Sunday, July 25, 2010

#76 - JEW Land

Today is the 15th day of Av. In Hebrew, this is Yom Tu B'Av - "Day of Tu B'Av". Indeed, as this is my 76th Post, the name of today's date Yom Tu B'Av is the Gematria of 76. In short, it is called Tu B'Av.

One year ago, I also wrote a Tu B'Av post, focusing on the concept of love and dating as it relates to this special day. I named that 38th Post (August '09) - What is this LOVE? - the translation of the name of a book addressing what real love is as in marriage - Mah Zot Ahava, the same Gematria as my name Shimon, which I discovered at a booth shortly before the night of Tu B'Av. I took this as a sign that I would find love and get married in the coming year - and indeed, barely a week went by when my wife-to-be called me for the first time.

Considering in past years when I thought I would have some luck, my Tu B'Avs were left with far more disappointment than luck, hoping that some woman or another that I met at an event on this date would be more than a date, was not interested in me at the end. This is especially bearing in mind that it was none other than Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel, my namesake, who said that it was on this date during Temple times that the women held dances to attract men, the times when it seemed to be a man's world; unlike today when it is basically a woman's world. Also on this very date, Rabbi Shimon Lavi, the one who composed the most popular song in honor of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, called Bar Yochai, passed away on this date. And it is this month that corresponds to the Tribe of Shimon. So, I felt in past years that G-d was teasing me when I felt that I of all people, knowing all this, should have been the very one to have met someone for marriage, to start a Jewish family, to fulfill what the Torah says to do - get married and have children.

But THIS year, I can proudly say, this is my FIRST Tu B'Av of being married to my wife Yael. And so, it is most significant to note that the number of this post is the same Gematria as today's date - Yom Tu B'Av.

While I am at it, let me list the events in Jewish history that made this date very special, as recorded in Talmud Ta'anit 30b-31a:

1) The Tribes of Israel were given permission to intermarry into one another.
2) The Tribe of Benjamin was allowed to marry into the rest of the Jewish people, following a nasty incident which was defended by this Tribe, which subsequently led to a civil war.
3)The last Jews slated to die on Tisha B'Av in the wilderness as punishment for being cry babies on this date of misfortune following the Spies' evil report of the Land of Israel realized that Hashem forgave them when they saw the full moon on Tu B'Av realizing that there was no mistake of the calculation of the month indicating that Tisha B'Av had already passed.
4)Hoshea Ben Elah, the last king of Jewish Samaria, removed the roadblocks that were originally placed to prevent the Jews from making the thrice annually pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.
5)The Jews who were massacred in the city of Beitar were allowed to be buried, and were found to be without decay despite being left out in the sun for a while without burial.
6)The Jews stopped cutting wood for the Altar pyre, celebrating the fact that they finished a Mitzva.

The Talmud goes on to say that around this date, the nights get longer; hence the beginning of the season to learn more Torah at night.

Now this year, I want to focus on a different theme - particularly, the fourth reason for the celebration of this date of Tu B'Av. Anyone who is quite familiar with the Tanach/Bible will know that every single king of Israel in the Samaria region was evil and worshipped idols - including this last king Hoshea Ben Elah. In a moment of goodwill, this king behaved a little less wicked, and though it was a little - a bit too late, because shortly afterwards, 10 Tribes of Israel living in the greater Samaria region were exiled; nevertheless, this marked something good for the Jewish people, even for the few short years that the few good ones - whether they worshipped idols or not - would decide to travel to the Temple for the holidays.

To begin with, it was Jeroboam, the first king of Israel for most of the Jews in Samaria, who ceded from King Solomon's son Rehoboam who wound up being king only over the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, who set up the roadblocks to prevent Jews from coming to the Temple, afraid that they would leave his kingdom for King Rehoboam. And so, even though the last king of Israel only removed a little evil from the region, and not that he added something good for the Jews per se; nevertheless, removing the roadblocks was at least some small step towards making improvement; and in the long run, this showed that the Jews should have no stopping from coming to the holiest area in the world.

Of course, this leads us to think today about the current state of the Temple Mount, on which Muslim Arabs are allowed free control along with their mosque on the mount, and tourists who walk on the forbidden areas of the Temple Mount as virtually all of us today are unclean with the impurity of the dead. However, observant Jews who dare even move their lips suggesting that they could be praying can be duly arrested, G-d forbid.

What are we talking about here - the holiest area of the world towards which Jews all over the world face when they say the Shomeneh Esrei prayer at least three times daily. And it is this very part of Israel that is most contested by Arabs, though originally purchased by King David and recaptured following the Six Day War. The way that the heads of the government of Israel behave regarding this, they make Hoshea Ben Elah look like he was a Tzadik/righteous person. The High in Hell Court of Israel has denied today's Sanhedrin's annual request to hold a Paschal sacrifice on the Temple Mount, a Mitzva/commandment in Temple times that if not performed, was punished with the spiritual punishment of excision, spiritually cut off from the Jewish people.

NOTE: Both my name Shimon and Har Moriah - the name for the Temple Mount in the Torah(without the usual prefix of Hei for HaMoriah is spelled in the Torah) - have the same Gematria - 466!


Actually, there were two Kahanes who were not afraid to speak the truth, both of whom were murdered by Arabs - Rabbis Meir & Binyamin Kahane - father & son, may Hashem avenge their blood. The Kahane name is no stranger to My ninth post (November '08) featured Rabbi Meir Kahane's 18th Yahrzeit in relationship to Eretz Yisrael/Land of Israel.

Weekly, I see articles on the Parsha from various rabbis in the Zionist camp who write all about Israel, the commandment to live in it, etc. Indeed, in Rabbi Meir Kahane's magnum opus Ohr HaRayohn - "The Jewish Idea", which are both in Hebrew and English, the 18th & 19th chapters are devoted to the general concept of Israel and the Mitzva of living in Israel, respectively. And the 20th chapter - it is the subject of non-Jews in Israel.

Now, before I continue writing about this crucial chapter, Tu B'Av, the name of today's date in short, is the Gematria of 20. And we are presently in the 20th year from the assassination of the "BIG Jew", as the Arabs called Rabbi Meir Kahane upon his murder. And the number 20 is most associated with the concept of self sacrifice
- Abraham was the 20th generation from Adam & Eve who was the first in world history to offer his life for the belief in one G-d and his repudiation of idolatry. And Moses, who asked Hashem to erase his name from the Sefer Torah/Torah Scroll if He would not forgive the Jews for the sin of the Golden Calf, had his wish fulfilled in some small way, though Hashem did in fact forgive the Jews, at least in terms of not destroying them like He said He would originally. This was fulfilled by omitting Moses' name from Parshat Tetzaveh - the 20th Parsha of the Torah, showing Moses' self sacrifice on behalf of his people. Details on this can be found on my 20th Post (March '09).

The point that I want to drive here is that the contents of the 20th chapter of Rabbi Meir Kahane's book is what distinguishes him from most of these Zionistic rabbis, most of whom at best wished that Kahane would not be part of the scene, for besides taking away their prestige as far as they were concerned, Kahane spoke of matters that these rabbis should have but were afraid of speaking about; let alone the fact that were even those with the title of rabbi (I refuse to call them by their title of rabbi whose only credential of being called that is what is on their piece of paper when they completed their regimen of rabbinical studies) who told their students in the IDF that they must listen to the Israeli government and army when told to evacuate their Jewish bretheren from Gush Katif, whose fifth anniversary of its destruction was just commemorated. While everyone speaks of settling the land; and yes, this is a tremendous Mitzva which will also help prevent unwanted earthlings, especially Arabs from trespassing our Holy Land, few will address the problem that the Torah speaks about - actively getting rid of these human rodents.

Many years ago, I attended an activists' meeting over a weekend in New York to which I especially flew to from Florida. At this gathering, Rabbi Binyamin Kahane spoke about how people want to point out to all kinds of events happening in Israel through the Hidden Codes of the Torah, at times seeming to be a nice game. In a very direct way, he pointed out how many years ago, an Arab bombing at the Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem occured during the week that Parshat Mas'ei was read, which includes the following verse, "But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land before you, those of them whom you leave shall be pins in your eyes and a surrounding barrier of thorns in your sides, and they will harass you upon the Land in which you live." (Numbers 33:55).

Some months back, there was a rabbi who used to be a member of the Knesset who passed away. A Jerusalemite of several generations, he was an outspoken person who accomplished much in the way of Judaism and Israel. He was eulogized as one who was fearless, despite the politics surrounding him, gaining much respect for his stance.

The rabbis who eulogized him as fearless were guilty of either one of two things if not both. That is, either ignoring Rabbi Meir Kahane when he truly spoke the truth including in his term in the Knesset before being banned, about which no outcry came from these rabbis - either in preventing or protesting the ban on Kahane's Kach party from the Knesset (because after all, they had their self interest of their own "religious" party in the Knesset), or they forgot what it says in the Talmud in Tractate Moed Katan that one who says false words about a deceased in an attempt to praise him, is punished; and the deceased about whom the false praise in the eulogy was noted is asked why it is being said of him when it isn't true.

And what is the subject in question - the Temple Mount. And so, when both Kahane and the other rabbi were in the Knesset at the same time, there was a discussion between the two of them that went something like this (we will call the recently passed away rabbi as A, and Kahane as B):

A: The issue of the Arabs on the Temple Mount isn't such a big deal.
B: You are afraid.
A: But it's a problem for Jews ascending the Temple Mount (because there are areas on the mount that is forbidden for one to approach with the impurity of the dead)
B: Fine, so Jews will not ascend the Mount. But let us not allow the Chillul Hashem/Desecration of G-d's name of the Arabs being on the Mount either.

My friends, if a rabbi labeled as Ultra Orthodox who is descended from several generations of Jews living in Jerusalem could be afraid to address the Chillul Hashem of Arabs trespassing the holiest area of the world located in Jerusalem, then indeed, we have a very big problem here. Kahane, who was born in New York, who didn't have this rabbi's extensive Jerusalemite background, was virtually the only rabbi-leader who had no fear of speaking the truth. Everyone can talk about Israel, calling themselves Ultra-Orthodox, Zionist, etc., but these titles can mean, as they say in Yiddish, gornisht mit gornish, nothing with nothing, because at the end, if they can't even defend the holiest area of the world, they are lacking a major tenet of Judaism - faith in G-d, which means, not being afraid to say the truth - the word of G-d - regardless if everyone will cry Boo! For crying out loud, we are not living in Israel under non-Jewish occupation which was the case for thousands of years. And for those "Zionistic rabbis" living in Israel - a double moxyoron - who gave their approval for throwing Jews out of Gush Katif, they literally did just the opposite of what the Torah says - and in this case, clearly caused Arabs to live ever much closer to attack Jews. Indeed, when one follows his Yetzer Hara/evil inclination, even common sense seems to be trampled upon.

Finally, we are presently under Jewish sovereignty - howbeit not being ruled under Halacha/Jewish Law, or whatever hasn't been taken over by Arabs as of yet - and regardless of the present Jewish dictators of what is called the State of Israel believe in or don't believe in, or what the Arab squatters will cry about - at the very least, we should be vocal about what we believe in, and do our part to get rid of whoever does not belong in Israel - most especially the Arabs who do not willingly accept Jewish sovereignty, calling all of Israel by the name Palestine, enforcing their lie upon the Anti-Semitic world. And what bothers me the most is when even in what is called very religious circles, Arabs - instead of Jews who badly need to make a living - are hired by Jews, violating both the Mitzvot of the Torah which are giving a helping hand to a Jew of giving him/her a livelihood - the highest form of giving Tzedaka/charity, and getting rid of the non-Jews - the pins and thorns - from the Land. This has also led to much Jewish bloodshed and injuries. Certainly, the ones who hired these ungrateful Arabs will have much to account for on Judgment Day.

Now, getting back to the 20th chapter of Rabbi Kahane's book, there is one quotation in this chapter that comes from this week's Parshat Eikev. As quoted from the Midrash (Bamidbar Rabba 23:7) - "The Holy One, Blessed Be He, said to Moses: "The Land is beloved to Me, as it says "THE LAND THAT HASHEM YOUR G-D ALWAYS SEEKS OUT" (Deutronomy 11:12), and Israel is beloved to Me, as it says "for it is out of Hashem's love for you" (Deutronomy 7:8)." The Holy One Blessed Be He said: "I will have the Israelite people who are beloved to Me enter the land that is beloved to Me"." On this, Rabbi Meir Kahane notes, "It is clear that it is a complete prohibition to give to a non-Jew ownership in the Land of Israel. A non-Jew - whoever it may be - has a completely different standing than that of the Jews, who are the owners of the Land, the Land of Israel. The non-Jew is nothing but a stranger, who is a tenant at best, but not an owner - and ONLY set by the rules and law as that permit him to live in the Land of Israel, even as a stranger and tenant."

And yes my friends, the family name Kahane - whose family consists of Cohanim descended by parental line all the way back to Aharon HaCohen whose Yahrzeit is the beginning of this month, Rosh Chodesh Av - and Yom Tu B'Av "Day of 15th of Av" share the same Gematria - 76, as the number of this post. And along the lines that I noted earlier, there is a crucial theme between the act of Hoshea Ben Elah removing the roadblocks on Tu B'Av, allowing the Jews to come to the Temple
- and Kahane's firm and outspoken stance about removing Arabs from the Temple area,
the holiest spot in the world, as well as from the rest of Israel.

Indeed, Tu B'Av highlights the importance of the Land of Israel - and as especially related to Jews - the Land of Yisrael. Among other events that occured on this happy date, the Tribes of Israel were permitted to intermarry into each other. The reason that this was not the case before was to at least give a chance for the first generation of Jews coming to Israel to properly inherit the Land based on the Tribes inheriting their respective lands, because if a daughter of one Tribe would marry a guy from another Tribe, it would especially present a problem if the father of the daughter didn't have any sons who would inherit his property after he would pass away. Hence, it was only after the first generation who married only into their own immediate Tribes were settled, that the ribbon was cut and now the Tribes could freely marry one into another. This taught them that their relationship with one another would only be complete with their love and respect of the Land. That way, there would be the feeling of the sense that all Jews are part of one big family - not just out of convenience, but that it is only when they are connected with the land that is especially theirs can they feel as being as part of one family - one nation.

Another significant event on this day was the realization of the Jews who behaved as cowards nearly 40 years earlier had their lives spared by Hashem. As the youngest of the group who cried that it wouldn't be a good idea to move to Israel, they received Hashem's goodwill of forgiveness for this sin and were hence allowed to move to Israel after seeing what their older counterparts went through for doing the same sin. After all, Hashem wanted some remnant of the manhood of Jews - beginning from age 20 - who had left Egypt to live to tell the tale of the Exodus - IN ISRAEL, for after all, part of the reason why Hashem wanted to take the Jews out of Egypt was to bring them to Israel. This youngest group of the Jews who were cry babies were TWENTY years old at the time that the evil Spies did the opposite of what their mission was supposed to be - to encourage Jews to move to Israel.

Twenty - representing Abraham who was the TWENTIETH generation from Adam & Eve, who risked his life for his disbelief in idolatry, and who was commanded by Hashem when he was 75 years old - or in relationship to this 76th Post, Tu B'Av & Kahane - he was in his SEVENTY-SIXTH year, to make Aliyah - Lech Lecha "Leave your country, your birthplace, your father's household - to the Land that I will show you" (Genesis 12:1). And just like Abraham , the 20th generation who made his personal Exodus from the country that he was born and raised him, his surroundings that he knew for his entire life, to all of a sudden, to pack up and move to an unfamiliar land; so too, the Jews who were 20 years old at the time that Hashem made the decree to strike dead on every Tisha B'Av all those from 20 years old and up who cried in vein on this day, would be the living remnant of those who left in the Exodus and would live to complete the journey that Abraham also undertook.

There is one practical difference between the way Israel was in Abraham's days and now. You see, while Hashem promised Israel to Abraham and his descendants; at the time, Israel was in non-Jewish hands, which was beyond Abraham's control to do something about it, because it was not yet time until the Jews would become a nation - one big family - and then and only then would it be possible to address them to see to it that they would get rid of the non-Jews who would not follow the rules of the land as strangers and tenants - with no apologies for doing what Hashem
wants. Unfortunately, as we see in the beginning of Sefer Shoftim/Book of Judges, the Jews were told off particularly for not getting rid of the non-Jews of the Land, which led to spiritual damage as well as physical damage, allowing idolatry to permeate the Land.

Speaking of Abraham's SEVENTY-SIXTH year and his strict stance against idolatry, the Talmud (Babylonian Talmud) on Tractate Avoda Zara, which is about the subject of IDOLATRY, ends with the SEVENTY-SIXTH Daf/double-sided page (the Dafim in the Babylonian Talmud actually begin with Daf 2). And I am reminded of what the rabbis comment on what King David, running from his father-in-law King Saul who was seeking to have King David murdered due to jealousy of him. Basically, King David was saying how King Saul told him to worship idols. Now, despite King Saul being evil for murdering a city of Cohanim, we don't see anywhere where King Saul actually told his son-in-law David to committ this tremendous sin. It is on this that the rabbis step in and comment that King David was referring to the fact that he had to leave Israel to escape King Saul's fury. We learn from here that "Whoever lives in Israel has a G-d while those who doesn't live in Israel do not have a G-d".

It is only in Israel that a Jew can hope to have a special connection to Hashem. And just like in a synagogue where men and women sit separately to avoid all distractions possible; so too in Israel, we can only serve Hashem and relate to Him in the greatest way possible, if we don't allow distractions - non-Jews living in Israel who will not follow the rules of the land. It is then and only then that we can hope not to start getting assimilated and following the customs of the nations around us who worship idols or have heretical ideas which will G-d forbid pollute our spiritual beings. The Land of Israel is called as such because that is what it is exactly - the land of ISRAEL, the nation of ISRAEL - not of non-Jews who have other lands to live in. There was never and can never be a "two-state solution", only as land that is forcibly removed from Jews and declared to non-Jews that it is their land when it really isn't.

As Kahane, near the end of this chapter, states, "The Land of Israel was given to the Nation of Israel, as a separate nation, in order that we should be separated from the gentiles, and their strange habits." Otherwise, there is no point in having our own land. While non Jews who have their own country would not necessarily be negatively affected spiritually by having people of other nations come into the picture, as exemplified by the United States consisting of virtually every nation on the planet; for Jews, living in our land is contingent on following what Hashem says, Who wants us to be the exclusive owners of our Land.

Tu B'Av - a time to reaffirm our love relationship with Hashem, with the understanding that it is only WE who are allowed into the same palace as Hashem's Divine Presence resides, primarily in the area of the Holy Temple, located on the Temple Mount. It is only WE - with no apologies to anyone else - who can truly call Hashem our Av/Father, the name of this month, the midst of which is Tu B'Av, at the time of the full moon, which represents the totality of the Jewish people, the time when the nights which are ruled by the moon which in turn represents the Jewish people, is a time to learn more Torah, infusing dark areas lacking spiritual light with such light.

And as the Torah is compared to the soul while the Land of Israel is compared to the body, it is impossible for one who live in this world without both soul and body. Likewise, a Jew can only be complete if he learns Torah and keeps its commmandments -
"ON THE LAND that Hashem swore to our forefathers to give to us" (Deutronomy 11:21) as mentioned in this week's Parshat Eikev, where near the beginning of this Parsha it states "You shall consume the nations that Hashem your G-d has given you, don't let your eyes pity them, and don't serve their gods, for it is a stumbling block to you" (Deutronomy 7:16), and near the end of this Parsha, "You shall chase out all these nations from in front of you, you shall chase out greater and mightier nations than you" (Deutronomy 11:23).

And as the name of this Parshat Eikev, whose name is associated with keeping Hashem's commandments on the land that He gave us; so too, this very word is used in Hashem's conversation with Isaac after promising him that He will give this land to his descendants, "Eikev - Because Abraham listened to my voice, and he kept My guardings, My commandments, My statutes, and my Torahs" (Genesis 26:5).

Tu B'Av 5770

P.S. It will be a few weeks before I post again. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

#75 - COHEN in Action

Writing on the night before Tisha B'Av, there has been much that took place in the last three weeks of the period known as Bein HaMetzarim, a phrase taken from Eicha, the Book of Lamentations 1:3 - "In the midst of her (the Jewish people's) distress", which literally means "between the straits", which begins from Shiva Asar B'Tamuz, the 17th of Tamuz when we fast in the daytime until after Tisha B'Av, the 9th of Av, when we fast from sunset until nightfall of the following evening. I will be addressing what will make this coming Tisha B'Av unique in almost 2,000 years since the Romans burnt the Second Temple on this day.

But first, I want to address a couple of significant Yahrzeits that take place during this three week period, which I had written about last year in separate posts. There is in fact something in common between these two Yahrzeits - in fact in more than one way.

First, there is the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, or known as the Ramak for short, who passed away on 23 Tamuz 5330 (1570), and while he lived during the times of the most famed Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, or known as the Arizal for short (who also passed away during this three week period on 5 Av), Rabbi Cordovero was a Kabbalist in his own right, having written kabbalistic compositions, including the short and well learned Sefer, holy book called Tomer Devorah. As there is a Mitzva in the Torah called "walking in Hashem's ways" V'Halachta B'Drachav (Deutronomy 28:9)
which means that we are supposed to act the same way as Hashem behaves such as being merciful and gracious, this Sefer shows how to follow this based on the 13 Middot HaRachamim - Divine Attributes of Mercy. For this, he quotes from the concluding three verses in Micha 7:18-20, one of the 12 sections of the Sefer in Tanach/Bible called Trei Asar, also the concluding verses of the Haftara of the afternoon of Yom Kippur, also recited as part of the Tashlich ceremony of Rosh Hashana at a river or lake symbolizing throwing away our sins in the waters. In fact, the very name Tashlich "You will cast..." comes from this very source in the Tanach, as follows:

"Who is a G-d like You, Who pardons iniquity and overlooks transgression for the remnant of His heritage? He does not maintain His wrath forever, for He desires kindness. He will once again show us mercy, He wil suppress our iniquities. You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Grant truth to Jacob, kindness to Abraham, as you swore to our forefathers in days of old."

It's interesting to note that as this is my 75th post, so is Micha - the name of the prophet whose writings include this quotation - the Gematria of 75. Note that the above includes the word Chesed/kindness twice. With this being said, this is connected with the following.

Another Yahrzeit during this three week period includes the sole Yahrzeit mentioned in the entire Tanach - the passing of Aharon HaCohen, who was the first Cohen Gadol/High Priest, on Rosh Chodesh Av (1 Av) - in the final year of the Jews' sojurn in the desert before entering Israel - and the title Cohen is also the Gematria of
75. Kabbalistically, the Cohen, or Cohanim in plural, who is/are descended by parental line all the way back to Aaron, represents the Sephirah/Divine emanation of Chesed, while the Levi'im/Levites who make up the remainder of the Tribe of Levi, represent the Sephirah of Gevurah/strength. Also, when the Cohanim bless the congregation with the verses as mentioned in Numbers 6:24-26 which is called Bircat Cohanim, this is proceeded with a Beracha/blessing concluding with the words "He has commanded us to bless his people Israel with love". Now, the Hebrew word for love - Ahava - is the Gematria of 13, which is most related to the Sephirah of Chesed, mentioned twice in the above final verses of Micha representing the 13 Middot HaRachamim. And along these lines, the introduction to Torat Cohanim, the Halachic Midrash on the Book of Leviticus which deals largely with the Mitzvot and laws of the Cohanim and Korbanot/sacrifices is the list of the 13 ways through which the Torah can be interpreted to learn out the Halacha/Jewish law, which is recited daily in the morning prayers following the daily recital of the Temple sacrifices.

While the most famed Biblical figure in Judaism is Moshe, as besides his greatest qualities of humility and giving over of himself for the Jewish nations, was the one to whom Hashem spoke to directly, teaching directly only to Moshe the entire Torah, who in turn taught it to the rest of the Jewish nation, including his brother Aharon, Aharon in his own right also had remarkable traits to be emulated. Hillel teaches us in Pirkei Avot/Ethics of the Fathers 1:12, "Be of the disciples of Aharon, loving peace, pursuing peace, loving mankind, and bringing them close to the Torah." The Midrash details how Aharon was the ultimate peace maker, as when he saw two Jews having a fight with each other, he afterwards approached each one separately, and told each one how "he (Aharon) heared" the other one wished to make up with him, but was afraid to approach him. While normally, we are forbidden to say lies, as we are not supposed to say things opposite of the truth, as the Torah exhorts us, "Stay far away from falsehood", in order to bring two Jews to love each other once again, it is not only permitted, but obligatory if need be, to say lies if this is what it takes to continue a loving relationship between Jews. In any case, Aharon's peaceful ruse worked countless of times.

The Midrash relates that at his funeral, there were 80,000 people who were named after Aharon. While this may sound quite exaggerating as we do not see anyone else with the name Aharon in Divrei Hayamim/Book of Chronicles in which is listed hundreds of descendants of the various tribes, the fact is clear is that while of Moshe it states that the "Children of Israel" cried for him following his passing - which means the men, it says of Aharon's passing that "all the house of Israel" cried for him, which refers also to the women. The point that needs to be mentioned here is that while only the Torah scholars and righteous ones could truly appreciate Moshe's greatness, even though Moshe's self sacrifice was for the entire Jewish nation, it was Aharon who on a concrete level was able to show through his peace making efforts how it made a difference in people's lives, while not only speaking about peace -"loving peace" but also going out of his way to make peace - "pursuing peace", and had such an influence that in effect, so many people born to couples affected by Aharon's direct influence no doubt were role models of Aharon themselves.


Speaking of Rachamim/mercy as in the 13 Middot HaRachamim, we refer to Hashem in our prayers as Av HaRachamim/Father of mercy and Av HaRachaman/The Merciful Father. Indeed, it is particularly this very month of all months of the year that refers specifically to Hashem. While the worst tragedies to befall the Jewish people occurred in this month, Hashem in his great mercy for us will once again bring us back all together - physically and spiritually, as fortolled in the Tanach and Midrashic statements. Chasidic sources reveal to us that this month is called Av as in the future, this will be the father, or the head, of the months. Now, we know that we count Nissan, the month of the Exodus and birth of the Jewish nation, as the head of the months, as I read in my daily chapter of Tanach - Exodus 12 - for 8 Av, which includes the account of the Exodus, the reason for the English name of this book of the Chumash/Penteteuch.

The following chapter states - "Today you (the Jews) are leaving in the month of the spring" (Exodus 13:4). "Month of the spring" - Chodesh HaAviv, can be read in another way. Chodesh Hei - Av Yud-Beit, that is, "Month 5 - father of (the) 12 (months)" or "Month 5 - Av (of the) 12 (months)". As another verse in Micha states "As in the days of your leaving the land of Egypt, I will show it (the Jewish nation) wonders" (Micha 7:15), referring to the future redemption.

With this being said, it seems that the date referred to as Tisha B'Av, can be reread
when the letters are rearranged to read B'Av Hei-Tav-Shin-Ayin "In Av, 5770", as the word Tisha, which means nine, can be rearragned when placing the Hei in the beginning of the word Teisha/nine instead of the end of the word, to spell this very year 5770! Imagine, in almost 2,000 years since the destruction of the Second Temple which took place on Tisha B'Av, of which our rabbis tell us that Moshiach was born on this very day, it is particularly THIS YEAR that spells the same letters as the date of this month Av! Figuratively, the rabbis mean that on the day that the Temple was destroyed, the potential of Moshiach coming came into being, because if we
were to immediately repent, Moshiach would come at once.

As I mentioned several months ago in Post #56 about Moshe's conversation with Hashem at the burning bush when Hashem told Moshe to let the Jews know that He will be with them in future exiles, Moshe complained that "it is not enough that they are suffering now, but that they should also know that they will be suffering in the future. It is enough for them to suffer IN ITS TIME (that is, currently)." As the word quoted from the Talmud, B'Sha'ta - "in its time", it spells the same letters in a different order B' Hey-Tav-Shin-Ayin "In 5770"! That is, Moses was in effect saying, "Enough of the Jewish people's suffering - in 5770". Let's hope that this will be proven to be true on this very Tisha B'Av, a day as fortolled by the prophet Zechariah as a day that will be a day of happiness in the future.


As mentioned in Sefer Yetzirah, one of the earliest Kabbalistic works which is attributed to Abraham, the letter Teit corresponds to the month of Av. Teit, which is nine, took on a special significance on this Rosh Chodesh Av.

But first, I would like to note that on this past Shabbat, the Shabbat before Tisha B'Av, we read Parshat Devarim, the 44th Parsha of the Torah. This is bearing in mind
that this time period in history marks the 44th presidency of the United States of Barack Hussein Obama - politically born six years ago on Tisha B'Av 5764 ('04) when he made his first political speech endorsing past Democratic candidate John Kerry, as well as we are currently in the 44th year from the liberation of the holiest parts of the world, including the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple grounds. As Parshat Devarim is the beginning of Sefer Devarim/Book of Deutronomy, the words Sefer Devarim is the very Gematria of Yerushalayim - 596! And note the 44th verse of the 44th Parsha - Parshat Devarim: "The Emorites who live on that mountain went out against you and chased you as the bees do, and smote you from Seir until Hormah". This refers to a group of Jews who attempted to travel to Israel after being cry babies who wept on the night of the future date of Tisha B'Av, following the scandelous report of the 10 evil spies who told the Jews that it would not be possible to conquer the land. Following Moshe telling the Jews that because they didn't want to move to Israel, they would perish in the desert over the course of 40 years, a group of Jews who wanted to circumvent this attempted to make the move "for we have sinned, and now we will go up...", disobeying Moshe's advice and orders to stay put.

In any case, as mentioned in Zechariah 14, in the era right before Moshiach comes, the nations will come to Jerusalem and ravage this city, including murder, rape, and taking over homes, and only half the Jews in Jerusalem will be able to escape. While this may not sound real with a high skilled Israeli army, and today's modern technology, Hashem has it in His power to do what He wants whenever He wants, regardless of whether Iran will G-d forbid bomb Israel or not. In a split of a second, everything can change, and though of course when Moshiach comes, or after the war of Gog U'Magog is over, there will be no more warfare, and the surviving ones of the nations will be subservient to us, we have to be most concerned that G-d forbid, we will be in the red for a little while, and only the ones who are living a righteous path and repentant of past deeds can hope for Hashem's physical and spiritual salvation, while the rest of the Jews will suffer eternal doom. Of course, you don't have to take my word for it - the Bible, the Kabbalists, and the autistic ones who have spelled out in the last few years as to what is happening currently and will be happening shortly should be plenty of a wake up call. And indeed, the Hebrew number for 44 is Mem Dalet, and when reverse, spells Dam/blood(shed), which was the first of the 10 plagues of Egypt.

And as the 44th word in the Torah is V'LaChoshech - "for the darkness", this brings to mind the NINTH plague of Egypt - Choshech/darkness. And as this relates to Tisha B'Av, this year, it will be the NINTH day of the month represented by the letter Teit which is NINE, in the year that can be read as HaTeisha - the NINE! Hence, this Tisha B'Av can very well be turning point for the Jewish people, when we can either be worthy of G-d's salvation, or G-d forbid have to suffer the worst - or both, depending on who it is. While in the past, the division was between the Egyptians and the Jews when it came to G-d smiting the Egyptians while sparing all the Jews; in the end of our final exile, the division of who will be smitten or not - or for that matter, redeemed or not - will be among the Jewish people, and the question is - who will survive?


There are two most significant things that happened a week ago on this date. No, you will not find this in the news, as these things are what you call time eras, marking a significant point in the Jewish calendar.

First, as you will find on different Jewish websites or blogs, as each millenium of the world's existance corresponds to another day of the week of Creation, when you correlate a 1,000 years to the 24 hours of the day, this Rosh Chodesh Av 5770 marked the time of day on Friday at the 6 and half hour point of the daytime (assuming 12 clock hours). According to Jewish law, this marks the beginning of the time in the afternoon known as Mincha Gedolah, the big Mincha, when the Mincha or afternoon prayers can first be recited. As our present 6th millenium corresponds to the 6th day of the week - Yom Shishi (or Friday), it is the day of the week when we make our final preparations for Shabbat. It is significant to note that in Nusach Sephard prayer books, the Mincha prayers on Friday begin with Psalm 107, which mentions the four dangerous scenarios that one who is saved from them recites a blessing in the synagogue thanking Hashem for "providing me with all good". This Psalm consists of 43 verses. Perhaps the significance of this is that the overall good refers to the liberation of Jerusalem following the numerous attempts of nations to take over this holiest city, which took place on the 43rd day of the Omer (28 Iyar). This seems to be an echo of what is mentioned in Zechariah 14.

This Rosh Chodesh Av 5770 also hits home about our obligation to our fellow Jews. You see, this date marked the 9,000th day from that fateful day of November 21, 1985, corresponding to 8 Kislev 5746, when Jonathan Pollard, who risked his freedom giving classified information that the United States was supposed to reveal to Israel but didn't do so, which was vital for Israel's security, was arrested by the FBI, and hasn't been released from prison in almost 25 years, despite the fact that for being charged for only one count of handing over classified information to another country, in which case was the United States's supposed friendly country of Israel not considered an enemy nation, which is punishable for a 2-4 year sentence or 10 year maximum sentence if committed today, was sentenced with life imprisonment with NO PAROLE! No other spy in the history of the United States has been punished for the level of crime that he was charged with. While for all those who think that despite this, Jonathan Pollard should rot in prison, without trying to even justify here what he did, there is no question that Anti-Semitism played a big role in the sentencing and subsequent tortures that he went through, including being locked up for a year in very tiny cell for 23 and a half hours a day, with feces all over the floor from a backed up toilet which the prison authorities refused to do anything about to make life a living hell for Jonathan Pollard, and would rather pay more money to have someone clean up the daily mess. Mr. Pollard, with his several health problems, he is literally a living miracle.

And as a connection between these two significant points pertaining to this Rosh Chodesh Av, one of the four dangerous scenarios in Psalm 107 is being in prison, "Those who sat in darkness and the sahdow of death, shackled in affliction and iron..." (verse 10).

This 9,000th day of Rosh Chodesh Av 5770 beginning the period of Tishat Hayamim, the Nine Days is not what I came up with, though I did my math double checking the amount of days, showing July 12 of last Monday to be the 9,000th day. What I will add to this is that in Hebrew, the number for 9,000 is Teit, just like the letter for the number nine. Hence, Rosh Chodesh Av, the beginning of the month that is represented by the letter Teit which is NINE, marking the NINTH plague that struck the Egyptians - darkness, marked the last day of 9,000 days since the cruel incarceration of Jonathan Pollard living in darkness from freedom, for which the letter Teit can also read 9,000, in this year of HaTeisha - THE NINE! And speaking of the last day of the 9th period of 1,000 days, our rabbis note that in fact, the Temple began to be destroyed only AT THE END of Tisha B'Av, the NINTH of Av, which continued throughout the 10th of Av. Though the majority of the destruction took place on the latter date, since it is the beginning of a tragedy that is the worst, it was the NINTH of Av chosen to be datemarked as the day of infamy.

In any case, this is not just a number game or another factoid, and then time for dinner. As we read near the end of the Haggadah in the song Echad Mi Yodea, where we mention a significant factor about the first 13 numbers, the number nine represents the nine months of pregnancy. The period of pregnancy is the time of the physical development of a human being, and upon completion, is born in this world. And the purpose of a person living in this world is to do action, as the final verse of Parshat VaEtchanan that we will read this Shabbat states, "You shall observe the commandment and the statutes and the judgments that I command you today TO DO THEM" (Deutronomy 7:11). Now, upon a simple reading of this verse, the question can be asked, why add the word La'asotam "to do them"? Obviously, if we are told to observe the commandments that Hashem commanded us, then why add "to do them"? Rashi points out, as highlighted by the Siftei Chachamim, a commentary on Rashi, that Hayom La'asotam - "today to do them" "and tomorrow to receive the reward for the commandments in the world to come". Meaning, "to do them" is not referring per se to what Hashem is commanding us to do, but that it is TODAY - in our lifetime on Planet Earth, that we need to take action, to do what Hashem commands us to do, to take full advantage of our time, in order to attain ETERNAL reward. After we finish living in this world, there is nothing we can do on our own that will help us attain this goal.

In a similar vein, though as a little different take, we see at the conclusion of the account of the days of Creation where it mentions that Hashem rested on Shabbat from all His work "that G-d created TO DO" (Genesis 2:3). Again, the words TO DO seem superfluous. At this, Rashi points out that the work that was slated to be done on the seventh day - Shabbat, was done instead on the sixth day of Creation, doing a double amount of work on the sixth day. Now, a question can be asked, if Hashem knew exactly how things were going to be, what does it mean by saying "the work that was slated to be done on the seventh day". Hashem had in mind to begin with to rest on this day, and so in order to finish everything on time, He had to do it on the sixth day?

The Torah is here to teach us a lesson, not just a story on how the world was created
or how Shabbat was observed historically, because even if Hashem wouldn't have rested
on Shabbat, but told us to rest on this day, we would still have to follow Hashem's orders. But we see that we can't fool around about doing what are obligations are, even for one day, because besides the fact that we have to follow what Hashem tells us to do everyday - to pray everyday, to learn Torah every day, etc., we never know what will be tomorrow. If we truly feel that we don't know if we will have a tomorrow - just as a few thousand people living in the greater New York area who woke up on the morning of September 11, '01 and didn't know that they would never see another sunset - then we will beef up our performance and perhaps we will accomplish twice the amount that we thought we could accomplish.

Quite oftentimes, it is a state of mind when we think we can't do everything that needs to be accomplished - at least anytime soon. And while one should not attempt to do too much, and then be burnt out, we have to train ourselves mentally that in fact, Hashem has given us capabilities to accomplish much, pending what Hashem will allow us to do. Perhaps we may truly not be able to accomplish everything that we truly intend to do if this is how Hashem wants it, but our job is clearly to do our part. Certainly, many who were determined to do what it takes to accomplish something, such as saving Jewish lives both physically and spiritually, showed that indeed, if it something that one feels needs to be done, Hashem will give Divine assistance to help beyond what seems to work only through natural means. There are countless of stories told of how unexpected money came at the last minute for people and Jewish organizations seeking to help other Jews who would not have been able to do so under normal circumstances in the natural order of things.

In another sense, the sixth millenium of this world's existance, representing the sixth day of Creation, represents the time that we need to beef up our performance, as Hashem did twice the amount of work to finish off on the sixth day. In fact, the show is almost over. And the question is, who will be the ones who can say that they made the difference of bringing the redemption closer? It is our very generation living in right before the coming of Moshiach, as today's Kabbalists and autistic people have made clear, that have this task. The nine months of pregnancy conclude with birthpangs right before the birth. And we are indeed now in the Chevlei Moshiach, birthpangs of Moshiach - right before the "birth of Moshiach" the potential that began with the destruction of the Second Temple - when all kinds of troubles befall the world, including an unprecendented amount and magnitude of earthquakes, hurricanes, tzunamis, etc. which Hashem is using to shake up the world to work on their behavior, a message that Hashem is addressing us Jews especially. Hashem does not want to punish us if He can employ other means of relaying the message to us. Hashem has been considerably merciful on us until now. But, time is running out, and now is the time that we have to show that we mean serious business if we didn't convey this all that much in the past.


Jonathan Pollard was born on August 7, 1954. Looking up the Jewish calendar on this,
he was either born on the daytime of Shabbat Chazon, the 8th of Av - which is today's date, or on the night of Tisha B'Av. In any case, we read the word Eicha in both on Shabbat Chazon when we read verses starting with this word both in Parshat Devarim & the Haftara; and on Tisha B'Av, especially at night - we read Megillat Eicha, which was composed by the prophet Jeremiah, a most worthy Cohen descendant of Aharon, who was born on Tisha B'Av (9 Av) and also thrown into the pit for attempting to help his people through his prophecies with the hope that they would repent and not incur the tragedies that happened to them.

And speaking of Jeremiah, as I wrote earlier about the number nine as related to darkness and the month of Av of which the saddest part of it is the first nine days, the NINTH word of the NINTH verse of the NINTH chapter of the Book of Jeremiah is the word Kinah/lamentation, the plural of which is Kinot, which refers both to the Book of Eicha that we read on Tisha B'Av which was also authored by Jeremiah, and the lamentation poems that are also recited on this date. Let's write out this verse - part of the Haftara for the morning of Tisha B'Av, the NINTH of Av: "For the mountains I will raise My voice in weeping and wailing, and for the pastures of the wilderness a LAMENTATION, for they are parched, without a person passing by; and they will not hear the sound of cattle; from bird of heaven to animal, they have wandered off and gone."

And another thing about this verse pertaining to Gematriot, Rashi notes on the latter part of this verse that this refers to the 52 years that not a single creature was living in Israel from around the time of the destruction of the First Temple until the announcement of Coresh king of Persia allowing the Jews to return home (as mentioned in the very last verse of the Tanach), as the word Beheima/animal is the Gematria of 52. Perhaps the reason this is hinted particularly by the word Beheima/animal, though also all the birds and fish were gone too, is that because the Jews behaved as animals via the sins of idolatry, adultery, and murder, they were chased out of the land for 52 years, corresponding to the Gematria of the Hebrew word for animal. (The 70 year exile includes the period of time that the Temple had yet to be rebuilt for another 18 years following the Jews' return).

Now, two verses later which is included in the Haftara - Jeremiah 9:11 - this verse is a striking reminder of the events of 9/11 (and Tisha B'Av is the 9th day of the 11th month Tishrei from the beginning of the Hebrew year) - "Who is the wise man who will understand this? Who is he to whom the mouth of Hashem speaks, that he may explain this? For what reason did the land perish and become parched like the desert, without a passerby?" This sure sounds like Ground Zero. And in THIS year of 5770 - Hey Tav Shin Ayin - HaTeisha "The Nine", it will be the NINTH anniversary of 9/11, which was G-d's punishment to the United States for pressuring Israel to give land away to its Arab enemies days before this incident occurred; and I believe that it was just one more punishment for the United States for not releasing Jonathan Pollard long after he was supposed to be released from prison as per the maximum 2-4 year sentence allowed by United States law for what he was charged with, but it made an exception for Mr. Pollard BECAUSE HE IS A JEW!

Significantly, the spies whom Moshe sent to check out Israel upon the Jewish people's request came back on the 8th of Av, who (except for Joshua and Caleb) gave a very discouraging report about Israel, following which, the Jews cried on that evening - the night of Tisha B'Av, which was the cause of our worst tragedies on this very date. So, it seems that Jonathan Pollard, who was born either during the
daytime of the 8th of Av or on the night of Tisha B'Av, as a spy who in fact helped Israel with vital security information, may have very well accomplished what he did, since it was meant for him to rectify some of the harm that the evil spies did in reporting bad news about Israel, which included their opinion about the security in the land.

Perhaps the timing of Mr. Pollard's birth was a premonition of how his life would be from the time he would be 31 and 1/3 years, living nearly 25 years of darkness ever since, as Jeremiah's birth on Tisha B'Av was a premonition for the prophecies of doom that he gave over that would happen many years later on this very date, and was thrown into a pit at one point for his prophecies. In Hebrew, the word Choshech/darkness can also be used as a verb, denoting withholding. Indeed, Mr. Pollard's freedom has been withheld from him for nearly 25 years. And speaking of Mr. Pollard serving in the midst of his 25th year of darkness, the word Eicha/how denoting a sense of anguish, especially describing a disturbing situation in sharp contrast to how things used to be, can be read as two words, Ay Koh - "where is Koh", as denoted in the Kinnot/lamentation poetry that we read in the morning of Tisha B'Av. For example, where is the promise of Ko Yihyeh Zarecha "So shall your seed be", Hashem's promise to Abraham that the Jews would multiply like the stars of heaven, but so many were murdered over the thousands of years? In a numerical sense, the word Koh/so is the Gematria of 25.

Yes, where did the last 25 years of Jonathan Pollard's life go, when not only he didn't have to be in prison so long for what he did based on what is normally the maximum sentence, and not be free to live as everyone else outside of prison, but he could have accomplished so much more actively than simply serving as an icon in the hope that others will take action not only for him but also for the rest of the Jewish people? Of course, Hashem will reward him tremendously for sacrificing his own freedom to save Israel with the security information that he provided to it. However, WHAT HAVE WE DONE to end Mr. Pollard's life in prison behind bars, even as his health is failing? WHERE IS OUR COMMITTMENT?!

As the end of the 45th Parsha, this week's Parshat VaEtchanan ends with telling us to take action today, so is the answer to the above questions about our actions for Jonathan Pollard is Yesh Mah La'asot - there is WHAT to do, as Mah/what is the Gematria of 45. You see, people often ask, this is all nice, but what is there to do?

I refer everyone to for the complete answer to this question, and read this to get a good glimpse of the type of fine character that Mr. Pollard has. However, if nothing else, especially for those who live in Israel, there is one phonenumber to call EVERYDAY - the phonenumber to the office of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu: 073-2100348. There is much action to be done, but the ultimate thing is for Mr. Netanyahu, before he signs the dotted line for any agreements pertaining to the Middle East as per Obama's wishes, though Israel has no business making any type of concessions to begin with, to at least see to it that Israel will not make further peace attempts until Jonathan Pollard is released. Period! Bibi does not need to release more terrorists as he has done in the past. As per Gilad Shalit, dealing with the terrorists is strictly an issue between Israel and the Hamas. But, Jonathan Pollard is an issue SOLELY between Israel and the United States. And if enough people tie up the Prime Minister's phoneline everyday calling to secure Mr. Pollard's release, perhaps Bibi will wake up and realize that things aren't going to move forward until he does. And for those in the States, if calling Israel is costly, then you have the White House phonenumbers - switchboard: 202-456-1414 or comments: 202-456-1111.

Though it is Hashem Who controls the world, He does let people have free choice to do the right thing - or unfortunately, the reverse. Bibi Netanyahu had it in his power in the past at the Wye Summit, but blew it when after United States reneged on their promise to free Mr. Pollard, Bibi still signed the dotted line and freed hundreds of terrorists. Now he has the chance once again to do the right thing this time and be adamant about Jonathan Pollard's release. The reason why I say this is for two reasons. First, his late brother, having the same exact Hebrew name as Mr. Pollard - Yehonatan Netanyahu - had a leading role in the IDF when in 1976, his unit got captured by Arabs in Entebbe in which he was the only one who got killed, while the rest were eventually freed. Secondly, Mr. Netanyahu's family name has the same Hebrew letters as Yehonatan - the only difference is the order of the first three and last three letters! Perhaps the sole reason why he became Prime Minister once again is that Hashem is giving him once more chance to do his mission right this time - just as his late brother gave up his life fulfilling his mission, BECAUSE HASHEM WANTS JONATHAN POLLARD - HERO OF ISRAEL - FREED! (Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, may the memory of the righteous be blessed, former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, has been quoted of saying that the redemption of the Jewish people is dependent on freeing Jonathan Pollard!)


There are four times in the entire Chumash that mentions the word Moshiach. Yet ironically, it doesn't refer to Moshiach as the Davidic descendant who will redeem us, but it rather refers to the Cohen Gadol - HaCohen HaMoshiach - who is annointed with oil to be inaugurated in this position, as the word Moshiach means annointed.

Could it be that perhaps there is some kind of connection here between the Cohen Gadol and Moshiach, even as we use the word Moshiach in everyday language as the Messiah rather than the Cohen Gadol? And why is it that the Yahrzeit of Aharon, the first Cohen Gadol, is the sole mention of a Yahrzeit in the entire Tanach?

It was the Cohanim, headed by the Cohen Gadol, who represented the aspect of Avoda - Divine Service, as only the Cohanim were permitted in the holier areas in the Temple as they were the only ones who could offer the sacrifices once the animal was slaughtered. In fact, the 17th blessing of the Shemoneh Esrei prayer is called the blessing of Avoda, asking Hashem to return to us the Avoda, the Temple rituals, concluding with our request from Hashem to return His Divine Presence to Zion. In a more universal way, Avoda represents all of our service working for Hashem. In order to receive reward or a paycheck, we have to work for it. Hence, once we do our job, as the Cohanim did their job in the Temple, then we can hope for the Messianic era when things will indeed be much better for the Jewish people - both spiritually and physically. Many begin the morning prayers with the verse -
Mah (literally means what) Tovu - "How good are your tents - O Jacob and your Tabernacle - O Israel" Tovu, as the same letters as Tov/good is the Gematria of 17, and this verse refers to the synagogues and Yeshivot/study halls, representative of the Beit HaMikdash/Temple, beginning with the word Mah, the concept of looking to take action, to do Avodah.

The Mishnaic tractate detailing how the Temple is supposed to be built is called Middot, which literally means measurements. But the question can be asked, why was this word chosen for the name of this tractate? Perhaps the word Mikdash/sacntuary would have been a better choice?

But as we have seen in our past, having the Beit HaMikdash has been dependent on our actions. When we misbehaved, the Temple was destroyed - twice. After the first time, we had a brief recession of 70 years, and then when we kids behaved a little better, we got back our Temple. However, though we may have had the Temple a little longer this time around, things did not get better spiritually for the Jews and though they misbehaved in other ways other than idolatry, the Temple was destroyed again, and Hashem was not going to play games this time with us kids. Now, we have to really earn the Temple to get it back, but this time - the Third Temple will be forever. For this, we need to work mightily hard for it. As describing someone with good character traits, we say that he/she has Middot Tovot. Literally, Middot means measurements, as in our case, it is measuring our pattern of behavior and searching for where it needs improvement. Hence, the word Middot connects the idea of us needing to measure our standard of proper behavior with the rebuilding of the Temple.

It's interesting to note that the first two letters of the word Middot is Mem Dalet -
yes, the number 44! And in the entire Tanach, the letters of the word Moshiach, when spelling letters consecutively forwards and backwards, can be spelled 44 times!
So, is the number 44 a good thing or a bad thing, the latter about which I had written plenty about?

Along these lines, the number nine, though associated with darkness and sadness, can also denote the preparation stage of a person to do what he/she needs to in this world. In a more positive note, we see the verse in Kohelet/Ecclesiastes 7:1 - "A good name is better than good oil, and the day of death is better than the day of birth". The verse begins with the word Tov/good, and the first letter Teit is spelled unusually BIG. It seems that the emphasis here is on the letter Teit.

You see, this world is indeed a world of darkness, a world in which there is much falsehood, a world in which much Torah spirituality is covered up. However, we can utilize the physical resources that Hashem has given us to serve him for the ultimate GOOD. Indeed, what counts in the end is the accomplishments that a person did that give him the good name, the good reputation, and NOT the fancy shancy lifestyle of the fatness of the land, as the word Shemen/oil is related to the word Shamnut/fatness. It is upon the passing of a righteous person, though a loss in this physical world in the sense that we can no longer directly, at least on a physical plane, relate to him, that this saint can now reap the eternal reward for his good deeds - a far greater accomplishment that the celebration of his birth when it was yet to be known how he would behave in this world; because if G-d forbid, a person does not behave the way that Hashem wants, what meaning does his birthday have
if at the end, one will be left out in the dark, which is far worse than physical darkness - forever?

The Midrash tells us that King Solomon wrote three books which became part of the Tanach: He wrote Shir HaShirim/Song of Songs in his youth, as represented by the romantic encounter between Hashem and the Jews, as people are in their young years; he wrote Mishlei/Proverbs in his middle years representing the wisdom that Hashem blessed him which he conveyed to others during the midst of his life, and he wrote Kohelet/Ecclesiastes at the end of his life consisting of his life experiences and what he learned from them. Indeed, the next to the last verse of Kohelet reads - Sof Davar - "The end of the matter has been heard by all, fear G-d and observe His commandments, for this is the whole purpose of mankind". Similarly, the letter Samech, the first letter of the word Sof/end beginning this verse, is also written unusually BIG. In fact, these two letters Teit and Samech, are the least used letters in the Tanach. Perhaps what King Solomon wants to teach us is that the ones who seem to count the least, are sometimes the ones who serve to be the greatest role models as to how to serve Hashem, for the Tov/good is what counts at the Sof/end, at the end of one's lifetime when it is the eternal good that one strives for. And though Jonathan Pollard may not be a rabbi or someone to be a called an "Ultra-Orthodox" Jew, as far as I am concerned, he has done more for the Jewish people in the short time that he relayed critical security information to Israel that the United States was obligated to relay but didn't, than most Jews have done in their lifetime - regardless of how they label themselves in the Judaism spectrum.

Though Moshe Rabbeinu is the one to whom Hashem gave over the Torah, perhaps some may have felt that they could not relate to him, for after all, Hashem only spoke directly to him, and he was at Mt. Sinai for three periods of 40 days each when he didn't eat or drink. It was Aharon, who was far more involved physically with the everyday lives of the Jewish people, who became the first Cohen Gadol, and served Hashem accordingly in the Tabernacle with the same type of devotion that he treated other Jews. In fact, there is a Mitzva for the Cohanim to eat from certain animal sacrifices, which seems to represent the core of physicality, teaching us that only when we use the physical to serve Hashem does it serve a real purpose. Hence, the Yahrzeit of Aharon HaCohen is most representative of what we can learn from the life of a righteous person. His Yahrzeit of Rosh Chodesh Av begins and is the head of the month represented by the letter Teit, the letter of action, preparation for the real world of spirituality and eternity.

Hence, the word Dam/blood=44 doesn't have to be bloodshed, if we as human beings consisting of blood that allows us to live in this physical plane can behave as good people. This 75th post would not be complete without quoting the Talmud Yoma 9b stating that while the First Temple was destroyed due to the sins of idolatry, adultery, and bloodshed; the Second Temple was destroyed because of Sinat Chinam/baseless hatred. Additionally, our rabbis tell us that in a generation in which the Temple is not rebuilt, it is considered as though it was destroyed in that generation. Yes, BASELESS hatred, if the reason for that hatred goes against the Torah. However, if we start practicing what is called Ahavat Chinam/BASELESS love, the way that Aharon HaCohen, the Cohen Gadol who is referred to in the Chumash as HaCohen HaMoshiach; then indeed, Moshiach the descendant of King David will come momentarily which will be followed with the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash.

Yes, those who feel that Jonathan Pollard should rot in prison, long after he served his time for the maximum amount of time allowed by United States law, despite whatever he may have done wrong, clearly have this Aveira/sin of Sinat Chinam. And for those who will never openly admit they are guilty of this, actions sometimes speak louder than words. For example, Joe Lieberman, the so-called Orthodox Jew who ran as Vice President of the U.S. a while back, went out of his way to write a letter
about keeping Jonathan Pollard in prison, and had other senators like him sign this letter. Why? His excuse - because he didn't want to show duel loyalty! But what is perhaps more surprising, at least to me, for after all, Joe LIEberman is all about lies and politics, is that Jewish organizations have honored him right and left, despite him having stabbed Mr. Pollard in the back. I refer specially to one organization who have people go around the country visit Jews in prison to bring them closer to Judaism and give them encouragement. I never heard or read from this organization, or from any other source writing about this organization for that matter, about sending anyone to visit Jonathan Pollard; for after all, if he is already religious, then why "waste" their time with him, let alone champion his cause for freedom. But the ultimate Chutzpa is that several years ago, this organization printed a flyer to welcome and honor Joe LIEberman - who already betrayed this special Jew - to the organization's/synagogue's Succah for the upcoming Succot holiday! Yes, the Yetzer Hara, the devil, works in very devious ways, but at the end, Hashem will show the hypocracies of these types of organizations - or better put, of the people who are running these organizations, including the rabbis involved.

Yes, action for the better. We can change what is not going right, and make a difference. And even if it seems that we are wasting our time, we have to remember -
what would we do for Jonathan Pollard - Yehonathan Ben Malka - if he was our beloved physical brother, relative, or significant other? The only variable would be is to try a different tactic, but remaining silent would not be an option. Perhaps this is the ultimate test of our Ahavat Yisrael, love for a fellow Jew, Jonathan Pollard -one Jew whom most of us have never met personally, but who represents the aspect of Mesirut Nefesh, giving of one's self. For some, giving up one's life for a good purpose isn't so difficult if they believe in the hereafter. However, taking the chance to give up one's freedom and then to live under very troubled circumstances isn't something that many of us would be ready to do.

On a final note, one of the most active Biblical figures is Samson, known in Hebrew as Shimshon HaGibbor, the strong one. But it wasn't that he was just physically strong by nature - he used his strength to help his people, even when he was betrayed by some of them. He would not tolerate the Phillistines harrassing the Jews. Though he had spiritual failings, his life centered around Ahavat Yisrael, love for the Jews, and his name is a common Hebrew name.

Samson's title - HaGibbor, when the Hei is placed at the front of the word instead of at the end of the word, spells the word Gevurah/strength. As compared to Chesed/kindness, this Sephira/Divine Emanation is the negative side of Chesed, representing strict justice. As pointed out in Hassidic sources, there are 216 hours
in the NINE days from Rosh Chodesh Av through Tisha B'Av, and Gevurah is the Gematria of 216. Indeed, it was at the end of Tisha B'Av - the 216th hour - when the Second Temple was first set on fire.

And as related to the Sephira period when we count 49 days from the 16th of Nissan when the Omer/barley offering was brought until Shavuot, corresponding to which are 49 combinations of the seven active Divine Emanations, the one for the NINTH day of the Omer is Gevurah She'B'Gevurah - Strength within Strength, denoting the harshest aspect of Divine judgement.

And on a more positive note, we have to do our part, and then Hashem will indeed do the rest - to bring Moshiach, rebuild the Temple, and G-d Jonathan Pollard so he can return to the home that he so defended some 25 years ago - the Land of Israel.

Erev Tisha B'Av 5770

P.S. Next week, G-d willing, I will be writing about a parental descendant of Aharon HaCohen who showed what taking action is all about. Stay tuned.