Saturday, June 13, 2009

#32 - Mitzvah from the HEART

As you may have noticed by now, there are some Mitzvot that are defined by a particular number. For anyone who is somewhat familiar with the contents of the Haggada, the number four plays a very significant role - four cups of wine, four questions, four sons, etc. Bar Mitzvah kids who don Tefillin/phylacteries on a regular basis will know that there are four sides to the Tefillin, there are four Parshiyot/sections of the Torah that are encased inside, and on one side of the head Tefillin - the letter Shin has four lines to it.

Parshat Shlach - just read on this Shabbat, and will be read on this coming Shabbat outside of Israel, as something in common with Kriat Shema, which includes a few sections of the Torah reminding us of our allegience to Hashem and his Mitzvot. Both conclude with the same section of the Torah whose theme is the Mitzva of Tzitzit - having strings or fringes hanging on each corner of a four cornered garment. Now mind you, I did not say that one is commanded to wear such a garment - there is technically no sin involved unless one wears a four cornered garment without the strings attached, though we do accumulate more brownie points by doing more Mitzvot. In any case, there are two types of garments involved here - the prayer shawl that is usually worn during the morning prayer services - known as a Talit Gadol, and then there is a regular piece of clothing worn where a shirt is worn with a big hole in the middle to insert the head through it - known as a Talit Katan.

Now before I continue, for all the women who enjoy my reading my blogspots, while women do not have to observe Mitzvot such as Tefillin or Tzitzit, the purpose of my blogspots is to teach the "moral of the story". Accordingly, while we do not bring animal sacrifices on the altar at this time as our ancestors used to do in Temple times, we learn quite a few lessons from the sacrifices - for example, when a sin-offering was brought by a someone who committed a sin, the animal being sacrificed was to remind him/her that really he/she should have been the one killed; but because Hashem gives us human beings a chance to repent, He allows us to sacrifice an animal paid from our own pocket to teach us this lesson.

Indeed, the very word Torah is actually derived from another word Hora'ah, which means instruction. The Torah is not just another nice story or history book, or a list of commandments though we are supposed to follow what Hashem tells us to do. The ultimate purpose of the Torah is that it should shape us to be what Hashem wants us to be - a refinement of character, not to be robots with built-in commands. Even as the greatest Mitzvah of the Torah is learning & teaching Torah, Pirkei Avot/Ethics of the Fathers reminds us "Great is Torah for it leads to action". If Hashem just wanted us to learn Torah, we could have done that with our souls in Heaven. But Hashem put us in this mundane world for us to earn our keep, and use the materialistic items in this world to serve Hashem. Accordingly, the only way we will know what Hashem wants from us is if we learn the Torah to know what the Mitzvot are and how to perform them.

Speaking of Mitzvot, our Rabbis tell us that the Mitzva of Tzitzit is equal to all the Mitzvot/Commandments of the Torah. Now, if you remember what I have written before, you will ask "I thought you wrote before that it is the Mitzva of Torah - in fact, every word of Torah is equal to all the 613 Mitzvot?"

You are right. Indeed, only the Mitzvah of Torah learning & teaching has this unique quality. However, there are a few other Mitzvot about which the Rabbis seem to say the same thing. No doubt that if the Rabbis say this about other particular Mitzvot - they must be most unique Mitzvot. However, they have to be understood in a different context.

First of all, the Rabbis of the Mishna & Talmud just don't say things out of thin air. The original source for Tzitzit as in the final section of Parshat Shlach, tells us not once but twice that this Mitzva of Tzitzit will remind us of all of Hashem's commandments. Moreover, this can be derived through Gematria. The word Tzitzit - Tzadi, Yud, Tzadi, Yud, Sav - has a numerical value of 600. It includes 8 strings on each of the four corners, and there are 5 knots to every set of strings. Thus, 600+8+5=613. Now, if you are looking at the original text, you will see that in fact the word Tzitzit is lacking a second Yud, thus it equals 590, not 600. But it has been explained that as there are three mentions of this word in this Torah section, and the letter Lamed - with a numerical value of 30 - is a prefix for the third mention of Tzitzit. Thus, redistributing the number 30 evenly with the three mentions of Tzitzit make them all have the value of 600.

Now, focusing on the number four, you have in fact four strings - but doubled into two making them eight ends of strings hanging down - on each of the four corners of the garment. In any case, you see a total of 32 strings hanging down - even though in reality they are 16 uncut strings.

OK, so ultimately, it seems that with the discussion of the essence of Tzitzit reminding us of all of Hashem's commandments, what an outside observer will see are 32 strings. And what word equals 32? The word Lev/Heart, which consists of the letters Lamed & Beit, which also spells the number 32 in Hebrew; and to note, this is my 32nd Post. Indeed, between the two mentions of "remembering all of Hashem's commandments", the Torah tells us not to stray after our hearts and eyes. The Talmud in Tractate Berachot 12b tells us that straying after our hearts refers to heresy, which is twisting what the Torah says to proclaim mistaken things, using one's intellect.

Now, the question can be asked here - are Tzitzit, the 32 strings, related more to the heart or the head? It's interesting that in the English language, we mention the concept of remembering when we say "memorizing by heart", when in fact, we are craming our brain to remember plenty of information the night before a major examination. Now, it seems that we have a similar concept here that the word heart in the context of Tzizit refers to an intellectual challenge to what the Torah says.

There are a few concepts as it relates to the entirety of the Torah that is related to the number 32. In Kabbalah, there is a concept of the "32 pathways of wisdom". And then, while those who say all the morning prayers will be familiar with the 13 Midot/13 ways that the Torah can be interpreted within the context of Talmudic reasoning as I had mentioned in previous posts, there is in fact another set of ways of interpreting the Torah - 32 Midot/32 ways outlined by Rabbi Eliezer son of Rabbi Yosi the Galilean. It seems that this is an enlargement of the first list of ways. Without getting into details about the similarities or differences between the two lists -the 29th on this list is Gematria (Check Post #29 about this).

There is another aspect of the number 32 that relates to the Torah - in fact, this connects the end of the Torah to the beginning of the Torah. You see, the last letter of the Torah or Chumash is Lamed (30), and the first letter of the Torah is Beit (2), and it is on Simchat Torah when you celebrate concluding and beginning the Torah anew. Indeed, this holiday which is in fact another name for Shemini Atzeret means Happiness of the Torah, when we express our happy feelings for the Torah that Hashem gave us, thus relating most to the heart of all the parts of the body, even though we express our happy feelings on this holiday through dancing and singing. Indeed, it was immediately after Simchat Torah when I began, when I felt a happy and certain urge to act on my happy feelings which included receiving the Chatan Bereishit Aliya, the portion of the Torah that is the beginning of the Torah recounting the Creation of the World. Thus, between the aspect of Gemaria as the 32nd and last on the list of the 32 Midot of how the Torah is interpreted, and the number 32 - Lamed Beit - that connects the end to the beginning of the Torah, this number 32 serves a most vital role in Torah learning, as the heart serves for the body to be alive and active,
virtually just as important as the head/brain, because, G-d forbid, without either of these two parts of the body being active within a few minutes, one's life is over. In fact, both the first word of the Torah - Bereishit, and the last word of the Torah - Yisrael, have the same four letters - Reish, Alef, Shin, and Yud. The first three letters listed here spell the word Rosh/Head. Hence, our relationship to Torah is a Head-Heart relationship. Learning Torah without feeling or happiness is hardly better than learning a college course strictly for the good mark on the test; and celebrating the Torah is a good reason to celebrate as a Jew rather than hanging out in a night club with blasting music, but does not satisfy a Jew's requirement alone without learning what the Torah wants to tell us to do to serve Hashem besides the greatest Mitzva of learning & teaching Torah in itself.

Tikunei Zohar tells us that the Sefira of Bina/Understanding is related to the heart. Now, understanding is getting into the "heart of the matter" in analyzing a concept in wisdom. Understanding in fact involves some form of emotion, as opposed to pure brains like a robot or computer with information, demonstrating that one is in fact interested about a concept, a point in wisdom, attempting to make sense of what one hears or learns. Hence, one who learns Torah but twists it to how one wants to understand it is not simply providing an innocent way of offering one's own opinion which may be OK in a democratic society in the non-Jewish world, but in fact is using one's emotion in attempting to change the Torah to one's own tastes, and in fact spits on the truth of the Torah.

It's interesting that the phrase in Hebrew for good character traits is Midot Tovot. The word Midot, as used when we say the 13 or 32 Midot HaTorah, does in fact also bear of connotation of character - and in particular - good character, because without refinement of one's being, one is hardly better than a professor of Judaic studies who teaches Torah either strictly for money and/or teaches it from an intellectual point of view that reflects how he/she wants to teach it rather than how the TORAH wants to teach it. This in no doubt is a reflection of one's character, and so one who speaks heresy twisting the Torah for the way that he/she understands it ultimately shows that he/she does not in fact care about what Hashem wants but only for the wants of oneself.

The word Mida in singular or Midot in plural in fact literally means measure(s). A synonym for this word - calculation - is in fact a translation of the word Gematria. Thus, how one interprets the Torah is in fact a MEASURE of one's character, how one feels about the Torah - is it a mere intellectual exercise as the Syrian Greeks felt about it, and thus threatened the Jews not to observe the commandments of the Torah but only to keep the Bible on the shelf as merely another book of wisdom, or is it a way to find out the truth and behave accordingly as Hashem wants us to be as shining lights to the world and give even non-Jews a good opinion of us when we behave appropriately, thus touching their emotional side feeling good about us Jews?

Thus, the 32 Tzitzit, as can be seen by anybody even without understanding the mystical secrets behind this Mitzvah, remind a Jew that he is in fact a soldier in Hashem's army in special uniform, and thus has to be on his best behavior (according to Jewish law, women don't fight in war like men do; so likewise, the Mitzvah of Tzitzit seems to be a concept to be related specifically to men). Anything short of good character will G-d forbid give a bad impression to others who observe Jews with their unique dress who don't behave any better than anyone else without such special uniform. Thus, we are exhorted not merely once for ourselves to remember all of Hashem's commandments by merely wearing this clothing, but that it should also serve as something that others will observe who will appreciate our unique status if we behave accordingly.


You may not see too many Jews in the United States wearing blue strings among the Tzitzit, but you will see a percentage of Jews in Israel who have one or two of the strings on each corner of the garments having a blue rather than a white color. While this color in the Tzitzit was quite common in earlier times of Jewish history, for a long stretch, no on in fact had this since the blue dye for this comes from a rare fish not seen often, called the Chilazon. It is so ironic that so many Jews through many centuries have not done this even as there are six words of Hebrew in the Tzitzit portion of the Shema that is said twice daily that tells us to do this "They shall put a fringe of blue on the corner of the Tzitzit". Luckily, we know from the Rabbis that one who doesn't do this in fact still fulfills the basic Mitzvah of Tzitzit. But the recent discovery of the fish happened only some 120 years ago discovered by the Radziner Rebbe - Rav Gershon Henoch Lainer, who "incidentally" passed way on the 4th of Tevet, which is the 4th month from the beginning of the New Year that starts in Tishrei. In any case, the fish which contained this blue dye in Temple times was particularly in the portion of the land of Israel that was occupied by the Tribe of Zebulun, who is the corresponding tribe for this month of Sivan, in which we always read Parshat Shlach which ends with the section about the Tzitzit.

While we are at it, as we know that the Torah was given in the month of Sivan, how come the corresponding tribe for this month of Sivan is Zevulun, the working tribe who supported its brethren from the tribe of Yissachar to learn Torah, rather than the tribe of Yissachar itself? Certainly, the scholars of Torah are the ones who have the knowledge of Torah and to whom everyone is supposed to turn to for Torah guidance?

Perhaps the answer can be found particularly in the blessings that Jacob gave to his son Zevulun. We see from Rashi that among the blessings is the fish containing the blue dye. In the same line, the text of the blessing hints to the future that when this tribe will do business with the non-Jews on their sea voyage to Israel, the latter will get a good impression of how Jews practice their religion, and will convert to Judaism bringing sacrifices in the Temple. Thus, we see a clear connection between the Mitzvah of Tzitzit and non-Jews having a good feeling of how we keep the Torah, as we mentioned earlier! Indeed, it is ultimately the practice of the commandments of the Torah that shows everyone the PURPOSE - as the word Techeilet refering to the blue dye, is similar to the word Tachlit, PURPOSE of something - of what the Torah is all about, because learning and teaching Torah alone will just not cut it for a lot of people who want to get a feel of what Judaism is about- which is ACTION which is learned from the Torah, as opposed to the view of the Syrian Greeks that one does need to follow the actions of Torah as a mere book of wisdom. It is in this world - the "four corners of the earth", that we have to perform action that will allow us to receive reward in the next, which cannot be accomplished by learning Torah alone. Thus, it is Zevulun who ultimately demonstrates this, and is the tribe who brings more people to observe Judaism, which would not have happened otherwise if Zebulun stayed home learning Torah all day. Yes, Yissachar had its specific mission to learn and teach Torah all day to instruct others on how to observe the Torah, and so did Zevulun have its specific mission of bringing newcomers to observe the Torah, very similar to how Abraham our forefather who brought people to believe in the one G-d and serve Him by his act of inviting guests to eat his delicious stake & wine meals in the Beer Sheba desert.


As mentioned earlier, the Torah tells us in relationship to the Mitzvah of Tzitzit "You shall not stray after your hearts..." Rashi point out that the word for straying or exploring - is the same wording in reference to the Meraglim/spies that Moshe sent to check out Israel before the Jews would enter, who explored the land of Israel. Now immediately following this upon their return, 10 out of the 12 spies gave a bad report about Israel to discourage the Jews from wanting to enter the Promised Land. The next thing you know, everyone is crying and some are devising a plan to "appoint a head and return to Egypt". Rashi points out that the Rabbis say that this head is refering to idol worship.

Now, among this evil report that these spies gave, they mentioned that there are giants in the land whom they are called Anshei Midot - "Men of measure". Interestingly, the word Midot here is the LAST word of the 32nd verse of this Parsha! Yes, these men existed, and the spies didn't just make up stories, but the way they presented the story was in such a way to arouse the Jews' feelings of fear, thus twisting their hearts which were previously filled with hope to enter the long awaited Promised Land. So, as Lev/heart is the Gematria of 32, we see how the spies used clever tactics to change the feelings of the Jews' heart which led to them wanting to have a change of what the Torah says and thus were thinking, using their heads differently than how they were supposed to use them, go so far as to wanting to worship new leaders instead of Hashem or following what the true head Moshe was telling them, as Hashem's faithful messenger.

Remind you of anyone? Yes, the one & only...Obama. Only Obama, who cannot even prove that he was born in the United States, got to be the HEAD of a country which is represented by a Constitution who forbids non nuturally born citizens of the United States to be the head or president of its country, thus in fact idol worshipping, following in effect a different set of rules or in effect a religion, than what the Constitution espouses. Yet, isn't it ironic that in fact, his full name in Hebrew equals the Gematria of ROSH/head (501). But yes, Obama as such head, in fact, ultimates represents the concept of idolatry.

Now, when the Jews cried at night following the report of the spies, our Rabbis tell us that this was the night of Tisha Bav. Amazingly, Obama's political birth, which was an address endorsing then Democratic candidate John Kerry, happened on Tisha B''av of 2004!

Let's backtrack to Parshat Tetzave. The word Tetzave is the Gematria of 501, the Gematria of Rosh/Head, and the 44th verse of this Parshat Tzetave - as Obama assumed the role of the 44th head of the United States - which consists exactly of 44 letters! This verse (Exodus 28:42) is Hashem instructing to manufacture for the Cohanim "pants of linen" among other clothes that they were to wear in the Tabernacle/Temple, and that this is supposed "to cover the flesh of nakedness", which includes the reproductive organ. The Hebrew phrase for the description of the pants is Michnesei Bahd/Vahd. The word for linen/Bahd as a number where the Beit is the first letter, assuming a number in the thousands unit, has the Gematria of 2004, which is the secular year of Obama's political birth on Tisha B'Av! And indeed, the Talmud (Erchin 16a) when listing the clothes of the Kehuna/Priesthood as atoning for different sins, it mentions that the pants atoned for sexual immorality. And for the ultimate phenomenon, John Kerry's family name in Hebrew is the very word that describes sexual impurity!

It seems that it is clothes that teaches us a lesson about staying away from sexual immorality. When the Torah mentions in connection with the Tzitzit "You shall not stray after your hearts, or your eyes", the phrase of "your eyes" refers to sexual immorality. Indeed, it was a result of the snake that first saw Adam & Eve together without any clothes (which wasn't necessary at first) that made the snake jealous, and as a result caused Eve to sin, who in turn caused Adam to sin, which resulted feeling the need to wear clothing now that they felt shame as a result of their sin which allowed them to now have base physical feelings which they didn't have before their sin.

Now, the private parts include the reproductive organ, about which its circumcision is called Brit Mila or Brit for short, which started when Hashem told Abraham to circumcise himself as part of Hashem's Brit/Covenant to him, and in return promised him and his future descendants - the Jewish people, the land of Israel. In relationship to Brit, the United States are called in Hebrew Artzot HaBrit, which literally means the "lands of the covenant". So, it is Obama, as the 44th head of the Artzot HaBrit, who is challenging the rights of Jews living in Israel which is a result of Hashem's Brit to Abraham as a reward for his circumcision which included giving up a little blood/Dam which is the Gematria of 44! Now mind you, Obama is not the first president of the United States to challenge our right to live in our land, even as I just saw on the news of Arutz Sheva that past president Carter is still working hard to challenge our rights to live in Israel in favor of the Palestinians. But, Muslim Arab Obama is a descendant of Yishmael, Abraham's son, whom Abraham himself circumcised, and thus Obama/the Arabs are holding on to their last straw of stronghold of power over our country of Israel in this merit which will G-d willing soon be a thing of the past when Mashiach will show up at the door very shortly and show who is the real HEAD.

Thus, the three big Aveirot/sins that caused the destruction of Bayit Rishon/the First Temple which occured on Tisha Bav are hinted here. ROSH/Head refers to idolatry and is the same Gematria as Obama's full name in Hebrew, Michnasayim/Pants is coverning the reproductive organ which is supposed to be protected from Giluy Arayot/Sexual Immorality, mentioned in the 44th verse of Parshat Tetzave consisting of 44 letters, in converse to which Obama is challenging our right to live in Israel which was promised to our forefather Abraham in the merit of the Brit Mila/Circumcision, and Obama as the 44th president of the U.S.A. - legal or not - but whose process began on Tisha Bav of 2004 - corresponds to Shfichut Damim/Murder, literally means spilling of blood, about which the singular word for blood in Hebrew is Dam=44.

At this point, I am reminded of Obama's ancestor Yishmael who was a problem child when his half brother Yitzchak was a young boy. Yitzchak's mother Sara noticed that Yishmael was "playing around" (Genesis 21:9). Rashi gives three interpretations as to what this playing around was about, which are these very three sins that we just mentioned, about which Sara was afraid would be spiritually and/or physically harmful to her son Yitzchak. As a side note, we read about this in the Torah reading on Rosh Hashana, which means literally "Head of the Year", NOT "New Year" as the non-Jews call their beginning of the year. And just like Obama pretended through his clever words, especially when he was first campaigning that he was a friend of the Jews & Israel, this is nothing new in Jewish history. When the Babylonians exiled the Jews following the destruction of the First Temple that happend on 9 Av, there were some Jews who begged their captors to bring them to "our uncle Yishmael". The Yishmaelim/Arabs had no problem pretending to want to help the Jews, providing them with meat and salty fish, following with bloated containers, which gave the appearance that these containers were filled with water. However, when these Jews put these containers to their mouths, it was nothing but hot air that they received, and being so dehydrated, they immediately died. And so was it the case when Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt, may his name and memory be erased, following his sneak attack on Israel in the Yom Kippur War, pretended that he was a friend of Israel when he sought to have a "peace treaty" with Israel. But perhaps the most tragic part besides the Sinai being given away to the bloodthirsty Egyptians was that many Jews were dupped into thinking that Sadat became a real friend to the Jews, after all, he even spoke in the Knesset. It boggles my mind that there was even a rabbi , who ironically came from a family of a Chasidic dynasty of Rebbes, brought his daughter to Sadat to receive his "blessing"!

Back to Parshat Shlach, when the Jews who looked to appoint a Rosh/Head and "return to Egypt" apparently forgot that Hashem sent 10 plagues on the Egyptians to allow our ancestors to leave Egypt. The first of these ten plagues was the plague of Dam/Blood! Yes, these Jews forgot Hashem's loving kindness to us, and thus automatically were committing idolatry, meaning, that for all practical purposes, Hashem as their Head meant nothing to them, and thus were looking for a new "head" that would suit their selfish wants. And it isn't that these Jews simply were afraid to live in the real Land of the Covenant - but they wanted to return to the land of Egypt about which Hashem want out of his way, so to speak, by performing miracles defying the norms of nature to get the Jews out of that country. And indeed, this is exactly the type of "head" that Obama is and for whom 78% of voting Jews in the United States voted for, who could care less if it's even legal according to the laws of the United States for Obama to be its president. And yes, the United States is today's idolatry of the Golden Calf, the original one which was worshipped on 17 Tamuz, which ultimately led to the events of Tisha Bav following the Jews' decline of spirituality, and the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 fell out on that very same date of 17 Tamuz! Thus, the three week period from 17 Tamuz to 9 Av which is the saddest time in our calendar is hinted within the history of the United States which officially began with a written document on 17 Tamuz, and has ended all hope of recovery with Obama's rise to power, the process of which began on 9 Av. And mind you, Rashi points out that the very same three sins of idolatry, sexual immorality, and murder were committed at the sin of the Golden Calf which occured on 17 Tamuz. And the same basic Hebrew wording used by Yishmael for playing around is used to describe the sins of the Golden Calf -Tzachek.

Let's not repeat history. For Jews living in the States, NOW is the time to leave a country which is already 30% controlled by Obama (ask GM Motors for example), and move to Israel, where good Jews having faith in Hashem WILL have His protection. But don't need to take my word for it, check out, & I don't think that anyone can describe Obama better than what an autistic person did. Yes, this is the REAL news of Obama, and we need to get real about what is REALLY happening in the world, and follow faithfully in what Hashem wants to tell us to live in His Holy Land, and for anyone who thinks that the United States is still a better place of refuge, check out

In conclusion, I want to point out to one more Mitzva mentioned within this Parshat Shlach. I am referring specifically to the Mitzva of Challah. This is NOT refering to what we eat as "Jewish" food, but to what we do NOT eat - a portion of the dough whch we remove and burn, which used to be given to a Cohen in Temple times. In any case, Rashi learns out from the phrase in reference to this Mitzva when it says "when you come to the land" that the way this is worded, this "coming" to Israel is different from all other such comings in that as soon as the Jews start eating bread grown in Israel upon entry to its land, that they are obligated to immediately start with this Mitzva of Challah unlike many other Mitzvot which the Jews were not obligated in until they conquered and divided the land over a period of 14 years.

As I mentioned in my previous post about Jerusalem Day, Challah is the Gematria of 43, corresponding to which Jerusalem Day is on the 43rd day of the Omer, and in this particular year, it began the 43rd year since the events of Jerusalem Day happened in 1967. Thus, let us get a HEAD start - and before the 44th U.S. HEAD Obama starts controlling the other 70% of the United States, let's begin our journey home to Israel - the 43rd stop of the Jews following their exodus from Egypt.

22 Sivan, 5769

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