Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Who doesn't want good luck? A Jew's automatic response to hearing about a Simcha that another Jew has is "Mazel Tov"!

But what is this luck? Is it something that happens to come on its own, perhaps based on one's fortune telling in the skies? Or is it in fact something that Hashem grants someone that allows one to be successful in whatever area of life it may be?

Straight from the Talmud in Tractate Shabbat, it mentions what will be with someone who is born on a particular day of the week or during a particular hour based on the planetary system. Following this, there is one rabbi who says that in fact "there is no Mazel for Jews".

A precedent for this can be found in this week's Parshat Lech Lecha. When Abraham complained to Hashem that He did provide him with children as he knew from astrology that this could not happen, as Rashi points out from the Midrash, Hashem replied to Abraham that he should leave aside his astrology "what you see in the Mazelot (zodiac signs)" that he is not destined to have a child. By changing both his and his wife Sarah's names, the Mazel would change.

According to another interpretation of Rashi's, it seems that Abraham became the first astronaut, having been brought above the stars. But no doubt that this refers spiritually to the fact that Jews, as represented by Abraham, can in fact be above nature. Indeed, there is in fact truth to astrology (NOTE: Believing what it says in the newspapers about one's astrology is in fact a violation of Torah laws pertaining to idolatry. A Torah scholar or one's local Orthodox rabbi should be consulted as to what is considered kosher astrology which will not be in violation of Jewish Law), but for the most part, this is applicable to non-Jews. However, a Jew who has full faith and trust in Hashem who does what Hashem wants does not need to be overly concerned about what is "in the stars" for oneself. After all, it is Hashem who created it all - nature, astrology, etc.; and hence, we Jews need only to worry about what Hashem tells us to do. Maybe there will be roadblocks for certain people, such as not being able to have children; but in such cases, turning to the righteous and Torah scholars for spiritual guidance will be a far greater chance in assuring Hashem's blessings for us, which has happened countless of times.

We are indeed "above the stars", and as Jews who are servants of Hashem, we are worth far more to the enth degree than the stars of Hollywood that are virtually worshipped as idols in today's society, who may seem unapproachable on a personal level as they are so famous and rich who live their private lives guarded in a multi-millionaire home under the watchful eye of a 24 hour surveillance camera behind the iron bolts of the gated private millionaire club community.

Having mentioned something pertaining to this week's Parsha, there is something else here that is current. You see, today - 10 Cheshvan - is the birthday of Gad, son of Jacob. Rashi translates the name Gad as MAZEL TOV - Good Luck. And as based on the Zohar, on one's birthday, his/her birthday shines.

Also to note, today is the 40th day from the beginning of the Jewish year. It's especially significant that I am mentioning it this year, because I am in my 40th year. But why I mention the number 40 in reference to Gad's birthday is because the Hebrew word Mispar/Number (NOTE: My Hebrew birthday - 1 Iyar - is mentioned in the very beginning of the Book of Numbers - "the first day of the second month (from Nissan)") can be spelled as two words - Mem (the word for the letter Mem) Sephor - "Count 40". The word Sephor/count is used in the above story of Abraham complaining that he doesn't have children when Hashem tells him "COUNT the stars, and see if you can COUNT how many there are. This is how many descendants you will have" (Genesis 15:5). In a similar vein pertaining to reading a word as two words, when Leah names Gad, she says that "good luck has come". Now in the Torah, this is written as one word - Bagad; but when reading the Sefer Torah or learning the Chumash, we pronounce this as two words - Ba Gad. But what does this signify?

In response to this question, let's note the Gematria, or the number worth of the letters of Gad's name - Gimel is 3 & Dalet is 4. Now, when the reason is given for Gad's name - it is written as THREE Hebrew letters for Bagad - Beit, Gimel, Dalet. When actually pronounced - Ba Gad, there are FOUR Hebrew letters.

Before I began this 49th post, I thought of naming it "LUCKY NUMBER 7". Indeed, the number SEVEN is a most lucky number, and the Sages said it like no other "All sevens are beloved". For more on the number seven as I wrote in the past, you can check post #12 (in 2008) where I write about the 7th Parshat Vayetze with various mentions of seven in that Parsha. In any case, the number 49, as in my 49th post, is seven times seven. But more than this, this also relates to Gad.

There are a number of fascinating observations pertaining to various numbers as it relates to Gad. To catch a clear picture of this, I would like to make an outline of this:

1) Gad is the Gematria of SEVEN, who is mentioned SEVENTH of Jacob's twelve sons, and was the father of SEVEN sons! His mother's name Zilpah begins with the letter Zayin, which equals SEVEN. His birth among the births of Jacob's other sons, is first mentioned in Parshat Vayetze, the SEVENTH Parsha of the Torah.

2) His name means Mazel Tov. The first letters of this phrase are Mem & Teit - the Gematria of FORTY NINE (49), which is SEVEN times SEVEN (7*7)!

3) The first word of this phrase - Mazel, is the Gematria of SEVENTY SEVEN (77).

4) Moreover, the Gematria of the full translation of the name of Gad - Mazel Tov, is the Gematria of 94. The 94th Psalm, amidst the Psalms 90-100 which Moses composed corresponding to the Tribes of Israel (except for Shimon), corresponds to the Tribe of Gad. Perhaps a hint to this in this Psalm is in its 21st verse - Yagodu Al Nefesh Tzadik - "They join together against the soul of the righteous...Hashem turned upon them their own violence, and with their own evil He will cut them off." The word Yagodu/"join together" has a connotation of the word Gad. In fact, Jacob's blessing of Gad uses Gad's name four times as a play on words - Gad Gedud Yegodenu Vehu Yagood Akeiv - "Gad will recruit a regiment, and it will retreat on its heel," refering to the future time when this Tribe of Gad will come fight on the front lines for the Jewish people upon entering Israel. The word Yegodenu/"will recruit" is very similar to the word Yagodu in the 94th Psalm which corresponds to Gad.

To note, I just mentioned that the wording of Gad in the 94th Psalm as Yagodu, which in this context is in fact referring to evil people joining together to fight the righteous. To note, the Hebrew number for 94 is Tzadi Dalet, which can be read as Tzahd/hunt, and indeed, Jacob's brother Esau was a hunter in the fields, which was a reflection of his evil behavior. Indeed, this whole psalm is about the challenges we face from the wicked and we are asking Hashem to save us and protect us. Indeed, this psalm was the very last thing that the Levites sang in the Temple before the enemy came in to destroy it - even though that day was a Sunday when normally they sang Psalm 24, but instead for some unobvious reason, they sang this psalm which was normally sang by them on a Wednesday. The Sefer Mei'am Loaz tells us that had the Levites finished the psalm, the enemies would not have been able to destroy the Temple, as they didn't have a chance to finish the last few words which read "Hashem our G-d will cut them (the enemies) off".

Speaking of enemies, in terms of the first verse of this Psalm, "O G-d of vengeance, Hashem; O G-d of vengeance, appear", our all time number #1 enemy is Amelek, about which Hashem gives us three Mitzvot pertaining to this nation, remembering what this nation did to us upon leaving Egypt, not forgetting what he did, and wiping out his memory, the conclusion and Maftir reading of the 49th Parsha of the Torah - Ki Tetzei, also the special Maftir reading for Shabbat Zachor, the Shabbat before Purim, which I mentioning in this 49th post. Indeed, revenge could be a good thing, if this is what Hashem asks us to perform, for we must not make the mistake that King Saul made, who was ordered to totally annihilate Amalek, but didn't do so. Indeed of wreaking full revenge on Amalek - being merciful to the cruel, he wound up later taking vengence against the Cohen Gadol/High Priest among many other Cohanim - being cruel to the merciful. And along these lines, Amalek is a descendant of Esav, the hunter.

And as Psalm 94 is the Shir Shel Yom, the Psalm that the Levites sang for Wednesday (FOURTH day of the week), in this year, we will be reciting it in our prayers today - on Wednesday, which is the birthday of Gad - 10 Cheshvan. Speaking of which, when we say this Psalm as the Shir Shel Yom, we add three verses from the beginning of the following Psalm 95 in which the concluding verse is Ki E-l Gadol Hashem U'Melech Gadol Al Kol E-lohim - "For a great G-d is Hashem, and a great King above all heavenly powers." (Psalms 95:3). The name Gad is spelled twice in this verse in the word Gadol/great which is describing Hashem.

The reason why these three verses are added to Psalm 94 is because these are the beginning verses of the Kabbalat Shabbat, the prayers we recite welcoming the Shabbat. The fourth day of the week (Wednesday) is kabbalistically considered the first of the last three days of the work week preparing ourselves spiritually for the coming Shabbat - the SEVENTH day of the week, while the previous three days are considered leftovers from the previous Shabbat. And indeed, the very first word of Psalm 94 is E-l/G-d which is the Gematria of 31, and the Mitzvah of sanctifying Shabbat with Kiddush & Havdalah is the 31st Mitzva of the Torah which is the part of the FOURTH of the Ten Commandments beginning with the word Zachor - "Remember the Shabbat day to sanctify it" which begins with the letter Zayin which equals SEVEN.

On an incidental note, what we call the Ten Commandments is in fact a mistranslation of what is called in Hebrew "Aseret HaDibrot", which really means the Ten Statements. In fact, in the count of the 613 Mitzvot/Commandments, there are actually 14 Mitzvot in the "Ten Commandments". There are four Mitzvot in the Second Commandment, and two Mitzvot in the Fourth Commandment. Hence, counting the Mitzvot in the Ten Commandments, it winds up that the Mitzvah of Zachor - sanctifying the SEVENTH day which begins with the letter Zayin=7 is the SEVENTH Mitzvah in the Ten Commandments!

And speaking of 10 Cheshvan, we noted that it is the 40th day from the beginning of the Jewish year which begins with the month of Tishrei, which in turn is counted as the SEVENTH month from Nissan, which is the head of the months. Thus, we count 40 days and presto! It's like winning the lottery, which is the birthday of the head of the Tribe of Gad whose very name means GOOD LUCK! Mispar - Mem Sephor - "Count 40", and we found ourselves with a whole bunch of lucky numbers, though I will not promise that you will win a lottery ticket with all these specific numbers. (In the earlier years of the Florida lottery - of which the very first drawing took place on May 7, 1988, my legal 18th birthday which was my first day on which I was legally allowed to play the lottery - you had a pick of six out of the first 49 numbers). However, one thing is for sure. The source for all this is indeed the number SEVEN. While it took 40 days for Hashem to teach the Torah to Moshe, starting from the SEVENTH of Sivan, it was on this beginning day of the 40 days that Hashem declared the Ten Commandments, which was also on Shabbat, the SEVENTH day of the week, which included the Mitzvot of sanctifying the Shabbat and not working on Shabbat.

The name Gad as represented by the letters Gimel=3 & Dalet-4, in fact represents other aspects as pertains to the whole of the Jewish people. First of all, there are THREE Avot/Patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob, and FOUR Imahot/Matriarchs - Sarah, Rebbeca, Rachel, & Leah, as reported by the Talmud. Zilpah - Gad's mother and Bilhah, maidservants to Leah & Rachel respectively, only became mothers when Leah & Rachel were not able to have children, and are thus not considered as part of the official Matriarchs, and as we see, it was Leah & Rachel who did the naming of the children of the maidservants. Another way of looking at this is that Jacob as the father of the 12 Tribes, was number THREE of the Patriarchs, and he fathered these tribes through FOUR women.

And in amazing connection of Gad with the Tribes of Israel, the Cohen Gadol/High Priest wore a breastplate called the Urim V'Tumim, which consisted of 12 different types of stones on which were engraved the 12 Tribes of Israel, consisting of THREE horizontal rows & FOUR vertical rows. Now, the purpose of having letters on these stones was so that if a Jewish leader had a question to pose to get answer from Hashem, the answer would lit up among these letters. Now, if you note the letters of the names of these tribes, four letters are missing - Cheit, Teit, Tzadi, Koof. So, if a message had to be delivered from Hashem, how would it be possible if one of these four missing letters from the Tribes' names would be needed as part of the answer?

To supplement this, additional letters were added to these stones, thus allowing each stone to contain six letters. The additional words strewn throughout the stones (except for Benjamin's stone whose name consists of six letters) were Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Tribes of Jeshurun. For Gad's stone, the additional letters in Hebrew were Shivtei - Tribes of. Besides the fact that Gad's stone was the ONLY stone that included another full word, this word means "tribes of" pointing out particularly to the 12 Tribes of Israel in contrast to the names of one of the Patriarchs. Hence, the name of GOOD LUCK is in effect spreading it wings over ALL the Tribes of Israel.

Perhaps this concept can be illustrated from the Talmud (Shabbat 104) in a long homiletical piece about the letters of the Alef Beit, where Gimel & Dalet, as two letters in order, can begin the phrase - Gomeil Dalim - "providing for the poor". Maybe not everyone will have the same good luck as the few do. However, the ones with the good luck are in a position to help everyone else to at least be able to live a minimal standard of living. The truth is that Hashem provides for everyone, as worded in the seven worded verse Poteiach Et Yadecha U'Masbia L'Chol Chai Ratzon - "You Who opens Your hands and satisfies the wants of all living beings" (Psalms 145:16), where the word U'Masbia - "and satisfies" has a connotation of the word Sheva/SEVEN.
And the word for the letter Zayin which equals SEVEN, is related to the word Zahn/nourishes. And in the first blessing of Bircat HaMazon - called Bircat HaZahn - thanking Hashem for the meal that we ate which includes bread, the above verse is included (except for Nusach Ashkenaz which does not include this verse in the first blessing of Bircat HaMazon).

However, Hashem doesn't necessarily provide for everyone equally. The whole idea of being rich and poor people is to give the rich people a chance to be worthy of reward in the world to come, and the poor will get reward doubly if they accept their lot from Hashem without complaining. (Praying to Hashem to help oneself in his/her time of need is not only suggested, but is highly recommended. It is complaining to other people without a constructive purpose that is not desirable; but to Hashem, we are to talk to Him the same way that a child speaks to one's father to get what one wants without saying insults).

While indeed, one's Mazel may not include lots of money, there are times that if we provide even within our limited means, Hashem will give us more so long as we continue to help provide for others, as Hashem gives us the tools to serve Him, which includes feeding and helping Hashem's other children. We must always remember that whatever Hashem provides us, it is not because "it is coming to us". The only thing we can assure ourselves of what is coming to us is the reward for the Mitzvot that we perform - which is in the world of eternity. However, what Hashem provides us in this world is not an end of a means by itself. To some Hashem will give more, and to others Hashem will give less. Money, health, children, etc. are ultimately the means and tools through which we can serve Hashem; because at a moment's notice, especially if we don't use our tools for the right purpose, Hashem can make them vanish overnight. So if we want Hashem to give us something, we have to be willing to give something in return, and providing for others is virtually the best way that we can demonstrate that.

And in ritualistic terms, it is keeping the Shabbat, including not working to make money on this day, despite the temptation to do so in certain industries where people seem to make so much more money because they work on this day. This may be so for non-Jews who are in fact FORBIDDEN to keep Shabbat. However, a Jew needs to realize that he will not make one extra penny because he works on Shabbat, and Hashem has many ways of making people lose money. And if it really seems that he is digging in the Saturday cash, it may very well mean that Hashem is paying him off in this world for his few good deeds, and will be left emptyhanded of spiritual cash in the world to come. In any case, if we show our trust in Hashem Who will provide us for our every need by not working on Shabbat, Hashem will pay us back many fold - and if for any reason it is not in this world, one can be assured that he/she will have plenty in the Heavenly bank.

Hence, while the number SEVEN is the lucky number that is the foundation of other lucky numbers, we count 49 days - SEVEN TIMES SEVEN - between the first day of Passover and Shavuot/Pentacost - between the time when on the beginning of Passover, Hashem took us out of Egypt and provided us our every physical need AND Shavuot - when Hashem provided us with our spiritual needs through the vehicle of the Torah. Ultimately, it is the ones who learn Torah, teach Torah, support Torah, who are the luckiest ones on the planet. Of course getting reward for something you need isn't plain luck, you worked hard to earn it. But, it is the luck of the Jewish people who are born to potentially be able to get the greatest reward possible which non-Jews do not have the opportunity to have nearly as much of unless they get the sense to convert to Judaism. And since today we are speaking of a birthday, the Hebrew word for birth is Leida, which is the Gematria of 49, the number of this 49th post which is focusing on Gad son of Jacob who was born on today's date of 10 Cheshvan.

On a final note, while angels are described as Ohmdim/standing - in just one spiritual level, who feel SATISFIED (as related in Hebrew to the number SEVEN), human beings are described as Mehalchim/walking - continuously progressing to greater spiritual heights - NOT being SATISFIED with their present spiritually level, but are continously on the run - SEVEN TIMES SEVEN, counting their time wisely until once they leave this world, they reach that final plateau of that 50th level of understanding in the world to come basking in Hashem's glory, a pleasure far greater (though of course we have no concept of how this can be) than the greatest pleasures of this world, when we will be truly SATISFIED as our reward for our SEVEN TIMES SEVEN service of Hashem. This indeed describes the Tribe of Gad, as hinted in Jacob's blessing of this Tribe, who went the full nine yards to fight on behalf of its brethren when the Jews entered Israel under the leadership of Joshua, fighting the enemies at the head of the troop, and living up to its name.
NOTE: Next week G-d willing, I will be posting about a historical figure who lived the life of the lesson of SEVEN TIMES SEVEN leading to 50.

10 Cheshvan 5770, Birthday of Gad son of Jacob

P.S. The time of this posting 6:17 PM ends with the number 17 - the Gematria of the word Tov/Good as in Mazel Tov - GOOD luck.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

#48 - Ham: Black or White?

Well, it depends on what kind of ham you are talking about. Ham, as in the form of meat, has several names, and is also known as the title of "the other white meat". I'll be writing more on this subject a little later on.

But first, for those who have been reading their English Bibles this week as per this week's Parshat Noach, Ham is listed as one of Noah's three sons. One may wonder why Ham didn't perish in the world flood with the other evil people as per his behavior as recorded in the Bible. It is true that as Noah himself was righteous, it would only be fair to him for Hashem to save at least his immediate family.

While Ham may have hid his natural instincts for a while, the Midrash has a dark secret about this shrewd character. Among Hashem's instructions to Noah, no one - human, animal, bird, etc, was allowed to have sex during their one year stay in the Noah's Flood Hotel. What happened? Most behaved except for three (to be technical it was six, but the following is how it is listed in the Midrash) - the dog, the raven, and...Ham. Ham, as in the form of animal meat, may very well be white, but this Ham's punishment for violating Hashem's command was that his skin turned black.

But wait, there is more. As we know from the Bible, upon witnessing Papa Noah's naked body as a result of drinking too much wine and was stoned drunk to sleep, Ham told his brothers of his discovery, upon which, the more righteous and decent brothers covered their father's body without looking at him.

Now, the Bible makes a little notation here. In mentioning Ham, he is described as "the father of Canaan". Now, how does Ham's son Canaan have anything to do with this?

The Midrash, along with Rashi, has more news to report here. It was Canaan who actually instigated this incident, as he was actually the first to notice Noah lying in shame, and reported this to his father Ham. So, what did Ham do so wrong if it was actually Canaan who spotted his grandfather Noah and Ham just told his brothers what he heard?

Yes, he actually did something, and the question is what? As further reported, Ham was afraid that if Noah would have a fourth son, the other three sons would only have a fourth of the world pie instead of a third. Towards this end, there are two versions of what he actually did. Some say that he castrated his pop. Others say that he performed a homosexual act on his pop. Either way, few would probably stoop to Ham's low level.

In punishment for this, along with Noah's following curse of Ham, the Midrash further reports that Ham's descendants would be destined to be black. It seems that the skin color came hand-in-hand with the slavery part of Noah's curse which turned out to be most true for many centuries.

Now, let's think for a minute. What actually makes more sense as to what Ham could have actually done? If Noah was alone in the tent, Ham could have done a quick slice off of Noah's exposed private parts. If Noah's wife would have been sleeping under the same roof, then it would seem more likely that Ham would have taken a little more time to do the beastly act as Noah was too drunk to wake up anyways, and could have stopped short if his mama would wake up, but would probably be a little more afraid to make a bloody mess with his mama nearby.

There may be a way to resolve this where both opinions could be true, as it is said of two opinions of rabbis in the Talmud "Both these and these are words of the Living G-d". But how?
While it is true that Ham wanted to prevent Noah from having more children, he could have done something to Noah to discourage him from continuing to populate the world without literal castration. This is what is called "mental castration". Doing the beastly act to Noah would make the latter feel quite dirty, seeing what would be left on him or feeling what was in him, and would not be interested in continuing having sex with his wife. Indeed, people who get raped - not just women, but also men - can have emotional problems that will prevent them from wanting to have sex or wanting to get it over with because of the trauma that happned.

Now, what does all this have to do with Gematria? O.K., here we go. First to note, Ham's Hebrew name Cham - consisting of the letters Cheit & Mem - is the Gematria of 48, and this is my 48th post. But without even thinking of numbers, reversing the two letters spells the word Moach/mind or brain.

It makes sense to say that Ham acted quite much like a beast, following his natural instincts as opposed to using his intellect, situated in the mind or brain. In another sense, it can be said that he used his mind for the reverse of what the mind is supposed to be used for in his doing evil, and towards that end, he inflicted something mentally disturbing to his own father towards his own selfish interest of making sure to own eight and a third percent more of the world pie.

Torturing others mentally is something that was used much later on in enslaving the Jews. Pharaoh, a descendant of Ham, had the Jews build towers. But part of this slavery torture was the mental anguish of building structures that would collapse as the Midrash reports. You see, as hard as someone may work on a project, at least if at the end of the day, something is accomplished, there is a good feeling knowing that it was all worth it at the end. But seeing your hard earned efforts resulting in total collapse and failure makes one ownself feel the same way.

Anyways, focusing on Ham doing the wild thing in whatever way and whenever, we don't have to go even so far as to reverse the letters of his name. The name itself means hot - Cham, and Ham heated himself in his uninhibited sexual activity. In terms of numbers, there is another connection here with the number 48 that can also spell a positive connotation. Among many ways of rectification for sexual sins, it is customary to recite Tikkun 48 of the Tikkunei HaZohar. While it doesn't mention anything about Ham, it does in fact make a reference to a descendant of his, Sara's handmaid Hagar who was an Egyptian princess, as Mitzrayim - which means Egypt when referring to the land of Mitzrayim - was one of the sons of Ham. Perhaps the lesson we can learn from this is that in case anyone thought that there is no room for improvement once you lead a wicked life; unlike Ham who did not repent, Hagar who was a descendant of Ham did in fact repent of her evil ways and is later known in the Torah as Ketura, a connotation of the Hebrew word Ketoret/incense, indicating that her later deeds were compared to delicious smelling incense.

There is one more important thing here that I want to mention pertaining to Ham. Rambam/Maimonides mentions in his magnum opus Mishnah Torah on the laws pertaining to charity for the poor that when hiring people which is the highest of the eight levels of charity, we should look only to hire our fellow Jews, and not "the sons of Ham". Interestingly, why did he refer to non-Jews specifically by this title when clearly, the majority of non-Jews are descended from Ham's two brothers Shem & Japheth? Also, why make this kind of reference specifically by the laws about charity to the poor?

There is a possibility here that in fact, Maimonides' work could have been censored by non-Jews who placed this phrase "sons of Ham" instead of other titles refering to non-Jews, as there are other parts of this work that had been censored, especially about Jesus and Mohammed in reference to non-Jews being taught falsehood. However, even if it was due to censorship, Divine Providence would have played a hand in this specifically using the title of "sons of Ham". You see, Ham wasn't just another guy feeling lust of doing the wild thing. He was very selfish, afraid of losing that eight and one third piece of the world pie, and stooped to a most low level of what he did to his pop Noah. Certainly, giving charity to the poor was the furthest thing away from his mind.

And hence, we must remember that instead of being selfish of saving a few bucks by hiring a non-Jew who may do the job for less, as so called "very religious" Jews who hire our Moslem Arab enemies instead of some needy Jews, including some who may not seem to be as religious as the ones hiring the Arabs, who not only are hiring our biggest enemies who can anytime G-d forbid attack Jews which has in fact happened on several well known occasions under such circumstances, including a few bulldozer incidents within the last couple of years and also where eight Yeshiva students of the Merkaz HaRav Kook Yeshiva were murdered, but also in fact have a lack of faith and trust in Hashem thinking that they will have more money in their own pocket when in fact, you don't gain a penny more doing something that goes against what Hashem wants, so in fact they will not gain anything anyways since Hashem has plenty of ways for people to loose money afterwards. What these so called "very religious" Jews forget is that the ultimate cash is in the eternal bank which they will have so much less of by not hiring poor Jews in Israel who desperately need a source of income to support their own families. And even if in fact the ones hiring our Arab enemies seem to have more money as a result, all it means is that in fact, they are receiving the reward for the good deeds that they have done in this world, but will find themselves with nothing in their spiritual bank for eternity.


In the Hidden Codes, Moslem Arab Obama with the spelling of his last name in Hebrew - with the letters Alef, Vav, Beit, Alef, Mem, Hei - is spelled in the Chumash as every 11th letter, the shortest distance of such lettering which is found in Parshat Vayeira, which we will read in a couple of weeks, and also is part of the Torah reading of the first day of Rosh Hashanah (this is bearing in mind that Obama's full name in Hebrew is the same Gematria as Rosh/head which is 501). This is in the midst of the story of Abraham sending away Hagar and their son Yishmael following the latter's evil deeds. In Genesis 21:13-14, starting with the letter Alef in the word El/to where it says Vayiten El Hagar - Abraham gave bread and water to Hagar, you count backwards from this letter Alef, where you count 11 letters not including the Alef, and the 11th letter is the letter Vav, and you continue this way until you reach the letter Hei in the word Ha'amah/the maidservant where it says V'Gam Et Ben Ha'amah L'Goy Asimenu - "I will also make the son of the maidservant into a nation". Yes, I guess this is what you call Obama NATION, which is really an abomination, that is, the eagerness of the United States nation who voted for Obama as though he is G-d who can change things around (NOTE: This last sentence is based on the radio shows that can be found on www.redemption5768.com.)

And I'm not finished. I saw a video of Obama when campaigning to be president was laughing at his opponent who accused Obama of endorsing sex education in schools. And then, within a minute, he quickly said that he was for sex education in schools! But what bothered me the most is that nobody in that crowd he spoke to gave a hoot about what he had just said. Don't mind the fact that Obama is following in the footsteps of his sexually perverted ancestor Ham. But it is the United States public who voted for Obama by a majority vote who could care less of what goes on even among their own children, as long as they could vote for someone whom they think will help them get as much money as possible, following Ham's other evil character trait of selfishness of hoarding wealth, even at the expense of morality and healthy education for their own children.


Have you ever wondered why ham is refered by this title as such? After all, ham is either called or related to several other names for this same creature or meat - pig, swine, pork, bacon. Maybe some will be afraid to eat this most dirty animal, though it can be quite cheap to buy, and very unfortunately, Jews who were quite poor in the past ate this in hard times, or at least fed it to their children to be eaten elsewhere as their own kitchen was kosher. Before the honeyed ham era came along in the United States, comparing ham to chicken, the latter known to be kosher by even many non-Jews, was a good justification and advertising catchy phrase to eat the damned thing.

The truth is that everything comes from the Torah or is spiritually connected in some way to the Torah, as nothing is coincidence. Perhaps they took phrase somehow directly from the Talmud where in one context, non-kosher ham meat is refered to as Davar Acher/other thing. In Kabbalah, the phrase refering to the evil forces is called by the Aramaic phrase "Sitra Achara" - "the other side". The key word here is Achara or Acher in Hebrew, side in English. The word Acher is also used to refer to a former rabbi and teacher in Mishnaic times who turned to heresy, abandoning the Torah, whose name was Elisha Ben Avuya, who is actually quoted in Pirkei Avot/Ethics of the Fathers with a saying of his.

Perhaps one may wonder why the typical non-observant New York Jew would not eat ham, but has no problem eating shrimp, which is in fact no less kosher. In fact, eating a single whole insect, fly, bug, etc. is in fact committing a worse sin than even eating a piece of ham that is less than the size of an olive - believe it or not. But there is something about the pig that the Torah is very explicit about.

Twice in the Torah, there is list of kosher or non-kosher animals, birds and fish. Now, as pertaining to the signs of kosher animals, they have to chew their cud and split hooves. The Torah lists the only three animals that chew their cud but do not have split hooves. And the Torah lists the only animal that has split hooves but do not chew their cud - the pig.

Yes, the Torah mentions this not once, but twice. And what do we learn from this? Rashi points out from rabbinical sources that it is the pig that shows hypocracy here. It openly shows that is has split hooves. However, secretly, it is not chewing its cud. Rashi compares this to Esau, Jacob's brother, who was a master in having this type of behavior. He asked his father Isaac about how to tithe salt, which is in fact exempt from tithing, but as the Midrash tells us, when Isaac asked Esau to bring him dinner upon which he would bless him, he actually prepared non-kosher food for him, which was superceded by Jacob's kosher meal who received Isaac's intended blessings. Esau also pretended to be like his father Isaac who got married at age 40, waiting to be married at the same age, but until then, was the worldwide womanizer.

And so, getting back to the human - or rather - the unhuman Ham, as a son of his righteous father Noah, though getting drunk was a downfall for the latter, received the ultimate punishment of him and his descendants being black. However, more than just a punishment, the rules had to at least be set right to show the world that in fact, Ham's behavior was not fitting for his righteous upbringing, and it was really only because of his righteous father Noah that Ham who obviously already had an evil bug in him as he first demonstrated it in the Noah's Flood Hotel, that he and his wife who could care less either about Hashem's command of having no sex in the Ark were saved from perishing with the rest of mankind. And in terms of his selfishness, he indeed was a "pig" in acting the way he did to his father to assure himself that he would own no less than one third of the world.

At least with ham meat itself, non-Jews are not affected spiritually in any way by eating it, as they do not have the holiness of a Jew that Jews have who will be very spiritually contaminated if G-d forbid they eat it or any other non-kosher food for that matter. And while many Jews - espicially those who are non-observant Jews who mock observant Jews - exclaim that it is not important or at least not very important about what goes in one's mouth, but what goes out of one's mouth, it must be remembered that we are what we eat. Our physical bodies are actually a mere reflection of our spiritually bodies, as you will see in the teachings of Kabbalah. Accordingly, the food that we eat gets to become part of us, and hence, eating non-kosher food, G-d forbid, will make it much harder for those doing so to be spiritually connected to Hashem to have the feeling to feel closer to Him, even if eaten non-intentionally, and yes, buggies accidentally in kosher food aren't part of the kosher menu. As we learn from Kabbalah, non-kosher "contaminates the heart", and so without a spiritually feeling, G-d forbid, it is much harder to get out of the spiritual muck to do the right thing to begin with.

Perhaps as a little joke here, but a true story, I once heard an Israeli guy who later on in his life become an observant Jew, relate how in his younger years, he was preparing himself a ham and cheese sandwich, when an observant Jew approached him and told him that he should take out the cheese before eating the ham sandwich. The latter being bewildered by hearing such a thing, the observant Jew told him, "By eating both the ham & cheese, you will have two Aveirot/sins (eating meat and dairy together). Without the cheese, you will be doing only one Aveira".

Speaking of spirituality, some think that by relating to G-d in whatever form one feels like it, it is O.K. While those who dabble in such matters, who oftentimes ignore the religion aspect of it, may have good intentions, this may be good for non-Jews. However, for Jews, the Torah gives us a path of life - and while feeling spiritual, and knowing the meaning of what we do in following Jewish Law and the Commandments is very important in spiritual growth, the laws and commandments themselves have to be followed to be truly spiritually connected. You see, if we follow our own intellect without paying close attention to Hashem's intellect, which is the Torah, we can make grave errors uprooting the foundation of Judaism, G-d forbid. As Rambam/Maimonides notes, early mankind made the grave error of worshipping G-d's servants - angels, the planetary system, etc. - thinking that this was part of G-d's will when in fact only G-d is supposed to be worshipped, and this allowed for mankind to eventually worship all types of things without even knowing about G-d in future generations, which continued for the most part until Abraham our Forefather came along, and started setting the record straight.

5 Cheshvan 5770

Sunday, October 11, 2009

#47 - Happy NEW Torah Year

I am thinking of Simchat Torah - means happiness of the Torah - as it is being celebrated taking place back in my hometown in South Florida at this very time as I am writing this, considering the fact that in Israel, it is six hours ahead on the clock. But unlike here in Israel where only one day of the Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah holiday is celebrated the way that the Torah says it is observed on the 22nd of Tishrei; outside of Israel, it is celebrated for an additional day. While I used to enjoy two day holidays, the only such time that this happens in Israel is Rosh Hashanah where it is observed for two days even though the Torah says it is observed only for one day.

The basic premise behind this has to do with when the New Moon was sighted and how soon word spread. Without modern technology, the old fashioned way was lighting torches on top of mountains in Israel, and within a short time, everyone knew when the New Moon was cited - on the 30th or 31st day from the last Rosh Chodesh - New Moon Day, and thus any holidays occuring during that coming month was already known to be on what day of the week, without having a calendar beforehand. However, outside of Israel, word of when the moon was sighted took time to spread, even to the Jewish community in Babylonia, which at one time was full of Torah scholars. In light of this, two days of any given holiday had to be celebrated without performing work like on the Sabbath (with the exception of certain things related to cooking) as at times they did not know when on which of two days that the New Moon was cited. In time, it was decreed that outside of Israel, two days of any given holiday (except for Yom Kippur because fasting would be almost impossible for two days) would be observed even with the current Jewish calendar. And hence, as Rosh Hashanah is at the beginning of the month of Tishrei, even in Israel it was not always known on the 30th day of the month from Rosh Chodesh Elul as to whether that day was the 1st of Tishrei - the biblical date of Rosh Hashanah - or the following 31st day, based on when the moon would be sighted; and thus, even in Israel, we observe two days of Rosh Hashanah.

I have more to write about the moon, particularly of an event that took place pertaining to it on Hoshana Rabba. But first, I would like to note that today - 23 Tishrei - the day following Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah as observed in Israel, marks my one year anniversary of http://www.gematriot.blogspot.com/. I did not know at the time how it would lead, but it seems that I wrote a post almost once a week on average. In the beginning, I had quite a few things that I wanted to write about immediately, which I wrote as seperate posts; but as time went on, I had planned in advance of the next piece that I would write. Sometimes, it really helped to think of things in advance, and then quite often, I think of additional things to write on the spot, proving my original points that I had in mind before writing.

Actually, there is a connection between the moon and writing my Gematriot blogspot. You see, every month, the moon RENEWS itself, and hence a month is called Chodesh which is based on the word Chadash/New. This is music to my ear, because I was born on a Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of a Jewish month when usually, the moon is not able to be sighted as it is "reborn".
And when we write NEW thoughts pertaining to Torah that we think of, they are called Chiddushim (Chidush in singular), bearing the same basic root word.

There is a Sefer called Chok L'Yisrael that has a portion of Torah for daily learning, which includes the three parts of the T'nach/Bible - Chumash, Prophets & Writings, Mishna, Gemara & Zohar, as there is an obligation for a man (women do not have the Mitzva of learning Torah like men do, though they also have an obligation to learn the parts of Torah that tells us how to observe Judaism, including the Halachot/Jewish laws) to learn Torah every day (technically both in the daytime & nightime). The more the better of course, but there is a minimum amount of time that we are supposed to set aside every day for learning Torah.

In view of this, the very first piece of Zohar in this Chok L'Yisrael that is apportioned for the first day of the week of Parshat Bereishit - which is today - is on this very theme of composing Chiddushim (also called Chidushei Torah) of Torah. As it starts of with: "Bereishit - Rabbi Shimon open his discourse (with the following words): "And I will put My words in your mouth" (Isaiah 51:16)". Hence, especially if we learn Torah for the right reason, which means because Hashem told us to do so, rather than for reasons of money, fame, power, etc., then Hashem will give us Divine Assistance in our Torah learning, which will result in us coming up with Chiddushim.

I am not going to start going through this whole piece of Zohar. But I do want to mention that in reference to this theme, it talks about SEVENTY crowns, SEVENTY thousand worlds, and that "No EYE has seen it besides You G-d" (Isaiah 64:3), as the Hebrew word for eye is Ayin which is the word for the letter Ayin which is the Gematria of SEVENTY. And as we know, we are presently in the Hebrew year which is the number Hei Tav Shin AYIN - 5770 - Five Thousand Seven Hundred SEVENTY.

Perhaps the number SEVENTY is the Zohar's best number friend. You see, the holiest part of the Zohar is called Tikunei HaZohar, which explains the first word of the Torah - Bereishit - in SEVENTY ways. As Kabbalah, whose main book of the Zohar is called the "Secrets of the Torah", the word Sod/Secret is the Gematria of SEVENTY. And if this would not be enough, the Aramaic word for SEVENTY, the language of the Zohar, is Shav'in, the last three letters of which spells the word Ayin, the same word for the letter Ayin that equals SEVENTY!

Indeed, the very last words of the Torah or Chumash are L'Einei Kol Yisrael - "Before the EYES of all Israel". Bearing in mind that Hashem went around to the 70 nations of the world before giving the Torah to the Jews to give them a chance to accept the Torah who all refused the offer, they instead have claims in various religions where one person, whether Jesus, Mohammed, or whatever other nothing who claimed that G-d or whatever Supernal Being appeared to him, and based on this, a whole new religion was invented. It is true that at first, Moses had to convince the Jews that G-d appeared to him promising them redemption from Egypt, but when He actually gave the Torah to them, it was indeed "before the EYES of all Israel" (the original context actually refers to Moses doing the different miracles as G-d's messenger). Ultimately, the Jews are supposed to be the EYES for the SEVENTY nations, leading and showing the way of living a moral and humanistic life, the way that the Torah says.

Also as related to this year, we are now in the 312th year from the birth of the legendary Ba'al Shem Tov, founder of the Chasidic movement, whose name is Yisrael, which is also the very last word of the Chumash and the word Chodesh/month or Chadash/new is the Gematria of 312. But also to note, the name Yisrael itself is related to the Torah, because the letters of this name spell the words Yesh Shishim Reebo Otiyot L'Torah - "There are 60 myriad (600,000) letters
to the Torah". Now mind you, there are in fact only 304,805 letters in the Chumash, making up just a little over half of the 600,000 amount. There are explanations given to this, but the bottom line is that just like if one letter is missing or defective in the Sefer Torah/Torah Scroll and that scroll is then invalid for public reading until corrected; so too, if one Jew is missing, especially defective, it is a loss to the Jewish community at large, as we Jews are considered all as one soul or body.

Hence, we can learn from this a great lesson of unity and love among Jews, and regardless of our varied backgrounds, we need to feel the pain of a Jew suffering, even and especially if there is technically nothing we can physically do to help. This is in fact what the Ba'al Shem Tov wanted to instill in the Jewish people, and the ultimate goal of the Chasidic movement is to bring Jews closer to Judaism without judging others based on their background, culture or how they look. Hence, even those who have a limited knowledge of Judaism can also come up with Chidushei Torah - NEW Torah thoughts that have occured to them as they may look at Judaism at an angle based on their life experience that almost no one else can relate to. Hence, we ultimately all need each other - the seasoned Torah scholar with the one who knows only how to dance on Simchat Torah only because he knows that he is a Jew who also teaches us a lesson in being happy as a Jew who has the unique privilege of serving Hashem that most other people in this universe who are not Jewish do not have.

While many more know about the Zohar, and some will know about the 70 explanations of the Zohar on the first word/first verse of Bereishit, few will know that there is a similar type of work composed in the 1700s by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato (Ramchal), called Tikunim Chadashim
which means NEW Tikunim. This body of work consists of 70 kabbalistic explanations based on the last verse of the Chumash - "By all the strong hand and awesome power that MOSHE performed before the EYES of all Israel". Like Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, Rabbi Luzzato was visited by Heavenly Beings from which resulted this work.

Speaking of the last verse of the Chumash, this verse consists of 47 letters. As this is my 47th Gematriot post, there is another very significant thing about the number 47 relating to Gematria. In fact, I had mentioned the source in relationship to this in my 45th post, as I mentioned the verse from which we learn the concept of Gematriot. "For it is not an empty thing for you, for it is your life", is the beginning of the 47th verse of Parshat Ha'azinu, Moshe's final message to the Jewish people before blessing them, these words in Hebrew being the Gematria of the word Gematriot, which is 679.

Now, while I had mentioned in my previous post that there are 54 Parshiyot in the Torah, there are times when we read two Parshiyot on one Shabbat in order that the Torah can be completed by Simchat Torah, especially when the Jewish year consists of only 50 weeks and a few days. In total, you can have up to seven Shabbatot of reading two Parshiyot. Hence, the least amount of Torah readings in a year that make up the annual Torah reading cycle are 47, the last of which is Parshat V'Zot HaBeracha, the last verse of which consists of 47 letters!

The following will connect the above concepts of Bereishit, the New Moon, Jews vs nations of the world, land of Israel, and the Mitzva of learning Torah. This can be found in the very first Rashi of the Torah - on Bereishit. Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki) quotes as follows: Rabbi Yitzchak said: The Torah should have really begun from the first Mitzva given to the Jewish nation - the Mitzva of sanctifying the New Moon based on sighting the moon (since the ultimate purpose of the Torah is that we follow its commandments). If so, then why does it start instead from Bereishit - the accounting of creation? This is to show the nations of the world that should they contest the Jews' rights to the land of Israel, that the Jews can reply back that it is Hashem who runs the show, and it is He who gives the land to whom He sees fit to give it to.

It's interesting to note that the Gematria of Rabbi Yitzchak, the very first rabbi whom Rashi mentions in his commentary on the Torah, is the number 420, and the Mitzvah of Talmud
Torah - learning/teaching Torah is the 420 Mitzvah/Commandment of the Torah! Maybe then the question can be asked - how come the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah is not the first Mitzvah of the Torah?

In the same vein, the question has been asked? How come Hashem did not give the Torah to mankind right from the start? It took close to 2,450 years of the slated 6,000 years of this world's existance to give the Torah to a small percentage of the world's population. In fact, had Adam & Eve been given the Torah before being told not to eat from the tempting tree, maybe they would not have sinned?

It seems that Hashem had a plan. True, Adam & Eve did have free choice, but so was the temptation great. Hashem knew beforehand exactly what was going to occur, and perhaps had it been a different couple with perhaps souls of a higher spiritual source, maybe they would not have sinned. But Hashem in fact wanted a world that would have all sorts of pitfalls, troubles, and temptations. He just wanted to give a chance to a couple of people who could have avoided all this, so that later no one can say that Hashem was not fair. And the truth is that we do all kinds of sins, and Hashem still is relatively kind to us not only providing for all of our needs, but that He constantly gives us a chance to repent, as long as we are conscious and breathing.

With this being said, Hashem wanted to give the Torah under circumstances that would separate the men from the boys. It is not just another nice piece of wisdom - it is a special gift that only the few deserved for which much preparation was needed towards this goal. As it was, there were individuals right from the beginning of time who learned Torah, beginning with Adam to the Jews, especially the Levites, in Egypt. But spiritually, it wasn't given in a way that bound the person to Hashem, that was strictly a voluntary thing. It only became official, it only became obligatory, it only infused sanctity into a physical object only when Hashem finally gave the Torah to the Jewish people on Mt. Sinai.

And so the same seems to apply to the order of the Mitzvot in which the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah is not taught as an official Mitzvah in the Torah until the midst of Moshe's discourse in his final days, consisting of the last 199 Mitzvot of the Torah. It was only after Moshe teaching the Jews for nearly 40 years that they were truly able to appreciate Torah for what it is. And so, the Mitzvah of sanctifying the new moon, which in effect is giving the Jewish people power over time to determine when the new month begins, instead of Hashem so to speak, should have been the first thing mentioned in the Torah, since the Jewish people are in fact the sole purpose of the world's existance, as the Torah was doing fine in Heaven until it had to be given to the Jewish people. And so, it would only make sense for the Torah to start off with a Mitzvah that shows that it is only thanks to us that the world was even created.

However, there is something even more important than this. The first thing we have to remember is that Hashem is the Creator of the world; and hence, the only reason we live in a certain place is because this is what Hashem wills, regardless of how logical or illogical it may seem to anyone else. And not only do we need to be a fitting receptacle to receive the Torah, of which part of this process was our slavery and redemption from Egypt, so too do we need a land that would be a fitting place for us Jews to live in - a tiny country about which not everyone can agree as to what it should be called, and is picked on at a daily basis by the Christian believing world media who read one thing in the Bible about our rights to the Holy Land, but present how they feel it should be inhabited in a very different way. Thus, it is through these types of challenges that we received the Torah and we presently observe the Torah. And even if it seems to some that it is easier to observe Judaism in the United States where first of all there is supposed to be freedom of religion and be in a good financial position to keep its commandments, yet one cannot be a complete observing Jew without living in the land that Hashem to live in it.

True, Hashem created the whole world, but so did he create so many more people than Jews. Ultimately, if we do Hashem's part, then Hashem will do His part, and have the non-Jews in their own lands to help support us. Even if it seems that it is harder to observe Judaism in Israel because of let's say, financial reasons, we have to remember that Hashem put us in this world originally to observe His Mitzvot in the midst of a troublesome, confusing, and challenging world.
Otherwise, we could just learn Torah in Heaven, but in order that we should not feel ashamed of basking in Hashem's Divine Presence without earning it, we were put in a situation that will test us and if we overcome our tempations and challenges in doing His Mitzvot, then this is our whole purpose of living in this world.

Yes, there will always be those nay sayers - non-Jews or non-observant Jews - who will tell us that we are not living with reality, and that today, things are different in a newly constructed world, but if anything, this is all the more reason to be able to do what Hashem tells us to do, as we now have modern technology that help us observe Judaism at a whole new level, using modern technology teaching Torah to other Jews, as I am attempting to do so here.


1) Chevlei Moshiach/Birthpangs of the Messiah

For those who have been following my blogs, you will recall that I made a forcast based on the Hidden Codes of the Torah to be showing that this frightening time would begin during Sukkot of this year 5770. Yet, it seems that nothing terrible happened to us Jews during this time, at least openly, thank G-d. Unlike others who may make predictions because they may seem to have some sort of prophecy, ESP, or whatever else you call it, all I did what to reveal what I saw in the matrix of the Hidden Codes. In fact, I fearlessly specified the 6th day of Succot, without worry about whether or not anything would occur on this particular day.

I must say without apology that in fact, there is supporting evidence to what I wrote - regardless or not if anything seemed to have occured on this day, which I did not realize offhand myself. During the holiday, I came across a Sefer of mine that is a collection of sources talking about the events that will occur at the end of days. Among these sources is what is called the Midrash Eliyahu which details these events that will occur, including specific dates in the year. Lo and behold, the very first date mentioned is the 20th of Tishrei, which is the 6th day of Succot! In reference to this, it mentions a king who is described as the least distinguished of the kings, the "son of a handmaid" with detailed descriptions of how he looks, "and is destined to send his hand on that day against the faithful nation (Jews)".

My friends, I think that this king is best described as Obama, who is without any substantial credentials other than the fact that he is a licensed lawyer, but for the legal qualification of being a U.S. president, has yet to prove that he is even American born by showing his genuine birth certificate. In fact, until a few years ago at best, he was hardly known to the American public, and all of a sudden, boom! He was given all green lights to march right into the White House, winning more votes for the Democratic candidacy than Hillary Clinton, wife of a former U.S. President, a NY Senator, and a seasoned lawyer.

I want to thank Devorah from http://www.shiratdevorah.blogspot/ who before Succot publicized my piece of Chevlei Moshiach as I saw in the Hidden Codes of the Torah. And now, she quoted from someone else who brings this very Midrash that I just quoted from. While we may not know what is happening behind closed doors, you will see the quotes from this Midrash as to things that have already occured as alluded to in this Midrash, and it will just be a matter of time until everything is revealed to us as to how everything occured as quoted.

2) Obama won Nobel Peace Prize on the morning of Hoshana Rabba

This is perhaps the most significant thing that has happened with Obama since his ascendancy to the United States presidency. It's not that he is just the president of the country that is looked up to or looked down upon in jealousy by some Moslem Arab groups as the world power, he now won a peace prize that was voted for by various nations - not just the American public who want a certain president - to be THE ONE to be the peace winner of 2009, the year that he became U.S. president. Now tell me folks, name me one U.S. president who won a Nobel Peace Prize, or at least within the first year of presidency. My friends, he has barely accomplished anything in the way of peace, at least in terms of the Middle East, except to halt construction in "settlements" in Israel, and helping to push give at least the eastern part of Jerusalem to the Arabs. But Obama winning the peace prize is itself not the big tragedy - it's that first of all, the ones from other ountries who voted him for the peace prize look up to him, and that now, he will be looked up to by the world - especially the Anti-Semitic world - as the world leader, the results of which can be FAR MORE DISASTEROUS than just being a U.S. president. Yes my friends, 6th day of Succot or 7th day of Succot - what has happened now is what can lead, G-d forbid, to Obama fulfilling the role of Gog U'Magog to be the one to fight Israel, leading the other nations in doing so.

To come to think of it, it was exactly eight years ago on the night of Hoshana Rabba when the United States began battle in Afghanistan following the events of 9/11, which is considered to be the Gog U'Magog war according to Kabbalists. At that time, President Bush was looked up to as a hero fighting for the United States' rights. I guess you can't win a peace prize for fighting a war, unless your name is Barack Hussein Obama. I wonder what Obama would have done with Saddam Hussein who was captured under the direction of President Bush had Saddam still been alive today. But don't worry, as long as Obama is fighting Israel while embracing Netanyahu, he doesn't look so terrible. You see, he will have others do the actual dirty work, while he will sit back in his office pretending that he is working in the best interest of Israel as long as it complies with the "peace" agreement.

3) Bombing the moon on Hoshana Rabba

While in the news, it has nothing to do with Jews or Israel, in fact, this event has EVERYTHING to do with Jews. The Talmud tells us that the Jews are compared to the moon (Succah 29a) and that in the future, we will be renewed like the moon which renews itself every month (Sanhedrin 42a). The very first Mitzvah that Moses commanded the Jews while yet in Egypt was that of the sanctification of the month based on sighting the New Moon.

Hitting the moon to extract water from the moon's frozen surface can be looked upon in one of two ways in reference to us Jews. It can either signify, G-d forbid, about coming events in the near future, or that the moon took the hit instead of us, the same way that a sin-offering sacrifice was brought in the Temple to atone for one's sins, signifying that it is the animal who is being killed instead of the sinner, who in fact deserved automatic death for his sin, but Hashem gives us all a chance to repent as long as we are conscious and breathing. Today, there is a custom of performing what is called Kapparot on Erev Yom Kippur, ritually slaughtering a fowl in lieu of us being killed by G-d for our sins.

The significance of this event taking place on Hoshana Rabba goes way beyond this. You see, on Succot, we invite seven Heavenly guests, called Ushpizin in Aramaic, in our Succah - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph & David. On each of these seven days of Succot, one of these guests, respectively, is highlighted as the guest of the day. Hence, the guest of the 7th day of Succot, Hoshana Rabba, is King David. The famous phrase David Melech Yisrael Chai V'Kayam - "David King of Israel lives on and exists" was originally used as a password to note the sighting of the New Moon, as recounted in the Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 25a). In fact, this phrase is the Gematria of Rosh Chodesh/New Moon (819). (Note: In this instance, Chodesh is spelled with a Vav to come to the total of this Gematria, though in the entire T'nach, this word is always spelled without a Vav). Also to note, King David was the 14th generation from Abraham, the patriarch of the Jewish race. The 30th generation from Abraham was the last king of Judea of Davidic descent - King Zedekiah - whose kingship ended around the time of the destruction of the first Temple. Thus, King David's reign signifies the moon which is virtually a full moon on the 14th of the month while the ending of the Davidic kingship for the time being signified the waning of the moon at the end of the month. Hence, as the Jews are compared to the moon, it only makes sense to compare the reign of the king of the Jewish nation to the moon.

Now, the purpose of bombing the moon was to extract water from the moon's frozen surface. During the seven days of Succot, Hashem judges the world for its annual water supply. Towards this end, we have special prayers that we recite especially on Hoshana Rabba, which means the "big salvation" that are called Hoshanot/salvation prayers in which we mention Hashem as providing water to Jews in past history. While we also say Hoshanot prayers during the first six days of Succot, we don't mention about water for the most part, and are short prayers compared to the prayers that we recite on Hoshana Rabba.

The Talmud tells us (Ta'anit 7a) that the Torah is compared to water. It's interesting to note that while Christians have a Bible that says straight out that Israel was given to the Jews, many of them get swept away with saying biased statements against Israel in the media, making us Jews sound like the aggressors who are giving problems to the Palestinians - who are not Christians by the way but Moslem Arabs some of whom are outright terrorists who could care less about Christians either - not allowing them to live in "their" land, which happens to be within the midst of our G-d given territory. Hence, these non-Jews are in essence capsizing our Torah, and using it as a basis for their beliefs claiming that we are the ones who are not following the Torah, or that it is not relevant to us Jews unless we accept their "savior". But as we know, the only real Savior is Hashem, who will send us Moshiach as His messenger, who is going to be a descendant of King David.

It is also most significant that this moon event took place in this Hebrew year of 5770. You see, the word Hoshanot includes the letters of this Hebrew year - Hei, Tav, Shin, Ayin. In fact, the Hebrew year itself can be read, in addition to what I wrote in the 45th post that it can read "THE NINE", it can also be read as Teshua/victory or salvation, which is quoted in (Samuel II 19:3) in reference to King David of all people, saying that the victory that King David had in not being chased by his rebel son Absalom's guys anymore turned into mourning when he found out that his son Absalom was killed. We now await the upcoming salvation as mentioned in the verse that is quoted as phrases near the end of the Hoshanot prayers on Hoshana Rabba, "He (Hashem) is a tower of His king's salvations, and does kindness to His anointed one, to David and his offspring, forever" (Samuel II 22:51). Note that this verse is the 51th and last verse of the chapter of King David's song to Hashem in thanks for saving him in battle. The name of this day of Hoshana Rabba includes the syllable Na, which means please or now, asking Hashem to please save us now. It also signifies the Gematria of 51, because it is the 51st day from Rosh Chodesh Elul when Hashem revealed to Moses the 13 Attributes of Mercy which we used in our prayers to invoke Hashem's mercies for us.


Preparing for the Succot holiday involves work of labor building a Succah in the midst of picking out a Kosher Lulav & Etrog. Though it would seem a simple thing to build a booth - there are 17 chapters in the Shulchan Aruch/Code of Jewish Law, pertaining to this. In building the main part of the Succah what is known as the Schach - the branches on the roof of the Succah, it must be something that is presently detached from the tree. Thus, if the branches that are on the Succah are still attached to the tree, the Succah is invalid for the Mitzvah of dwelling in a Succah. Now let's say that in such an instance, the branches are then cut off, and now it looks like any other Succah with its branches on the roof. It is now a kosher Succah, right? I'm sorry
my friend, but the Succah is not kosher at this point. The Shulchan Aruch tells us that these branches have to be taken off the roof, and then placed once again to render the Succah valid. This is learned out from the verse Chag HaSuccot Ta'aseh Lecha - "The holiday of Succot you shall make for yourself" (Deutronomy 16:13). The rabbis learn from here that Ta'aseh - "You shall make" that YOU shall make the branches for the roof of the Succah, and not that it is something that is already made.

While Succot is now over, the lessons of it are applicable throughout the year. In today's push button society, everything is instantaneous, using electricity or battery controlled items to give us instant usage and gratification without having to wait for long. Who would have thought like a hundred years ago that you can get money from your bank account 24/7 minus the boogeyman waiting to attack someone with cash? And so, we expect everything these days to be made, to be all prepared without hardly lifting more than a finger.

However, when it comes to real work, genuine effort has to be made to accomplish thing, the good 'ol fashioned way. While microwave cooking can seem to save time, produce are more robbed of its nutrients than when cooked more like the natural way. And the same applies to spiritual matters. We have to make the effort to accomplish the Mitzvah ourselves, and not take an easy route of just snipping off a branch and presto. We have to physically take the fallen branch following severance from the tree and place it ourselves on the Succah.

The above phrase from which we learn this out is found as the end, which is also the Maftir, for Parshat Re'eh (the 47th Parsha of the Torah, and this is my 47th post). This Parsha is always read either on Shabbat Mevarchim Elul - the Shabbat preceding Rosh Chodesh Elul, or on Rosh Chodesh Elul itself. However, this is never read on Sukkot itself. Outside of Israel where two day holidays are observed, part of the latter portion of this Parsha speaking of the holidays is read on the first day of Shemini Atzeret, which is technically no longer Succot, which proves my point that the lessons we learn out from Succot are applicable throughout the year. And while in Israel, this section of the Torah is never read except as part of the weekly Torah reading right at the dawn of the month of Elul when we better prepare ourselves for the New Year when Hashem starts judging us; outside of Israel, this is also read on Pesach, Shavuot & Shemini Atzeret, where the holiness of Israel is missing and thus more preparation is needed and more holy days are needed to be in the same frame of mind as of those who live in the Holy Land.

I had mentioned in the "THE NINE" post which focuses on the significance on the number of this Hebrew year of 5770, that the word Ta'aseh has the same letters as the letters of this Hebrew year in reference to working on the six days of the week in preparation for Shabbat. There is a similar wording to the word Ta'aseh written in the Torah in reference to Shabbat where the word is read as Tei'a'seh. In the beginning of Parshat Vayakhel where the rabbis tell us that Hashem told Moshe to have public gatherings on Shabbat to teach them the Torah, which began with the laws of Shabbat, it says Sheishet Yomim Tei'a'seh Melacha - "You shall work for six days" and then rest on Shabbat. This same phrase can be found in the Torah reading for the 2nd day of Passover and the 1st day of Succot (first two days outside of Israel). This year, I was fortunate to receive the 2nd Aliyah, the portion read for the Levi, which includes this phrase in which is included the word Tei'a'seh, whose letters are the same as the number of this Hebrew year - Hei, Tav, Shin, Ayin - 5770.

In a similar vein, these same letters make up the word "nine" or "the nine", depending on how these letters are arranged. The nine months of pregnancy are the preparatory stage for the baby to be born, and the birthpangs of Moshiach are compared to the final labor stages of the woman giving birth. Thus, we have to prepare ourselves now for the coming of Moshiach which will be happening very shortly if not today, and what is happening in this world which may not always be painful free is for our good in spiritually preparing us for this moment in time. On an individual basis, we hope that Hashem will spare us the worst of what is foretold in the prophecies.

But the main thing is that if we want Hashem to be good to us, we have to do our part and not simply rely on Hashem because we are part of the "Chosen Nation". If anything, as the Chosen Nation, we have to choose to be good and set an example for the rest of the world. The problem in the past is that Jews thought that by hiding their Jewishness, it would solve problems, but quite the contrary happened, especially when non-Jews saw that Jews were more like the non-Jews than the non-Jews themselves, thus arousing their jealousy, especially when it came to money. As it says right prior to the slavery of the Jews in Egypt - Vayakam Melech Chadash - "A NEW king arose who did not know Joseph" who could care less about the accomplishments of Joseph from the Hebrews who saved the present generation's parents and grandparents from starvation of a famine. He could care less that the Jews followed in his suit when Pharaoh himself began building and then the Jews fell into the booby trap of working on the building as well, and then this was used against them, when the taskmasters counted the amount of bricks that any particular Jew eagerly built on that first fateful day, and that was the same amount of bricks that that Jew had to build every single day.

Hence, on Succot, we leave our permanent structures and live in the temporary booth, relying on Hashem's protection, showing that we have full faith and trust only in Hashem, - the real IN G-D WE TRUST - and not in the money on which these words are written and certainly not in some leader who promises changes and the only changes he makes are for the worse, and then is awarded a peace prize. As we say in our Shabbat prayers - HaPoreis Sukkat Shalom Aleinu V'Al Kol Yisrael V'Al Yeushalayim - "The One (Hashem) who spreads the Succah/booth of PEACE over us and all of Israel and Jerusalem". May we see this happening as reality very soon. Amen.

23 Tishrei 5770

Thursday, October 1, 2009

#46 - BLESSING of the Tribe of LEVI

It is no coincidence that the last Parsha of the Chumash should have the connotation of goodness. It is called V'Zot HaBeracha - "This is the blessing", and also that we read this on the final day of Yom Tov - Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah - before returning to our normal daily schedules with regular six day weeks accompanied by Shabbat. In fact, it is only in Eretz Yisrael, and particularly this year, that this final Parsha of the Torah is read on Shabbat being that only one day of Yom Tov is celebrated here; otherwise, this is the only Parsha that is not read on Shabbat.

On a personal note, I have a little mixed feelings about this Parsha. On one hand, the Tribe of Shimon, bearing my name, is the only tribe to whom Moses did not give a particular blessing, and only hinted to Shimon in someone else's blessing, but I won't get into the reason for this at this time. However, Moses did give a long blessing to the Tribe of Levi, and being that I am a Levite, meaning that on my parental side from son to father and so on, my great, great ancestor is Levi, the son of Jacob.

It is true that Moses was a Levite himself, being a great grandson of Levi (and on his mother's side, his mother was the daughter of Levi); but the reason for the relatively longer blessing for Levi than for the other tribes except for Joseph was because of this Tribe's great righteousness and faith in Hashem that they displayed in Hashem. The Levites never fell for Pharaoh's booby
trap of slavery of the Jews so they remained free being able to learn Torah all day. They were the only tribe not to have worshipped the Golden Calf. And they were also the tribe that circumcised their children in the stormy windry desert that was a supposed threat to circumcised children; but unlike all the other Tribes, these Levites had full faith in Hashem and fulfilled this great Mitzva on the eighth day of their male children. Furthermore, unlike all the other tribes, the Levites were not cry babies when the Spies came back from Israel with their evil report, and so they all lived - at least the ones who were under age 60 at the time of that incident - for nearly 40 more years to enter the Promised Land.

And so, as this is my 46th post, the Gematria of Levi is 46. And in this Parsha, the section about the blessing of the Levites takes up most of the 2nd Aliyah of the Parsha, which is reserved for Levi'im/Levites - who are not Cohanim. (The last verse of this Aliyah is the blessing for the Tribe of Benjamin.)

Before continuing, I think it's a good idea to post here the blessing of Levi as translated by Artscroll (Deutronomy 33:8-11):

Of Levi, he (Moses) said: Your Tumim and Your Urim befit Your devout one, whom You tested in Massah, and whom You challenged at the waters of Meribah. The one who said of his father and mother, "I have not favored him"; his brothers he did not give recognition and his children he did not know; for they (the Levites) have observed Your word and Your covenant they preserved. They shall tach Your ordinances to Jacob and Your Torah to Israel; they shall place incense before Your presence, and burnt offerings on Your Altar. Bless, O Hashem, his resources, and favor the work of his hands; smash the loins of his foes and his enemies, that they may not rise.

While I am not here to explain the whole passage here, about which I wrote in an earlier paragraph about the various uniquenesses of the Levites, there is one part here where I want to get into a little more detail. This is where the Levites seem to have no mercy or pity on their family. For one thing, they would never make good politicians, at least in today's world. There are in fact a couple of interpretations on this point about the Levites. One is that they were devoted to serving in the Temple, and thus weren't always around with their wives and children. The other interpretation is that this is refering to the incident of the Golden Calf.

You see, when Moses made the call "Whoever is for Hashem, come to me!", following the big sin, it was his own tribe the Levites that heeded the call to kill the sinners by the sword. After all, they were the only tribe with no part in this sin. But what was remarkable is that they had no hesitation killing their own relatives (who were not Levites) if need be. All they knew is that Moses and Hashem wanted them killed, period! No questions asked! And after killing around 3,000 idol worshippers, what did Moses say to the Levites: "Dedicate yourselves this day to Hashem - for each has opposed his son and his brother - that He may bestow upon you a blessing - this day" (Exodus 32:29). Noting the fact that in the Hebrew, the last word of this verse is Beracha/blessing, which is the name of the last Parsha of the Torah. There are 57 letters in this verse, and of the 63 tractates of the Mishnayot - the laws forming the foundation of the Talmud, the first tractate called Berachot/Blessings, has exactly 57 Mishnayot, ending off interpreting a verse (Psalms 119:126): "It it a time to act for Hashem; they have voided Your Torah", describing the very situation that happened here with the Levites killing the idol worshippers! In any case, it was at this point that the Levites were appointed of being the ones to serve Hashem in the Tabernacle/Temple, which was something that the firstborn males were originally assigned to, but they lost this right with the sin of the Golden Calf.

There have been other examples in Jewish history of righteous people killing another Jew for doing a sin - and were also from the tribe of Levi being Cohanim, and I am not referring to the Beit Din/Jewish Court who had the legal power to do so. People today would call this "taking matters in their own hands" and "two wrongs don't make it right", but the Torah has a little different view or take on this.

Pinchas, grandson of Aharon & grand nephew of Moses, killed Zimri the leader of the tribe of Shimon for his brazen act of doing the wild thing with a Midianite princess; in return, he was rewarded with being appointed of being a Cohen, something that he was not privileged at the time that his father Elazar & grandfather Aharon were appointed as Cohanim until nearly 40 years later. He also has a big Parsha named after him, the latter half of this Parsha dealing with the animal sacrifices being brought daily, on Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh and the holidays, from which we read from at least once a month from this part.

Matisyahu, the patriarch of the Hasmoneans or Maccabbees, upon witnessing a Helenistic Jew who dared to offer up a pig on an altar, had no hesitation killing this evil idol worshipper, despite the possibility of being killed by the ruling Syrian-Greek government. Following this, he had his sons fight the enemy to take back the Jewish nation's religious rights and freedom, and take back the defiled Temple. While Matisyahu as an old man did not live to see the light of day, he was responsible for a new holiday - Chanuka, the holiday of lights - to come on the scene of Jewish festivities, to be celebrated for eight days each year. To be exact, this time period makes up over 2% of our lives, and comes out to at least 1&1/2 years of an average lifespan of 70 years. In any case, Rashi refers to the Hasmonean war in interpreting the blessing of the Levites, as the Hasmoneans were Cohanim, the elite of the Levite Tribe.

Now getting back to the Levites, we see something a little ironic here. We had mentioned earlier here how the Levites were busy studying Torah in Egypt while the rest of their brethren were enslaved for some 116 years. However, Moses himself as raised in the Egyptian palace decorated with idols and lewdness, though he had his Jewish family visit him on a regular basis, did not have the same Torah environment as his fellow Levite tribe had. And on top of this, he spent the midst of his life in Midian which was hardly a better influence than Egypt, and it was only near the age of 80 when he was first approached by Hashem. Finally, his own two sons neither qualified as the next leader of the Jewish people, and he even had a grandson who worshipped idols, while he himself exhorted the Jews countless of times not to fall into the trap of this sin. How come did Moses wind up being the leader of the Jews of his own generation, and for all generations to come for that matter?

It is true that the very reason that Moses wound up in the Egyptian palace is because of what the astrologers foresaw that there would be a redeemer to take the Jews out of Egypt, and indeed they saw that part correctly as it was referring to Moses, and so was thrown in the Nile River to escape the Egyptians outright drowning him to prevent him from being the redeemer. But what was so special about Moses was particularly the fact that despite his evil surroundings, not only did he remain steadfast to his Jewishness as Joseph did as a slave, jail bird, and then viceroy of Egypt not being tempted by women even though he was not in the holy environment with his father Jacob in Israel nearly as many years as his older brothers; but that he showed self-sacrifice for his love of his people that he barely knew as he grew up in the fancy shmancy palace. He nearly lost his life following killing an Egyptian taskmaster who was beating up a Jew, upon which Moses fled to Midian. Also, he was unique in his trait of humility. These were the type of qualities that Hashem was looking for in terms of being the leader of the Jewish people.

To make up for lost time, while Moses may have not been versed in the Torah nearly as much as his fellow Levites, Hashem taught him the whole Torah in 40 days, and even our Rabbis tell us that Moses in fact was not capable of comprehending what Hashem taught him, so Hashem gave the Torah to him as a gift, upon which he then understood everything, and had the merit to be the one to teach the Torah to the entire nation, and is in effect to all future generations, and is in fact called Torat Moshe which denotes this point. While his fellow Levites no doubt had very special people in its midst, Moses went way beyond what virtually everyone else would do in his level of self sacrifice, even as following the incident of the Golden Calf and the Levites killing the sinners, offered to have his name and merit erased from the entire Torah if Hashem would not spare the Jewish people. (Check out my post #20 about this last point pertaining to Moshe's self-sacrifice). So it makes sense that in his blessing of the Levites, he would point to the Levites' self-sacrifice as one of their good qualities.

One more thing that I want to point out here is that while the Levite Tribe consisted of mostly Torah scholars, someone who has read my past blogs may have a question, in terms of another tribe, Yissaschar whom I called the scholar par excellence, who was supported by his brother/tribe Zevulun. So, is there any difference here in their level of Torah learning?

As to who may be the greater one in actual Torah scholarship, both the Tribes of Levi & Yissaschar could have been equal; and in some ways, it could be that Yissaschar possessed greater scholarship skills as there were 200 heads of the Sanhedrin - the Supreme Jewish Court - that were from Yissaschar. However, in terms of how they reached their level of scholarship, it is the Tribe of Levi who are the greater heroes. True, Yissaschar was able to devote their full concentration to Torah study as Zevulun took care of Yissaschar's financial life. And indeed, this is what Yissaschar's name literally means - there is hire/payment/reward; that is, this tribe was paid to learn. However, the Levites did it all on their own, regardless of their financial situation. Maimonides compares one who devotes all of his time to the Torah and spiritual pursuits to the Levites, as "this one is sanctified in the Holy of Holies". Thus, they did not have to share half of their spiritual reward of Torah learning with someone else as Yissaschar did with his brother Zevulun.

Ultimately, it is the ones with the self-sacrifice for Torah, who don't take it for granted, and will do what it takes to reach to the top, with or without a full homemade meal, that are worthy of the greatest reward, and hence are most fit to be the leading examples of Avodat Hashem, as exemplified by their service in the Temple. And most of all, it was Moses from the Tribe of Levi who was chosen to be the first Torah teacher of the Jewish people to be called Moshe Rabbeinu, Moses OUR teacher, in each and every generation, the eternal reward for the Levites who were truly the most devoted ones to Torah learning. And indeed, the phrase Moshe Rabbeinu is the Gematria of 613, alluding to the 613 Mitzvot/Commandments of the Torah that he taught us.

To illustrate the contrast between the Tribes of Levi & Yissaschar, there is a story about Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan Spector of the 1800s who in his younger years was approached by a wealthy guy who wanted the young Rabbi to contribute a share in his growing business venture. The Rabbi, who did not have a whole lot of spare cash to say the least, presented a counter offer to the wealthy man to support him in his rabbinical career, and thereby have an equal share in the heavenly reward of the rabbi's Torah study. The wealthy guy scoffed this idea as an empty business deal, and left.

Twenty five years later, the rabbi was finally able to complete writing his first Sefer/holy book, and was looking for a sponsor for the printing costs. Lo and behold, it was this same wealthy man who approached the rabbi once more. He offered to completely pay for the printing cost, but on one condition. He wanted half of the rabbi's reward of Torah study.

At this point, the rabbi recalled who this guy was and said, "Listen, my friend. Twenty five years ago, I offered this very deal to you. At the time, I had a growing family, and things were kind of tight. When you approached me, I thought that you were sent by Heaven to help me acheive success in my Torah learning and rabbinical career, so then I could devote my full energies and time to these matters. However, you didn't want to grant me your financial assistance. Well, I managed somehow over the years, and Baruch Hashem, the children are now all grown up, and I no longer have the need to support my children, and I am doing pretty much alright these days. So now, granting you half of the reward for my Torah learning is not a deal for me, because I managed without your financial assistance for all these years, and all the money you have to offer me now won't really help me significantly enough to help me better achieve my Torah learning and spiritual goals."


Now, bearing in mind that Moses was blessing his own tribe, and they had certain qualities in common, it makes sense that in Hebrew numerology - Gematria, there would be a connection here. Indeed, this blessing of the Levites - the full four verses - have a total of 54 words. And as we know, this final Parshat Beracha is the 54th Parsha. And as mentioned earlier, the very term that Moses used describing the grant that the Levites received upon their full dedication of obeying Moses' word of killing the sinners is the word Beracha/blessing.

With this being said, there is another fascinating Gematria here that has to do with a point in Jewish Law pertaining to blessings. You see, you add the Gematria of Levi, which is 46 and the number 54 being the number of words in Moses' blessing of Levi, and the total is 100. And indeed, the Hebrew word for 100 is Meah - Mem, Alef, Hei - which has the same Gematria as the word Levi! As the Talmud in Tractate Menachot (43b) notes, a person is obligated to recite 100 Berachot/blessings every day. Where do we see this? The Talmud points out to the verse (Deutronomy 10:12): "Now, O Israel, what does Hashem, your G-d, ask of you? Only to fear Hashem, your G-d, to go in all His ways and to love him, and to serve Hashem, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul." "Do not read the word as Mah/ "WHAT does Hashem...", but as Meah/HUNDRED". Of course the Talmud is not suggesting to actually read the word in the Torah differently, though we have cases like this, as I will point at near the end of this post. But we do learn out from here the concept of 100 daily blessings. Also, there are 99 letters in this verse; but homiletically read as 100 letters with the interpretation of the word Mah as Meah adding an Alef, it comes out to exactly 100 letters! (Interestingly, sources say that there are 100 letters in this verse, but the question is if they thought it was counted as such or they were referring to what I just wrote here)

By the way, this verse is located in Parshat Eikev, the 46th of the 54 Parshiyot of the Torah. Only a few verses earlier, there are two verses describing this Tribe of Levi, whose name has the Gematria of 46. "At that time, Hashem set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the Ark of the covenant of Hashem, to stand before Hashem to minister to Him and to bless in His Name until this day. Therefore, Levi did not have a share and a heritage with his brethren; Hashem is his heritage, as Hashem, your G-d, had spoken of him" (Deutronomy 10:8-9).

But this would not be complete without mentioning how this 100 daily blessings thing actually started. You see, in King David's time, there was a plague that killed a 100 people daily. To stop this from happening, King David instituted that 100 blessings were to be recited daily. The Shulchan Aruch/Code of Jewish Law points this out as hinted in a verse amidst King David's last words of Ruach HaKodesh/Divine Inspiration: Neum HaGever Hukam Ohl - "The words of the man who was established on high". While the regular meaning of this is referring to his rise to power from being a mere shepherd; the word Ohl/on high as demonstrated as the Gematria of 100, hints to his spiritual accomplishment of the 100 blessings-a-day that he instituted. Is there some kind of connection between the two interpretations here?

Typically, the blessings that typically begin or end as Baruch, are translated in most places as blessed, as if to say that Hashem is blessed. While this may be true in one sense, the real meaning of this word is that Hashem is the SOURCE OF BLESSINGS. Of course Hashem is everything good, but in terms of our relationship to Him, He is the One to turn to for blessings. He really doesn't need our blessings to achieve success or leadership in anything, but we are the ones who have to establish a connection to Him, and realize that anything and everything good that we have is in fact from Hashem, and not simply because we "made it in life", but to rather recognize the good that Hashem has given us, is presently giving us, and will continue to do so pending our actions. And so if we are promoted to a level of leadership, it isn't necessarily because we are so great that we got the position we strived for. Hashem put us in that position specifically for the very reason that we can accomplish more things spiritually being that we have power - not to lord over others, but to use influence to help others serve Hashem better, and hence we will have more eternal merit being in that position.

This is what King David had to be referring to. He wasn't happy to be king because now everything would be honky dory. In fact, throughout his life, King David was beset with troubles, and without knowing that he was a king, many would think that he was simply a broken man who never had a happy day in his life. In fact, it was his spiritual achievements that he was all excited about; and again, not that he was haughty about it, but he realized that whatever good he had - spiritually or physically - came ONLY from Hashem, the SOURCE OF BLESSINGS. Hence, it was most fitting that King David was the author and compiler of the Book of Psalms, which also included Psalms from other people, including Moses (Psalms 90-100, each of which was composed corresponding to another tribe, except for the Tribe of Shimon, just as his final blessings). In his position as a shepherd despised by his own family, thought to be a Mamzer (about which I will not go into detail at this time), and hence was not married until almost 30 years old, he would never have dreamed that he of all people, would be "taken from the sheepfold, from following the flocks, to become ruler over G-d's people, over Israel (Psalms 78:71). In retrospect, so was Moses a shepherd following his stint of being king of Midian for a while. But as the humble Moses, he too did not feel himself any more worthy of being the leader of the Jewish people; and that if he were to be as such, it is only because this is what Hashem wanted in order to accomplish spiritual things.

In another string of Gematriot, King David's Book of Psalms consists of 150 Chapters. The section of the Torah that is recited every morning (Numbers 6:22-27) as the very first words of Torah following the Berachot/BLESSINGS recited over Torah learning (except for Nusach Ashkenaz that includes a shorter version of this) is the section of Bircat Cohanim, the section about the BLESSINGS that the Cohanim give to Jews during the prayer services. These verses consist of exactly 150 letters & 41 words, the concluding word being Avaracheim "I will BLESS them". And as we know, the last Parsha of the Torah called with the word Beracha/BLESSING, consists of 41 verses. And what is the final verse of Psalms 41? Baruch Hashem... "BLESSED is Hashem, the G-d of Israel, from all times past to all times to come, Amen and Amen."

As a Torah observant Jew should know, the ultimate blessing is the blessing of Torah. And with this thought, I present to you...


Now, for my final thoughts here before my one year anniversary of http://www.gematriot.blogspot.com/ which I began hours after the conclusion of Simchat Torah marking the conclusion & beginning of the Torah, I want to point out to another interesting find here on this last Parsha of the Torah.

Yes, counting words starting from the beginning of this Parsha, which will be read a number of times on Simchat Torah to make sure that every Jewish male above the age of Bar Mitzva (and on Simchat Torah, all the children come together to the Torah for an Aliyah) gets an Aliyah, we find something quite fascinating about the word Torah, for after all, the Torah is our spiritual and eternal lifeline. Just start counting each word, and the 40th word is presto - Torah. Before I mentioned the connection of 40 to the Torah, about which I actually wrote about several months ago; some of you, depending on what Chumash you are looking at, will tell me that the word Torah is actually the 41st word. And both of these are in fact correct. This is very similar to what I wrote in my first two posts about the word Gematriot being spelled two different ways, coming out to two different Gematriot about this very word. And yet, there is a subtle difference between these two situations here.

You see, in starting to count the words in this Parsha, it is not a matter of having one letter more or less, but rather having one WORD more or less. The word I am referring to is EishDat, which means "fiery Torah" (as translated by Artscroll, though Dat is typically translated as religion). In the Sefer Torah, this is written as one word; but when actually read, we read it as two words. (NOTE: It seems that this is where the name of the Yeshiva & organization Aish HaTorah http://www.aish.com/ got its name from, founded by Rabbi Noah Weinberg ZT"L who passed away several months ago. I had mentioned this website in reference to its Discovery programs that relate to Gematriot & the Hidden Codes of the Torah in my very first post). In any case, this word or these words, as mentioned by Rashi, describe how the Torah was written as presented to the Jewish people, using fire.

With this being said, both the numbers 40 & 41 are very significant in relationship to the Torah. As I had mentioned in the past about the number 40, Moshe - his letter beginning with the letter Mem which equals 40 - taught the Torah for 40 years to the Jewish people, the Mishnayot begins and ends with the letter Mem which equals 40, and Rav Ashi, the 40th generation from Moses to be teaching Torah as the leader of the Jewish people, wrote down the Talmud/Gemara. And for the number 41, this is the number of verses of the last Parsha of the Torah.

Also to note, the last segment of Moshe's life was his discourse to the Jewish people during the last 36 days of his life, as hinted as the Gematria of the first word of Sefer Devarim/Deutronomy which is Eileh/These (are the words that Moshe spoke). Another name for this 5th & final book of the Five Books of Moses is called Mishna Torah (also the name that Rabbi Moses Maimonides gave his magnum opus consisting of the details laws of the 613 Mitzvot/Commandments in the same format as the Mishna or Mishnayot) which means repetition of the Torah as it includes review of some of the Mitzvot and history mentioned in other books of the Chumash (the first part of the word Deutronomy which is Deu means double).
Dissecting the word Mishna, it can be read as Mem (the letter)=40 Shana/Year(s) hinting to the fact that Moshe spoke the contents of this final book of the Chumash in the 40th year of Matan Torah - giving of the Torah - to the Jewish people. (By the way, I am presently in my 40th year of life). As related to Sukkot, it is customary among some Jews to read Sefer Devarim on the night of Hoshana Raba, the 7th & last night of Sukkot.

We see here a very significant thing here - the intertwining of the Written Torah & the Oral Torah. You see, we said that there is a word in the midst of these verses that is WRITTEN as one word, making the word Torah as the 40th word of the Parsha, and as mentioned in the past, the number 40 relates very much to the ORAL Torah, the founding makeup of it being the Mishnayot & Talmud. And, when we actually READ the word in questions as two words, which implies that the reason we are reading it differently than it is written is because we have a tradition, which is the ORAL tradition as handed from Moses who taught us to read it as two words, and is in fact the very LAST such instance that we have of the many instances of how a word is written versus how it is read in the Torah, the Five Books of Moses. Hence, we READ the word Torah as the 41st word of the Parsha; and in fact, we refer to the reading of the Sefer Torah as Kriat HaTorah/READING of the Torah (on a personal note, this phrase is the Gematria of my present full Hebrew name Shimon Matisyahu, which equals 1327, and I used to be a Torah reader!), which is the mainstay of the WRITTEN Torah (in exclusion of the rest of the T'nach/Bible making up the other 75% of it) and this Parsha consists of exactly 41 verses! And the word Mikra, which is based on the Hebrew word for reading, which refers to the Chumash or the entire T'nach, begins with a Mem & ends with an Alef, adding up to the number 41.


Perhaps we can learn from this intertwining of the Written & Oral Torah - a unique lesson in Achdut/unity of Jews. Whether it is the seasoned Talmudic scholar who knows how to answer every single question in Jewish Law that is brought to him or the simple Jew who doesn't know much more than the weekly Parsha of the Torah that at best he reads the English translation of it that he glances at on Shabbat morning when the Parsha is read - BOTH of them have a portion in the Torah. In terms of judging Jews by their level of Torah learning, that should be left exclusively up to Hashem. However, when we face one another, ALL of us Jews - regardless of level of scholarship, receive an Aliyah on Simchat Torah; and typically, the rabbi of the synagogue is chosen as the one who is called up as the Chatan Torah, concluding the Sefer Torah, and a layman who is chosen to be the Chatan Bereishit, beginning the Torah. In fact, as I mentioned in my first post, Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik says that the main celebration of the Torah is beginning the Torah anew. Whis this being said, it is Zevulun, the supporter of the Torah, who is actually the one with the higher honor in a way, for it is thanks to his money that more Jews will become Torah scholars which may have not happened otherwise.

It is in fact the verse of the mention of the word Torah "The Torah that Moses commanded us is the heritage of the Congregation of Jacob" (Deutronomy 33:4) that is the very first verse that is customarily taught to Jewish children. In Midrashic literature, it mentions the story of a Rabbi Yanai who insulted a Jew with virtually no scholarship in Torah who retorted back to the rabbi, "It doesn't say, "the heritage of Yannai" but "the heritage of the Congregation of Jacob" referring to ALL Jews". Well, this simple Jew must have had at least an elementary level of Torah learning when young.

And on this note, the concluding words of the Five Books of Moses are Kol Yisrael - "ALL of Israel", all of the Jewish people, which includes even the rest of our Jewish brethren who do not know the first thing of Torah, living as completely assimilated Jews. We have to show them in a loving way that THEY too are part of this ALL OF ISRAEL, and it is up to us, who know a little more than they do - but nothing compared to what Hashem knows - to show them that they too have a chance to be part of our beautiful heritage - of which Rabbi Akiva, a son of a convert to Judaism and a totally ignorant shepherd until the age of 40, learned for the next 40 years until he became among the greatest Torah scholars of all time, and taught the Torah for the next 40 years until he was murdered for his beliefs at the hands of the Romans at the age of 120, the same age that Moses passed away at, as mentioned at the end of the Five Books of Moses.

Throughout my years of learning, while I did not have the opportunity to learn in Yeshiva as long as I would have liked to, though I have learned much Torah even after I left Yeshiva in my spare time - some days more, some days less; I want to suggest an excellent Yeshiva for those who may have had some Talmudic learning, but may not have felt that is was the thing for them, even for a short while until going to college. What is needed for success in Talmudic learning is the enthusiasm of teaching, reaching to every student on his level, and presenting the learning in such a format that it can't be helped but be learnt the right away taught in a way that it can be quite understood. If I were many years younger now with a choice of a Yeshiva of where I would want to learn, it would be a Yeshiva that is named Bircas HaTorah, which literally means "Blessing of the Torah", located in the Old City of Jerusalem, an English speaking Yeshiva, headed by Rabbi Shimon Green, Shlita. But even if you quite can't make it to Israel, or at least as of yet, this Yeshiva also has a long distance learning program. Check out http://www.bircas.org/ for more information about this unique type of Yeshiva, which I have visited; and I can tell you firsthand, EVERYONE who comes there to learn, regardless of their Jewish background, is treated with the same love and care that students who are great in learning are treated with. And if you feel that this is not for you, please let someone else whom you know that might benefit from this, and you will have spiritual brownie points - eternal reward for introducing another Jew to the beauty of our precious Torah that belongs to EACH & EVERY Jew.

Chag Sameach - Happy Holidays, and may we merit the ultimate unity of the Jewish people with the arrival of Moshiach, for which we hope and pray for everyday.

CELEBRATION & CONTEST: My one year anniversary special post #47 will be written up, G-d willing, on Sunday of the week of Parshat Bereishit following the holidays, even if Moshiach comes. I'll leave you with a question. What does the number 47 in particular have to do with Gematriot? Those submitting the correct answer will have their website/blogspot (as long as it is a kosher thing not opposing our Jewish religion) posted in this special one year anniversary post, Bli Neder. (Hint: You will find the answer in my previous post #45)

13 Tishrei 5770