Thursday, January 6, 2011

#93 - SHIELD of Protection

The name of Va'era "I will appear", the name of last week's Parsha, begins where it says Va'era El Avraham El Yitzchak V'El Ya'akov B'E-l Sha-dai - "I appeared to Abraham to Isaac and to Jacob with (the name) G-d Al-mighty..."

Hashem's purpose of telling Moses this was because Moses complained last about how Pharaoh treated the Jews despite Hashem's promise of redeeming the Jews, when the opposite seemed to be happening here. Hashem was quick to remind Moses that in fact, Moses had first to learn from the Patriarchs who were also given promises that weren't fulfilled about Israel's future, and yet, they continued moving on with their lives.

Sometimes, we think that everything has to fit just right. But the truth is that it is Hashem who determines as to how everything will fit just right, not realizing ourselves as to how well fit everything is really set in place, especially when it comes to protection. This is especially applicable to Israel today, where we Jews are surrounded by millions of our Arab enemies who only wish for our annihilation for them to take over our land. Yet in most of the country, we aren't constantly rained by bullets and rockets. Most places of worship have been left safe until now. In recent years, Jerusalem was a potential target for terrorism several times, yet had been nabbed by the IDF time and again, nothing short of a miracle.

Now, let's take a closer look at the verse here. The verse says "I appeared TO Abraham, TO Isaac, and TO Jacob..." Why doesn't the Torah simply say that Hashem appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? The word El/to is the Gematria of 31, and when mentioned three times, is a total of 93, the Gematria of the word Magen/shield (and this is my 93rd Post).

We see that the first blessing of the main prayer Shemoneh Esrei states "G-d of Abraham, G-d of Isaac, and G-d of Jacob", and then the conclusion of this blessing is
Magen Abraham "Shield of Abraham", as we see in the Torah that Hashem tells Abraham - Anochi Magen Lach "I am your shield," following Abraham's battle with several kings. While we actually see the world shield used specifically by Abraham, the ultimate purpose was also for his descendants, of whom Isaac his son and Jacob his grandson would be on the same footing as he was in terms of being the ancestors of the Jewish people. But perhaps the proof that the concept of shield is connected to all three of the Patriarchs is what we recite following the Shemoneh Esrei of the Sabbath night beginning with Magen Avot "Shield of the Fathers (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob)..."

And just like Abraham was almost burned at the stake for his belief in one G-d, Isaac was almost offered at the altar for all that he knew, and Jacob suffered plenty while exiled from his home, they all showed being examples of keeping the faith and having Hashem's protection. Their ability of being able to stay devoted to Hashem despite major pressure is reflected especially when it says that Hashem appeared TO Abraham, TO Isaac, and TO Jacob, as His personal relationship to them, and since they felt like Hashem was their personal relationship so to speak, nothing else seemed to matter, despite the logic, temptations, and pressures of the time.

Now, the verse continues with the name that Hashem appeared to them as E-l Sha-dai "G-d Al-mighty". The name E-l is the same spelling of letters as El/to. Perhaps it is this name of Hashem's E-l, which denotes Hashem specifically as the G-d of kindness, that is reflected as such, because when adding up three times to equal 93, the Gematria of Magen/shield, this is indeed Hashem's kindness of being a shield to our Patriarchs.

It is well known that the three letters of the name Sha-dai - Shin, Dalet, Yud, - begin with the words Shomer Daltot Yisrael "Guardian of the doors of Israel", referring to Hashem protecting our homes in merit of the Mezuzot, the parchment scroll containing the first two paragraphs of the Shema, on our doorposts.

We see that in the past, Jacob had used this phrase of E-l Sha-dai in his hopeful prayers of his children going to Egypt to buy grain during the famine. Rashi quotes the Midrash Rabbah (Bereishit Rabbah 92:1) "He Who said to the world enough, should say enough to my troubles," as Jacob was addressing the fact that his life was full of troubles, even as he had non known what happened to Joseph for some 22 years. As it turns out, the word Dai/enough is the Gematria of 14, and Parshat Va'era is the 14th Parsha, the Parsha in which Hashem indeed declares Dai "Enough of the troubles happening to My people! Now I will start punishing Pharaoh for refusing to let the Jews go!"

Another Biblical figure who lived throughout life with troubles, though his high status later in life would otherwise fool some, was none other than King David, whose name is also the Gematria of 14. Representing the Jewish people, he composed Sefer Tehillim/Book of Psalms, which represents the prayers and tears of the Jewish people in all kinds of troubles, who also cry out Dai - "Enough of our troubles. Please answer me, Hashem!" Counting the books of the Tanach/Bible, it turns out that it is this Sefer that is the 14th of the 24 Books of the Tanach, hardly a coincidence to be composed by the author whose name has the same Gematria as 14, which echoes the theme of Dai/enough which is also the Gematria of 14.

This then explains the concept of Magen David/Shield of David. While there has been much discussion about the origins of the "Star of David" which has been associated as King David's shield at war, one of the concluding blessings of the Haftara ends with this phrase, which denotes this same basic concept of Hashem being King David's protection despite everything that he went through throughout life.

And now, getting back to Moshe to whom Hashem had been speaking to. While it is to the Patriarchs that Hashem appeared to with the name E-l Sha-dai, Hashem appeared with His main name to Moshe. We do find a little irony here. You see, E-l Sha-dai and the name Moshe both have the same Gematria as 345. Moreover, Moshe and Hashem/"the name" in lieu of saying of saying Hashem's name when not praying or reading a verse from the Torah, can be read forward and backwards. In another words, Hashem used an alternative way to appear to the Patriarchs, the same way that we use the word Hashem in lieu of A-do-noy when not praying or reading a verse.

In another way of looking at this, perhaps Hashem was hinting to the Patriarchs with His promises of redeeming their descendants in the future from Egypt that just like Hashem was their shield of protection in their times of trouble, so perhaps, was he hinting to them with the name E-l Sha-dai that it would be someone with the same Gematria as this name - Moshe - who would be the leader who would lead the Jewish people out of Egypt when the time would come. And Moshe, the 26th generation parental line from Adam & Eve - just as Hashem's name YKVK is the Gematria of 26, and there are exactly 26 verses to Psalm 136 where the ending of each verse is "for his kindness is everlasting", which includes recounting about Hashem taking us out of Egypt - who showed himself from day one how he felt with his brethren the Jews who suffered tremendously, would be most worthy of being the G-d appointed leader to take the Jews out of Egypt.

As the verse in Tehillim states (Psalms 121:4): "Behold, the Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps". Yes, Hashem has been quite kind to us, both on the national and personal level. In the long run, Hashem is our SHIELD OF PROTECTION when we feel that we are connected to Him, and follow in the footsteps of our Patriarchs who were able to feel that connection with Hashem.

2 Shevat, 5771

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