Sunday, January 31, 2010

#59 - To NET or Not to NET

If you think about it, virtually everything can either be a blessing or a curse. Food can either be nutritious for the body if it is healthy food and not eaten to excess or can be harmful for the body if it is junk food that is consumed on a daily basis. Sleep can either be helpful for one to be restful to face a challenging day at work or harmful if one oversleeps which can weaken the body and waste one's day with little accomplishment. Friendships can either be a wonderful thing for people when one is respectful of one another and do things that are helpful for both themselves and others, or they can be disasterous if selfish motivation is involved which can G-d forbid lead to fights and bloodshed.

Now, what I had just mentioned are some of the most natural and necessary things that is required in one's life to be able to function both physically and emotionally. However, with modern technologies that we have been introduced to for over two centuries, the question can be asked - do we really need these things?

Personally, I don't know how well people managed before toilets and toilet paper, but other basic things in today's world such as electricity and gas are what you call necessities rather than luxuries. However, while other items such as automobiles and airplanes have helped people find work far quicker and meet relatives they may have never seen otherwise, many accidental casaulties have occurred. And then, there are other modern devices that have led people to addictions. Well, there are plenty of couch potatoes out there watching TV, some get addicted to playing video games, and now...the internet.

The internet, perhaps more than anything on this planet today, is the biggest controversial issue as to whether this is truly a blessing or a curse. No doubt - many people have been employed as a result, many people got married as a result, and many people have gained much knowledge as a result - especially for school assignments. But, it has also served as a curse to many - children getting raped or murdered by pedophiles, pedophiles looking for children online only to be caught later by an undercover cop, many get addicted to porn sites, and others are simply addicted to the internet that takes time from their daily work - from wasting and stealing employee time, to neglecting household chores or the young kids waiting to be fed or put to sleep to be ready for school the next day, and it has led to divorces.

While clergymen of other religions may not be so concerned about the internet as being a religious issue, this is a very burning issue among some big rabbis - especially when it comes to children. Regardless of how one feels religious wise regarding TV or computer games, the internet is ultimately not only a big time waster for some, but it has potential to introduce them to a world that will lead them astray from Judaism - especially porn sites, something that even on TV - and you have plenty of immodest looking women on TV about which there is a prohibition in the Torah to stare at them - you have to pay extra money to see spiritual filth, turning on the computer for the internet is only minutes away for even a young child without parental supervision to see things that even the average non-Jewish parent would not dream of letting their pre adolescent children watch.

Even if porn and other spiritual trash would not be an issue, some of the big rabbis who have spoken about using the internet are quite concerned about children wasting their time on such things that never existed before instead of learning Torah which would make some to be big rabbis themselves if only exposed to the right environment.

And for adults? Well, one can argue that there are indeed numerous Torah websites that can and have made a difference for many people, some of whom actually became observant Jews as a result. Many have found Shidduchim (though I didn't find mine this way, but I did communicate through E-mail when I dated my wife) and some big rabbis themselves have their own internet site offering Torah classes or information about their Yeshiva or synagogue, including that offers all sorts of rabbinical services for people who feel they may not have anyone else to turn to.

There are those rabbis who put their foot down, and forbid the internet even for Torah learning, for after all, the traditional way of learning Torah is to learn in a Yeshiva setting - with a study partner, or from a rabbi giving a Torah lecture in the study hall where there is holiness. They feel that the risks are too big to take a chance, especially for those who have children at home who will somehow sooner or later either sneak a peak on the net, or will want to do the same by going to an internet cafe where they are free to look at what they want without parental supervision, which indeed has happened.

And then the big question - is it permitted to use the internet to make a living?

Before I continue, I would like to point out that as the word net is short for internet, the word net in Hebrew in the context of the internet is spelled just as it spells in English - the letters Noon & Teit, which also spells the number 59 in Hebrew. Hence, in this 59th Post, I am here to talk about this most burning issue which is directly related to using the internet as I am writing on it this very second.

Some months back I saw big fliers promoting what is called by some rabbis the prohibition of using the internet. It seems that the word internet as it is spelled the same way in Hebrew, and the word Sartan/cancer have the same Gematria of 319. The way the ad was worded, it was made to imply that people get cancer, G-d forbid, as a result of using the internet, as though the disease didn't exist before the internet was started to be used.

It is true that I have read that there may be a link between using cell phones and a form of cancer, but I have never read anything to imply that the computer could cause this. In my opinion, it is wrong to use deceit, even in an attempt to prevent people from doing an Aveira, because it is called Geneivat Da'at - fooling the mind, which is an Aveira, a sin like regular stealing, by fooling people with information that can't be proven, and is like what is called a Mitzva Ha'Ba'ah Ba'Aveira - a Mitzva that is done through the medium of an Aveira, like stealing a religious item such as a Lulav to fulfill the Mitzva of taking/shaking it on Sukkot when in fact not only it is not a Mitzva, but an Aveira. However, I will agree that for some using the internet, especially for sinful viewing of spiritual trash, as well as being addictive preventing one from serving Hashem, it is indeed a spiritual cancer.

Now getting back to making a living on the internet, many make their money directly through using the internet, as a tool for advertising especially having one's own website, or is useful for one's current occupation that one may have had even before the internet began to go public (Note - the internet was begun to be used by the Pentagon in the 60s, but it only came into the public decades later).

Mind you, most of these big rabbis forbidding the internet under virtually any circumstances are living in Israel amidst very religious neighborhoods where virtually no TVs can be found. It may be easy for these rabbis to forbid everyone from even making a living using the internet, for after all they reason, if people have so much faith in Hashem, they will find a way to make a living without the internet. Yet, these same rabbis will tell you that now we are in the era right before Moshiach is coming, when many will have nothing in their pocket because they cannot find work. Meanwhile, they themselves obviously have a means of support, so their words forbidding the internet would not find very much favor with people who are a little above the naive level who will feel that it is hypocracy for those who make money easily to tell others not to make a living a certain way.

In all honesty, at least some of these rabbis have done a little more than just cry bloody murder. They do understand that there is a growing need for people to make a living via modern technology that replaces past methods of bringing food to the table. Of course, they have set certain rules to help best assure that the internet will be used particularly for making a living, and certainly not to be of access to their children who will see their parents using the internet sooner or later. This includes installing internet filters that will weed out non-Kosher sites and related items, so even if the children were to sneak behind their parents' back, they won't be seeing spiritual filth.

Now, getting back to the issue of learning or teaching Torah via the internet, while it may not be a true spiritual replacement for learning Torah in person and in a holy environment outside of one's home, the benefits of a host of Torah sites cannot be denied. The internet has been used to teach Torah to many who would otherwise not have learned much Torah or any, especially for people who were not raised as observant Jews, through written information, audios and videos.
Not so long ago, one who wanted to learn Daf Yomi, the daily page of Talmud, but could not always quite make it to the synagogue or Yeshiva every day, was able to listen to the daily Talmud page via telephone, for which there was a monthly fee. Now, presto! You have a choice of Daf Yomi lectures on the internet - for free! In fact, you can even see the Talmud page online without once ever opening a Talmud book, though for beginners, the Talmud from Artscroll will prove to be a tremendous aid in learning the meat of Torah.


Though it's not the first time I will be writing about this, the following will be a perfect blend for this post. For more details, you can check Post #19 - Making CHOICES Where It COUNTS.

There is a correlationship between the original Tree of Knowledge - the tree that Adam and Eve partook from despite Hashem's orders not to eat from it, and today's Tree of Knowledge - the internet. Basically, the Talmud in Sanhedrin 38 tells us that in the 12 hours of the daytime of Yom HaShishi/Friday, Adam sinned by eating its fruit in the 10th hour, that is, in the fourth quarter of the day. Now, being that the milleniums of the world correspond to the days of the week, it works out that today's Tree of Knowledge - the internet - began in public in the fourth quarter of this 6th millenium - the year 5750 (1990). No, I don't think I even heard of the internet back then, or at least I didn't understand what the news was really about if I heard about it, but there were a few savvy computer folks who already started using the internet in that year. As we know, many things can be used for good, or otherwise. Very unfortunately, untold much harm has been caused by the internet, but being that Hashem allowed it to be created, it was also meant to be used for good.

As this past Shabbat was Tu B'Shevat - the annual Rosh HaShanah/New Year for trees, it's interesting to note that according to Kabbalah, eating fruit on this day is a Tikkun/rectification for Adam's sin of eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. This is unlike some other types of rectifications that are offered in the form of fasting.

Now, the Torah tells us that when besieging the town of an enemy, that we are forbidden to cut down fruit trees, but only barren ones. As the verse words it "for is the tree of the field like a person that you have to besiege it"? (Deutronomy 20:19). As Rashi explains, we are not supposed to "starve" fruit trees the way that we besiege an enemy nation cutting off their food and water supply.

Now, noting the wording in the verse, the word for person used is HaAdam, as opposed to synonyms in Hebrew for the word person - Ish, Gever, or Enosh. So many times in the Torah, the word Ish is used, yet over here, the same word as Adam's name is used. Why?

Note the next words Eitz HaSadeh - "tree of the field". Yes, Adam's sin was involved with a tree, but more than this, this phrase in Hebrew is the same Gematria as the word Da'at/Knowledge - 474, for after all, Adam had sinned particularly with the Tree of Knowledge. While all this is fine and dandy, what is the connection here with the context of fighting the enemy is concerned?

As I am asking this online, the answer is coming to me. Everything in the physical world has its spiritual counterpart. So, just like there is a concept of having war and besieging an enemy nation, so too, there is a concept of fighting the big war - the Yetzer HaRah/Evil Inclination. There is actually an angel that works on the psychic to commit sins, and our job in this world is to fight this inclination for evils such as jealousy, lust, honor, and avoiding doing Aveirot/sins.

Hashem will always send things in our way as challenges in life. The ultimate purpose of being in this physical, base world is to use the physicality for the purpose of spirituality. So certainly, one who is able to avoid certain physical things in this world that one can truly do without, that certainly is an assured way of not getting swept away with physical matter versus spiritual matters. However, there are times that things beyond are control necessate us to use physical matters that will be helpful in life while bearing in mind our purpose in life.

For many, the internet is now an indispensable tool for making a living, communicating with certain people with whom alternate communication would otherwise be almost impossible or quite costly, especially when there is a time factor involved. To cut it out completely in this modern age when many things are based on using the internet could cause hardships to some who would otherwise have to do alternate means spending much more time to accomplish the same thing.

Look, for those whose rabbi whom one follows forbids using the internet, he/she has to deal with that. But then again, those people will never be reading this here, so this is their own business. But for people reading this here, no doubt that there is an understanding as to why I am using the internet to write blogs, if there is no cut clear sin of using the internet.

My point here is that the Torah tells us that generally, one is not supposed to completely cut out something needed in the physical world, so long as it will help one in some way to serve Hashem.
Of course, one needs to determine how the internet - Tree of Knowledge - helps one accomplish this; but this is just like the fruit tree, the Eitz HaSadeh whose Gematria is Da'at/Knowledge, which if chopped down, will no longer bear fruit for eating. If Hashem allowed something to be created in this world, and has potential to be used for good, it is something that needs to be addressed, and while controls may be required - especially for children, the internet can serve as a most helpful tool for Torah learning, making a living, finding marriage matches, sending messages of faith and encouragement via E-mail, finding old friends and rekindling relationships which is part of the Mitzva/Commandment of V'Ahavta L'Reiacha Kamocha - loving your fellow Jew as yourself.

Speaking of knowledge, the fourth of the blessings of the weekday daily prayer of Shemoneh Esrei is called Bircat Da'at - Blessing of Knowledge, in which we ask Hashem to grant us Chachma Bina V'Da'at "wisdom, understanding and knowledge" which are the spritual spheres or mental attributes of Hashem which is related to the holiday of Shavuot - called the "Fiftieth Day" - when the Torah was given following the Sephira period of seven weeks, which are connected to the seven "physical" attributes or spheres.

Accordingly, Tu B'Shevat is the 50th day from the beginning of Chanuka (in some years, it's the 49th day when the month of Kislev in which Chanuka begins consists of only 29 days unlike this year when it has 30 days), when the Maccabbes entered the Temple on the eve of the 25th of Kislev and lit the Menorah which was the result of their Mesirut Nefesh, their devotion and giving up of themselves fighting for their religious rights which were being challenged by the Syrian Greeks. It's interesting to note that Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried, author of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch/Concise Code of the Jewish Law, in Chapter 139 which is on the laws of Chanuka, the last paragraph of it is about Tu B'Shevat, instead of being its own chapter. Whatever his reason was for doing it that way, Tu B'Shevat - which fell out this year on Shabbat - as the holiday of the rectification of Adam's eating from the Tree of Knowledge before its time which would have been on Shabbat (night), is at the end of or following seven weeks from the holiday which was the result of Mesirut Nefesh, the concept of working for spiritual accomplishent, and on Tu B'Shevat, we eat fruits which are the result of planting trees, the work needed to enjoy the fruit of one's accomplishment.

Speaking of work resulting with bearing fruit, near the end of Song of Songs (8:12), it mentions twice a similar phraseology relating the concept of fruit with guarding - ensuring that the fruit will remain available. LaNotrim Ish Yavie B'Phiro - "for those guarding, each one will bring for his fruit" & L'Notrim Et Piryo - "for those guarding its fruit". The first two letters for Notrim - guarding, are Noon Teit, which is the number 59, the number of this post. It is especially significant that it is this Hebrew word that is used for guarding, because the usual word for guarding is Shomrim.

There is another concept related to the number 59 as it relates to Tu B'Shevat in terms of Halacha. The laws of Orla, fruit of the first three years of a tree which are forbidden to be eaten, and Neta Reva'i - the plantings/fruits of the fourth year that can be eaten once they are redeemed with a coin, are related to Tu B'Shevat in that if a tree is planted anytime from Rosh HaShanah through Tu B'Shevat, it is already considered one year by next Rosh HaShana. However, trees planted after Tu B'Shevat are no longer considered part of this context, and require a full three years before being allowed to be eaten.

Following these three years, the fruits of the fourth year when once redeemed can be eaten and are "sanctified to laud Hashem" (Leviticus 19:24). The word Neta which means planting, as the original verse about this when it says in reference to coming to the land of Israel - which highlights the concept of the Holy Land as it relates to Tu B'Shevat - U'Ntahtem Kol Eitz Ma'achal - "You will plant all types of fruit trees". This wording of planting in Hebrew starts off with the letters Noon Teit - again as the number 59.

Based on this concept of not eating fruits of the first three years and then eating them following redeemning them in the fourth year, the custom of cutting a boy's hair for the first time at three years old came about, making sure to leave over his Peyot/sidecurls which marks the look of Chasidim and traditional Yemenite Jews. In the old days back in Europe, following the boy's first haircut, his father wrapped him in a Tallit/prayer shawl and carried him to the local Cheder/Jewish children school where the Melamed/Torah teacher showed and read for the boy a tablet of the Aleph Beit smeared with honey, which the boy licked.

Connecting these concepts with the "Tree of Knowledge", it's not only important to PLANT the seeds by instilling a Torah way of living into children, teaching them Torah, praying, doing deeds of kindness, and good character traits, but just as important is GUARDING them from evil influences which will otherwise negate the good Torah education that these youngsters are receiving. Just as it so crucial to water every day and take took care of a sapling which can one day become a bidding fruit tree, because one false move can prove fatal to it; so to, negative influences on a child as he/she is young, though they may seem minor, can have serious detrimental effects on these children's spiritual health. Today, the internet is believed to be THE single most factor of being able to have this negative influence - especially when it comes to living a Torah way of life - on a child. It is easy to turn on the switch, quick for the screen to turn on, and only G-d knows what will happen next. Even with porn filters, especially as children get older, they can, G-d forbid, be exposed to heretical ideas that are against the Torah. At best, internet video games will affect them no less than watching "monitored" TV soap operas, movies and sports where violence, bad manners, and mention of Christian holidays and themes can result in serious negative spiritual consequences. We have to remember that the children are the "fruit of our labor", and what a waste would it be if the "fruit trees" we want to blossom will not be instilled and installed with so much love for Torah because much of their interest is into nonsense such as getting excited how their "local" team (of their town in exile outside of Israel) scored points when the tall 6-foot & 3-inch black guy dunked the basketball right into the basket or the macho looking football player won a touchdown because he tackled the ball from some guy in the opposing team who is now all bruised as a result.

There is a story told of a father who once approached a Rabbi about his newborn child, and asked what he can do to give the right type of Jewish education for a baby. The rabbi answered, "You came to me nine months late". Yes, the baby in the womb is not only affected physically by how much and what type of food the mother eats; but even spiritually, the environment that the baby in the womb is around, especially as per how the mother behaves, has an effect on her to-be-born baby.

Hence, we see that both the words for planting and guarding as both beginning with the letters Noon and Teit, have to do with fruit, and as the phrase in English goes "the fruit of one's labor".
Now, counting the 22 letters of the Aleph Beit, the Noon is the 14th letter and the Teit is the 9th letter, adding up to 23. Similarly, the first letter Aleph is the 1st letter and the last letter Tav is the 22nd letter, also adding up to 23. In Gematria, Aleph is 1 and Tav is 400. As Hashem told Abraham, his descendants would be slaves in a land not belonging to them for 400 years. While the Jews in fact were slaves in Egypt for only 116 years, as Hashem gave them a brake since the Egyptians treated them with extra cuelty, this 400 year period began from the birth of his son Isaac on the future date of the Exodus, the first day of Passover.

In any case, the physical work was the preparation for the Jews to be ready for a new mission in life. Hence, after 400 years of sojourning in lands not belonging to them, as Israel had not yet officially been given to the Jews, it was immediately in the beginning of the 401st year, symbolized by the completion of the Gematria of the individual letters ending with a Tav, that the Jews began a new chapter in their lives, symbolized by returning to the beginning of the Alef Beit, in the same way that immediately upon concluding the Torah on Simchat Torah, we immediately begin reading the beginning of the Torah.

And to conclude connecting the dots of the correlationship of fruit to Torah, the word Pri/fruit consists of the letters Pei Reish Yud. When the words for these letters are spelled out, as Pei=81, Reish=510, Yud=20, the total Gematria is 611, which is the Gematria of the word Torah!
Hence, just like physical fruit is the result of planting and guarding the trees from being robbed of its fruit, so too, the Jews received the Torah following a period of 400 years - and Torah begins with the letter Tav which is the Gematria of 400 - of physical preparation, following which we received the Torah on Shavuot seven weeks following the Exodus on Passover - the spiritual preparation.

Accordingly, Tu B'Shevat - the time of eating the fruit which is compared to Torah, is seven weeks from the beginning of Chanuka, when we begin performing the LAST of the Sheva Mitzvot D'Rabbanan - seven Mitzvot of the rabbis, which is lighting the Menorah, just as Tav=400 as it relates to the concept of physical preparation, is the LAST letter of the Aleph Beit. It is now the Aleph, the FIRST letter - a new cycle of Mitzvot of which the FIRST Mitzva of the Torah is Pru Urvu - having children, but as the lesson of B'Shevat of having well developed fruit - not simply children of flesh and blood, but children whose raison d'etre is to serve Hashem following the ways of the Torah.


As you know, this blogspot is based on Gematriot. I began over a year ago immediately following the Simchat Torah holiday in Israel, which was the night of the 23rd of Tishrei (outside of Israel, this date serves as the 2nd day of Yom Tov when writing is forbidden there). Counting the days, this past Shabbat on which Tu B'Shevat fell out on was the 466th day from when I began this blogspot. Well, this number is very significant to me, because 466 is the Gematria of my first name Shimon. And along the above lines how the internet is parallel to the Tree of Knowledge as it relates to Tu B'Shevat, I see Hashgacha Peratit/Divine Providence over here, and while I couldn't write my 59th post - or my NET=59 post on Shabbat - I am writing this right afterwards (I think Sunday afternoon/evening is close enough).

And speaking of the Gematria of my name, the 466th word in the Torah begins the final phrase of the account of the days of the first week of the world's existance in which Hashem created the word - ASHER Bara Elokim La'Asot - "WHICH G-d created to make" at the end of the account for the day of Shabbat. Accordingly, the name of the Tribe of Asher has the exact spelling of the word Asher which means "which". Now, although the word Asher when it means which is mentioned countless of times in the Torah, I would like to point out that before the Jews came to Israel under the leadership of Joshua, there were leaders appointed from almost every tribe (except for Reuben & Gad) who were going to be in charge of helping their particular tribe inherit its specific portion of land. The leader of the Tribe of Asher was Achihud Ben Shlomi (Numbers 34:27). This full name is the Gematria of 466, the same as my name Shimon! And as it relates to Asher, the Tribe for the month of Shevat, in which the middle of the month is Tu B'Shevat, is Asher!

Tu B'Shevat happens to have a little more meaning to me. You see, it was the first holiday that I celebrated after I made Aliyah - having moved to Israel five years ago. A friend of mine from the States who moved to Israel a few years earlier invited me over to his place to celebrate the evening with his family eating various fruits. And this particular holiday relates most to the LAND of Israel, as it celebrates eating fruit that are grown ESPECIALLY in Israel, though those who live outside of Israel can technically celebrate it eating fruit growing from their backyard. But it should be noted that what is called the "Seven Species" is based on the verse that states "A land (Israel) of wheat and barley, and grapes, and figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive (oil)and honey (of dates)" (Deutronomy 8:8).

My friends, the holiday of Tu B'Shevat is simply not the same living outside of Israel. The whole theme of the holiday is intrinsically connected with the LAND, and only the LAND of Israel is holy. The Kabbalah goes into great length describing the significance of these Seven Species, and so if there is any question as to why particularly these ones are the Seven Species though they can be perfectly grown outside of Israel, and other kinds of fruits can be grown in Israel, this has everything to do with holiness and the HOLY LAND.

As I had mentioned in the past, while the division of the chapters and verses of the Bible was done by a non-Jew, various hints can be found with the number of the chapter and/or verse as it relates to the particular verse. Well, this verse of the fruits is Chapter 8, Verse 8. We know that it was Joshua, Moses's successor (who is mentioned for the very first time in Parshat Beshalach that we read this Shabbat Shira - Tu B'Shevat) who led the Jews to Israel following Moses' demise. We know that Moses was the 7th generation from Abraham in direct parental line. Hence, Joshua as the successor to the first leader of the Jewish nation, was leading the EIGHTH generation - regardless of his own ancestry to Abraham which was a few more generations - into the land of Israel. And as the Maharal of Prague - Rabbi Judah Lowe - mentions, the number EIGHT is above nature, which perfectly describes the Land of Israel, as mentioned later in the same Parsha (Parshat Eikev) as the land of these fruit, "Hashem's eyes are on it (Land of Israel) from the beginning to the end of the year", noting the special Divine Providence that Hashem gives to this land in contrast to other lands.

In my case, I made Aliyah on the 8th flight of Nefesh B'Nefesh, an organization that helps people make Aliyah financially and with other helpful advice to help those make a new life and get adjusted in Israel; and my name Shimon is similar to the number eight in Hebrew - Shemoneh. And as per the Tribe of Asher in reference to the Gematria of my name as above, its ancestor Asher is listed in the Torah as eighth of the 12 sons of Jacob, and this tribe's main quality of its portion in the Land of Israel was its oil, the Hebrew word for which - Shemen - is also similar to the number eight in Hebrew - Shemoneh.


Now that I made my point clear earlier as to what the status of using the internet is - as a Mitzva, an Averia, or simply a necessary thing for business, no doubt in my case that if it weren't for the internet, I would not be writing the information that I have written on Little did I know how my blogspot would turn out, and many Chiddushim, original thoughts about Torah especially in relationship to Gematriot, occurred to me as I was writing my blog, as one idea leads into another idea. Additionally, my ultimate purpose of my blogspot is to use it as a means to help others be better Jews through the use of Gematria.

The nay sayers who will still claim that it is forbidden for me to use the internet to write Torah thoughts, and that it is a Mitzva Ha'Ba'ah BaAveira - a so called Mitzva which is really an Aveira - when some of them are doing the very thing in an attempt to prevent people from using the internet using Gematria, will tell me that I can just write everything down, which would be the natural way of fulfilling the Mitzva of writing Torah rather than typing it, or even if I want to type it like on a computer, that I can do so without internet access.

All through the centuries, especially after the era of the Mishna & Talmud being written down after some 1500 years from when the Torah was handed down through Moses and the Oral Torah was transmitted by word of mouth for 40 generations (the Talmud part, the Mishna was written down a few generations earlier), countless rabbis wrote down their own original thoughts to the Torah and Jewish Law. There were times that writings got lost before they had a chance to have them printed, whether due to a fire or war. In fact, it is believed that a part of the Jerusalem Talmud was lost somehow. In any case, we have to bear in mind that it is only in the last around 60 to 70 years that we are using writing instruments that have automatic ink within the pen; but until this time, the feather was placed in an ink bottle and only then was it possible to write things down (this is without getting into the story about pencils). Hence, it took far longer in earlier times to write things down, and it was only in the 1500s that the printing press took off, which made copying writings far easier to accomplish, which would allow for less mistakes copying over writings, and many new books could now be published that would not have happened otherwise.

In more recent times, the typewriter could invented, and people with speedy fingers could jot down the information far quicker than writing. Then, when computers came out, it was even easier to type them faster on a computer machine than a typewriter because of its structure. Also, programs with information could now be saved, along with a backup on a soft disk in case the computer would break down, but at least it wasn't like a piece of paper that could get lost, wet, or burnt.

And here is the difference between writing into a computer program and on a website. You see, if the computer breaks down without being able to recover the information and something happened to the soft disks with the saved information, without a printout of the material, then tough luck. However, once the information is typed into a website, the only way that it is possible for the information to disappear without purposely deleting it is if someone else finds a way to hack into the website, or if the webmaster to whom a fee is paid for imputing the info is not paid his fee and then he removes the content from the site. Otherwise, the information that is on that website is permanently there, and perhaps the all time advantage is that you can access that information from virtually anywhere in the world - hence, this is why the internet is called the world wide web.

With this being said, I think it makes sense to say that for the easiest and safest place to write and store information is the internet. Hence, writing original Torah thoughts via this method is the most practical way of doing this.

Now, one could ask, "You know, you're writing very nice things here, but wouldn't your time be better spent learning more Torah from a Sefer/Jewish book, or even through the internet, let alone if you go to a Yeshiva or attend a Torah class along with other Jews? Do people really need your material anymore than anyone else's? Just jot down anything that comes to mind that you might think could be a Torah related idea if you feel you must write it down, but no doubt you are spending countless of hours typing. After all, how many people even read your blog, let alone leave comments?"

Well one thing off the bat - I know for a fact that quite a few people have read my blogspot at one time or another, because after doing a little research, I see websites quoting from my blogspot. Additionally, writing Torah thoughts isn't just a "nice" thing to do - it is in fact an OBLIGATORY thing to do.

Before getting into what some rabbis have said on this subject, I want to point out as I have done before on that writing original Torah thoughts is actually based on the LAST Mitzvah of the Torah - writing a Sefer Torah. Indeed, it was on Moses' LAST day on earth that he miraculously wrote 13 Sifrei Torah - one for each of the 12 Tribes, and the 13th was to be put in the Holy Ark. It's interesting to note that as the number 13 is related to the writing of a Sefer Torah - hence the Written Torah; so too, there are 13 principles of the Torah which make up much of the content of the Oral Torah, which we mention in our daily morning prayers following the section of the sacrifices and incense offering.

For several years, I had dreamed of having a Gematriot website, but I never got a chance to start one, nor did I know the best way of going about it. It was only some 466 days earlier that I got a sudden inspiration to start writing a Gematriot blogspot, which would be free to use, and I could write, add, or change information anytime I want to without being a maven in internet designing.

Now, the purpose of writing things in the form of a blog is like writing the latest news; and hence, it is the LAST thing written that will appear first on the screen. With this being said, the word blog in Hebrew - using the letters Beit, Lamed, Vav, Gimel - is the Gematria of 41. As everything is hinted in the Torah, bearing in mind that the internet corresponds to the original Tree of Knowledge, the LAST Parsha of the Chumash or Sefer Torah called Parshat V'Zot HaBeracha contains 41 Pesukim/verses! Unless the format of blogs changes one day where one can make the information be from oldest to latest on the screen, it is the LAST information that appears as the immediate reading material on a blog, the word for which in Hebrew is the Gematria of 41 corresponding to the LAST Parsha of the Torah. Amazing!

Speaking of LAST, the LAST Talmudic tractate in both the Babylonian & Jerusalem Talmuds is Tractate Nidah, which deals with the laws of a menstrating woman who must separate from all physical contact with her husband for nearly two weeks upon which she goes into a Mikva/ritualarium to clean herself from her impurity before resuming marital relations. Well guess what? The word Nidah is the same Gematria as NET in Hebrew in the context of the internet - 59! And as we know about a regular net, it is a trap commonly use to capture animals or fish. So, maybe the internet is nothing short of a trap and a spiritual impurity such as spiritual cancer like we mentioned earlier?

Forgetting about the concept of blogs, the fact that the word Nidah as in the name of the LAST Talmudic tractate is the same Gematria as the word NET as the internet seems to show that it would be at the LAST or end stage of exile right before our upcoming redemption that we would be using something called the internet - net for short. In fact, I wondered some 20 years ago how will everyone know where all their relatives and friends will be when the Messiah comes and there is a sudden rush of everyone coming to Israel. But now that the internet which includes E-mail has appeared, the answer is now obvious. Even for those who don't use the internet and thus do not have an E-mail address, other relatives and friends can communicate using E-mail tracking down the non-internet users. Hence, the internet is indeed a means of preparing the world for the era of the Messiah, and as it states about the Messianic era in the Bible, there will be a time that no one will need to teach one another because everyone will KNOW Hashem; and hence, the internet is indeed a taste of this.

The bottom line is that the internet is really a double edged sword. And this concept is nothing new. The Rabbis state that the Torah is a double edged sword - either a potion of life for those who learn and use the Torah properly; or G-d forbid, it can serve as poison for those who don't learn the Torah for the right reason or don't use the Torah properly by doing things that make people not like the Torah or not want to be observant Jews. Hence, we have to realize that whether it is something that Hashem Himself created or allowed others to create it, one has to realize that virtually everything in this world can be used for good or evil. The fact that something could be used for evil doesn't mean that it can't be used. Hashem gives us free choice for the tools that He gave us to serve Him properly. True there will be those who will eat food to stuff their faces, but this doesn't make food a terrible thing to eat, because there are others who eat food to survive while having in mind that they can serve Hashem easier with the strength they will have from eating the food.

The internet is really no different. It can be used either for the greatest good or the greatest evil. There may be times that for some, as well as for children, the internet indeed may not be a good thing to use at all. However, Hashem allowed modern technology to be created for the SPECIFIC PURPOSE OF SERVING HIM. Why is it that only now within the last few hundred years we have new technologies that weren't around for over 5,000 years? The answer is that Hashem is preparing the world for the Messianic Era, and various new tools have appeared on the scene to help facilitate the world towards this Era.


In the last section of Parshat Beshalach what we just read this past Shabbat, Amalek comes out of no where and starts up with the Jewish people; upon which, Joshua fights this nation until it is defeated. Following this, Hashem tells Moses to "write this as a rememberance in a book"
(Exodus 17:8-16).

Now mind you, we don't see that Hashem telling Moses after every Mitzva or event to write it down in a book. But this is one of the few times that we see that Moses wrote something down on the spot, even though it would only be at the end of 40 years in the desert that Moses finally wrote a complete Sefer Torah. So why this time?

The place where this war took place was in a place that is called Rephidim. In Hebrew, it comes from a word which means weak. The Midrash tell us that since the Jews were weak from the Torah, Amalek was able to come and attack them. Now mind you, this was only like a week before the Torah was given? So, even if the Jews had some Mitzvot from Hashem already, the Torah was not yet official. Why were they then held responsible.

The truth is that the Jews knew Torah since Abraham the first Jew. While the Torah was not officially given, they still were held to a certain standard as they already became an official nation with the Exodus. Interestingly, the Mitzva of recounting the story of the Exodus is called Sippur Yetziat Mitzrayim - the word Sippur meaning saying the story or recounting, and is related to the word Sefer/book. Similarly, the period between the 1st day of Passover/the Exodus and Shavuot/Giving of the Torah is called the Sephira, when we count 49 days just as the Jews did before receiving the Torah. The word Sephira/counting is also related to the word Sefer/book.
In any case, a reason given for the Jews counting seven weeks of seven days each towards the big moment of receiving the Torah was because they were like a Nidah who also counts seven clean days of not seeing blood before entering a Mikvah to become pure for her husband once again, since the Jews were in the midst of shedding their impurity that they acquired from Egypt.

In more recent times, the Jews have been called the "People of the Book" - Am HaSefer. In contrast, Amalek consists of two words using its same letters - Am Kal - a nation that curses or makes light of (fun out of). Amalek was the first nation to attack the Jews shortly after the Exodus and the splitting of the Reed Sea after which the whole world was afraid to attack the Jews, even if they still had hatred for them. But Amalek, as descendants of the evil Esau, and hence from Isaac, ancestor of the Jewish nation, had tremendous hatred for its cousins; thus, their hatred for the Jews was way beyond whatever initial fears it may have had, and was determined to chop down this new formed nation at all costs.

It's too bad that Amalek's ancestor Esau blew it when he sold the birthright to his brother Jacob.
But their ancestor outright rejected and made fun out of the contents of "The Book". Hence, this nation, more than anyone else, knew of the contents of the Torah, as we see that an Amalekite descendant Haman knew quite a bit of Jewish history, including the month of Moses' passing, which is not mentioned in the Written Torah. However, not only did this nation not choose to join the winning side in hope of being able to join as descendants of Isaac, but chose to openly dare to fight this Jewish nation, and be rid of them for once and all, when all the other nations were still afraid to start up.

It was at this that Hashem told Moshe to write this down, as Rashi notes as to what exactly Hashem told Moshe to write. It would be a matter of time until this Amalekite nation would be rid of, but for the meantime, writing information in a book on the spot would ensure that the Jews would not forget to take care of getting rid of this evil nation as soon as possible.

Based on this verse about writing the story of Amalek in a book among other verses, Esther asked the sages of her time to consider her Book of Esther about the events of Haman, descendant of Amalek, attempting to rid the Jews, as part of the Tnach. In time, not only did it make it in the Bible Book of Records, it is an obligation to read this Book every Purim. Indeed, the word in Hebrew for stories is Sippurim, related to the word Seforim/books - as we mentioned about Sippur Yetziat Mitzrayim, recounting the story of the Exodus - and in this word the remaining part of the word following the Samech is indeed the word Purim!

Indeed, it is Tractate Megilla of the Mishnayot that includes the laws related to the various readings of the Sefer Torah throughout the year. Moreover, the hint to Esther in the Torah - Haster Astir - "I will surely hide My face" is in the verse right before the LAST Mitzvah of the Torah of writing a Sefer Torah! (Deutronomy 31:18-19) And while we are at it, the hint to Haman in the Torah is where it says HaMin HaEitz where Hashem asks Adam about him feeling naked "Isn't it from the tree..." that he had eaten from when he was forbidden to eat from it, and it was on the tree that Haman, descendant of Amalek, prepared to hang Mordechai the Jew that he himself got hung on (see Talmud Chulin 139b). It's interesting to note that the end of Parshat Beshalach about Amalek - whose descendant was Haman who was hung on a tree - which we read this past Shabbat was also Tu B'Shevat this year, and as I had mentioned earlier in this post, we eat fruit on Tu B'Shevat as a rectification of Adam's sin from eating of the Tree of Knowledge. For more information on the concept of writing as it relates to Esther, you can check my last year's blog on Purim #22 - REVEALING TORAH SECRETS.

And REVEALING TORAH SECRETS is one of my goals here besides using Gematriot as a means of helping Jews be better Jews. Actually, revealing Torah secrets is a result of writing down Torah thoughts, because while saying Torah thoughts to other people is also a good thing, but how many will remember them later on, let alone write them down correctly for others to read in the future? While I am at this, I want to quote a few things that rabbis have said on this subject that I just came across in a certain Sefer unexpectedly this past Shabbat.

Rabbi Eliyahu HaCohen from Izmir in Shevet Mussar 22:15 - "One will have to give an accounting in Heaven for Torah thoughts that he should have written down but didn't, even if they didn't seem to be significant things to him. Therefore, one needs to write down all Chiddushim/new Torah thoughts that occur to him so he shouldn't forget them, even if it is a petty Chiddush. Through writing them, they will never be forgotten, and will accompany him upon his passing".

The Maharsha on the Talmud Bava Batra 10b: "The reason that the sages are called Sofrim/scribes is because learning that makes an impression is what is written down".

Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer in B'Derech Eitz HaChaim: "When it says in Pirkei Avot/Ethics of the Fathers 2:2 - "All Torah that is not accompanied by work will end off being deserted", in this context, work - which is work of the Torah - is the writing. One should write the words of Torah that come as Chiddushim, his original thoughts. If one does not do so, he is liable to forget the words of Torah that he wants to say".

Various rabbis have pointed out that by writing down Torah, especially as thoughts that come to one's head as one is learning a particular piece of Torah, one will remember the Torah that he learned much better and will understand it easier. Just like the writing gets etched into the paper, so too, the learning which is written down is etched into one's mind.

As a "little" Chiddush, Torah thought that came to my mind, as I had mentioned before about the Sephira, the counting period between the 1st day of Passover and Shavuot, I would like to mention that Parshat Beshalach where Hashem tells Moses to write the story about Amalek in a book in the end of this Parsha is the 16th Parsha. And the Gematria of the name of this Parsha - Beshalach is 340, which also equals the initials of my Hebrew name Shimon Matisyahu - the letters Shin & Mem.

Accordingly, I was born on the 16th day of the Sephira, which is the 1st day of Iyar, the very date which appears twice in the beginning of Sefer Bamidbar/ the BOOK OF NUMBERS, and the Hebrew word for numbers, Misparim - is also related to the word Sefarim/books. It seems that one of my purposes in this world is to write these Gematriot that come to mind that will not only be written down as Torah thoughts which should be done anyways, but will also have the effect of Hora'ah/instruction upon which the word Torah is based, as Torah is an instruction book - both in teaching the Mitzva/commandment or Halacha/law; and in STORY form, not just to tell a nice story, but to learn a lesson from the story, something that Amalek refused to do unlike the other nations, but instead chose to attack the Jews, and so, a story was made out of Amalek, the end result of which will be that this nation will soon be rid of once and for all once the Messiah comes.

As the end of the Haftora for this Parshat Beshalach states: "So may all Your enemies be destroyed, O Hashem!..." (Judges 5:31).

And in our particular situation, our immediate enemy is the Yetzer Hara/Evil Inclination, the angel that attempts to do Aveirot/sins. Our ultimate way of fighting the battle is if we are going to use the internet - that it will be used only for good purposes, for Torah and good deeds, which includes supporting one's family. To avoid being tempted by immodest pictures and all, one can download internet filters to avoid these things the best possible. One way to assure this is or Or, type in Google "free internet filters for children", and you will be on your way to having kosher internet.

16 Shevat 5770

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

#58 - The GRACE of Hashem

When it comes to words like love, peace, harmony, etc. - we can pretty much define the meaning of these words. After all, these kinds of words are used in everyday speech for some people. But, unless you constantly read your Bible, the word GRACE may not be part of your everyday speech. So anyways, what is the definition of grace?

According to the "Free Dictionary" online, the following definitions are offered:
1. Seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion.
2. A characteristic or quality pleasing for its charm or refinement.
3. A sense of fitness or propriety.
a. A disposition to be generous or helpful; goodwill.
b. Mercy; clemency.
5. A favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence.
6. A temporary immunity or exemption; a reprieve.
7. Graces Greek & Roman Mythology Three sister goddesses, known in Greek mythology as Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia, who dispense charm and beauty.
a. Divine love and protection bestowed freely on people.
b. The state of being protected or sanctified by the favor of God.
c. An excellence or power granted by God.
9. A short prayer of blessing or thanksgiving said before or after a meal.
10. Grace Used with His, Her, or Your as a title and form of address for a duke, duchess, or archbishop.
11. Music An appoggiatura, trill, or other musical ornanment in the music of 16th and 17th century England.

Personally, the first three definitions are what I feel define this word the best. I should know because in my dating days (i.e. many wasted years of not being married or having children), some of the women I dated told me that I am a "nice guy" or a "sweetheart", but didn't feel that it would "work out" or had some imaginary strange feelings that supposedly didn't go away. Apparently, at least in their opinion, I didn't have the GRACE that they could be attracted to. You see, if you have this grace, or as it is called in Hebrew in this context Metziat Chen/finding favor or grace in one's eyes, then hardly anything else will matter, even if you are not making as much money as a rocket scientist or neuro-surgeon.

Bearing in mind that more than quite a few today are very picky when it comes to finding love, some fool themselves thinking that if it's a doctor, then they will have no worries in life - especially when it comes to having money. Then, the only factor for a woman deciding which one of two doctors to marry is either which one of them makes at least $10,000 more or if they are both making competitive money, then who is the more "cute guy". But as truly realistic people realize, this is not the way to find true love or grace.


And then there is Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin"Bibi" Netanyahu who spoke yesterday (Wednesday) in Germany speaking in eloquent terms about Israel needing to remember "never again". One hearing him would think that he sounded just like Moses, but in fact, Bibi spoke just the opposite from what Moses preached. For example, he claimed that the IDF is the strongest force that Israel has, when it is really Hashem and keeping His commandments. Bibi also said that we have to remember from the Holocaust that we always need to defend ourselves. Hello, Bibi, that is the whole problem! You are hoping to find grace in the eyes of the world. But guess what? Nobody cares, because everyone hates us Jews! If we wait to defend ourselves, Iran will then attack us, G-d forbid, and it will be a little too late to even fight back, because you will then be busying burying the dead and treating those who became sick or injured from the nuclear attack if you are even alive at that point, let alone be able to move around.

Remember almost 30 years ago when Israel attacked a nuclear plant? Sure, the world screamed at us, but NOT ONE ISRAELI SOLDIER GOT KILLED. This is unlike the other times when Israel waited - because they knew ahead of time that a war was coming - until the Arabs attacked because the United States promised Israel some goodies or threatened not to continue helping if Israel would attack first, and hence, many Israeli soldier casualties resulted which could have been prevented had Israel attacked first - NOT DEFEND itself!

What Israel needs is to be PROACTIVE or OFFENSIVE, and not care what the world will or will not do to or for us. Stop attempting to find grace in the world's eyes! No country will be afraid of Iran just because you are telling the world that Iran is dangerous for everyone, because Iran will butter up everyone else first with money or words, and then will go straight for Israel, G-d forbid. Wake up, Bibi! You are more afraid of the world's reaction than an actual attack from Iran that the world doesn't care about because it is all about attacking Israel. Stop misusing and abusing your plagarized Kahane's & the JDL's slogan of "Never Again", because you have no concept of what this slogan really means!

And your mention of the Kaddish words had no more meaning either because your concept of what the Kadish represents, which is really a sanctification of Hashem's name, is the furthest thing from your political stance which is so called pleasing the non-Jews. The beginning words of the Kaddish is actually based on a verse (Ezekiel 38:23) "And I (Hashem) will be made great, sanctified and known among the nations" which is quoted by Rashi on this very week's Parshat Beshalach in reference to Hashem avenging himself on the Egyptians for chasing the Jews until the Reed Sea. It may sound most politically incorrect, but revenge on non-Jews who seek to hurt us is a very Jewish concept, about which Rabbi Meir Kahane, may G-d avenge his blood, attempted to instill into the Jewish mentality of today, as Rashi begins commenting on the words "I (Hashem) will strengthen Myself against Pharaoh" - "When the Holy One Blessed Be He avenges himself against the wicked, His name is made great and honored".

Bibi, forget about even giving supposed honor to Hashem by your lip service - you can leave the prayers for the rabbis to recite. You want to honor the Jews who perished in the Holocaust? Be honest about it, and just start fighting our enemies; and while you are at it - and not stop a war at midpoint like Olmert did twice - you may even accomplish the safe return of Gilad Shalit which Olmert failed twice to do due to his quick fix of pleasing the wicked nations of today, instead of your most dangerous attempt to release nearly a thousand terrorists from prison, something which is nothing new to you after you failed to have Jonathan Pollard released by releasing a "different" set of terrorists than the original slated terrorists for JP's release; and then Ehud Barak, the Un-Defense Minister when he became Prime Minister after you left office the first time, released the original slated terrorists for the release of JP which never happened, resulting in a total of 650 terrorists being released, and Jonathan Pollard who risked his freedom by helping your country Israel, remained rotting in a United States prison.


Today, we will examine the concept of grace from a Torah prospective. As it relates specially to this post, the Hebrew word for grace - Chen - is the Gematria of 58, as this is my 58th Post. Both the Hebrew and English words are names given to people, and this has been a very useful product throughout the centuries, beginning with Biblical days. For example, the very last verse of the first Parsha of the Chumash - Parshat Bereishit - is "Noah found grace in the eyes of Hashem" (Genesis 6:8), the first such mention of grace in the Bible. Hardly surprising then, Noah's name in Hebrew - Noach - can read the word Chen backwords. In Noah's case, grace was most useful, because according to the Midrash, even the righteous Noah was meant to have been destroyed along with the rest of the then evil mankind, but since Noah had this grace, Hashem spared him and his immediate family. (Additionally, the names Chanan, Chananya, Chanina, and Chana/Hanna are all based on the word Chen).

We see that this grace helped the Jews more than once when it came to being treated right by the Egyptians. First, Joseph found grace in the eyes of his Egyptian master following being sold as a slave thanks to his jealous brothers, and was trusted to be appointed over his master's affairs. And then in last week's Parshat Bo, the Jews found favor in the eyes of the Egyptians when the Jews requested goodies from them, and received twice the amount of what they asked for (see Rashi on this). In fact, the verse continues to inform us that even Moses - who had come time and again to warn the Egyptians of impending punishment which they received - was well respected by Pharaoh's servants and the Egyptian nation.

Now think for a moment. Who cares what the Egyptians thought of us or Moses for that matter? They only did anything for us only once they felt defeated and didn't want the rest of their nation to die once all the firstborn died. But the Torah wants to teach us that grace and respect isn't necessarily bought by doing the popular or cool thing. Whatever honor one receives for being "politically correct" is only momentary, and will disappear the moment that the politician will say or do something that people don't like, and then he will soon disappear from history and won't be remembered or known by the next generation except for his immediate family, unless he was a former president, vice president or governor. However, one with high moral values who doesn't compromise or bend to the momentary pressures of what will make everyone happy if it really isn't right may at first feel challenged, even to the point of being thrown into prison; however, he will alway be remembered for what he stood for, even hundreds of years later.

Moses of all people could have had it easy. He of all Jews was raised in Pharaoh's palace, and while he certainly wasn't expected to turn against his own people in favor of the Egyptians, nobody told him to help a Jew who was beat up by an Egyptian taskmaster or prevent a fight among Jews. Being nearly executed, Moses fled Egypt, not to be seen again for some 40 years, and then returned to Egypt to face Pharaoh with his continous warnings of punishments which came true with no fear of being imprisoned or executed. His words always came true, though they weren't the type of promises that politians speak for popularity or monetary gain. Yes, Moses indeed earned the respect of the Egyptian nobility and populace, not because he needed it, but the fact that the Torah tells us this shows that we need to always speak the truth and not be afraid to say it - especially in the face of tempting temporary gain. And for words of truth without fear (besides my blogs of course), turn to

At this point, I would like to point out that my wife's full Hebrew name Yael Miriam can be found in this week's Haftara & Parsha respectively. Yael is a hero as depicted in the Haftara taking the courage to kill Sisera, the chief general of the army which came to fight Israel; and Miriam as the sister of Aaron, is mentioned for the very first time in the Chumash in this week's Parshat Beshalach. Incidentally, this coming Shabbat, which is also called Shabbat Shira - the Shabbat of the Song (named after the song sang following the crossing of the Reed Sea) - also coincides with Tu B'Shevat - the New Year of Trees - in our first year of marriage.

There is another place in the Bible where the name Yael is mentioned, but in a little different context. It reads like this - Ayelet Ahavim V'Ya'alat Chen - "A beloved hind INSPIRING GRACE" (Proverbs 5:19). The word Ya'alat over here is cognate of the word/name Yael, the root word of which means going up, being elevated, such as the word Aliyah, which is used in reference to both moving to Israel and being called for a reading to the Torah in synagogue, as both of these things are spiritual elevations. Hence, being translated as inspiring, this means that this "hind" is inspiring, or in other words, having a positive influence on others to feel elevated spiritually through the vehicle of grace. Rashi comments on this phrase that just as a hind remains beloved to her mate, the Torah is most beloved by those who study it. Hence, the Torah elevates others who study it, helping them to have grace in Hashem's eyes.

Now, fastforwarding to the Likutei Moharan, Chasidic teachings from Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, this phrase is the very first Biblical verse mentioned in his work following an introductory verse. The first paragraph reads like this:

"Know that through the Torah, all prayers and requests that we request and pray are accepted, and the GRACE and importance of Jews are elevated and raised up in front of all those who are in need of spiritual or physical matters. For these days with our many sins, the GRACE and true importance of Jews fell, as now the main importance and GRACE can be found with non-Jews. However, through Torah, the GRACE and importance of Jews are elevated, for the Torah is called "a beloved hind inspiring GRACE" (Proverbs 5:19), which elevates GRACE on those who learn the Torah (Talmud Eruvin 54b). Through this, all the prayers and requests are accepted." (Likutei Moharan 1:1)

This first chapter in Likutei Moharan examines the ingredients of this Chen/grace, as its Hebrew letters consisting of Cheit & Noon represent the concepts of wisdom and kingship respectively. In any case, the Midrash Zuta mentions that King Solomon called the Torah with 70 names (NOTE: this Hebrew year 5770 ends with the number 70), among which is the name Ya'alat Chen/Inspiring Grace. Perhaps Rabbi Nachman was hinting to the first half of his own name, having the same letters as the word Chen, like Noach's name.

Speaking of prayers, the prayers or blessings that we recite following eating a meal consisting of bread are called Bircat HaMazon - mentioned in my previous post - , which is typically translated in English as Grace after Meals, consistent of the ninth of the above definitions of grace. While one may be wondering why it's typically not translated as Blessings of the Food, you don't have to go far to understand why the translation of Bircat HaMazon is associated with grace. The words shortly after the beginning of this blessing reads, "The One who feeds the entire universe with His goodness, GRACE, kindness and mercy". While one may be wondering why it is specifically the word grace that got to be picked up being used as the definition of these blessings, after what I wrote in this post about grace, one will realize that grace is the ticket that lets you in the door to receive what you want, even if at times we are not all that worthy.

Small wonder then that the main student of Rabbi Nachman, known as Rabbi Nosson of Nemirov(whose birthday is Tu B'Shevat on this coming Shabbat), in the very first chapter of his respective work called Likutei Halachot, a Chasidic commentary on the entire Shulchan Aruch/Code of Jewish Law, he points out the importance of a Jew finding the Nekuda Tova, the good point(s) among himself/herself, even if most of his behavior or religious way of life is most wanting of improvement. Hence, one will not only be encouraged to live as a better Jew, rather than giving up on trying to be better; but also, it helps one to establish a better connection with Hashem, thus being the GRACE & IMPORTANCE (as mentioned in the first paragraph of Likutei Moharan) that we need for Hashem to give us what we request, even if we are far from worthy compared to many others.

Sometimes, it is one thing that a person does that makes so much of a difference to others, and for some is the winning ticket to the Garden of Eden Eternal Hall. For example, making a Kiddush Hashem, Sanctification of Heaven's Name, by doing an act which will inspire other Jews to be better Jews, to show them what the purpose of living in this world is all about. Unfortunately, too many Jews gave up their lives, but had done so making a Kiddush Hashem, when faced with a choice between converting to another religion or giving up their lives. Many simple, ignorant Jews passed the test, dying for the sake of Hashem, realizing what the main purpose in life is - because without doing what Hashem wants, everything else is meaningless, as it is the next world that counts the most, since our reward will be basking in Hashem's glory with the righteous - forever.

13 Shevat 5770

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

#57 - Eat 2 Live or Live 2 Eat

To those living in the United States, the number 57 is a very familiar number. Perhaps some will not think immediately as to why it is a little more than just another number, but the mention of Heinz ketchup will ring a bell. Apparently, the high profile ketchup company markets itself on having 57 varieties of products.

Perhaps this is most representive of the plentifullness and varieties of food (which will soon be a distant reality for most in the States) that can be found in the United States culture. Long gone are the days when it was for the most part a loaf of bread, a bit of produce, and basic condiments such as salt and sugar. While we made sure in my previous post that the primitive half-clothed caveman wouldn't starve after a hard long day of hunting animals, few today know what the word "enough" means.

And so today in my post, the number 57 as the number of this post will attempt to keep things in perspective, at least for the observant Jew who should know not to just take things for granted - even if ketchup is a daily staple in his/her diet.

In my previous post, I mentioned the Tribe of Asher in relationship to the Torah, particular to the Mishna, the foundation of the Oral Torah, as Asher son of Jacob waits by the gates of Purgatory, and prevents those who have learned Mishna, whose very first word Me'imatai is the Gematria of Asher's name - 501. In presenting this, I quoted the verse of Jacob's blessing for Asher in relationship to oil. As Asher is the Tribe that corresponds to this present month of Shevat, it was on the first day of this month that Moses began his series of final discourses that comprises the Book of Deutronomy, which is also called Mishneh Torah.

Unlike all of the other tribes who have a corresponding month, Asher is the only one who was also born during the month that he corresponds to. While I have seen more than one date listed as his birth - 2 Shevat or 20 Shevat - I believe it is the 2nd of Shevat. The reason that I say this is based on how the letters of the Alef Beit are shaped. You see, the letters Beit=2 & Kaf=20 look somewhat similiar. The difference is that unlike the Kaf which is a circular letter, the letter Beit has an indent on the bottom right of it. Now, the problem is that when people copied information in the pre-printing days, mistakes were the norm. It seems that perhaps the Beit was not clearly written well enough to distinguish from the circular Kaf, and so in time, the date of 20 Shevat as Asher's birth was written. However, a circular letter as a Kaf would be hard to mistaken, since there is no need to make any indentation mark that may not be written well. Hence, it seems to me that the correct date would be 2 Shevat, but that the letter Beit was not written indented well and could have easily been mistaken to read a Kaf when copied over; but the other way around would be virtually impossible.

I also have a personal reason for why I say this. You see, the 2nd day of Shevat was the 36th day from my wedding day of 26 Kislev - the 2nd day of Chanuka. Besides the connection of the "2nd day" between the two dates, the number 36 as it relates to Chanuka are the number of mandatory candles lit for the Menorah (besides the eight serving candles that light their respective night's candles). The prefered way of lighting the Chanuka Menorah is using olive oil, which was the special item that Asher, whose birthday is 2 Shevat, possessed in his inherited part of the Land of Israel. In fact, in other years when there are only 29 days in Kislev, the month which begins Chanuka, the date of 2 Shevat indeed is the 36th day from 25 Kislev - the 1st day of Chanuka. But in any case, what distinguishes the 2nd day of Chanuka from the rest of the days, is that it was particularly on the 2nd day after the Maccabbees lit the Menorah on the day before, that it was first evident that a miracle was happening being that they put only enough olive oil in the Menorah to last for one day. Hence, whatever way you look at it, there is a unique connection between Asher's birthdate and Chanuka. This is also bearing in mind that it is the beginning of the 36th Parsha of the Torah - Beha'alotcha - the conclusion of the Torah reading on the last day of Chanuka - that speaks of the Menorah that Aharon, ancestor of the Maccabees, lit, which could only be lit with the purest olive oil.

There is a practical difference between the original Menorah of the Tabernacle/Temple and the Chanuka Menorah. While today's Menorah consists of eight candles, the Menorah of the House of G-d consisted of seven candles. The number of this post is 57, which are the Hebrew letters Noon & Zayin; and in turn, are the beginning letters of the words Zayin Neirot - seven candles, which was what the Menorah that the Maccabbees lit consisted of.

Well now, it is a few days after 2 Shevat (I could't write this post sooner); but as we are in the month corresponding to Asher, perhaps we can make some kind of play with today's date of 5 Shevat.

At the end of the Book of Leviticus, it mentions the process of the Mitzva/Commandment of Ma'aser Beheima "Animal Tithes". As the Mishna details, the herdsman allowed the herd to leave the gated area one by one, and as every 10th animal was walking out, he patted it with red paint so he would know which 10 percent of the animals were to be designated as tithes. Anyways, the verse reads: Kol Asher (literally means what or that, but could also hint to the Tribe of Asher who is connected with the month of Shevat) Ya'avor Tachas HaShavet "whatever passes under THE STICK" (Leviticus 27:32). In Hebrew, the word for "the stick" which was used to apply red paint to every 10th animal is HaShevet. You can read this word as Hei=5 (the letter) Shevet, which is today's date.

The ultimate idea of tithes was that everything belongs to Hashem, and so even if one worked very hard to maintain his animals and spent much time and resources feeding and nurturing them, he still had to remember that really, he is only an employer in this world doing what Hashem wants. Of course he was entitled to have benefit from his livestock, but the way it worked with tithes is that either they were given to Cohanim, Levites, the poor, or designated food to be eaten by the owner only in the city of Jerusalem.

Ultimately, we have to remember that really WE are the ones under THE STICK of Hashem, and that our only justification of being above the animals is that we are actively serving Hashem; otherwise, we are far lower than the animals. At least these kosher animals after all is said and done are being used for the purpose of various Mitzvot/Commandments, even if the animals themselves don't know about serving Hashem. And just like at a moment's notice, the designated animal that is painted red will soon be a sacrifice to Hashem, Hashem chooses who will soon be leaving this world, which is not always dependent on how long we have been in this world. Indeed, although we are not now during the High Holiday season, this reminds us of the prayer called "Un'Taneh Tokef" in which we recall how we pass by like animals in the field for Hashem to count every single one of us when our fate is sealed for the better or worse on Rosh Hashana
or Yom Kippur.

Another way to remind us of our ultimate mission in life - that is, living for the right purpose of serving Hashem, rather than living for our pleasures of which eating is the most basic one - is through the use of Gematria. Now notice that I did not say - "our ultimate mission in life is eating to live". While as in the title of this post - eating to live is far better than living to eat, it's not the eating itself that accomplishes what needs to be done - eating just helps one have the energy to accomplish his/her mission, no less important than spending time stopping by to pump some gas or fuel in the car to allow one to continue driving on the road for work or home.

In Kabbalistic sources, we see that when Hashem created the world, it wasn't just a bunch of magical words that created everything in this world. Actually, Hashem pronouncing words is what actually created everything, but the mechanism behind this were the Alef Beit used in Creation. For example, when Hashem created stone, He created it using the letter of the Alef Beit that is the Hebrew word for stone - Even, consisting of Alef, Beit/Veit, Noon. It was these letters through Hashem's will that created stone, and these letters are its vitality that allows it to continue existing.

In another aspect, there is a purpose of us - particular Jews - eating food in this world. While for non-Jews who will simply not live if they don't eat, we Jews can actually accomplish spiritual things by eating the food in a few different ways. First of all, the food does give us the energy to do Hashem's Mitzvot. Secondly, saying Berachot/blessings before and after eating involve praising Hashem for the food and keeping us in line reminding us that everything we eat and own really belongs to Hashem but that He grants us things for the sole purpose of serving Hashem. Thirdly, the eating itself can accomplish spiritual things, and to this, there is more than one aspect.

In Kabbalah, we see that there are sparks which sometimes includes reincarnates of people in the food; and eating the food, especially when we say the blessing on the food which helps most when having Kavana/concentration on the words of the blessing, helps "redeem" these sparks or reincarnates of people who have to be atoned for. And then regarding Shabbat, there is a special aspect of eating on this holy day that helps honor enhance Oneg Shabbat/pleasure of Shabbat; and hence, buying extra delicious food is part of honoring the Shabbat. Now, part of this is that we enjoy Shabbat ourselves by eating tasty food, even as we see in the Talmud & Shulchan Aruch/Code of Jewish Law that there were various rabbis who prepared different things on Friday in honor of Shabbat, including the food; and also that we are supposed to even taste the food that we cooked for Shabbat beforehand to make sure that they were cooked good. But even with all this, we have to have in mind that we are honoring Shabbat, and of course honoring Hashem. This is not to mention that there is also a special aspect of eating on Yom Tov/Jewish holidays, just as Jews used to eat peace-offering sacrifices during Temple times in honor of the holidays.

In fact, just about every single Jewish holiday is distinguished by its own set of food. Passover - Matza, Shavuot - dairy, Rosh Hashana - honey, various fruits and vegetables, symbolizing wishes for a sweet year, Chanuka - latkes or Sufganiyot/jelly donuts in Israel, Purim - hamentaschen. And I almost forgot - we have Tu B'Shevat coming up in a week from Shabbat which is celebrated with eating various fruit, including fruit that we haven't eaten yet this season which requires an extra blessing of Shehecheyanu.

Sometimes, it's a little easy to be carried away with an array of tempting holiday food that puts us in a jovial mood; especially when with family and friends. Some homes may have some 57 different types of food during the course of a holiday meal. But one does not have to go far. In the first blessing of Bircat HaMazon/Grace after Meals - "for He is a G-d who feeds and sustains everything". The word for feeds in Hebrew is Zan - Zayin, Noon, which is the Gematria of 57.

Aside from the blessings before and after a meal, there are those who have a custom to say Psalm 23 at the meal, especially on Shabbat. I don't think too many people need any kind of introduction for this most famous psalm, which is most known to Christians, and is also recited in the prayer services of one's hardest moments in life followed the passing of one's beloved relative. As a most universal prayer, King David views G-d as One who takes care of him, even in some most trying moments in life.

In this psalm, there are 57 words and 227 letters (I am referring to Hebrew of course). As far as the number 227 is concerned, this is the Gematria of the word Beracha/blessing. No doubt that this psalm is the bridge between the food and the blessings.

Speaking of blessings, the very first tractate of the Mishna & Talmud is called Berachot/Blessings, which I touched upon in my previous post. As the very first tractate, it is the blessings, thanking Hashem for all that He gives us, that first and foremost remind us of Hashem, and then we can be in a proper frame of mind when doing all of Hashem's other Mitzvot. But if this were not enough, there are 57 Mishnayot - paragraphs of the Mishna in this very first tractate of nine chapters. More specifically, Chapters 6-8 deal almost exclusively with the blessings on food, taking up on third of the Mishnayot and pages of the Talmud in this tractate. While the earlier part of the tractate deals with the reading of the Shema and daily prayers, perhaps it is the blessings on food that is the ultimate merge between the spiritual and the physical as is Psalm 23 which consists of 57 words and the amount of letters that equals the word Beracha/blessing (227).

Speaking of the word Beracha, the last of the 54 Parshiyot of the Chumash is called V'Zot HaBeracha, which is sometimes called Beracha for short. Hence, where the Chumash, the foundation of the Torah She'Bichtav/Written Torah which consists of the 613 Mitzvot leaves off with the word of Beracha, is where the Oral Torah, the detailed explanation of the 613 Mitzvot, picks up with the theme of Berachot.

I had mentioned in the past that this last Parsha of the Chumash consists of 41 verses in a different context. Well, the number 41 is the Gematria of Eim/Mother, and it is the mother who physically nurtures the baby to be a grown up adult - both as a pregnant woman and then as a nursing woman, continuing her household chores as Chef Mommy. Hence, this last Parsha called Beracha also hints to the concept of food, as evidenced by some of the blessings that Moses gave to the Tribes mentioning food in relationship to the Land of Israel that the Tribes would soon conquer and inherit.

And so on this note, we are getting to the blessing for the Tribe of Asher. Both in Moses' blessing & in Jacob's blessing, the concept of food most relates to Asher - particularly through the concept of oil, representing richness which was a blessing that this tribe had. In Jacob's blessing, "From Asher will his food be richly saturated, and he will provide dainties of a king". The word king in Hebrew is Melech, which is the Gematria of 90, and kabbalistically, the letter that represents this birth month of Asher which corresponds to his Tribe is Tzadi, which is the number 90. Indeed, we say in the beginning of almost every blessing - Baruch Atah Hashem Elokeinu Melech Haolam "...KING of the world".

Speaking of the letter Tzadi, it is the 18th letter of the Alef Beit. And as the verse that is recited - in the midst of the thrice daily recital of the Ashrei prayer (Psalm 145) - which according to Halacha/Jewish Law if recited without concentration, is repeated from that verse on, states: Poteiach Et Yadecha U'Masbia L'Chol Chai Ratzon - "You open Your hand and satisfy the wants of all living things" (verse 16), the word Chai/living is the number 18. Moreover, the letter Tzadi itself is etymologically related to the word Tzad/hunt (yes, we know this is what the caveman does to survive) which is related to food when one kills an animal to eat.

And the name of the heavenly food that the Jews ate in the desert for 40 years was called Man/manna (it seems that this is root word of the word money) which is the Gematria of 90, one of the topics of next week's Parshat Beshalach, which is always read in this month of Shevat. In fact, there are those who recite this part in the Torah about the manna (Exodus 16:4-36) every day as a Segula/assurance for Parnassa - making an ample living, having in mind that it is Hashem who provides us with sustenance. It was at the time when the manna first fell down that Moses composed the basic text of the first blessing of Bircat HaMazon/Grace after Meals in which most versions of this text include the above verse of Poteiach Et Yadecha.

Now in the first part of the above verse of Asher's blessing, the Hebrew word for oily, fatty, or richly saturated is Shemeina, having the same letters as Mishna, as we mentioned as a special connection to Asher. Now, in the physical sense, the word Parnassa/sustenance or making a living, is the same Gematria as Mishna (395)! In this sense, the Tribe of Asher is the bridge between Mishna study and making a rich living that will allow one to continue learning Torah with ease if he does not let his work get to his head (remember, the word head in Hebrew - Rosh, has the same letters as Asher!). And along these lines, the word Pat/bread has the same Gematria as Talmud (480). Hence, we see from here that everything in the physical realm has its counterpart in the spiritual realm.

This is reminiscent of two other Tribes of which I spoke of in the past regarding a partnership of Torah study. Yissaschar was the brother-tribe who learned Torah all day, and his brother or fellow tribe Zevulun supported Yissaschar, so Yissaschar could continue his Torah learning. This meant that Zevulun would share 50% of Yissaschar's reward for Torah study (though a Jew following in Zevulun's lead still at least needs to learn Halacha/Jewish law that will teach him how to live a Torah way of life despite his work schedule).

And thinking of this week's Parshat Bo, one cannot help but notice that there are at least two Mitzvot that involve eating - eating the Passover sacrificial lamb and eating Matza, both of which were/are obligatory on the first night of Passover (outside of Israel, a second Seder which includes eating Matza is performed on the second night of Passover as well), along with the Maror/bitter herbs which was/is a kind of a supplement to the Passover meal. Here you have it - carbohydrates, protein and vegetation, most of one's daily sustenance for a well balanced meal.

But don't wait for the last day to start buying Passover food. Today, I bought special Kosher for Passover food for my wife's cat. According to the Torah, one is forbidden on Passover to even own Chametz - leavened food/products - even if one himself/herself is not able to eat it, but an animal can eat it. Only if it is spoiled enough that even a dog cannot eat it (sorry, no dogs in my place!), then one does not transgress the prohibition of owning Chametz on Passover.

5 Shevat 5770

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

#56 - TIME 4 Redemption

Imagine if we would be living on a desert island without anyone else but ourselves as the only person. How would we ever know about the various units of time - day, week, month, year?How would we know on our own as to how to classify a unit of time?

Perhaps if we would have a little patience and we were fascinated by the moon, we would see a monthly cycle of how the moon appears growing larger and then disappears as it is shrinking in size. If we would have even greater patience, we would see and feel a yearly cycle of changing seasons.

However, in terms of living a daily life of hunting for food, eating and sleeping, it would be the day of what civilization knows as 24 hours that would be the most practical way of measuring time, because this would be associated with the most basic element of survival - food. While sightseeing the moon would be a nice hobby, it wouldn't serve any practicality other than perhaps a little light, but one would feel safer inside his cave from the wild animals at night. Hunting for animal hides would be a yearly chore to protect one from the cold, but they would be useless in the summer. However, with the sun shining, or at least even if it rains it's not dark like it is at night - it wouldn't take long for the caveman to realize that it is the unit of day - with the daily cycle of the daytime consisting of natural light useful to hunt for food, and the nighttime being useful for sleeping, that is the most important unit of time.

Believe it or not, the half clothed primitive caveman seems to have far more common sense than people in the United States who used to live the American dream (the numbers of such people will be less and less as the years go on with non-born American citizen, a.k.a. President Obama permanently ruining the United States' economy) who have looked forward to do their yearly Christmas shopping only to bankrupt their pockets and lives to make a bunch of people happy most of whom could hardly care for their yearly gifts. It's only once they see the big number - at least in the four digits, that they face reality only to stuff that particular monthly credit card statement in their pockets not wanting to think that they are not living a dream except a dream of fantasies that are way beyond their affordable budget.

Speaking in terms of Torah, all units of time are very significant because all of them deal heavily with Halacha/Jewish Law - daily prayers, Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh, yearly holidays. However, the immediate survival as a Jew is in daily living - recital of the Shema twice daily, prayers three times a day, blessings on food, other necessities of life, sights and sounds. What I just described here comprises the very first Mishnaic & Talmudic Tractate Berachot, the name of which means blessings; as well as a good chunk of the first part of the first of the four sections of the Shulchan Aruch/Code of Jewish Law - Orach Chaim, which means the path of living. It's only after this that the Mishna and the Jerusalem Talmud dedicate the rest of their first volume to the laws of agriculture followed by the laws of Shabbat, and the Babylonian Talmud and Code of Jewish Law continue straight with the laws of Shabbat; and then all these Jewish works continue with the laws of Rosh Chodesh or Jewish holidays.

At this point, I would like to mention that my focus of the various units of time in this post is on the day, and the Hebrew word for day is Yom which is the Gematria of 56, and this is my 56th post.

Among the earlier laws of the Orach Chaim section of the Code of Jewish Law, it speaks of the daily obligation of learning Torah. Various rabbis offer preferences as to what should be learned, especially if one is pressed for time. However, for the serious Torah scholar, no daily session of learning goes by without studying the meat of Jewish learning and foundation of the Code of Jewish Law - the Talmud, which is the detailed explanation of the laws in the Mishna - dealing with the source of the laws in the Torah/Chumash, their reasons, how to learn out what the correct law is, the varying opionions with their logical explanations behind those opinons, etc. Aside from the aspect of laws, a significant percentage of the Talmud consists of explanations of events in the Bible, moral and ethical lessons, and other fascinating "trivia". Hence, one who is not so fascinated with one part of the Talmud won't be too bored for long, and will appreciate the Torah for what it is consisting of many different facets of learning.

Today, there are countless schedules of Torah learning - from the Bible to the Talmud to Jewish Law. They may be in a list, in a calendar, or can be found on the internet. However, aside from the yearly Chumash and weekly or monthly Psalms, few other learning schedules existed before a 100 years ago.

What seems to have broken the ice is the concept of Daf Yomi, the (double sided) daily page of the Talmud - particularly the Babylonian Talmud, which takes seven years and a few months to complete to learn 2,711 pages. This was instituted by Rabbi Meir Shapiro, and began on Rosh Hashana 5684/1923. Today, there is hardly an Orthodox synagogue that does not have a schedule of learning Daf Yomi, or some class on the Talmud.

Normally, when we quote the Talmud, we are referring to the Babylonian Talmud, compiled in ancient Babylonia/Iraq which was by far the more popular of the two types of Talmud. Ironically, while the Jerusalem Talmud was composed at an earlier time, and is relatively shorter (though it is believed that there was much more that was composed but was lost), it didn't gain nearly the same attention, except for the attention of the bigger Torah scholars. If one were to compare the two Talmuds, he will see that the Jerusalem Talmud has harder language to understand, and being that it wasn't learned all so much, many writing/printing mistakes crept up and remained over a millenium of years.

Interesting enough, while it is called the Jerusalem Talmud, it was not even written in Jerusalem, but in Tiberias. Yet, it was called the Jerusalem Talmud in honor of Jerusalem that the rabbis hoped to live in once again with the rebuilt Temple. This was also keeping in line with the verse "Torah will issue from Zion, and the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:3).

Bearing in mind that for so many centuries, most Jews in Europe and Middle East countries were poor, few could hardly afford a big library, and few copies of the Jerusalem Talmud could be found amidst copies of the far more popular Babylonian Talmud in the local Shteitel. Yet, all through the centuries, there were those few rabbis who attempted to make sense of what the Jerusalem Talmud has to say.

In modern times, many more Jews became much more affluent - especially in the United States, many Jews from non-observant homes became observant with a thirst for Jewish learning, and various modern technologies have been quite helpful in aiding a beginning student to learn Torah, especially the Talmud in the form of Daf Yomi - starting with audio cassettes, moving on to telephones, and moving fast forward to the internet. This is besides more modern translations of the Talmud in book form in English - the most understandable and comprehensive being the Artscroll translation (refer to Five years ago, the team working on this project celebrated the completion of this most important Jewish work after 15 years of studious labor, consisting of 73 book volumes - both in bigger and smaller sizes. (I have the complete set in the smaller size).

Getting back to learning schedules, there are daily schedules regimens of study in the Bible, Mishna, Talmud, Zohar, Code of Jewish Law, Mishne Torah of Maimonides, Chasidic & ethical works, etc. Few have the time, money, expertise, and willpower to learn all of these things based on the written suggestion of learning for any one day.

With this being said, one would wonder if there is a daily schedule of learning the Jerusalem Talmud like there is for the Daf Yomi of the Babylonian Talmud. Even if there is such a thing, how relevant could it be if one barely has time to learn the daily Daf/double sided page of the Babylonian Talmud?

Yes, my friends. There is such a thing. But while the Jerusalem Talmud was composed before its counterpart, it took some 56 years, four months and two weeks from the original Daf Yomi -until daily learning of it by few more than seasoned Talmudic scholars would begin on Tu B'Shvat 5740/1980, instituted by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Alter, the 5th Gerrer Rebbe, also known by the title of his work, Lev Simcha. No doubt that many of his Chasidim or followers learn what is now known as the Daf Yomi of the Jerusalem Talmud, but now coming close to 30 years since, there has been quite a bit of a revolution and revival of learning this almost forgotten Talmud. Aside from tractate Shekalim which is included in the Daf Yomi of the Babylonian Talmud as the latter Talmud doesn't include this tractate, only now are the Jerusalem Talmud's pages getting to be a little more familiar. Five years ago, the Artscroll team wasted no time continuing on straight from finishing the Babylonian Talmud to starting translation on the Jerusalem Talmud. Various tractates have already appeared, including the first two Mishnaic Tractates of Berachot & Peah.

In terms of learning this via the internet - turn to You can listen for free to taped English lessons of the Jerusalem Talmud. Slowly but maturely, the "word of the L-rd from Jerusalem" is spreading.

So nu, what is the punchline here you may ask? Why am I focusing particularly about the Jerusalem Talmud in this post?

Well my friends, as I am writing this, tonight begins the 8th cycle of the Daf Yomi of the Jerusalem Talmud - 17 days shy of 30 years ago when it began on Tu B'Shvat and on a Shabbat, as it will also occur as this year. (On a personal note, today's date beginning the 8th cycle of this Daf Yomi instituted by the Gerrer Rebbe known as the Lev Simcha, is the 32nd day from my wedding which took place on the 26th of Kislev. The Gematria of Lev/heart is 32, besides representing the part of the body that represents love which no doubt is the word in English that is based on the Hebrew word for heart. And there is a special Mitzva in the first year of marriage for a husband to give Simcha/happiness to his wife. This is addition to the fact that the very first Mishna, as learned on this first day, mentions the story of Rabban Gamliel's sons who came back from a Beit HaMishteh - wedding feast - as translated by Tosfos Yom Tov on Mishna Eruvin 8:1)
In terms of this year, there are a couple of very significant points to point out here. Firstly, as the completion of the 7th cycle or the beginning of the 8th cycle nears 30 years of worldwide Jerusalem Talmud Daf Yomi learning, the Mitzva of Talmud Torah is described as Lilmod Torah U'Lelamda - "To learn Torah and to teach it". The Hebrew for both learning and teaching is etymologically related to the word for the Hebrew letter - Lamed, the number for which is the Gematria of 30. As we see in the Talmud, there were sages who reviewed their learning every 30 days. Also today, you have schedules for learning smaller Jewish books to be learned in 30 days, including reciting the Book of Psalms on a monthly basis.

Secondly, we are in the midst of the 43rd year from the liberation of the holiest place on earth - including the Old City of Jerusalem consisting of the Temple area of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, which occured on 28 Iyar 5727, on the 43rd day of the Sefira count from Passover until Shavuot. Considering the fact that the 7th cycle of the Jerusalem Talmud Daf Yomi began on the last day of 5765, the day before Rosh Hashana, the fact that this new cycle of the Jerusalem Talmud occurs in the midst of the 43rd year of the liberation of Jerusalem that took place on the 43rd day of the Sefira - as a four year and four month cycle, sounds to me nothing short of Hashgacha Peratit/Divine Providence!

It's hardly surprising that Hashem allowed it to be one of the Gerrer Rebbes who instituted this learning of Jerusalem Talmud. When one of the previous Gerrer Rebbes who moved to Israel was asked in the earlier days as to why he was supportive of the Zionistic dream of living in Israel when most of the early Zionists were not religious, he replied that Israel is still the Holy Land, and it still retains its holiness. Today, the Gerrer Chasidim are one of the largest Hasidic groups. Also, unlike resistance of serving in the Israeli army from much of the more religious looking groups, there are some Gerrer Chasidim who serve in the Israeli army in following the Torah of wanting to help protect the Jewish people from our ever blood thirsty Arab enemies.

As I had mentioned as per Post #29 about Jerusalem Day & my recent Post #53, the word Gadol/BIG is the Gematria of 43; and on Chanuka, we describe the holiday miracle as a Nes Gadol - "A BIG miracle". And as it is beginning of the 8th cycle of Jerusalem Talmud Daf Yomi in this 43rd year from the events of Jerusalem Day of the 43rd day of the Sefira, it should be noted that the Maharal of Prague comments that the number eight is a number represents what is
beyond nature describing miracles, which includes the concept of the 8 days of Chanuka, as even Shabbat is still within the realm of the natural weekly cycle of seven days. However, the number eight as it represents the Brit Mila/circumcision that takes place on the 8th day of the baby boy's birth supercedes the Shabbat of the seven day week, on which day the activities of circumcision would otherwise be forbidden if not in the context of a Mitzva or is after the 8th day of the baby boy.

With this being said, it is especially the number eight that represents miracles - that is, Hashem's displays of His actions that are beyond the normal standard of living, even though nature is no less of Hashem's abilities of exercising his show of strength and power. But what this represents is that for special reasons, Hashem will go far beyond what normally happens within the realm of nature to accomplish what would otherwise not normally happen. Indeed, the Jews winning the Six Day War by gaining much territory in Israel - including the holiest area in the world - as a small clan in sharp contrast to 31 million Arabs attempting to drive us to the sea when the world media was talking about the end of the modern state of Israel was no less than one of the BIGGEST miracles that took place in perhaps hundreds of years, and this in front of the whole world much of which was Anti-Semitic.

As a quick reference to this week's Parshat Vaera, the 4th Aliyah as learned by many on the 4th day of the week begins Hashem's wonders and miracles of beginning striking the Egyptians who refused to let the Jewish leave their country. And the day that the Jerusalem Talmud Daf Yomi began in 5740/1980 was Shabbat Parshat Beshalach, when we read of Hashem's final miracles dealing with the Egyptians being given their final blow following chasing the Jews literally to the sea which happened on the 4th day of the week; and upon the Jews exiting the sea and the Egyptians drowning, the Jews sang the Shirat HaYam/Song of the Sea on that momentous Wednesday morning.

Many refer to delving deeply into learning the Talmud as diving into the Yam HaTalmud - "Sea of Talmudic learning". The Torah, as most exemplified by the Talmud, is most deep, and the more one learns it, the more new insights one will gain by learning it seriously on a regular basis.

And what can be said as the all time BIGGEST miracle besides the survival of the Jewish people is the survival of the Talmud, as there were various Talmud burnings by Anti-Semitic Europe at one point of Jewish history. Fires took their toll, but the opposite force of nature - the "Sea of the Talmud" brought out the best of Torah students who had passionate fire within themselves to learn the Talmud amidst great poverty and Anti-Semitism.

And as another connection between Jerusalem Day & the Jerusalem Talmud, just like the miraculous events of Jerusalem Day in 5727/1967 took place on the 4th day of the week, so too does this 8th cycle of the Jerusalem Talmud Daf Yomi begin on the 4th day of the week. I hesitate to say Wednesday begin the Jewish day starts at night, so the 4th day of the week on the Jewish calendar begins on Tuesday night. However, the Shir Shel Yom/Psalm of the day of the week for the 4th day is recited in the Wednesday morning prayers - which is Psalm 94. As I had mentioned in the past, while the (First) Temple was destroyed on a Sunday, the Levites did not sing the usual Psalm 24 for Sunday but Psalm 94. A few words shy of completing this Psalm, the enemies barged in to destroy the Temple.

While it may not have been obvious until today why the Levites found themselves sing a Psalm from a different day of the week except for the fact that under the pressing circumstances of the enemies on the verge of destroying the Temple while fighting the Jews, the Levites may have been confused about what day of the week it was even though it was Shabbat the day before; it seems that since the events of Jerusalem Day when the announcement was made "The Temple Mount is in our hands!" took place on Wednesday, from the very source of announcement of troubles for the Jewish people - as per the contents of Psalm 94 - was the source of salvation that was to take place some 42 years ago in the midst of masses of Jews returning to Israel once again.

Hence, this 8th cycle of Jerusalem Talmud Daf Yomi beginning on THIS SAME DAY OF THE WEEK as the number eight in particular represents the concept of miracles highlights this concept in terms of how Hashem was good to us in recent times after nearly two milleniums of suffering. The fact that Jews have been suffering much in Israel in the last some 42 years is for the most part caused by their own Jewish enemies within the Judenreit government who started capitulating to our Arab enemies from handing control of the holiest area of the world - the Temple Mount, only like a couple of years after the BIGGEST miracle of hundreds if not thousands of years took place. Until this time, it was for the most part troubles from the non-Jews who controlled us both outside and inside of Israel until we had it all in '67 which instilled fear in the Arabs, but Moshe Dayan with his physical and spiritual blindness in his eye coupled with his hatred of authentic Judaism showed goodwill to the Wafti who have since for the most part along with the Kapo/Nazi Jewish police control the Temple Mount on which non-observant Jewish tourists trample on all parts of it in violation of the Torah, while observant Jews who are careful about the parts that are forbidden to be entered due to our impurity from the dead, are forbidden to even bring a prayer book or move their lips that can denote praying in any way; and hence, this control to the Arabs who now had less fear of us thanks to this eventually led to the Yom Kippur War just a few years later.

But perhaps just as great as a phenomena is that this is the FIRST cycle of the Jerusalem Talmud Daf Yomi that that ever began on the 4th day of the week. Now normally in a schedule of learning like for the regular Daf Yomi of the Babylonian Talmud, in the course of seven cycles, each day of the week will have a chance to be the day on which the new cycle begins, unless it was scheduled as such that each cycle will always fall out on the same day of the week. However,
do bear in mind that there is one difference between this schedule of learning Jerusalem Talmud Daf Yomi and schedules suggested for other Jewish works. This Daf Yomi schedule excludes Tisha B'Av & Yom Kippur - the two big fast days of the Jewish calendar. Hence, with a variable of 8-10 days in the midst of the learning cycle that do not include learning for that day, it's possible that within seven cycles, there will be more than one that will start on the same day of the week, as indeed it happened this way. Thus, this is the FIRST TIME EVER that this schedule began on the 4th day of the week. And if this was not enough, the concluding day of this cycle (unless lost Jerusalem Talmud material is discovered after Moshiach comes) will also be on the 4th day of the week, ending on Wednesday - 23 Nissan 5774/2014, which also marks the birthday of the institutor of this Talmud Jerusalem Daf Yomi (unless we base our calendar on the monthly sighting of the moon after Moshiach comes)! Yes indeed, this 8th cycle is the learning cycle that is associated with miracles and Jerusalem.

Speaking of the Shir Shel Yom/Song of the DAY, it's fascinating to note that aside from one of the letters of Shin in this phrase, the remaining letters spell Yerushalayim & Yerushalmi (as in Talmud Yerushalmi/Jerusalem Talmud)! After all, the Levites did their singing in the Temple of Jerusalem. And as for the remaining letter Shin which is the Gematria of 300, we see an inconsistency of the count of the original Levites in the Torah where it lists them as a total of 22,000, but counting the totals of the three Levite familes, the total comes out to 22,300; hence a difference of 300. Our rabbis explain that these 300 where also Bechorim, the first-born, the category who were originally going to be the Cohanim to serve the Jewish people, but lost this right with the sin of the Golden Calf. However, these 300 Levites retains their status as ones who served in the Tabernacle, but as first borns, were not eligible to redeem some of the 22,273 firstborns from the other tribes who now would no longer be eligible to serve in the Tabernacle.
This was the first practice of the Mitzva of Pidyon HaBen, redemption of a first born who is a male whose neither parents are the children of a Cohen or a Levite, which is now performed by giving five coins of a certain value to a Cohen.

Connecting the concept of REDEMPTION and JERUSALEM in another way, a few verses earlier than what I quoted before in this post from the Book of Isaiah reads (1:27) - Tzion B'Mishpat Tipadeh, V'Shaveha B'Tzedaka - "Zion with be REDEEMED with justice, and her captives with charity". A famous Gematria from the Midrash Talpiyot - the first three words of the verse is the Gematria of Talmud Yerushalmi/Jerusalem Talmud (1076), and the last two words of the verse is the Gematria of Talmud Bavli/Babylonian Talmud (524). It has been explained that it is the Jerusalem Talmud that will redeem the Land of "Zion", and it is the Babylonian Talmud that will redeem the "captive" Jewish people. Hence, we see here a clear connection between the Jerusalem Talmud and redemption of Jerusalem as well as other parts of Israel back in '67. The truth is that the Daf Yomi of Jerusalem Talmud began since the Jerusalem Day events almost 13 years earlier, but the fact is that these two concepts of Torah & the Land of Israel are most connected with one another, because the ultimate place that is meant for us to live a Jewish life is in Israel, as recounted numerous of times, especially the Book of Deutronomy, the content of which Moses began on Rosh Chodesh Shevat, which will fall out this year on Shabbat, the very first Shabbat of the 8th cycle of the Jerusalem Talmud Daf Yomi.

It has also been explained that the total Gematria value of the verse in Isaiah 1:27 is the number 1,600, the square root of which is 40, that is, 40*40. As we know, Hashem dictated the Torah to Moses in 40 days time, and it is the Talmud that represents the Oral Tradition with its detailed laws and explanations as Hashem handed down to Moses. In the 40th year of the Jews living in the desert, Moses began his final series of sermons as the Book of Deutronomy, another name for which is Mishneh Torah - the first word Mishneh which can be read as the letter Mem=40 and Shana/year. Also, the Mishna, which is the foundation of the Oral Law, begins with the letter Mem and ends with a (final) Mem, having a Gematria of 40. And finally, it was Rav Ashi & Ravina of the 40th generation of receiving the Torah beginning with Moses who wrote down the Babylonian Talmud. On a personal note, I am in my 40th year, and I am looking forward to this Shabbat/Rosh Chodesh Shevat which marks the date when Moses began his discourse of the Book of Deutronomy in the 40th year of the Jews living in the desert.

And just when you thought it was over - the Gematria of Sefer Devarim/Book of Deutronomy is the same Gematria as each of the words Yerushalayim/Jerusalem and Yerushalmi (as in Talmud Yerushalmi) - 596! Indeed, the fact that the first Shabbat of the 8th cycle of the Jerusalem Talmud Daf Yomi is Rosh Chodesh Shevat, the very date beginning this final book of the Chumash - Sefer Devarim, highlights this point. Moreover, the word Mishna or Mishne - as in the other name for this Sefer as Mishne Torah - when this word's letters are rearranged can be spelled Shemonah/eight! Now I should note that except for five places in the Bible, the word Yerushalayim is spelled without a second Yud, making the usual Gematria to be 586; however, we normally spell this word these days with two Yuds.

It's interesting to note that in Chasidic sources, Rosh Chodesh Shevat - the NEW month of Shevat - is considered to be the Rosh Hashana - the NEW year - of Torah She'B'Al Peh/Oral Torah of which the Mishna & Talmud/Gemara form this basis. Hence, especially for those who are busy with work during the week, this coming Shabbat on which this special date falls out on and will be the first Shabbat in this 8th cycle of the Jerusalem Talmud Daf Yomi can mark a reNEWal of learning either Mishna and/or Gemara, even if not particularly in the Jerusalem Talmud.

There is another word that is similar to Shemonah/eight - it is Shemen/oil. The date of the beginning of the 8th cycle of the Jerusalem Talmud Daf Yomi is 27 Tevet. As I had mentioned in my previous post, Hashem told Moses to take for himself Shemen Zayit Zach - "Pure olive oil", the beginning of Parshat Tetzaveh in which Aaron the first Cohen Gadol/High Priest is commanded to wear EIGHT priestly garments. The word Zach/pure has the same letters as the Hebrew letters for the number 27 - Chaf Zayin. And then Psalms 133:2 reads "Like the GOOD OIL upon the head running down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down over his garments". As we know, the word for this month Tevet is etymologically related to the word Tov/good. Hence we see a connection of the number eight as it relates to its similar word Shemen/oil with this date of 27 Tevet - pure & good. Wow!

And so what is the connection of the Cohanim over here? Well first, there is a hint to Asher, son of Jacob at he relates to the Mishnayot, as it states in the Midrash that Asher himself waits by the gates of Gehinnom/purgatory and doesn't allow those who learned Mishnayot to enter. As in Jacob's blessing for Asher - M'Asher Shemaina Lachmo... "From Asher will have richness (literally means fatness or oily) and he will provide delicacies of a king" (Genesis 49:20). First, his name Asher is the same Gematria as the first word of the Mishna - Mei'ei'matai - 501 ("FROM WHEN do we read the Shema in the evening"?)! Then the next word Shemaina, which literally means oily, has the same letters as Mishna. And then as a sign that can hint to Daf Yomi, as the Talmud's explanations is based on the Mishna, the following word Lachmo/his bread is the same Gematria as Daf/folio or page - 84!

Now, as the months of the years have a corresponding Tribe, it is the Tribe of Asher that corresponds to the month of Shevat, which is also the birth month of Asher! Hence, this Shabbat is the first one of the 8th cycle of Talmud Jerusalem Daf Yomi that begins the month of Shevat that corresponds to Asher, bearing in mind that the word Shemaina has the same letters of Mishna and Shemona/eight and Lachmo is the Gematria of Daf - that is, the first Shabbat of the 8th cycle of this Daf Yomi on the beginning of Shevat - Rosh Chodesh Shevat!

Now fast forwarding to Moses' blessing for the Tribe of Asher, Rashi mentions that it was the daughters of the Tribe of Asher who were married to the COHANIM GEDOLIM/HIGH PRIESTS and kings, who were annointed with olive OIL! Small wonder then that the very beginning of the Mishnayot after asking the question of the timing of the evening Shema immediately answers that the timing began from when the Cohanim entered to eat their Teruma/priestly portion of food, following having gone to the Mikva/ritularium near the end of the day due to an impurity, and waited until nighttime to eat this food. The Talmud goes into detail as to why the Mishna mentioned specifically this fact when it could have just stated that the time begins from Tzeit HaCochavim, when the stars come out!

And connecting the concept of kings, BIG, and the Shir Shel Yom for Wednesday, the concluding verse of this day's Shir Shel Yom that we say nowadays is (which concludes with the first three verses of Psalm 95) - "For Hashem is a big G-d, and a big King over all the gods". May we live to see the big day when "Hashem will be King over the entire universe" (Zechariah 14:9).


Technically, you can call it a DAY for reading this 56th Post. However, while I am posting the following in this same post as it is connected with the above theme of redemption, it is its own special topic that should trigger a worldwide interest into what may very well be the year of the end of our exile as it seems to have been mentioned by Moses himself based on a Talmudic explanation on last week's Parshat Shemot - which I discovered from learning the weekly quotations of the Talmud based on the Parsha in the Torah Temimah Chumash which I started from Parshat Mikeitz, the Parsha of my wedding week of a few weeks ago, as well as a word in the same Parshat Shemot having the very same letters as the year that I am referring to, with unusual cantillation notes.


Let's begin with the first encounter of Hashem with Moses at the burning bush. As recounted in Tractate Berachot 9b, and paraphrased by Rashi, at one point of the conversation attempting to convince Moses to go help redeem the Jewish nation, Hashem said as a name of His "I Shall Be As I Shall Be". Meaning, that Moses should tell the Jews that just as I will be with them in this servitude, so too will I be with them in future servitudes. Perhaps if it was a human being who would have said this, these would be very comforting words. However, the fact that Hashem worded it this way meant that the fact that there would be future times of sorrow for the Jews indicated that indeed their future descendants would have troubles. While Hashem indicated that He would be with them with their future suffering, Moshe would hear none of this. After all, why give them bad news in advance especially when they were presently suffering. In the Talmud's very words of Moshe's reply - Dayah LeTzarah B'SHAHTAH - "Enough suffering IN ITS TIME".

Now in response, Hashem did accept Moses' argument and agreed that Moses could just mention about Hashem's assistance in their present suffering. We can ask here "If Hashem knew beforehand that Moses would offer his argument and at the end would not reveal Hashem's full response, then why did Hashem even suggest it"? But for the moment, let's focus on the last word of Moses' response as written exactly in the Talmud - B'Shahtah "In its time".

The literal meaning of that context is referring to that present time of the suffering of the Jews in Egypt. But a little rearrangement of this word - the same way as we did it earlier in this post for the word Mishna from Shemaina and Shemona - will reveal what I believe to be the year of the end of the suffering of the Jewish people today. What year will this be in? IN - after the letters of this word after the Beit which means IN in this context, when rearranged as Hei Tav Shin Ayin - 5770, THIS YEAR! That is, Moses was in effect saying, "ENOUGH OF THE JEWS' SUFFERING - IN 5770"!

I always wondered when it states in Midrashic literature that the "first redeemer (Moses) will be the last redeemer". We know that Moshiach will be from the Davidic dynasty of the Tribe of Judah while Moses came from the Tribe of Levi. True, one of the names referring to Moshiach is Shilo which is the same Gematria as Moshe - 345, but clearly, it is NOT Moses who will be THE Moshiach?! Is it just a game of Gematriot here, or what does the Midrash really want to tell us?

While it may be suggested that a spark of Moses's soul will be in the Messiah, we also know that Moses himself as his own identity will be among the first to be resurrected in the Messianic era, but this only answers the question from strictly a kabbalistic point. However, the original source in the Midrash telling us about the first redeemer being the last redeemer is not a kabbalistic source to hint to this kind of matter, and as a source of explaining things on a different level, there has to be some other sort of connection and explanation.

No doubt, Moses as the first redeemer led the way for the final redemption. After all, if Jacob knew the time of the redemption but Hashem didn't allow him to say it to his children, then certainly Moses himself as the orchestrator of the Jews' first redemption had to have known the time of our future and final redemption. However, there was a big difference here between Jacob and Moses. For whatever reason, Jacob was ready to reveal that final date. However, Hashem did not wish for his children to know because then it would have been hard for the Jews with that knowledge to wait so long until now. In contrast, while Hashem gave the chance for Moses to reveal that information, Moses knew that it wouldn't be in the Jews' best interest to know how many thousands of years it would be until the final time.

Perhaps Hashem was testing Moses here about his sensitivity for the Jewish people. While Jacob wanted to be a good Jewish father and reveal some secrets, Moses looked at the bigger picture of not only what would be best for the present nation of Jews, but for their future descendants. In the long run, Moses felt this information would be quite harmful, and the Jews would not eagerly await for Moshiach as a Jews is supposed to as one of the 13 principles of Jewish faith as listed by the Rambam/Maimonides, whose Yahrzeit always falls around the reading of Parshat Shemot, in which this dialogue between Hashem and Moses took place. Hence, it was only after Moses raised his concern about mentioning future sorrows for the Jews -and his concern about THE MENTION OF THE YEAR OF THE FINAL REDEMPTION - as if to say, "It's enough that the Jews will suffer until the end of exile IN 5770. Why mention this?"
In response, Hashem told him only to say to the Jews "I Shall Be has sent me (Moses) to you". That is, Moses showed himself to be worthy of being sent by Hashem Who wanted to show his support for the Jews in their time of trouble, as Moses exemplified from an early age by his actions and his sensitivity for the Jews' feelings.

Now, while Rashi quotes from the above Talmudic source, he does not quote exactly the way it is worded in the Talmud. He paraphrases this as "It's enough for them in THIS suffering". The main word of B'Shahtah is replaced with the word Zu/this, not quoting the Talmud exactly as it is written. What's the deal here?

Perhaps Rashi wanted to hint to the month in which we will be redeemed. In place of B'Shahtah, he uses the word Zu - the letters Zayin & Vav. Now, in the Tnach/Bible, we see the name of the month in which construction of the first Temple began in the "Month of Ziv" (I Kings 6:1) (NOTE: Rashi was given his name Shlomo from the Haftara for Parshat Teruma which mentions the name of Shlomo HaMelech/King Solomon, as he was born in the week of that Parsha). As the Bible mentions that this is the 2nd month, and we count the months from Nissan, this is the month of Iyar (my birth month).

Now typically, the word Ziv which means shine, is spelled with a Yud in the middle of this word. However, the Bible spells this word without a Yud; hence, just spelled as Zayin & Vav, just like the word Zu that Rashi mentioned in reference to the redemption from Egypt, and as I pointed out, a reference to the time of our upcoming redemption.

Hence, as the Talmud already hinted to the year of the redemption - 5770, it seems that Rashi wants to mention the month of our redemption, which he seems to hint to the month of Iyar that is called by the name Ziv in the Bible, and Rashi spells the same word as Zu - using the same two letters for the word as without Hebrew vowels!


Following Moses' dialogue with Hashem and giving encouragement to the Jews, he faced head on with the king and enslaver of the Jews himself. Pharaoh not only did not listen to Moses' plea to "Let My people go!", but made it ever harder for the Jews who used to at least be given their daily rationed portion of food, and decreed that now would have to fetch their daily food
themselves. He mocked them for complaining that their work was too hard and that they were too lazy to work. As part of the slavery system, selected Jews were appointed to be policemen over their brethren to see to it that the remaining Jews would complete their daily work. Unlike most other situations, these Jews policemen were not only not Kapos, but they took the beating from the Egyptian taskmasters on behalf of their fellow Jews not wishing to make their job harder than it already was. In response, these Jewish policemen complained to Pharaoh stating Lamah TA'ASEH Choh LaAvadeicha "Why DO YOU DO this to your servants" (Exodus 5:15)?

While there are many instances that this word TA'ASEH is used in the Bible, and as I had mentioned in Post #45 in the beginning of this Jewish year of 5770, this word as associated with doing work on the six days of the week represent preparation for Shabbat; and that in like kind, the six thousand years of the world's existance correspond to the six days of the week, and that we are just on the brink of the redemption that will take place before the end of this time. Also, as rearranged, the letters of this word can be rearranged to be the number of this Jewish year 5770, which can also be read as HaTeisha - the nine, or an alternate way of rearranging these letters as Tisha - nine, depending on the masculine and feminine wording for the number nine in Hebrew. As mentioned in the song called Echad Mi Yodea in the Haggada, nine represents the nine months of pregnancy. And as we know, the period right before Moshiach's coming is called Chevlei Moshiach - "birthpangs of Moshiach".

So too here, the timing of this story of the Jewish policemen approaching Pharaoh was right before the end of the Egyptian exile. In fact, the final day of Hashem's dialogue with Moses as the burning bush as recounted in the Midrash was the 15th of Nissan, the date in which exactly one year, the Jews would be leaving Egypt, and it was an average of one plague a month for the Egyptians that took place, so the 10 plagues didn't take longer than a year, which happened right after the events concluding this Parshat Shemot.

Now, all of this is fine and dandy. After all, I found a second word related to this Parsha that also can have its letters rearranged to spell this year 5770. But did this just pop up in my head, or did I notice something unusual here?

Unusual is right. This very word Ta'aseh that can rearranged to spell this very year Hei Tav Shin Ayin - 5770, is found with a rare cantillation note. These are shaped like two bananas at the bottom of the word, unlike when it usually looks just like one banana. The usual note is called a Meircha. This particular one is called a Meircha Kefula/Chefula "A DOUBLE Meircha". (Note: Don't have a translation for Meircha at this time). At least in the Chumash, this is a rarity. As a past Ba'al Koreh/Torah reader for some 15 years, I can tell you that this is found no more than a handful to a dozen times in the Chumash. With this being said, this cantillation note makes this word Ta'aseh a very noticable word.

But this is only half of the story. There are five letters of the Alef Beit that are spelled a little differently at the end of a word. These are Kaf/Chaf, Mem, Noon, Pei/Fei, and Tzadi. Hence, there are two forms, or DOUBLE forms of five of the letters of the Alef Beit. The Midrash tells us that these five letters as double forms hint to the redemption using these letters spelling two similar words in five different places in the Bible. Without getting into a whole long Midrash here, we have right here in Parshat Shemot where Moses as Hashem's messenger gave the sign of the upcoming redemption from Egypt using the words Pakod Pakadti "I have surely remembered you", using the letter Pei in spelling the same basic word as a DOUBLE form, which shortly follows the part of the dialogue of Moses' not wishing to mention future troubles of the Jewish people, making him worthy of being the Jews' redeemer, with Hashem giving him the secret code that Joseph told his brothers that would indicate that it was time for the redemption from Egypt.

And so this all fits in together. The first redeemer or redemption and the last/final redeemer or redemption are in effect a double form of G-d's wonderous miracles of redemption. As stated "As in the days when you left the land of Egypt, I will show you wonders (in the final redemption)" (Micah 7:15). The Jewish policemen were in effect telling Pharaoh. "Wait a minute. You are going too far. The excess pressure that you are now applying to us belongs to the time right before the final redemption (in 5770, G-d willing), which will be the Chevlei Moshiach."
(Note: I had mentioned in the past about what I found in the Hidden Codes of the Torah in relationship with Sukkot 5770 being the time associated with Chevlei Moshiach. Indeed, Obama who has been shown in the Hidden Codes to be Gog U'Magog, was nominated for a Nobel peace prize on the last day of Sukkot - exactly eight years after the start of the war of the United States with Afghanistan which rabbis declared to be the beginning of the war of Gog U'Magog -even though he had only been president of the United States for several months without a long track of peacemaking in contrast to how most other people are selected for the prize. This may be the biggest significant factor that will give him the green light to fight Israel in the near future with the alliance of the other nations who nominated him for the "peace" prize.)

Indeed, the Jews were originally supposed to suffer in Egypt for 400 years according to Hashem's original plan, so to speak (though He knows the future and knew exactly what was going to happen). However, the Egyptians went too far as to afflicting the Jews. While in Hashem's estimation, the Jews may have deserved to have suffering, and so allowed the Egyptians to be the rod of punishment, they went way beyond what they were to do in Hashem's deserved allowance of afflictions. Hence, the Jews went only through 116 years of suffering.

Having mentioned a little earlier about working on the six days of the week as a preparation for Shabbat; a long while earlier, Moses as he was brought up in Pharaoh's palace, suggested to him to allow the Jews to have a day off from work - the Shabbat - so they could adequately rest up for another hard week of work without being totally worn out. Pharaoh in fact agreed to this, but now, he did away with this, and this is what was the ultimate complaint to Pharaoh. He wasn't even following the natural order of nature in terms of a work week anymore. Why was his old policy of the work week excluding Shabbat changed to a new format which would make it virtually impossible for constructive work to continue? But Pharaoh remained stubborn and shortly met his downfall until he felt forced to let the Jews out of Egypt.


And we see a word connected with both of the words having the same letters as the number of this Jewish year 5770. Following Moses' concern about revealing future troubles to the Jewish people, Hashem responded KOH Tomar K'vnei Yisrael... "SO shall you say to the Children of Israel..." And then in the Jewish policemen's complaint to Pharaoh - Lamah Ta'aseh CHOH (KOH) La'Avadeicha "Why do you behave SO with your servants"?

Indeed, we see in this week's Parshat Vaera - in the 4th Aliyah - that this word KOH is written twice in a row - the last word of one sentence, and the beginning of the next sentence. In the first verse - Hashem's message for Pharaoh is that he didn't listen until NOW (KOH) to let the Jews out of Egypt. Then immediately, Hashem states "KOH - SO says Hashem..." proceeding to talk about striking Egypt with the first plague of blood, the beginning of Hashem's punishment for the Egyptians until they would let the Jews leave their country.

As the word KOH is also the number for 25 - Caf Hei, could it be that the date of the future redemption as per Rashi's comment earlier will be the 25th of Iyar of this year? Only time can tell, but there is one more thing that I want to mention here regarding redemption in relationship to this year.

In the earlier part of this post, I quoted the verse from Isaiah stating "Zion will be redeemed with justice, and her captives with charity". Now, this is the concluding verse of the Haftara that is always read on Shabbat Parshat Devarim, also called Shabbat Chazon after the first word of this Haftara, on the Shabbat before Tisha B'Av, the date of the worst tragedies of the Jewish people, but also marks the birth of Moshiach. In a figurative sense, it means that the potential of Moshiach coming began immediately even with the destruction of the Temple on this date. In any case, we see that the very first words of the Haftara of the Shabbat after Tisha B'Av, Shabbat Parshat V'Etchanan, also called Shabbat Nachamu after these words of Nachamu Nachamu, the first of seven Haftarot, the last ones of the Jewish year, that are called Shiva D'Nechemata - the seven Haftarot of comfort.

As noted in the past, the word Tisha/nine as in Tisha B'Av, indeed spells this very year 5770! The following word B'Av can either be read as the literal translation, in (the month of) Av, or the 2nd of Av, and as I mentioned earlier in this post, (the potential of) Moshiach was born on Tisha B'Av upon the destruction of the 2nd Temple. In any case, while we may not be able to pinpoint the exact date of the redemption or what stages of redemption will take place when, we do have here very strong indications of this year 5770 marking the end of our suffering in exile and leading right into the redemption. Do remember that these four letters Hei Tav Shin Ayin as spelled in different orders in the words Shahtah & Ta'aseh can spell ONLY this very Hebrew year 5770 (can also spell the number 775 as Tav Shin Ayin Hei, but the year 775 from Creation was way before even the first Jew was born) in the slated six thousand years of the world's existance - the Ta'aseh Melacha - the preparation of spiritual work needed for the Messianic redemption on a global basis, and our personal service to Hashem preparing for our eternal reward.

May we live to witness the final redemption in this 8th cycle of the Talmud Jerusalem Daf Yomi representing a special time of miracles as represented by the number eight - let's hope sometime within the next eight months of this most special year 5770!

27 Tevet 5770 - Beginning Day of the 8th Cycle of the Jerusalem Talmud Daf Yomi Study.

P.S. In honor of the Gerrer Rebbe who instituted the Daily Study of the Jerusalem Talmud, I want to point out to a couple of hints in the Torah to the Gerrer Rebbe's family name of Alter and the name of Gur (the Hebrew word used for Gerrer) which are mentioned right near each other. In Genesis 26:2, Hashem tells Yitzchak/Isaac - Al Tered Mitzraima "Do not go down to Egypt". The first four Hebrew letters of this phrase in Al Tered spells Alter, the family name that the first Gerrer Rebbe used replacing the family name of Rothenberg. Then, the first words of the very next verse are - Gur Ba'Aretz HaZot "DWELL in this land (of Israel)", in which the first word is the very name of this Chasidic movement, which is presently based in Israel! While the 1st Gerrer Rebbe (Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Alter) himself never made it to Israel, he certainly set the tone for a future time when the Gerer dynasty would be relocated in Israel, which has been very influential for several decades spreading the teaching of Talmudic study in Israel.

There is a story told of Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter, the 3rd Gerrer Rebbe who was the present Rebbe at the time that Rabbi Meir Shapiro founded the original Daf Yomi learning of the Babylonian Talmud, that very first night of beginning this scheduled study on Rosh Hashana 5684/1923, he learned the first Daf/folio of Tractate Berachot as is the usual custom of the Gerrer Chasidim to take a brake in the middle of prayers to learn for an hour, and then gave a Chasidic sermon based on that first page of Talmud!