Sunday, November 1, 2009

#50 - FIFTY in FIFTY

Not just playing with words or numbers. Of course I like to write catchy titles, but there is a reason behind these titles.

Of course there are those who have read blogs of mine in the past may think that I may perhaps be referring to something that is about the number 50 in the 50th Parsha of the Torah - Parsha Ki Tavo. While in fact that Parsha begins talking about the Mitzvah of bringing the Bikkurim/first fruits in the Temple which began on the holiday of Shavuot, termed the 50th day from counting the Omer, we are not in the week of Parshat Ki Tavo nor in the Shavuot holiday season for that matter. However, I would like to mention something from this week's Parshat Vayeira that does relate to the number 50, which I had no plans until I few minutes ago to write about.

It's nothing short of Hashgacha Peratit/Divine Providence that among my favorite blogs that I check up on, the top one on that was just written today is about the number 50 that relates to this week's Parsha, which is entitled The Final Gate. Since it isn't so long, let me show it to you here:

"The Kabbalah speaks of "50 gates of spiritual understanding" - 49 of which can be achieved by a person as a result of his own initiative. The final 50th gate is then granted by G-d from above."
"When Abraham had circumcised himself, he had reached the greatest degree of spiritual perfection that he could possibly achieve as a human being - the 49th gate - and he became "sick" yearning for the fiftieth gate."

"This is alluded to by the fact that Choleh/sick person has the numerical value of 49. Then, "G-d appeared to him" - revealing to him the 50th gate of spiritual understanding, which cured his spiritual sickness."

"And, being that his physical sickness was a reflection of his spiritual dissatisfaction, the Divine revelation healed him physically too."

"Based on Sichas Shabbos Parshas Vayeira 5750, Lubavitcher Rebbe".

Anyways, for all that I knew until now, it was only Moses if anyone who had reached the 50th gate of understanding, being that he was the one after all who received the Torah directly from Hashem and transmitted it to the Jews of his generation and for all future generations. In fact, among different sources, there are those who say that Moses reached 49th gates of understanding, while others say it was 50. So, who is right?

The Mezricher Maggid, successor to the founder of the Chassidic movement, the Ba'al Shem Tov, notes the name of the mountain on which Moses ascended where he passed away - Har Nevo/Mt. Nebo as being a contraction of two words - Nun (the letter Nun, rather than the word for Nun) Bo/in it. That is, Moses at the end of his life finally climed up that mountain, the 50th gate of understanding.

Strange. Abraham, while certainly one of the greatest Jews who ever lived to say the least, still did not reach the level of the righteousness of Moses. Yet, Abraham reached the 50th gate when one year shy of his 100th birthday, while Moses only reached it at his 120th birthday?

It was just recently that I saw a question from the Chasam Sofer (Rabbi Moses Sofer) on the very verse that I just referred to pertaining to Moses ascending Mt. Nebo (Deutronomy 34:1). While Moses wrote the Torah just before his passing, there is a question in the Talmud about the last eight verses that begin the account of Moses' passing. One rabbi says that these last eight verses was actually left for his successor Joshua to complete. Another rabbi says that in fact Moses wrote these final verses, but in tears.

Anyways, the Chasam Sofer asks, "How come the question about what Moses wrote doesn't concern beginning with the verse telling of Moses' ascent to Mt. Nebo where he passed away? When he wrote the Torah right before, he didn't ascend Mt. Nebo yet, and he couldn't have written the Torah on that mountain because he didn't return from there afterwards to meet with anyone. Moses's ascending Mt. Nebo was an event that had yet to take place at the time he wrote the Torah, so we are in fact talking about 12 verses that are in question."

The Chasam Sofer in fact concludes that this is something that needs to be researched. And while there is no logical answer I can give pertaining to the physical events that occured here, what I can possibly say in spiritual terms is that in fact, Moses as the lawgiver reached the 50th gate of understanding long ago. However, it was not something that was obvious to anyone. As long as he was living in this world, people still felt that they could relate to him as he was a human being as they were. For crying out loud, Moses was raised as a boy in Pharaoh's palace, hardly a place of Jewish spiritual growth. So, it was easy for some to think that Moses was simply someone that Hashem chose to be the man to lead the Jews due to his leadership skills, which he certainly had. However, it was only when Moses would not be returning to the Jewish people in a physical sense anymore that it dawned on everyone that in retrospect, Moses was on a spiriual level that indeed no one else could relate to.

Indeed, the final chapter of Deutronomy, the final book of the Five Books of Moses that was based on Moses' discourses to the Jews in his final 36 days of life, is Chapter 34 beginning with Moses' ascent on Mt. Nebo. Indeed, the Jews were now a little poor spiritually, demonstrated by the fact that the same letters for the number 34 in Hebrew in reverse is Dal/poor. In one sense, this started once Moses already ascended the mountain. However, it was only when he actually passed away that everyone realized the loss that had already occured. It was only at Moses' passing that everyone was in tears. It was only now that they realized that at best, it would be Moses' successor Joshua who would be their new leader, but on a little less spiritual standing than that of Moses. Hence, while Moses indeed may have already had a difference in writing the Torah pertaining to the entire Chapter 34, as far as everyone else whom Moses led was concerned, the realization of that loss that the Jewish people already had from no longer seeing their best spiritual leader was only realized by them when he actually passed away. Hence, this may somewhat explain why the Talmud asks its question specifically only on the last eight verses of the Torah beginning with Moses' passing, rather than from four verses earlier of Moses' ascent on Mt. Nebo.

Now, getting back to what is current as what I had mentioned about this week's Parshat Vayeira, today's date - 15 Cheshvan - is the Yahrzeit of one of my favorite Jewish historical heroes (besides Shimon HaTzadik & Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai) - Matisyahu Ben Yochanan Cohen Gadol, the one who started the spiritual revolution that led to the holiday of Chanuka. In fact, I was so inspired by this historical figure, that a year and a half ago, I even gave myself my second Hebrew name naming myself after him.

Exactly one year ago on his Yahrzeit, my 8th blog - MATISYAHU - "Gift of Hashem" - (in 2008)was dedicated to writing about the life of this most special person, comparable to Moses who both declared while fighting idolatry, Mi L'Hashem Eilai - "Whoever is for Hashem, come to me". In Moses' time, his Tribe of Levi who killed the idolworshippers were rewarded with being Cohanim & Levites; and in Matisyahu's time, we received the holiday of Chanuka which was thanks to his family known as the Chashmonaim or Maccabbees who were Cohanim.

While I am not here to repeat everything I wrote a year ago, as it would be best for those reading this who did not read my previous blog on Matisyahu to check it out, I do want to point out one thing here that relates to the number 50. In the Hidden Codes of the Torah, words can be spelled equidistantly, with an equal amout of skipped letters between the letters of the word that you want to find. Hence, at the end of the Chumash which writes of Moses' passing, the name Matisyahu can be spelled accordingly beginning with the letter Mem of Moses' name where it says "Moses died there". Following this Mem, skip 49 letters, and then the 50th letter is the letter Sav, and so on. By the way, the Hei in Matisyahu's name coincides with the Hei of Moses' name mentioned a little later on, hence their name cross twice. In any case, I would like to mention on a personal note that while I am mentioning the letter Mem that begins both Moses' and Matisyahu's names, being that Mem is the Gematria of 40, I am now in my 40th year.

There is a another connection here between Moses & Matisyahu here, and as it relates to me also. Moses has two sons - Gershom & Eliezer. Now, add the Gematriot of Moses' two sons and presto! Combined, they are the same Gematria as...Matisyahu (861)! (As per the spelling of Gershom, while you may see it in some places spelled with a Vav, when mentioned as Moses' son, it is without a Vav, which leads to the current Gematria). In my case, my father's name is Moshe, so in effect, I gave myself a name that is the combined Gematria of the sons of the original Moshe! Mind you, when I first had in mind the possibility of giving myself the name Matisyahu, I did not realize this. I believe that I must have had some sort of Ruach HaKodesh/Divine Spirit, which in fact the same thing, our Rabbis tell us, that Jewish parents have in naming Hebrew names to their children.

The Midrash in fact tells us that Moses was in fact disappointed when he learned that neither of his sons would be successors to him, while certainly he was very happy that Joshua, as Moses' personal attendant, would be the next leader, even as the rabbis tell us that Moses confered his spiritual power over to Joshua with a good eye. It could very well be that Matisyahu, as we see is hinted in the end of the Chumash mentioning Moses' death and Joshua as his successor mentioning there that Moses "placed his hands" on him to that effect, having a special place in Jewish history as a fearless leader as Moses, was a reward to Moses' good eye for Joshua being that Matisyahu's name is the combined Gematria of Moses' sons who did not quite make it to the rabbinical leadership.

And being that Matisyahu as hinted at the end of the Chumash with the number 50, it's interesting to note that his Yahrzeit falls out right in the middle of the month (actually in this year, Cheshvan has 30 days, but I think it's fair enough to say that the 15th is one of the two middle days of the month) that is kabbalistically represented by the letter Noon, which is the Gematria of 50. Hence, this is what I mean when I write for the title of my 50th post - FIFTY in FIFTY.

In fact, the 15th of Cheshvan is the 50th day from 25 Elul, the date, according to the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer, of the world's creation. It was on this date that light was first created and Matisyahu, who's Yahrzeit on the 50th day from this day of the creation of light, was responsible for the holiday of Chanuka, the Holiday of Lights, which is called in Israel by the name Chag HaUrim. In fact, the first mention of the word Ohr/Light is the 25th word of the Torah, hinting to 25 Kislev, the date of the first day of Chanuka. Continuing the string of Gematriot, there are either 89 days from 25 Elul until Chanuka if Cheshvan has 30 days as it does this year, or the first day of Chanuka is the 89th day from 25 Elul if Cheshvan has 29 days - the significance of which, the word Chanuka consisting of the letters Cheit, Noon, Vav, Kaf, Hei, is the Gematria of 89!

And speaking of today's date of 15 Cheshvan being the 50th day from 25 Elul being that this year, it falls out on the second day of the week; as per those who learn the Aliyah portion of the Parsha corresponding to the particular day of the week, it is the 2nd Aliyah portion of this week's Parshat Vayera that mentions Abraham Ohavi, Esq. (Ohavi, which means "who loves me", is a term that Hashem describes Abraham, as mentioned in the Haftorah for last week's Parshat Lech Lecha, in Isaiah 41:8) making his defense for the residents of five towns slated by Hashem for destruction. Abraham first appealed to Hashem that if there would be FIFTY righteous people - meaning, 10 righteous people in each of the five towns, then Hashem should spare the towns, to which Hashem agreed. Understand that Hashem knew that in fact virtually all the residents in all five towns were evil (except for Abraham's nephew Lot who was a little less evil, but only he and his immediate family were spared because of the hospitality that he learned from Uncle Abe), but Hashem allowed Abraham to make his case, as the Torah details, to show that Abraham wished that these people should not just die but be given some sort of chance to repent (which Hashem apparently knew wouldn't happen), showing his love and mercy for mankind.

And just like each of the 12 Hebrew months are represented by a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, so are each of the months represented represented by one of the Tribes of Israel. The Tribe represented by this month of Cheshvan is Menashe (whose name also starts with a Mem). While Joseph as one of Jacob's 12 sons is in fact not represented himself by one of the months, he is the only one of Jacob's sons who has sons - Menashe & Ephraim - represented by him in various ways, as can be seen in Sefer Bamidbar/Book of Numbers. Hence, the tribes that are represented by the months are in the specific order that the leader of the tribes brought special sacrifices for their tribes upon the dedication of the Tabernacle during the first 12 days (of Nissan). Thus, in effect, two out of the 12 months of the year are represented by Joseph via his two sons, who were named by him based on his experiences in exile, in the same way that Moses named his two sons who were also born to him while in exile.

As related to the name Menashe and the letter Noon, there is mention of someone in the period of the Judges who was the priest for an idol whose name was "Jonathan, son of Gershom, son of Menashe" (Judges 18:30). In the original Hebrew context, you will see that the letter Noon in the name Menashe is kind of hanging, above the footing of the other letters. The reason for this is that in fact, the real name here is Moshe, with the letter Noon removed. Being that it would be a disgrace for Zeide (grandfather) Moses to have mention of a grandson being an idolworshipper, the letter Noon was added to help disguise this fact.

While I am more in the mood of talking about Matisyahu & Chanuka, speaking of the "hanging" letter Noon and idolatry, I am reminded of the story of Purim. You see, Haman as King Achashverosh's prime minister, ordered everyone to bow down to him, including Mordechai. However, Haman was wearing an idolatorous image, and so Mordechai refused to bow down to him. Using this as a springboard to do away with the Jews, this included building a gallows of 50 cubits to hang Mordechai. As it turned out, it was Haman who got "hung" on these gallows of 50

Anyways, Moses could hardly be blamed for what happened with his grandson; it seems that being that he was in the position that he was of being the leader of the Jews to spend his full time between teaching the newly given Torah to them and communing with Hashem, thus not even spending time with his wife, he hardly had time to spend with his children anymore than his spiritual children - the Jewish people. Hence, it is not so surprising what happened to one of his own grandchildren of the next generation. The lesson here should be obvious. If one of Lawgiver Moses' own grandchildren could be living a life worshipping an idol, then a Jewish education is a MUST for one's own children. No one is asking the reader to see to it that his/her children become rabbis or marry rabbis. Not everyone can be chiefs of the clan, as everyone is born with different talents. However, to learn how to live as a good Jew is something that a true "Yiddishe Mamma" should want to provide for one's children, no less than Mama's fine Jewish cooking providing the children with a full, satisfying meal. It is this very guarantee - Jewish education to children - that Hashem requested of the Jewish people prior to giving the Torah; because without this, Judaism has no lasting meaning, and all the Jewish delis and matza ball soups won't help prevent a Jew from marrying outside the faith, G-d forbid, if he/she doesn't learn and understand the meaning of what Jewish life is really about.

Now, a question can be asked here. It's nice that we don't want Moses to have a full page article in the Yiddishe Yentele Daily about his grandson turning to idol worship. However, just because if you add a Noon to the name, it makes it look like a different name, isn't it false to write something like this when the guy's grandfather's name is not Menashe?

In fact, it is referring to a Menashe - not the Menashe who is the son of Joseph, but a Menashe of a future time. In fact, he was a son of a most righteous king of Judah - King Hezekiah - who, while he had an evil father who not only worshipped idols but attempted to do away with Jewish education, he did just the opposite of what his evil father had done. Not only did he rid of whatever idolatorous vestiges were lying around, he saw to it that even little children would be versed in the most detailed Jewish laws. Following King Hezekiah's passing, his son King Menashe went 360 degrees in reverse, virtually undoing all the accomplishments that his righteous father implemented, including placing idols in the Temple and murdering his own grandfather Prophet Isaiah. While King Menashe in fact repented later in life, the harm was done, accelerating the time of the destruction of the Temple and the exile of the Jews.

Hence, both Jonathan grandson of Moses, and King Menashe son of righteous King Hezekiah came from some of the finest backgrounds in Jewish history. This is nothing new. There are many today who claim and boast of coming from a lineage of great rabbis. However, the question here is - who are we ourselves. If anything, the fact that we may be descended of great rabbis should be MORE of an inspiration to be better Jews -not less, relying on the fact that we already come from great rabbis. Even many non-observant Jews are aware of their family backgrounds. But, even with the best background and Jewish education, there is nothing guaranteed. But at the very least, parents should set the best example possible, at least to the extent if limited themselves of Jewish education of showing that they are proud of being Jews, and would like to know more of their Jewish heritage themselves while doing the best of giving their own children a Jewish education, showing the self-sacrifice of spending money, and sometimes also time if the Jewish school is not very close to home and have to drive or carpool their children.

Connecting the above ideas, when I gave myself the name Matisyahu, I also gave myself a corresponding Pasuk/verse beginning with the letter Mem and ending with the letter Vav, as the name Matisyahu, as is customary for one with a Hebrew name, which is recited at the end of every Shemoneh Esrei prayer. This verse that I chose in Psalms 24:3 - Mi Ya'aleh V'Har Hashem U'Mi Yakum B'Mekom Kadsho "Who will ascend the mountain of Hashem and who will arise in His holy place?" begins with the word Mi "Who" - which is the Gematria of 50. And while Hashem is not expecting any of us to be Moses who reached the 50th level of understanding, even as Moses himself was not able to assure his own children to follow in his footsteps, we are expected to follow his footsteps to the best of our own ability, in our own set of circumstances. We may not be Torah scholars or especially sainted people.

However, there is a basis set of criteria that Hashem expects from us that will assure us a nice place upstairs one day after our life in this world. As the psalm continues with the following verse, answering the question or challenge that the Psalmist just asked "One with clean hands and pure heart, who has not sworn in vain and has not sworn deceitfully." While this may seem to be hard to some, even some non-Jews hold themselves to high moral standards that include these principles, and so indeed, this is a nice start for us to reach a genuine level of spiritually. You see, someone who considers himself or herself "spiritual" rather than "religious" may indeed have some moral values. However, without the Torah as our guideline, one can always come up with rationalizations that will essentially pat oneself on the back, while hurting someone else with no true just cause except for the fact that one is just a little too greedy to place oneself in someone else's shoes.

Just a couple of days ago, I saw a video online of a Bar Mitzva boy (who in the video looks like this took place in the 70s or 80s) who gave a most honest Bar Mitzva speech. He began saying that his Bar Mitzva Parshat Tzav is about animal sacrifices, but that he can't relate to it, but wants to talk instead about his feelings of Judaism. He doubted that G-d exists, and that the Bible stories of the miracles don't sound like events that could have actually happened. He added that doing things that are Jewish like having a Bar Mitzva is something that you do culturally as being Jewish, but not necessarily because you believe in G-d. The audience in the Conservative or Reform temple setting had a nice laugh while listening to this, perhaps echoing their own similar feelings.

Yes my friends, this is how so many children brought up in a most non-Jewish environment while at best are Jewish by birth (and some of these children who have Bar Mitzvah ceremonies in the Conservative or Reform temple are not even Jewish if their mother isn't Jewish who at best went through a phony "Jewish" conversion, thanks to the high rate of assimilation and intermarriage, especially in the United States). Even so, many non-Jews in the United States who may not be practicing Christians though may be born into a family of such - believe in G-d. But when Jews do not even have a proper Jewish education, which means that at best in "Sunday school" (copied after the Christians), their instructors teach Judaism in such a way that not only does not properly inform children of being proud of their rich Jewish heritage, but is taught in such a way to actually MOCK the Torah - the real Judaism.

At least those Jewish children who never even heard or read the first Bible story may be a little open minded when grown up to first learn what Jewish living and history is all about. But when taught in a degrading manner, to doubt G-d, to doubt that G-d is capable of doing what He wants as opposed to what we call nature which is in fact G-d's daily miracles, what is to stop a Jew from marrying out of his/her faith when presented with a beautiful looking shiktzeh, to sink into immorality, to do things that hurt other people short of being caught by the police or government, to declare a homosexual life as normal as a heterosexual relationship, to deny abortion as being murder - without believing that there is a G-d Who sees everything that is going on?

Of course the ancient animal sacrifices won't mean anything to such a "Bar Mitzvah" boy who doesn't understand that the offering of animal sacrifices is part of the 613 Commandments - (sorry, it's not part of the offical "Ten Commandments", but non-observant Jews who had Bar Mitzvas don't even keep these including observing the Sabbath), because when the Bible is presented as nice stories, like the Syrian-Greeks who attempted to prevent the Jews from keeping their religion calling the Bible as the name Biblos - a book - just another book of wisdom on the shelf, commandments and laws and orders have no meaning, especially when the parents showed little effort or self sacrifice of wanting to give their children a real Jewish education in lieu of the poor public school system in which children come to school with guns and dress in almost anything that goes.

When it comes to these parents celebrating Chanukah - no problem. They turn on the electric Menorah for which they get no credit in Heaven for doing since only candles or wicks with olive oil can be used, and the latkes with their shrimp dinner or non-kosher "treife" corned beef is just a way to assauge and hide their guilt feelings of not living a real Jewish life, missing the whole point of the REAL Chanukah story which began with Matisyahu, not just Judah the Maccabbee's fighting skills that make the story sound like a simple good guy-bad guy story like in the Hollywood movies that are partly directed by anti-Semitic Christians like Mel Gibson. Indeed, the word Chanukah is related to the word Chinuch/Jewish Education, which is ultimately what Jewish continuity is about.


Both Blog #s 8 & 50 are especially dedicated to Chanuka hero Matisyahu, both written on Matisyahu's Yahrzeit. Both of these numbers are in fact related to one Jewish holiday or another. Shemini Atzeret is the 8th day from Sukkot, and hence is named Shemini/Eighth. Shavuot is the 50th day from counting the Omer.

These two holidays have something in common. All the other Jewish holidays from the Torah - besides Purim & Chanuka - involve one or more particular Mitzvot - Passover, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot. However, with these two holidays, there is no special Mitzva attached other than resting or not working on the holiday. But actually, there is a most special Mitzvah that have a connection to these holidays that are beyond all the other Mitzvot of the Torah combined - the Mitzvah of Torah. On Shavuot, we learn Torah, especially on the first night throughout the night celebrating the giving of the Torah on this day. On Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, we conclude and begin the Torah scroll anew.

Now, Shavuot is called the 50th day from the Torah as following the first day of Passover when the Exodus occurred, there is a seven week preparation period, which was symbolized by bringing the Omer offering on the second day of Passover, and as a separate Mitzvah, we count seven weeks beginning with this day - Today is the first day of the Omer, Today is the second day of the Omer, etc.

The Midrash tells us that the holiday of Shemini Atzeret, while associated with Succot as the eighth day from Sukkot though it is a separate holiday, was really supposed to have celebrated seven weeks later as Shavuot is in relationship to Passover. However, being that it would occur in the midst of winter, and traveling to the Temple for bringing the holiday sacrifices would be tremendous hardship and sacrifice to come in the cold, rainy, and muddy weather, Hashem was nice to give us this holiday instead while it isn't quite with such wintery weather as of yet. Enough travelling to the Temple three times a year, people have to make a living too and not kill themselves like every other month to "please G-d". The ultimate idea of the three pilgrimage festivals was to be happy in serving Hashem, and not feeling miserable. Hence, while Shemini Atzeret in fact has no direct relationship with Sukkot than with any other holiday in terms of similar Jewish themes, it's reminiscent of Hashem caring for us, though without a further need of living in Sukkot to remind us of Hashem's protection of the Jews in the desert with the Clouds of Glory, by wanting to spend a special day with us before we return to the daily work routine.

There is one place in the entire Tanach/Bible in which the beginning letters spell the word Yeshiva, which while it literally means sitting, such as sitting or dwelling in the Succah, can also refer to the Jewish establishment of a learning center -the Yeshiva. This is found in the verse telling us to celebrate Succot, "You shall celebrate the holiday of Hashem for seven days, a Shabbaton (day of rest) on the first day and a Shabbaton on the eighth day." The Hebrew words for "Hashem (for) seven days, on the first day" are YKVK (Hashem) Shiv'at Yomim Bayom HaRishon - whose first letters spell the word Yeshiva.

Hence, while we were busy on Passover day leaving Egypt, and the preparatory period for receiving the Torah began only on the second day of Passover, the finale of Shemini Atzeret's preparation begins with the beginning of Succot when we are relaxing in our Succot, and thus with the Yishuv Ha'Da'at/settlement of mind based on our settlement of our bodies following a long summer in the field, we can celebrate the Torah after we are well relaxed from a true vacation with our families not far from our regular homes, unlike today's vacation packages which don't allow many to be anymore relaxed when returning home from their vacation right before returning to work as they were before they left for their vacation. And also to note the number eight in relationship to Torah, Psalm 119 consists of eight verses for each one of the 22 letters of the Alef Beit beginning with their respective letter; the theme of the Psalm which is all about learning and teaching Torah.

It should be noted that had Hashem decided to make this Shemini Atzeret holiday to be seven weeks from the beginning of Succot as Shavuot is with Passover, it would wind up that this would occur virtually between the Yahrzeit of Matisyahu (15 Cheshvan), whose actions led to Chanuka, & the beginning of Chanuka (25 Kislev) - falling out either on the 5th or 6th of Kislev, being that there are exactly 40 days from Matisyahu's Yahrzeit until Chanuka, at it occurs this year (in some years, Cheshvan has only 29 days making this period 39 days until Chanuka).
Indeed, Matisyahu was fighting the Syrian Greeks who wanted to make the Bible sound like a bunch of Bible stories without observance of the commandments, as especially protrayed by the Oral Law as handed down to Moses in the first period of 40 days that he was on Mt. Sinai, beginning with the giving of the Torah on Shavuot, the beginning of the EIGHTH week from the Omer preparatory period. Hence, it is on Chanuka - consisting of EIGHT days - when we realize that the Torah - as especially represented by the Oral Torah telling us how to behave as good Jews - is not to be taken for granted being that we were challenged by the non-Jews about this, and that we need to remember the joy we have had celebrating the Torah which occured on Shemini Atzeret - the final day of the EIGHT days of spiritual rejuvenation (nicknamed reJEWvenation), when we read the FINAL portion of the Torah ending with the end of Moses' life in this world, the new leadership of Joshua, where the name Matisyahu is hinted, who CROWNED us with the FINAL of the "Seven Commandments of the Rabbis" - the lighting of the Chanuka lights which represent the light of Torah - hence in one sense being the 620th commandment, as 620 is the Gematria of the world Keter/CROWN. While other crowns - such as the crown of kingship or the crown of priesthood is inherited, the crown of Torah is available to anyone who wants to avail himself or herself of learning how to properly behave as a prince or princess of Hashem, the King of the world.

NOTE: My next post will, G-d willing, be in a few days before this coming Shabbat, relating to this week's Parshat Vayeira.

15 Cheshvan 5770, Yahrzeit of Matisyahu Ben Yochanan Cohen Gadol

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