Monday, November 8, 2010

#87 - What Type of SERVICE?

Shimon HaTzadik (Simon the Just) was one of the remaining members of the Great Assembly (Anshei Knesset HaGedolah). He used to say: "On three things does the world stand: On the Torah, on Avodah/service (prayers or Temple offerings), and on Gemilut Chasadim/ performance of benevolent acts" - Pirkei Avot/Ethics of the Fathers 1:2.

On this note, I want to mention that today - 1 Kislev - I am literally at the conclusion of 501 months since my birth on 1 Iyar. I am writing in Israel at 3:04 PM, which is seven hours later than the time according to Eastern Standard Time of 8:04 AM, as I was born at 9:04 AM as per Daylight Savings Time. And while according to Jewish law, a new day begins at night, there are Halachic authorities who hold that one who becomes Bar Mitzvah starts being a man at age 13 at the exact time of day that he was born, though for the most part, we hold that one becomes Bar Mitzvah as soon as it becomes night.

More than the fact that the one who mentioned the above quote at the beginning of this post is my namesake, it can be inferred from here that just as the justification
for the continued world's existance is based on the three things of Torah, Avodah, and Gemilut Chasadim, this is indeed the same justification for a person's purpose of living in this world. Even as non-Jews and non-human creatures do not have the commandments that Jews have, they all serve a function helping this world for the sake of the ones who do have the responsibility of performing these three items.

As this is my 87th Post, I would like to point out that the word Avodah/service which can refer either to prayers or Temple offerings, is also the Gematria of 87. But first, I want to point out to another word that is also the Gematria of 87 - Levanah/moon.

Born on Rosh Chodesh/New Moon, I found it especially fascinating that the whole past month of Cheshvan was my 501st month of life. The truth is that the normally translation given for the phrase Rosh Chodesh is New Moon, just as Rosh Hashanah is normally translated as New Year. The truth is that the literal translation, at least in these cases, is more accurate. Well, the word Chodesh means "new," and the word Hashanah is "the year," but the first word Rosh literally means head, as the head of the body, for indeed, the first day of the month or the year is the head of the month or year. And as pertaining to this past month of Cheshvan, the word Rosh/head is the Gematria of 501, and the month of Cheshvan was my 501st month since my birth. Hence, in my case, Cheshvan 5771 was "Month 501."

To commemorate such a special time in my life this past month, I learned in various holy Sefarim/books about Rosh Chodesh, including the Shulchan Aruch/Code of Jewish Law and Mishnah Berurah, a halachic commentary by the Chofetz Chaim - Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan. It was the middle month of the 13 Jewish months of my 41st year.

In relationship to this, I turned to the last Parsha of the Torah - V'Zot HaBeracha -which consists of 41 Pesukim/verses. I figured that I would check out the MIDDLE verse of this Parsha; and lo and behold in this verse, the word Rosh is not mentioned once, but twice! Actually, one of the times means first, but here is the verse, "He (the tribe of Gad) chose the (Reishit) FIRST portion for himself, for that is where the lawgiver (Moshe)'s plot is hidden; he (tribe of Gad) came at the (Rashei) HEAD of the nation, carrying out Hashem's justice and His ordinances with Israel" (Deutronomy 33:21).

To note, the birthday of Gad, father of his tribe, is in the midst of the month of Cheshvan - 10 Cheshvan, about whom I wrote about a year ago on his birthday. However, more than just a coincidence of months, or at what position of the year, there is something to be learned from Gad.

Coincidentally, using loose language, I knew of an old chap many years back who was named Moshe at his Brit/circumcision, but at one point in his life, he added the name Gad to his name - Gad Moshe - as this is the name of a tribe who represented strength, as we see that this tribe was at the forefront of fighting for the nation of Israel when they first entered the land of Israel to fight their enemies. And of all the tribes, this one merited to be the one to have Moses be buried in their portion of land.

The bottom line here is that we have to realize our purpose in life, the raison d'etre for our existance to begin with, besides the food, fun, and fancy-shancies that comes along in this materialistic world. The Torah represents us being students
of Hashem Who teaches us the right way of living. Avodah represents how we relate to Hashem - as a son to a parent, or a servant to a master - whether through prayer or Temple sacrifices. And Gemilut Chasadim represent how we relate to one another, some of which are acts of kindness for which we will never expect anything in return from another. Yes, sometimes in life, it involves sacrifices, doing things that may not exactly feel most comfortable, but they are the very reason why we are living to begin with.

Today, we will focus on the aspect of Avodah. To note, the Daf Yomi - daily Babylonian Talmud study of the tractate Avodah Zarah (translated as idol worship) was recently concluded on 21 Cheshvan, when I wanted to write this post, but it is true that it was Erev Shabbat, and being a short today before Shabbat in the winter time, I didn't have the time to start this 87th post then, as the word Avodah is the Gematria of 87. In retrospect, it seems that it was meant to be that it would be only now that I would write this post, as you will see a little later on here.

As it turns out, this tractate Avodah Zarah consists of 75 Dafim/double-sided pages, and the word Cohen, representing the ones who performed the Avodah/Temple service, is the Gematria of 75! Hence, Avodah Zarah - idolatry, represents the exact opposite of this. And as I mentioned a few months ago following the start of the study of this tractate, Avodah Zarah represents whatever the off-track way of life that we may be practicing that opposes the tenents of Judaism, even if we seem to live observant Jewish lives, if these are things that distract us and take our minds off of what really counts in life. As again, it's the literal translation that is used here, the phrase Avodah Zarah literally means, "strange service."

We see in the Torah that just because someone brings an offering/sacrifice, it doesn't automatically mean that Hashem will be pleased. And while truthfully, Hashem Himself doesn't need our sacrifices to satisfy Himself, it is WE who have to become the right type of people that is the purpose of the offering itself.

We see right from the beginning of time that brothers Kain and Abel brought their respective offerings on the altar. Though as the Midrash tells us, it was actually Kain's idea that they should bring offerings, Hashem accepted Abel's offering, but not Kain's. You see, Hashem saw Kain's inner intentions, and him bringing his offering was not done with pure intentions out of love for Hashem. Kain's purpose was to show off how great he was, even as he brought his offering from an inferior type of species of the ground, unlike Abel who brought his offering from the choicest of his sheep. And then on Tabernacle Dedication Day, Aaron's sons Nadav & Avihu brought matters in their own hands, and created a fire on the altar of their own, when they were supposed to wait for a fire from Hashem, for which they paid for their lives.

In another few days, the Daf Yomi will begin with Seder Kodashim, the volume of the Mishnah/Talmud that deals with holy things, beginning with Tractate Zevachim, which deals with the sacrifices in the Temple. In the interim, there is the smallest tractate in the Babylonian Talmud consisting of only 13 Dafim that is called Horayot, which means halachic rulings.

Is there a particular connection of this tractate Horayot that is placed particularly between the tractates of Avodah Zarah & Zevachim?

As we see, it is not enough to say that just because one is spending money on bringing a sacrifice to Hashem, that Hashem should be happy. Many of the sacrifices brought in the Temple were sin-offerings of various sorts, as a result of a sin, howbeit done accidentally, that one committed. There was no room for like we hear today from non-observant Jews, "G-d will understand", "It's not what goes inside the mouth (kosher food), but what goes outside the mouth (type of speech)."

True, one who was not careful about what came out of his mouth, such as saying Lashon Hara/evil speech about other Jews, was at one time visited with Tzara'at, a skin condition that looked like leprosy, outcasting him from Jewish society to be alone with other sinners who were affected as he (or she - and yes, she too had to have all her hair shaven when purified and atoned for at the end, even if she has a husband. So much for all the "religious" girls who say Lashon Hara about their dates or ex-boyfriends behind their backs without telling the ones they shagged about the REAL reason why she is no longer interested in him while telling everyone else). For this sin of Lashon Hara, one did not bring a sacrifice, since at the end, he/she winds up bringing quite a few after the terrible punishment they had to endure as a result of this sin. But for accidentally eating non-kosher, one was obligated to bring a sacrifice to the Temple to atone for his/her misdeed just as well.

And so, either one bringing an animal sacrifice could be affected by seeing how the animal is slaughterd, cut into all types of pieces, to make him/her feel like really he/she should have been the one to be treated as such, but Hashem, in His infinite mercy, gives one a chance to repent. bringing such a sacrifice can think of so to speak "bribe" Hashem, when the Torah tells us that Hashem isn't even bribed by one's charity donations, which will not save one from Gehinnom/Hell, as the Chofetz Chaim pointed out to one wealthy guy who donated Tzedaka/charity, but did not observe Shabbat/Sabbath. In this case, the sacrifice brought is indeed considered as Avodah Zarah, just as idol worshippers who bring sacrifices to their dead idols or to living objects who will not be able to help them.

In the present short tractate of Horayot, it involves cases where the Beit Din/Jewish court ruled on a case in Halacha/Jewish Law permitted something that was in fact forbidden. At times, one following the Beit Din's decision had to bring a sin-offering, and other times not. But the Beit Din always had to bring a sin-offering if there were others who already followed their decision.

We see from here that it was not enough to say, "Well, we meant well. We thought that this is what the Torah was telling us, but I guess we goofed up. Better luck next time." The Beit Din had to take responsibility, and realize that had they lived up to their full potential as Torah scholars, such a mistake would not have happened, as Hashem would not have allowed for a mistake to happen to those who aren't spiritually lacking, especially if it could, G-d forbid, cause other people to sin. If we truly mean well, we have to act well, and act on it. Anything less than this is indeed tantamount to Avodah Zarah - strange service that goes off the tangent of serving Hashem. Yes, there will be times that we will make mistakes, but at the very least, if it does come to bringing a sin-sacrifice in the Temple, then one has the chance to repent and be atoned for if one is truly sincere about his or her relationship with Hashem.

And the same thing goes for the other definition of Avodah - prayer. It is true that the 17th blessing in the daily Shemoneh Esrei is also called Avodah, as this is a prayer asking Hashem to return to us the service in the Beit HaMikdash/Temple that have been absent from the Jewish people for nearly 2,000 years. But the bottom line in this blessing is that we need to have the yearning for this to happen. This is not because Hashem needs our prayers any more than He needs our Temple offerings. Prayer represents how WE relate to Hashem, even when we ask for our physical needs, for which we should ask Hashem for only so that we have all the necessary tools needed to serve Hashem, like ample food, health, and financial means. It is not enough to say the words in the prayer book because our rabbis "say so." We have to feel what we are saying. We have to realize that in fact, it is a tremendous priviledge to be talking to Hashem to begin with. And to take this step one point further, there is the concept of Hitbodedut, speaking to Hashem in seclusion, to feel free to speak to Hashem whatever is on one's heart without distractions of people or other factors, as especially stressed in the teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.

Few were qualified to make the statement about what the world stands on as Shimon HaTzadik, who was not only the last of the 120 members of the Great Assembly to live, but was also the Cohen Gadol/High Priest in the Second Temple for 40 years. And as I have now lived for 40 (and a half) year, being that I have just concluded my 501th month, noting that the name Shimon is the Gematria of 466, the 466th word in the Torah is Asher "THAT G-d created to do," and this word is indeed the Gematria of 501. And as I noted earlier, I was indeed born on a Rosh Chodesh, in which the word Rosh/Head is the Gematria of 501. Anyways, the phrase here "that G-d created to do" seems a bit superfluous. Either G-d already created everything in the creation of the world, or He didn't. But yes, G-d already did His part. Now, it is up to US to do, the purpose of G-d creating this world.

And counting the words a little further in the Torah, the 501st word in the Torah is La'avod - TO WORK! In this context, the Torah is mentioning that the reason that the vegetation didn't sprout upon G-d creation is because mankind was not available yet to work the ground. Indeed, the same basic theme as in the above phrase beginning with the word - ASHER - that is the Gematria of 501! Now in this context, the Torah is actually referring to the fact that mankind was not yet available to pray for rain so that the vegetation should grow. However, after mankind's original sin, he would also have to work the ground to get physical results.

Yes, we need both physical work and spiritual work to make things happening. As this world presently doesn't work on miracles that happen beyond the daily order of nature, we need to physically work to receive Hashem's blessings. However, at the same time, we have to remember that it is ULTIMATELY Hashem's blessings, especially dependent on our spiritual behavior, that will determine not only the quantity of our efforts, but also the quality - both in physical and spiritual matters.

As Kabbalistically, the month of Kislev that we began today is represented by the letter Samech, it should be noted that there are exactly 60 letters to the Bircat Cohanim/Priestly blessing that the Cohanim bless the Jewish people with, as the letter Samech is the Gematria of 60. But more than just this, this three verse blessing (Numbers 6:24-26) included both spiritual and physical matters. The point of this is that so long we look to serve Hashem to the best of our ability, Hashem will continue granting us the materialism needed in this world to serve Him. Along these lines, the ONLY letter that is not written even once in the account of the creation of the world is the LETTER SAMECH=60, denoting the fact that Hashem created this world as such that it can only stand and continue so long as we do our part to fulfilling the purpose of its creation, and it is only for this do we merit the blessings that consist a total of 60 LETTERS. And just as the physical world is a very round circle, so is the letter Samech of Lashon HaKadosh/Holy Tongue of Hebrew the round letter denoting the fact that the Priestly blessings as denoted by the Gematria of this letter can only continue spinning around so long as we continue the purpose of the world spinning entirely around on its axis every 24 hours.

And so, we need to remember our purpose as the Jewish people as represented by the moon - Levanah, the Gematria of 87, as the word Avodah, and not worship or bow down to the pressures of Beit HaLavan - THE WHITE House, as the world HALAVAN is the same letters as Levanah. The moon is called the "small luminary" in the Torah in contrast to the sun which is called the "big luminary", as the present black U.S. president in THE WHITE House wants to do what it takes to make Israel - OUR HOUSE - SMALLER. But, it is only we Jewish people who have the concept of SMALL as compared to the "SMALL luminary," and we are a very SMALL percentage of the world's population, barely a half percent. But when it comes to our country Israel which is already physically among the smallest countries, we dare not give in to make it even smaller. In this case, we must think BIG, which in Hebrew is Gadol, the beginning of the word spelling Gad's name, the name of the Tribe who had no fear being in the forefront fighting for the survival of the Jewish people, and the whole word being the Gematria of 43, as in the 43rd day of the Sephirah, the day in 28 Iyar 5727 (1967) when we were able to reclaim the GREATEST area in holiness of the world - the Temple Mount, which in Hebrew is Har Moriyah - the same Gematria as the name Shimon - 466 (normally, it is called Har HaMoriyah, but there are times that the prefix Hey is dropped, as worded in the Tosfot commentary on the Talmudic Tractate of Ta'anit).


It's quite obvious that of the three things upon which the world stands, Abraham corresponds to Gemilut Chassadim, and that Jacob corresponds to Torah, since it is written specifically about him that he was a "sitter of tents" which our Rabbis tell us refer to him learning Torah. And for Isaac, as we see that he was the one who was bound on the altar at the area that is now the Temple Mount, as related to Temple offerings, he corresponds to Avodah. A practical application of this was that since he was sanctified at the altar, Hashem told him not to leave the Holy Land of Israel, and indeed was the only one of the Patriarchs who never stepped foot outside of this land, let along take a vacation excursion.

It is specifically during the month of Cheshvan, at least this year, that we read about Isaac in the weekly Parsha. And particularly this year, the date on which we read about the Patriarch Isaac's birth and being brought to the altar - 15 Cheshvan - is the very date of the Yahrzeit of Matisyahu ben Yochanan Cohen Gadol, grandson of Shimon HaTzadik, and patriarch of the Hasmonian Maccabbees. And just as Isaac was considered a pure offering without blemishes, so too, the holiday of Chanuka finally came into being when the Maccabbees were finally able to reach the Temple following their victory over the Syrian Greeks, and found one little pack of pure olive oil with the seal of the Cohen Gadol/High Priest, indicating that it was not touched by the spiritually impure Syrian Greeks who attempted to do away with the spirituality of the Jewish religion, denying any non-tangible spiritual aspects that would dare challenge Greek philosophy.

As another connection between Isaac and Chanuka, the Mishkan/Tabernacle was completed being built on 25 Kislev. However, Hashem wished to delay the Tabernacle dedication for a few months until the month of Nissan, for as the Midrash tells us, it was the month that Isaac was born in. To make it up to the date of 25 Kislev, Hashem awarded it for being the first of the eight days of Chanuka in the future.

In any case, a question can be asked. Why was it so crucial that the Tabernacle dedication had to take place especially in a month in which Isaac was born? Why not the month(s) in which Abraham, Jacob, or Moses was born on? As great of a righteous person as Isaac was, there seems to have been quite a few other candidates who were considered on an even higher spiritual level, especially Moses, who was born during the month before?

But as mentioned above, it was Isaac who corresponded specifically to the aspect of Avodah - being a perfect offering, just an animal brought as a sacrifice in the Temple had to be free of blemishes. When it comes to serving Hashem, there is no half job that is acceptable. While there are those who have yet to do everything right in serving Hashem, at least if they realize that they have work on themselves to do, then they are starting to be on the right track. We need to maximize our potential, just as mentioned about Isaac's physical labor of the land "Isaac sowed in that land, and he found during that year a hundred times fold, and Hashem blessed him" (Genesis 26:12) as mentioned in last week's Parshat Toldot.


Once upon a time, there was a note that came down from Heaven. And what was written in this special note? What we know today as the blessing of Baruch She'amar, the blessing that we recite before chanting the final six psalms of Tehillim/Book of Psalms, in our morning prayers following the section of prayers pertaining to the daily order of service that was performed by the Cohanim in the Beit HaMikdash/Holy Temple.

This blessing consists of 87 words. It has been noted that Pesukei D'Zimra - verses of hymns, the name of the series of prayers that include the last six psalms, spells the number 87-Pei Zayin (the letter Dalet in D'Zimra is a prefix to the word).

Anyways, bearing in mind that 87 is the Gematria of the word Avodah, the psalms represent the concept of the Levites singing in the Temple. Though the psalms that they especially recited in the Temple for the days of the week and other occasions such as Rosh Chodesh, as it is today, are recited at the end of the morning prayers, it follows in succession that the ones who are closes to serving Hashem in the Temple are the Cohanim, who are allowed entry in certain parts that are off limits to everyone else. Then you have the next highest ones in holiness - the Levites - whose specialty among others was singing in the Temple.

And here comes a fascinating Gematria. The 87th and final word of this Baruch She'amar prayer is BaTishbachot - "with praises." This word is the Gematria of
1,118. And what famous verse is also the Gematria of 1,118? Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad - "Here O Israel, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One."

To mention a key kabbalistic point about the Shacharit/morning prayers, the prayers recited until after Shemoneh Esrei can be divided into four parts, corresponding to the four worlds - Action, Formation, Creation, & Emanation - as the prayers are ascending heavenward. They are 1)Korbanot & Ketoret - Temple service, 2) Pesukei D'Zimra - Hymns and songs of praise to Hashem, 3)The Shema and its blessings, 4) Shemoneh Esrei.

All of these four parts relate to the concept of Avodah. The first part about the Temple service is obvious, as it was the Cohanim who performed the Avodah of the Temple service, as one of the definitions of Avodah. The second part begins with its introductory blessing of Baruch She'amar that consists of 87 words, and the word Avodah is the Gematria of 87. The highlight of the third part is the verse of Shema Yisrael which is the Gematria of the 87th and final word of the Baruch She'amar blessing, noting that the word Avodah is the Gematria of 87. And it is the fourth and final part of these four - the Shemoneh Esrei - that is called Tefilla/prayer, as
this is the prayer in which we face Hashem directly as with a direct audience with Him in contrast to the other prayers that aren't in the same high spiritual level; and as noted above, Avodah also refers to Tefilla. And in the Shemoneh Esrei, the
17th blessing is called Avodah, asking Hashem to return to us the Temple service.

Yes, this verse of Shema Yisrael declaring Hashem's existence and being One is the foundation of the Torah. But, in order to fully understand this, we need the prepare for this in the from of praising Hashem. Even if we first don't fully understand everything we are saying, by praising Hashem out of love, we will eventually come to the realization that indeed, it is ONLY Hashem who is worthy of all these praises. And then, we continue in the paragraph of the Shema with "You shall love Hashem your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your might." And what does with all your soul mean? As the Mishnah (Berachot 9:5) explains, even if Hashem takes your soul, meaning, your life away, as a decree from Hashem, you are still supposed to love Him just the same. For some, this means a life of giving over of oneself, as I will proceed with an example of people who have done just that.


This most aptly describes the life of Rabbi Meir Kahane of righteous memory for a blessing, may Hashem avenge his blood, whose 20th Yarhzeit of 18 Cheshvan recently occurred. As he once attested to someone who asked him about how he is able to go around taking a chance with his life being shot by the enemy, Rabbi Kahane responded that he lives every day knowing that it could very well be his last.

Indeed, this is how all of us should be thinking. We think that since normally, many people live to an old age, Hashem will give us time for us to get all of our act together. The problem with this way of thinking is that this is how people in the first and a half millennium were also thinking until the Great Flood in the times of Noah when some lived up to almost 1,000 years. However, not everyone is given such luxury to even live up to age 70 or 80. And even if we will live a long life compared to many others, who says that we will have the strength to serve Hashem later on the way we have now in better health, for if we will not step up to the plate in our younger, healthier, and more active years, then what will be with us when we know and feel that we are sagging away in the wheelchair with the black, Hispanic, or Phillipino caretaker, when it will be only a matter of time when it will be all over in this world if we will even have a part of our mental senses with the constant overdose of medications.

In commemoration of Rabbi Kahane's 20th Yahrzeit, I should note that the first letter of his last name is Kaf - the Gematria of 20, and he was a Cohen, part of the group of the Jewish people who performed the Avodah - Divine Service, in the Temple.
Moreover, he founded the Kach party that had one term in the Knesset, and was banned shortly before a second round in the Knesset having won 12 seats. In any case, the name of his party - "Kach", as if to say "SO shall it be", that is, the Torah way, is spelled as the letters Kaf & Kaf Sofit. And as the 17th blessing of Shemoneh Esrei is the theme of Avodah in this context, so too, let us turn to the 17th chapter of Rabbi Kahane's magnum opus Ohr HaRahyon "The Jewish Idea", the chapter being named Mesirut Nefesh.

Near the beginning of this chapter, he mentioned the first Jewish biblical hero - of course, it is none other than Avraham Avinu - Abraham our Forefather. As I mentioned in the past, the letter Kaf represents the concept of Mesirut Nefesh - giving of one's self, or one's life, as Abraham - who was the 20th generation from Adam & Eve - did, and Moses, who was willing have his name erased from the Torah if Hashem would not forgive the Jewish people for the sin of the Eigel HaZahav/Golden Calf, as a result of which, though Hashem did forgive the Jews, at least in terms of not killing them off as He orignally said He was going to, by removing Moses' name from the 20th Parsha of the Torah - Parshat Tetzveh.

With the above said, let us now proceed to Rabbi Kahane's words:

"When Abraham our forefather was thrown into the fiery furnace, and when he stood in a war that is considered a war that Hashem has ordered to fight (Milchemet Mitzvah) to save his nephew Lot, he went with trust in Hashem for so was he obligated to do this, not because he knew or was assured that he would be saved, but because of trust in Hashem. Meaning, if Hashem has set for a commandment to be fulfilled and made a certain decree, there is no doubt that this is truth, and we are obligated to fulfill it despite the danger. Should one fall (such as dying in war) G-d forbid, he will fall, but he will fall in the faith and Mesirut Nefesh of Kiddush Hashem/Sanctification of Hashem's Name, as in the case with Chananya, Mishael, and Azarya (who risked their lives being thrown into a fiery furnace for refusal to bow down to an idol). This is the wording of Chazal/our Sages of blessed memory (Bereishit Rabba 43:2): "Abraham turned green in front of them (the ones who looked to throw him into the fiery furnace). He said, "I will go out and fall for the sanctification of the name of the Omnipresent".""

"And so too about the verse "The wordworker would encourage the goldsmith" (Isaiah 41:7), Chazal state (Bereishit Rabba 44:7): "This is Abraham whom the Holy One Blessed Be He refined (like gold) in the fiery furnace.""

"Furthermore, they (Chazal) state (Bereishit Rabbah 44:1): "The G-d, His way is perfect" (Psalms 18:31) "This is Abraham, as it states (Nehemiah 9:8): "You have found his (Abraham's) heart to be faithful in front of You" "The saying of Hashem is refined" (Psalms 18:31) - that Hashem refined him in the fiery furnace. "He is a shield for all those who place their trust in Him" (Psalms 18:31). "Don't be afraid, Abram, I am your shield" (Genesis 15:1)."

"Such is the true trust - a strong passionate love of Hashem and complete Mesirut Nefesh."

There is one part of this paragraph that reads in the original (Hebrew) as KACH Haya
Chayav La'asot "he (Abraham) went with trust in Hashem, for SO was he obligated to do." It seems that Rabbi Kahane had the vision and the idea to name his Knesset party as Kach, to drive this very point to everyone, that even if we don't always want or understand what Hashem tells us to do, there is simply no two ways about it if we consider ourselves religious. Just as a servant does not have the audacity to tell the king "Well, everything else you told me makes sense, except for one thing, which I won't do unless you can show me why it is necessary," so in the same way, regardless of our seasoned opinions that make it to various publications from the New York Times to the left wing Israeli papers of Ma'ariv or Yediot Acharonot, it is Hashem's command that we must obey, regardless of the circumstances, for SO this is what Hashem commanded us.

And speaking of Abraham, I want to note the Gematria of Rabbi Kahane's Hebrew name - Meir David, which is 265. Abraham's name - Avraham - is 248. The difference of the two number - 17, and indeed, the 17th chapter of Rabbi Kahane's magnum opus is the chapter that is called Mesirut Nefesh, in which he writes about Abraham; meaning,
248+17=265. I don't think that Rabbi Kahane intended it to be this way, but I truly believe that this is nothing short of Hashgacha Peratit - Divine Providence, as Rabbi Kahane in this chapter was indeed describing his own life, who not only talked the talk, but walked the walk.


This 27 Cheshvan marked the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Jacob ibn Chabib, author of what is called Ein Ya'akov, the compilation of the Aggadic (or non-Halachic) parts of the Talmud, who passed away 501years ago. Especially noting the fact that this past month of Cheshvan was the 501st month of my life, this month in this year included the 501th Yarhzeit of this rabbi. And if the connection of these two 501s wasn't enough, as the Ein Yaakov includes the very first Mishna of the Talmud, it begins with the word Me'ei'matai - "FROM WHEN do we read the Shema in the evening"? And indeed, this very first word - of the Mishna, Talmud, and Ein Ya'akov - is the Gematria of 501!

Owning my own set of Ein Ya'akov, I began learning a page of this on this Yahrzeit of the author of the Ein Ya'akov. In my version being a total of 1,130 pages, I hope to conclude this in a little over three years.

It's interesting also to note that the Yahrzeit of this Rabbi Jacob always falls out in or around the week of Parshat Toldot, as it fell out this year, which speaks of the birth of the biblical Jacob. Indeed, as this date this year fell out on a Thursday, one of the days of the week that we read from the Torah, the beginning of this Parsha was read. As I lucked out, I was in synagogue this past Thursday morning where I was called up for the Levite Aliyah, of which the concluding verse mentions the birth of Jacob! It seems that Hashem really had a encourage message for me to go ahead to learn a daily page of the Ein Ya'akov.

Anyways, the phrase Ein Ya'akov, taken from a verse (Deutronomy 33:28) in the last Parsha of the Torah - V'Zot HaBeracha which consists of 41 verses - and I am in my 41st year - is the Gematria of 312. And yes indeed, the word Chodesh/month is also the Gematria of 312. And as I mentioned the word Rosh in the context of Rosh Chodesh
as above as being the Gematria of 501, the name of this work Ein Yaakov being the Geamtria of 312 being authored by the one whose 501th Yarhzeit fell out this year in the 501st Chodesh/month=312 of my life, I found this to be something of paramount Hashgacha Peratit/Divine Providence in my life, part of which is discovering this of course, and the main thing - is to act on this, and learn a daily page of this, Bli Neder (without making a vow).

I already mentioned about this work in a previous post, so I won't go into all kinds of further details about this. But let it suffice to say that this is a work that is the bridge between the scholars who are versed in the entire Talmud, and the laymen who while may not know much Gemara/Talmud, some of whom don't even learn the popular Daf Yomi, many of them will attened a class on Ein Ya'akov material without feeling threatened with the high intellectual part of the Torah, and yet, through the concentrated material of this part of the Gemara, can develop much more of a love and fear of Hashem, and perhaps will be encouraged to learn even more Torah after learning different things about the virtues of learning Torah and the praises of Torah scholars. Indeed, of the three Patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, it is Jacob who is considered the "Chosen One" of the Patriarchs, because he excelled in learning Torah, even more than his father and grandfather, as Talmud Torah Kneged Kulam "The learning/teaching of Torah is equal to all the other Mitzvot/commandments combined."


Last night, on the night of Rosh Chodesh Kislev, a monumental moment in Jewish history took place in the holiest city in the world - Jerusalem. While I wasn't able to successfully download it on my laptop to watch it live, it should already be available to watch the recording of it. In any case, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, Shlita, head of today's Sanhedrin, and prolific genius and writer, concluded his Hebrew translation of the Aramaic Babylonian Talmud last night with the concluding words of tractate Chulin, a tractate that deals with slaughtering non-consecrated animals to the Temple.

The concluding chapter of this chapter deals with the Mitzvah of Shiluach HaKein - sending away the mother bird and keeping its young upon finding their nest. As related at virtually the end of this tractate, there was an actual story of someone whose father told him to perform this Mitzvah, and on the way back from doing this Mitzvah, the son fell down and died.

Now, it is particularly about these very two Mitzvot - Kibbud Av V'Em/honoring one's parents and Shiluach HaKein, that the Torah mentions the reward for these Mitzvot, the lengthening of one's days (years). So, how ironic that the son should immediately die after doing these two Mitzvot simultaneously. Could it be that if performed together, a different reward results instead?

Actually, as the Gemara/Talmud concludes, the lengthening of days does not refer to physical life. True, one needs to physically live in order to do Mitzvot. However, in terms of reward, it cannot be the mere few years that mankind is alloted compared to the eternal life that the Torah refers to as THE REWARD. Why the son died immediately as if to spite what he did, that's another story. Only Hashem has all the answers to why certain strange things happen.

Before I conclude this post with the concluding words of this tractate, perhaps the reason why this concept is mentioned particularly in this tractate, which is called Chulin, literally meaning secular (in plural) is that even non-holy animals can be used for Hashem's purposes if employed the right way. Not all kosher animals merit to ascend the altar. However, if they have are properly slaughtered and there aren't defects inside their bodies, then they are permitted to be eaten, following the draining of their blood, forbidden fats, and sciatic nerve. And so too, benefit can be used from the baby chicks, if performed the proper way by sending away the mother bird. Why it may seem to be cruel on one hand to do this, Hashem has other ideas in mind. Certainly, Hashem wants all creatures to continue being "fruitful and multiply"; and hence, the mother bird will afterwards start another family of baby chicks. Despite Hashem allowing us to consume kosher animals (and being vegetarian because one is "kind" to animals, is going against the Torah, as it is Hashem - the creator of the animals and birds - who is the Kind Being of all beings),
we see that there is hardly a shortage of animals and birds because of this. On the contrary, the creatures on the world's endangered species list are usually the ones that are hunted by people for fun, as the evil Esav in this last week's Parshat Toldot performed.

And so, if there is a purpose of being blessed with long life in this world - it is only in order to serve Hashem which will cause us merit to live eternally in the next world. Living in this world as a means in itself is no blessing otherwise. And so, with this being said, here are the concluding words of this tractate Chulin,
quoting from the Torah in reference to the Mitzva of Shiluach HaKein:

"The phrase "so that it will be good for you" refers to life in a world that is entirely good; and the phrase, "so that your days will be prolonged" refers to a life
in a world that is entirely long."

P.S. The time logged for this post is exactly 5:00 AM. As this post was focusing on serving Hashem IN THIS WORLD, it's most noteworthy to note that it was the letter Hei - the Gematria of FIVE - that Hashem used in creating this physical world. And as spelling the time as 500, the distance of the spiritual worlds from the highest to lowest are described kabbalistically as being the distance of 500 years between one and another. And using the five letters of the Alef Beit which are known as the "final" letters in terms of higher Gematria of 500, 600, 700, 800, & 900, it is the letter Kaf Sofit, concluding the word Kach, the name of Kahane's party, that is the Gematria of 500.

NOTE: Hope to post again, G-d willing, before the end of next week, to address the issue of Anti-Semitism. Stay tuned.

Rosh Chodesh Kislev - 1 Kislev, 5771

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