Thursday, September 30, 2010

#84 - A New DAY = A New PAGE

With this post, I begin my third year of writing at following the conclusion of Simchat Torah.

One year ago, while I already was dating the woman who is now my wife, I was still a single man. This year, it was my first Simchat Torah being married to my wife. I am still in what is called my Shanah Rishonah - the first year of marriage, about which the Torah tells us that we must spend our first year of marriage together without leaving town without one's spouse, unless the other one gives permission.

The other holiday that is especially connected to marriage is Shavuot because this is when the Jewish people was so to speak became married to Hashem through the Torah
- the marriage contract. In fact, the beginning of the last Parsha of the Torah that we read on Simchat Torah mentions that momentous occasion of Hashem giving us the Torah.

And so, it is hardly surprising that both the one who is called to the Torah for the final reading of the scroll and the one who is called to the Torah for the first reading of the scroll are called Chatan Torah "Bridegroom of the Torah" & Chatan Bereishit "Bridegroom of Bereishit" respectively. While we do celebrate Shavuot as the day of the Giving of the Torah by learning Torah all night and reading the Torah which speaks in detail of this occasion, it is particularly on Simchat Torah that makes it evident to all that we celebrate this by singing, dancing, and marking this day as when we conclude the Torah, and immediately begin it anew. Similarly one getting married celebrates both the fact that he has ended his years of being single and is now beginning a new era in life.

In my case, especially in my first year of marriage, there was another very significant matter here regarding today's Kriat HaTorah/reading of the Torah. First, I want to point out as I have done in the past that the phrase Kriat HaTorah is the Gematria of my full Hebrew name, Shimon Matisyahu - 1,327. And the last Parsha of the Torah - V'Zot HaBeracha - that we read on Simchat Torah, has 41 Pesukim/verses, this year in my first year of marriage, which was my 41st year of life. And while I did not wind up being called as the Chatan Torah or Chatan Bereishit, but the usual Levite reading, the main thing is that I am now married, and so I especially had one more reason to celebrate this year.

Though we have Kriat HaTorah a minimum of four times a week - twice on Shabbat, Monday & Thursday, the Shulchan Aruch (428:3) equates Kriat HaTorah specifically to Simchat Torah. You see, it mentions how to remember what day of the week that a particular holiday will fall out on based on the days of Passover of that particular year. Using the Gematria method of AtBash in which Alef, the first letter of the Alef Beit, is equated with Tav, the last letter of the Alef Beit, and then working similarly with the rest of the Hebrew letters where Beit, the second letter, is equated with Shin - the second from the last letter, and so on, corresponding to Alef which is the 1st day of Passover, Tisha B'Av which begins with Tav falls out on the same day of the week as the past first day of Passover. Similarly, Shavuot which begins with a Shin falls out on the same day of the week as the past second day of Passover represented by Beit.

And so, the day of Simchat Torah, which the Shulchan Aruch calls Kriat HaTorah as this phrase begins with the letter Koof, the fourth to the last letter, corresponds to the past fourth day of Passover represented by a Dalet. Now, someone may ask here, "Wait a minute, what day of the week is or was Simchat Torah this year. I know that the first day of Passover this past year began on a Monday night continuing until Tuesday night. And so, the fourth day of Passover had to have begun
on a Thursday night continuing until Shabbat. That being the case, Simchat Torah began tonight - Thursday night, not Wednesday night. Are you a Reform Jew, or perhaps I am not quite knowledgeable as you are, but I thought that it is forbidden to write on a Jewish holiday as Simchat Torah, so how can you write this today even though you are writing Torah?"

The truth is that the only kind of person who will ask such a question is someone who may at one time been what you call a Reform Jew and just recently started becoming observant of what is loosely called Orthodox Judaism who does not realize that in Israel, Simchat Torah is the same and only day of Shmini Atzeret, the original name of the holiday, where I am presently living. To the best of my knowledge, Reform Jews observe only one day of Jewish holidays outside of Israel even though this is a violation of Jewish law as it is only in Israel that we observe the original one day. While ironically, the author of the Shulchan Aruch, Rabbi Joseph Karo, lived his later years in Israel, he addressed the majority of Jews at the time who were living outside of Israel, and so it may be considered a little irony that I am writing this on the very day - 23 Tishrei - that is called Kriat HaTorah or Simchat Torah as observed outside of Israel, but for me myself writing this, it is no longer the holiday that Jews outside of Israel just started celebrating a short time ago in the East Coast of the United States where I come from.

In any case, there is another connection between the fourth day of Passover and Simchat Torah. You see, as each day of Passover has a Torah reading from a different section in the Torah, the reading for the fourth day of Passover, unless the day before is Shabbat, begins with Im Kesef Talveh Et Ami "If you lend money to My nation..." (Exodus 22:24) where the first word Im/if is the Gematria of 41, the number of the verses of the last Parsha of the Torah that is read on Simchat Torah!

And as this last Parsha of the Torah concludes with its 41th and last Pasuk, it would be most noteworthy to mention that in the section of the Torah about the Mitzvah for the Cohanim to bless the Jewish congregation (Numbers 6:22-27), the very first words of Torah that we recite following the daily morning blessings for learning Torah, it consists of exactly 41 words, and 150 letters. Accordingly, there are 150 Psalms, and 150 words to the Aishet Chayil "woman of valor" paragraph -which refers to the Jewish woman of the house, the Shabbat, and the Torah - the conclusion of Proverbs (31:10-31) recited every Shabbat night before Kiddush. So speaking of LAST, and the first Simchat Torah of my marriage falling out in my 41st year, the last letter of the Alef Beit is Tav, the Gematria of 400, and my wife's full Hebrew name - Yael Miriam - is the Gematria of 400. And this would not be complete if I didn't mention that the word Torah begins with the letter Tav, the very first word of Torah that a child learns as part of the verse Torah Tziva Lanu Moshe Morasha Kehilat Ya'akov - "Moses commmanded us the Torah, it is a heritage of the congregation of Jacob", the fourth verse of Parshat V'Zot HaBeracha that is read on Simchat Torah.


And so, bearing in mind that the phrase Kriat HaTorah is the Gematria of my name Shimon Matisyahu and that Simchat Torah is called Kriat HaTorah, it may seem logical that my name may be hinted somewhere in the final Parsha that is read on this most special day. In fact, it was only today on Simchat Torah, not the first time on this holiday in the past that I have come up with special Torah treats, that everything came together for me.

You see, when Moses gave his blessings to the Tribes of Israel, the only Tribe that he did not bless individually was Shimon. It seems that even though this is not the only Tribe that ever sinned, Moses was quite upset to the last day of his life that it was chiefly 24,000 members of this tribe who had sinned just in the past year with
the Peor. You see, it is mentioned in the Midrash that Moses was buried right near there to atone for this sin. And so, it is not surpirising that whatever atonement that he would have to go through as a result, he knew it was primarily this tribe who was the cause for it. And so, while he loved his own Jewish people so much to the extent that when it came to the sin of the Golden Calf that some Jews worshipped,
that he was willing to give up his entire spiritual merits to the extent of not even being mentioned in the Torah to save the Jewish nation from extinction, he was not so forgiving with this one tribe. And so, he only hints to this tribe within his blessing for the Tribe of Judah as the tribe inherited land within Judah's portion - Shema Hashem Kol Yehudah - "May Hashem hear the voice of Judah", as the word Shema/hear is cognate to the name Shimon.

But here is where it really gets interesting. Near the end of the Parsha/Torah, it mentions this root word again - VAYISHMEU Eilav Bnei Yisrael "The Jews HEARD him (Joshua)". And as I had mentioned in the past, a discovery of Rabbi Michoel Dov Weissmandl, the name Matisyahu, the name of Matisyahu Ben Yochanan Cohen Gadol, the partriach of the Maccabbees who was responsible for the holiday of Chanuka, is hinted here where every 50th letter spells another letter of this name, beginning with the letter Mem of Moshe's name when it states that "Moshe died there". Anyways,
it is in the midst of this matrix of the spelling of this name that the word Vayishmeu/they heard is written. Is the Torah hinting to me here? It is true that I was a regular Torah reader for like 15 years before I moved to Israel.

And as the name Matisyahu is the Gematria of 861, I should note that the first 41 numbers - 1 through 41 - also equals 861. And as I had mentioned that there are exactly 41 ones in the Parsha about the Mitzvah of Bircat Cohanim, it was on the date of Rosh Chodesh Nissan - marking the very first time that Aaron and his sons performed this Mitzva - that I gave myself the name Matisyahu as my second Hebrew name, also noting that the one that I named myself afterwards - Matisyahu Ben Yochanan Cohen Gadol - was a Cohen as a direct parental descendant of Aaron.


Also today, looking in the Artscroll Siddur, I saw the phrase Kriat HaTorah L'Simchat Torah "The Torah reading for Simchat Torah". Lo and behold, looking at the first letters of this phrase, they spell to read the word - Kohelet (Koof-Hei-Lamed-Tav/Sav).

Just this past Shabbat, we read the Book of Kohelet/Ecclesiastes, which is one of the five Megillot of the Tanach/Bible. This is always read on Shabbat during Succot. According to the Midrash, King Solomon wrote this in his older years when he already learned the lessons of life. However, at one point in time later in history, the Sages almost did not include this in the Bible, because there seemed to be inconsistencies with this book of 222 verses. However, one of the factors that convince the Sages to let it be part of the Holy Bible is the next to the last verse "The end matter has been heard. Fear G-d and observe His commandments, for this is the purpose of mankind". It's intersting to note that this verse begins with an unusually BIG letter Samech - Sof/end. Indeed, the very last time in the Chumash that the letter Samech is used is in the END Parsha V'Zot HaBeracha, read as part of the Kriat HaTorah for Simchat Torah, is where it says - Samach Moshe Et Yadav Alav "Moses leaned his hands on him (Joshua)". The verb Samach/leaned also spelled the name of the letter Samech. Indeed, Moses leaning his hands on Joshua, transmitted to him who would be the next Jewish leader - the Torah.
It is this authentic Jewish tradition that would teach the Jews to "fear G-d and observe His commandments".

On the flipside, in the beginning of Bereishit which is read on Simchat Torah, all the other letters of the Aleph Beit are included, except for the letter Samech. You see, in the beginning of Creation, things didn't quite work out right. Adam & Eve sinned on the day that they were created, and so, they obviously didn't fear G-d so much or keep daily tabs on what commandments had to be observed. It took nearly 2,450 years for Jewish tradition to be transmitted "The end matter is fear G-d and observe His commandments".

Aside from this, there are times that the reading of the Torah of Simcha Torah - the conclusion of the Sefer Torah/Torah scroll is performed on the same day that Kohelet is read. In a year when (the first day of) Shemini Atzeret falls out on Shabbat, Kohelet is read on this outside of Israel while the Torah reading for the day as Simchat Torah is performed today inside of Israsel. However in Israel, Kohelet is not read on Shemini Atzeret, but on the first day of Succot when it falls out during Shabbat.

Another connection between Kohelet and the conclusion of the Torah is the Midrash on the beginning of Kohelet - Kohelet Rabba - where it notes that we learn out from King Solomon who made a feast following Hashem's promise to him that he would be granted special wisdom that no else had ever been granted, that we too make a feast for finishing the Torah - the greatest book of wisdom that exists - as this is Hashem's wisdom that is contained with the Chumash, whose words come from non other than Hashem Himself, Who dictated to Moses the exact wording that we have read since for over 3,300 years.

It seems that the Book of Kohelet is hinted to in the verse quoted above - Torah Tziva...KEHILLAT Ya'akov - "...CONGREGATION OF Jacob," for indeed, it is in the midst of the period of time that we start reading from the beginning of this last Parsha of the Torah, anywhere from Shabbat Shuva - the Shabbat between the High Holidays - which was on the 3rd of Tishrei this year to a couple of days before Succot on the 13th of Tishrei through Simchat Torah, that we read the Book of Kohelet sometime during Succot. And as pertaining to Jacob especially this year, we read the Book of Kohelet on Shabbat occuring on the 3rd day of Succot which corresponds to the Ushpizin/Heavenly Guest - Jacob of the seven Ushpizin corresponding to the seven days of Succot. And as this verse states - Kehillat Yaa'kov; since in the Sefer Torah/Torah scroll, there are no vowels so the word Kehillat spells exactly the same as Kohelet, and the immediate word after this is Jacob's name. Hence, the first letters of the phrase Kriat HaTorah L'Simchat Torah spell a word in a most special verse that indeed is part of the Kriat HaTorah L'Simchat Torah - the reading for ths very day of Simchat Torah. Amazing!


As we know, the last word of the Torah - the last word of the 41st verse - is Yisrael, the name of the Jewish people. In a book authored by Simcha Friedman -
"Simcha's Torah - Making Torah Yours" which includes 17 techniques for discovering Torah insights, he mentions in the third chapter called Gematria of the difference of the Gematriot of the two names of the patriarch Jacob - Ya'akov & Yisrael. Now, considering the name Ya'akov to include the letter Vav which is written as such in five places in the Bible though usually it is spelled without it, it is the Gematria of 188; and when subtracted from the Gematria of Yisrael - 541, the difference is the number 353, the Gematria of Simcha/happiness. The significance of this is that Jacob's original name Ya'akov is based on the word Ekev/heel, the bottom part of the body; and later on, he was granted the new name Yisrael, which includes the letters of the word Rosh/head, the name having a Gematria of an additional amount of 353. The lesson to be learned from here is that the ultimate way for a Jew - called a Yisrael - of reaching the highest spiritual level is through Simcha.

Indeed, both the holy Kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria and the Vilna Gaon testified about themselves that it was through this trait of Simcha, as especially demonstrated during Simchat Torah, that they reached the high spiritual levels that they did (I don't know exactly who said what, but no doubt that being that they rejoiced learning Hashem' Torah that they were especially able to reach such high spiritual plateaus.

As another connection between these two names, the Ba'al Shem Tov, the founder of the Chasidic movement whose name is Yisroel, was born 312 years ago. In this final Parsha of the Torah which ends with the name Yisroel, there is a phrase Ein Yaakov "eye of Jacob" describing the Jewish people in very affectionate terminology. It is this very phrase - the Gematria of 312 - that is also the name of the collection of the Aggadic (or non-Halachic) part of the Talmud, compiled by Rabbi Ya'akov Ibn Chaviv who passed away over 500 years ago. This part of the Talmud
has been widely studied in the past five centuries by Jews, many of whom may have not been all that learned in Torah, but weren't overhelmed by the complex Halachic parts of the Talmud that could have otherwise turned them off from Torah study altogether, but felt comfortable enough to sit down to a Torah lecture of Ein Ya'akov
while still learning the basic Halachot/Jewish laws they needed to know to live as observant Jews. This is most reminiscent of the holiday of Simchat Torah when even simple Jews who don't know much Torah still rejoice until today, feeling that they too have a part in the Torah, even if they relate more to the spiritual level of Ya'akov, as the bottom part of the body, rather than the spiritual level of the heads of the Jewish people, the Torah scholars who are represented by the name Yisroel, the name of the founder of the Chasidic movement who brought hope to the simple Jews of his time who otherwise felt shunned by the scholarly element to whom they felt that they could not relate to.


In any synagogue or Yeshiva, the Sefer Torah is placed inside what is called the Aron/ark. Apparently, we learn this out from where the very first Sefer Torah that Moses wrote from what Hashem told him, was placed. Rashi (on Deutronomy 31:26) quotes the Talmud (Bava Batra 14) mentioning a disagreement about the Rabbis as to where this placed. Some say that there was a board protruding from the Ark on the outside, and it was there that it was placed. Others say that it was placed beside the Tablets of the Ten Commandments inside the Ark.

In any case, quoting from the first opinion, the board protruding from the Ark is called in Hebrew - Daf. This word is the number 84 in reverse - Pei Dalet - which is also the number of this post.


This two letter word became a daily word in the mouths of world Jewry some 87 years ago when the Daf Yomi - the daily study of a double sided page of the Babylonian Talmud began on Rosh Hashanah 5684/1923. Since then, all types of Torah learning schedules were invented, including the more recent Daf Yomi of the Jerusalem Talmud.

In past posts, I have written about the concept of learning a Daf of Talmud study every day. Today, I will write focusing on the concept of the Daf - the (double-sided) page of Torah studyand not necessarily just Talmud - , in contrast to studying a Perek/chapter of Torah learning.

You see, there is a very practical difference between sitting down to learn a page of something and a chapter. With studying a chapter, you don't know sometimes how long it will take to learn. Some chapters may be relatively short and easy while others will be quite long containing study material that is far harder to comprehend.

Take for instance the daily learning of the work Mishneh Torah of the Rambam/Maimonides, as suggested by the late Lubavitcher Rebbe. He devised more than one way of studying this. For some who have plenty of time and able to study well, he suggested three chapters of this halachic work every day, thus completing this work within one year. For those who don't have so much time or such easy brains, he suggested to learn one chapter a year, which will be completed within three years.

My friends, if you can keep up with even a daily chapter of this, let me know. Even for those who have good brains and had a very good Yeshiva education, when it comes to marriage, children, and making a living, the only way this is possible for all too many is if they can recite the words of the chapter, but it does little good without spending the time of not only understanding the literal meaning of the words - in Hebrew or English - but comprehending the concept of each Halacha. And at times, this involves the intricate laws of the sacrifices, the laws of purity or impurity, which aren't even applicable these days until we get the Temple back one day, and so most won't be familiar with these laws well as they are with the basic laws of daily living, such as prayer and the holidays.

What happens with many is that they eagerly learn the beginning of the Rambam, which involves not only easier concepts, but interesting ones at it, but when they get even into the details laws of Shabbat, some of which is even not so applicable these days, like the types of ovens that we don't use these days, or the details laws of the forbidden labors on a farm as most aren't farmers these days, it's easy one day to come home late one evening only to open up the text, see the general hard content of the particular "chapter of the day", turn a couple of pages to see where the chapter ends, and hence feel too tired to go through much of the chapter, and when starting to fall asleep on the book, close it for the evening, and the next thing he knows, he is several chapters behind, and then he wonders if he should try to catch up when he has a little extra time, or continue on with the "chapter of the day" which momentarily seems to be a little less challenging.

My friends, for those who have much study time and know how to learn well, the study of Rambam can be quite beneficial. But most need to be realistic, and if they truly want to learn something major Torah text from cover to cover, they have to follow a schedule that fits THEIR needs, not based on what someone else thinks they should do which will most likely fail, despite whatever noble intentions the one who invents such a regular study course have in mind.

What is needed in Torah learning today, more than ever, is equality. You see, the Daf Yomi, though it will involve many challenging days to those who study the Talmud, some of whom even who will not stay with the study program, is a very set thing - ONE PAGE ONLY. No need for flipping pages, because one knows that is it ONLY this page that he is studying today. Hence, he knows that it is only up to himself to step to the plate and make a concentrated effort to learn the Talmud page to the best of his ability. Perhaps there are some days where there is more material than others, but the negativity of feeling it's too much one evening by turning a few pages to see where the difficult chapter ends is not applicable here.

Apparently, Rabbi Meir Shapiro of blessed memory, who founded this concept of Daf Yomi, has been 87 years right. Yes, it will take more than seven years to complete the Babylonian Talmud, but the main thing is that there is a set amount of space that one needs to be concerned about - whatever is on ONLY one page - and that is it. Perhaps if there would be a standard Rambam text that everyone would know that it is only one page or column or whatever physical limited standard for the day, even if it would mean starting from a middle of a chapter and concluding in the midst of another chapter, it would still be easy for many more, and who knows how many more Jews would be learning Rambam today if such a thing would have been devised instead of even just one chapter a day. For after all, what is the point of learning something if one will not have sufficient time to comprehend it well?

Even studying the Mishnayot, which is far less material than the Rambam who follows his pattern after the Mishnayot, can still be a little challenging. But first of all, much of this Mishna is already in the Talmud that many learn, and many follow the study cycle of learning two Mishnayot a day, taking nearly six years to complete, which is far less material than one chapter. There is in fact a daily course of learning one chapter of Mishnayot a day, but at least one is given more reasonable choices as to how much Mishnayot one can learn a day - from one Mishna to one or two chapters a day to complete the 525 chapter work in one year.

The bottom line here is - learn something that is within one's timeframe and learning ability that one will be able to keep up with. Some find that learning only one side of the Talmud page, which is called an Amud, half the amount of the Daf, works better for them, as well as a little more chance to go over the material instead of just studying new material when they didn't fully comprehend the first part.

The Vilna Gaon notes that the largest Babylonian Talmudic tractate in the amount of words is the first one - Berachot. Now mind you, this is one of the easiest tractates in the Talmud, for more than one reason - full of relevant material about the reading of the Shema, prayers, and blessings, as well as being full of Aggadic material. Yes, there are some who eagerly learn this first tractate of the Talmud, and then wonder off target between the next tractate or two - either tractate Shabbat with some 156 Dafim, or the next tractate Eruvin, which is known to be one of the three hardest tractates, with also over 100 Dafim. In all fairness, the majority of tractate Berachot, as only 63 Dafim, are full of the Talmud text in contrast to the amount of commentary surrounding it, as it is not so hard to understand, but there is a lot of material to the Talmud text. But it has to be understood that in whatever study program one commits to, there has to be some serious effort to be made to understand the material. And now more than ever, between the excellent translation of Artscroll and free downloaded lectures of the Talmud, such as on, or for that matter, the local class in one's synagogue, or people to learn with, there is no shortage today of various ways of studying "the Daf".


One course of study as the "daily Daf" that appeals to me quite well is that of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, "The Concise Code of Jewish Law", compiled by Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried. I have mentioned this work before, and also the importance of studying Jewish law everyday, but today, it will be within the context of studying "the Daf".

A word on Rabbi Ganzfried from the 1800s, while a great scholar in his youth, he was involved in the business world until the age of 39 when he accepted a rabbinic post. Additionally, he wrote other works, including Kesset HaSofer, a work on the writing of Hebrew letters for Torah scrolls, Tefillin, and Mezuzot, about which the Chasam Sofer (Rabbi Moshe Sofer) mandated for all Torah scribes to learn to qualify for the position.

Now, I own in Hebrew a Kitzur Shulchan Aruch that is formatted as such that one will be able to study exactly one Daf of this every day that can be completed in the course of one year, beginning exactly from today - 23 Tishrei, as this is the day that begins the new learning cycle of the Chumash from Bereishit immediately following the day of Simchat Torah when we finish the cycle of Chumash. Hence, it only makes sense to begin something else as well on the same day that will also be completed in one year. In addition, it is divided as such that one learns about the particular holiday before and during the holiday, which while may not be in the original ordered text, the part of knowing what to do right before any particular holiday will stay in one's mind rather than learning the same thing during some other time of the year when it will clearly not be applicable.

To be sure, the very beginning of the Shulchan Aruch and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch write of one's obligation to be "bright and early" (my paraphrase of the general concept). One should not be too lazy staying in bed whether it is because of the cold in winter or the insufficient amount of sleep in the summer. We have to remember to "place Hashem in front of me always". (Well, not necessarily in this order, but I think you get a bit of the picture here). In my case, this is not exactly applicable to me today, because I am in fact writing this now when I was awake virtually the whole night, writing this post in the latter half of the night.

And so, a new day, a new PAGE. In fact, every day of our lives is a new page in our life. In contrast, a new chapter denotes a new phase in life, hopefully, for example, from bachlerhood to marriage, and not the reverse.

And so, today I had already begun learning the Daf L'Yom, "Page per day", a play on the phrase Daf Yomi - "Daily Page", as it is called for this Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. An alternative phrase given for this daily study is called HaKitzur HaYomi, "The daily digest", refering to the fact that this is the Kitzur, the digest or concise form of the relatively longer Shulchan Aruch, Code of Jewish Law. Indeed, the true "Reader's Digest", for after all, isn't everything based on the Torah, Hashem's wisdom?


In the first Parsha of the Torah - Bereishit - that we will be reading this Shabbat,
we see two individuals who are named Chanoch - one who is the son of Kain, the world's first murderer, and the other who is the father of the righteous Metushelach.

The Zohar comments on this phenomenon that there is a good Chanoch and a bad Chanoch.
When this name/word is sometimes spelled with a letter Yud between the Chet and a Noon, it means education; hence pointing out to the fact that even though when education is a subject that is always brought up as a positive thing, an evil education training children to hate everyone else or disbelief in G-d is even worse than no education at all, pending enough knowledge to make a living that will prevent one from stealing from other people or murdering them.

Anyways, as this is my 84th Post, I would like to point out that the name Chanoch is also the Gematria of 84. This name itself has the translation of the verb word - educate or train. As quoted from Proverbs 22:6 - Chanoch L'Na'ar "Train a child according to his way, so that even when he is old, he will not turn away from the right path". While it so happens that in that verse itself, the word Chanoch is without a Vav, the word means the same with or without this letter.

While some when speaking of education are referring specifically to the academic studies of a school, education begins and ends at home where a child is first taught the basic by his or her parents, and continues after returning home from school and being finished with homework assignments from the teacher. While certainly, academic studies in school from Torah to secular subjects help develop a child's mind, it has to be backed with Derech Eretz, proper manners and behavior that show and reflect the education one has at both home and school. Thus, education includes the training aspect, from being trained to make in the toilet instead in one's diapers to speaking with others in a nice tone.

The Chanoch that we read about as the seventh generation from Adam and Eve was one of the few righteous people living in his day. Had he been a Jew in later times, no doubt that he would have sought to be a Kabbalist based on what the Midrash tells us about him. But unlike his immediate ancestors and immediate descendants who lived closer to the 1,000 year mark, he lived for a total of 365 years.

While there are reasons given for his early departure from this world, from the possibility of him turning to evil in the future to making others looking bad by his righteous behaviour, I find out very hard to say that it "so happened" that he lived exactly 365 years. As we know, it takes 365 days and a fraction to make up a solar year. And as his name means "to educate", the Torah tells us that education is a wonderful thing for both Jews as well as non-Jews who follow the solar calendar. After all, Chanoch himself was not a Jew anymore than Adam or Noah. However, he was a strong believer in G-d, and trained his son Metushelach to also live a righteous life, who in turn was the last righteous to live besides Noah and his family right before the big flood took place.

And then there is the "Yiddishe" Chanoch - the name of the firstborn of Reuben, who in turn was the firstborn of Jacob. This certainly cannot be dismissed with the wave of hand as mere coincidence. Just when everyone thinks that the only reason the Torah mentions the names of the first members of the Jewish people who came down to Egypt with Jacob as "seventy souls" is in order to point to our Jewish genealogy, they should realize that there is much to be learned from the names of the first Jews who descended to Egypt, from whom descended millions of Jews who experienced the Exodus. Following this, before Hashem gave them the Torah, He asked them for a guarantee that they would always keep the Jewish faith. Rebuffing other offers such as the Patriarchs, He finally accepted the guarantee of the new Jewish nation - their children; for if the children do not learn about their Jewish faith and heritage, G-d forbid, then Judaism would no longer be practiced.

Very unfortunately, many if not most of the early "observant" Jewish immigrants arriving in the United States - speaking the Yiddish language - were only concerned about having synagogues, while sending their own children to public schools. Their Jewish education outside of the home was limited to preparatory Bar Mitzvah lessons, and after being "Bar Mitzvahed", that was the end of their practicing being Jewish.
Their parents, while speaking the Yiddish language, and enjoying the prayers - which for many were mere performances as in an opera - of Yiddishe Chazanim/cantors, failed to realize that the Yiddish language doesn't have any more Jewish value than German, Polish or Russian, if their children weren't taught the REAL Yiddish language - the words of Torah, though Hebrew, as the Holy Tongue, is the language of at least the Tanach. In time, Yiddish was used to mock the real Yiddish way of living - the Torah way of life, in the "Yiddishe" theaters; and today, most of the ones speaking Yiddish are those who are very meticulous living the REAL Yiddishe way of life - the Torah way of life.


Making the connection between the words Daf and Chanoch both having the same Gematria of 84, by one learning the daily Daf - whether the Talmud, Halacha, or some other area in Torah study, one educates oneself with the particular learning AND trains oneself to stick to the daily regimen of one Daf a day. It takes practice and discipline to make priorities and stick to the learning plan before other things come in the way. For some, it may mean sitting down to learn the Daf before starting to feel tired or watching T.V. For others, it may mean a few extra minutes before sitting down to a scrumptious dinner after a hard day's work. And above all, to make as part of one's spiritual diet - for certainly, one doesn't forgo eating for a day just because he/she has no time. Accordingly, Torah learning has to be viewed the same way. Of course, there are occasions where emergencies, G-d forbid, get in the way, especially when one has a family of a few young ones, but one's attitude about Torah learning is certainly a big factor in maintaining one's pace despite the regular routine of one's daily activities at home and work. Whatever the amount of Torah learning - whether much or little - the main thing is that it is an amount that one knows he can stick to, and not to add too much that will make oneself loose hope of catching up after being a few days behind because the amount of material to catch up on was too much on the day after the emergency. Remember, the sun of its cycle of 365 days a year never misses a day; and so the spiritual sun, the Torah, which is eternal, deserves far more attention. In short, a new day EQUALS a new page of Torah.

Yes, education, training and discipline. With this, we can hope that every DAY with its challenges - will indeed be another PAGE of our fruitful life that we can be proud of, especially as Jews who not only learn Torah because Hashem tells us to, but also to learn how to fulfill our mission as G-d's servants; and then hopefully, we can hope to have the same eulogy one day as what the Torah says of Moshe Rabbeinu, immediately upon his passing - "Moses, SERVANT OF HASHEM, died" (Deutronomy 34:5).

Yes, the physical Moses of flesh and blood may not be around today. However, his Torah teachings and behavior of his humility and Ahavat Yisrael/love for Jews are well and alive. As we sing on Simchat Torah - Moshe Emet V'Torato Emet "Moses is true, and his Torah is true".

P.S. Will write next, G-d willing, sometime in the week following the Shabbat of the coming week; or otherwise put, after Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan.

23 Tishrei, 5771

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