Thursday, July 30, 2009

#37 - Time 2 Build/Rebuild

Sitting here now hours after the fast of Tisha B'Av has completed having eaten quite a bit this evening, and following a good night's sleep last night, I can spend all my time writing now with no outside disturbances. The only thing that should be disturbing is that we just passed another Tisha B'Av here in Israel - and as of yet to my knowledge - no sign of Moshiach's coming or rebuilt Temple. However, on the bright side, I am living in a land in which I am probably the first generation in almost 2,000 years that has stepped foot in it - having returned to the Land of our Forefathers.

We have our Forefathers or Patriarchs- Abraham, Isaac & Jacob - to whom Hashem promised the Land of Israel to their descendants. And then, we have our Matriarchs, who were their wives - Sara, Rebecca, Leah & Rachel. Jacob had technically a total of four women from whom are descended the 12 Tribes of Israel, but his main two wives were Leah & Rachel. Actually, as far as Jacob was concerned at one point, it was only Rachel who was going to be his wife, but due to a change of events, not only did Jacob wind up marrying Leah, but he even married her first, and Leah was the one who bore him half of his 12 sons.

Perhaps one of the least understood stories in the Bible is the events of the "mandrakes" (Dudaim in Hebrew), a type of flower that Leah's oldest son Reuben found and gave to his mommy while yet a little boy who was the oldest child in the family. Remember that at this point, unlike Leah who already had four children, Rachel had none. Upon seeing the mandrakes, Rachel requested to have the mandrakes, and after Leah's complaint of Rachel wanting to have everything, Rachel agreed that in turn, Leah could take Rachel's turn of spending the night with their husband Jacob. A deal is a deal. The next thing we read is that Leah went out to happily greet Jacob following his long, hard day's work in the summer field, exclaiming to him Ki Sachor Secharticha - "You are spending the night with me because I hired you with my sons' mandrakes", and the next thing the Bible tells us is about another baby - Leah gave birth to her fifth child whom she named Yissaschar - because Natan Elokim Sechari - "G-d rewarded me because I gave my maidservant to my husband". Rashi explains about Rachel's deal of giving up her night of spending it with Jacob and giving it to Leah instead that because Rachel made light of being together with a Tzadik - her husband Jacob, she did not merit to be buried with him.

Several questions here will help begin to understand these events:

1) The big deal about these special flowers is that it helped with fertility which helped barren women be able to conceive. If so, then what did Rachel do so wrong by giving up a night with Jacob by granting it to Leah instead. Wasn't Rachel wise with making a special attempt to be able to become pregnant when she had not been able to for the last few years?

2) Why is Rachel giving up her night to Leah to be with Jacob any worse than when she allowed Leah to marry Jacob in lieu of herself when Laban pulled a trick over Jacob, for which Rachel was in fact rewarded in the future when Hashem listened to her prayers over everyone else's in Heaven following the destruction of the First Temple?

3) Why is Rashi stressing the fact that it was giving up her night to be with a Tzadik, rather than with her husband Jacob? She surely loved him very much, but she wasn't looking merely for pleasure, she was making an honest attempt to be able to have children using the mandrakes, and was willing to let Leah have her night with Jacob in order to do so?

4) Leah gave the reason for naming her son Yissachar - Natan Elokim Sechari - "G-d REWARDED me for letting my maidservant be with her husband". It would seem that the real reason that led to this is Ki Sachor Secharticha "Because I HIRED you (Jacob) with my son's mandrakes". In fact, a double wording in the Hebrew of the word Sachor which may explain the REAL reason why she named her son Yissaschar with the similar connotation. What is going on here?

5) Moreover, the reason that Leah gave for naming her son as such seems to be the opposite type of action than her first action, and in fact, she did the same thing of giving someone else the chance of being with Jacob instead of herself - saying that in fact Hashem REWARDED her for doing so, why Rashi indicates that Rachel lost out in REWARD for doing the same type of thing!

Anyone who has learned Rashi, the Talmud, the Midrash, etc. will clearly understand that this family of Jacob's wives and 12 sons being the 12 Tribes of Israel was unlike any other family before or after. The unusual events surrounding this is that first of all, Jacob was 84 when he first tied the knot. He intended only to marry Rachel, but was fooled and didn't realize he married her sister Leah until the morning following the wedding. He married Rachel one week later - and according to the Torah, it is forbidden to marry one's wifes' sister so long as his wife is living; however, the Torah was not given yet, and under the circumstances that played a trick on him, Jacob took the easy route and wound up marrying both sisters. The maidservants given to him accompanying each wife were not women whom he married - Jacob was only together with them as an alternative to being together with Leah or Rachel. And Jacob knew -as well as Leah and Rachel knew - that he was destined to have 12 sons that would make up the Jewish nation, and the only question was which woman would have what percentage of the pie in relationship to this. And even at this, both Leah & Rachel in fact were barren women - but since Leah cried her face off as it seems that her destiny was to marry Jacob's evil brother Esau, but was spared due to her constant prayers to Hashem, and then Leah felt that she was not loved by Jacob to say the least, Hashem allowed her to have children one after the other.

With the above being said, it was clear to Jacob, Leah & Rachel that a custom made family was being designed here by Hashem, and so it was up to their actions, as well as their faith & trust in Hashem that would determine at least in part as to how many children each woman was destined to have. Now technically, as least as far as Leah was concerned, each of the four women would wind up having three children to make up the total of 12 sons. However, when Leah gave birth to her fourth son Judah, she realized that she had "more than her share". However, at this point this would mean that Rachel too would have a chance to have four sons like she had, and that the maidservants would have only two each. This latter plan in fact had its roots. At the end of Parshat Vayera - also read in the Torah on the 2nd day of Rosh HaShana - we see that Abraham's brother Nachor also had eight sons through his wife, and four sons through his maidservant, and this is in fact this is indicated in Rashi in . As it turned out, this in fact turned out to be the case - that is, eight sons through the wives of Jacob, and four sons through his maidservants. However, Rachel did not wind up sharing the pie evenly with Leah, as Leah wound up with six sons while Rachel wound up only with two.

Before I explain how Rachel went wrong, I want to to refer you to the Haftara of the 2nd day of Rosh Hashana, in Jeremiah 31. As I mentioned earlier, when the Destruction of the First Temple took place, the Patriarchs and Moses who were already long since having passed away asked Hashem how He could have allowed such tragedies of the Jewish people with their death from starvation, being murdered, the Temple being destroyed, could have happened. Rachel also cried out to Hashem about this. However, as Jeremiah notes, Hashem answered only Rachel's prayers, saying Yesh Sachar L'Pheulasech "There is REWARD for your action". The Midrash tells us that indeed this reward to Rachel was for her giving up her rights of marrying Jacob to Leah, so Leah wouldn't be embarrassed when Laban gave her over in marriage to Jacob. Now mind you, Rachel was already buried in her own area near Bethlehem where Jews from the beginning of time starting from her son Joseph upon being sold in slavery on his route to Egypt until this very day come to her gravesite and cry at her site asking Hashem to answer them in the merit of Mama Rachel. Now, note the Hebrew words used in Hashem's answer to Rachel - Yesh Sachar - "There is REWARD" These two Hebrew words when read together is the same word as the name Yissaschar - Leah's fifth son! How ironic?!

That is it. The truth is that Rachel in fact was supposed to give birth to four sons. However, because of her lack of faith and trust in Hashem - regardless of her good intentions - she lost out in having two children, as Zebulun the next son who wound up supporting Yissaschar learning Torah, was part of a package deal, as they were even included into one blessing that Moses gave them at the end of the Chumash, unlike all the other tribes whom Moses blessed each on seperately. Thus, Rachel forever lost out in the merit of having such children who would be learning and teaching Torah, and supporters of Torah. Though she attempted to be able to have children through the mandrakes, those mandrakes were really meant for Leah for whatever reason that Hashem wished for her to have them. Rachel should have realized that if Hashem really wanted her instead to have them, she would have find them in another way. What she should have done instead was to continiously pray to Hashem - like Leah did, even as she already had four sons, because as the Torah says "Hashem listened to Leah" for she desired to have even more Tribes (sons that would make up the Jewish people).

Now don't forget, Leah was hoping to have more sons a little earlier on after having Judah, but since she wasn't able to have more children at that time, she gave her maidservant Zilpah to be with Jacob. Leah figured out that if Hashem wasn't giving her more children, then it was time for someone else to have a chance. And indeed, at the end, she named her son Yissaschar because "G-d rewarded me for giving my maidservant to my husband". Now, this was all nice and dandy. However, Rachel was the first to do so after she saw herself not bearing any children to Jacob, and she gave her maidservant Bilhah to be with Jacob. So now, both Leah and Rachel did the same thing, but Leah in fact was only following Rachel's example, so now, at a standstill, Rachel by right should have had children before Leah having more, since it was Rachel who did this type of thing first. Thus, Rachel knowing all the facts should have understood that indeed it was HER turn to have children next, despite past failed attempts, and that it was just a matter of praying enough to Hashem who wanted to listen to her prayers to grant these very special Tribes of Israel.

But Rachel failed the test. Her husband was not just another husband who could help her have children. He was a Tzadik, whom she should have felt that since Hashem allowed her the great privilege of marrying and being with a Tzadik, that her attempts of having children with him would not be in vein. But, it had to be according to Hashem's timing, not Rachel trying to manipulate the ability to "make things better", because for her high spiritual level, Hashem was ready that very night to allow her to become pregnant - WITHOUT THE MANDRAKES. However, since she gave up her night with Jacob, Leah seized the opportunity since Leah fully realized that if Hashem wants to give her more children, then He could do so without her needing to use the fertility flowers for this purpose, and that the only thing she needed was her prayers of wanting to have more children.

So there is in fact no contradiction here with the two statements using the word Sachar that Leah had used. In fact, both Rachel and Leah had equal reason in Hashem's eyes for showing that they were not selfish in letting someone sleep spend time with Jacob when they saw themselves not being able to have children. In fact, as far as Leah was concerned, Rachel would have precedence with this - both because Leah already had four sons, and so Rachel would have the same chance, and in fact, Rachel had done the good deed of giving over her maidservant to Jacob first. However, what merely explains how it was Leah who got the front seat was that Leah gave up something monetary to Rachel to have not only the physical privilege - but in this case - more importantly the spiritual privilege of being with Jacob -"Because I HIRED you" in the original text using a double wording of Sachar which can mean reward, but also can mean hiring - giving up something in monetary value for something that is at least worth as much if not worth more. This was the edge that allowed Leah to precede Rachel. The double wording of Sachar indicates that while Rachel has double reason to precede Leah in terms of having children, Leah got the precedence because of her present sacrifice, and so it was Leah - and not Rachel - who got the reward for giving up her maidservant to Jacob - the actual reason given for giving her son the name Yissaschar - even though it was Rachel who had the original idea of giving up her maidservant to Jacob.

Now, when it came time for Jacob to marry, though Rachel had every right to show up as Jacob's bride, she felt it wasn't right for Leah to be put to shame. In fact, the Midrash tells us that Jacob gave Rachel signs so that in the event that her father Laban would give over his older daughter Leah to Jacob instead of his younger daughter Rachel, that Rachel would give the signs to Jacob while her face was covered with the traditional veil when marrying so Jacob would know that it indeed it would be Rachel. Thus, Rachel gave over these signs to Leah, so Leah would not be put on the spot. Besides, Rachel's selfishlessness and self-sacrifice in all this, she also realized that if Hashem really wanted her to be married at this time, it shouldn't be at the expense of someone else being embarrassed, despite Jacob having in mind only to marry Rachel, and despite the wicked Laban's free choice of doing the right thing but chose to do things his crooked way. It was in this merit that Rachel was the one - and only one - whom Hashem answered her prayers later on when the Jews were in a most terrible time suffering.

Now, a question can still be asked. We see that Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem is a special place for Jews to cry and pray over there - especially the women who do so. Doesn't this indicate that it was meant for Rachel to be buried there to begin with -even as Leah was buried with Jacob at another location?

The truth is that originally, it was Rachel who was supposed to have been buried with Jacob, as Rachel was in fact Jacob's basherte. Accordingly, Leah was in fact Jacob's evil brother Esau's basherte. However, it was Esau's evil actions that cost him his basherte, as well as Leah's tearful prayers to Hashem not to allow her to be married to the evil Esau which made her eyes week, and even though according to the Torah that Jacob learned well, it is forbidden to marry two sisters when they are both alive, Jacob married both, as the Torah was not officially given yet, and he didn't realize at first that he married the wrong wife. But in fact, Leah wound up being Jacob's ultimate wife, despite Jacob's all time love for Rachel. Leah wound up with half of Jacob's sons; and because Leah passed all of Hashem's tests with flying colors, she got the ultimate privilege of being buried with Jacob. Thus, Rachel being buried by herself where she is at is merely coming to rectify where she previously failed - and lost out having both Yissaschar and Zebulun. It is only now that Rachel cries to Hashem for the Jews suffering that Hashem assures her that she will be rewarded - that unlike her eternal loss of the merit of the son Yissaschar - YESH SACHAR - there is reward - but specifically for the time that she selfishlessly let Leah marry Jacob, and so for that, Hashem will give her merit - her reward - and it is her prayers that Hashem will listen to which will allow the Jews to return to their homeland Israel once again. But when Rachel let Leah to be with Jacob again at a later time, it wasn't because of an act of selfishlessness - on the contrary, she wanted something that Leah had, and didn't want the course of events that way that Hashem wanted them to be, and in her insistence of having the mandrakes, she decided to reverse the roles, showing a lack of trust in Hashem; unlike years earlier when Rachel realized that it was Hashem's will to let Leah be married first to Jacob, when she willingly went with the flow without her insistence to her "rights" because it is only Hashem who gives us our rights the way that Hashem wants to give them to us without allowing another person's feelings to be hurt, or feel embarrassment.


Indeed, the above words of Torah seem to be more applicable when we will read about this in the Torah in a few months from now, though I have mentioned Rachel in reference of her crying for the Jewish people who were murdered and exiled surrounding the events of the destruction of the First Temple that took place on Tisha B'Av, the 9th of Av. But there is a special connection of Yissaschar to today's date. You see, today - the 10th of Av - is listed in the Midrash as Yissaschar's birthday, the date immediately following Tisha B'Av

On a personal note, as my birthmonth Iyar corresponds to the Tribe of Yissaschar, I feel a special connection to this Tribe even though I was given a name of a different Tribe. In any case, other than the play on words with the name Yissachar and the root word Sachar - reward, there is in fact a Gematria involved here. In fact, this is mentioned in the very last Mishna of all the Mishnayot:

"Rabbi Joshua Ben Levi says: "In the future, the Holy One Blessed Be He will give as an inheritance to each and every Tzadik (in the Hebrew, using the word Tzadik twice) - 310 worlds, as it says "To give as an inheritance to my loved ones - Yesh (the letters consisting of Yud (10) & Shin (300) adding up to 310), and I will fill up their storehouses". " (Uktzin 3:12)

Thus, the name Yissaschar consists of two words Yesh=310, and Sachar means reward. The reward of 310 spiritual worlds is given to all the Tzadikim. However, the question can be asked, couldn't the Mishna have worded itself to say that Hashem gives to a Tzadik or to all the Tzadikim - the 310 worlds. Why does it instead say - in its literally translation - that Hashem gives TO EVERY TZADIK & TZADIK - the 310 worlds. I could understand this easily if we are talking about a righteous law firm being run by two brothers, or father & son, having the last name Tzadik; and thus, would be called Tzadik & Tzadik, Esq. But the normal wording of saying to a Tzadik or to all the Tzadikim would make more grammatical sense.

Abraham I. Twersky, a famous rabbi and physciatrist, who is famous for his treatment of drinking and drug addiction, once gave the scenario of how one is addicted to these things. People normally talk causually about someone who has a drinking problem is that he has this kind of addiction as another thing to talk about, sometimes without giving much thought about the enormity of the problem. But what is really happening is that the guy took one drink, and then another drink, and then another... Thus, EACH AND EVERY drink adds on the enormity of the problem, not that he as a drinking problem as though it is something that he can go to the doctor one day, and get some quick medicine for; but that he is entrenching himself into a very dangerous position, which makes it FAR WORSE with EACH AND EVERY drink. Accordingly, when speaking of 6,000,000 Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, it isn't simply that we talk simply as 6,000,000 million people as a statistic the way that the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) who work with figures of cases of Anti-Semitism, but what this organization does about this does not necessarily reflect what they talk about it. What really happened in the Holocaust is that one Jew was murdered by the evil Nazi beasts, and another Jew was murdered by the..., and another Jew... Mentioning the Jews being murdered in the latter way shows by far how grave the situation of such a loss of Jews - not just that is was a "terrible thing" ranting off numbers, or typing the latest Anti-Semitic case in the States, and then eating a non-kosher lunch with other assimilated Jews who don't realize or don't care to realize that spending money on countless Holocaust museums should not be a means in itself, but that a good part of that money would be better spent on real Torah Jewish education for the next generation who will keep Judaism well and alive, which will be a far better way of honoring the memory of the 6,000, 000 million Jews.

And so, it is EACH AND EVERY Jewish child who is the ultimate answer of revenge for what the Communist Russians, Nazi beasts, and Moslem Arabs have done to us, and the best way of honoring the memory of their murdered relatives. Jewish children learning Torah has also been the way of assuring the continuity of Judaism to the next generation. The Midrash tells us that when Hashem asked for a guarantee for the Jewish people that they would keep the Torah, the only answer that pleased Hashem was the guarantee of our children - not that the parents would go to synagogue on Saturday morning, while their children went to public school, which was the
typical case in my dad's days in the 30s and 40s. But it was especially when the parents made special sacrifices to ensure that their children would have an authentic, Jewish education, that their children succeeded, many of them who became among the greatest rabbis of their generation - whether that meant giving up their own meal for their children to have strength to learn Torah the next day, selling their heated furnace to be able to hire a special Torah tutor, or in these days to live in an area that is close to a Jewish school - even if it means for the father to have a long commute to work every day. And indeed, as we mention in the midst of the first paragraph of the Shema that we recite twice daily, and as mentioned in this week's Parshat Va'etchanan - "You shall teach them (the words of Torah) diligently TO YOUR CHILDREN, and you shall speak of them when you are sitting at home or walking on the road, when you go to sleep or get up (from bed)" (Deutronomy 6:7).

And as another connection between Yissaschar and the learning/teaching of Torah, Yissaschar is the same Gematria (830) as the combination of the words Tanach/Bible
(470) and Shas (360). Tanach is the acronym of Torah/Penteteuch, Nevi'im/Prophets, and Ketuvim/Writings; and Shas is the acronym of Shisha Sedarim, the Six Orders or volumes of the Talmud, the basis of which is the Mishna(yot) upon which the tractates of the Gemara explain the meaning of the laws in the Mishna. The Tanach is the Torah She'B'Ketav/Written Torah, and the Shas is the foundation of the Torah She'B'Al'Peh/Oral Torah. While we say that there is indeed only one Torah - the Torah of Hashem and not man made, when the rabbis tell us that there are two Torot or Torahs, they refer to the Written Torah & Oral Torah, which both come from Hashem; and it is impossible for one to be a Talmid Chacham/Torah scholar without knowledge of both these parts of the Torah.


Having mentioned about the 2nd day of Rosh Hashana both about Abraham's brother having a family, and about Hashem answering Rachel's prayers about the Jewish people as a reward for her self-sacrifice, it is noteworthy to note of the willingness of both Abraham & Isaac for the latter who was 37 years old at the time (and this is my 37th post), to be brought up and slaughtered on the altar as their self-sacrifice, which we read about also on the 2nd day of Rosh Hashana. It is interesting to note that as mentioned in the Hassidic Sefer of B'nei Yissaschar, the 1st day of Rosh Hashana consists of harsher judgment corresponding to Leah, while the 2nd day of Rosh Hashana consists of lighter judgment, corresponding to Rachel. While it is the 1st day of Rosh Hashana that the Torah tells us to observe as a holiday; we keep two days of Rosh Hashana due to a technicality of when the New Moon could be sighted in the olden days which coincided with Rosh Hashana. As such, we are supposed to treat each day of Rosh Hashana as equal, the same way that both Leah and Rachel were supposed to be equal in the amount of sons. As it turned out, Leah turned out to have a greater share of the pie, but that happened specifically because of Leah's prayers and full trust in Hashem, while Rachel failed. (NOTE: As I am writing this, we are exactly 50 days before Rosh Hashana)

However, Rachel does have some other merits of her own. It is true that the month of Iyar, the month corresponding to Yissaschar whose name is hinted in Hashem's answer to Rachel in the Book of Jeremiah, has the first letters of the Patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Rachel, that is, Alef - Yud - Yud - Reish. Besides, Rachel was the one who composed the Musaf prayer for Rosh Chodesh - and is hinted as such in the first letters of the first words of that prayers - Roshei Chodashim L'Amcha - "You (Hashem) have given the New Moons to Your nation...". And there is another prayer that is recited largely by pious people at midnight. These are the prayers known as Tikkun Chatzot - in which we mourn for the Temple which was destroyed on Tisha B'Av (most of its destruction actually happened on today's date - 10 Av - the birthday of Yissaschar) and we ask Hashem to have it speedily rebuilt. There are two parts to this. The first part is called Tikkun Rachel, and the 2nd part is called Tikkun Leah. The Tikkun Rachel part is recited specifically on days that we say the Tachanun/Supplicatory Prayers, but on the Sabbath, Rosh Chodesh, Yom Tov, Chol HaMoed, and other special days, we don't say this, but only Tikkun Leah, as the Tikkun Rachel is much more sad & supplicatory in nature, reflecting Rachel who has cried excessively asking Hashem to have mercy on us, and indeed Hashem has answered her specifically that Hashem will return us back to our homeland. And while part of this prophecy has in fact been for the large part fulfilled today; however, the main part of the tragedy of the loss of the Holy Temple has yet to be amended, and so until the Holy Temple is rebuilt, we have to feel its loss and first of all, pray for it to be rebuilt, but also, as I mentioned in my last post, to refrain from speaking Loshon Hora/evil gossip.

Before continuing on the subject of refraining from speaking Loshon Hora, I must mention that there is a special video presentation lasting for like 16 minutes about Jews coming home - to Israel, that had just been released to the public literally days ago. You can check this out by typing in - "Eye on Zion" - click, and then press on the very first link, or go directly to the website, and look for this video. In the midst of this presentation, Yishai Fleischer from Israel National News interviews Rabbi Joshua Fass, co-founder of Nefesh B'Nefesh, an organization which has helped Jews for the last seven years making Aliyah. Anyways, in the end of this interview, Yishai Fleischer asked Rabbi Fass as to what number flight had just come in (the interview was held at the airport as the Olim were coming in), and the answer is that it was the 37th flight. Immediately afterwards, you see Yishai Fleischer at Kever Rachel/Rachel's tomb, where he mentioned that Rachel "cries for her children" as mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah, and will continue to do so until all the Jewish people are back in our land. Yes, this is in time for my 37th post on!


Last night - on the night of Tisha B'Av, Rabbi Moshe Chait, dean of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim in Jerusalem, passed away at the age of 87. His specialty was being a teacher of Mussar - Torah ethics. As we know about the Chofetz Chaim himself, he is called as such after the Sefer that he called Chofetz Chaim, which is a compilation of the laws of the prohibition of evil gossip. By the way, the title or phrase Chofetz Chaim, which literally means, "wants life", comes from the verse(s) "Who is the one who wants life, who loves years to see good. Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit" (Psalms 34:13-14). Anyways, the Chofetz Chaim in his introduction to the Sefer mentions the Talmud in Tractate Yoma (9b) that the Second Temple was destroyed, the loss of which we have had for some 1,940 years, resulted from Sinat Chinam/baseless hatred & Loshon Hora/evil gossip. Thus, Rabbi Chait's passing on this very date of Tisha B'Av, the date in which the Second Temple was destroyed as a result of the sin of Loshon Hora, the opposite of the actions of one who wants life - Chofetz Chaim - serves as a reminder for us to quit speaking Loshon Hora, showing Hashem's Hashgacha Peratit - Divine Providence. In reference to this, I want to point out to a website - - in which you will see past broadcasts which were originally shown on Tisha B'Av, about the importance from staying away from speaking Loshon Hora to avoid today's ongoing tragedies, and instead receive Hashem's blessings.

And in terms of my blogspot, I had absolutely no idea about when this rabbi was going to pass away. You see, his last name Chait when spelled in Hebrew - Cheit (8), Yud (10), Yud (10), Teit (9) - adds up to the number 37, which came in time for this 37th post of! Indeed, I have seen much Divine Providence since I began my blogspot some nine and a half months ago on the evening immediately following Simchat Torah.

If this was not enough, speaking of Rabbi Moshe Chait, a teacher of Mussar/Torah ethics, let me point out to you a Sefer in English that is called "Living Mussar Every Day" by Rabbi Zvi Miller. This book is divided into daily reading according to the Parsha of the week. Thus, turning to the daily lesson for Thursday (5th day of the week) in Parshat Va'etchanan, the date of this rabbi's passing, what is the topic about? The prohibition of slander! Now without writing out the whole page here (page 348), I will summarize the six categories of slanderers that are based on an original book of Mussar called Orchot Tzadikim - "Ways of the Righteous" Chapter 24 - Sha'ar Lashon Hara "Gate of evil speech":

1) Defaming others whether what one says is true or false.
2) Mentioning to someone something negative about the latter's family - includes verbal abuse.
3) Denigrating someone's family in front of other people - embarrassment.
4) Denigrating someone's family in front of other people behind the person's back.
5) Mentioning past sins of a Ba'al Teshuva/repentant.
6) Maligning charity collectors who are trustworthy & faithful.

We must remember that it isn't that we just say something bad about someone and feelings get hurt - it can G-d forbid prevent much good in the future much happening, like a repentant who returns to his/her old ways or will prevent others from being repentant, or the charity collectors could be fired and the poor will be suffering in the meantime as a result of this. We have to always think of the consequences of our speech, even if we feel that an injustice has been done. The bottom line is: Monitor your words and make sure they do not enter any of the six categories of evil speech. If one is not sure if his/her comments will be better said or not, one's local Orthodox rabbi or recognized Posek/decider of Jewish law should be consulted. There is in fact an English translation of the Sefer Chofetz Chaim called "Guard Your Tongue" by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin which is a must in every Jewish home, and will most likely be in any given Judaica bookstore that has Jewish books in English.

Will be blogging, G-d willing, in the midst of this coming week - a special for Tu B'Av - continuing on the topic of learning/teaching Torah, and what this has to do with Jewish marriage.

10 Av 5769, Birthday of Yissaschar son of Jacob

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


There is a famous question that is asked at any given Jewish holiday - What is the most important or special holiday of the year? The typical answer given is that it depends at what time of year this question is asked.

While every Jewish holiday certainly has its uniqueness; to me personally, I can say unequivocally that there are two that mean something most special to me. As a Torah reader for many years, one of them is Simchat Torah, the holiday on which we conclude and begin anew the reading of the Torah. And the other holiday is Chanuka. Perhaps the root of my feeling for this special holiday is that in fact I was born on the 1st of Iyar and had my Brit on the 8th of Iyar. The root of the name of the month of Iyar is the word Ohr/Light, and Chanuka, consisting of 8 days, is affectionately called in Israel - Chag HaUrim/Holiday of Lights.

Before continuing, I must say that the title of this post - LIGHT OUT OF DARKNESS - is in fact not my original thinking. This is in fact the name of a series of radio broadcasts that are hosted by Joel Gallis & Dr. Robert Wolf, who are attempting to wake up Jews - especially in the United States - to face the true reality of our times that our redemption is very near at hand, and that we need to repent, which includes returning to the land of our forefathers. Their website - - is the site for their radio broadcasts, and you can also check out their blogspot from a click on the blog link. Much of the following material will be from other sources, including from radio broadcast #4 from the above website. My goal here is to weave the following material to convey an important message for prepare for what is currently happening today.

The number 36, as this is my 36th post, is in fact very much related to the concept of light as it pertains to Chanuka. But first, I must note that we are in the midst of the week of Parshat Devarim, the first Parsha that begins the Sefer/Book of Devarim/Deutronomy. The beginning words are Eileh HaDevarim Asher Diber Moshe... - "These are the words/things that Moses spoke...". Indeed the very first word of this Parsha - and the FIRST word of the FIFTH book of the Chumash/Five Books of Moses, is the word Eileh/These which is the Gematria of 36.

Before proceeding to the next word of this phrase, I must note that today - Rosh Chodesh Av, which is the FIRST day of the FIFTH month (counting from Nissan, the month of the Exodus, marking the birth of the Jewish people) - is the Yahrzeit of Aharon, the first Cohen Gadol/High Priest, and brother of Moshe. In fact, this is the ONLY Yahrzeit mentioned in the entire T'nach/Bible. Though this Yahrzeit is mentioned in last week's Parshat Mas'ei, which is always read close to the Yahrzeit (last year, it was read on the very day of the Yahrzeit!), the name of this Parsha & Sefer - Devarim - is the same Gematria as Aharon (256)! Speaking of the name of the FIFTH book of the Chumash & T'nach, the Chumash mentions that when Aharon passed away, the entire Jewish people mourned for him for 30 days - which was the entire FIFTH month of the Jewish calendar - the month of Av. Indeed, Aharon was the AV/Father of the Kehuna/Priesthood, as he was the first Cohen Gadol/High Priest, and the ancestor of all Cohanim/Jewish priests, which is strictly a parental lineage; meaning, the status of a Cohen is traced strictly from son to father all the way back to Aharon. In recent times, there has been DNA testing done which shows Cohanim to have common DNA which can prove their lineage from some 3,300 years ago! (I was at a special convention of Cohanim & Levi'im in the Old City of Jerusalem- as I am a Levi - two years ago on Rosh Chodesh Av, at which there was a lecture on this subject). And about Moshe himself (a Levi), the words Sefer Hei (the letter Hei which is the number 5) which means Book Five of the Five Books of Moses (Deutronomy) is the same Gematria as Moshe (345), being that this final book of the Chumash is almost all in the narrative of Moshe.

Speaking of the month of Av, as the 12 months of the year correspond to the 12 Tribes of Israel - this FIFTH month corresponds to the Tribe of Shimon. It's interesting to note that there have been two great Tzadikim/righteous people with the name Shimon that are related to the number FIVE. Shimon HaTzadik, one of the few righteous High Priests (from the parental lineage of Aharon) in the times of the Second Temple, passed away on 29 Tishrei, the beginning of the FIFTH week from the beginning of the Jewish year that commences with Rosh HaShana. And then there is Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the author of the teachings of the Kabbalistic book known as the Zohar (and according to tradition, in fact is descended by parental line all the way back to Shimon, father of his tribe) who passed away on Lag Baomer, which is the FIFTH day of the FIFTH week of counting the Omer. (And the famed Kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria, known as the Ari, passed away on the FIFTH day of the FIFTH month of Av) More on these righteous people a little later on.

So you may be wondering, what does this time of year have to do with Chanuka that I now mentioned this holiday. If anything, today begins what is called the Nine Days which ends with Tisha B'Av, the saddest time of the Jewish calendar, as we beef up our level of mourning (which includes not eating beef, or other meat for that matter, except for Shabbat, and also Rosh Chodesh for Sefardic Jews). But that is exactly why I named this post - LIGHT OUT OF DARKNESS, as we will see through Gematria very shortly.

On Chanuka we light 36 candles - one on the 1st night, two on the 2nd night, etc. There are at least a couple of hints to this in the Torah.

Firstly, the beginning of the 36th Parsha of the Torah - BeHa'alotcha, is about the Mitzvah given to Aharon, whose Yahrzeit is today, to light the Menorah in the Tabernacle. This is the conclusion of the Kriat HaTorah/Torah reading for the last day of Chanuka, continuing from the previous Parsha where the Nesi'im of the other Tribes of Israel brought special Korbanot/sacrifices corresponding to their respective tribes. The Midrash tells us that when Aharon saw this, he felt bad that he didn't bring special sacrifices corresponding to his own Tribe of Levi. Hashem told him that his service would be even greater - lighting the Menorah on a daily basis.

Secondly, when Jacob had a fight with his evil brother Esau's personal angel, and the angel injured him at his thigh, it says Vayizrach Lo HaShemesh - "The sun shone for him (Jacob)" (Genesis 32:32), thus curing him of the injury. The word Lo/for him which consists of the letters Lamed & Vav, is the Gematria of 36, as it was the LIGHT of the sun that cured Jacob, and similarly, we have a total of 36 LIGHTS on Chanuka. Now note the next word - HaShemesh/the sun. The same letters can also be read as HaShamash - the serving (candle) - as in fact, we have what is called the Shamash candle at each night of Chanuka, so we don't benefit directly from the regular Chanuka lights which are considered holy. Thus, while there are essentially only 36 lights, the Shamash candles make the total lights that are actually lit to 44. Speaking of which, this Parshat Devarim is the 44th Parsha of the Torah, on which I will elaborate a little more on later on.

In any case, we always read Parshat Devarim, which begins with the word Eileh having the Gematria of 36, on the Shabbat before Tisha B'Av; and in some years, the Shabbat of Parshat Devarim falls out on the date of Tisha B'Av - 9th of Av, when we postpone the fast of the day to the day after, as we don't fast on Shabbat (except when it coincides with Yom Kippur). Similarly, the beginning word of the Book of Lamentations is also the name of this Book - Eicha - which is read on the night of Tisha B'Av. It starts with Eicha Yashva Badad - "HOW has it (the Jewish nation) sat lonely..." This beginning word is also the Gematria of 36! This word is also mentioned in the beginning of the 2nd Aliya of this Parshat HaDevarim, as well as in the Haftara for this Parsha, which is the beginning of the Book of Isaiah.

And so now you can see that there is some kind of connection between Chanuka & Tisha B'Av through the number 36. But wait, there is more. The very next verse following the sun curing Jacob of his injury mentions the very first Prohibition Commandment of the Torah - a Mitzva that we are told NOT to do something - is the Issur/Prohibition of Gid HaNashe - not eating of the sciatic nerve - the sinew located in the animal's leg. The Vilna Gaon, who passed away on 19 Tishrei - the day of Sukkot that corresponds to the Heavenly Guest of Aharon in the Sukka - points out that the 365 Prohibition Commandments (which are related to the Attribute of Strict Justice - Gevurah - as will be shown later as connected particularly to Tisha B'Av) correspond to the 365 days of the solar year. (In the Jewish calendar, in fact we don't have 365 days, either 353/4/5 days or 383/4/5 in a leap year, but I am not going to make any speculations now). It is this prohibition of Gid HaNashe (the 1st of the 365 Prohibition Commandments - which has a connection to the SUN which cured Jacob of the Gid HaNashe injury - corresponding to the 365 days of the SUN calendar) that corresponds to Tisha B'Av. Indeed, the Zohar compares eating on Tisha B'Av to eating the Gid HaNashe. I should mention that as the angel that injured Jacob was his brother's Esau's personal angel, Esau is in fact the ancestor of Edom who later on as the generations moved on became the Romans, who destroyed the Second Temple. The Hebrew word for their country Rome is Romi which is the same Gematria as Devarim, the name of the Parsha which is always read on the Shabbat before Tisha B'Av, when the Romans destroyed the Second Temple.

Now, getting back to the first word of Parsha & Sefer Devarim for a minute, it has been mentioned that the letters of this word Eileh - Alef, Lamed, Hei - are the first letters of the words Avak Lashon Hara - the "dust" of evil speech, referring to a situation where one can say a comment that can either praise or degrade someone, but the tone of the voice or the particular situation is what determines that. An example of this is where one asks about where there is a home that has food for guests. Another person answers that there is always food at let's say, Mr. Cohen's home. Now, aside from the tone of voice, if Mr. Cohen is someone who is gracious to guests who need a place to eat, this may be a very helpful for the guest out of town. But if Mr. Cohen is someone who is a pot belly who while he may host guests, basically is someone who stuffs his face all the time, mentioning the very same words can place Mr. Cohen in a very bad light.

For some reason, the source for the above for the beginning letter of this phrase does not mention an obvious little different phrase - Issur Lashon Hara - the prohibition of evil speech. After all, just as important as what goes into one's mouth - only kosher food, is what comes out of one's mouth - kosher speech which does not denigrate another person, especially our Jewish brethren.

Perhaps why the former phrase was picked is because this is reminiscent of the story in the Talmud of Tractate Gittin which was what led to the destruction of the Second Temple. A wealthy guy hosting a party which included rabbis instructed his servant to invite someone who was called Kamtza. The servant mistakenly invited instead someone known as Bar Kamtza, who happened to be this wealthy guy's enemy. Well, no matter what Bar Kamtza offered as payment to the wealthy host, his answer was being thrown out of the home where no one spoke up in his defense, so he took revenge telling the Romans that the Jews are rebellious which eventually lead the the destruction of the Temple.

My point here is that sometimes it may be that extra word, a change of tone of voice, or some other minute difference that can either make wonderful things happen, or ruin people's lives, G-d forbid. Indeed, it was the sin of the 10 Spies who came back from Israel; while they first began praising the produce of Israel, they began their rhetoric negative reporting on Israel with the word - EFES, which is typically translated as but... In fact, the typical meaning of this word means ZERO (sorry, no Gematriot for this number!) You see, the normal word in Hebrew for but is Ela or Aval, BUT in this case, the word used is EFES. Why? This one word negated any good they said a minute earlier about the land of Israel. It wasn't even like the Jews afterwards thought about the pros and cons, they just started crying their faces off. Jews today are very much bothered when there is much bias about how news are reported about Israel and Jews living there (Check out But my friends, this in fact was the very first biased report in the world about life in Israel .

The Talmud in Tractate Yoma (9b), as mentioned in the introduction of Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan's book called Chofetz Chaim, who is known by the title of this work, which is a collection of the laws of the Prohibition of evil speech, and a most worthy Cohen, mentions that the destruction of the Second Temple, the result of which we are still suffering, happened as a result of Lashon Hara/evil speech, Jews saying bad things about others to people, which was part of their sin of Sinat Chinam/hatred for no justifiable reason instead of Ahavat Yisrael/love of fellow Jews or Ahavat Chinam/love for even no justifiable reason. Thus, Eileh HaDevarim - the prohibition of evil speech are THE WORDS or THINGS (HaDevarim) that Moshe spoke about to the Jewish people. It is no wonder that Moshe wanted to stress this more than anything else. (As mentioned for the second time in the Torah in Deutronomy 1:22-45). You see, it was the sin of the 10 spies sent to Israel nearly 40 years earlier when the Jews were just about ready to enter the land when these evil spies came back with their evil speech/report about Israel, and that the Jews would not be able to conquer the enemies residing there that resulted in the Jews (just the men, the women had full faith in Hashem, and lived on to make Aliya nearly 40 years later) crying on the night of the 9th of Av, about which the Talmud in Tractate Ta'anit says that Hashem told them "You are crying now for no reason. I will give you a reason to cry in the future on this very night" (It was on the night of Tisha B'Av on which we now read Eicha). It was this very incident that delayed the Jews from coming to the Holy Land for nearly 40 years - not the idol worshipping of the Golden Calf, not the regular complaining for food in their lack of faith in Hashem, but for speaking and BELIEVING evil speech. Indeed, one who believes Lashon Hara/evil speech in fact commits a worse sin than even the one who speaks it! For those who want to learn more about this subject - and particularly, the laws on forbidden speech, ask your local Judaica bookstore for the book Guard Your Tongue by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin.

There is one more thing to comment on the word Devarim - the name of this Parsha & 5th Book of the Torah - which means words. When rearranging the letters in this word, there are two words that can be spelled - Riv/fighting & Dam/blood(shed). Very unfortunately, the first word leads to the second word, as the beginning verse begins -Eileh, as the letters of this word are the acronym of the phrase of the "dust" of Lashon Hara - when there is even a dust, or a speck of Lashon Hara, G-d forbid it can lead to fighting, and at times, the worst happens, and murder is what you call a lose-lose situation because even the murderer either regrets his action and/or pays for his crime with jail time and/or execution, not to speak of what awaits him in the next world for snatching the breath out of someone to whom Hashem gave life to; and at times, the
victim could have been a parent to future children who cannot be born now thanks to someone who made a very terrible decision.

Now getting back to the light/Ohr. The miracle of the holiday of Chanuka happened in the Jewish year 3622. The destruction of the second Temple happened in the year 3828. Thus, it was in the 207th year from the miracle of Chanuka that the Temple was destroyed. You see, Ohr/Light is the Gematria of 207! You see, the Romans hoped to extinguish the Jewish light of the Torah by destroying our Temple. But little did they know that the Torah is our ultimate light, and the Temple is just one means of expressing our observance of the Torah. In fact, the Aramaic word for Torah is Oraita, which has a connotation of the word Ohr. Certainly, the destruction of the Temple was a tremendous loss - this was the holiest area in the world. Perhaps even a greater loss is what we are told in other sources, that the death of the righteous is either just as devastating as the destruction of the Temple, or even worse than that. After all, it is the righteous who teach us Torah - both through their words of Torah, and their behavior that reflects what the Torah wants to teach us. However, the Torah itself is eternal, and it is the next generation of Torah leaders, scholars, and righteous people who will guide their present generation, even though the ones earlier are irreplacable. Accordingly, being that we are now in the first year since the beginning of the 207th cycle of the cycle of the sun in the same zodiac placement in the sky from the beginning of creation over which we said the Bircat HaChama - the blessing over the creation of the sun - on the morning before the start of Passover, the holiday of our redemption from Egypt, it is our great hope that the tables will be turned, and that in the beginning period of this 207th cycle of the sun that we are now in, the number 207 - the Gematria of the world Ohr/Light - will signify the beginning of our final redemption.

Now, another thing corresponding to the Jewish months are 12 letters from the 22 Alef Beit. It is the letter Teit, which equals 9, that represents the month of Av. And it is on the 9th of Av that the destruction of both Temples took place. This is certainly no mere coincidence, as the 9th plague that the Egyptians were visited with was darkness. Also, if you multiply the number 9 which represents darkness by the number 4 which is related to the four exiles we have had, it equals 36 which is the Gematria of the name & beginning word of Eicha. Now, with this being said, add 9, the number of darkness, to 207 which is the Gematria of Ohr/Light, and it equals 216. You see, the Bnei Yissaschar, a Chasidic Sefer which includes interesting Torah, including Gematriot, on Shabbat, months & holidays, points out that there are exactly 216 hours in the first 9 days of Av, culminating with Tisha B'Av. The word Gevurah/Strength, which denotes Hashem's strict measure of justice, is the Gematria of 216, which is also the Gematria of the Mazal for this month which is Aryeh/Leo. Indeed, our Rabbis tell us that it was at the very end of Tisha B'Av that the Second Temple was begun to be destroyed. Thus, it seems that it was in the 216th hour of the month of Av that the Temple destruction began, which actually continued for the most part into the next day of the 10th of Av. Indeed, one Rabbi in the Talmud commented that had it been up to him, he would have instituted the fast of Tisha B'Av on the 10th of Av instead. But the reason given for why we fast on the 9th of Av, is because the worst of a tragedy is in the beginning of it. Thus, it is that 216th hour that BEGAN to show that Hashem wasn't "playing games" anymore, and that our time for "playing games" with Hashem's mercies without acting merciful with one another was over, thus displaying Hashem's strict measure of justice.

Speaking of Torah & darkness, there is a little irony that the Talmud in Tractate Sanhedrin mentions. There is a verse in Eicha/Book of Lamentations (3:6) that says "He (Hashem) sat me in darkness". The Talmud tells us that this refers to Talmud Bavli/Babylonian Talmud, the main meat of learning in Yeshivot and today is known as the Daf Yomi/Daily Talmud Page that is learned worldwide since its inception on Rosh Hashana 1923. In any case, as opposed to the shorter Jerusalem Talmud which was composed earlier in Israel, the Babylonian Talmud was composed in Babylonia over a period of 60 years, in the same country to which the Jews were exiled to upon the destruction of the First Temple. While the teachings of the Talmud were originally transmitted orally from Moses for some 1,800 years, they were finally written down because of the troubles that the Jews were going through and was feared that the Torah would be forgotten, as so many arguments about what the Jewish Law was supposed to due already existed. Thus, this Talmud was indeed written in a state of darkness, it's just that it turned out to be the main source of light - the light of Torah - to future generations. To note, as another tidbit in my 36th Post - there are in fact 36 Tractates in the Babylonian Talmud (which is hinted to in Eicha, the name of which is the Gematria of 36!) They are also connected to the 36 lights of Chanuka, as it was particularly the Oral Torah that the Syrian Greeks were opposed to, opposing practice of Jewish Law, while they outwardly "respected" our Bible, as merely another book of wisdom on the shelf. Thus, the message of Chanuka - the holiday of lights - resonates throughout the year while we learn the Talmud that is the light of Torah learning.


As I mentioned earlier about Shimon HaTzadik, one of the few righteous High Priests during the time of the second Temple, I want to point out something about the word Tzadik/Righteous. As we mentioned about the eight days of Chanuka, there is a mathematical trick here. Muliply the first eight numbers by themselves - 1x1, 2x2, etc. The sum total of the eight numbers add to 204, and this is the Gematria of Tzadik. To note in my 36th post, there are 36 Tzadikim/righteous people in any given generation in whose merit the world continues to exist, also known as the Lamed Vavnicks. Now, add the number 3 to 204, as 3 is the Gematria of the name of the month of Av that corresponds to the Tribe of Shimon, and this is the Gematria of 207. The Kabballa, of which the main book is the Zohar, the teachings of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, is about revealing the LIGHT of Torah; and in recent generations, in the form of Chasidic teachings that have vastly changed the fact of the Jewish people, leading them to serve Hashem with happiness.

The Jewish sources tell us MiShenichnas Av, MeMa'atin B'Simcha - which literally means that when Av enters, we decrease our level of happiness. There is a Chasidic piece of Torah that tells us that we can read this a little differently. When the month of Av arrives, we decrease the sadness of this month with happiness. True, we have to follow the code of Jewish Law when it comes to showing forms of mourning during these first nine (or ten) days of Av. However, our serving Hashem with happiness should not, G-d forbid, be decreased because of this.

We must remember what Pirkei Avot/Ethics of the Fathers mentions of the statement of Shimon HaTzadik - "On three things (DEVARIM) does the world stand on - Torah, Avoda (prayer/sacrifices) and Gemilut Chasadim/Deeds of Lovingkindness. When we treat others with lovingkindness, we must always have the same smile on, if not a greater smile, of happiness of doing something for them.

As Aharon and the Tribe of Shimon are related to the month of Av, I want to point out to another most worthy Cohen, the one who started a revolution which led to the holiday of Chanuka - Matisyahu. It was thanks to him that the Beit HaMikdash/Holy Temple was able to be used once again for nearly 207=Ohr (light) years. Indeed, his name is the same Gematria as Beit HaMikdash (861)! Yes, I was inspired on my own to give myself a second Jewish name - Matisyahu, and it fits beautifully with my first name Shimon, also along the lines of Shimon HaTzadik, who was the grandfather of Matisyahu. The LIGHT/OHR=207, as it relates to Kabbalah which was first revealed by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, is related to the nearly 207 years of the existance of the Beit HaMikdash from the miracle of Chanuka which was thanks to Matisyahu, a parental descendant of Aharon, who shares a common bond with the Tribe of Shimon as it relates to the month of Av. And indeed, Av consists of the first two letters of the Alef Beit. Both names of mine serve a unique function of their own, and fused into one. Yes, Chanuka is the LIGHT out of the darkness of Tisha B'Av, which has been fascilitated for the most part, by our rightous Jews as Moshe, Aharon, Matisyahu, Shimon HaTzadik, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, Rabbi Isaac Luria, and the Chasidic leaders from the Ba'al Shem Tov, known by another title as the OHR Shivat HaYomim "Light of the Seven Days" (hinting to the special light of the week of Creation which Hashem since hid but will be returned in Messianic times) until today.


I mentioned early about the 44th Parsha of the Torah - this week's Parshat Devarim, as well as 44 Chanuka candles when including the Shamash - serving candle by each of the eight nights of Chanuka so that one does not benefit from the Chanuka lights. As per the connection that I mentioned a little earlier between Chanuka & Talmud Bavli/Babylonian Talmud, the word Bavli is the Gematria of 44. And as the Talmud notes the verse in Eicha that mentions darkness refers to the Babylonian Talmud, the 44th word of the Torah is VeLaChoshech "And for the darkness". Those who have read past blogs of mine know that this is very connected with Obama, the 44th President of the United States. And as darkness was the 9th plague of the Egyptians, blood/Dam which is the Gematria of 44, was the first plague of the Egyptians. The beginning letters of the 10 plagues as we mention in the Haggada as Detzach Adash B'achav are the Gematria of 501. And accordingly, the beginning words of the 44th Parsha of Devarim - Eileh(=36) HaDevarim Asher... "These are the things that..." The word Asher is also the Gematria of 501. That's right - Barack Hussein Obama's full name in Hebrew is also 501! And speaking of the Talmud which is a detailed explanation of the Mishna, the foundation of the Oral Torah, the very first word of the Mishna/Talmud is Mei'ei'matai, which is also the Gematria of 501! Thus, you have three things here that are connected with the numbers 36, 44 & 501 - Parshat Devarim, the Babylonian Talmud, and Chanuka.

Just as we mentioned earlier that the destruction of the Second Temple took place at the VERY END of Tisha B'Av, so too, as the Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer notes, the very end of the exile of Galut Edom will be from the Yishmaelim, the Arabs. We know the trouble we have had from them within this past century, including the Hebron massacre that happened in this very month of Av in 1929; but now the WORLD POWER, that is, the United States - like Rome was the WORLD POWER who destroyed our last Temple - is presently being led by Moslem Arab Obama. Yes, we are at our last leg of exile, but the question is how soon it will end and how can we end it. Our concluding paragraphs will help answer this question...


Maimonidies in his magnum opus called Mishneh Torah (also another name for Deutronomy) at the end of the Laws of Chanuka, mentions that one is so poor that he can only afford either a Shabbat candle to light up the night for eating, or a Chanuka candle, that he is supposed to light the Shabbat candle, because while it is forbidden to derive benefit from a Chanuka candle, a Shabbat candle is used to promote peace in one's household where everyone can live without stumbling in the darkness, as the ways of Torah are peace.

Esau, the evil brother of Jacob is the antithesis and has the same Gematria as the word Shalom/Peace (376), in the same way as the Eicha=36 of Tisha B'Av is the antithesis of the 36 lights of Chanuka. Indeed, Aharon, who was mourned by the entire Jewish people because of his peacemaking (80,000 Jews named Aharon after him during his lifetime were among the mourners, according to a Midrash!), set the pace for the Jewish nation with his high standards of how Jews are supposed to treat one another, which can bring the redemption in a blink of an eye, as we are told that Moshiach was born on Tisha B'Av, the letters of this date being spelled as Teit B'Av - Teit, Beit, Alef, Beit/Veit - totaling the Gematria of the name David, name of King David - ancestor of Moshiach; meaning, that the potential of Moshiach coming started already with the destruction of the Temple. Hashem desperately wants the Temple back in this world; but it is WE who have to show it, and with a unity of Jews regardless of one's level of Judaism, the coming of Moshiach about which we are supposed to believe can happen at any second, can come under better circumstances without war or disease should we choose the PATH OF PEACE.

First of Av 5769, Yahrzeit of Aharon the First High Priest

Hope to post, G-d willing, next Thursday night following Tisha B'Av.

P.S. Ending off this 36th post, want to note that while we spoke of the concept of a father; in fact, the first wife of Jacob and mother of half the tribes of Israel which includes the tribes of Shimon & Levi, the latter which includes the Cohanim and Levites, is Leah, the Gematria of which is 36. In my following post, I will be writing more about Leah as well as Rachel, the other main wife of Jacob.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

#35 - Measure for Measure: G-d's Grace to Us

As an introduction to the theme of this post, I want to refer to a piece from my 31th Post - Kindness & Mercy on BOTH Sides of the Street.

When Miriam was stricken with Tzara'at as a result of speaking against her brother Moshe behind his back, Moshe prayed E-l Nah Rephah Nah Lah - "Please G-d, heal her now". I explained there that Hashem's response to this prayer represented an aspect of Midah K'Neged Midah - Measure for Measure as pertaining to the 13 Attributes of Mercy.

In my 31st Post, I mentioned that E-l (G-d), the first word of Moshe's brief prayer of five words, is also the first of the 13 Attributes of Mercy, and that it is the Gematria of 31. In similar fashion, the last word of Moshe's brief prayer of five words is the word Lah/to her or for her (in the orginal context, it means simply "her"). Very interestingly, the Haftara - the reading of the Prophets - corresponding to the Parsha of the incident of Miriam - Parshat Beha'alotcha - (also the very Haftara for (the first Shabbos of) Chanuka) ends off with the words "Chen Chen Lah", thus the very last word is also Lah. Lah is the Gematria of 35, and this is my 35th Post.

That's nice, but this would mean absolutely nothing without what will be the theme of this Post. You see, the word Chen, which is repeated right next to the last word Lah, means grace. And so why is this word Chen repeated?

Technically, I should have the title of this post named: Kindness & Mercy on BOTH Sides of the Street - Part Two. However, this post does not immediately follow my 31th Post, and I want to word this a little differently to be a little more direct about what this theme is about. You see, it's very simple. If we are gracious to others - even if in our lowly opinion - he or she is not worthy of it, Hashem will be gracious to us the same way. It is that simple. So it is a double grace here - not just a matter of asking for a free gift from Hashem without earning it; otherwise, our souls could have remained in Heaven basking in Hashem's glory, but we would always feel the "bread of shame" for receiving something without earning it, and thus Hashem rewards us not only in the world to come - eternity, but even in this world as a bonus for our good relationship with others, which at times may be challenging. As the Jewish people, we are in effect, Hashem's bride, and so the grace comes back "to her" to Hashem's bride for the grace we first grant to Hashem's creatures among the totality of the nation who is Hashem's bride. Indeed the Hebrew word for bride is Kallah, the second syllable of it being the word of Lah - to her or for her!

Rabbi Moshe Cordovero of the 1500s, whose Yahrzeit is today - 23 Tamuz - wrote a Sefer/Holy Book called Tomer Devorah, based on the 13 Attributes of Mercy - demonstrating how we should treat one another in the same way as we would want Hashem to treat us. While one of the purposes of my blogspot is to make Torah sound interesting, especially through the use of Gematria, it is the glue for the ultimate purpose of this blogspot - what we could all learn from these Gematriot to be a better Jew. And so, for the remainder of this Post - I will be listing these 13 ways of treating other people (it is very important to treat non-Jews who do not show hatred towards us with kindness and mercy also, as they are also Hashem's creatures and treating them accordingly will be a Kiddush Hashem, Sanctification of Hashem's Name) as corresponding to Hashem's Attributes of Mercy - as outlined in the first chapter of Rabbi Cordovero's book Tomer Devorah, in imitating one's Maker. One who always follows in this path is ASSURED that he will be pleasing and loved by all creatures.

1) Patience - Putting up with someone.

2) "Bearing Sin" - Bearing the wrong until the wrongdoer rectifies the wrong or stops doing it.

3) "Overlooking Sin" - Forgiving the wrongdoer, not having an attitude of "Am I going to rectify the sin or destruction of this guy?"

4) "You shall love your friend as yourself" - It has to be remembered that as Jews, we are spiritually the same flesh; thus, when one sins, he/she blemishes oneself as well as others. Thus, one should want others to have goodness, and have a good eye for this. ANOTHER'S HONOR SHOULD BE DEAR TO ONESELF AS ONE'S OWN, FOR SPIRITUALLY, ONE'S FRIEND IS ACTUALLY ONESELF. One should want another to appear upright, and not speak of or wish his/her disgrace or pain at all. If anything, one should imagine oneself as the other person in that same pain or goodness.

5) "Not Holding on to Anger" - Even when one is technically permitted to reprove another with afflictions, as with one's young children, one should not overdue it - and certainly not with anger. Ultimately, the best way of accomplishing one's goal of reproving another is through love.

6) "Wishing Kindness" - Even when one sees another doing evil and angering him/her, if he/she has a good side such as doing good to others, this point alone should remove one's anger towards that person. One should grant kindness to such a person such as saying "It's enough of a reason to treat him/her as a proper person for the good part in him/her". This is especially applicable pertaining to one's wife who may not always treat him the way he likes it, as one rabbi in the Talmud said in response to how his wife didn't treat him so nicely "It's enough that she raises our children and saves us from sin". (NOTE: There would be many less divorces if husbands would focus their attention on the good points of their wives rather than on their faults, as though the husbands are "free of faults").

7) Not bearing a grudge from one's previous anger. Rather, when meeting the person with whom he/she had a problem with, should seek to love that person. If anything, the degree of mercy and love towards that person should be much more than before.

8) Not ignoring another's goodness instead of remembering the bad with which the other may have mistreated him/her. If anything, one should totally ignore the bad behavior of the other, and only recall the good points of the other, and not even "While he/she may have done some good for me, he/she also did some bad things to me", which is in fact essentially forgetting the good that the other did for him/her. One should not do this!!! One should make every effort not to ever ignore the good that this person did for him/her, and one should turn his/her eye away from the bad points of the other in every way possible.

9) One should not hate even a wicked person who is beset with troubles as, in the context of a sinner who received lashes from a Jewish court "Now that he has been flogged, he is like your brother". Moreover, one should embrace the rebels and those punished for their misdeeds and have mercy on them. One should even go to the extent of saving them from their enemies, instead of saying, "Well, his sins brought on his troubles".

10) One needs to treat another with the aspect of straightforwardness and truth, without twisting justice for him/her.

11) Even for a simple person, one should treat him/her with righteousness, fairness, and justice. But with clearly good and pious people, one should deal with them beyond the letter of the law, and be extra patient with them. These people should be most especially be considered important and dear to him/her, and be among one's group of friends.

12) Even if one should meet up with wicked people, he/she should not be cruel towards them or disgrace them; but rather, he/she should have mercy on them, saying, "Ultimately, even they are the descendants of our Patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. Even if they themselves are not worthy people, their ancestors were most certainly worthy. One who disgraces the children, in effect, disgraces the parents, and it is not my wish that their ancestors should be disgraced thanks to me." One should rather cover up their bad points, and fix them according to his strength.

13) One should conduct one's affairs with human beings even if not even a shred of goodness can be found among them. One should rather say: "There was already a time that they didn't sin, for at an earlier stage, they were worthy poeple", remembering the love he had for them beforehand. AND IT IS THROUGH THIS that one should only treat even another who is not worthy with goodness and pray for his/her welfare, and have mercy on that person. THIS CHARACTERISTIC TRAIT (MEASURE) COMBINES ALL THE PREVIOUS CHARACTERISTIC TRAITS.

It is through the above 13 characteristic traits that one shold be similar to his Maker, as these are traits of higher mercies. The same good way that one behaves towards others is how the similar flow will fall on oneself, and causes that trait to shine in the world. These traits should always remain in one's memory and not turn away from these, in order that the particular trait should not depart and disappear from the world. EXPERIENCE HAS SHOWN THAT ONE WHO CONDUCTS ONESELF WITH THESE CHARACTERISTIC TRAITS IS VERY MUCH LOVED BY ALL.

For more detail on this, especially in terms of how Hashem treats us with kindness and mercy, refer to this Sefer of Tomer Devorah, which is also translated into English. Some editions include this as apportioned for monthly study divided into 30 parts.

G-d willing, will post next week on Rosh Chodesh Av about the light from the darkness of Tisha B'Av.

23 Tamuz 5769, Yahrzeit of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero

Thursday, July 9, 2009

#34 - End of the GOLDEN Age

As I promised as the end of my last post, today I will be writing about blood. It doesn't have to be all negative - donating blood for others needing it is a most noble act. In Judaism, the Dam Brit - the blood that comes out as a result of the ritual circumcision signifies that one more Jewish boy has entered the covenant of Judaism - and is given his ID - his Jewish name - on the spot.

Today - Shiva Asar B'Tamuz - 17 Tamuz on which we fast during the daytime, begins the period known as Bein HaMetzarim - which ends with Tisha B'Av which is three weeks later, marking the most tragic time of the Jewish people. This consists of exactly 22 days, corresponding to which are the sets of 22 verses in Eicha/Lamentations in which the verses begin with the consecutive 22 letters of the Alef Beit.

With this being said, there is an intrinsic connection between the months of Tamuz & Av. Tikunei Zohar (Tikun 21, page 59a) mentions that the 12 months of the year correspond to the letters of Hashem's name A-do-noy when their letters are spelled out. That is - Alef: Alef, Lamed, Pei; Dalet: Dalet, Lamed, Tav/Sav; Noon: Noon, Vav, Noon; Yud: Yud, Vav, Dalet. As we count the Jewish months from Nissan - Tamuz corresponds to the letter Dalet, and Av corresponds to the letter Lamed. Indeed, these two letters spell the word DAL, which means poor. Indeed, a most poor time in the Jewish calendar.

As this is my 34th post, there are a couple things that I want to say in relationship to this. The word Dal/poor indeed is the Gematria of 34. And there is another very significant thing about this number. As pointed at on, the longest verse in the entire Chumash - Five Books of Moses - is Exodus 32:1, consisting of 34 words. It is this verse that introduces what led to the sin of the GOLDEN Calf when Jews asked Aharon - when they didn't see Moshe come back when they thought he said he would return - to make a god for them. This began the first POOR time of the Jewish people (this part actually took place on the day - on 16 Tamuz - but the idol worshipping didn't begin until the morning of 17 Tamuz).

As today is a fast day, there is a special Torah reading for this day - in fact, it is read twice today. This is also read on the other four public fasts besides Yom Kippur. The difference is that is was on this very date of 17 Tamuz that Moshe's prayer to Hashem to spare the Jewish nation from death as a result of the sin of the Golden Calf that today's Torah reading for fast days consists of which is read on this very day. Thus, this particular fast day takes on a special significance.

Among Moshe's prayers, he asked Hashem, "Why should the Egyptians say: "Oh, it was with evil (intent) that Hashem took the Jews out of our country to kill them...?"" (Exodus 32:12). Consequently, "Hashem recanted the evil - Ra'ah" that he said that he was going to do to the Jews when he said originally that he was going to destroy the entire Jewish nation. Now, a couple of questions can be asked here. Would it be just the Egyptians who would be saying this, or would there be other nations upon hearing about what could have happened to the Jews who would also be asking this? Also, does Hashem do "evil"? Certainly, there are plenty of unpleasant events to say the least that Hashem wills and allows to happen, including the Holocaust. Yes, killing people without just and legal cause is nothing short of murder. But is this how Hashem can be described as doing as the Creator and Boss of the world?

As Rashi brings from the Yalkut Shimoni, Moshe was referring to a conversation that Pharoh had with him while yet in Egypt. "See that evil is facing you" (Exodus 10:10) - Pharoh, familiar with astrology, was warning Moshe that there is this star called Ra'ah - which literally means evil - that would be facing the Jews in the desert - signifying blood and killing. And so when the Jews sinned with the Golden Calf, it was to this that Moshe was referring to when he asked "Why should the Egyptians say: Oh, it was with evil..." It was in response to this that Hashem recanted the destruction of the Jewish people that was signified by this star called Ra'ah, and turned this blood into the Dam Brit of the circumcision that the uncircumcised Jews of the desert had upon the entry to Israel which was performed by Joshua the day after the mass Aliyah. This is what Joshua meant when he said "Today, I have removed the shame of the Egyptians from you" (Joshua 5:9).

Nice story about astrology, but we learn a very crucial lesson here. Indeed, there is truth to astrology, but the Talmud tells us "Ein Mazal L'Yisrael". There is no fortune telling for Jews because what happens or doesn't happen to us depends on our actions, and Hashem's mercies. If it would have been left entirely up to astrology, Abraham would never have had children. But it has to be remembered that it is Hashem Who is the Creator of astrology, and arranged it as such that things can be fortold about the future with it. This may be good for non-Jews, and while there are stories of astrologists telling rabbis of bad things that were supposed to happen to them or someone they knew, it didn't happen at the end as a result of the person in question giving Tzedaka/charity. It is interesting to note that one of the names for money in Hebrew is called Damim - which is also plural for the word Dam/Blood. Yes, it is blood money to save one's life through the merit of giving Tzedaka. (NOTE: It is forbidden by Jewish Law to rely on these astrology books or articles in the paper about the "daily astrology" based on one's birth sign. There are books within the realm of authentic Judaism based on this subject. An Orthodox rabbi who decides Jewish law should be consulted on this subject, as one's faith should be only in Hashem, and not in some other force within nature).

It was exactly 233 years that the Declaration of Indepence took place. Question? Today is July 9 - not July 4. That's right - but note the Jewish date of when this took place - 17 Tamuz! Yes my friends, the foundation of the United States took place on one of the most tragic dates of Jewish history. And just like today, both the sin of the idolatry of the Golden Calf and the Declaration of Independence took place on a Thursday!

Yes, we have had our freedom of religion - or freedom of not keeping religion - as guaranteed, or at least is supposed to be guaranteed - by the Constitution, the "most important document of the United States" (quote from Phillip Berg, Esq. from Indeed, this country served as a refuge for Jews escaping the Holocaust when President Franklin D. Roosevelt didn't interfere or right after the Holocaust around which time President Harry Truman took over the reins and allowed these immigrant Jews to bounce back in life, some who made some of the biggest fortunes and contributed significantly to American society. Many Jews have returned to the Jewish fold thanks to varioius outreach programs in the States.
But right from the start, the Avoda Zara - idolatry of the "good life" unfortunately had a big say in the spiritual decline & deterioration of Jews in this country. There was a time that this country was called a "Treifa Medina" - nonkosher country. Young Jews coming by boat from the good ol' Jewish life in Europe, upon reaching the shores of the "free" land, threw their Tefillin from the ship even before disembarking now that they reached AMERICA (I know of someone who put Tefillin on his grandfather who threw out his Tefillin in these circumstances some 75 years earlier!). In fact, the very word America can be spelled in Hebrew as Am Reika - "baseless/empty nation". And for how Judaism was doing at the time - most Jews were following what was known as Enlightment or Reform "Judaism", who mocked what real, authentic Judaism is supposed to be. And even among Orthodox Jews, most who were living in New York, the typical scenario was the Jewish father going to synagogue while the children went to public school, and the rest is history. Without Jewish education, Jews growing up will most likely follow their peers, not their "old fashioned" parents.

As I wrote a little earlier, today is exactly 233 years from 17 Tamuz - more known as July 4, 1776. The number 233 is the Gematria of Regel/foot. Yes, my friends, we are at the FOOT, the end of American history of 233 years of a safe haven for peoples of all faiths, including Jews, to practice their religion, which begin with a declaration of independence, signifying that a new nation would be free to do as it so choose without Britian. Some one dozen year later, details of this was written out as the Constitution. The same Constitution that is supposed to guarantee religious rights and freedom also dictates that only a NATURAL-BORN citizen is allowed to take the oath as president of the United States.

Barak Hussein Obama DOES NOT meet this qualification. His so called birth certificate showing him to be born in Hawaii is a forgery, and has been proven as such by someone undercover for fear of retribution. His birth country of Kenya declared his birth place a country monument. Yet, the liberal Democrats (besides Phillip Berg, Esq. who has sued Obama in a few ways), the media, the justice system - including the Supreme Court -have ignored any and every negative fact about Obama. It was in the 233rd year from the Declaration of Independence that a rule in the Constitution has been blatantly ignored and violated in this Triefe Medina. Indeed, the first two letters of the word Medina/country are Mem & Dalet, which is the total of the number 44.

Yes, the 44th president Obama has shattered any and every legality of the law & order in the United States. And as Pirkei Avot/Ethics of the Fathers tells us "Aveira Goreret Aveira" - one sin leads to another sin. Today is the violation of who can be president of the country, and tomorrow - G-d spare us - will be the violation of religious rights & freedom - once marshall law gets into effect. And the same two letters - Mem & Dalet spell backwords as Dam/blood or bloodshed-killing as America's present and near future is described on

Obama has put a temporary bandage on the failing economy of the States. But as today's kabbalists and autistic children are telling us, that unlike previous times that the economy got out of the recession, this time - IT WILL NOT HAPPEN. Things will get worse and worse, and you know who gets blamed when the economy fails in any given country. Indeed, on this very day that I am writing my 34th post, as 34 is the numerical value of the word DAL/poor, I see among the Yahoo headlines for today - "565K new jobless claims, lowest level since Jan.". So much for the "experts" of the economy predicting a start of leaving the recession during this summer!

Time is running out! We are at the foot, the end of the GOLDEN age - today's GOLDEN calf - of American history of 233 years. The foot has stopped running out of money that is of long term value, and is now at the real POOR stage of its history. Obama being elected and becoming president in its 233rd year shows that the FOOT or END of legal law of the United States is over. And now that this has happened, the economy will no longer have a solid basis to stand upon. This government may be followers of the "Democratic Party", but is no longer following the rules of a Democratic country. Slowly but maturely, it is becoming a Communist bloody force, and will only be a matter of time before it implements martial law. And in case anyone needs a little memory jog in world history - both Russia & Germany had their respective constitutions guaranteeing religious rights and freedom. Well, we know what happened at the end.

G-d willing, will be posting again next week.

Shiva Asar (17) B'Tamuz, 5769