Thursday, February 10, 2011

#98 - The Two Sephirot

In our previous post, I wrote about the importance of time as displayed through animal sacrifices in the Temple. Today, I will write about two different time periods that both compare and contrast with each other, and what we can learn from this. Both of these time periods are mentioned in the Torah and are part of the 613 Mitzvot/Commandments.

The first of these time periods is the yearly Mitzvah of what we call either counting the Sephira counting the Omer. We are required to count seven weeks which each include
seven days, which the Torah calls "seven complete weeks" The following verse continues "Until the day following the seventh week, you shall count 50 days". (Leviticus 23:15-16). Now wait a minute, how many days are we really supposed to count here - 49 or 50?
Well, we do see in all prayerbooks that we are presented with only 49 days to count, so is there something else that we do on the 50th day, which we know as Shavuot, that shows that we are counting this day, though we don't obviously verbalize this count?

Now, in the beginning of the very next Parsha, we are presented with a similar count - seven complete cycles of seven years each of which the last of each seven year period is designated as a year in which the land of Israel is left alone and not worked upon, popularly known as the Shemitta year. Then, there is a special commandment to "sanctify the fiftieth year", called the Jubilee year, and as Rashi explains, that at the beginning of this year, the Beit Din/Jewish court announces that this year is sanctified. Besides this year between another year of rest for the land following the 49th year, land that owners sold under financial stress and Jewish servants returned to being free. (Leviticus 25:1-13)

In any case, there seems to be a fundamental difference between these two sets of counts. The first one that we count annually, in fact we do not count the 50th day from the day that the Omer offering was brought, but we do treat this day as a holiday, the day that we celebrate annually marking the giving of the Torah, though in fact, no mention of this historical moment is in fact mentioned in the section of the Torah when the Sephira/Omer count is mentioned; in fact, the Torah never even mentions the exact date that the Torah was actually given. However, when it comes to the Shemitta cycle & Jubilee year, the Beit Din went out of its way to declare a 50th year, which included blowing the Shofar on Yom Kippur of that year. It was only after the 50th year that the Shmitta cycle began only once again. Though nowadays, we don't have a Jubilee, just a continuous count of six years of working the land and resting on the seventh year, it is only due to technicalities, but in the future when the majority of Jews are living in Israel (this could happen within just a matter of years with Aliyah at an all time rise), this will be applicable once again.

Before proceeding with the comparison/contrast of these two sets of 49 days/years, I would like to point out that today, according to some, marks the birthday and/or Yahrzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu - 7 Adar. The reason I word it as "according to some" "birthday and/or Yahrzeit" instead of being explicit with this is that in this year, we have two months of Adar as this is a leap year. There are discussions as to which Adar we mark such observances of Moses's special day, and in fact, there is an opinion that the year that Moshe was born was such a leap year, and the Jerusalem Talmud notes that according to an opinion, he was in fact born on the first Adar. We do know for a fact that the year that Moses passed away was a regular Adar, based on the verses of the Torah, and the events that followed of Joshua entering the land a month later when the Jews celebrated Passover right afterwards.

In any case, there is a special parallel of 49 in terms of Moses. During his lifetime he was granted 49 levels or gates of understanding. It was only on the last day of his life that he was given a glimpse of the 50th level/gate of understanding, as we learn out from the name of the mountain on which he was buried - Mt. Nebo - the word Neevo in Hebrew is spelled as the letters Noon-Beit/Veit-Vav, explained as Noon Bo, the 50th was "in it".

I would like to point out at this time that 49 times two, as per the above two counts of 49 each of the Sephira period & the Shemitta periods, equals 98, and this is my 98th post.

OK, so getting back to these two Sephirot, two countings of periods of time, they both have a special connection to Mt. Sinai. Following the original count of 49 days following the day of the Exodus, the Torah was given on Mt. Sinai. And interestingly, unlike most other Mitzvot, the Mitzvot related to Shemitah & Jubilee, including the Sephira count of 50 years are preceeded with the statement "Hashem spoke to Moses ON MOUNT SINAI saying". In fact, Parshat Behar in which these Mitzvot began is named after Mt. Sinai, as it means "On Mountain (Sinai)". No doubt then that there is a very good reason these Mitzvot are especially related to Mt. Sinai.

In order to see the connection between the two, we have to know the reason why the Torah was chosen to be given on Mt. Sinai of all places. Actually, Hashem wanted to give the Torah on some mountain, but as the Midrash relates, it was the humble one of all other mountains who felt that the Torah should been given on them. There may be skeptics who will doubt this story as inanimate objects as they are called such as mountains do not speak. However, as we know kabbalistically, ALL forms of creation have an element of life - the only question is to what degree they are able to express themselves. In fact, all other forms of creation besides people know on their own of the existance of Hashem. However, human beings - the very ones who are charged to serve Hashem, are given free choice whether to believe in the existance of Hashem and serve Him or not.

Anyways, Hashem chose Mt. Sinai of all the other mountains because this was the only humble mountain who didn't feel that it deserved to have the Torah being given on it. Accordingly, Moshe Rabbeinu - the star of today (7 Adar) - was the most humble of all people, so it was only fitting for the Torah to be transmitted through him. As noted at the very beginning of Pirkei Avot/Ethics of the Fathers "Moses received the Torah from (Mt.) Sinai". Along these lines, I recently discovered that the first letters of the first six words of Pirkei Avot - Moshe Keebel Torah M'Sinai U'Mesarah Lehoshua "Moses received the Torah from Sinai and handed it over to Joshua" - the letters Mem-Koof-Tav-Mem-Vav-Lamed add up to the Gematria of 616, which in turn is the Gematria of the word HaTorah - The Torah.

As connected to the concept of Shemitta & Jubilee, a Jew lets his land rest on the Shemitta year, and after seven cycles of seven years each, he lets his land rest for one additional year. The spiritual purpose of this is that it reminds a Jew that in fact, the land really belongs to Hashem; it's just that he himself is given the land as a gift from Hashem, and is his to work on it in order to have sufficient livelihood to provide for himself and his family. And so, when it comes to the Shemitta year, he totally relies on Hashem to take care of him, remembering that in fact, he is not the Ba'al HaBayit, the boss over the land, but Hashem. Thus, just like Moses & Mt. Sinai, he is infused with the trait of humbleness, realizing that there is no reason to be proud, and that the results of working the land is only because miracles don't happen and in fact, as a result of Adam's sin of eating the forbidden fruit, he has to work on the land to begin with, which would not be necessary if this was a world free of sin where we would be worthy of miracles of Hashem doing everything for us.

And here lies the difference between the counting of the Sephira from the bringing of the Omer offering & the Sephira of the Shemitta years. When it came to the time of the Exodus, the Jews were basically spoon fed everything since they just became born as a nation, and needed initial love and care from Hashem to be able to spiritually function well. Hence, after counting seven weeks towards the big day of receiving the Torah in their preparations for this momentous day, the rest was up to Hashem as exemplified by the 50th day, which was in fact counted by Hashem Himself. Thus, even though really, we should count this as the 50th day itself like the first 49 days, as hinted as such by the wording of the Torah - "You shall count 50 days"; it is in commeration of what happened the original year of the Sephira from the Exodus to the Giving of the Torah that we still orally count only 49 days.

However, when it comes to the Mitzvot of the Sephira count of the Shemitta years, the concept of working the land to begin with is a primary example of how WE have to make the effort in serving Hashem. Once we arrived in Israel and the barley grain was available and permitted according to the Torah to be eaten when the Omer offering was brought on the 16th of Nissan, the day after we commemorate the annual Exodus date, the manna, the food that Hashem daily fed the Jewish people for 40 years ceased to exist(noting that in fact the last day it stopped falling from Heaven was on this very date of 7 Adar as it was on this day that Moses passed away as the manna was provided to the Jewish people in his merit, but it miraclously still existed through the first day of Passover following the Jews entering Israel), for now, the Jews would have to work it all on their own; however, at the same time, realizing that ultimately, it is not through only their own efforts that they received bountiful produce from their fields, but that they needed to make the effort to be worthy of receiving this from Hashem. Hence, there was no room for being haughty. However, as it is human nature after a while to pat themselves on the back for "doing a good job", forgetting at times that in fact, nothing good would have happened to them if it wasn't Hashem's will, we are commanded to allow the land to rest, when Hashem will prove that if we receive a blessing from the land despite not working it, that it is proof that in fact that it is Hashem Who is running the show, and that our efforts is only to be worthy of receiving anything, not because we are business guinesses. Accordingly, there is a special Mitzvah to sanctify the 50th year as the conclusion of the counting of 50 years, marking this year as the Jubilee year. This was especially significant, because this would be the second year in a row that Jews would not work the land. Hence, it would be crystal clear that indeed, it is only when we receive Hashem's blessing that we receive results; as there is no guarantee by working the land ourselves that automatically, we are supposed to receive results if we don't receive Hashem's blessing. Hashem's blessing is reserved especially for those who have full faith and trust in Hashem.


After the recent turmoil in Egypt - the land of our slavery thousands of years ago, demanding the resignation of president Mubarak, he finally decided to stop his dictatorship after enjoying three decades of eating off the fat of the land while allowing half of his country's citizens to live on less than $100 a month. While he certainly had free choice to do the right thing sooner when he realized that the protestors meant serious business and in the interim caused some bloodshed and injuries, it is still nothing short of Divine Providence that his well wanted resignation took place on this very date of 7 Adar I.

It is true that Moses' birthdate took place on 7 Adar. However, the question may be asked - was it on a plain Adar, or did his birth take place during a Jewish leap year. In fact, according to an opinion in the Jerusalem Talmud, his birth took place particularly on 7 Adar I - today's very date. In fact, there is a difference of opinion in the Babylonian Talmud as to what date Moses was cast into the Nile river, one of these opinions being based on this opinion of him being born on 7 Adar I.

As the Torah mentions that Moses being cast into the Nile river took place after three months since his birth, one opinion mentions that this took place on the future date of receiving the Torah (which actually took place on 7 Sivan - not 6 Sivan, but the explanation for this is beyond the scope of this post) which was exactly three months from his birth on 7 Adar, assuming that year to have been a plain year unless he would have been born on Adar II. According to the other opinion that this took place on the future date that the Jews would cross the Reed Sea on 21 Nissan, it takes into consideration that part of a month is like a full month, and hence, even though the Torah states "three months", it was in fact two and a half months from his birth on 7 Adar I until 21 Nissan.

We are taught by our rabbis that when two Torah sages have a difference an opinion, even when we can only follow one of them; however, "both these and these are the words of the Living G-d". Now, when it comes to Halacha/Jewish Law, this may well make sense; it is just that it is physically possible to follow one of their opinions. However, when it comes to a difference of opinions as to when an event took place, how can we say that both of them are right? Physically to begin with, the event could only have happened on one of these dates?

I will dare to say that in fact, the Torah does not beat around the bush saying that three months after Moses' birth, he was thrown into the Nile river. Hence, this happened really happened on the date that the Jews would receive the Torah in the future, the first of the 40 days that Moses would ascend Mt. Sinai to learn the Torah during this period of time. However, while the other opinion that this took place on the date of the Jews crossing the Reed Sea on 21 Nissan cannot physically be true, the fact that this was suggested may very well have been hinting to THIS VERY DATE OF THIS YEAR - 7 ADAR I 5771. You see, the kabbalistic rabbi known as the Arizal - Rabbi Isaac Luria, states that the generation of the last redemption (which is our generation) have the soul reincarnates of the generation of the Exodus - the first redemption. And while what happened now in Egypt may not seem to have anything to do with Jews or Israel; in fact, it has EVERYTHING to do with us. In fact, as our rabbis tell us, the events that happen around the world is ONLY because of us Jews.

If liberal democratic Jews feel that what I just wrote is racist, then I am proud of being a racist, because in fact, Hashem created the world ONLY for the Jews who agreed to receive the Torah. Hashem is warning us Jews now, giving us a brief respite from the Arab world attacking us, allowing protesters in the various Arab countries to make turmoil for similar reasons, but it was Egypt that got the biggest press. If so, why particularly Egypt?

The Torah in fact forbids us to return to live in Egypt to settle there, as this was the original land that we Jews were slaves, but now, we are servants of Hashem. And while the other countries in the world do not technically share the same status as Egypt, they are all lands that are outside of Israel. And while Moses himself never made it to the Holy Land that he longed for so much, the fact that Mubarak's resignation did occur on this date of 7 Adar I, Moses' birthday according to an opinion which holds that he was thrown to the Nile on the day of the Jews crossing the Reed Sea - 21 Nissan, it should be borne in mind that the miracle of the Jews crossing the sea and the Egyptians drowning in it was the conclusion of the Exodus, as the Egyptians followed in hot pursuit of the Jews only days after the physical Exodus of the Jews from Egypt, but the Egyptian nation did not let go of their mastery over the Jews until they were finished off once and for all.

Kabbalistically, this date of 21 Nissan - called the Seventh Day of Passover, which is in fact the LAST day of Passover (Jews outside of Israel observe another day of Passover but is only observed as such due to a technicality), also marks the concept the redemption of the Jewish people from the LAST exile, which is our exile today, just like the first day of Passover marks the redemption of the Jews from the first exile. Hence, as hinted by this opinion of the Talmud as to Moses' birthday & being thrown into the Nile River, while this didn't actually happen on these dates, but is in fact hinting to OUR TIMES, as dictator Mubarak, who outwardly did not fight us Jews like some of the other Arab nations since the peace treaty farce in which Israel gave up precious Jewish land to our enemy Egypt took place; however, secretly (or not so secretly) he helped arm other Arab countries to fight us (so much for Egypt's "peace" treaty). Thus, his resignation on this very date of 7 Adar (I) signifies that we are very, very close to the redemption when Moshiach will finally reveal himself.

While the Mubarak resignation may also be a cause of celebration for Jews seeing the downfall of one more evil person, this is not to say as to who will be the anti-Semitic ruler of Egypt "in the name of democracy". Right now, we are in a limbo situation, the same way that baby Moses was between his birth and three months later when the Egyptians authorities were ready to come to Moses' parents to take him and drown him in the Nile on orders of Pharaoh drowning all the male children to prevent a future leader who would eventually redeem the Jews according to the Egyptian astrologers; and hence, Moses' family hid him by placing him in a reed basket to be left in the Nile, leaving him up to Hashem to do his part of rescuing him from the Egyptian authorities, only to be picked up by non other than the princess of Pharaoh himself, and raised in the Egyptian palace, who would return to the very home he was raised in close to 80 years later as a messenger of Hashem demanding from Pharaoh to let the Jews leave Egypt.

Now, we have a choice. We can either come to realize that we cannot feel complacent in the exile anymore, as the first exile country of Egypt. OR we can still feel like we are living Judaism in a so called "Torah way of life" outside of the Holy Land that Hashem orders us in the Torah to live in. Right now, we are given a limited period of time to come to our senses and start moving to Israel in big grooves. And as I mentioned earlier in this post, the Jubilee Year starts taking effect once again - WHEN THE MAJORITY OF JEWS LIVE IN ISRAEL. We do not need to wait for Moshiach or the rebuilding of the Third Temple for this. However, if so called observant Jews think that they can serve Hashem pretty well in the "helige" streets of Boro Park while expanding vasts amount of money on weddings (while some of the marriages being celebrated wind up in divorce disaster at the end) while Jews struggling to make ends meet in Israel don't even have enough to pay for all their basic needs, this makes Hashem very angry. It means that these "heimishe" Jews who are insistent on everything being done "just right" for their Simchas forget the suffering of their Jewish brethren in Israel who are the Jews who are living the REAL way of life that Hashem wants us to live. Hence, if G-d forbid, some of these Jews don't start waking up shortly, and repent by moving to Israel, they will soon find themselves in the ultimate predicament along the lines of "being thrown into the Nile river", also as punishment for preventing a Mitzvah of the Torah from being fulfilled - the observance of the Jubilee year.

Hashem is now shaking up the whole world - with an ever increased amount of hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tzunamis, terrorism, etc. - you name it. And yes, all of this is happening BECAUSE OF US JEWS. That's right - U.S. JEWS especially. The United States is today the ultimate exile because this is where Jews of all backgrounds - from the Torah world to the assimilated, intermarried Jew forget about being REALLY Jewish, especially when living in Israel is not an option for them. Speaking of secular Jews, the ones who do in fact move to Israel, declaring Israel as home, are most likely to at least marry someone Jewish; however, the same cannot be said about secular Jews living in other countries.

Ultimately, it is the spiritual exile that we are in (though this is also applicable in Israel, it is one's personal choice as to how Jewish or unJewish one wishes to live). If G-d forbid, Jews do not wake up shortly, even if Israel seems to be in more potential danger than ever, the truth is that at the end, if anyone suffers in Israel, it will be the ones who don't truly serve Hashem; however, certainly the ones outside of Israel will not be spared; because when things could G-d forbid get worse in Israel, no doubt that Jews outside of Israel will not be spared anti-Semitic attacks and dictatorship everywhere around and many if not most may just not be able to escape their particular countries at one point - especially in the United States which houses over 600 empty work detention camps, which are in fact serve the same purpose as the concentration camps in the Holocaust, that have room for many millions of people to be stuffed into, including their ready made coffins (check the internet about this my friends!). To my friends outside of Israel, run to Israel NOW to avoid being thrown "into the Nile River"!

7 Adar I, 5771


Coincidence you say? Try this - MOHAMMED Hosni Mubarak, Ehud Barak, & Barack HUSSEIN Obama. You see, while being given the name of the founder of Islam - Mohammed, Hosni Mubarak knew how to correctly play the political game. He knew that using his first name of Mohammed, a name that you would think he would be most proud of, would not be politically correct in a world that thinks of Moslem Arabs as terrorists. He also wanted the world to view him as another "secular" leader, so to speak not shoving religion down the throats of other people, pretending that he was a democratic leader when in fact he was just another dictator, allowing half of the citizens of his country to live a poverty stricken life. And then lo and behold, when he finally made the right decision, all of a sudden, the truth all of a sudden popped up that his first name is in fact not Hosni, but Mohammed.

At this point, I want to point out that the announcement from the Egyptian Vice-President of Mubarak's resignation lasted for exactly 49 seconds - which would forever change the country of Egypt. Forty nine seconds - coincidence? Coincidence NOT! As our rabbis tell us, the Jews while being enslaved right before the Exodus, was submerged in 49 levels of impurity. Had they stayed just a little longer - they never would have been able to spiritually be redeemed from the impurities of Egypt, even if they would have had the physical Exodus. You see, the word for impure in Hebrew is Tamei, which is the Gematria of 50, and so if G-d forbid, the Jews would have reached the 50th level of being impure, it never would have been impossible for them to be a holy nation as separate from the other impure nations.

Speaking of resignation, the way to get rid of spiritual impurity is to RESIGN oneself of continuing doing evil. Even if one has a major struggle stopping doing particular sins, by making at least some effort, there is always hope for a Jew to do complete repentance. However, if one thinks that he/she can be a good Jew living outside of Israel, as compared to someone who verbalizes confession but continues sinning, is compared to one who is in a Mikva/ritualarium to purify oneself of spiritual impurity, but holding in one's hand an impure creature that maintains his impurity.

And so, during the Sephira period between the first day of Passover & Shavuot/Pentacost, we verbally count 49 days to commemorate this concept of getting ourselves out of the context of impurity, to be able to receive the Torah in purity. Then, it is Hashem Who Himself gives us the Torah upon our part of preparing ourselves for it. However, when it comes to the Shemitta count, it is crucial that we especially count the 50th year; because now, we have reached a higher spiritual plateau of not only receiving the Torah as given on Mt. Sinai, but being able to fulfill its commandments (outside the commandments as related to the Holy Temple) as we live on the physical and spiritual land of Israel. In this situation, we are now in the midst of the 50th level of purity; and hence, we have to maintain this level by being aware of the spiritual significance of the Jubilee year that the Jewish court sanctifies.

Egypt has already spoken its message in 49 seconds, reminding us Jews of our 49 spiritual levels. We have to now take responsibility and do what it takes to work on the 50th level of purity. We have to observe the Torah that was given on the 50th day by living and working on the land that is especially sanctified on the 50th year of the agricultural cycle.

Now, a word on Ehud Barak. While he was a past prime minister (I mean monster), he continues living the word monster as found in parenthesis. In fact, when it comes to bulldozing Jewish homes, if you were living in a shell, you really would think that he is the current prime minister. After all, it was his decision to not allow Gabi Ashkenazi, agreed by both religious and secular Jews to be a good leader of the IDF, not to continue with another term. There was in fact no logical reason for Barak to dismiss Ashkenazi; he just called Ashkenazi telling him how so called terrible he was as IDF head which he didn't see in public - BECAUSE HE KNOWS IT ISN'T TRUE! He was ready to install the creep Yoav Galant, one of the ones who threw Jews out of Gush Katif, despite his shady background of illegally acquiring land for himself, just so that Ashkenazi should't continue his post, even if this would mean danger for us Jews not having an army head, leading to G-d forbid being attacked by Arabs.

Barak's old time favorite thing, as I mentioned, is bulldozing Jewish homes, while allowing illegal Arab homes being built and being occupied by them. Bibi Netanyahu remains obviously silent, pretending that he has no awareness of what is happening, not having the power to stop Barak, or wanting this to happen to true Jewish Zionists who are the real one's living Theodore Herzl's dream of settling the land, while having Herzl's picture being hung up on the Knesset wall as a cover up of what this Israeli Knesset dictatorship is REALLY doing. In any case, both dictators Barak and Mubarak shared a period of time when both were leaders of their respective countries. And even as now, both Barack Hussein Obama & Mohammed Hofni Mubarak were leaders of their respective countries for two years, it was also during this very period of time that Barak showed himself more than ever to hurt Jews living in sheds, sending police to throw them out of their homes in the middle of cold winter nights, which of course includes little children who hardly have an clue as to what is really happening around them.

So, what is the signifance of the name Barak anyways? In Hebrew, the word/name Barak means lightning. The Talmud tells us that Hashem brings lightning from the skies to scare to wake up the wicked people to repent. Yes, Hashem wants to wake us up from the exile. As the Rabbis states in the Talmud, Tractate Megillah, Haman's offer to King Achashverosh of 10,000 Shekel to annihilate the Jews did more good to wake the Jews to repent than the 48 major prophets that the Jews had since the days of Moses'.
Very unfortunately, history repeats itself, and Jews have to be reminded time and again through unfortunate ways to do the right thing - often times by evil dictators who have given Jews a hard time. And as I conclude today on 13 Adar I, the technical date that Haman chose to annihilate the Jews (NOTE: The date was 13 Adar, which instead following the Jews' repentance became the day instead that the Jews fought the enemies and won, celebrating the next day or two - 14/15 Adar as day(s) of celebration which became Purim), though in fact, we do not celebrate Purim until a month later, we must bear in mind that now we have a chance to celebrate Hashem's kindness to us until now, but we must seize the moment and not forget the we are still in exile, especially outside of Israel, so long as everything is not yet in place, especially the Holy Temple. More on this concept in my following post, which I hope, G-d willing to write on this following day - Purim Katan - the "small" Purim.

13 Adar I, 5771

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