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.


shimonmatisyahu said...

To Devorah at www.shiratdevorah.blogspot.com:

As to your comment on a past posting of mine about me loving numbers, you will see the answer to why I love numbers in this post: #49 - LUCKY NUMBER.

The villager said...

Na nach nachma nachman is ((7x7)+1)x7)+4= 354/ the walking distance from Uman to Odessa 50 Km. x 7days + give 4 Km for change in the city border since 1810.

Jubilee is only 7x7 but this year is 200 since 1810 (rabbi Nachman's death) which is 7x7 x 4 !
If you consider the 7 days (from the trip) above to be one week you get 200 by multiplying (instead of adding the)by 4. (distance x number of words in the name: if you sing it during the whole walk this makes sense a word is like a shofar call)

Does this mean that Rabbi Nachman will be free this year?

The villager said...

Tov Tov Tov is 17 17 17 or 51 isn't that 7x7 + 2. Clearly the petek is one step ahead!"Bitoul ha bechira" (not only abolishment of slavery, but the end of free choice!)

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