedding! Moreover, bearing in mind that the number 89 is the Gematria of the word Chanuka, Psalm 89 consists of 53 verses, corresponding to which, the volume of the Rambam called Nashim/Women, consisting of 53 chapters, immediately follows the Laws of Chanuka (and this is my 53rd post)!

Also, this is in the first year of the 207th solar cycle which began this past year on the day before Passover when we recited the once-in-28-year Bircat HaChama prayers, and it is the Chama/sun, which is the Gematria of 53, that gives us physical Ohr/light having the Gematria of 207.

And wait, there is more! The full Hebrew name of my wife, Yael Miriam, is the same Gemaria as Nashim/women - 400, the name of the 4th of the 14 volumes of this work - consisting of 53 chapters - of the Rambam beginning with this chapter about getting married properly! And indeed, the first word of the name of this work Mishneh Torah can be read as Mem (40) Shana/years, as I am presently in my 40th year. Miracle of Miracles!

And just as the first words of Torah that we mention upon the daily recital of Bircat HaTorah/Blessings of the Torah is the section of the Torah about the Bircat Cohanim/Priestly Blessing (except for Nusach Ashkenaz that mentions only the Priestly Blessing itself), this is the very section of the Torah that begins the special Chanuka reading on the 1st day of Chanuka (except for Ashkenazim outside of Israel). Hence, there is a unique connection between giving of the Torah and Chanuka - especially as it relates to the first day of Chanuka when the ultimate miracle of having free access to the Temple and lighting the lights of the Menorah, while the remaining seven days of Chanuka celebrate the miracle of the same oil burning beyond the natural time limit of one day. And indeed, the last word of the Bircat HaTorah recited both daily before learning Torah and for the Aliya right before the Torah reading is HaTorah, having the Gematria of 616, and it was on my 616th day from giving myself the name Matisyahu that I had my Ufruf beginning the Torah reading of the Bircat Cohanim, consisting of 150 letters, corresponding to which are the 150 words of Eishet Chayil, the concluding 22 verses of Proverbs recited before the Kiddush on Shabbat night praising the Jewish wife.

And for the name Matisyahu itself, the first three letters of this name - Mem Tav Tav - are the beginning letters of the phrase Mitzvat Talmud Torah - learning/teaching Torah which is the greatest of the 613 commandments, as noted at the conclusion of the Mishnaic/Talmudic piece that we recite following the Bircat Cohanim (section) recited daily after the Bircat HaTorah - Talmud Torah Knegged Kulam - the learning/teaching of Torah is equal to all of them - all of the other commandments.

Continuing on with the midst of Chanuka, the 620th day from the day that I gave myself my 2nd name of Matisyahu fell out on the 5th day of Chanuka, the day that we read the sacrifices of the leader of the tribe of Shimon. As I had mentioned in my previous post, there are 613 Mitzvot/Commandments of the Torah and seven special Mitzvot that the Rabbis instituted, under the commandment of Lo Tasuru - "Do not turn aside" from what the Beit Din command us. Hence, the last of these Mitzvot D'Rabbanan/Commandments of the Rabbis was the Mitzva of lighting the candles of Chanuka; hence, considered the 620th Mitzva, the credit of which is ultimately given to Matisyahu, grandson of Shimon HaTzadik, who started the revolution that led to Chanuka. Hence, my full Hebrew name of Shimon Matisyahu encompasses this concept of the Rabbis "adding" to the Mitzvot (one of the 613 Mitzvot is not to add to the Mitzvot but the rabbis had the power to institute actions as Mitzvot to strengthen the Torah), and in the same vein, I had added a Hebrew name that highlights the concept of Chanuka in my life, though I was not born on Chanuka, but little did I know at the time nearly two years ago that I would be getting married during Chanuka, and neither did I realize at the time that my 89th week from then would be a total Chanuka week from the 2nd to 8th day of Chanuka being that Chanuka is the Gematria of 89, let alone to be my first week of marriage!

And finally, we reach the 8th and final day of Chanuka, also known as Zot Chanuka. This was the first Shabbat of my marriage, the conclusion of the 89th week from when I gave myself the name Matisyahu. The Maftir portion of that Shabbat Mikeitz, the reading for the 8th day of Chanuka that I was called up for and I personally read, begins with the account of the sacrifices that the leader of the Tribe of Menashe brought. Indeed, the names Shimon and Menashe add up the Gematria of 861, which is also the Gematria of the name of Matisyahu! The same letters of the name Menashe are the letters of Neshama/soul, the spiritual part of the person, whose physical part is the Guf/body, which is turn has the same Gematria as Chanuka - 89!

Accordingly, this ZOT Chanuka, 8th day of Chanuka, on which the Maftir began with the Korbanot that the Nasi of the Tribe of Menashe brought, was the 616th day from the 8th of Nissan, a week after I had my new name naming, the date on which the Nasi of the Tribe of Menashe brought his Korbanot. Bearing in mind that the name Menashe also has the same letters as Mishna, the foundation of the Oral Torah, and that HaTorah is the Gematria of 616, the verse that we first recite when the Torah Scroll is open for all to see when lifted is V'ZOT HaTorah... "This is the Torah that Moses placed in front of the Children of Israel". And along these lines, the beginning words of the last Parsha of the Chumash, which is also the name of that Parsha, are V'ZOT HaBeracha "This is the blessing that Moses...blessed the Children of Israel..." which is read and concluded on Simchat Torah, the last part of which is read for whom we call the Chatan Torah, the Bridegroom of Torah.

Now, the last day of Chanuka is especially nicknamed as Zot Chanuka - "This is Chanuka" taking the word Zot from the reading of the last day of Chanuka - Zot Chanukat HaMizbeiach - "This is the dedication of the altar". Remember when I mentioned earlier in this post about the book on Jewish love called Mah Zot Ahava (having the Gematria of my name Shimon) "What is this love?" that I found right before the night of Tu B'Av? It is this very word Zot that names the last day of Chanuka which was also the last day of my Sheva Berachot week, right before getting into the normal daily living of a married life. But what was most unique about the timing of my wedding is that the Shabbat before my wedding was Chanuka and the first Shabbat following my wedding was Chanuka.

There is a similar word for the word gift in Hebrew - Matan. This word is used in the context of Matan Torah/Giving of the Torah which took place on Shavuot - which is considered the marriage ceremony between Hashem and the Jewish people, and the Torah is considered the Ketuba/marriage contract. The word Matan is the Gematria of 490, and my wedding took place in my 490th month!

There is another word in Hebrew that has the same Gematria of 490 - Tamim/complete. Indeed, while singles who think they "have it all" may brainwash themselves to think that they are complete; as far as the Torah is concerned, only one who is married is complete. In fact, regarding the Mitzva of Sefirat HaOmer - counting 49 days/seven weeks until Shavuot, it states - Sheva Shabbatot Temitot Tiyehna "There shall be seven COMPLETE weeks", using the same terminology of Tamim, except in this context, it's in plural form. Hence, it's only when we prepare ourselves with this concept of Temimut/spiritual completeness that we are ready to be in a frame of mind to learn Torah properly. This is not to say that we have to be perfect, for indeed, only Hashem is perfect, but complete in the sense that we have the proper intentions in mind to be a student of Torah - not for our own self aggrandizement - which could include honor, power, money, etc. but because we want to be students of Hashem - to learn Torah because He said so, to learn what it is that Hashem wants us to do, and to help us set an example for Jews and non-Jews as to the positive benefits that result from Torah learning. Similarly, we cannot be a complete Jew without our significant other.


Just as I had my personal Chanuka miracle in comparison to the original Chanuka miracle, so too did a "Purim" miracle happen on today's date of 11 Tevet in 5408 - 362 years ago - in the town of Mezhbuzh, the town in which the Ba'al Shem Tov would be born and raised some 50 years later. In fact, there were many such "Purim" miracles, meaning, that Jews were miraculously saved from enemies as the Jews were saved from Haman's evil schemes in the Purim story, throughout many centuries. However, this particular Purim story is unique because the miracle of this event that occured on 11 Tevet happened through a couple whose names were Mordechai & Esther as in the original Purim story.

In the Megilla/Book of Esther, there is a BIG letter Cheit near the beginning and a BIG letter Tav in the phrase VaTichtov Esther - "Esther wrote" (see Post #22) near the end. It has been said that this hints to the Hebrew Year 5408 - Hei Tav Cheit referring the massacres that happened to Jews in many parts of Europe during this year. However, this would not fit well with the miraculous story of the Jews being saved as recounted in the Megilla. I believe that these two letters hint to this year that refer particularly to the Purim miracle of 5408 in Mezhbuzh that was wrought through a couple named Mordechai & Esther.

And as a connection to Chanuka, as per the phrase pertaining to the sacrifices that the leaders of the Tribes brought following the dedication of the Tabernacle - Zot Chanukat HaMizbeiach, just as the BIG Cheit is near the beginning of the Megilla and the BIG Tav is near the end of the Megilla, so too, the Cheit is the first letter of the word Chanukat & Tav/Sav is the last letter of the word Chanukat.

And these two letters are the first two letters of the word Chatan/Bridegroom & Chatuna/Wedding. And as my first week of marriage began on a Sunday and ended on a Shabbat, so does the beginning of the Torah recount Hashem creating the world in the first week of the world's existance (Genesis 1:1-2:3) in which there are exactly 469 words, which is the Gematria of the word Chatuna/Wedding.

Yes, the Cheit is the number 8, as the 8 days of Chanuka in which my marriage is connected with from the Ufruf reading on the first day of Chanuka which I was called up to and recited in the same area of the world - at the Western Wall - as the Maccabbees entered the Temple to light the Menorah on the first of Chanuka, and then was my wedding week on the remaining seven days of Chanuka; so too, the Tav is the number 400, and the Gematria of my wife's full Hebrew name Yael Miriam is 400.

I want to conclude speaking of a verse from Shir HaShirim/Song of Songs, the lovesong between Hashem and the Jewish people. As stated in Song of Songs 4:12 (as translated and explained by Artscroll) - Gan Naul Achoti Chala Gal Naul Mayan Chatum - "As chaste as a garden locked, My sister, O bride; a spring locked up, a fountain sealed". Meaning, the beauty and charm of the daughters of Israel are guided by modesty and purity. The beginning word of the verse in Hebrew - Gan/Garden consists of the letters for the number 53 in Hebrew, the number of this post, and as the Eishet Chayil song near its conclusion states - Isha Yirat Hashem Hee Tithallal - a woman who fears Hashem is the one to be praised. Rabbi Nachman of Breslov says that the Torah is called an/Isha woman (Likutei Moharan 1:146), and the word following Isha in the Eishit Chayil song is Yirat - fear of - which is the Gematria of the word Torah - 611. Yes, my personal Matan Torah - gift of a wife, of an Eishet Chayil, in my 490th month that I received my Matan which is the Gematria of 490. (Note: The above chapter and verse in Song of Songs can be read with the numbers put together as 412 - which is the Gematria of the word Bayit/house, which is a nickname given to the wife who is the mainstay of the home, as mentioned in Tractate Shabbat of the Talmud)

Yes, the woman, along with her modesty and purity, who is supportive of the Torah learning of her husband (and sends her children to Yeshiva) has an equal share in the eternal reward that her husband receives, the same way that Zevulun receives an equal share of the Torah learning of his brother Yissaschar - the tribe whose leader brought sacrifices as read on the 2nd day of Chanuka, my wedding day. As Chazal put it - Ishto K'Gufo - one's wife is like one's own body, and Guf/body has the same Gematria as Chanuka (89). And besides the timing of my wedding on Chanuka, it happened in my 40th year. A wife - especially a bride - is called a Malka/queen, and the word Malka shares the same Gematria as the name of the supportive brother/partner of Torah learning - Zevulun (95). The word Malka consists of the letter Mem which equals 40, and the letters that spell the word Kalla/bride. Hence, it was in my 40th year that I married my bride, my queen, the love of my life, the best Chanuka GIFT OF HASHEM that I ever received.

11 Tevet 5770

Sunday, November 22, 2009

#52 - Codes of the Coveted Covenant

Yes, a most unique name. And with this, there is another name that starts with the letter C that is very associated with this title.

You see, today's date - 6 Kislev - marks the 52nd Yahrzeit of Rabbi Chaim Michael Dov Weissmandl, a Rosh Yeshiva, author of Torah books, who expended much effort attempting to save Jews from the Holocaust. For the large part, "Jewish" organizations whom he asked to assist him in saving Jews turned a blind eye and a deaf ear, he lost his wife and five children to the Nazi beasts, and became physically weak in his later years from all the aggrevation that he had from everything that was happening to the Jews and to himself, which included heart attacks. It's comforting to know that he had remarried since the war, lived for like another 10 years, and has descendants today carrying his family name.

Perhaps what this rabbi may be most popularly known for to many is his unique contribution to the Hidden Codes of the Torah, before the computer era. The story that led to this is most unique. For his Bar Mitzva speech, he had composed a most brilliant lecture of his own thoughts on Torah. His grandfather, fearing that he would become conceited as a result of this, offered him a financial reward for refraining from doing so. Taking up on the offer, he used some of the money he received to purchase a Sefer from the Rabbeinu Bachya, a commentary on the Torah, which would be the very book that he was in the midst of reading when he passed away.

In this Sefer is where he first learned of this method of Hidden Codes of the Torah - which involves discovering words being spelled equidistantly, leaving an equal amount of skipped letters between the letters meant to spell a word or words. For example, let's say that we pick a certain place in a paragraph where the letter T, the first word of the word Torah, is at. After this letter, we count 49 letters, and then the 50th letter is the letter O. We continue this way for the letters R, A & H, and hence the letter Torah can be spelled with the exact amount of letters skipped in between the letters of the word Torah. And indeed, Rabbi Weissmandl did just this with the Hebrew word Torah in unique places in the Chumash that has a connection with the particular Torah section that has to do with this word.

This rabbi's findings can be found in a Sefer which is a compilation of his teachings and writings called Torat Chemed, which includes detailed mathematical analysis on building a Mikva, a ritularium in which married women after close to two weeks after becoming a Nida - beginning their period, use before resuming intimate relations. But what I would like to point out here is that the word Chemed - made up of the letters Cheit, Mem, Dalet - which means coveted, grace, or charm, is the acrostic for the three Hebrew names of this Rabbi - Chaim Michael Dov - is the Gematria of 52, and this year marks his 52nd Yahrzeit.

In honor of this, I would like to mention a piece of his Torah on the Hidden Codes - his favorite being the skip of 49 letters until the 50th letter - reminiscent of counting 49 days of the Sefirah, and then the 50th day marks the holiday of Shavuot, when we received the Torah. Hence, he used this very method with the word Torah which can be spelled this way various times in the Chumash.

Speaking of the number 50, I want to point out that the Hebrew word for this number is Chamishim - Cheit, Mem, Shin, Yud, Mem, this word totaling the Gematria of 398. Indeed, today's date - 6 Kislev, the 52nd Yahrzeit of Rabbi Weissmandl - marks the 398th day from when I began on 23 Tishrei 5769. And so while this may the 52nd post, it has everything to do with the number 50.


Being that in a few weeks will be the holiday of Chanuka, I want to mention another finding of this rabbi's in relationship to this holiday, which I touched upon on my 50th post - FIFTY in FIFTY. In this post, I had mentioned that the name of Matisyahu, patriarch of the Maccabbees, whose heroism led to this holiday, is hinted in the same way of the skip of 49 letters in between the letters of his name at the end of the Chumash, beginning with the letter Mem of Moshe Rabbeinu's name where it mentions "Moses died there" (Deutronomy 34:5). The significance of this is that there are 613 Mitzvot/Commandments of the Torah, following which rabbis from Moshe, who instituted kindling the Shabbat lights - until Matisyahu, who instituted kindling the Chanuka lights, made up what is known as the "Seven Mitzvot of the Rabbis", under the Mitzva of Lo Tasuru - "Do not turn aside from what they (the Jewish court) instructs you"; hence, these are not per se added Mitzvot of the Torah which is forbidden, but within the framework of what the Torah permits to be instituted.

Now, let's turn to the beginning of the Torah, which speaks of the accounting of the days of Creation. The same way that Matisyahu's name is spelled, so is Abraham's name spelled with the same skip of 49 letters in between this name's letters. This begins from the letter Alef of Abraham's five lettered name- the first letter of G-d's five lettered name Elokim, in the 5th day of Creation where He blesses the fish and the birds, beginning with the words Peru Urvu - "Be fruitful and multiply". While He is addressing other creatures, the very first Mitzva of the Torah is Hashem's command to mankind using this very phrase. Now, ending of with the Mem of Abraham's five lettered name is the last letter of G-d's five lettered name Elokim which is right next to G-d's statement "Let's make man".

Rabbi Weissmandl explains that Abraham came to rectify Adam's sin of the forbidden fruit; and indeed, in the verse immediately following the accounting of the first week of Creation, it says that "These are the products of the heaven and the earth WHEN HE CREATED THEM" = B'Hibaram, using the same letters as B'Avraham - through Abraham, because where Adam messed up in the world, Abraham was the first to rectify.

In the same vein, that Abraham - the FIRST Jew who observed the Torah which begins with the FIRST Mitzvah of having children - was the FIRST to work on Adam's shortcoming, it was Matisyahu who closed the lid on the giving of the Written Torah that began with Moses, so to speak. While physically, the Torah ends speaking of Moses' departure from this world and his accomplishments, the spiritual aspect of the giving of the Chumash - the foundation of the Written Torah - was not over until Matisyahu accomplished his mission of completing the "Seven Commandments of the Rabbis" - the LAST of the total of 620 Commandments - under the jurisdiction of the Torah commandment of Lo Tasuru.

A unique connection that is given between the first Mitzva of Peru UrVu and the lights of Shabbat is that a minimum of two lights - signifying husband & wife - are lit for the night of Shabbat - which is meant especially as a time for relations between the two, especially for men who are Torah scholars. Using Gematria, the word Ner which means candle - times two, that is, 250*2 - equals 500. So too, the phrase Pru Urvu - the first Mitzva - equals 500. And indeed, the Talmud in Tractate Shabbat where it speaks of lighting Shabbat & Chanuka candles tells us that in reward for diligently kindling these lights, one is granted children who will be Torah scholars.

Hence, as the Kabbalah states, the beginning is rooted in the end, and the end is rooted in the beginning. The beginning is the Pru Urvu of the number 500, and the end are the lights of Shabbat where the Hebrew word Ner times two is 500. And for the Mitzva of Chanuka, the ideal way of fulfilling it is Ner Ish U'Beito - each member of the family lighting the Chanuka lights. It's interesting to note that while lighting Shabbat candles rests upon the wife to do, and lighting Chanuka candles rests upon the husband to do, if either of them aren't able to be around to do their respective duty, it's upon the other spouse to do it for them, and the absent spouse fulfills the Mitzva through the active spouse's performance.

As I had mentioned about the topic of Mesirut Nefesh/self sacrifice in the past, both Abraham & Matisyahu displayed this very characteristic when it came to idolatry. Abraham smashed the idols of his pop's shop leading him to be thrown into a fiery furnace who refused to recant in his rejection of the deity of the gods, and Matisyahu amidst religious persecution struck dead a Hellenistic Jew who dared to sacrifice a pig on an altar in worship to the gods. And as the Talmud states, the prohibition of idolatry is equal to all of (the commandment of ) the Torah.
Hence, it is most fitting that their names should be hinted as such at the beginning and the end of the Torah, respectively.


We are in the midst of reading the Torah portions that relate to our forefathers Abraham, Isaac & Jacob. The Talmud in Tractate Bava Batra (16a) points out that Hashem gave these three forefathers a taste of the world to come in this world, using the word Kol everything in reference to these three. The only difference between these three is how this word is used. For Abraham, the word used is BaKol - with everything; for Isaac, the word used is MiKol - from everything; and for Jacob, the word used is Kol - everything.

Abraham was blessed with his son Isaac as the ripe old age of 100. The word in Hebrew for son is Ben, which shares the same Gematria as BaKol (52). Isaac specialized in giving tithes from everything he owned, thus he gave 10% from his total earnings, leaving him with 90% the Gematria of MiKol, from which he had an enormous blessing. Jacob was the father of the 12 Tribes of Israel, who have a total of 50 letters, and the word Kol is the Gematria of 50.

Anyways, we see that there is some sort of connection here between the number 52 relating to Abraham and the number 50 relating to Jacob, as both have to do with children. Similarly, I had mentioned earlier how Rabbi Weissmandl, whose Hebrew names begin with the letters that add up to the number 52, based much of his Hidden Codes of the Torah on the number 50. Hence, the word Chemed of this Rabbi's name is used as part of the title of the Sefer of this rabbi's teachings. Literally, it is a word that signifies something being cherished, and any good parent will tell you that aside from his/her spouse, it is their children who are the most cherished possessions in their life, who are literally everything in their life, and with G-d forbid even the loss of one of them, regardless of how many other children they have, they feel in a sense that they lost everything, that life is not the same anymore. As much as it may be painful to loose a parent or a spouse, losing a child is not the norm in everyday living when children are supposed to survive their parents and not the other way around. The parents usually sacrifice virtually everything within their means for the best of their children whom they began loving unconditionally, who came from the combined love of husband and wife, and hence a physical part of them.


It was only on Friday, literally less than 72 hours ago, that I came across a most unique story about a modern Abraham. To begin with, no one who is a convert to Judaism should be made to feel less than anyone else, as Abraham was no better when he started worshipping idols but in time learned the truth of monotheism. And so, the following story about a newcomer to Judaism who literally went through the conversion only within this past week should hope to add a special dimension to the Mitzva of loving a Ger Tzedek/convert about which we fulfull an additional Mitzva of the Torah in addition to the regular commandment of loving a Jew - Ahavat Yisrael.

A non-Jew born to a Hindu cleric who worshipped idols back in India, he knew from when he was young that idols are worthless. When becoming of college age, he smashed his father's idols, reminiscent of the Biblical Abraham who did the same to his father's idols. Following a confrontation with his father, he attended medical school during which time was introduced to the Bible by Christians. In time, he became the director of a medical center in Mumbai, India. At one point, he realized the truth of Judaism and changed his name to Aaron Abraham, his first name which he named himself after Aaron the first High Priest. His search for Judaism led him to the Holzberg couple who established a Chabad House in the Mumbai town, and together with his wife Ruth, a nurse whom he met while attending medical school, who shared his views on religion, they learned much more about Judaism from the rabbinical couple. Tragically, the Holzberg couple were murdered one year ago by terrorists in the Mumbai attacks, which saddened Dr. Abraham very much, but realized that life goes on. During the course of this past year, he gave up his prestigious position at the hospital and moved to Israel with his wife and three kids. During this past week, on the first Yahrzeit of the Holzberg couple - may Hashem avenge their blood - he and his wife converted to Judaism and were married at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, whose wedding ceremony I watched on video.


Rabbi Weissmandl points out in Torat Chemed that he has Hidden Codes for virtually most of the great Rabbis of earlier times, however, it would be too lengthy and time consuming to mention them all. However, he picks out particularly the Rambam/Maimonides - Rabbeinu Moshe Ben Maimon for this.

There is a phrase "From Moshe (Rabbeinu) to Moshe (Maimonides), there was none who rose like Moshe (Maimonides)". Of his many writings, his magnum opus is what is known as the Mishneh Torah, composed of a halachic work of all the laws of the Torah based on the 613 Mitzvot, consisting of 14 volumes or categorized into 14 sections of Jewish Law. We even know the exact date that he completed this, which is two days from now - the night of 8 Kislev. It is said that upon completion of writing this, there appeared two people to him - his late father Maimon who was an accomplished scholar in his own right, and none other than Moshe Rabbeinu himself. Moshe asked the Rambam to show him his completed scholarly work, and upon looking through it, he wished him a Yishar Koach, wishing him strength for having completed such an important work in Judaism, upon which there is virtually no halachic work until this day that does not quote from the Rambam.

And so, various hints in the Torah using the Hidden Codes point out to the Rambam and especially this scholarly work. When Hashem tells Moshe shortly before placing the final plague on Egypt force them to let the Jews out, He states Revot Mofsei B'Eretz Mitzraim - "My wonders will be multiplied in the land of Egypt". Indeed, the first letters of this phrase - Reish, Mem, Beit, Mem spells the acronym Rambam - Rabbeinu Moshe Ben Maimon, who lived for a good part of his life in Egypt! Following this, in the section about the Sanctification of the New Moon and the details of the Pascal sacrifice and other Mitzvot related to Passover, there are other hints to the Rambam, including a 613 letter count from where the word Mishneh is spelled every 50th letter equidistantly until the word Torah which is spelled every 50th letter equidistantly, corresponding to the 613 Mitzvot upon which this work is based on! Additionally, the Pascal sacrifice was slaughtered in the afternoon of the 14th of Nissan, the very time of day that the Rambam was born!

There is a regular study session of learning the Rambam. Some learn according to the schedule of three chapters a day, while others follow the schedule of one chapter a day. And then for an elementary level of learning, there is also a schedule of the 613 Mitzvot of the Rambam in his Sefer HaMitzvot. In any case, for those who learn one chapter of Mishneh Torah a day, it is right now in the midst of the laws of Kiddush HaChodesh - sanctification of the New Moon, one of the Mitzvot that is in the midst of the hints of the Rambam and his work. It's interesting to note that just as there are 19 years to the solar-lunar cycle that we use in which there are virtually the same amount of solar & lunar days in a 19 year cycle which includes 235 months of the lunar calendar, so too, this section of the Rambam about these laws contains 19 chapters and 235 laws/paragraphs!

There is an amazing discovery that I found a few years ago that is related to this work of the Rambam in the Hidden Codes. While the Rambam wrote a number of works, it is the Mishne Torah in particular that is called particular the Rambam, as when quoting from this work, we say, "In the Rambam..." With this being said, I typed in the phrase Sefer Rambam. Though normally, it may be known more as Sefer HaRambam - "the" Rambam, it is essentially the same thing. Well my friends - this phrase can be spelled equidistantly only ONCE in the Chumash (spelled backwards). Well, we know that this year is 5770, and it is every 5770th letter that spells out this phrase! And speaking of years, I am presently in my 40th year. The first word of the regular name of this work Mishne Torah, can be read as two words - Mem (the letter)=40 & Shana/year. Hence, being in my 40th year of my life, it is most interesting that this phenomenon about the number of this year 5770 shows up in relationship to this work of the Rambam.

And in the wake of the upcoming holiday of Chanuka, according to the worldwide schedule of learning one chapter of this work daily, the two chapter of the laws of Chanuka fall out on - Erev Chanuka (day before Chanuka) & the 1st day of Chanuka! Indeed, with the fact that Rabbi Weissmandl's 52nd Yahrzeit falling out in this year of 5770, whose findings about the Rambam that he selects of all the great rabbis to record in the Sefer Torat Chemed, and the word Chemed is the Gematria of 52 like the number of his Yahrzeit this year, which falls out in the midst of the laws of Kiddush HaChodesh which is in the section of the Torah hinting to the Rambam and his work of Mishneh Torah, which is the bridge between the Chumash - the Written Torah & the Oral Torah of the Mishnah and Talmud, so too is Chanuka the bridge between the Chumash - the Written Torah that Matisyahu spiritually completed and the Oral Torah handed down by the Rabbis which includes the innovation of their Seven Commandments of the Rabbis of which the lighting of the Chanuka candles is the conclusion of these.

As we know, there is a commandment to relate the story of the Exodus on the Seder night - V'Higadta L'Bincha - "You shall relate to your child" using the masculine form for child - Ben/son which is the Gematria of 52, and in the very next verse is says Ki B'YAD CHAZAKA Hotziacha Hashem M'Mitzrayim - "For with a STRONG HAND, Hashem brought you out of Egypt". Another name for the Rambam's Mishneh Torah work is Yad HaChazaka, as Yad is the Gematria of 14, as this work consists of 14 major sections. And taking a peek on the schedule for the Rambam's birthday of 14 Nissan - the date of the slaughter of the Pascal sacrifice in Temple times, the Mitzva of which is crucial to mention in fulfilling the Mitzva of relating the story of the Exodus on the Seder night - in this year of 5770, the schedule of learning three chapters a day is the beginning of the 14th and last of these volumes (the laws of the Sanhedrin)!

For free learning of Mishneh Torah or the Rambam's writings on the 613 Commandments online, turn to this site


Speaking of the Written Torah & Oral Torah in reference to the number 52, this would not be complete without mention of the 52nd Parsha of the Chumash - Parshat Vayeilech. This Parsha includes the last two Mitzvot of the Torah. The first is the Mitzva of Hakhel - the king reading from parts of the Sefer Devarim/Deutronomy which is also called Mishne Torah like the name of the Rambam's magnum opus, read during Succot every seven years following the Shemitta year, and the second is the Mitzva of every Jew writing or having written for him a Sefer Torah, which can be fulfilled nowadays with owning Sefarim - including the Written Torah & Oral Torah.

Now, this 52nd Parsha being the shortest Parsha of the Torah consisting of 30 verses, it can be divided into two. The 24th verse states "So it was that when Moses finished writing the words of this Torah into a book, until their conclusion". As we know, there are 24 books to the Tnach - WRITTEN Torah. The 24th and the CONCLUDING BOOK of these is called Divrei HaYomim/Chronicles - which literally means the WORDS of the days, just like the name of the last Sefer of the Chumash in which this Parsha is located in - Devarim/Deutronomy which means WORDS. Now note the ending of this verse "book, UNTIL their conclusion". Meaning, the Torah could be written down UNTIL coming to what is called "their conclusion", which is the word Tumam, which has the same Gematria as Talmud (480), which in one sense, includes the teachings which form the basis of the Mishnah & Gemara, which could not be written down.

Now, for the last six verses of the Parsha, the last verse states, "Moses spoke the words of this song into the ears of the entire congregation of Israel, until their conclusion". Now note the phrase - "Moses SPOKE...into the EARS". These last SIX verses of this Parsha correspond to the SIX Orders of the Mishnah, which is the foundation of the Oral or SPOKEN Torah, which was originally forbidden to be written down, until troubles increased for Jews during which time it was written down in fear of being forgotten, that is, they were only spoken until "their conclusion", which is the word Tumam; that is, they were only spoken until it became the written form of what we call the Talmud, having the same Gematria as Tumam. Also, one the meanings related to the word Gemara, the explanation of the Mishnah, is the word Gemar - finish or completion.


I had mentioned a little earlier how the letter Mem from the equidistant spelling of Abraham's name is the last letter of G-d's name Elokim, which immediately precedes His Statement "Let us make man". The Midrash points out that the Ten Statements that Hashem proclaimed in creating the world and the Ten Commandments correspond to one another. Hence, it is this last of the Ten Statements "Let us make man" that is congruent to "Thou shalt not covet" the last of the Ten Commandments.

In Hebrew, the wording for this Tenth Commandment is Lo Tachmod, using the very same wording of the word Chemed, part of the title of the Sefer which includes the above finding of Rabbi Weissmandl. Now, you will notice that there is a uniqueness to this Tenth Commandment.
It uses the same phrase Lo Tachmod not once - but twice! You see, the first part is about not coveting one's friend's wife, and the second part is about not coveting one's friend's possessions.
Then, we see in the repetition of the Ten Commandments in Deutronomy, it is formatted the same way, except that it is only the first time that is says Lo Tachmod, and the second part is Lo Titaveh "Thou shalt not be envious/jealous". So, what's the deal here?

Having feelings for a person differs very vastly than for feelings for possessions. While coveting possessions of someone else is the same sin on the books as coveting a woman who doesn't belong to him, they represent two different dimensions. Even as you will see in the list for the second Lo Tachmod or Lo Titaveh, it includes servants/slaves/handmaids but according to the Talmud, they are considered as other acquisitions, and hence are not considered on the same relationship as someone to whom one will feel much more naturally attracted to. Bonding and mating with the opposite sex represents the ultimate fulfillment on our part of Na'aseh Adam "Let us make mankind". Indeed, having children is considered by the Talmud as being partners with Hashem in the creation of the world. However, it must not be at the expense of mating with someone who is forbidden to him by the Creator of the world. Violating the rules of the Creator of the world disturbs the spiritual as well as the physical equilibrium of the natural order of the world, and does quite often lead to much heartache and pain to say the least. In that type of situation, the coveting and ultimate sinning of adultery is not done for the purpose of having children, though it might lead to that, but to fulfill one's lust. However, lust is not the same for other items, for it is jealousy with a desire that doesn't come from a sexual drive, but strictly from a mental drive to feel that not only one wants the same for oneself, but actually wants the other person's possessions themselves. Hence, while it is indeed a mental exercise for both the forbidden woman and forbidden possessions, they are two different types of relationships with the added sexual drive that is exclusive to women - especially for some if it is forbidden which makes it more exciting for sinners.

And indeed, the Mitzva of the Brit Mila/circumcision on the reproductive organ of the body was first given to Abraham. This commandment is supposed to remind us to curve our excessive lust for sexual relations, especially for those who are forbidden to us, which is all women except for the one to whom we are married to. And even at that, there are times that our own wives are forbidden to us from the time she became menstrous, counting at least five days until the blood from her stops flowing, then counting a full seven days with no blood stains, and then and only then after a through and through cleaning of her body does she enter the Mikva/ritual aquarium to purify herself for her husband once more. For men, it is the circumcision that is performed after the first seven days of their life, and for the women, the purification of the Mikva takes place after seven "clean days". And indeed, it is through these very methods that one converts to Judaism, except that women do not have a circumcision.

Similarly, following the Exodus from Egypt, bearing in mind that this is like the exodus of the baby from the womb, the Jews counted seven weeks, and following their purification in comparison to one converting to Judaism and the menstrous woman, received the Torah. Indeed, the word for Egypt - Mitzrayim literally means the straits, the narrowness, as the constricted place of the womb from which the baby emerges into the wide world. And in reference to this, there is another Jewish book from Rabbi Weissmandl of his account of the Holocaust entitled Min HaMeitzar that means from the straits, from the horrors of the Holocaust about which this Rabbi lamented about in reference to the lack of assistance from so called Jewish organizations who pretended to be all about helping other Jews but remained impervious so to speak to the reality that they chose to ignore while millions of Jews were led to the slaughter house by the Nazi beasts.


As I mentioned the connection between the numbers of 50 and 52 during the course of this 52nd post using the number 50 as the magic number discovering Hidden Codes - Hidden Treasures of the Torah, there is another connection here between these two numbers.

You may have wondered why I didn't mention anything about the concept of Jubilee - as in the context of the Jubilee Year being the 50th year - a Mitzvah in the Torah, in my Jubilee post which is entitled FIFTY in FIFTY. It is true that I can write only so much for a posting that won't be so long. But my flow of writing works where there is a connection to the immediate topic or topics at hand.

And the same applies here. You will see why it is more special to write about the concept of Jubilee in this 52nd Post particularly, as I am writing about Rabbi Weissmandl's findings from the Sefer Torat Chemed, the last word being the Gematria of 52 on his 52nd Yahrzeit which is based on using the number 50.

As an act of Divine Providence, I found myself introduced to the Book of Jubilees just in the middle of late last night. Not considered part of the Tnach/Bible, this is supposed to be a set of mostly history with a bit of teachings given to Moses from the angels when visiting the heavens at one point during one of his 40 day stays. While some of this is not quite congruent to the order of years in Jewish history as we have it, it divides the years into a set of Jubilee years of 49 years per cycle.

Actually, a Jubilee cycle is 50 years, as in earlier times when we had the Temple and the Jews were living on their land, seven Shemita years were observed in the course of 49 years, and then the 50th year was the Jubilee year, an immediate second year of resting the land. Involving several commandments, the Beit Din announced the 50th year with a Shofar, for which another name for it is Yovel - "horn of the Yovel". These days, without the setup of Jewish living in Israel the way it used to be, we just observe Shemitta every seven years, but G-d willing, we will once again be observing the Jubilee year; in fact, according to some Rabbis, this is applicable once a majority of Jews in the world live in Israel, even if the Messiah or Temple is not yet in place, which can happen within the next several years.

In any case, I thought of a number of connections of the number of the cycle of 50 years from the Creation of the world in terms of that period in time:

Adam - passed away at the age of 930 -19th cycle. The Gematria of his wife's name Chava is 19.

Noah's Flood - in the year 1656 -34th cycle. The word Dal/poor is the Gematria of 34, and it was this flood that impoverished the world of all life outside of Noah's ark.

Jacob's stay in the house of his Lavan during which he worked for him for 14 years for his two daughters - Leah & Rachel - whom he married in the last part of the 22nd century of the world's existance before the year 2300. Now note, there is technically more than one literal meaning of Beit Lavan - house of Laban or White House. Now note, Lavan whose name means WHITE practiced BLACK magic in worshipping the gods. And this period of time falls out on the 44th cycle of 50 years from Creation. Now, in our present time, who is the 44th President of the United States? One who is half white - half black whose present residence is in Beit Lavan - the White House! And yes, he is one full of surprises, full of tricks, just like Lavan, a little more than just pulling the rabbit out of the hat.

Following this, Jacob bears the last of his twelve sons, completing the 12 Tribes of Israel, in the 45th period of 50 years from Creation. Now, our rabbis tell us that the beauty of Jacob is a reflection of the beauty of Adam. This means that Jacob came to rectify Adam's sin, a further level since Abraham. No doubt, with his completion of the 12 Tribes during this time with the birth of his son Benjamin, about whom our rabbis tell us that he was one of the biblical four who never did a sin in his life and only died because of Adam's sin, helped rectify this sin. And indeed, Adam's name is the Gematria of 45.

The Exodus took place in 2448 - near the end of the 49th cycle. And as we know, the Jews counted 49 days from after the Exodus until the Torah was given. Now, in an amazing choice of words, where Hashem told Moshe that the Jews are not to ascend Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah until Hashem says so, it says that the permission will be granted "when the shofar is sounded, then they can ascend the mountain" (Exodus 19:13). In this particular phrase, the Hebrew word that is actually used for shofar, the ram's horn is Yovel, which also means Jubilee! Hence, it was near the end of the 49th period of 50 years from the Creation that now it was the time to officially receive the Torah.

The Jews entered Israel under the leadership of Joshua in 2488, during the 50th cycle of 50 years. And just as we have a repetition here of 50, so is there a repetition of 50 in relationship to moving to Israel - why, this is the very name of Parshat Lech Lecha, the beginning of which Hashem tells Abraham to move to Israel. These two words making up the name of this Parsha each has the Gematria of 50. And then for the 50th Parsha of the Torah - Ki Tavo, it begins saying that when the Jewish nation will enter Israel, then they are to bring the Bikkurim, the Mitzvah of the first fruit to be brought to the Temple ideally on Shavuot, the 50th day from the Sephira count. Then, there is a verse that begins with the letter Noon and ends with the letter Noon, which has the numerical value of 50 - "We shall cross over, armed before Hashem to the land of Canaan, and ours shall be the heritage of our inheritance across the Jordan" (Numbers 32:32), the promise of the Tribes of Gad & Reuven of fighting for the Jews upon entering Israel; and then, and only then, would they settle down on the lands that they requested.

Now, the count of the Shemitta cycle did not start until after 14 years following entering Israel -which included seven years of wars and seven years apportioning out the land to the Tribes. This began in the year 2503 - shortly after the start of the 51th cycle. As the concept of Shemitta is related to the number seven, Hoshana Rabba - the 7th day of Succot, is so named because it is the 51st day from the beginning period of repentance starting from Rosh Chodesh Elul, as the phrase Hoshana consists of Hosha Na - please save or save now. The word Na - please/now also spells the number 51. This is the day that corresponds to the Ushpizin/Heavenly Guest of King David, whose name is the Gematria of 14. And it was only after 14 years of preparation of the Land of Israel did the Shemitta cycle of six years work and one year rest begin.

So finally, the VERY FIRST TIME THAT THE JUBILLE YEAR WAS DECLARED, the Mitzva of sanctifying the 50th year - took place in the year 2552, shortly after the start of the 52nd cycle of 50 years from Creation! Here we go, the connection of the numbers 50 & 52! Now, note the look of the number of the year 2552. First of all, it ends with the number 52. Secondly, this year can be read forwards and backwards. This may very well signify the fact that is was in the Jubilee year that land property purchased from a land owner who sold the land to help keep afloat had to be returned to him. Hence, the land which was owned by an individual according to the rules of the Torah but had to part with it to make ends meet has it returned to him - back to square one - as though nothing happened within the last 50 years!

Don't feel so bad for the buyer who had to return the land to the original owner. He had full use of it during that time which yielded him quite a profit that well exceeded the purchase price. It may have meant quick cash to the unfortunate seller, but he is not meant to suffer for this for all eternity. In this way, there is a balance among people so that there shouldn't be an economy of the few rich and most poor. While this is not meant to make everyone exactly equal in financial status, this system would help reduce a wide gap which can tear apart a community, and instead, can help everyone come to terms and realize that Hashem is the ultimate owner, who wants the best for His children -Bnei Yisrael - the SONS of Israel. And as a unified and single unit, they can be called a BEN/son which is the Gematria of 52. And indeed, the 52nd word of the Torah - concluding the FIRST day of Creation - is Echad/one (and the declaration of the FIRST Jubilee year took place in the 52nd cycle of 50 years from Creation, in the Hebrew year ending with the number 52) which in turn is the Gematria of 13. And while the Jewish nation consists of 12 tribes as the 12 sons of Jacob; when the tribe of Joseph is divided into two tribes - Menashe & Ephraim, they are then a total of 13 tribes, just as there are 13 months in a lunar leap year, as it is the leap month that helps maintain order and balance with the Jewish holidays occuring during the same season every year. And in another sense, the word Echad consists of the letters - Alef (1), Cheit (8), Dalet (4). That is, the one father Jacob, the eight sons of Jacob's two wives - Leah & Rachel, and the four sons of the maidservants - Bilha & Zilpa.

Regardless of stature of age or pedigree, we Jews are all one unit, and whatever may seem to be different is only because Hashem wills it as such - but we are supposed to learn to overcome our differences and realize our own mission in life. If status may seem to be an issue, we have to realize that it is the way that Hashem created us to serve Him in this particular set of circumstances, not because we are any greater or lower than anyone else. Hence, with this way of thinking, when we view ourselves as each one with a particular uniqueness as Hashem's son realizing that the one next to us has his own uniqueness, and that as Hashem's employees, we are not to pride ourselves over the one serving Hashem next to us, we come to realize that we are not of any more praise than anyone else becaue we are only doing what Hashem is telling us to do, not because we are any more special than anyone else. Accordingly, when we realize that Hashem is the Father who does everything in our best interest and that Hashem is the Boss who directs each one of us how to do the job correctly, there will then be no room to pride ourselves over others or look down on others, for Hashem in effect tells us to mind our own business, and just be busy with what we are supposed to be doing, making this world a better place for everyone else, which will bring the ultimate unity amongst the Jewish people, and will lead to the day when "Hashem will be one, and His name will be one".

NOTE: My next post will G-d willing be during Chanuka. Stay tuned.

6 Kislev 5770 - 52nd Yahrzeit of Rabbi Chaim Michael Dov Weissmandl

P.S. The time for this post - 1:48 PM, summarizes the last part of this Post #52. The number one is for the 52nd word of the Torah which is the word ONE, the end of the section of the first day of Creation. And the word Yovel/Jubilee is the Gematria of 48, about which the very first one was declared in the 52nd cycle of 50 years - Jubilee years - from the Creation of the world.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

#51 - Escape: To or From Reality

In life, we want solutions to answers - and usually, we want them now. Sometimes, this may be due to getting unsatisfactory results from past experiments or efforts, so we make an effort to do something that we think will work. Sometimes, this may take the form of a quick fix, which may be a bandage as a short term solution at best; however, this will not solve the problem in the long run. Of course, this may not be so surprising these days considering how we get quick results from modern technology when we are mentally trained for instant results and gratification at a moment's flick of the switch. And then among today's youth, young kids and teenagers look to have a high or a quick fix of feeling estatic by consuming drugs and alcohol, while adults often start off doing this to escape from the realities that they face in life, but are back rock bottom once the high feeling is over, and they realize that their problems did not go away as a result of their quick fix.


In what is know today as the Modern State of Israel, the Israelis had several wars with the Arab beasts between 1948 and 1973. Though Israel won every war, it was at the cost of thousands of dead Jewish soldiers, and the Israeli nation being quite frustrated over constant wars - especially the IDF soldiers who faught the Arabs. Towards this end, Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt, may his name and memory be erased, who staged a sneak attack on the Jewish State called the Yom Kippur War in 1973, played on the mentality of the Israeli nation, and suggested a peace treaty which would consist of Israel giving back the Sinai to the Arabs in exchange for "peace" from Egypt.

Under normal circumstances, virtually any country who is the victor, would at the very least laugh this off if not consider taking action against its enemy. In fact, chances are, the enemy wouldn't suggest it to begin with knowing the mentality of the country who won. However, Sadat must have had some kind of inkling here as to how the Israeli "leaders" and citizens were feeling by now. Ironically, when Menachem Begin, prime minister of Israel, first took office, the Arabs were terrified knowing of his past activities of fighting them. However, Begin caved in to pressure, and the deed was performed.

I remember back in my religious school in 3rd grade, when we were shown the Camp David Accords live on T.V. back in 1979, and we were told to write something on this. All I really knew about this is that it had something to do with peace, or so I thought. I remember writing that according to the Torah, you are even supposed to lie for peace. Well, Sadat did a pretty good job at that one, though he certainly could care less what the Torah has to say about Israel being the Divine Land for Jews. When I was not yet quite nine years old, I had yet to know that Sadat staged a sneak attack on the Jewish State. I didn't know that this was really about Israel giving away precious land filled with oil. I didn't know that what was taking place was really going against the Torah giving away Divinely given land to the Jews; though Begin was wearing a Kippa reciting Psalms 126, while ironically, what was going on here was diametrically opposed to the contents of this Psalm.

What was the reality here? The Arabs - at least Egypt - knew that fighting wars wouldn't be the answer, if somehow, the Jewish State would keep winning. They figured that in order to get what they want, they would have to be a little diplomatic. Little did they know how far these consequences would lead to, including the handover of Gush Katif and parts of Gaza. To come to think of it, the Temple Mount, the holiest area in the world, was handed back to the Arabs - particularly the Wakf - by Moshe Dayan not long after the Six Day War of 1967. It was at this very area where Isaac was bound on the Altar by his father Abraham, as mentioned in this week's Parshat Vayera.

My friends, the reality is that once an defeated enemy nation, always an enemy nation. Rabbi Meir Dovid Kahane, may the memory of the righteous be for a blessing, and may Hashem avenge his blood, whose Yahrzeit is today - 18 Cheshvan (5751/1990) - showed how true this is. As far as he was concerned, the Arabs could hardly wait for the day to get back what they felt was theirs, even though none of it belongs to them as far as the Torah is concerned. Hence, the only thing you can do with them is to send them back to their 22 countries, or send them to a place starting them up with some cash to get on with their lives; but that under no circumstances are they to continue living in Israel side-by-side with Jews whom they don't wish to see.

Very unfortunately, Begin didn't see it this way. In fact, when Kahane attempted to transfer some 5,000 Arabs to Canada with financial renumeration, it was Begin or his administration who jailed Kahane for "daring" to do such an "inhumane" activity. Begin was considered among the best fighters back in the early days of the Jewish State. However, he wanted to escape from the reality that the Arabs really don't wish us a peaceful reign, and chose instead to think that by doing the quick fix of saying goodbye to the Sinai that from now on, there will only be peace.

However, the reason I am mentioning this Camp David accords history is not just an excuse to mention Kahane's name being that today is his Yahrzeit or that I wanted to mention the Temple Mount that is in this week's Parshat Vayera, but also because a similarity to this happened thousands of years ago in this week's Parsha.


Lot, Abraham's nephew, is no stranger to my blogs. Was he really such a terrible guy, or was he simply a little misguided? However you feel about him, there was something that he didn't quite get, even after he barely escaped with his life. Never mind the fact that he allowed his daughters to do the wild thing with him being that he was so drunk that he never knew the difference until the next morning, and even after what happened with his first daughter, he allowed the same thing to happen the next night with his second daughter.

As I mentioned briefly in my previous blog #50, five towns were slated for destruction, and it was only Lot's immediate family that was saved from this area of towns. When the angels told him that the family needed to escape before the towns would be visited by Hashem's wrath, Lot attempted to save his accumulated wealth but the angels wouldn't let him have the time to do that, and forced his family out of the house with just virtually the shirts on their backs. Maybe had Lot been a little more righteous, he would have been allowed to keep everything that he owned, but Lot should have been thankful enough to Hashem for allowing him to live to begin with even though he turned away from the righteous path of Abraham that he originally started following, and instead chose an immoral life with the Sodomites.

As Lot's family was escaping, the angels told them to escape to the mountains. However, Lot insisted on living in a particular city named Zoar. Now, if you look closely in the Hebrew text, Lot makes his plea using the word Na, which can mean "please" or "now", four times. In his plea consisting of 43 words, there must be something going on with him keep repeating a certain word. By the last mention of this word, the Chumash's top commentator Rashi has had enough with this character. He explains that since Sodom was in existance for 52 years during which time it became filled with enough sins for destruction, and Zoar was in existance for one year less of 51 years, Lot felt that this would be a good place to live in. Rashi learns this out from the fact that the word Na - consisting of the letters Noon (50) & Alef (1) - is the Gematria of 51; and hence this is what was behind Lot's request.

Now, the reason why Lot did not want to escape to the mountains is because that would have meant being closer to more righteous people than he was, and was afraid that he would be slated for death; in contrast to having been saved now since he was the good apple among the rotten rest. However, he knew that the city of Zoar was hardly more righteous than the former town of Sodom that he lived in, and so he figured that at least for the coming year, even if it meant that this town of Zoar would be destroyed once it would reach 52 years like Sodom, that it would be a good place for him to reside, so even if he would have to relocate after one year, he would at least continue to live.

The problem here, my friends, is that Lot was not addressing his real problem. He did not even want to attempt to better his lifestyle, and that is despite knowing how his own uncle Abe was living his righteous life. He was begging as he was saying PLEASE, but all he was asking for was for the here and NOW. Like other wicked people, Lot was only thinking of enjoying himself in this temporary now, which is over before we know it. He refused to raise himself up spiritually, as the Hebrew word for mountains - Harim - is similar to the word Harama/raising up. He wanted a quick fix where he could continue the same lifestyle, while being considered a little more righteous than the rest due to his deeds of hospitality. However, even he himself knew that his behavior was far wanting as per what Hashem really wants, he just didn't want to forgo the pleasures of life.

Along these lines, mention of this word Nah four times, that is 51*4, add to the total of 204, which is the Gematria of Tzadik/righteous person. All Lot wanted to do in terms of righteousness was to appear as such, but not to make any serious effort of being such a person. Even if it meant that he would have to relocate after only a year's rent as per a signed contract, that was no problem for him to bounce to another town to do the same thing, as long as he could maintain the same baseless lifestyle that he had when in Sodom, while just being a little more righteous than the rest because he provided hospitality; basically, wanting his cake and eating it too.


Speaking of 51 years of the existance of Zoar at the time of Lot's escape from Sodom in relationship to this 51st post, there is in fact a very significant Jewish day in the calendar that is related to the number 51. Less than one month ago, it was Hoshana Rabba, the last of the seven days of Succot, a time of saying Hoshanot, the special supplicatory prayers to Hashem to save us, and on this final day, to grant us water. It's specially significant to note that the letters of the Hebrew number of this year 5770 - Hei, Tav, Shin, Ayin - are included in this word of Hoshanot. Technically, when we say the word Hosha Na in these prayers, it can mean either "please save" or "save now". But how this day of Hoshana Rabba is related to the number 51 besides the fact that the word Na is the Gematria of 51 is because this day is the 51st day from Rosh Chodesh Elul, the beginning of the repentance season, and it is on this day that the letter of life or death that was sealed on Yom Kippur is "mailed" on this day. Even after the decree is sealed, there are times that there is a away of preventing the letter from being mailed, and perhaps through the joyous observance of Hashem's holiday of Succot that we can at least delay if not prevent an evil decree from happening, G-d forbid. Thus, we are asking Hashem to save us and help us escape troubles, but with a spirit of repentence.

It is mentioned by Rabbi Isaac Luria, the Arizal, that the letters of the word Elul begin the words of the phrase Ina L'Yado V'Samti Lecha - "But for one who had not lain in ambush and G-d CAUSED IT TO COME TO HIS HAND (to kill someone accidentally), I SHALL PROVIDE YOU a place to which he shall flee" (Exodus 21:13). This verse refers to a case where one Jew accidentally kills another Jew upon which he flees to one of the cities of refuge where he could escape to from being killed by a relative of the one whom he accidentally killed. Hence, in a spiritual sense, our escape from our sins begins in Elul, a designated time to recall our former sins and repent, and continues through Yom Kippur, the same period that the Jews spent doing in their first year from Egypt following the sin of the Golden Calf. (You can check out post #40 for more details on this 40 day period). Hence, Hoshana Rabba as the 51st day from the beginning of Elul as Hosha Na - "Please save" or "Save now", is the final attempt to escape from our sins or the terrible consequences of our sins, part of which is by turning to Hashem and recalling the spirituality that He has blessed us with.

It was eight years ago on the night of Hoshana Rabba that the war of the United States in Afghanistan began, a war which is still lingering on. The Vilna Gaon points out that the war of Gog U'Magog will begin on Hoshana Rabba. While it was President Bush, Jr. who started the war, it has been pointed out in the Hidden Codes that President Obama IS Gog (U'Magog)!
Tying all this together, there are two places in Psalms that the wording of Hosha/save is used.
The first of these two places is in Psalms 44:8, "But you have SAVED us from our enemies, and have put to SHAME those who hate us." Now, the word Bush as spelled in Hebrew has the etymology of the word Busha/shame. As predicted in the prophecy of the war of Gog U'Magog in the Book of Ezekiel, the Jews will be saved at the end, and those who attempt to attack us will get their just deserts. s And while we are at it in my 51st post, the Gematria of Edom is 51, which refers today to the United States based on statements in the Zohar. Indeed, it consists of 50 states and its capital Washington D.C. which is not in one of the 50 states but is its own area, thus making it technically 51 states. Hence, it is this war of Gog U'Magog which was started by President Bush whose name means shame, and at the end, Hashem will save us from Gog U'Magog, that is, from the 44th President of the United States who will ultimately be THE Gog U'Magog, which is hinted to in this 44th Psalm, in the Book of Psalms compiled by King David, who is the Ushpizin/ heavenly guest of the 7th day of Succot, Hoshana Rabba, the 51st day from Rosh Chodesh Elul!


Fastfowarding in the Book of Psalms is Psalm 51 which is all about King David addressing the sin pertaining to his relationship with Bath Sheba. Now mind you, I didn't say "the sin of his relationship" but "the sin pertaining to his relationship".

Perhaps one of the most intriguing Bible stories is about David's love affair with Bath Sheba despite the fact that her husband Uriah was not dead yet. Years back before I moved to Israel, I prayed on the Sabbath in a Shul where the rabbi gave a class for 15 minutes on the Bible at the Friday evening services. On occasion, there was someone in the retired community Shul who would asked a question. But when this story of the love affair was addressed, half of the congregants asked all kinds of questions. I guess it sounded to them like it was a news item that just occured.

As this rabbi explained, as based on the Talmud, King David in fact did not commit adultery according to Jewish Law, or he would have been forbidden to have continued living with Bath Sheba, and King Solomon would not have been born or be worthy of being the next king. In those days, Jewish soldiers before leaving for war were ordered by the king to write a conditional Get/Jewish divorce for their wives before taking off to war, which meant that should the husband die in battle, she would be considered divorced retroactively. The reason for this was because if the husband would be missing in battle, and his whereabouts would not be known, the wife would not be allowed to remarry if there would be even a slight chance of her husband still being alive.

In this case, King David did in fact sleep with Bath Sheba and she in fact became pregnant while Uriah was still alive. It was upon the news of her pregnancy that King David took quick action, and summoned him home, telling him to spend the night with his wife Bath Sheba. However, Uriah refused to do this, and when King David saw him not obeying his command, he ordered his nephew and chief general Joab to send Uriah to the front lines. Uriah was sent accordingly, and got killed in battle.

Strange. Why wouldn't Uriah want to spend the night with his wife Bath Sheba now that he was given a unique opportunity to do so? Did he loose his appetite for sex, or was he a plain lunatic?
The reason for this was that Uriah knew that if he were to do so, he would have to write a new Get, which he did not want to have to bother doing so, because being intimate would have nullified the first Get.

Perhaps this is what King David was hoping for, so that if Uriah would perish in battle, then retroactively, he would have been divorced from Bath Sheba, and hence, King David's affair would not be considered adultery.

Technically, King David was right. In time, Bath Sheba bore him King Solomon, who is the ancestor of our soon King Messiah. However, he was faulted by the prophet Nathan for his selfishness due in part to his strong desire for Bath Sheba, and was punished for this.

Several years ago, I came across what you call a Jewish calendar, which means a regular calendar based on the secular dates, but including the Hebrew dates, and starting the year from September when Rosh Hashana begins. In this particular one, there was a Jewish theme written about by each month. In one of them, King David's life was the subject. It mentioned that while he accomplished some good things; in terms of his affair, he failed as a man.

Now mind you, the type of people putting these Jewish calendars together are irreligious Jews who at best are affliliated with some type of Conservative or Reform "Jewish" temple who could care less what the Talmud has to say about King David, especially when even
the Chumash/Penteteuch that they mostly refer to for their Jewishness is for all that they are concerned, is a man-made book, rather than the fact that every single letter of the holiest book in the world (Sefer Torah) is from Hashem Himself. A Jew who believes that even a single letter of it is not from Hashem, but rather from a human being, does not have a share in the eternal world - no questions asked.

Yes, King David did sleep with Bath Sheba when Uriah was still alive; but according to Jewish Law, King David did not committ adultery because retroactively, Uriah was already considered divorced. Yes, King David had temptations, but as our rabbis say, he conquered his evil inclination through fasting. Yes, King David committed a sin for which he was punished for, but HE WAS A MAN ENOUGH TO ADMIT IT, and not like these irreligious Jews putting together these Jewish calendars who mock righteous people such as King David who want to find excuses not to live a REAL Jewish life, and don't even refrain from eating shrimp, or other foods that include non kosher derivatives, or justify being Jewish - or rather, hide it - by eating "Kosher style" corned beef sandwiches which are "treif", a term used in Yiddish to refer to the animal from which it came from was not slaughtered the Kosher way, along with other sins of forbidden fat and blood for every bite that they eat.

And for that matter, Adam who messed up eating from the forbidden fruit, though at first was looking to blame his wife for doing this, at least repented and died as a righteous person. In fact, Adam gave 70 years of his life to King David, the latter who followed in Adam's footsteps of making amends for sinning.

At least Adam - whose name means man - and King David, despite their initial shortcomings, did something about improving themselves, even as Hashem was still going to grant them punishment for their past misdeeds. You can say that they behaved like a mentsch. However, Lot, from whom King David was descended, whose name is the same Gematria as that of Adam's (45), as I discussed in my 45th post, did not look to better his behavior. LOT IS THE ONE WHO FAILED AS A MAN! Allowing himself to get drunk once and find himself the next morning having been laid by one of his daughters was bad enough which happened to begin with because of his immoral behavior. But to allow the same thing to happen the second night? But of course, this won't mean to much to those who don't want to believe the Talmud about King David, since Lot isn't someone who will be a nuisance to the guilty feelings of Jews who refuse to follow the Torah the way they are supposed to follow it, who choose instead of what you call "kosher style" as though you can only be Jewish if you eat the same type of foods that your Zeide and Bubbe in the old days in Europe used to eat, many of whom were very religious and would turn over in their graves if they saw how some of their descendants practice Judaism today.

This reminds me of the type of story that is told of a guy who walks into what seems to him to be a kosher butcher store, and asks the bareheaded butcher at the counter if his meat is kosher. In response, the latter points to the direction of his religious father's photograph, looking like a rabbi with the long beard and Chasidic looking coat, on the wall. The potential customer remarks, "If it was your father who would be standing where you are, and it would be you in the picture, then I would feel comfortable about the meat being kosher".

Yes, unlike Lot who in fact escaped FROM reality, King David escaped TO reality. Knowing where he went wrong, he composed Psalm 51 especially to show his deep remorse for his shortcoming, with hopes to rectify his wrongdoing, along with accepting his punishment. As he mentions in this Psalm, he wants to use his sin as a springboard to teach others to repent. At the end, King David left this world as one of the most righteous people who ever lived, and made it to the top seven to be our Heavenly guests for Succot. His Book of Psalms is the most frequented quoted book in the world. Of course, we can't forget the Star of David. Countless of Jews, and tons of non-Jews, bear the name David (besides the Camp David accords, which is actually a disgrace to the name David, because King David fought wars for more land, not less).


In recent times, another major hope for Jews came into place. Well first, you have what is called the Chasidic movement, founded by the Ba'al Shem Tov when the Jews were in low morale, and this was a way to lift up their spirits. Among the many branches of this Chasidic movement is called Breslov, founded by Rabbi Nachman. greatgrandson of the Ba'al Shem Tov. This particular way of Hassidism stresses happiness in fulfilling Hashem's commandments, and not giving up hope in life no matter how low one may have sunk spiritually or physically.

Back in 1922, a Breslov follower named Rabbi Yisroel Dov Ber Odesser, ZT"L found a note, called the Petek, in a holy book of his that looked like it was written to him by Rabbi Nachman, even though the latter had passed away over a hundred years earlier. This was at a time when Rabbi Odesser was depressed for nearly a week, but when reading this note which was full of encouragement, he danced all night out of sheer joy. It is from this note that the famous phrase and song Na Nach Nachma Nachman Meuman comes from. In 1984, he received a approbation for this kabbalistic note from Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ZT"L. Since then, it has been used to bring many Jews back to the fold of Judaism and Breslov. For more information on this, you can turn to

The reason I am writing about this special note is for two reasons. First of all, today - 18 Cheshvan - is also the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Odesser (5755/1994). Secondly, this Petek consists of exactly 51 words, which is also in time for this 51st post.

As you can see, the number 51 represents the concept of escape, repentance, and serving Hashem out of joy. Our true escape in this world is when we are accomplishing what Hashem put us in this world for. By sincere repentence, which includes repentance out of love, one escapes punishment. And serving Hashem out of happiness is the ultimate way of accomplishing this.

In conclusion of this 51st post on this 18th day of Cheshvan, I want to quote the last of the 51 verses of Psalm 18, which has similar wording towards the end of the Hoshanot prayers of Hoshana Rabba, the 51st day from Rosh Chodesh Elul - "Who magnifies the salvations of His king, and does kindness to His anointed one, to David and his offspring, forever."

18 Cheshvan 5770, Yahrzeits of Rabbi Meir Dovid Kahane & Rabbi Yisroel Dov Ber Odesser.

NOTE: My next blog will appear, G-d willing, in two and a half weeks - a special post about the Hidden Codes of the Torah before the computer era.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

#50 - FIFTY in FIFTY

Not just playing with words or numbers. Of course I like to write catchy titles, but there is a reason behind these titles.

Of course there are those who have read blogs of mine in the past may think that I may perhaps be referring to something that is about the number 50 in the 50th Parsha of the Torah - Parsha Ki Tavo. While in fact that Parsha begins talking about the Mitzvah of bringing the Bikkurim/first fruits in the Temple which began on the holiday of Shavuot, termed the 50th day from counting the Omer, we are not in the week of Parshat Ki Tavo nor in the Shavuot holiday season for that matter. However, I would like to mention something from this week's Parshat Vayeira that does relate to the number 50, which I had no plans until I few minutes ago to write about.

It's nothing short of Hashgacha Peratit/Divine Providence that among my favorite blogs that I check up on, the top one on that was just written today is about the number 50 that relates to this week's Parsha, which is entitled The Final Gate. Since it isn't so long, let me show it to you here:

"The Kabbalah speaks of "50 gates of spiritual understanding" - 49 of which can be achieved by a person as a result of his own initiative. The final 50th gate is then granted by G-d from above."
"When Abraham had circumcised himself, he had reached the greatest degree of spiritual perfection that he could possibly achieve as a human being - the 49th gate - and he became "sick" yearning for the fiftieth gate."

"This is alluded to by the fact that Choleh/sick person has the numerical value of 49. Then, "G-d appeared to him" - revealing to him the 50th gate of spiritual understanding, which cured his spiritual sickness."

"And, being that his physical sickness was a reflection of his spiritual dissatisfaction, the Divine revelation healed him physically too."

"Based on Sichas Shabbos Parshas Vayeira 5750, Lubavitcher Rebbe".

Anyways, for all that I knew until now, it was only Moses if anyone who had reached the 50th gate of understanding, being that he was the one after all who received the Torah directly from Hashem and transmitted it to the Jews of his generation and for all future generations. In fact, among different sources, there are those who say that Moses reached 49th gates of understanding, while others say it was 50. So, who is right?

The Mezricher Maggid, successor to the founder of the Chassidic movement, the Ba'al Shem Tov, notes the name of the mountain on which Moses ascended where he passed away - Har Nevo/Mt. Nebo as being a contraction of two words - Nun (the letter Nun, rather than the word for Nun) Bo/in it. That is, Moses at the end of his life finally climed up that mountain, the 50th gate of understanding.

Strange. Abraham, while certainly one of the greatest Jews who ever lived to say the least, still did not reach the level of the righteousness of Moses. Yet, Abraham reached the 50th gate when one year shy of his 100th birthday, while Moses only reached it at his 120th birthday?

It was just recently that I saw a question from the Chasam Sofer (Rabbi Moses Sofer) on the very verse that I just referred to pertaining to Moses ascending Mt. Nebo (Deutronomy 34:1). While Moses wrote the Torah just before his passing, there is a question in the Talmud about the last eight verses that begin the account of Moses' passing. One rabbi says that these last eight verses was actually left for his successor Joshua to complete. Another rabbi says that in fact Moses wrote these final verses, but in tears.

Anyways, the Chasam Sofer asks, "How come the question about what Moses wrote doesn't concern beginning with the verse telling of Moses' ascent to Mt. Nebo where he passed away? When he wrote the Torah right before, he didn't ascend Mt. Nebo yet, and he couldn't have written the Torah on that mountain because he didn't return from there afterwards to meet with anyone. Moses's ascending Mt. Nebo was an event that had yet to take place at the time he wrote the Torah, so we are in fact talking about 12 verses that are in question."

The Chasam Sofer in fact concludes that this is something that needs to be researched. And while there is no logical answer I can give pertaining to the physical events that occured here, what I can possibly say in spiritual terms is that in fact, Moses as the lawgiver reached the 50th gate of understanding long ago. However, it was not something that was obvious to anyone. As long as he was living in this world, people still felt that they could relate to him as he was a human being as they were. For crying out loud, Moses was raised as a boy in Pharaoh's palace, hardly a place of Jewish spiritual growth. So, it was easy for some to think that Moses was simply someone that Hashem chose to be the man to lead the Jews due to his leadership skills, which he certainly had. However, it was only when Moses would not be returning to the Jewish people in a physical sense anymore that it dawned on everyone that in retrospect, Moses was on a spiriual level that indeed no one else could relate to.

Indeed, the final chapter of Deutronomy, the final book of the Five Books of Moses that was based on Moses' discourses to the Jews in his final 36 days of life, is Chapter 34 beginning with Moses' ascent on Mt. Nebo. Indeed, the Jews were now a little poor spiritually, demonstrated by the fact that the same letters for the number 34 in Hebrew in reverse is Dal/poor. In one sense, this started once Moses already ascended the mountain. However, it was only when he actually passed away that everyone realized the loss that had already occured. It was only at Moses' passing that everyone was in tears. It was only now that they realized that at best, it would be Moses' successor Joshua who would be their new leader, but on a little less spiritual standing than that of Moses. Hence, while Moses indeed may have already had a difference in writing the Torah pertaining to the entire Chapter 34, as far as everyone else whom Moses led was concerned, the realization of that loss that the Jewish people already had from no longer seeing their best spiritual leader was only realized by them when he actually passed away. Hence, this may somewhat explain why the Talmud asks its question specifically only on the last eight verses of the Torah beginning with Moses' passing, rather than from four verses earlier of Moses' ascent on Mt. Nebo.

Now, getting back to what is current as what I had mentioned about this week's Parshat Vayeira, today's date - 15 Cheshvan - is the Yahrzeit of one of my favorite Jewish historical heroes (besides Shimon HaTzadik & Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai) - Matisyahu Ben Yochanan Cohen Gadol, the one who started the spiritual revolution that led to the holiday of Chanuka. In fact, I was so inspired by this historical figure, that a year and a half ago, I even gave myself my second Hebrew name naming myself after him.

Exactly one year ago on his Yahrzeit, my 8th blog - MATISYAHU - "Gift of Hashem" - (in 2008)was dedicated to writing about the life of this most special person, comparable to Moses who both declared while fighting idolatry, Mi L'Hashem Eilai - "Whoever is for Hashem, come to me". In Moses' time, his Tribe of Levi who killed the idolworshippers were rewarded with being Cohanim & Levites; and in Matisyahu's time, we received the holiday of Chanuka which was thanks to his family known as the Chashmonaim or Maccabbees who were Cohanim.

While I am not here to repeat everything I wrote a year ago, as it would be best for those reading this who did not read my previous blog on Matisyahu to check it out, I do want to point out one thing here that relates to the number 50. In the Hidden Codes of the Torah, words can be spelled equidistantly, with an equal amout of skipped letters between the letters of the word that you want to find. Hence, at the end of the Chumash which writes of Moses' passing, the name Matisyahu can be spelled accordingly beginning with the letter Mem of Moses' name where it says "Moses died there". Following this Mem, skip 49 letters, and then the 50th letter is the letter Sav, and so on. By the way, the Hei in Matisyahu's name coincides with the Hei of Moses' name mentioned a little later on, hence their name cross twice. In any case, I would like to mention on a personal note that while I am mentioning the letter Mem that begins both Moses' and Matisyahu's names, being that Mem is the Gematria of 40, I am now in my 40th year.

There is a another connection here between Moses & Matisyahu here, and as it relates to me also. Moses has two sons - Gershom & Eliezer. Now, add the Gematriot of Moses' two sons and presto! Combined, they are the same Gematria as...Matisyahu (861)! (As per the spelling of Gershom, while you may see it in some places spelled with a Vav, when mentioned as Moses' son, it is without a Vav, which leads to the current Gematria). In my case, my father's name is Moshe, so in effect, I gave myself a name that is the combined Gematria of the sons of the original Moshe! Mind you, when I first had in mind the possibility of giving myself the name Matisyahu, I did not realize this. I believe that I must have had some sort of Ruach HaKodesh/Divine Spirit, which in fact the same thing, our Rabbis tell us, that Jewish parents have in naming Hebrew names to their children.

The Midrash in fact tells us that Moses was in fact disappointed when he learned that neither of his sons would be successors to him, while certainly he was very happy that Joshua, as Moses' personal attendant, would be the next leader, even as the rabbis tell us that Moses confered his spiritual power over to Joshua with a good eye. It could very well be that Matisyahu, as we see is hinted in the end of the Chumash mentioning Moses' death and Joshua as his successor mentioning there that Moses "placed his hands" on him to that effect, having a special place in Jewish history as a fearless leader as Moses, was a reward to Moses' good eye for Joshua being that Matisyahu's name is the combined Gematria of Moses' sons who did not quite make it to the rabbinical leadership.

And being that Matisyahu as hinted at the end of the Chumash with the number 50, it's interesting to note that his Yahrzeit falls out right in the middle of the month (actually in this year, Cheshvan has 30 days, but I think it's fair enough to say that the 15th is one of the two middle days of the month) that is kabbalistically represented by the letter Noon, which is the Gematria of 50. Hence, this is what I mean when I write for the title of my 50th post - FIFTY in FIFTY.

In fact, the 15th of Cheshvan is the 50th day from 25 Elul, the date, according to the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer, of the world's creation. It was on this date that light was first created and Matisyahu, who's Yahrzeit on the 50th day from this day of the creation of light, was responsible for the holiday of Chanuka, the Holiday of Lights, which is called in Israel by the name Chag HaUrim. In fact, the first mention of the word Ohr/Light is the 25th word of the Torah, hinting to 25 Kislev, the date of the first day of Chanuka. Continuing the string of Gematriot, there are either 89 days from 25 Elul until Chanuka if Cheshvan has 30 days as it does this year, or the first day of Chanuka is the 89th day from 25 Elul if Cheshvan has 29 days - the significance of which, the word Chanuka consisting of the letters Cheit, Noon, Vav, Kaf, Hei, is the Gematria of 89!

And speaking of today's date of 15 Cheshvan being the 50th day from 25 Elul being that this year, it falls out on the second day of the week; as per those who learn the Aliyah portion of the Parsha corresponding to the particular day of the week, it is the 2nd Aliyah portion of this week's Parshat Vayera that mentions Abraham Ohavi, Esq. (Ohavi, which means "who loves me", is a term that Hashem describes Abraham, as mentioned in the Haftorah for last week's Parshat Lech Lecha, in Isaiah 41:8) making his defense for the residents of five towns slated by Hashem for destruction. Abraham first appealed to Hashem that if there would be FIFTY righteous people - meaning, 10 righteous people in each of the five towns, then Hashem should spare the towns, to which Hashem agreed. Understand that Hashem knew that in fact virtually all the residents in all five towns were evil (except for Abraham's nephew Lot who was a little less evil, but only he and his immediate family were spared because of the hospitality that he learned from Uncle Abe), but Hashem allowed Abraham to make his case, as the Torah details, to show that Abraham wished that these people should not just die but be given some sort of chance to repent (which Hashem apparently knew wouldn't happen), showing his love and mercy for mankind.

And just like each of the 12 Hebrew months are represented by a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, so are each of the months represented represented by one of the Tribes of Israel. The Tribe represented by this month of Cheshvan is Menashe (whose name also starts with a Mem). While Joseph as one of Jacob's 12 sons is in fact not represented himself by one of the months, he is the only one of Jacob's sons who has sons - Menashe & Ephraim - represented by him in various ways, as can be seen in Sefer Bamidbar/Book of Numbers. Hence, the tribes that are represented by the months are in the specific order that the leader of the tribes brought special sacrifices for their tribes upon the dedication of the Tabernacle during the first 12 days (of Nissan). Thus, in effect, two out of the 12 months of the year are represented by Joseph via his two sons, who were named by him based on his experiences in exile, in the same way that Moses named his two sons who were also born to him while in exile.

As related to the name Menashe and the letter Noon, there is mention of someone in the period of the Judges who was the priest for an idol whose name was "Jonathan, son of Gershom, son of Menashe" (Judges 18:30). In the original Hebrew context, you will see that the letter Noon in the name Menashe is kind of hanging, above the footing of the other letters. The reason for this is that in fact, the real name here is Moshe, with the letter Noon removed. Being that it would be a disgrace for Zeide (grandfather) Moses to have mention of a grandson being an idolworshipper, the letter Noon was added to help disguise this fact.

While I am more in the mood of talking about Matisyahu & Chanuka, speaking of the "hanging" letter Noon and idolatry, I am reminded of the story of Purim. You see, Haman as King Achashverosh's prime minister, ordered everyone to bow down to him, including Mordechai. However, Haman was wearing an idolatorous image, and so Mordechai refused to bow down to him. Using this as a springboard to do away with the Jews, this included building a gallows of 50 cubits to hang Mordechai. As it turned out, it was Haman who got "hung" on these gallows of 50

Anyways, Moses could hardly be blamed for what happened with his grandson; it seems that being that he was in the position that he was of being the leader of the Jews to spend his full time between teaching the newly given Torah to them and communing with Hashem, thus not even spending time with his wife, he hardly had time to spend with his children anymore than his spiritual children - the Jewish people. Hence, it is not so surprising what happened to one of his own grandchildren of the next generation. The lesson here should be obvious. If one of Lawgiver Moses' own grandchildren could be living a life worshipping an idol, then a Jewish education is a MUST for one's own children. No one is asking the reader to see to it that his/her children become rabbis or marry rabbis. Not everyone can be chiefs of the clan, as everyone is born with different talents. However, to learn how to live as a good Jew is something that a true "Yiddishe Mamma" should want to provide for one's children, no less than Mama's fine Jewish cooking providing the children with a full, satisfying meal. It is this very guarantee - Jewish education to children - that Hashem requested of the Jewish people prior to giving the Torah; because without this, Judaism has no lasting meaning, and all the Jewish delis and matza ball soups won't help prevent a Jew from marrying outside the faith, G-d forbid, if he/she doesn't learn and understand the meaning of what Jewish life is really about.

Now, a question can be asked here. It's nice that we don't want Moses to have a full page article in the Yiddishe Yentele Daily about his grandson turning to idol worship. However, just because if you add a Noon to the name, it makes it look like a different name, isn't it false to write something like this when the guy's grandfather's name is not Menashe?

In fact, it is referring to a Menashe - not the Menashe who is the son of Joseph, but a Menashe of a future time. In fact, he was a son of a most righteous king of Judah - King Hezekiah - who, while he had an evil father who not only worshipped idols but attempted to do away with Jewish education, he did just the opposite of what his evil father had done. Not only did he rid of whatever idolatorous vestiges were lying around, he saw to it that even little children would be versed in the most detailed Jewish laws. Following King Hezekiah's passing, his son King Menashe went 360 degrees in reverse, virtually undoing all the accomplishments that his righteous father implemented, including placing idols in the Temple and murdering his own grandfather Prophet Isaiah. While King Menashe in fact repented later in life, the harm was done, accelerating the time of the destruction of the Temple and the exile of the Jews.

Hence, both Jonathan grandson of Moses, and King Menashe son of righteous King Hezekiah came from some of the finest backgrounds in Jewish history. This is nothing new. There are many today who claim and boast of coming from a lineage of great rabbis. However, the question here is - who are we ourselves. If anything, the fact that we may be descended of great rabbis should be MORE of an inspiration to be better Jews -not less, relying on the fact that we already come from great rabbis. Even many non-observant Jews are aware of their family backgrounds. But, even with the best background and Jewish education, there is nothing guaranteed. But at the very least, parents should set the best example possible, at least to the extent if limited themselves of Jewish education of showing that they are proud of being Jews, and would like to know more of their Jewish heritage themselves while doing the best of giving their own children a Jewish education, showing the self-sacrifice of spending money, and sometimes also time if the Jewish school is not very close to home and have to drive or carpool their children.

Connecting the above ideas, when I gave myself the name Matisyahu, I also gave myself a corresponding Pasuk/verse beginning with the letter Mem and ending with the letter Vav, as the name Matisyahu, as is customary for one with a Hebrew name, which is recited at the end of every Shemoneh Esrei prayer. This verse that I chose in Psalms 24:3 - Mi Ya'aleh V'Har Hashem U'Mi Yakum B'Mekom Kadsho "Who will ascend the mountain of Hashem and who will arise in His holy place?" begins with the word Mi "Who" - which is the Gematria of 50. And while Hashem is not expecting any of us to be Moses who reached the 50th level of understanding, even as Moses himself was not able to assure his own children to follow in his footsteps, we are expected to follow his footsteps to the best of our own ability, in our own set of circumstances. We may not be Torah scholars or especially sainted people.

However, there is a basis set of criteria that Hashem expects from us that will assure us a nice place upstairs one day after our life in this world. As the psalm continues with the following verse, answering the question or challenge that the Psalmist just asked "One with clean hands and pure heart, who has not sworn in vain and has not sworn deceitfully." While this may seem to be hard to some, even some non-Jews hold themselves to high moral standards that include these principles, and so indeed, this is a nice start for us to reach a genuine level of spiritually. You see, someone who considers himself or herself "spiritual" rather than "religious" may indeed have some moral values. However, without the Torah as our guideline, one can always come up with rationalizations that will essentially pat oneself on the back, while hurting someone else with no true just cause except for the fact that one is just a little too greedy to place oneself in someone else's shoes.

Just a couple of days ago, I saw a video online of a Bar Mitzva boy (who in the video looks like this took place in the 70s or 80s) who gave a most honest Bar Mitzva speech. He began saying that his Bar Mitzva Parshat Tzav is about animal sacrifices, but that he can't relate to it, but wants to talk instead about his feelings of Judaism. He doubted that G-d exists, and that the Bible stories of the miracles don't sound like events that could have actually happened. He added that doing things that are Jewish like having a Bar Mitzva is something that you do culturally as being Jewish, but not necessarily because you believe in G-d. The audience in the Conservative or Reform temple setting had a nice laugh while listening to this, perhaps echoing their own similar feelings.

Yes my friends, this is how so many children brought up in a most non-Jewish environment while at best are Jewish by birth (and some of these children who have Bar Mitzvah ceremonies in the Conservative or Reform temple are not even Jewish if their mother isn't Jewish who at best went through a phony "Jewish" conversion, thanks to the high rate of assimilation and intermarriage, especially in the United States). Even so, many non-Jews in the United States who may not be practicing Christians though may be born into a family of such - believe in G-d. But when Jews do not even have a proper Jewish education, which means that at best in "Sunday school" (copied after the Christians), their instructors teach Judaism in such a way that not only does not properly inform children of being proud of their rich Jewish heritage, but is taught in such a way to actually MOCK the Torah - the real Judaism.

At least those Jewish children who never even heard or read the first Bible story may be a little open minded when grown up to first learn what Jewish living and history is all about. But when taught in a degrading manner, to doubt G-d, to doubt that G-d is capable of doing what He wants as opposed to what we call nature which is in fact G-d's daily miracles, what is to stop a Jew from marrying out of his/her faith when presented with a beautiful looking shiktzeh, to sink into immorality, to do things that hurt other people short of being caught by the police or government, to declare a homosexual life as normal as a heterosexual relationship, to deny abortion as being murder - without believing that there is a G-d Who sees everything that is going on?

Of course the ancient animal sacrifices won't mean anything to such a "Bar Mitzvah" boy who doesn't understand that the offering of animal sacrifices is part of the 613 Commandments - (sorry, it's not part of the offical "Ten Commandments", but non-observant Jews who had Bar Mitzvas don't even keep these including observing the Sabbath), because when the Bible is presented as nice stories, like the Syrian-Greeks who attempted to prevent the Jews from keeping their religion calling the Bible as the name Biblos - a book - just another book of wisdom on the shelf, commandments and laws and orders have no meaning, especially when the parents showed little effort or self sacrifice of wanting to give their children a real Jewish education in lieu of the poor public school system in which children come to school with guns and dress in almost anything that goes.

When it comes to these parents celebrating Chanukah - no problem. They turn on the electric Menorah for which they get no credit in Heaven for doing since only candles or wicks with olive oil can be used, and the latkes with their shrimp dinner or non-kosher "treife" corned beef is just a way to assauge and hide their guilt feelings of not living a real Jewish life, missing the whole point of the REAL Chanukah story which began with Matisyahu, not just Judah the Maccabbee's fighting skills that make the story sound like a simple good guy-bad guy story like in the Hollywood movies that are partly directed by anti-Semitic Christians like Mel Gibson. Indeed, the word Chanukah is related to the word Chinuch/Jewish Education, which is ultimately what Jewish continuity is about.


Both Blog #s 8 & 50 are especially dedicated to Chanuka hero Matisyahu, both written on Matisyahu's Yahrzeit. Both of these numbers are in fact related to one Jewish holiday or another. Shemini Atzeret is the 8th day from Sukkot, and hence is named Shemini/Eighth. Shavuot is the 50th day from counting the Omer.

These two holidays have something in common. All the other Jewish holidays from the Torah - besides Purim & Chanuka - involve one or more particular Mitzvot - Passover, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot. However, with these two holidays, there is no special Mitzva attached other than resting or not working on the holiday. But actually, there is a most special Mitzvah that have a connection to these holidays that are beyond all the other Mitzvot of the Torah combined - the Mitzvah of Torah. On Shavuot, we learn Torah, especially on the first night throughout the night celebrating the giving of the Torah on this day. On Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, we conclude and begin the Torah scroll anew.

Now, Shavuot is called the 50th day from the Torah as following the first day of Passover when the Exodus occurred, there is a seven week preparation period, which was symbolized by bringing the Omer offering on the second day of Passover, and as a separate Mitzvah, we count seven weeks beginning with this day - Today is the first day of the Omer, Today is the second day of the Omer, etc.

The Midrash tells us that the holiday of Shemini Atzeret, while associated with Succot as the eighth day from Sukkot though it is a separate holiday, was really supposed to have celebrated seven weeks later as Shavuot is in relationship to Passover. However, being that it would occur in the midst of winter, and traveling to the Temple for bringing the holiday sacrifices would be tremendous hardship and sacrifice to come in the cold, rainy, and muddy weather, Hashem was nice to give us this holiday instead while it isn't quite with such wintery weather as of yet. Enough travelling to the Temple three times a year, people have to make a living too and not kill themselves like every other month to "please G-d". The ultimate idea of the three pilgrimage festivals was to be happy in serving Hashem, and not feeling miserable. Hence, while Shemini Atzeret in fact has no direct relationship with Sukkot than with any other holiday in terms of similar Jewish themes, it's reminiscent of Hashem caring for us, though without a further need of living in Sukkot to remind us of Hashem's protection of the Jews in the desert with the Clouds of Glory, by wanting to spend a special day with us before we return to the daily work routine.

There is one place in the entire Tanach/Bible in which the beginning letters spell the word Yeshiva, which while it literally means sitting, such as sitting or dwelling in the Succah, can also refer to the Jewish establishment of a learning center -the Yeshiva. This is found in the verse telling us to celebrate Succot, "You shall celebrate the holiday of Hashem for seven days, a Shabbaton (day of rest) on the first day and a Shabbaton on the eighth day." The Hebrew words for "Hashem (for) seven days, on the first day" are YKVK (Hashem) Shiv'at Yomim Bayom HaRishon - whose first letters spell the word Yeshiva.

Hence, while we were busy on Passover day leaving Egypt, and the preparatory period for receiving the Torah began only on the second day of Passover, the finale of Shemini Atzeret's preparation begins with the beginning of Succot when we are relaxing in our Succot, and thus with the Yishuv Ha'Da'at/settlement of mind based on our settlement of our bodies following a long summer in the field, we can celebrate the Torah after we are well relaxed from a true vacation with our families not far from our regular homes, unlike today's vacation packages which don't allow many to be anymore relaxed when returning home from their vacation right before returning to work as they were before they left for their vacation. And also to note the number eight in relationship to Torah, Psalm 119 consists of eight verses for each one of the 22 letters of the Alef Beit beginning with their respective letter; the theme of the Psalm which is all about learning and teaching Torah.

It should be noted that had Hashem decided to make this Shemini Atzeret holiday to be seven weeks from the beginning of Succot as Shavuot is with Passover, it would wind up that this would occur virtually between the Yahrzeit of Matisyahu (15 Cheshvan), whose actions led to Chanuka, & the beginning of Chanuka (25 Kislev) - falling out either on the 5th or 6th of Kislev, being that there are exactly 40 days from Matisyahu's Yahrzeit until Chanuka, at it occurs this year (in some years, Cheshvan has only 29 days making this period 39 days until Chanuka).
Indeed, Matisyahu was fighting the Syrian Greeks who wanted to make the Bible sound like a bunch of Bible stories without observance of the commandments, as especially protrayed by the Oral Law as handed down to Moses in the first period of 40 days that he was on Mt. Sinai, beginning with the giving of the Torah on Shavuot, the beginning of the EIGHTH week from the Omer preparatory period. Hence, it is on Chanuka - consisting of EIGHT days - when we realize that the Torah - as especially represented by the Oral Torah telling us how to behave as good Jews - is not to be taken for granted being that we were challenged by the non-Jews about this, and that we need to remember the joy we have had celebrating the Torah which occured on Shemini Atzeret - the final day of the EIGHT days of spiritual rejuvenation (nicknamed reJEWvenation), when we read the FINAL portion of the Torah ending with the end of Moses' life in this world, the new leadership of Joshua, where the name Matisyahu is hinted, who CROWNED us with the FINAL of the "Seven Commandments of the Rabbis" - the lighting of the Chanuka lights which represent the light of Torah - hence in one sense being the 620th commandment, as 620 is the Gematria of the world Keter/CROWN. While other crowns - such as the crown of kingship or the crown of priesthood is inherited, the crown of Torah is available to anyone who wants to avail himself or herself of learning how to properly behave as a prince or princess of Hashem, the King of the world.

NOTE: My next post will, G-d willing, be in a few days before this coming Shabbat, relating to this week's Parshat Vayeira.

15 Cheshvan 5770, Yahrzeit of Matisyahu Ben Yochanan Cohen Gadol