Sunday, December 26, 2010

#91 - Amen/Blessings Can Do Everything For Goodness & Happiness

In Parshat Vayechi that we read a couple of weeks back, which includes the period in which Jacob's descendants enjoyed the "fat of the land" while leaving in Egypt before the big slavery storm that they endured that is written up in the midst of the following Parshiyot of Shemot that we just read this past Shabbat & Parshat Va'era that we will be reading this Shabbat, Jacob blesses his children on his deathbed.

Our rabbis inform us what happened "behind the scenes" of the Bible. You see, right before Jacob was ready to bless his children, he felt the absence of the Divine Presence; and hence, thought that perhaps one or more of his children went astray in serving Hashem. Questioning their behavior, they exclaimed - Shema Yisrael..."Hear O Israel (Jacob's name given to him by Hashem) the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One" (Deutronomy 6:4). Upon this, Jacob exclaimed "Blessed be the name of his glorious kingdom forever and forever". In time, these two exclamations formed the first two sentences of the Kriat Shema that we recite twice daily.

The Talmud (Pesachim 56) in mentioning the sentence of "Blessed be..." as coming from Jacob's mouth, notes that this very same exclamation was heard by Moses from the angels when he spent time on Mt. Sinai. As this sentence is not actually part of the Bible like the rest of the Shema, but was an immediate response by Jacob to the first verse of "Hear O Israel...", they debated as to whether this should be mentioned in the Shema. On the one hand, Jacob exclaimed this. On the other hand, the angels exclaim this, and this is something that seems to be private to the angels. At the end, they decided on a compromise, to say it - but in a low tone.

But the mention of this verse doesn't end here. In Temple times, this sentence was also exclaimed - as a response to the end of blessings, which in the Temple was in place of the usual answer of Amen to blessings.

Before I continue, I would like to point out that the word Amen is the Gematria of 91, and this is my 91st Post. Additionally, the Gematria of the word Mal'ach/angel is also 91. Hence, bearing in mind that the sentence of "Blessed is the name..." was said in lieu of Amen=91, this is a sentence that is recited especially by angels.
Similarly, we recite this sentence out loud on Yom Kippur, for it is on this day that we resemble the angels in terms of being pure from sin as the angels are. Also,
it is on this day that only the Cohen Gadol/High Priest entered the Kodesh Kadashim/Holy of Holies, the holiest area in the Temple, which was off limits even to him for the rest of the year.

In another relationship between the response of Amen and the Shema is that when the Shema is said privately outside of congregational prayer, one introduces the Shema with three words - E-l Melech Ne'eman "G-d, the faithful king". The first letters of the words in Hebrew are Aleph-Mem-Noon, spelling the word Amen. Moreover, the last three letters of the last word Ne'eman/faithful also spell the word Amen.


The very first time that the word Amen is mentioned in the Torah is in relationship to a married woman who had an adulterous relationship with another man. Her husband in suspicion of this would bring her to the Temple to be tried by drinking bitter waters which would immediately test her if she had been unfaithful by swelling and dying, to be immediately removed from the Temple environs to be left to die elsewhere, not even giving her a chance to suffer being left alone. (It's like someone who has stomach pains who wants to relax in bed, but is forcibly removed
being moved around which doesn't ease his relaxing). Before the drinking of the waters, the Cohen in charge of administering this pronounced a conditional curse on her to which she replied "Amen, Amen" (Numbers 5:22). Of course, the question is why
she repeated this word, to which Rashi addresses, but the answer given is not immediately relevant to the issue at hand.

What is important to note here is that the Torah mentions this word once again - in the chapter about the curses that were to be pronounced in a ceremony on the Jewish people, which would take effect for various sins, which were also answered with the word Amen (Deutronomy 27:15-26).

We see that elsewhere in the Bible following the Chumash that this word was associated with answering blessings. However, in the Chumash which was Hashem's direct communication with us to observe His commandments, the content of the Sefer Torah, the holiest object, the word Amen seems to be used only in reference to curses
rather than to the usual theme of blessings, as we answer Amen numerous times to blessings throughout the day - both in and out of synagogue. Is this mere coincidence?

We know from the Torah that observance of commandments are rewarded, and even though answering Amen is not of the 613 commandments per se, but is a part of blessing Hashem which is included in the Mitzvah of praying to Hashem, not everyone shows that answering Amen is so important. Ever so often, people are talking during services, and either answer Amen after it is too late to do so which happened as a result of finishing one's sentence in a conversion, or don't answer Amen at all. Of course, automatically, at least two people have the sin of either not answering Amen or causing another not to answer it. In fact, numerous sins, loss of eternal reward benefits, and reserved spots for burning in the purgatory fire happens as a result of this, including the various sins related to saying evil speech about another Jew at times (which includes talks of synagogue politics which virtually always mentions names of people who are put in a bad light).

Perhaps this is what the Torah wants to hint to. By not answering Amen to blessings, one is in effect saying Amen to curses. The Shulchan Aruch/Code of Jewish Law stresses the rewards and punishments for answering or not answering Amen.
Just from ONE WORD - one receives tremendous reward. But, because one wants to have a "juicy" conversation with another Jew in the midst of synagogue services, causing him to sin as well, they both are stupid (assuming that they are supposedly observant Jews who had a Jewish education) to throw away reward they could have received FOREVER!

With this having been said, it seems that there is a direct connection between the mention of the word Amen and the themes of the particular sections in the Torah where
this word is mentioned. First, regarding the Sotah, Rashi notes by the repetition of the word Ish/man or husband (of the adulterous woman) that it actually refers to two - the Man of War from above & her husband from below, that is, she had in fact betrayed both G-d and her husband. While this may seem to be obvious, since committing any sin is in effect betraying Hashem, note the wording that Rashi uses to describe Hashem here "Man of War". Is this woman trying to openly fight Hashem or even her husband, when it is her sexual lusts that got in the way here?

While sinful tempations may sound like a little better excuse for doing a sin than doing a sin out of spite or to anger observant Jews, this is hardly any less of a war, because one who does things for their own selfish desires in fact spites the ones around him or her, putting oneself in front of others to do as he or she pleases. While the non-Jewish world may justify a woman cheating on her husband on the grounds that her husband didn't "treat her right", even as non-Jews too are forbidden to committ adultery, as far as Hashem is concerned, it is NO JUSTIFIABLE EXCUSE. PERIOD! If the woman really wants, she can ask her husband for a divorce, or simply not live with him anymore (non-Jews do not need a legal marriage or divorce
contract according to the Torah, the definition of a husband and wife is if they are living together). Perhaps she thinks she can get away with a sex encounter here and there, without "disrupting" her family life, but in fact, she is ultimately ruining it for herself forever by committing herself to Hell. (NOTE: While a husband cheating on his wife may not be a very moral person, and in the Jewish religion, there are other issues pertaining to this, it is not considered adultery, so long as the woman he sleeps with is not considered a married woman).

Indeed, such a person who does what he/she wants is fighting everyone else because he/she puts oneself in front of others doing what pleases oneself without being considerate to the society around. On another level, we are living in this world constantly battling a spiritual war, and it is Hashem who is the General/Commander. The enemy is Satan or the Evil Inclination, who constantly entices one in the psychic to do what is pleasing, regardless of the long term consequences. Hence, acting on one's base desires and selfish wants is in fact disobeying the orders of the General/Commander. In the army, there are NO EXCUSES. The only question is how the general, commander or whatever high rank person in the army will deal with the disobedient soldier.

In effect, one talking during synagogue services with another person - which results among other negative things is not answering Amen - is in fact also betraying both Hashem by not acknowledging the Beracha/blessing that was just recited when everyone is answering Amen to it, and also betraying his "friend" who may be his "talk buddy" but is in fact being an enemy to him because he is causing him to also have the same sins and punishment that he himself is accruing, committing the additional sin of "do not put a stumbling block in front of the blind" which refers to not only something physical where someone can trip over something left in the way for which one is in fact liable to damages according to Jewish law, but refers no less to spiritual matters in terms of causing another person to sin.

While on the subject about the importance of answering Amen, I feel it to be a most important responsibility to relate the following story:

Some four hundred years ago, Rabbi Mordechai Yaffe, known as the Levush for the 10 volume Jewish work that he gave this name to, traveled to Italy to learn Torah from the Mahari Abuhav. One day, when a child made a Beracha, and Rabbi Yaffe failed to answer Amen, the Mahari Abuhav was very mad at him, and excommunicated him for 30 days. Following this, the Mahari Abuhav explained to Rabbi Yaffe that at the moment that he failed to answer Amen, he was sentenced from Above to die, but by being excommunicated, it helped mitigate the severity of his punishment, but could be totally taken away if in the future he would tell others the importance of answering Amen. Needless to say, Rabbi Yaffe acted accordingly for the rest of his life when once a month, he would talk about the importance of answering Amen.

In the midst of the Mahari Abuhav explaining all this to Rabbi Yaffe, he told him a true tragic story about a devout observant Jew who was considered a good friend to a king being that he had very useful advice, and everytime the anti-Semitic king wished to make trouble for the Jews, this Jew was able to convince the king to behave otherwise. Once, while this Jew was in the palace, there was a priest that was ready to give a blessing to the king, and noted beforehand that everyone around must answer Amen for the blessing to be able to take effect. Following the blessing,
it was noticed that this Jew did not answer Amen as he was in the midst of his own prayers, upon which the priest announced "Alas, the blessing will not take effect now because this Jew did not answer Amen to my blessing for the king!" The next thing you know, this Jew was brutually cut into pieces which ended his life. Not long afterwards, he appeared to someone whom he knew in a dream, and revealed to him that despite his own good deeds during his lifetime, he was liable for such a horrible punishment because once, he heard someone reciting a Beracha but didn't answer Amen.

My friends, here are examples of rabbis and devout observant Jews who failed JUST ONCE for not answering Amen, not because they were having a jolly conversation with another in the midst of congregational prayers which involves numerous other sins, but simply didn't pay attention enough to answer just ONE WORD, and look what punishment they were liable to. So certainly, imagine the ultimate punishment for those who brazenly show that they don't have respect for Hashem by talking in His holy place of worship, causing others to have the same sins, and quite often, speaking Lashon Hora - evil speech about other Jews which inself involves numerous sins for EACH WORD! Such a person behaving as such should sure hope if he gets punished in this world, because if not, he will have such a Hell, as perhaps described most aptly by the author of the Shulchan Aruch/Code of Jewish Law - Rabbi Yosef Karo (Orach Chaim Chapter 127) "his sin will be greater than he can bear" a paraphrase from Kain's desperate exclamation to Hashem following the first murder of mankind of his murdering his brother Abel. This is the ONLY time in the entire Shulchan Aruch that Rabbi Karo writes such a strong punishment for committing a sin.

Now fastforwarding to Deutronomy where the ceremony of pronouncing the curses to which Amen was to be answered, ranging for sins from idolatry to forbidden unions to hurting others in society in various ways, the final thing for which a curse was to be pronounced for was for "not upholding the words of this Torah to do them".

Our Rabbis explain to us about this last no-no here that this does not necessarily refer to one who is not an observant Jew. In fact, it can refer very much to one who is not only an observant Jew, but can even be a Torah scholar with obvious influence. This cursed person is one who does not take action where it is needed. He lets his Jewish community get away with things that blatantly do things that oppose Judaism, without taking the necessary action to put things in order. What's the point with all his Torah learning or even teaching Torah, if Jews are committing sins without him addressing these issues? I once met a Sabbath observant guy from some southern state in the United States which was far both in distance and level of spirituality from the very religious and learned communities of the greater New York areas and all, who had a past marriage in which he never knew about the laws of family purity pertaining to abstaining from marital relations and even from touching from the time that the wife is menstrous until she is purified in a mikvah/ritualarium nearly two weeks later. I don't know how he will deal with this in Heaven upstairs one day, but woe to the rabbi of the synagogue that this guy went to, who never spoke about the subject or laws of family purity in his weekly congregational sermons!

Putting things in a more positive spin, the Shema, about which this post began, addresses these very issues about being faithful to G-d and not turning astray from serving Him. Belief in one G-d, loving Him, learning and teaching His wisdom - the Torah, being geared in the spiritual army clothes of Tefillin/phylacteries & a garment consisting of Tzitzit/fringe strings, our reminder of Hashem in our homes with the Mezuza on the doorpost, all of which focuses our attention to what are the real things in life that will make the difference for us eternally. And whenever we answer Amen to a blessing, we are in fact confirming that Hashem is the Source of Blessing, Who allows all things to be in existance for the sole purpose of being used in His service in one way or another. In effect, we are addressing Hashem every time that we answer Amen. You see, Amen is the Gematria of two of Hashem's names - YKVK=26 as it is written, but we pronounce it as A-do-nay=65, these two names adding up to the Gematria of Amen - 91.

It has been said that the letters of the word Tzadik/righteous person, note his daily quota of his participation in prayers: Tzadi - 90 mentions of Amen, Dalet - 4 Kedushot (when Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh/Holy Holy Holy is recited), Yud - 10 times of Kaddish, Koof - 100 Berachot/blessings a day. It is particularly the first letter of the word Tzadik that denotes the amount of times that Amen is answered daily. We see with this a bond of the consecutive numbers 90 & 91 - the Gematria of "Amen". But this bond goes beyond just numbers.

As I mentioned in my previous 90th post - the Hebrew word for 90 - Tish'im - is the Gematria of the phrase V'Ahavta L'Reiacha Camocha - "You shall love your friend as yourself", the source of the Mitzvah of Ahavat Yisrael - love of Jews. Bearing this in mind, the words for the number 91 is Tish'im V'Echad, the word Echad denoting the similar word Achdus/unity, for it is only with the feeling of unity - feeling as ONE - with other Jews, can this Mitzvah be ultimately fulfilled. For after all, one is only considered a Tzadik/righteous person, if he fulfills BOTH the Mitzvot pertaining to one's relationship with Hashem AND one's relationship with Jews - as the particular phrase in Hebrew used for this is Bein Adam L'Chaveiro, between a person & his FRIEND. While it may take time for some to be friends with other people, we have to remember that in fact, all Jews are in this assumable status of friends, and it is only that we have to be on a high spiritual level enough where we will automatically feel when we meet another Jew for the first time in this corporeal existance, that he or she is in fact our friend.

As for the word Amen itself, it is actually based on the word Emunah - faith. Indeed, when we answer Amen, we are confirming our faith in Hashem, and in His ability to do whatever He wants. And in another connection between the Tzadik & the word Amen is in the phrase from Mishlei/Proverbs - V'Tzadik B'Emunato Yichyeh - "The righteous person lives with his faith". For it is true faith that brings a person to be focused and stay focused on the purpose of his life in this world, knowing that
things that happen to a person - whether good or bad - is the will of Hashem, as it is Hashem who runs the world.

As we know, every time we do a Mitzvah, we create a good angel (and when G-d forbid a sin is performed, a bad angel is created). The word Amen is the easiest way of creating good angels, for each response is one more good angel - bearing in mind that the words Amen & Mal'ach/angel each have the Gematria of 91 - along with all the other blessings that Hashem will shower us with for good obedience to Him and His name.

20 Tevet, 5771

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

#90 - Learn Torah, Love Torah, Live Torah

The title of this post is taken from the title of a book about the life of Rabbi Mordechai Pinchas Teitz, may the memory of the righteous be for a blessing, who served the community of Elizabeth, New Jersey. Among his most noted accomplishments was his weekly Gemara/Talmud lesson on radio for 36 years from 1953 through 1988 which was called Daf HaShavua - "Page (double-sided folio) of the week". A revolutionary concept at the time he began this, it brought many Jews closer to Judaism and learning Torah. In time, it led to other Torah classes on the radio, and eventually on tape recordings, on the phone, until today's era of the internet where you have a choice of free lessons on any page of the Talmud that you want at any time without even needing a Talmud book if you don't have one, because you can see it on the screen just the same.

The truth is that it was only in the wee hours of this past night that I read the details about this Daf HaShavua program that Rabbi Teitz founded. It was from this that I came up with the title for this post.

Well, the reason that I am writing this today is because this post is focusing on today's Mitzvah #420 - Learning & Teaching Torah. As I mentioned a few months ago in Post #83 (Sep '10), the concept of learning one Mitzvah a day has been going on for nearly 50 years now. Presently, we are in the 30th cycle - and since in Hebrew, the letter Lamed is the Gematria of 30, and the verbs Lilmod/LeLameid - to learn/to teach - is cognate of the name of the letter Lamed, being that this is the very Mitzvah of learning & teaching Torah, it is most appropriate today to be writing about this most important Mitzvah of the Torah that is equal in the value and reward of all the other Mitzvot/commandments of the Torah combined. Indeed, the letter Lamed is the tallest of all the letters of the Alef Beit, no doubt hinting to this uniqueness about the Mitzvah of Torah learning. Hence, we have a trio here of three 30s - the Mitzvah of Lilmod/to learn (30) & LeLameid/to teach (30) in the 30th cycle of learning a daily Mitzvah. And thus, these three 30s add up to the number 90 - the number of this post.

Really, I wanted to spend my time learning Torah as much as I could today, but then again, I realized that TODAY is the day to write this post, as it is under the category of LeLameid - to teach, which is far greater than just learning by myself. Torah is something that needs to be shared with others - so that others will learn and be inspired to be better Jews - something that Rabbi Teitz realized was badly needed in the spiritual desert of the United States nearly 60 years ago. While today, ignorance of Judaism, assimilation and intermarriages are so ever high among Jews in the land of whatever religious freedom is left, even as there are many outreach programs out there, in those days, there weren't even many Yeshivot - Jewish schools - for children to go to. Hence, a whole generation of Jews grew up in perhaps homes that could have been what you would call "kosher", but the children being raised weren't being raised with kosher knowledge.

With this being said, let's get right to discussing Torah about the Mitzvah of Torah.
According to the count of the 613 Mitzvot of the Torah in order of the Chumash - this Mitzvah is the 420th according to the Rambam/Maimonides, based on which is his magnum opus Mishnah Torah. Unfortunately, there is an alternative order of count offered by the Sefer HaChinuch, whose authorship isn't even known for sure, who lists this as the 419th Mitzvah of the Torah.

This general idea that I just wrote is not the first time that I have mentioned this in posting. However, my attempt regarding this in this post is to prove that indeed,
the Mitzvah of learning & teaching Torah is the 420th Mitzvah, since after all, this is a Gematriot blog, which focuses on the significance of numbers in Torah.

A central belief in the Torah is that the Torah is from Hashem, which means that the Torah is not man made, something that disbelievers would not like us to believe. While the rabbis have the power to enact laws, even this is based on what the Torah says, not what they feel is for their own personal benefit. Hence, the Torah is called Torat Hashem- the Torah of Hashem. In the entire Chumash, this phrase is mentioned just once - Lema'an Tihyeh Torat Hashem B'ficha - "in order that the Torah of Hashem will be in your mouth" (Exodus 13:9). The word Tihyeh - "will be" - is the Gematria of 420, which is immediately followed by the phrase Torat Hashem. That is, the 420th Mitzvah is learning and teaching Torah, which is performed with the mouth.

While the Mitzvah of Torah is performed using the mouth - unless one is thinking about how to apply a concept such as how to interpret what the Torah says such as in one of the 13 principles of Torah interpretation -, the term mouth is used in another aspect of the Torah. You see - there are what are called two Torahs, even though they are all one Torah from Hashem - the Torah She'B'Ketav/Written Torah which is the Tanach/Bible & the Torah She'B'Al'Peh/Oral Torah which includes the Shas - the two letters Shin & Samech - which stand for Shisha Sedarim, the six orders of the Talmud (Mishna & Gemara) & the Halachah/Jewish Law. Indeed, the words Shas=360 & Halachah=60 together add up to the Gematria of 420! For indeed, it is through the thought processes of the Shas & the decision of the Jewish Law that separates us Jews from the rest of the world who at best refer to the Bible, but don't follow it as G-dly mandated, who usually get away with as much fun and sin as possible. As mentioned near the beginning of the Talmudic Tractate Avodah Zarah, in the Messianic Era, Hashem will ask who has His Torah. First, the nations will be quick to show the Bible, i.e. Old Testament (no more New Testaments by then), but Hashem will remain unimpressed. Then, the Jews will be showing the Torah - which will include the Shas & Halacha - since this is what is the "secret" recipe of how the Torah works.

Continuing on, let's now add the numbers 420 being that the Mitzvah of Torah is the 420th in the Torah, and the number 60 as the Gematria of Halachah, and this adds the total of 480, the Gematria of Talmud, for it is the Talmud, as being the main applicant of the Mitzvah of learning Torah, not just saying words verbatim, but applying our minds to the subject at hand to understand what the Torah is telling us, and it is through this that we arrive at the correct Halachah.

Now, noting Mitzvah number 420, not only is it the Mitzvah that has to do with the name of the letter Lamed - not once, but TWICE - being the Gematria of 30 so twice this number is the Gematria of Halachah=60, the number 420 is a multiple of both numbers 30 & 60. So, 420 divided by 30 is 14. And as we know, the Rambam, one of the early codifiers, who was one of the very few in the last 1,000 years to compose a book of Halachot on ALL of the Mitzvot of the Torah - not just on the Mitzvot that we are able to keep today in absence of the Holy Temple - divided his halachic work Mishnah Torah into 14 Sefarmim/Books. Another name for this work is called Yad HaChazaka - "The strong hand" - since the word Yad are the very letters that spell the number 14 in Hebrew. On a note related to this, as 420 divided by 60 is seven, and Halacha is the Gematria of 60, there are seven chapters in the Halachot/Laws of Talmud Torah.

Now, where is this most important Mitzvah actually told to us in the Torah? It is the verse that begins V'Shinantam L'Vaneicha V'DeBarta Bam... "You shall teach them diligently to your children and speak of them..." (Deutronomy 6:7) & "You shall teach
them to your children to speak of them..." (Deutronomy 11:19). The word Bam, which literally means in them, refering to the word of the Torah - is the Gematria of 42. And when multiplying this by 10, as there are 10 words in the first verse about this Mitzvah, and being that the Ten Commandments include all of the 613 Mitzvot as stated by the Sa'adiah Gaon, yep, you get the magic number 420.

And then, there is the phrase that we recite every morning as part of the Torah that we first recite following the blessings that we say over learning the Torah - Talmud Torah Knegged Kulam - "The study of Torah equals all of them (the Mitzvot)". As you will note the first Hebrew letters of this phrase, it is Tav-Tav-Kaf-Kaf. As in Hebrew, the number 420 is Tav Kaf, we see a double usage of this very number describing the uniqueness of the Mitzvah of Torah learning! And speaking of DOUBLE, the Jerusalem Talmud (Yevamot 45a) states "The Torah uses double language in its regular way of speech", which means that the Torah will use two consecutive words - usually verbs - that are similar to one another, as its usual jargon. In Hebrew, this is Kefulin Hein HaTorah Dibra K'Darka. Well first, let's take the Tav of the first letter of the word Torah, which equals 400. Now, the word Kefulin "double" begins with the letter Kaf. Also, the last word K'Darka "AS its way" begins with the letter Kaf. As the letter Kaf equals 20, there you have it - the total of 420, used in the context of the Torah speaking in double terminology.

Perhaps we can learn a lesson from this. Yes, Hashem gave us the Torah. But, do we receive it? It is just like when one person sends a piece of mail to someone else. But does that mean that when the latter who is supposed to receive it but the piece of mail never arrived in the mailbox that the sender never sent the piece of mail? Perhaps it was stolen, mixed up with other mail, delivered to the wrong address, etc.
but at least in these circumstances, the one waiting for it did nothing wrong. However, while we claim to be the Chosen Nation since Hashem gave us the Torah, do we live up to our responsibilities? You see, the Torah is a DOUBLE way street - Hashem gives us the Torah, and WE are supposed to give to Him back by reading, learning, teaching, and following his Torah at our end.

You see, this very 420th Mitzvah uses a double wording of a verb, except unlike in most other places or other Mitzvot, these are in fact two DIFFERENT verbs, since while Lilmod & LeLameid are very similar to each other, the first means to learn and the second means to teach. In this format also, you have a DOUBLE action of give & take - the teacher teaching and it is the students who learn on the receiving end, the ultimate fulfillment of the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah in itself, which afterward is supposed to lead us to fulfill the other 612 Mitzvot of the Torah in one way or another (many of which today can only be fulfilled by learning the laws about them, such as the Temple offerings, which have even a higher value in Torah learning than the other parts of the Torah, and is considered as though we brought the very offerings that we learn about in the Torah).

And if this was not enough, the phrase in Hebrew for "all of the Torah" is Kol HaTorah Kulah, where the double usage of Kol/all is being used here as Kula means "all of it," making this phrase to read literally "all of the Torah, all of it." The obvious question here is, why don't we just say "all of the Torah", period?
Well first in terms of Gematria, the words Kol/Kula begin with the letter Kaf=20, so when added to the first letter of the word Torah - Tav=400, again we have the number 420. And it is THIS Mitzvah of which the ultimate fulfillment of it is a DOUBLE action, for learning by oneself only will never get the next generation to do the same. We see that the Torah praises our Patriarch Abraham for "commanding his children and household after him to keep the WAY of Hashem". This goes hand-in-hand with the very wording of the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah - "Teach them (diligently) to your children...when you are on the WAY". "It is the WAY of the Torah to speak in a double wording".

And in the 4th Aliyah of this week's Parshat Vayechi which many learn today being the 4th day of the week, which contains the blessings of Jacob for several of his sons, included is the blessing of Yissaschar, the son that Jacob especially set aside to learn Torah. In fact, the very name of this 420th Mitzvah is Lilmod Torah U'Lelamda "To learn the Torah and to teach it", which is the Gematria of 830, the very Gematria of the name Yissaschar who was the son/tribe especially devoted to this very Mitzvah, as Jacob was himself who was even more connected with this Mitzvah than his father Isaac & his grandfather Abraham. Moreover, both the name Yisrael - Jacob's upgraded name, and the name Yissaschar - of all the tribes - begin with the letters Yud & Sin - the Gematria of 310, and the reward of 310 worlds for the righteous is mentioned in the very last Mishnah, and twice this number is 620 - corresponding to the 620 Mitzvot of the Torah & rabbis.

Today's date - 8 Tevet - marks the day that that King Ptolemy of Egypt ordered 72 rabbis to translate the Chumash for him in Greek. While they all did so independently with the editing of the exact same 15 phrases which would prevent the Torah from being contradictory (this was a big miracle!) as the non-Jews are very good in believing the literal translation of the Bible, and will thus find what seems to be contradictions (except that we have the Oral Torah to explain the discrepancies), this day is considered to be a very sad day in Jewish history. Why? Wasn't it good for the non-Jews to see the beauty of our Torah?

But this was the beginning of the breakdown of our Torah. The Torah was not meant for other nations - this was Hashem's Word ONLY to us. Yes, Hashem knew that in time, the Bible would be the number one printed book in the world, and there are a few non-Jews who behave as good people as a result of it, but the Torah - even if it isn't the Oral Torah - is Hashem's special relationship to us. Now, with the Greek language, the Torah would and was placed in "biblos" status - as just another book on the shelf. The gentiles of the world would not have a comprehension of its HOLINESS. Hence, they would not truly appreciate the Torah for what it is, and expect us to behave the same as they do, even as they also have it on the shelf.

On a better note, we also have a special translation of the Torah - in Aramaic. The reason that I call it special is because this is something that we are supposed to read every week for the upcoming Parsha to be read in the synagogue on the Sabbath. This is called Shnayim Mikra V'Echad Targum - reading each verse of the Parsha twice and then reciting the Aramaic translation once. Of course the question can be asked, why specifically the Biblical verse TWICE? Why not just once, or if repetition is the name of the game - three, four or more times for that matter?

There are indeed reasons given for this, but in line with what I wrote earlier, the Torah "speaks in a DOUBLE languague". Hence, in line of the above regarding the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah, reading/learning the Biblical verses in this fashion emphasizes this point. It is Hashem to us & us to Hashem. And then, we have a translation to confirm that we understand what we just recited. This translation is from a Jew who was born a non-Jew of all people - Onkelos, a nephew of the Roman emperor, and related to Titus, the latter two who were the very ones who destroyed or responsible for destroying our Second Temple.

Perhaps the message we can learn from this is that when we learn Torah the proper way, realizing that it is Hashem Who is speaking to us, then and only then can we make the proper change within ourselves to be the type of people that Hashem want us to people - being infused with the HOLINESS of the Torah, the same way that a non-Jew who converts to being Jewish converts his impure non-Jewish Neshamah/soul to now being a Neshamah of HOLINESS. It is this very holiness that the non-Jews want us to deny, and would prefer that we read our Bibles - but strictly on a philosophical basis without being something that will transform us with Hashem's Mitzvot, for even though the Mitzvah of Torah is the greatest of all Mitzvot, it is considered a Mitzvah - not just intellectual study - ONLY if we observe the other Mitzvot that the Torah commands us to do, even if it means that sometimes, we have to close the holy book to observe these commandments - from daily prayer to holiday rituals, to helping other Jews when the need arises.

You see, while the Mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah is the last Mitzvah of the Torah, the Mitzvah of learning/teaching Torah doesn't make it with an obvious prominent number (until you see how prominent it is on this post) - not as the first Mitzvah either, and in fact, not included in the Ten Commandments. It is Mitzvah 420, seemingly as just another one of the Mitzvot, because there are OTHER Mitzvot that need to be done also. An example that will help illustrate this - if a Jew needs a favor, let's say, lifting up a package that is a bit difficult for him to pick up from the ground, if while one is learning Torah, someone else will right away approach the Jew needing the help to give him the needed assistance, then the one learning Torah should continue. It is only if no one else is around, then the one learning Torah must stop learning until the favor is done for the Jew.

The number one commentary on the Torah/Chumash is Rashi, which many Jews learn on the Parsha on a daily or weekly basis. I think it is safe to say that in ALL observant (Orthodox) Jewish day schools, children are taught Chumash with Rashi. The very first Rashi on the Chumash is a statement from Rabbi Yitzchak. While Rashi starts with Rabbi Yitzchak asking as to why the Torah started particularly with the order of creation rather than from the Mitzvot/commandments, it has been asked as to the significance of why Rashi begins his commentary with a statement particularly from a Rabbi Yitzchak, and the answer given for this was in order to honor his own father whose name was also Yitzchak. In any case, it is fascinating to note that the Gematria of Rabbi Yitzchak guessed it, the magic number 420!

And as far as the one who was the original one to bear the name Yitzchak, the name of the son of Abraham/the father of Jacob, the Torah describes the scenario of the great miracle of Sarah who finally was able to give birth - at the age of 90. Aside from this, her newborn son Yitzchak/Isaac was one of the few in history whose name was coined by Hashem Himself. Additionally, Rashi notes that each of the four letters of Yitzchak's name denotes something significant as to their respective Gematria value: Yud - The 10 Commandments that Yitzchak's future descendants would receive, Tzadi - Sara was 90 years old when she gave birth to Yitzchak, Cheit - Yitzchak was the first one to be given his Brit Mila/circumcision at the age of 8 days old according to Hashem's commandment, Koof - Abraham was 100 years old when his son Yitzchak was born.

As this is my 90th Post, I think it is most significant to note that the fact that Sarah was 90 years old when she gave birth to Yitzchak highlights the fact that he was not just another Jewish child who was born. In fact, he was the FIRST in history to be born Jewish, unlike his father Abraham who was not only not born Jewish, but worshipped idols like the rest of his family until he came to his own senses of the belief in one G-d Who is not like the idols that were able to be seen by the human eye. But also, one is born Jewish ONLY because his mother is Jewish - the fact that his father is Jewish makes absolutely no difference - not because of his last "Jewish" name, or because he had his "BAR mitzvah" in a Reform "Jewish" temple sanctioned by its so called rabbi (very unfortunately, many boys and girls born to a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother have had "bar mitzvahs" and "bat mitzvahs" forced on them, for they have no obligations living a Jewish lifestyle as non-Jews). It is strictly the one who gives birth to a new life who makes the significant contribution of bringing a Jewish soul down to this world.

But while the last few letters of Yitzchak's birth signifying something unique about his life, the first - The 10 Commandments, while they do have a connection with Isaac
in terms of being the ancestor of the Jews who would receive the Ten Commandments, how do we see that this relates ESPECIALLY to Yitzchak, as opposed to his father Abraham or his son Jacob?

Well, as we know, part of the greatest Mitzvah of the Torah is to "teach them to your children." Hence, Isaac was the very FIRST child through whom - Abraham was able to fulfill this most important Mitzvah, even though the Torah - including the Ten Commandments, was not going to be officially given to the Jews for the next 400 years. And as Rashi quotes the Sa'adiah Gaon, the Ten Commandments include all of the 613 Mitzvot of the Torah, the basis of Jewish law, as to how we serve Hashem. Thus, the Ten Commandments have a most significant connection particularly with Isaac's birth. And to note, the final letter of the Alef Beit - Tav - has the Gematria value of 400, and is the beginning letter of the word Torah. It would be exactly 400 years from Isaac's birth that his future descendants would receive the Torah. And Yitzchak was the 20th generation to be born from parents (as Adam & Eve were created by G-d himself) - noting the significance that he was the FIRST to be born Jewish - thus, the number 400 signifying the amount of years that it would take for his descendants to become a nation ready to receive the Torah, along with the number 20 signifying his birth, adds up to the number 420 - the number of the 420th Mitzvah of the Torah - learning Torah and teaching it to one's children (and others as well, but the greatest aspect of this Mitzvah is teaching the Torah to own's own children)!

Hence, when adding the word Rebbe, which means teacher when saying "teacher and student" - to the name Yitzchak - these two words add up to the Gematria of 420, the ultimate results of the Mitzvah of Torah teaching that was performed from the pervious generation of Abraham teaching Torah to his son Yitzchak. While the Rebbe Yitzchak whom Rashi quotes is obviously not the same Yitzchak, it seems that it is not a mere coincidence that the phrase Rebbe Yitzchak would add up to such a significant number that relates especially to the Torah. V'Shinantam L'Vaneich V'Dibarta BAM "You shall teach them diligently to your children and speak OF THEM" where the word BAM is the Gematria of 42, and times the number 10 as in the 10 Commandments signified by the first letter of Yitzchak's name, also adds up to 420. As Rashi quotes Rabbi Yitzchak at the very beginning of his commentary on the Torah "It was not necessary for the Torah to begin except from "This month shall be to you"" this phrase referring specifically to the month of Nissan - the month in which the first Yitzchak was born on!


Since we know that the greatest Mitzvah is Torah learning, perhaps there is a special connection to the Mitzvot that immediately precede and follow this Mitzvah.
Well, the Mitzvah preceding this is Ahavat Hashem/loving Hashem, and the Mitzvah following this is Kriat Shema/reading biblical passages that begin with the verse of Shema Yisrael/Hear O Israel (Deutronomy 6:4). In fact, these Mitzvot are in the midst of the verses immediately following this most recited Chumash verse in the world, and the Mitzvah of Kriat Shema is a continuation of the verse that begins with the Mitzvah of Torah learning. Small wonder then that this Mitzvah of Kriat Shema is the very one that is discussed in the first three chapters of the Mishnah in Tractate Berachot.

In terms of love in Judaism, there is love of Hashem, and then there is love of Jews.
Most interesting, Rabbi Akiva calls this Mitzvah of Ahavat Yisrael - V'Ahavata L'Reiacha Camocha "You shall love your friend (fellow Jew) as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18) - "the great principle of the Torah". In fact, the Gematria of Rabbi Akiva is 395, also the Gematria of the word Mishnah - in which many of Rabbi Akiva's decisions in Halacha are mentioned, and this Mitzvah of Ahavat Yisrael is the 244th Mitzvah of the Torah, and the word Gemara - the explanation of the Mishnah-
is the Gematria of 244. And furthering our amazing connections here, the word Talmud - another name for the Gemara or referring to the Torah She'B'Al'Peh of the Mishnah & Gemara - is the Gematria of Ahavat Chesed/love of kindness. And finally, the word Torah is the Gematria of Gemilut Chasadim/performing deeds of kindness.

The obvious lesson here is that though Torah may be the greatest Mitzvah, a Jew (though we are supposed to treat non-Jews with kindness as well due to the ways of peace), is to be treated with at least as much love as the Torah (perhaps even more than the Torah but I'll leave it up to the Torah scholars to debate this issue), for after all, it is the Jews who are the ones who observe the Torah, for without this, the Torah would hardly serve any meaning. In fact, when Hashem gave the Torah to the Jewish people, the angels had a hard time accepting this fact, although the Torah was not meant for angels who don't have the temptations and challenges that people have to be given a Torah that tells them what to do or not do. The very first word Bereishit, as pointed out by Rashi, notes that this word hints to both the Torah & and the Jews - B'shvil Reishit - Hashem created the world "for the sake of Reishit/the beginning" and both the Jews and the Torah are called Reishit, for if not for the Jews and the Torah - and the Jews accepting and observing the Torah - the world not have a further reason to exist. And indeed, the final word of the Torah/Chumash is the word Yisrael - the Jews.

As this is Post #90, the Hebrew word for 90 is Tish'im/ninety. In turn, the word Tishim is the Gematria of 820. And lo and behold, the phrase V'Ahavata L'Reiacha Camocha - the very words in the Torah of the Mitzvah of Ahavat Yisrael - is also the Gematria of 820, the "big principle of the Torah". That's very nice, you may say, but is there an intrinsic connection between this Mitzvah and the number 90?

The name of the letter having the Gematria of ninety is Tzadi. In fact, there are some who call this letter Tzadik, which means a righteous person. Indeed, the Talmud (Shabbat 104) goes into detail about the significance of the Hebrew letters, and the letter Tzadi indeed refers to a Tzadik. In Judaism, a Tzadik is righteous BOTH in the Torah AND in his relationship with Jews.

As I pointed out a little earlier, there is the concept of reviewing the Parsha every week, saying the Biblical verse twice and then the Aramaic translation once, this translation coming from Onkelos, a convert to Judaism. In fact, we call such a person in Hebrew a Ger Tzedek "righteous convert". In fact, there is another Mitzvah in the Torah to love a Ger Tzedek; hence, loving such a Jew - who was not born Jewish - in fact bears observance of TWO commandments - loving him as a Jew like all other Jews and loving him as a convert to Judaism.

While unfortunately, there are prejudices among Jews against converts due to so called "well meaning" reasons, which may include not allowing a family member to marry a Jewish convert, perhaps if they were to be reminded that some of the greatest Jews in history were those who weren't born Jewish, including our ancestor Abraham, the first Jew, maybe some of them would think a little differently, and realize that if anything, one receives MORE eternal reward for loving a Jewish convert.

But the greatest reminder of loving a convert to Judaism should be the weekly reading of the Aramaic translation of the Torah coming from one who was born a non-Jew who climbed the ladder to become Jewish. Even though Aramaic today is not a language that we speak, it is mandated according to Jewish Law until today - see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Chapter 285 - to learn the Parsha in this format every week (NOTE: For those who can't read Hebrew well, their mother tongue such as English, can be learned to fulfill this weekly obligation).

In fact, perhaps the weekly reading of the Chumash in the format of Shnayim Mikra V'Echad Targum is a reflection of the thrice letter Lamed, the name of which means learning/teaching. Hence, learning the verse three times - in whatever language - represents the totality of 90 - Tishim - Gematria of V'Ahavata L'Reiacha Camocha - 244th Mitzvah, refering to the Gematria of the word Gemara=244, the meat of Torah learning, from which we derive the Halacha, the basis of how a Jew is supposed to live based on the 613 Mitzvot of the Torah. For it is the Chumash, the source of the 613 Mitzvot, that has to be learned in order to understand how we derive our basis of serving Hashem, for it is this very part of the Torah that Hashem dictated to Moses to be put in writing the first 13 Sifrei Torah/Torah scrolls which he wrote on his last day on earth (it was a most miraculous feat to say the least - a total of 75,985 sentences, 1,039,688 words or 3,962,465 letters in one day!); and indeed, the number 13 is the Gematria of Ahava/love.

There are three ways for something to be accomplished - thought, speech, and action.
And so, the name of this post - Learn Torah, Love Torah, Live Torah - represent these three concepts. Though usually, the order of how something is done begins with thought, the main part of fulfilling the Mitzvah of Torah learning is done by pronouncing the words, though understand what one learns is crucial for the optimum of the Mitzvah. Also, teaching Torah to others is done through speech.

Then, there is love of the Torah, which is based on thought. Though children may be given various ways of encouragement to like learning Torah, one can learn to love Torah on a much more mature level when one learns enough of it to want it to be part of one's life, not just something that one does randomly, or after the rabbi's class, not ever opening a Torah book at home, which not only shows that one doesn't feel all that attached to Torah, but that one's children are not going to get the love of Torah if they don't see an example of it. And so, loving the Torah is not limited to Simchat Torah, the day that all Jews - at least outwardly, show their love of the Torah, but it has to be part of one's daily routine in one format or another which shows that Torah is something that is part of one's life because he indeed loves Torah, and hence loves learning it.

And this leads to LIVING the Torah - action. It should be obvious from one's actions and behavior that it is the Torah that guides such a person - not only when it comes to rituals as to how strict one may be about them, but also the way one behaves towards other Jews. It should be so obvious from his behavior that others will be able to say, "You see, this is why Torah learning is such an important thing. You see that rabbi there, how many other people do you know treat others with such love and kindness the way that this rabbi does?"

Indeed, these three verbs in English - learn, love, live - all begin with the letter l, which corresponds to the Hebrew letter Lamed. And in pronouncing the letter l in English, it sounds just like the name of Hashem: E-l, and it is this particular name of Hashem that represents the aspect of Chesed/kindness, the first of the seven active Sephirot/Divine emanations. This name E-l is also the first of the 13 Divine Attributes of Mercy, and as we had mentioned shortly earlier, the number 13 is the Gematria of Ahava/love.

And so, the THREE key ingredients of Lamed - LEARNING Torah, LOVING Jews, these two leading to LIVING the true L'Chaim - the good life of the world to come - for eternity.

8 Tevet, 5771

Monday, December 6, 2010

#89 - The Days of Matisyahu: Goodness & Kindness


While this is not my first post about Chanukah on (see #14 & #15 - Dec. '08 and #53 - Dec. '09), this Chanukah post is and will always be unique in at least one way. You see, this post is Post #89, and the word Chanukah is the Gematria of 89.

To be sure, the Gematria of the name of this holiday is not the only connection of the number 89 to Chanukah. To begin with, the raison d'etre why Chanukah came into being is due to the triumph of the Jews over the Syrian Greeks, the latter who attempted to get the Jews to be part of their Hellenistic culture, which was based on worshipping the body, which included the original Olympic games which consisted of people running the race while naked. Their ultimate goal when it came to us Jews was to strip us of our lifestyle of holiness, which includes having a sense of modesty for the body, even for men. In any case, the Hebrew word for body - Goof - is also the Gematria of 89.

While we see examples of Gematriot where you have two words which are like antonyms to each other having the same Gematria; in this case, it doesn't necessarily have to be viewed as such. You see, the body is not be viewed as a mere shell for the live person, only to be cremated when one is finally deceased, which is by the way against Judaism, and one willing to have such a thing done to him and gets cremated as a result does not even have Kaddish said over him. The body is in effect created in G-d's image, descended from the original creation of G-d - Adam & Eve. But even more importantly, the body - while encompassing the soul - serves in itself as a means of serving Hashem, beginning with circumcision on his eighth day. In fact, the 613 Mitzvot/commandments correspond to the various parts of the body that perform their respective Mitzvot, as outlined in the Sefer/Jewish book called Sefer Chareidim.

Also, the longest chapter in the Chumash - Numbers 7 - consists of 89 verses, which makes up most of the Torah reading for Chanukah, which includes the details of the offerings that the leaders of the tribes of Israel brought in the Tabernacle in the course of 12 days. More on this later on.

And then, you can play with the number 89 itself, and not just with the Chanuakah toy called dreidel. Add the numbers 8 plus 9, and your total is 17; and as we see, we say a total of 17 Berachot/blessings at the lighting of the Menorah over the course of Chanukah - three the first night, and two for each of the remaining nights. And by the way, 17 is the Gematria of the word Tov/good, and the very first time in the Torah that the word Tov is used is in reference to light - "G-d saw that the light was good." And as we say near the beginning of Psalm 92 - "It is good to give thanks to Hashem and to sing for Your exalted Name." This is similar to what we say in the paragraph declaring our lighting the Chanuakah Menorah beginning with "These candles..." which includes the statement " order to give thanks and to laud Your Great Name..." Moreover, the last two or three days of Chanukah begin the month of Tevet, the name of the month being cognate with the word Tov.


Now that I have mentioned giving thanks in relationship to Hashem's Name, let's write here about other names. As on each of the eight days of Chanuka, we read in the Torah of the offerings that a leader of his particular tribe brought in the Tabernacle, until the eight day when we conclude with the last five, today's special Chanukah reading is about the offerings that the leader of the Tribe of Shimon brought. In fact, I was called up for the Levite portion of this reading today; but what was ironic is while the first and last part of today's reading included my namesake Shimon, my own portion did not include my name (NOTE: This is how it is read in Israel, the land that we Jews are all supposed to live in. Jews living outside of Israel read from the following portion for the third/last reading).

Today, the fifth day of Chanukah, my two Hebrew names - Shimon Matisyahu - share a special connection with each other, more than any other day of the year. Matisyahu, the ancestor of the Maccabees, who started the revolution that brought about the existance of this holiday of Chanukah, is the very one whose name is mentioned in every Shemoneh Esrei - the main prayer recited three times minimally, and in Bircat HaMazon/Gracd after Meals, during the eight days of Chanukah - "It was in the days of Matisyahu..."

Sorry Bible story tellers who don't believe in following G-d's word in the Bible, but it was Matisyahu - not Judah the Maccabee, though he may have been the one who faught fierce battles and entered the Temple with the relighting of the Menorah - who is the one who is given the credit for this holiday. My point here is that it wasn't just a war that Jews strategically won which we celebrate today by eating latkes and lighting menoras which are not kosher - if they are electric or the candles are not in a straight row. It was Matisyahu who saw the need to fight when he saw how a Hellenistic Jew dared to offer a pig on an altar, and wasted no time in calling a revolution that few Jews cared to perform. While Matisyahu passed away as an old man before Chanuakah was to be, it was his foresight and bravery that transformed eight days annualy to be special days of holiness, just as we transform our physical bodies into something spiritual when we perform Hashem's Mitzvot.

And so while the holiday of Chanukah itself is not mentioned directly in any part of the Chumash, or in the rest of the Bible for that matter, for the conclusion of the Bible took place before the story of Chanukah, we read the portion of the Torah that is written about the offerings of the leaders of the tribes of Israel who brought them in the Tabernacle for the first 12 days since its dedication, concluding with the commandment of lighting the Menorah, just as the Temple was rededicated with the lighting of the Menorah that brought about Chanukah. And on the fifth day of "the days of Matisyahu," - today - we read the offerings brought by the leader of the Tribe of Shimon. And speaking of reading the Torah, the Gematria of Kriat HaTorah/Reading of the Torah is my very Hebrew name(s) Shimon Matisyahu! (Note: I was a Torah reader for many years).

And being that the fifth day of Chanukah is always on the 29th of Kislev when we read the offerings as related to the Tribe of Shimon (unlike the last three days of Chanukah that do not always fall out on the same dates in the Jewish calendar), I should note that there is another Shimon who is very related to the number 29. Two months earlier, the 29th of Tishrei marks the Yahrzeit of Shimon HaTzadik, the grandfather of Matisyahu, whose words in Pirkei Avot/Ethics of the Fathers - I had quoted at the very beginning of my recent post #87. While I haven't seen anywhere any discussion about the connection of the number 29 with the name Shimon, I should tell you that I was born on the 29th day from my mom's birthday (and no, I will not reveal how old my mom was when I was born because then you will figure out her age from my age). Also, I was born on the fifth day of the week (Thursday), which was also the same day of the week that the offerings of the Tribe of Shimon were brought (Note: When it says "on the fifth day," it refers to the fifth day from the dedication of the Tabernacle, but it also happens that it did in fact take place on the fifth day of the week (Thursday)).

And what makes the number 29 especially significant to Chanuka is that the letters of the number in Hebrew - Chaf Teit - are the very letters that begin the names of the months - Kislev & Tevet - respectively, the two months in which Chanukah occurs.
In fact, Chanukah is unique of all the holidays in that it is the ONLY holiday that is celebrated in two different months. These two letters also the beginning letters of the phrase - Ki Tov "for it is good," (and the name of the month of Tevet is related to the word Tov/good), a recurring phrase in the Torah describing the various creations that Hashem made when creating the world. In fact, the very FIRST time in the Torah uses this phrase is with the creation of light, which is most associated with the holiday of Chanukah, the "Festival of Lights." And it is the
29th of any given month that is what is called Erev Rosh Chodesh - the eve, or the day preceding the New Moon, hence, the bridge of the two months, making the connection between the end of the current month, and the beginning of the following month.

It is no wonder then that the name Shimon of the tribe whose leader brought his offerings of which we read about on the 29th of Kislev - has another special connection to the name Chanukah, and the number of this date being the acronym for the months on which Chanukah occurs. You see, it is the only name of the 12 Tribes that consists of the letters that spell the word Shemen/oil: Shin-Mem-Noon, the substance used to light the Menorah. And to note, relating the tribe of Shimon to "the fifth day," the name Chanukah - consisting of the letters Cheit-Noon-Vav-Kaf-Hei - has five letters, and the fifth letter is Hei=5. With this being said, the letters of the word Shemen form the basis of the word Shemonah/eight, especially since we light the Menorah - preferably with olive oil - over the course of eight days.

As another connection between the two names Shimon Matisyahu, Shimon is the Gematria of Har Moriah/Mt. Moriah = 466, and Matisyahu is the Gematria of Beit HaMikdash/Temple = 861, which was located on the grounds of Mt. Moriah. Accordingly,
the selected verses for my two names respectively are "Praise, O Jerusalem, the L-rd;
laud your G-d, O Zion" (Psalms 147:12)- and Mt. Moriah is the selected area of Jerusalem where the Temple is supposed to be located, and "Who will ascend the Mountain of the L-rd; and who will arise in the place of His holiness" (Psalms 24:3)-
this verse emphasing the place of the Temple as Hashem's holy place. (Note: These selected verses of mine are based on the fact that they each begin and end with the same letters that my respective names begins and ends with, customarily recited at the end of every Shemoneh Esrei). And in light of the above in terms of numbers, these two names are especially connected with each other with the number eight - the number representing what is ABOVE nature, just like Jerusalem is ABOVE all other cities in the world in holiness, and the Temple is ABOVE all other structures or other areas in the world in holiness.


The Mitzvot that the Syrian Greeks especially atttempted to prevent to Jews from performing was circumcision, the Sabbath, and the sanctification of the New Moon. From this, it seems that they weren't so concerned about us celebrating the Jewish holidays, but that we should not have the means to declare a new month, meaning Rosh Chodesh. The reason for this is simple. You see, they knew that unlike the Sabbath, the Jewish holidays on fixed days of the calendar were based on when Rosh Chodesh was declared. So, they worked on what was the "root of the problem."

While the Syrian Greeks too would not have had a problem with us taking a day of work every week to refresh one's body to be ready anew for the coming week, the problem of them seeing us keep the Sabbath is that we kept it AS A DAY OF HOLINESS. Just as the Mitzvah of declaring the New Moon is called Kiddush HaChodesh/SANCTIFICATION of the month; so too, they would have none of it as far as us declaring Shabbat as holy, starting off with the Mitzvah of Kiddush, which literally means sanctification, delaring the Sabbath as Hashem's day at the beginning of the Shabbat meal with a cup of wine. And of course along these lines, circumcision for Jews was tabboo, because this rite is performed specifically to mark ourselves Jews as HASHEM's nation, not just as some sanitary process the way that is performed in hospitals in the United States for non-Jews.

Anyways, I would like to note that the fifth day of Chanukah is the ONLY day of Chanukah that can NEVER fall out on the Sabbath (though in earlier times when the New
Moon was declared by the Jewish court after witnessing it, it was possible). It seems a little ironic for this particular day to happen, especially as it relates to the name Shimon which consists of the letters Shemen/oil, which is reminiscent of the one seal of oil of the Cohen Gadol/High Priest that was untouched by the spiritual impure Syrian Greeks that was able to be used to light the Menorah by the Maccabees on the night of 25 Kislev that resulted in the holiday of Chanukah starting the following year. It was this only little pack of oil that was only able to last being lit for one day, but miraculously lasted eight days, that represented this concept of holiness vs. impurity, as exemplified by the Sabbath that this foreign nation attempted to oust from Jewish living.

But perhaps it is precisely this point that brings a challenge here for the fifth day of Chanukah never falling out on the Sabbath. The idea here is to use the mundane, the six work days in the week, towards serving Hashem (NOTE: Any given day particularly in the month of Kislev - when Chanukah begins - can fall out in today's Jewish calendar on any one of six days). It is not like, L'Havdil, the way that some Christians behave when they go to church on Sunday, behaving like a perfect angel in their house of worship, and then the rest of the week, behave like every one else, following their base desires and habits. While certainly, it is far easier on Sabbath to pray, learn, and sing hymns to G-d, we have to serve Hashem - SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.

Similarly, as Goof/body is the Gematria of Chanukah - 89, while we don't see our inner self - the Neshama/soul, whose letters also consist of the word Shemen/oil, as the name Shimon as exemplified on this fifth day of Chanukah - (NOTE: The combined Gematriot of Shimon=466 & Neshama=395 is the same Gematria as Matisyahu=861!), we have to utilize our mundane body in the service of Hashem - not just being
"spiritual" by repeating mantras and being deep in meditation (while the house is being robbed and everyone's mouths are duct taped, as I once saw in a movie), but being physically active - when it comes both to performing ritual AND our
behavior towards others - not just because it it "nice" to do good things for others,
but also, because HASHEM SAID SO.

This last point may bother some "ethical" people; but speaking of ethics, what happened to the "ethical" professors when Hitler started his annihilation of Jews. Did their ethics all of a sudden tell them that they must go against the present trend of society, and do everything within their means to save Jews? Or, because they felt they since we Jews were sub-human, it was OK to treat us differently - from silence to being active in wiping us out - since practicing ethics only applies to treating others who are genuinely called humans?

Actually, believe it or not, there is one difference between these anti-Semitic German professors and the Syrian Greeks. You see, the ones who sought our destruction in the Holocaust only cared just to get rid of us once and for all. This means that even if G-d forbid, Jews would have converted to Christianity, it would have made no difference to Hitler, because he simply hated us as that "Chosen Nation," as opposed to the "Aryan race."

In stark contrast, the Syrian Greeks felt that we Jews had something to offer with our wisdom, as our Bible after all is a book of wisdom. However, this nation had a worse plan for us - unlike Hitler who just wanted to kill us physically in this world, but did not prevent us from being part of the eternal spiritual world, the SGs looked to annihilate us from the eternal spiritual world, as it was only the body that mattered, but not to have anything to do with holiness. Of course, non-observant Jewish Holocaust survivors may disagree on this point, but the rabbis in the Talmud make it crystal clear that one who causes someone to sin is worse than one who kills him, for the former only takes the victim away from this temporary world, but the latter removes him eternally from benefiting of the eternal bliss.

Along the lines that the only day of Chanukah that never falls out on the SABBATH is the FIFTH day, the day related to the Tribe of Shimon in the Torah reading, since this day is connected with this tribe of Shimon particularly through the Torah scroll - which consists of FIVE Sefarim/books (popularly called the Five Books of Moses), about which the last of the 613 Mitzvot of the Torah is to WRITE a Torah scroll for oneself, the Tractate Shabbat in the Babylonian Talmud, following the Mishnah that mentions examples of abbreviated words of a minimum of two letters over which one is liable for punishment if WRITTEN on the SABBATH (according to the Torah, writing only one letter on the Sabbath is exempt from punishment in this world, though it is still forbidden to be done), the first of these examples being the name/word Shem (which literally means "name" and also the name of Shem son of Noah) from the name SHIMON. Hence, being that this is the first example mentioned in the Mishna, the Talmud mentions this particular example again and again in its explanation of how we know from the Torah that one is liable even for writing an abbreviated word in short for the longer word that one has in mind. In relationship to this, it is interesting to note that in the blessings that Jacob gave to his children before he passed away, Rashi notes that it was this tribe of Shimon, among other things, was more concentrated with scribes (who write Torah scrolls) more than all the other tribes. Truly amazing!


Today - 29 Kislev - is the 89th day from the beginning of the New Year. Noting earlier about the special significance of this fifth day of Chanukah, the name of the holiday that begins the New Year - Rosh Hashanah - is the Gematria of the name of the ultimate hero of Chanukah - Matisyahu=861. By the way, speaking of the FIFTH day, Matisyahu had FIVE sons who were all active in the fight against the Syrian Greeks, four of the five who perished in war at one point or another. One of his five sons was named Shimon, the only one of the five who didn't perish in battle. (NOTE: In some years, the fifth of Chanukah is the 88th day from the New Year since sometimes, the month of Cheshvan has only 29 days, unlike this year when it had 30 days).

In some years, the first day of Chanukah - and as the name itself denotes that the Jews rested on the 25th of Kislev which was the beginning of Chanukah (Chanu Kaf Hei)
-is the 89th day from the 25th of Elul, the date on which the creation of the world began, which included the creation of light that hints to the light of Chanukah, as the 25th word of the Torah is the first mention of the word Ohr/light (see the parenthetical note in the previous paragraph). As it turns out, this year, the 89th day from 25 Elul was the 24th of Kislev. While this is only the day before Chanukah, and not Chanukah itself, there is a special connection of Chanukah to this date as well, at least in terms of the Second Temple that the Jews had free access to once again in the miracle of Chanukah. I am refering specifically to Haggai 2:10-19, in which the Cohanim were given test questions to prepare them to serve in the newly built Second Temple. It is most significant that the date "the twenty fourth of the ninth month (Kislev)" is mentioned TWICE in this section, and note the wording of the second mention of this date, "Set now your hearts from this day, the twenty fourth of the ninth month, back to the day when the foundation of the sanctuary of Hashem was laid." And speaking of the FOUNDATION of the Temple - in relationship to the 24th of Kislev - which is a spiritual replica of the world, the FOUNDATION of the world took place on the 25th of Elul!


Yes, the only Verse 89 in the ENTIRE Chumash, the conclusion of the longest chapter in the Chumash, is the last verse of Parshat Naso, which is included within the reading for the eighth and last day of Chanukah. As I noted in an earlier post, this
verse demonstrates an example, as mentioned specifically in the introduction of Torat Cohanim, a Midrash specific to Sefer Vayikra/Book of Leviticus, of the last of the 13 ways through which the Torah is interpreted to arrive at the decision of a Jewish law, as handed down from Hashem to Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses) - "When there are two verses that contradict each other, there is a third verse that comes along and makes sense between them." This verse iThs that verse that solves the contradiction between two other verses that mention the area where Hashem spoke to Moses. Today, I am not going to go through this again, but this is Numbers 7:89 - When Moses came into the Tent of Meeting to speak with Him (Hashem), he heard the Voice speaking to him between the two cherubs, and He spoke to him."

Along these lines, the real celebration of Chanukah is the triumph of the ORAL TORAH/LAW, which spells out how to live a REAL Jewish life, which is the very part of the Torah that the Syrian Greeks had a problem with us believing and following in.
Hence, it is this LAST verse in Parshat Naso Verse 89 read on the LAST day of Chanukah, that represents the LAST of the 13 principles of Torah interpretation as per the Oral Torah - of which the Mishna & Gemara/Talmud form the basis of this. And speaking of last, one of the connotations of the word Gemara is finishing/concluding, for it is the Oral Torah that has the LAST word - not what the Bible critics want everyone to believe about us Jews, mocking us based on the literal meaning of the Bibl; for example, such as an "eye for an eye", which really means according to the teachings of the Talmud, paying money for damaging another's eye as opposed to knocking out the eye of the one who did the eye damage.

The Hasidic book called B'nei Yissaschar - so named because the author of this book felt a special aura of holiness during Chanukah that he didn't feel the rest of the year about which his Torah teacher told him that it's because the root of his soul is from the Tribe of Yissaschar - which is full of Hasidic thoughts on the Sabbath, Rosh Chodesh, and holidays, notes that the 13 ways through which the Torah is interpreted, corresponds to the 13 Divine Attributes of Divine Mercy. The Arizal (Rabbi Isaac Luria) the great Kabbalist of the 1500s, notes that when we light the Menorah on each of the eight nights of Chanukah, we illuminate another one of the 13 Attributes - on the first seven nights, the respective first seven attributes, and on the last night - the 8th through the 13th attributes. Also, there is a book on Mussar/ethics called Kav HaYashar in Chapter 96, that points out that the first two blessings over lighting the Chanukah lights each consist of 13 words, each representing the 13 Divine Attributes of Mercy.

While I am not here to point out the connection between each day of Chanuka and the particularly Divine Attribute, let us point out to the first one. The first one (and this list is according to the Arizal, the correct way, as opposed to other versions of the 13 Attributes) is E-l/G-d, Hashem's name as related to His kindness.
In any case, E-l consists of the letters that spell the number 31. This is the Attribute that we light up on the first night of Chanukah. As we read about the offerings that the leader of the Tribe of Judah brought on the first day of Chanukah,
and Yehudah/Judah is the Gematria of 30, Psalm 30 which is recited especially on Chanukah (perhaps also hinting to Judah the Maccabee who lit the Menorah in the Temple following the victory) ends with the word Odeca - "I will give thanks to You,"
and this word is the Gematria of 31, the same as the name E-l corresponding to the first day of Chanukah.

And just as on the eight/last day of Chanukah, we conclude the reading of the offerings of the tribal leaders from the "eighth day" through the "twelfth day," so too, we illuminate the 8th through the 13th Attributes of Mercy on the eighth/last night of Chanukah. Now, adding these six numbers pertaining to this: 8+9+10+11+12+13
equals 63. Now, the Hebrew word for eight is Shemonah, which is sometimes spelled without a Vav, hence, having the same letters as Neshamah, and Mishnah, and there are exactly 63 tractates to the Mishnah, the foundation of the Oral Torah!

It seems ironic that hardly any mention of Chanukah is made in the entire Mishnah, unlike the holiday that started shortly before - Purim, gets its attention by having an entire tractate - one of the 63 - devoted to the Megillah reading, the main Mitzvah of Purim. Yes, there are no laws devoted to the lighting of the Menorah on Chanukah. What's the deal here?

You see, Rabbi Judah the Prince, known as Rebbe (as referred to at the beginning of the second chapter of Pirkei Avot), was very upset at the Maccabees, who were Cohanim, who utilized their status as kings, which was only supposed to be a temporary thing. So, what was it to Rebbe? Rebbe was descended from King David, the ancestor of the Davidic dynasty, the only dynasty from King David's time with the true authority of being king. While for the moment, the Maccabees/Hasmonian dynasty may have been necessary in establishing law and order, they should have handed over the authority as soon as possible to King David's descendants, or at least to King David's tribe Judah. Eager for power, they maintained their kingly position, and ultimately, their whole family got wiped out. Hence, Rebbe refused to give Chanukah, the result of the Macabeean victory, any serious space in the pages of the Mishnah.

On a more positive note, just as there are 36 candles that we light during the course of Chanukah (besides the Shamash which serves merely to light the other lights); so too, there are exactly 36 Babylonian Talmudic tractates on the Mishnah, which is another key proof to the celebration of the Oral Torah that is so connected with Chanukah.

Perhaps what we can learn from this is that when we follow what the rabbis in the Talmud tell us, then we are on track. However, when we start doing things our way, no matter how noble our intentions are, even "for the sake of Heaven," without consulting rabbinic authority, declaring ourselves as "kings," it is precisely this that starts leading things into the wrong direction. A case in point, it is the result of fighting between two brothers in the Hasmonian dynasty that eventually led to Roman control of Israel, which in turn eventually led to the destruction of the Second Temple, in effect, undoing the results of its own family that originally restored law and order in the Temple.

The 13 ways through which the Torah can be interpreted is a very disciplined way of learning what the Torah is telling us, these principles handed down from Hashem to Moses. Just as its final principle in which a third verse/party comes in to solve the contradictions/disputes between two other verses, to make clear what really happened; so too, in learning Torah for the right reason, we sift through what is false to arrive at the truth. And just as Verse 89 - the LAST verse of Numbers Chapter 7- demonstrates this very point, being that the number 89 is the Gematria of 89, so too, of the seven Mitzvot D'Rabbanan - the seven commandments of the rabbis as an appendix (not addition - as I wrote about in the past) to the 613 Mitzvot of the Torah, the Mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles is the LAST of these Mitzvot. In one sense, this is the 620th Mitzvah, and the word Keter/crown, the highest of the Sephirot/Divine Emanations, is the Gematria of 620, as placing the crown on the king's head is the LAST act of declaring him as king.

As a side note related to this, the LAST of the 613 Mitzvot is writing a Sefer Torah for oneself. As I mentioned similarly a little earlier in this post, Rashi points out about the tribe of Shimon in the midst of Jacob's blessings of his sons, it was the tribe of Shimon especially who were poor, scribes, and teachers of children. A Sopher/scribe fulfills a very important function in Judaism, because he is the one who writes the holy articles - writing the Biblical words on parchment for the Torah scrolls, phylacteries, and mezuzot. And for Jewish kings, the had to have two Torah scrolls written for themselves, one of which they had to go around with at all times, the purpose being is that they always remember to fear Hashem, and not be haughty as kings.

Hence, it is my first name Shimon that is especially related to the LAST of the
613 Mitzvot of the Torah, and it is my second name Matisyahu that is especially related to the LAST of the seven Mitzvot of the rabbis (and as I mentioned earlier of the word/name Shem being an abbreviation as the first two letters of the name Shimon in relationship to the prohibition of writing on Shabbat, the letters of Shem - Shin & Mem - are abbreviations as the first letters of my respective Hebrew names Shimon Matisyahu). Also, as I had mentioned in past blogging, it is near the END of the Sefer Torah that the name Matisyahu is spelled equidistantly - in relationship to the Hidden Codes of the Torah - every 50th letter, hinting to Matisyahu being the one who was responsible for the CONCLUSION of the total of the 620 Mitzvot of the Torah & the rabbis.

One thing that I will mention for the first time is that Matisyahu's name being spelled equidistantly uses Moshe's name twice among the letters. And as the Gematria of Moshe's name as his full title - Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses our teacher) - is the Gematria of 613, since after all, he was the one who handed us the teachings of the Torah consisting of the 613 Mitzvot, perhaps Matisyahu's name crossing into Moshe's hints to the fact that what are the seven Mitzvot of the rabbis aren't per see additions to the Torah, because in fact, it is forbidden to add to the Mitzvot of the Torah - but that they are in fact INCLUDED among the 613 Mitzvot, as the Torah tells us as one of the 613 Mitzvot - not to turn aside from what the rabbis/Jewish court tell us to do.

We must always remember Who is the ultimate King. While we may have positions of importance and honor, we must remember that it is an appointment from Hashem to serve the people - not oneself. And the sole purpose of a Jewish king is so that the people can learn from him how to be in the mode of serving the ultimate King of Kings, as well as the Jewish king being in a position to teach the people how to serve Hashem. King David was unique in that he had something unique to offer - Sefer Tehillim - Book of Psalms. Of the psalm that we recite three times a day in our prayers - Psalm 145 - the LAST verse begins with the words Tehillat Hashem - "My mouth will speak the PRAISE OF HASHEM and all flesh will bless His hallowed Name forever and ever." Tehillat Hashem is the Gematria of the words Beit HaMikdash/Temple - the LAST of the 15 steps of spiritual accomplishment as mentioned in the midst of the Haggadah of Passover. And as the Talmud tells us, the fifth (active) Sephirah, which is Hod/glory - the Gematria of 15, refers to the Beit HaMikdash. And adding the numbers one through FIVE, the total is 15.

And speaking of the number 15, in connection to the 15th of Av, when the virgin Jewish girls were dancing to find someone to marry, which is mentioned by a rabbi with my namesake - Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel, the LAST Mishnah on Tractate Ta'anit concludes with the verse that ends with "on the day of the happiness of his heart," which refers to the rebuilding of the future Temple.


The second day of Chanukah - 26 Kislev - of this year marked my first wedding anniversary. My first year of marriage was quite a happy time in my life - and a very challenging time in my life, but with no regrets at the end of the day. Speaking of the number 13 in this post, as related both to the 13 ways through which the Torah can be interpreted in the context of the Oral Law & the 13 Divine Attributes of Mercy, the number 13 is the Gematria of Ahavah/love. It is also the Gematria of the word Echad/one. And the number of the date of the month - 26 - is twice the number 13, just like the first two of the three blessings (the third blessing is recited just on the first night) are said on the last seven nights beginning with the date of my marriage, consist of a total of 26 words. Well, I did survive Year One of my marriage with my beloved wife Yael.

As a side note, the connection between the words Chanukah & Chatuna/wedding, the first, third/middle, and fifth/last letters of these two words are the same: Cheit-Vav-Hei. Also, the Rambam/Maimonides in his magnum opus Mishnah Torah, which encompasses the laws of the Torah as exemplified by the 613 Mitzvot, places the laws of matrimony right right after the laws of Chanukah. Certainly, not a better time to get married, eh?

Now, getting back on track, making the connection between the numbers 13 & 15, the beginning of the reading of the Torah for the first day of Chanuka (in Israel and for Sephardim outside of Israel) is the portion of Bircat Cohanim (Numbers 6:22-27). The blessing itself consists of 15 words. And before reciting the words of the three versed blessing, the Cohanim say a Beracha/blessing for this, concluding with the word B'Ahava - "...He commanded us to bless his nation Israel WITH LOVE," this word being the Gematria of 15, hinting to the 15 words of the Priestly Blessing.

Though the following does not relate per se to Gematria, there is a very fascinating story about this. Someone once approached a rabbi in a Spanish community, asking him
as to where in the Torah we see that Hashem commanded the Cohanim to bless the congregration WITH LOVE. In the literal words of the Chumash, in fact we do not see this.

The rabbi answered, "Right before the words of the blessing of Bircat Cohanim, it says Amor Lahem, which literally means "say to them," but as we know, the word Amor in Spanish means "love." Hence, Hashem commanded the Cohanim to say the words of Bircat Cohanim WITH LOVE."

In conclusion, as the Gematria of Chanukah is 89, there are a few mathematical tidbits that I want to note related to this number. Early on, I noted that adding the numbers 8 & 9, the add up to the number 17, the Gematria of the word
Tov/goodness. In a similar vein, multiplying these two numbers add up to 72, the Gematria of the word Chesed/kindness. And now - here is the big Gematria trick. Add these two totals - 17 & 72 - and the TOTAL TOTAL is 89 - the number we started with!
(To my knowledge at this time, only the numbers that end with a nine, from 19 through 89, work like this) Indeed, the holiday Chanukah is Hashem's great display of goodness and kindness towards us, the word kindness being mentioned TWICE within the 13 Divine Attributes of Mercy. Moreover, the word Chesed=72 begins with the letter Cheit=8, and the word Tov=17 begins with the letter Teit=9 - returning to the Gematria of the word Chanuka putting the numbers beginning these words of Chesed & Tov - 8 & 9 - to read 89!

Chanukah - the holiday of EIGHT days - whose name is the Gematria of 89 - which when written individually - EIGHT, NINE - teaches us a lesson towards everyday life. First we have the number eight. The Maharal of Prague notes that the number eight is a number that denotes the way Hashem runs the world beyond nature, beyond the regular seven day week, signifying miracles, things that normally do not happen; hence, Chanukah being an eight day holiday, when we have the concept of Pirsumei Nisa - revealing the miracle of Chanukah, the holiday of lights. And then, we have the number NINE, which denotes the opposite concept of light - darkness, the NINTH plague of the Egyptians, and the darkness of Tisha B'Av/NINTH of Av - the month that is kabbalistically related to Teit, the NINTH letter (See my 36th Post - Jul '09, which shows the contrast between Chanukah & Tisha B'Av).

You see, we first celebrate the miraculous holiday of Chanukah - in the midst of the work week, few taking off for this holiday, as it is not a mandated holiday from the Torah/Chumash. And then, we are supposed to take the lessons and the feelings of holiness from this holiday, and apply them immediately to the day after Chanukah, the "ninth day", back to the "regular schedule," but this time, infuse the regular work week with a little extra punch of holiness and Hashem's kindness and goodness. Perhaps this is why that not in all years, do the last three days of Chanukah fall out on the exact same dates, unlike the first FIVE days. When Kislev has 30 days - the last three days fall out on 30 Kislev, 1 & 2 Tevet. When Kislev has 29 days - the last three days fall out on 1-3 Tevet. The point here is that some years 3 Tevet is Chanukah, and some years it is not. Meaning, whether it is a "special" day or not, whether it is the "EIGHTH Day" or the "NINTH Day," we still have to serve Hashem. For better times or worse, we have to pull through.

And my friends, this is the same lesson that we can apply to our marriages. Just as literally, when last year in my first week of marriage celebrating Sheva Berachot, the week ended with the end of Shabbat Chanukah on 2 Tevet; and then immediately afterwards on 3 Tevet - when Shabbat was over, Chanukah was over, and my marriage celebration week was over (all at the same time) - it was back to regular life, the only difference before & after that Chanukah is that after that Chanukah, I was married; so too, there will be better days and worse days, but in order to maintain our marriages, we have to remember what our better days were like to pull through during the worse days and not give up on marriage. ALL marriages have some type of challenge or challenges. In the long run, no one escapes the curve balls that Hashem give him or her, and the only question is how we will deal with them. It is certainly better to have to deal with them in this world, in our physical lifetime, then deal with them when it is a little too late, when we will be asked one day in the Heavenly court as to why we didn't make a supreme effort for that short period of time of so many decades compared to eternity to do what we needed to do.

Life is too short for fighting for all of our rights, too short for showing who is boss, too short for divorces. While divorces are inevitable in certain cases, they don't get rid of everyday problems. If we want a happy marriage, it is up to us to see to it that it is so; whatever advice others tell us towards this end, the advice only goes so far as to the effort we display with the information that we are given; things just don't happen by magic. Then, if we sincerely play our part in maintaining Shalom Bayit - "peace of the household", Hashem will play His part in turn, and do the miracles necessary for our marriages to be full of love and be everlasting.

NOTE: G-d willing, plan on writing my next post in the midst of next week.

29 Kislev/5th Day of Chanukah - Day of the Reading of the Offerings of the Leader of the Tribe of Shimon - 5771