Wednesday, November 4, 2009

#51 - Escape: To or From Reality

In life, we want solutions to answers - and usually, we want them now. Sometimes, this may be due to getting unsatisfactory results from past experiments or efforts, so we make an effort to do something that we think will work. Sometimes, this may take the form of a quick fix, which may be a bandage as a short term solution at best; however, this will not solve the problem in the long run. Of course, this may not be so surprising these days considering how we get quick results from modern technology when we are mentally trained for instant results and gratification at a moment's flick of the switch. And then among today's youth, young kids and teenagers look to have a high or a quick fix of feeling estatic by consuming drugs and alcohol, while adults often start off doing this to escape from the realities that they face in life, but are back rock bottom once the high feeling is over, and they realize that their problems did not go away as a result of their quick fix.


In what is know today as the Modern State of Israel, the Israelis had several wars with the Arab beasts between 1948 and 1973. Though Israel won every war, it was at the cost of thousands of dead Jewish soldiers, and the Israeli nation being quite frustrated over constant wars - especially the IDF soldiers who faught the Arabs. Towards this end, Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt, may his name and memory be erased, who staged a sneak attack on the Jewish State called the Yom Kippur War in 1973, played on the mentality of the Israeli nation, and suggested a peace treaty which would consist of Israel giving back the Sinai to the Arabs in exchange for "peace" from Egypt.

Under normal circumstances, virtually any country who is the victor, would at the very least laugh this off if not consider taking action against its enemy. In fact, chances are, the enemy wouldn't suggest it to begin with knowing the mentality of the country who won. However, Sadat must have had some kind of inkling here as to how the Israeli "leaders" and citizens were feeling by now. Ironically, when Menachem Begin, prime minister of Israel, first took office, the Arabs were terrified knowing of his past activities of fighting them. However, Begin caved in to pressure, and the deed was performed.

I remember back in my religious school in 3rd grade, when we were shown the Camp David Accords live on T.V. back in 1979, and we were told to write something on this. All I really knew about this is that it had something to do with peace, or so I thought. I remember writing that according to the Torah, you are even supposed to lie for peace. Well, Sadat did a pretty good job at that one, though he certainly could care less what the Torah has to say about Israel being the Divine Land for Jews. When I was not yet quite nine years old, I had yet to know that Sadat staged a sneak attack on the Jewish State. I didn't know that this was really about Israel giving away precious land filled with oil. I didn't know that what was taking place was really going against the Torah giving away Divinely given land to the Jews; though Begin was wearing a Kippa reciting Psalms 126, while ironically, what was going on here was diametrically opposed to the contents of this Psalm.

What was the reality here? The Arabs - at least Egypt - knew that fighting wars wouldn't be the answer, if somehow, the Jewish State would keep winning. They figured that in order to get what they want, they would have to be a little diplomatic. Little did they know how far these consequences would lead to, including the handover of Gush Katif and parts of Gaza. To come to think of it, the Temple Mount, the holiest area in the world, was handed back to the Arabs - particularly the Wakf - by Moshe Dayan not long after the Six Day War of 1967. It was at this very area where Isaac was bound on the Altar by his father Abraham, as mentioned in this week's Parshat Vayera.

My friends, the reality is that once an defeated enemy nation, always an enemy nation. Rabbi Meir Dovid Kahane, may the memory of the righteous be for a blessing, and may Hashem avenge his blood, whose Yahrzeit is today - 18 Cheshvan (5751/1990) - showed how true this is. As far as he was concerned, the Arabs could hardly wait for the day to get back what they felt was theirs, even though none of it belongs to them as far as the Torah is concerned. Hence, the only thing you can do with them is to send them back to their 22 countries, or send them to a place starting them up with some cash to get on with their lives; but that under no circumstances are they to continue living in Israel side-by-side with Jews whom they don't wish to see.

Very unfortunately, Begin didn't see it this way. In fact, when Kahane attempted to transfer some 5,000 Arabs to Canada with financial renumeration, it was Begin or his administration who jailed Kahane for "daring" to do such an "inhumane" activity. Begin was considered among the best fighters back in the early days of the Jewish State. However, he wanted to escape from the reality that the Arabs really don't wish us a peaceful reign, and chose instead to think that by doing the quick fix of saying goodbye to the Sinai that from now on, there will only be peace.

However, the reason I am mentioning this Camp David accords history is not just an excuse to mention Kahane's name being that today is his Yahrzeit or that I wanted to mention the Temple Mount that is in this week's Parshat Vayera, but also because a similarity to this happened thousands of years ago in this week's Parsha.


Lot, Abraham's nephew, is no stranger to my blogs. Was he really such a terrible guy, or was he simply a little misguided? However you feel about him, there was something that he didn't quite get, even after he barely escaped with his life. Never mind the fact that he allowed his daughters to do the wild thing with him being that he was so drunk that he never knew the difference until the next morning, and even after what happened with his first daughter, he allowed the same thing to happen the next night with his second daughter.

As I mentioned briefly in my previous blog #50, five towns were slated for destruction, and it was only Lot's immediate family that was saved from this area of towns. When the angels told him that the family needed to escape before the towns would be visited by Hashem's wrath, Lot attempted to save his accumulated wealth but the angels wouldn't let him have the time to do that, and forced his family out of the house with just virtually the shirts on their backs. Maybe had Lot been a little more righteous, he would have been allowed to keep everything that he owned, but Lot should have been thankful enough to Hashem for allowing him to live to begin with even though he turned away from the righteous path of Abraham that he originally started following, and instead chose an immoral life with the Sodomites.

As Lot's family was escaping, the angels told them to escape to the mountains. However, Lot insisted on living in a particular city named Zoar. Now, if you look closely in the Hebrew text, Lot makes his plea using the word Na, which can mean "please" or "now", four times. In his plea consisting of 43 words, there must be something going on with him keep repeating a certain word. By the last mention of this word, the Chumash's top commentator Rashi has had enough with this character. He explains that since Sodom was in existance for 52 years during which time it became filled with enough sins for destruction, and Zoar was in existance for one year less of 51 years, Lot felt that this would be a good place to live in. Rashi learns this out from the fact that the word Na - consisting of the letters Noon (50) & Alef (1) - is the Gematria of 51; and hence this is what was behind Lot's request.

Now, the reason why Lot did not want to escape to the mountains is because that would have meant being closer to more righteous people than he was, and was afraid that he would be slated for death; in contrast to having been saved now since he was the good apple among the rotten rest. However, he knew that the city of Zoar was hardly more righteous than the former town of Sodom that he lived in, and so he figured that at least for the coming year, even if it meant that this town of Zoar would be destroyed once it would reach 52 years like Sodom, that it would be a good place for him to reside, so even if he would have to relocate after one year, he would at least continue to live.

The problem here, my friends, is that Lot was not addressing his real problem. He did not even want to attempt to better his lifestyle, and that is despite knowing how his own uncle Abe was living his righteous life. He was begging as he was saying PLEASE, but all he was asking for was for the here and NOW. Like other wicked people, Lot was only thinking of enjoying himself in this temporary now, which is over before we know it. He refused to raise himself up spiritually, as the Hebrew word for mountains - Harim - is similar to the word Harama/raising up. He wanted a quick fix where he could continue the same lifestyle, while being considered a little more righteous than the rest due to his deeds of hospitality. However, even he himself knew that his behavior was far wanting as per what Hashem really wants, he just didn't want to forgo the pleasures of life.

Along these lines, mention of this word Nah four times, that is 51*4, add to the total of 204, which is the Gematria of Tzadik/righteous person. All Lot wanted to do in terms of righteousness was to appear as such, but not to make any serious effort of being such a person. Even if it meant that he would have to relocate after only a year's rent as per a signed contract, that was no problem for him to bounce to another town to do the same thing, as long as he could maintain the same baseless lifestyle that he had when in Sodom, while just being a little more righteous than the rest because he provided hospitality; basically, wanting his cake and eating it too.


Speaking of 51 years of the existance of Zoar at the time of Lot's escape from Sodom in relationship to this 51st post, there is in fact a very significant Jewish day in the calendar that is related to the number 51. Less than one month ago, it was Hoshana Rabba, the last of the seven days of Succot, a time of saying Hoshanot, the special supplicatory prayers to Hashem to save us, and on this final day, to grant us water. It's specially significant to note that the letters of the Hebrew number of this year 5770 - Hei, Tav, Shin, Ayin - are included in this word of Hoshanot. Technically, when we say the word Hosha Na in these prayers, it can mean either "please save" or "save now". But how this day of Hoshana Rabba is related to the number 51 besides the fact that the word Na is the Gematria of 51 is because this day is the 51st day from Rosh Chodesh Elul, the beginning of the repentance season, and it is on this day that the letter of life or death that was sealed on Yom Kippur is "mailed" on this day. Even after the decree is sealed, there are times that there is a away of preventing the letter from being mailed, and perhaps through the joyous observance of Hashem's holiday of Succot that we can at least delay if not prevent an evil decree from happening, G-d forbid. Thus, we are asking Hashem to save us and help us escape troubles, but with a spirit of repentence.

It is mentioned by Rabbi Isaac Luria, the Arizal, that the letters of the word Elul begin the words of the phrase Ina L'Yado V'Samti Lecha - "But for one who had not lain in ambush and G-d CAUSED IT TO COME TO HIS HAND (to kill someone accidentally), I SHALL PROVIDE YOU a place to which he shall flee" (Exodus 21:13). This verse refers to a case where one Jew accidentally kills another Jew upon which he flees to one of the cities of refuge where he could escape to from being killed by a relative of the one whom he accidentally killed. Hence, in a spiritual sense, our escape from our sins begins in Elul, a designated time to recall our former sins and repent, and continues through Yom Kippur, the same period that the Jews spent doing in their first year from Egypt following the sin of the Golden Calf. (You can check out post #40 for more details on this 40 day period). Hence, Hoshana Rabba as the 51st day from the beginning of Elul as Hosha Na - "Please save" or "Save now", is the final attempt to escape from our sins or the terrible consequences of our sins, part of which is by turning to Hashem and recalling the spirituality that He has blessed us with.

It was eight years ago on the night of Hoshana Rabba that the war of the United States in Afghanistan began, a war which is still lingering on. The Vilna Gaon points out that the war of Gog U'Magog will begin on Hoshana Rabba. While it was President Bush, Jr. who started the war, it has been pointed out in the Hidden Codes that President Obama IS Gog (U'Magog)!
Tying all this together, there are two places in Psalms that the wording of Hosha/save is used.
The first of these two places is in Psalms 44:8, "But you have SAVED us from our enemies, and have put to SHAME those who hate us." Now, the word Bush as spelled in Hebrew has the etymology of the word Busha/shame. As predicted in the prophecy of the war of Gog U'Magog in the Book of Ezekiel, the Jews will be saved at the end, and those who attempt to attack us will get their just deserts. s And while we are at it in my 51st post, the Gematria of Edom is 51, which refers today to the United States based on statements in the Zohar. Indeed, it consists of 50 states and its capital Washington D.C. which is not in one of the 50 states but is its own area, thus making it technically 51 states. Hence, it is this war of Gog U'Magog which was started by President Bush whose name means shame, and at the end, Hashem will save us from Gog U'Magog, that is, from the 44th President of the United States who will ultimately be THE Gog U'Magog, which is hinted to in this 44th Psalm, in the Book of Psalms compiled by King David, who is the Ushpizin/ heavenly guest of the 7th day of Succot, Hoshana Rabba, the 51st day from Rosh Chodesh Elul!


Fastfowarding in the Book of Psalms is Psalm 51 which is all about King David addressing the sin pertaining to his relationship with Bath Sheba. Now mind you, I didn't say "the sin of his relationship" but "the sin pertaining to his relationship".

Perhaps one of the most intriguing Bible stories is about David's love affair with Bath Sheba despite the fact that her husband Uriah was not dead yet. Years back before I moved to Israel, I prayed on the Sabbath in a Shul where the rabbi gave a class for 15 minutes on the Bible at the Friday evening services. On occasion, there was someone in the retired community Shul who would asked a question. But when this story of the love affair was addressed, half of the congregants asked all kinds of questions. I guess it sounded to them like it was a news item that just occured.

As this rabbi explained, as based on the Talmud, King David in fact did not commit adultery according to Jewish Law, or he would have been forbidden to have continued living with Bath Sheba, and King Solomon would not have been born or be worthy of being the next king. In those days, Jewish soldiers before leaving for war were ordered by the king to write a conditional Get/Jewish divorce for their wives before taking off to war, which meant that should the husband die in battle, she would be considered divorced retroactively. The reason for this was because if the husband would be missing in battle, and his whereabouts would not be known, the wife would not be allowed to remarry if there would be even a slight chance of her husband still being alive.

In this case, King David did in fact sleep with Bath Sheba and she in fact became pregnant while Uriah was still alive. It was upon the news of her pregnancy that King David took quick action, and summoned him home, telling him to spend the night with his wife Bath Sheba. However, Uriah refused to do this, and when King David saw him not obeying his command, he ordered his nephew and chief general Joab to send Uriah to the front lines. Uriah was sent accordingly, and got killed in battle.

Strange. Why wouldn't Uriah want to spend the night with his wife Bath Sheba now that he was given a unique opportunity to do so? Did he loose his appetite for sex, or was he a plain lunatic?
The reason for this was that Uriah knew that if he were to do so, he would have to write a new Get, which he did not want to have to bother doing so, because being intimate would have nullified the first Get.

Perhaps this is what King David was hoping for, so that if Uriah would perish in battle, then retroactively, he would have been divorced from Bath Sheba, and hence, King David's affair would not be considered adultery.

Technically, King David was right. In time, Bath Sheba bore him King Solomon, who is the ancestor of our soon King Messiah. However, he was faulted by the prophet Nathan for his selfishness due in part to his strong desire for Bath Sheba, and was punished for this.

Several years ago, I came across what you call a Jewish calendar, which means a regular calendar based on the secular dates, but including the Hebrew dates, and starting the year from September when Rosh Hashana begins. In this particular one, there was a Jewish theme written about by each month. In one of them, King David's life was the subject. It mentioned that while he accomplished some good things; in terms of his affair, he failed as a man.

Now mind you, the type of people putting these Jewish calendars together are irreligious Jews who at best are affliliated with some type of Conservative or Reform "Jewish" temple who could care less what the Talmud has to say about King David, especially when even
the Chumash/Penteteuch that they mostly refer to for their Jewishness is for all that they are concerned, is a man-made book, rather than the fact that every single letter of the holiest book in the world (Sefer Torah) is from Hashem Himself. A Jew who believes that even a single letter of it is not from Hashem, but rather from a human being, does not have a share in the eternal world - no questions asked.

Yes, King David did sleep with Bath Sheba when Uriah was still alive; but according to Jewish Law, King David did not committ adultery because retroactively, Uriah was already considered divorced. Yes, King David had temptations, but as our rabbis say, he conquered his evil inclination through fasting. Yes, King David committed a sin for which he was punished for, but HE WAS A MAN ENOUGH TO ADMIT IT, and not like these irreligious Jews putting together these Jewish calendars who mock righteous people such as King David who want to find excuses not to live a REAL Jewish life, and don't even refrain from eating shrimp, or other foods that include non kosher derivatives, or justify being Jewish - or rather, hide it - by eating "Kosher style" corned beef sandwiches which are "treif", a term used in Yiddish to refer to the animal from which it came from was not slaughtered the Kosher way, along with other sins of forbidden fat and blood for every bite that they eat.

And for that matter, Adam who messed up eating from the forbidden fruit, though at first was looking to blame his wife for doing this, at least repented and died as a righteous person. In fact, Adam gave 70 years of his life to King David, the latter who followed in Adam's footsteps of making amends for sinning.

At least Adam - whose name means man - and King David, despite their initial shortcomings, did something about improving themselves, even as Hashem was still going to grant them punishment for their past misdeeds. You can say that they behaved like a mentsch. However, Lot, from whom King David was descended, whose name is the same Gematria as that of Adam's (45), as I discussed in my 45th post, did not look to better his behavior. LOT IS THE ONE WHO FAILED AS A MAN! Allowing himself to get drunk once and find himself the next morning having been laid by one of his daughters was bad enough which happened to begin with because of his immoral behavior. But to allow the same thing to happen the second night? But of course, this won't mean to much to those who don't want to believe the Talmud about King David, since Lot isn't someone who will be a nuisance to the guilty feelings of Jews who refuse to follow the Torah the way they are supposed to follow it, who choose instead of what you call "kosher style" as though you can only be Jewish if you eat the same type of foods that your Zeide and Bubbe in the old days in Europe used to eat, many of whom were very religious and would turn over in their graves if they saw how some of their descendants practice Judaism today.

This reminds me of the type of story that is told of a guy who walks into what seems to him to be a kosher butcher store, and asks the bareheaded butcher at the counter if his meat is kosher. In response, the latter points to the direction of his religious father's photograph, looking like a rabbi with the long beard and Chasidic looking coat, on the wall. The potential customer remarks, "If it was your father who would be standing where you are, and it would be you in the picture, then I would feel comfortable about the meat being kosher".

Yes, unlike Lot who in fact escaped FROM reality, King David escaped TO reality. Knowing where he went wrong, he composed Psalm 51 especially to show his deep remorse for his shortcoming, with hopes to rectify his wrongdoing, along with accepting his punishment. As he mentions in this Psalm, he wants to use his sin as a springboard to teach others to repent. At the end, King David left this world as one of the most righteous people who ever lived, and made it to the top seven to be our Heavenly guests for Succot. His Book of Psalms is the most frequented quoted book in the world. Of course, we can't forget the Star of David. Countless of Jews, and tons of non-Jews, bear the name David (besides the Camp David accords, which is actually a disgrace to the name David, because King David fought wars for more land, not less).


In recent times, another major hope for Jews came into place. Well first, you have what is called the Chasidic movement, founded by the Ba'al Shem Tov when the Jews were in low morale, and this was a way to lift up their spirits. Among the many branches of this Chasidic movement is called Breslov, founded by Rabbi Nachman. greatgrandson of the Ba'al Shem Tov. This particular way of Hassidism stresses happiness in fulfilling Hashem's commandments, and not giving up hope in life no matter how low one may have sunk spiritually or physically.

Back in 1922, a Breslov follower named Rabbi Yisroel Dov Ber Odesser, ZT"L found a note, called the Petek, in a holy book of his that looked like it was written to him by Rabbi Nachman, even though the latter had passed away over a hundred years earlier. This was at a time when Rabbi Odesser was depressed for nearly a week, but when reading this note which was full of encouragement, he danced all night out of sheer joy. It is from this note that the famous phrase and song Na Nach Nachma Nachman Meuman comes from. In 1984, he received a approbation for this kabbalistic note from Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ZT"L. Since then, it has been used to bring many Jews back to the fold of Judaism and Breslov. For more information on this, you can turn to

The reason I am writing about this special note is for two reasons. First of all, today - 18 Cheshvan - is also the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Odesser (5755/1994). Secondly, this Petek consists of exactly 51 words, which is also in time for this 51st post.

As you can see, the number 51 represents the concept of escape, repentance, and serving Hashem out of joy. Our true escape in this world is when we are accomplishing what Hashem put us in this world for. By sincere repentence, which includes repentance out of love, one escapes punishment. And serving Hashem out of happiness is the ultimate way of accomplishing this.

In conclusion of this 51st post on this 18th day of Cheshvan, I want to quote the last of the 51 verses of Psalm 18, which has similar wording towards the end of the Hoshanot prayers of Hoshana Rabba, the 51st day from Rosh Chodesh Elul - "Who magnifies the salvations of His king, and does kindness to His anointed one, to David and his offspring, forever."

18 Cheshvan 5770, Yahrzeits of Rabbi Meir Dovid Kahane & Rabbi Yisroel Dov Ber Odesser.

NOTE: My next blog will appear, G-d willing, in two and a half weeks - a special post about the Hidden Codes of the Torah before the computer era.

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