Tuesday, August 4, 2009

#38 - What is this LOVE?

The title of this blog is the translation of the Hebrew - Ma Zot Ahava - the title of a small booklet that was just published this year, authored by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh http://www.inner.org/, based on Kabbalistic & Hassidic sources. I purchased this booklet for 10 Shekel today at a place where booths were set up. There were other books at the booth stand authored by the same author on this basic topic of love & marriage that were relatively more expensive, but I had another reason for wanting to buy this particular book besides the reason that I am still single. I will tell you a little later on.

But first, I want to continue on from something that I mentioned in my previous post. You see, I wrote about the events that led to Yissaschar's birth. I had mentioned that this name can be read as two words - Yesh Sachar - "There is reward", which is in fact a phrase in the Book of Jeremiah. As Yissaschar's birthday of 10 Av always falls out during the week of Parshat Va'etchanan, there is a connection of his name's meaning to the very last words of this Parshat Va'etchanan. The last verse reads, "You shall observe the commandment, the statutes, and the judgments that I have commanded you TODAY TO DO THEM" (Deutronomy 7:11). On the capitalized words, Rashi comments that (today - in this world - we do the Mitzvot/commandments) tomorrow - in the world to come - we come to take the REWARD.

So indeed, the name Yissaschar denotes the concept of reward. But why is it Yissaschar in particular that denotes this concept?

We know that Yissaschar learned Torah all day, while his brother Zebulun supported him so he could learn Torah uninterruptedly. In this kind of relationship, Zebulun had an equal share in the reward for Yissaschar's Torah learning, because otherwise, Yissaschar would have had to find something else to do to make a living, at least for part of the time. And indeed, as the Mishna states (Peah 1:1), what we mention every day following the daily blessings that we recite before learning Torah, "The study/teaching of Torah is equal to all of them (that is, all the other commandments of the Torah)". The Chofetz Chaim notes that EACH AND EVERY WORD of Torah equals ALL the other commandments of the Torah COMBINED! Surely, if we knew what this eternal Heavenly reward was like, chances are is that most of us what spend quite a little more time learning/teaching Torah every day to say the least. Now, as I have also mentioned before, you can't get ahead of the game if we have other Mitzvot to fulfill - whether it is praying, putting on Tefillin, giving charity, doing favors for other people when needed - especially if there is no one else around at the time, fulfilling timely commandments by eating Shabbos meals or Matza on the Seder night, etc. as all of these Mitzvot are in fact time consuming, but the ultimate test of a person learning Torah for its sake, that is, because Hashem commanded us to learn Torah rather than just study it for receiving reward, is if we fulfill what the Torah tells us to do when it is the time to do so. Ultimately, the greatest reward that Hashem gives is to those who looked to serve Him not for ulterior motives, or even to receive Heavenly reward - though those people who fulfill Hashem's Mitzvot not for the right reasons also receive some reward - but because Hashem told them to serve Him in what ever manner that is commanded, regardless of how many brownie points any particular Mitzva may have.

Now, I also mentioned in my previous post about the 12 Tribes, whose common father was Jacob. However, four different mothers shared the pie in giving birth to them - 8 Tribes from Jacob's wives, and 4 Tribes from Jacob's maidservants. Now, let's fastforward to Jacob on his deathbed. He wanted to tell his children certain things, but he felt that his Divine Spirit had left him, upon which, he questioned his children thinking that maybe one of them were not believers in Hashem. All of Jacob's sons replied in unison "Hear, oh Israel (Jacob's other name), Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is ONE." This is the beginning verse of the Shema that we recite twice daily, and is found in last week's Parshat Va'etchanan.

Now, note the Hebrew word for One - ECHAD, consisting of the letters Alef (1), Cheit (8), Dalet (4). Indeed in that room, in Jacob's last hour, there were exactly 13 people. Jacob as the HEAD of the family - as the letter Alef is the HEAD of the letters, there were 8 sons from Jacob's two wives, and 4 sons from Jacob's two maidservants.

So the question may be asked, what's the big deal here? Who cares who were the sons' mothers? These 12 sons were equally all Jews so why even point out that a few of Jacob's sons were not from his regular wives, but from his maidservants. Presumably, these latter mothers were also righteous women to be worthy of having a part in the birth of some of the righteous 12 Tribes, even if these maidservants would have been slaves?

And this is the point - even if some of some may have come from rather a more humble background - in Jacob's eyes - they were all equal in terms of being part of the Jewish people. The only difference perhaps that Jacob related to what his sons' accomplishments. For example, his favorite son in fact was Joseph, but not because he came per se from a special Yichus/background, but because of his high spiritual level that he worked on.

Thus, we can learn a couple of things from here. First of all, someone should be looked up - not mainly because of the family that one comes from, but from his accomplishments. Some people may boast of descending from great rabbis from the past, but that does not necessarily indicate their own greatness, even as there are some who aren't even observant Jews. If anything, the fact that they may be descended from righteous and learned people should hold them MORE responsible for doing the right thing. Now, take the famous Rabbi Akiva as a classic example of who he was compared to his background. His father was a convert to Judaism, thus, half of his immediate ancestry was not even Jewish. And at that, Rabbi Akiva was a total ignoramous until the age of 40. In fact, he confessed much later on that he used to hate the rabbis very much. However, because of his committment to Torah learning thanks to his wife Rachel who saw his potential, he became among the greatest Sages of all time, who was responsible for much of the teachings that were later recorded in the Mishna, the foundation of the Oral Torah!

Secondly, it is the concept of Achdut/Unity, the Hebrew word coming from the word Echad/One. It isn't just that the 12 Tribes admitted to Hashem being One. It is that they had total unity among themselves, realizing at that point their unique mission in being the founders and ancestors of the Jewish people, who were later categorized to live in the Land of Israel according to their particular Tribe.

Now, there is another word that has the same Gematria as the word Echad (13) that shares a common theme - AHAVA/Love. Of course, this is the heartbeat of any loving and romantic relationship. Right? Well, at least when it comes to Hashem. You see, as Jews, there are times that we have to face reality. Hashem tells us that at times, we have to be willing to give up our lives in keeping the Torah, even if it means that we are ordered by non-Jews to disobey what the Torah says and that we would otherwise follow the non-Jews' orders only because we would be afraid of being killed. This is the Mitzva of Kiddush Hashem - Sanctifying Hashem's name, and those who have indeed being killed in this way, even though it is most tragic for another Jew to have to leave this world in this way, causing grief to his/her living relatives and friends, go straight to Heaven, and have a reward that the rest of us will not even be able to touch. In any case, part of a Jew being willing to give up his life for Hashem's sake is done out of love for Hashem. In fact, there are at least two times in our prayers where we have in mind to give up our lives for Hashem's sake would it be necessary, in which in itself is considered as though we have done this, and we also fulfill this Mitzva to a degree. This is particularly during the first verse of the Shema, ending off with the word Echad; and the other place is in the first blessing of the main prayer of Shemoneh Esrei, during the words Lema'an Shemo B'Ahava - "for the sake of His (Hashem's) Name with love", and as we said earlier Ahava is the same Gematria as Echad.

Now, note the actual wording in the above phrase in the Shemoneh Esrei - B'Ahava/with love. This word with the prefix of the letter Beit/with, makes this word to have a Gematria of 15. In relationship to this, there is in fact a blessing that is recited by Cohanim, which is a regular Beracha/blessing that precedes the special three verse blessing that Hashem commands the Cohanim to bless Jews with. "...He has commanded us to bless His people Israel WITH LOVE" - B'Ahava. Bearing in mind that everything is hinted in the Chumash/Five Books of Moses, there is a true story of someone asking a Rabbi as to where it is hinted in the Chumash that the Cohanim have to bless Jews "with love". The Rabbi answered quite simply, "The verse states, "Thus shall they (Aharon & his sons) bless the Children of Israel, SAY to them". (Now, the word "say" in Hebrew in this context is AMOR.) Now in Spanish, the word Amor means love. Hence, this is where this concept is hinted." Now, those who know Spanish culture, will know that love/romance plays a big part in it. But perhaps what leads to this explanation in the Torah is the fact that Hashem already said "Thus shall they bless the Children of Israel". The word Ko/thus already indicates that the Torah is ready to proceed with the blessings in the following three verses. So technically, the words "Say to them" are really superfluous. Yes, even other languages than Hebrew are hinted in the Torah! (The Mitzva of Tefillin consisting of four Torah sections is also hinted using other languages). And before I forget, the threefold blessing uttered by the Cohanim have a total of 15 words. By the way, this very section of the Torah about this commandment is the very first piece of Torah that we recite following the daily blessings that we recite before learning Torah.

I should point out that the last word of the 15 word threefold blessing is Shalom/Peace. In Pirkei Avot/Ethics of the Fathers, there is a statement from Hillel that begins like this "Hillel says: Be of the students of Aharon, love peace and pursue peace, love creatures (human beings) and bring them close to the Torah". Now in Hebrew, this phrase is also exactly 15 words. The whole theme here is about peace, which is due in part to being a "student of Aharon", who was the peacemaker par excellence, who brought many pairs of fighting Jews to love each other once again through his tactful words. Indeed, his Yahrzeit -the only one mentioned in the entire Bible -is the 1st of Av, and today is the 15th of Av, perhaps corresponding to the 15 words of the priestly blessing that was begun by Aharon, as indeed, the 15th & final word of this blessing is the word Shalom, which has much to do with the concept of Tu B'Av, as it is Shalom-peace, that keeps a marriage together, which of course has to start WITH LOVE - B'Ahava=15, but can only be maintained through the medium of peace.

Certainly, it is no mere coincidence that it is the 15th of Av, known as Tu B'Av, today's date, that has been singled out, along with Yom Kippur, to be a day of Shidduch hunting. Let's turn to the very last Mishna of Tractate Ta'anit (4:8): "Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said: "There were no festive days like the 15th of Av & Yom Kippur when the dauhters of Jerusalem...would go out and dance in the vineyards, and they would say "Bachelor, lift up your eyes and see whom you will choose for yourself..."""

Furthermore, in terms of the number 15, King Solomon - who was the 15th generation from Abraham, the physical & spiritual father of the Jewish people, thrown in a fiery furnace for refusing to worship idols and was miraculously not even hurt - composed Shir HaShirim/Book of Song of Songs, which describes Hashem's and the Jewish people's love relationship with each other. If the words in this Book were to be taken literally, it would sound like a very romantic relationship. Indeed, without the commentaries, especially Rashi, to this Book, what this is saying would not be understood by anyone even by someone who knows perfect Hebrew (Artscroll presents a translation that incorporates Rashi's explanation to this Book http://www.artscroll.com/.) Have to admit that King Solomon ironically admitted at one point in his life that he could not find true love in any of his 1,000 women. Guess it pays to stick to one woman.

Perhaps an interesting observation that will spice up Tu B'Av is that the first word "Tu" is the number 15, as the letters Teit (9) & Vav (6). Now, usually after the number ten, which is Yud, the numbers continue as Yud Alef (11), Yud Beit (12), etc. However, for the numbers 15 & 16, the Yud is not used because it's following letter to equal 15 or 16 forms Hashem's name or part of it, and have to be careful not to spell Hashem's name on paper that could be thrown out, as it is forbidden to throw out Hashem's name or Torah writings in the garbage, but only in a container that will be buried instead, giving them respect like we do for the deceased. Thus, instead we spell the number beginning with a Teit, and for the number 15, we put a Vav instead of a Hei. Now, the number "Tu" sounds just like a different number in English - the number 2. After all, Tu B'Av IS a time for two - man & woman - to meet, hopefully it will lead to marriage! However, in the marriage, the man is called an Ish, and the woman is called an Isha. Both words have the same letters Alef & Shin, spelling the word Eish/fire. The difference between the two words is that Ish has a Yud=10, and Isha has a Hei=5. Thus, if the TWO of them have peace and harmony between them, known in Hebrew as Shalom Bayit, then the Shechina/Divine Presence, indicated by the name of Hashem spelled as Yud & Hei, which equals 15, will rest among them. However, G-d forbid, there is fighting amongst themselves, then there will be Eish/fire; and if it's not in its literal meaning, then it's the spiritual effect as a result of their bickering which prevents the Divine Presence from resting among them.

It's interesting to note that there are six orders or volumes of the Mishnayot. The third one of them is called Nashim/Women. Imagine, while some who are not observant Jews mock "Orthodox" Jews as being prejudiced against women, one of the six volumes of the foundation book of the Oral Torah is called WOMEN! Of course it shouldn't be of a total surprise - a person is born as a Jew ONLY because of his Jewish mother. Anyways, this volume of the Mishnayot begins with the words "Fifteen women..." (in Tractate Yevamot) pertaining to the list of women who are exempt from levirate marriage (Deutronomy 25:5-10). Thus, the number 15 is most related to women, as exemplified by the Oral Torah, and thus it was on the 15th of Av when the young women were out looking for men. (These days, it is usually the opposite, and speaking as a single guy looking for one woman willing to get married, it is quite the opposite trend today).

Getting back to the love relationship between Hashem & the Jews, Hashem is the Chatan/Bridegroom, the Jews are the Kallah/Bride, and the Torah is the Ketuba/marriage contract. It is interesting to note that earlier on in Jewish history, first timers under the Chupa got married particularly on a Wednesday - the 4th day of the week. Without getting into details as to why this was so, it's interesting to note that this year, Tu B'Av also falls out on the 4th day of the week.

Now that I mentioned that the Jews are compared to the Kallah, let's make a very interesting observation of the two dates mentioned pertaining to when the Jewish girls used to be out looking for mates - Tu B'Av & Yom Kippur. Now, counting the number of days from Tu B'Av through Yom Kippur - you have a total of 55 days. And guess what? This is the Gematria of the word Kallah/Bride! And if this is not enough, the most number of days that is possible to be in a Jewish calendar year (there are six different amounts) is 385, which is a total of 55 full weeks. As per the 385 days, the word Shechina/Divine Presence is the Gematria of 385. As we had just mentioned of the Shechina dwelling among a peaceful couple, it is a feminine word describing the feminine aspect of Hashem, so to speak. In the Zohar, the Shechina is called a Betula/virgin which describes a bride who was never married or intimate before, and thus a Jewish bride receives her blessings from the Shechina, which is demonstrated by the Sheva Berachot - seven blessings - that are recited at a wedding; and in reference to this, the Shechina is also called Bat-Sheva, which literally means daughter of seven. The name Bat-Sheva is also the name of the wife of King David, who was born and passed away on Shavuot, name of the holiday which is also based on the word for number seven. And as per the 55 weeks, the word weeks in Hebrew is Shavuot, which is also the name of the holiday in which the Jews, compared to the Kallah=55, received the Torah! Shavuot is so named because the Jews counted seven full weeks from after leaving Egypt in anticipation of receiving the Torah, and since then, we count seven full weeks "from the Omer (barley offering), after which we observe the holiday of Shavuot, which means weeks, also having a connotation of the number 7, as a week consists of 7 days. Similarly, we recite the Sheva Berachot for the Chatan & Kallah, on each of the 7 days of their first week of marriage (if either of them was never married before). If this is not enough, the beginning of the Torah which consists of the account of the week of creation has a total of 469 words, and Chatuna (or Chasuna in Ashkenazic pronounciation)/wedding is the Gematria of 469! Indeed, the very first word for the section about Shabbat is the word Vayechulu - "The heavens, earth, and their hosts WERE FINISHED" (Genesis 2:1). Indeed this Hebrew word has a similar connotation to the word Kallah/Bride. And wait, there is more! Divide the number 469 by 7, and the result is 67. In Hebrew, the letter for the number 7 is the word Zayin - consisting of the letters Zayin (7), Yud (10), Noon (50), which equals 67!

Speaking about Torah, both in last week's Parshat Va'etchanan, and this week's Parshat Eikev, (both of these Parshiyot mention of the events of the Torah being given which happened on Shavuot) consisting of the first two paragraphs of the Shema respectively, each consist of a verse regarding teaching Torah to our children. The first verse consists of 50 letters, and as we know, Shavuot, the holiday celebrating receiving the Torah, is the 50th day from the beginning count of the Omer, and the second verse consists of 54 verses, corresponding to the 54 Parshiyot/Torah portions of the Chumash, which we conclude on Simchat Torah, the holiday in which we celebrate the Torah ending the Chumash, and beginning it anew. In a way, as we always learn something new when we review a piece of Torah that we have learned before, beginning the Torah - the Chumash - is in effect like learning the 55th Parsha of the Torah, and as we mentioned earlier, Kallah/Bride is the Gematria of 55, and the one who is called for the beginning of the Torah that is a special Aliya on Simchat Torah, or the Aliya itself, is called Chatan Bereishit - The Bereishit Bridegroom!


Getting back to where I started in this 38th post, the title of the book just published this year of 5769/2009 is called Mah Zot Ahava - What is this love? Here is the second reason (actually the third reason - it was the cheapest priced books of all the others there) why I purchased it - the title "Mah Zot Ahava" is the Gematria of my name Shimon (466)! Indeed, this is what you call literally a Siman Tov - Good Sign, and indeed, the last two letters of this Hebrew year - Samech & Teit, when this Sefer was published are the beginning letters of these words Siman Tov! These are the beginning words sung at Jewish weddings. I sure hope that this is indeed a sign from Hashem that even if I am not going to get married is this auspicious year, that I will soon find myself a Shidduch while still in this year - perhaps on this very date of Tu B'Av! (The best things have happened to me in the past when I least expected them). Also, it was the first time in many years that I received the Chatan Bereishit Aliya on this past Simchat Torah - called up to the Torah for the very first part of the Torah which consists of the account of the week of creation, being in this year of 5769, denoting Siman Tov, as I had just mentioned! It was immediately after this holiday at night when I began http://www.gematriot.blogspot.com/. Anyways, these good signs pertaining to my personal life, reminds me of the signs of redemption that have happened recently to the Jewish people signaling the fact that Moshiach will be coming very shortly.

Tu B'Av in fact has a big connection to the name Shimon. As we mentioned earlier, it was none other than Rabban SHIMON Ben Gamliel who was the one who mentioned the date of Tu B'Av as a time when Shidduchim were made. Moreover, this date is in the midst of the month of Av, which corresponds to the Tribe of SHIMON (as I mentioned in my 36th post)! And just when you thought this was all...

Just about anyone who knows something about Lag Baomer has heard of a most famous song about Rabbi SHIMON Bar Yochai , also known as Rashbi, author of the teachings of the Zohar, who passed away on this date, who declared before his passing that the day of his passing should be celebrated as a day of happiness. Now, the name of this song is called Bar Yochai, called as such because it is the beginning phrase of every stanza in this song. And wait until you hear this, this was composed by another Rabbi with the same name - Rabbi SHIMON Lavi!

Who was this rabbi? A Kabbalist in his own right who lived mostly in the 1500s, he composed a commentary on the Zohar called Ketem Paz. At one point, he decided to make Aliyah. However, he came to the community of Tripoli, and seeing the poor spiritual state of the Jews living there, he decided that he was needed by them, and thus, he never wound up coming to Israel. However, of the several songs composed in honor of Rashbi, it is the composition of this rabbi in particular - whose name was also Shimon - that made the number 1 spot on the Rashbi song list, even though ironically, he never visited the gravesite of Rashbi - where a probably nice 6-digit number of Jews these days sing this very song as his gravesite every Lag Baomer. In fact, there are those who sing this song every Shabbat night - or at least during the Sefira - the count of the 7 weeks to Shavuot.

Now, guess the Yarhzeit of this Rabbi SHIMON Lavi. It is Tu B'Av! The Hebrew year of this rabbi's passing was 5348. In Hebrew, these are the letters Hei, Shin, Mem, Cheit. Rearranged, these letters spell the word SIMCHA/Happiness! Remember, Rashbi, in whose honor Rabbi SHIMON Lavi composed the song Bar Yochai, said that his day of passing should be marked as a day of SIMCHA/Happiness! And this day - Tu B'Av - the passing of the composer of the song Bar Yochai is indeed a great day of happiness to begin with!

Now, a Jew's ultimate happiness is the Torah. Our Rabbis tell us that at the time of Tu B'Av, as the nights start getting longer towards winter, we are supposed to increase our amount of Torah learning during the night. Now, the word Simcha in Hebrew has the same letters as another word - the Hebrew word for the number 5 - Chamisha. Well, we know that the foundation of the Torah is called the Chumash, also known as the Chamisha Chumshei Torah - "The Five Books of the Torah", as this word as based on the word Chamisha. Similarly, there is a piece in the Zohar that is called Sifra Ditzniuta - "The Book of Hidden Matters", which consists of 5 sections, corresponding to the 5 Books of the Chumash! And indeed, the name SHIMON in Hebrew consists of 5 letters.

Speaking of the name SHIMON itself, there is ONE place in the ENTIRE T'nach/Bible where the name Shimon, as the first letters of five consecutive words in the same verse, can be spelled forwards or backwards. This one time can be found in the 38th Chapter of Psalms. And yes, I am talking about this in my 38th post! Imagine just one time - in verse 9, it says Nefugoti V'Nidkeiti Ad Meod Sha'agti - where the first letters of these five words spells the name SHIMON backwords. These words mean, "I am faint and exceedingly crushed, I roar..." Now, the last word of this verse is Libi/my heart. Now, the first word of the next verse - verse 10 - is A-do-noy/L-rd (literally means "My master"), where the first letter is an Alef. Put this Alef next the last word of the previous verse - Libi - spelled Lamed, Beit, Yud, and together - presto! It's the word Lavi, the family name of Rabbi SHIMON Lavi! Anyways, as I mentioned, the number of these verses - 9 & 10 - both have to do with the name SHIMON. For the month of Av, its corresponding Tribe is SHIMON and its corresponding letter is a Teit=9. And for the letter Yud=10, the name of the letter when spelled out is the Gematria of Shimon (466), like this: Yud - Yud (10), Vav (6), Dalet (4); Vav - Vav (6), Vav (6); Dalet - Dalet (4), Lamed (30), Tav (400). A little arithmetic will reveal that this all adds up to exactly 466!

Another thing on the family name of Lavi, which means big lion. (The regular word for lion, Aryeh, is the Mazel/constellation for the month of Av.) In Gematria, this equals 43. As you will recall from my 29th post on Yom Yerushalayim/Jerusalem Day, the miracles that led to this special day, which included access to the holiest place in the world, occurred on the 43rd day from counting the Omer. Also, we are currently in the 43th year from the miracles that led to Yom Yerushalayim. And my Pasuk, verse that I say at the end of Shemoneh Esrei that begins with the letter Shin as the name Shimon, and ends with the letter Noon Sophit as the name Shimon, is Shabchi Yerushalayim - "Praise Hashem, O Jerusalem, laud your G-d, O Zion". And as I quoted the Mishna before in regard to Tu B'Av, the Yahrzeit of Rabbi SHIMON Lavi, it were the "daughters of Jerusalem", meaning, the Jewish girls living in Yerushalayim, who used to go out dancing in the hopes of meeting a guy. And there are exactly 33 times in the T'nach where the letters of Lavi - Lamed, Veit/Beit, Yud, Alef - is spelled consecutively forwards or backwards; and Rashbi, in whose honor Rabbi SHIMON Lavi composed his song Bar Yochai, passed away on the 33rd day of the Omer! And as we mentioned about Yissaschar earlier in this post, this Tribe corresponds to the month of Iyar, the month in which Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai passed away, on the 18th of the month.

Now, for those who have read my blogspots in the past, will see that I have written about my name and rabbis who have this name quite a bit. People may get the impression that I just like to talk about myself. But I have to tell you, if you have followed by blogspots carefully, you will have noticed a lot of Divine Providence here. Take these last three posts here #s 36, 37 & 38 - the number 36 is relationship to the Gematria of Eicha that is read on Tisha B'Av, then the number 37 that coincided with two events - the 37th flight of Nefesh B'Nefesh & the passing of Rabbi Moshe Chait, whose family name in Hebrew equals the Gematria of 37, the latter that happened just this Tisha B'Av, and the number 38 in relationship to my name Shimon which is spelled as the beginning letters of five consecutive words in a verse which is found only once in the entire T'nach in Psalms Chapter 38 - and particularly to Rabbi Shimon Lavi who passed away on Tu B'Av. In the song that this rabbi composed in honor of Rashbi, the first letters of the nine basic stanzas of this song indeed spells this rabbi's name - Shimon Lavi. So as you see, there is a concept of marking Chidushei Torah - new insights in Torah learning - in connection to one's name, the same way that one writes one's name in a book showing that he/she is the owner of that book. In a spiritual sense, marking something in Torah in relationshp to one's name also helps bond one's Neshama/soul to that piece of Torah that one thought of or composed. There have been many rabbis that named their Seforim/holy books that they composed using their name, or a hint to their name, including giving their book a title that has the same Gematria as their name. And indeed, as I mentioned about reciting a verse from the T'nach corresponding to my name, this is a very strong custom that Jews have throughout the world. The reason given for this is that after our time in this world, and we are summoned for judgment in the next world to give an accounting of our deeds, our Neshama may become very frightened and even forget its own name. So in order to ease its transmission so to speak, we associate our name with a piece of Torah - a verse from T'nach (or two verses if we have two names and so on, but not our family name). Thus, associating our name with a spiritual accomplishment serves as a merit for us showing our Torah learning and good deeds that we have accomplished. This is pretty much like a painter who signs his name on a drawing so that not only people will know who it is that painted it; but also, so that the credit won't go to someone else who can stealthily sign his name on it pretending that he was the one who painted it.

Speaking of both Rabbi Akiva & Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in this post, I saw somewhere pertaining to the beginning words of this week's Parshat Eikev - VeHaya Eikev Tishme'un - "It will be if you will listen...", Eikev is related to the word Akiva, and the next word Tishme'un is related to the word Shimon, hinting to these two rabbis, as Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai was in fact one of the top students of Rabbi Akiva, who are both frequently mentioned in the Mishna, the foundation book of the Oral Torah; and later on in life, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai had his own group of students to whom he taught the teachings of Kaballah which were assembled to become the book of the Zohar.


So, what is this love? Love for Hashem, love for the Torah, and if we truly love Hashem and the Torah, we will also understand what TRUE love is for one's wife, who is not someone to love merely for one's pleasure or convenience, but also respect for her, just like we are supposed to have respect for Hashem and the Torah.

I would like to conclude with the conclusion of the above Mishna of the conclusion of Tractate Ta'anit: "Go forth and gaze, O daughters of Zion, at King Solomon, with the crown that his mother crowned him with on the day of his wedding and on the day of the happiness of his heart" (NOTE: The last word in Hebrew for "his heart" is Libo, which is the Gematria of 38, as the number of this post!) (Song of Songs 3:11). "On the day of his wedding" - this refers to the giving of the Torah. "And on the day of the happiness of his heart" - this refers to the building of the Holy Temple. May it be rebuilt speedily in our days. Amen!

Tu B'Av 5769 - Yahrzeit of Rabbi Shimon Lavi, composer of the song Bar Yochai in honor of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai

NOTE: More amazing Divine Providence! The timing of this post is 4:21 PM. Well, guess the number of the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Shimon Lavi - that is, how many years is it from when he passed away in 5348 (1588)? It's the 421th Yahrzeit, meaning, it is exactly 421 years from when he passed away! And this is also the Gematria of the words Zot Ahava - This is the Love.

P.S. G-d willing, will post around a week from now. Will be focusing on recent events that have happened to the Jewish community, including Anti-Semitism from not just plain thugs, or Arabs, but from...Stay tuned!

No comments: