Monday, March 21, 2011

#102 - The Straight Measure

Today - 15 Adar (according to some) - is the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Kaidanover, author of the Sefer - Kav HaYashar, which means the "Straight Path". To be exact, as the year of his passing 5472 (1712) was a Jewish leap year, he had to have passed away on one of the two months of Adar. The problem is that I have seen two different versions of his Yahrzeit - one as 15 Adar I, & the other is 15 Adar II. Hence, while we may not be sure of his real Yahrzeit in a year such as this one, it does so happen that this is my 102th Post.

Let me explain. Corresponding to the Gematria of his name Tzvi Hirsch, he named his Sefer - Kav HaYashar, correspondingly. Hence, the names/words Tzvi & Kav each is the Gematria of 102, and Hirsch & HaYashar is the Gematria of 515. But this is not all. His composed his Sefer to consist of 102 chapters. Hence, this date of 15 Adar as associated with this rabbi's Yarhzeit comes out in time for my 102th Post.

A brief note about this Sefer. This is about setting us Jews STRAIGHT and we accomplish this by MEASURING ourselves as to where we are on the straight path of spirituality. The bottom line is that he shows that we have to remember that we are not in this world to have a good time and fool around. Our life is serious business, and there are consequences to what we do, for which we will have to give an accounting for one day upstairs.

Many years back, I remember when copies of this Sefer were around for taking - for free. Apparently, someone wanted to have the merit of bringing this Sefer to other Jews to spritually improve their lives. Since then, I purchased another copy of this Sefer, but of a different print. Unlike the first one, this one was with the Hebrew vowels as well as a commentary - a real pleasure to read.

Anyways, without further ado, I will translate here the 102th & final chapter of this Sefer for the remainder of this post, as I usually write of my own thoughts as oppposed to simply writing a translation from some Sefer though I have done this a few times. So, here we go...

The basic headlines of this chapter:

*The words of the Midrash where it states that in the Sefer Torah/Torah Scroll of Rabbi Meir, it was written Katnot Ohr "garments of leather" - with an Aleph (as opposed to the usual spelling with the letter Ayin)

*Amazing hints to the evil decrees of 5408 and the destruction that took place through the cities in Poland and Lithuania.

*The beginning of the arousal of the redemption will be in the northern countries of Poland and Lithuania.

*As a result of the thousands of Sifrei Torah/Torah Scrolls that were burnt during the tragic events of 5408, the power of the impure spiritual husks that were holding on to the holiness of the parchment of the Sefer Torah was weakened

*The format of the third Holy Temple that will be built speedily in our days


In Midrash Rabba (Parshat Bereishit 20:12), it's written like this: ""Hashem G-d made garments of leather for Adam and his wife (Genesis 3:21)". It was written in the Sefer Torah of Rabbi Meir: Katnot Ohr (garments of leather) with an Aleph." It's perplexing - why was it written specifically in Rabbi Meir's Sefer Torah "Katnot Ohr" with an Aleph, and not in other Sifrei Torot?

(middle of construction, come back later)

15 Adar II, 5771 - Shushan Purim

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

#101 - Judaism 101

"The Megilla is read on the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, (or) 15th (of Adar), no earlier and no later."

Thus begins Mishna Tractate Megilla, where the main subject is about the laws of reading the Megilla on Purim, as well as the annual readings in the Sefer Torah/Torah scroll. While there was a time, as the Mishna proceeds to explain, that the Megilla was read in towns of market places earlier than the date of Purim out of convenience; these days, it is either read on the 14th in most places, or on the 15th in Jerusalem and in the town of Biblical Shushan in Iran (any Jews left there today?), unless the 15th of Adar falls out on a Shabbat/Sabbath in which case everyone reads it on the 14th.

As we know, we read the weekly Parsha in the Sefer Torah every Shabbat. In addition to this, the men have an obligation according to Halacha/Jewish Law to review the weekly Parsha in time for the Shabbat reading in the synagogue by reading each verse twice along with reading its Aramaic translation of Onkelos once (some say that Rashi can be learned instead, though kabbalistically the Aramaic translation of Onkelos is a must). For those not that familiar with Hebrew, perhaps reading the English translation three times or twice with the English translation of the commentary of Rashi probably suffices (I am not here to decide Jewish law, just to facilitate it. Any and every question in Halacha should be directed to your local Orthodox rabbi or renown Poseik (decider of Halacha).

In any case, we see that for the reading of the Megilla on Purim, there is an obligation to read it twice - once in the evening, and a second time in the daytime.
And nowadays, there are two available days for celebrating Purim, either the 14th or the 15th; and in some cities in Israel where it is not known if it was a walled city from the time of Joshua son of Noon or not, the Megilla is read on both days.

On closer examination, it seems that there are quite a few things in the Megilla of which there are two. Let's tour the Megilla.

Chapter One: In the very first verse, King Achashveirosh's name is mentioned twice - and as our rabbis explain, this tells us immediately that this king was the same rotten individual from beginning to end, even in his gestures of behaving good to the Jews. The king makes two different parties - the first one lasting 180 days for the higher ranking people, and the second one lasting seven days for the general populace.

Chapter Two: Esther has two names - Esther & Hadassa. There are two main heroes in the Purim story - Mordechai & Esther. During his reign, the king had two wives - Vashti & Esther. Esther in effect had two husbands - howbeit for a short while - Mordechai & Achashveirosh (according to Jewish law, a non-Jewish spouse is not a legal husband so under normal circumstances, this would disqualify the woman from remaining with her present Jewish husband). There were two guards who plotted to kill the king.

Chapter Four: When Esther spoke to Mordechai about her planning to speak to the king unannounced and hence taking a chance of being killed, she used a double wording describing her situation - Avadti Avadti "I will surely be lost". One loss referring to taking a chance being killed now, and the other loss is that she would no longer be able to live with Mordechai, since earlier - she got married to Achashveirosh against her will so she was considered someone like being raped which does not disqualify a woman to her husband unless he is a Cohen. But now, Esther would on her own be approaching the king taking a chance of being killed, and if her life would be spared, then she would be in a position of having further sexual relationship with the king, now disqualifying her from being allowed to live with Mordechai in the future, even though her mission was to save the Jewish people.

(Note: If even for Esther in her mission of saving the Jews from a real threat, she was forbidden to continue living with her husband Mordechai as she was allowing herself to continue being intimate with the king, what does this speak for everyone else who have excuses "my husband doesn't treat me right" for cheating on their spouses? No doubt that there are irreligious Jewish married women living a non-Jewish lifestyle, though married to a Jewish husband, who cheat on their husbands, some of whom will bear children belonging to a different father with whom one of these irreligious Jewish mothers slept with, and hence children born from this union are considered Mamzerim "bastards" who are forbidden to marry most Jews except for others with the same status or converts to Judaism. In the future, Elijah the prophet will identify all the mamzerim so everyone will know who they are and stay away from them in terms of marriage with the general Jewish population).

Chapter Seven: Esther makes two parties, inviting only two people - the king & Haman.

Chapter Eight: There were two letters from the king regarding the Jews - the first one endorsing Haman's plan for total extinction of the Jews, and the second one allowing the Jews to defend themselves (since the first letter wasn't able to be legally abolished)

Chapter Nine: The Jews had two days of fighting; hence leading to "two days" of rejoicing, though all Jews kept one day or another as Purim.

So, how many instances of the number two being used did you see here? I listed a total of 13.

Mind you, this is all within a span of the 167 verses of Megillat Esther. Personally, I think you will be hard pressed to find another set of 167 verses in the Tanach with this many amount of items that comes in two-s.

Actually, there is one other thing in the Megilla that is connected with the number two. Just as the very first verse of the Megilla has an instance of the number two, so does the last verse of the Megilla, howbeit in an indirect way. This final verse mentions Mordechai being the Mishneh/viceroy to the king. This word is based on the word Sheini/two, as this is the number two position compared with the kingship, just as it was with Joseph in relationship to Pharaoh.

With all this being said, there are in fact special laws relating to the Megillat Esther scroll in comparison to a regular Torah scroll, howbeit with some differences.
In any case, the reading of Megillat Esther is a mandatory public reading from a scroll just as it is reading from the Torah scroll. In fact, none of the other four Megillot of the Tanach are mandatory as far as reading them from a scroll, though it may be preferable. However, one only fulfills the reading of Megillat Esther by reading or hearing it from a scroll.

In short, we see the concept of repetition or the use of the number two in a high ratio rate in contrast to other parts of the Torah in Megillat Esther. Of course the question may be asked, why?

There is something else in the Megilla that I did not mention, and while it is not obvious offhand that is has anything with the number two, this is the bottom line as to why we have all these other things related to the number two in the Megilla.

The verse states (9:27): "The Jews fulfilled and observe these two days according to their writing and their times, in each and every year." Our rabbis tell us that they fulfilled what they accepted - the Torah. Since when they first received the Torah, it was done in a spirit of being forced to accept it, now with the events of Purim, the Jews formally willingly accepted the Torah. So much so, that there those who state that Purim "is the day on which the Torah was given". While ironically, Purim is not mentioned in the Torah/Chumash, it is the rabbis who gave the power to observe Purim, even though it would seem otherwise that this something that was added to the Torah. But the whole essence of Purim is to reconfirm the giving of the Torah, in fact, this time to be done willingly, and hence, making Purim a crucial part of the Torah forever; so much so the effect, that it says that in the future, even if all other holidays were to be cancelled, Purim will always remain - because it was on THIS holiday that justified the Jews being the nation to receive the Torah, not just because they were forced to accept it, because if that were to be the case, why should the Jews be any better than the non-Jews who weren't given the Torah? It took some 3,400 years of the world's existance for this to happen, but better late than never, because it was Purim that REVEALED the HIDDEN essence of the Jews, just as the name of the Purim scroll is Megillat Esther, which can be translated based on similar etymology as "REVEALING the HIDDEN."

Yes, it's that hidden spark of the Jew that arouses him or her to make that change to be a better Jew. How do you explain how so many Jews who truly had a good materialistic way of life feel like there is something empty going on, and go on to discover Judaism as an essential part of life? While too many Jews celebrate Yom Kippur, only knowing Jewish events to be times of suffering whether suffering in the Holocaust or fasting on one day of the year (if they even keep this), so many of them have never in their life been in the synagogue to witness a Purim celebration, to see the true joy of living Judaism. Everything seems to be forced on them, a heritage that they do not know how to handle except to avoid Anti-Semitism at almost every cost but. Ironically, it is the very name of Yom Kippur - "Yom KiPURIM", where the Torah hints that this day is Ki "like" PURIM, the Torah openly hinting to the future holiday of Purim - the difference being that one reaches a high spiritual plateau on Yom Kippur via fasting while on Purim, the high spiritual plateau is festing.

So, you have it - the TWO times that the Jews accepted the Torah - unwillingly and now willingly. We have Yom KiPURIM & Yom PURIM. I would love to tell some of these Jews - "Yes, the essence of Judaism is Simcha/HAPPINESS! Psalms (100:2) tells us straight out "Serve Hashem with HAPPINESS..." And in the Megilla, where it states "For the Jews, there was light, happiness, joy and honor" (8:16) Light refers to the Torah, and happiness refers to the Jewish holidays, and specific to Purim, to the Purim meal. Yes, feasting on Purim is accomplishing the same spiritual aspect for ourselves as much as fasting on Yom Kippur.

So, we see here the concept of repetition, which is constantly REPEATED throughout Megillat Esther. So seemingly, since the concept of repetition is ultimately shown through the fact that the Jews REPEATED their committment of observing the Torah, there must be a big connection here between Torah and the concept of repetition.

And so just as we keep repeating - going over again and again over a piece of learning, a piece of Torah, which not only helps us remember and retain the information, but at times brings us to think of ideas not presented in the immediate open text; so too does the name of Megillat Esther, whose text represents the concept of a Sefer Torah/Torah scroll, and means in similar etymology "revealing the hidden", for with constant repetition, this is bound to happen.

Is there in fact a certain amount of times that one is obligated to go over one's Torah learning?

The truth is that there is a concept of going over a piece of Torah at least four times initially. We see that when Hashem taught Moses some Torah, Mosse then transmitted this to his brother Aaron, Aaron's two youngest sons, and the 70 elders, and then the rest of the Jews. Hence, Moshe taught the Torah that Hashem taught him - four times (Eruvin 54).

The above is for starters. For more advanced, there is a minimum of 101 times. As noted in Talmud Tractate Chagiga 9b, quoting from a verse in Kohelet/Ecclesiastes stating that there is a difference between one who serves G-d and one who doesn't. On this, the Talmud asks "Is this asking an obvious thing as if to say what is the difference between a righteous person and an evil person?" The Talmud then goes on to state that what King Solomon is noting here is that there is a difference between one who learns a piece of Torah - 101 times, and one who learns it only 100 times.

While one may think that the Talmud just gave an example of numbers, but that this is equally applicable to let say the difference between learning something 50 or 51 times, think again.

But why this number? Isn't the number 100 a pretty nice amount of times to learn something? Well, it is true that the number 101 is a number that can be read forward and backwards. In fact, I will dare say that in fact, Hashem uses numbers, even though these are numbers the way we see them today that even Moses would not recognize if he were to wake up from the dead today since these types of numbers didn't exist in his day, to show us lessons. The number 101 is the FIRST of a hundred 3-digit numbers that can be read - FORWARDS & BACKWARDS. This, my friends, is EXACTLY how we are supposed to be learning Torah - so well that literally, we know it FORWARDS & BACKWARDS, the same way that one should be able to say the Aleph Beit or alphabet backwards AS QUICKLY AS THE LETTERS IN REGULAR ORDER.

There is also mentioned a hint about learning Torah - 101 times with the difference of Gematriot of two words - the verbs of remembering & forgetting. The base verb of forgetting using the letters Shin, Kaf, Cheit is the Gematria of 328, and the base verb of remembering using the letters Zayin, Kaf, Reish is the Gematria of 227; so 328 minus 227 is 101!

Morever, in the book of the Tanach called Trei Asar, particularly in the last section named Malachi, name of the final prophet of the Jewish people, it states "REMEMBER the Torah of Moses my servant" (Malachi 3:22). In fact, the Gematria of the name of this prophet Malachi is 101! By the way, there are those who say that this prophet Malachi was in fact Mordechai himself.

But don't give up learning Torah just because you don't think this is possible. Hashem does not judge everyone equally, as everyone comes from a different background. Not everyone is born to an observant Jewish family having a good Jewish education, not everyone has the same type of G-d given skills, and not everyone has the same type of job. Certainly, those who are loafing around doing nothing else but learning Torah have no excuse to apply themselves accordingly.

In sharp contrast, one who teaches Torah to youngsters, needing to go over the material himself to be able to present it well, and spend sufficient time for them to comprehend it, needing sufficient amount of sleep in order to teach them without feeling too tired from teaching properly as mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch/Code of Jewish Law; hence, not having sufficient time himself to learn the whole Torah 101 times - as a rabbi who decides what the Halacha/Jewish Law who must be crystal clear with what he learns - during his lifetime, will not be judged for not having that sufficient time since he spent his valuable time teaching Torah properly to the next generation, and will be granted to be able to learn the same Torah in Heaven as the biggest scholars who are masters of their Torah learning and had enough time to learn the Talmud and Halacha - 101+ times.

Well, maybe not many of us will be able to learn Torah this well. The truth that amazes me about the big Torah scholars is not the fact that they are able to learn and understand everything, but how they can retain such a memory to remember virtually everything that they learn. It is true that with most if not all of them, they in fact have Divine Assistance for having the top brains that they have, because also of their good character traits, and so Hashem is willing to help them walk the extra mile. There are those people who may have encyclopedic knowledge of something, but this does not determine per se how they behave or treat other people. With most of the great Torah scholars, their Torah not only taught them knowledge, but also how to behave properly, with Derech Eretz/manners that will give a good impression to people who will exclaim that indeed, Torah or Judaism is indeed a wonderful thing, even if some of these people are themselves very lax in their observance of Judaism, but will at least have a good feeling about it, whether this will be translated into sending their own children to a Jewish school, supporting Jewish education, or starting to learn Torah in a Yeshiva program themselves.

Along the lines about the Megilla that I wrote about two years ago in my 22nd Post - "Revealing Torah Secrets", I have quite a few here in relationship to the Megilla.

To begin with, as I am in my 41st year of life, I noticed quite a few Jewish holidays that are directly related with the number 41. Perhaps the secret to this is that the last Parsha of the Torah consists of 41 verses, which is read on Simchat Torah. On Rosh Hashana, we blow the Shofar, which is a ram's horn. In Hebrew the word for ram is Ayil, which is the Gematria of 41. And then for Purim, the first letters of the phrase Megillat Esther/Scroll of Esther is the number Mem, Aleph - 41. Also, the first letters of the two big heroes of the Purim Story - Mordechai (Mem) & Esther (Aleph) also spells the number 41.

Perhaps it is no wonder that the very first piece of Torah that we recite daily following the daily blessings for learning Torah - Birchat HaTorah - is the section in the Torah about Bircat Cohanim, which is about the Mitzvah of the Cohanim to bless the congregation (Numbers 6:22-27). Indeed, this sectiion of the Torah consists of exactly 41 words.

And so with this being said, I have a few more goodies to reveal.

Before I forget, in this particular year, the eighth day of Moses' life from his birthdate of 7 Adar is 14 Adar, the future date of Purim, was presumably the date of Moses's Brit Mila, circumcison. In this year, this day of 14 Adar - Purim is the first day of the week of Parshat Shemini, the name Shemini which means the EIGHTH, in this context referring to the eighth day from the training of Aaron and his sons for the priesthood in the Tabernacle, and it was on this day that the Tabernacle was dedicated and the beginning of the official Divine Service of Aaron and his sons (Note: The beginning of the Megilla mentions King Achashveirosh who made a party, who, accordiing to the Sages, wore at this party - the same type of Priestly Garments that were worn by Aaron!)

I have mentioned in quite a few posts in the past that the Mitzva of learning & teaching Torah is the 420th Mitzvah of the Torah as per the count of the Rambam - and not the 419th Mitzvah as per the list of the Sefer HaChinuch. While I am not here to present all my proofs to this in this post once again, one thing I will mention is that the one time in the entire Chumash that the phrase Torat Hashem (Hashem's Torah) is mentioned (Exodus 13:9) follows the word Tihyeh (will be) which is the Gematria of 420. Well, right here in Megillat Esther, we have a very similar thing. The verse that I mentioned above "For the Jews there was light..." where "light" refers to Torah, this word immediately follows the word Haitah(was) - having the same letters as the word Tihyeh - hence having the same Gematria as 420! Coincidence?

Speaking of words, I figured to myself, since the name of Megillat Esther is in fact the name/word Esther, I figured that I would look up in my Hidden Codes program - as Esther is the Gematria of 661 - as to what the 661th word is in this Book. No, it is not the name/Esther, but it is also a name - Mordechai! In fact, this is in Esther 2:15, where it states "When the turn came for Esther, daughter of Avichail uncle of Mordechai who adopted her (Esther) as his daughter (who later became his wife)...". The question can be asked, how come only after many verses when Esther is first mentioned does it list her genealogy, especially after the Megilla had already mentioned Mordechai a little earlier than this in Chapter Two?

So here, we see that there is a very intrinsic connection between Esther and Mordechai. It wasn't that these two righteous people happened to connect with each other. It was the combination of these two that brought about the miracle of Purim. And so, the word Mordechai - being the 661th word in the Book of Esther - in this particular instance showing Esther's family relationship to Mordechai shows this very concept. Moreover, it was in this very verse that it was Esther's turn to actually meet the king with whom she would be married to, which was part of the Purim play that brought about the salvation of the Jewish people, while obeying whatever Mordechai told her to do regardless of personal cost and sacrifice. Amazing!

In another discovery that I made in my 41st year as it relates to Megillat Esther, this involves the Hidden Codes of the Torah. While this is not the first time that I looked up the phrase "Megilat Esther" in the Chumash, this is the first time that I spent an amazing hour plus to discover more this in this matrix than I have virtually ever discovered in my life! OK - the eight letters of this phrase - Mem, Gimel, Lamed, Tav/Sav, Aleph, Samech, Tav, Reish - can be spelled equidistantly exactly once in the Torah - every 424th letter! Perhaps what is truly amazing here is that the odds of this happening are very much odds. Two of these eight letters have letters that are among the least used in the Torah - Gimel & Samech. Moreover, my program was showing me that the chance of this happening even once was a HALF OF A TENTH PERCENT CHANCE! So, the fact that this occured even once is truly amazing!

With this being said, of all places in the Torah, where is this code spelled? In Parshat Balak - the very Parsha where Balak king of Moab & the magician Bilam make a vicious attempt to have the Jews cursed time and again. Of course, this is just like Haman who came to king Achachveirosh to circulate a letter with the king's signature to have all the Jews murdered.

But wait, this is just the beginning! As we know, one of the purposes of the annual reading of Megillat Esther is the rememberance of what Amalek did to us, and as Amalek's descendant Haman attempted to do to us. Now for Parshat Balak, the last two letters of Bilam's & Balak's names respectively spell the name Amalek! In fact, after Bilam's failed three times attempt to curse the Jews, he ranted a bunch of things about other nations, including where it says "He saw Amalek, and he raised his parable saying "Amalek is the head of the nations, and his end is that he will be destroyed forever"" (Numbers 24:20). Aside from these two mentions of Amalek, there are two more times of this name being spelled in this section in consecutive letters using two different set of words!

It would take a whole separate post to mention all the discoveries I found here that show beyond a shadow of a doubt that indeed, the Torah is not written by humans, but is nothing short of the wisdom of Hashem who is able to hint everything that ever happpened or exists in this universe, quoting from the Vilna Gaon. But one thing I will mention is that it mentions the phrase "three times' right near the code of "Megillat Esther", in the context of Balak calling Bilam to task for the three chances that Bilam had to curse the Jews, but was forced from Hashem to bless the Jews instead. Also earlier on, the donkey on which Bilam was riding on his way to curse the Jews made three attempts to prevent Bilam from continuing on his journey as it is mentioned also by this "three times".

This is most relevant to the writing of Megillat Esther to begin with. Based on a verse in Tanach, we see that the mention of wiping out the memory of Amalek is mentioned THREE times in the Tanach. Now technically, aside from Megillat Esther, there are three times - Book of Exodus, Book of Deutronomy & Book of Samuel. So, when Esther wanted to submit her book - Book of Esther - to be included in the Tanach, the Sages of the time argued that the three times of the mention of erasing the memory of Amalek has already been fulfilled - not four times. Esther argued back that in fact, the Chumash is considered as only one time for in fact, the Torah is considered as only ONE book, since it is not considered a Sefer Torah without all of the five comparmental books - the Five Books of Moses - being together as one. Moroever, there were only two stories about Amalek in the Tanach up to that point - for it was only in Exodus that the first incident took place, and Deutronomy merely reminds us of what took place in Exodus. Hence, there was yet to be a third story pertaining to Amalek via Amalek's descendant Haman. Subsequently, the Sages acquiesced to her, and the rest is history.

This is all very nice, but although Haman was Amalek's descendant, we do not find Amalek's name mentioned - NOT EVEN ONCE - in the Book of Esther. Haman is described at most as "Haman the son of Hamdasa, the Aggagite, oppressor of the Jews" but no mention of Amalek.

Perhaps it can be said that the fact that Amalek's name isn't mentioned at all actually is a fulfillment or a reminder of the fulfillment at least of wiping out Amalek's name. In any case, I decided of course to do a Hidden Codes search within the Book of Esther to see about Amalek's name being spelled equidistantly.

As it turns out, there are a total of 99 such times. Focusing on the least amount of letters to spell this name, it is where it is every seventh letter spelling it. And take a guess where it is spelled? In the very verse that I mentioned earlier pertaining to the Jews reacceptance of the Torah (9:27)! Yes, this certainly included the Mitzvot pertaining to Amalek - remembering what this nation did to us, not forgetting what this nation did to us, and wiping out this nation's memory.

Yes indeed, this is Judaism 101. For professors who don't learn Torah for the right reasons but use it merely to use it to make a good living for themselves, and have a good reputation for themselves, while spurting heresy that goes against the Torah in their critical analysis of it, are hardly better than Haman who knew some Jewish history who used it in his vicious attempt to make it worse for the Jews, calling their course with names like Judaism 101 to make it sound like these professors are going to teach the world what Judaism is. But for those who truly believe in the Torah - and they don't have to be rabbis either, but Jews who want to learn Torah because this is what Hashem wants us to do and learn from it how to be a good Jew observing Halacha, indeed it is Judaism 101, or perhaps better put - Torah 101, as a goal to learn the Torah, or at least a part of it 101 times. But regardless of the goals that one reaches in learning and teaching Torah, one thing is clear: This is the TORAH OF HASHEM, to which nothing else in the world compares!

11 Adar II, 5771

Saturday, March 12, 2011

#100 - Attitude & Blessings

Yes my friends, I have finally reached my 100th post. It seems quite challenging that when you want to accomplish something good, that things get in the way. But I do know that you have to push for time if you want that time for yourself and for what you want to accomplish.

And so, after two and a half years of writing on, this 100th post is indeed a milestone. I thought of writing this post a little sooner, but even as of a few days ago, I discovered crucial information that will be part of this post.

First, I want to mention that today's date of 7 Adar is known both as the birthdate & passing of Moses. As this year, there are two such dates of 7 Adar, the question may be asked is on which one we commemorate what? But the truth is that in fact, both his birthdate & passing are each connected with both. While we do not know as a certainty as to whether the year in which he was born was a leap year consisting of two months of Adar or not, there is a difference of opinion in the Talmud that could point to either direction. But we do know for a fact that the year in which Moses passed away was a regular year with only one month of Adar, as this month followed the month of Shevat when Moses began his final series of discourses with the beginning of the Book of Deutronomy, and the month of Nissan was the conclusion of the 30 day mourning period for Moses, upon which they immediately embarked to Israel in time to celebrate Passover.

And so, I would like to begin with a passage from Deutronomy that is especially timely for my 100th post. In Moses' address to the Jewish people, he tells them "Now Israel, what does the L-rd your G-d ask of you, but only to fear the L-rd your G-d, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the L-rd your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deutronomy 10:12) Our Rabbis in Talmud Berachot ask on this, "Is fear of G-d really an easy thing (by saying "...ASK of you, but ONLY to fear...")?" In a surprising way, they exclaim "Yes! For Moses, it was a small thing; but for everyone else, it's a big thing".

Perhaps what is more amazing is that virtually all of us in life do things that in fact, we know we really shouldn't do. In fact, if we in fact would think about fearing G-d, at least in terms of punishment, no doubt that most of us at least would behave a little different. However, this isn't by any means the highest form of fearing G-d. It is feeling His presence, not wanting to dare disobey G-d, not because we are afraid of getting punished, but because of G-d's high exalted level, doing something against His wishes wouldn't even begin to be thinkable.

There is another message in this verse - in fact, a hidden message. You see, this verse hints to the 100 blessings that we recite daily. As the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Concise Code of Jewish Law) 6:7 states - "Do not read the word as Ma/What but Meah/Hundred." Another words, it's the 100 daily blessings that Hashem asks of us.

Now one may ask a question here. In the list of what Hashem asks of us, we see that first is mentioned to fear Hashem, and then to love Him. Yet, the hint to saying 100 blessings is noted right before fearing Hashem. But as we know that blessings stem from loving someone, rather than fearing someone, wouldn't it make more sense to juxtapose blessings with loving Hashem, or mention loving Him before fearing Him?

Well, first we have to realize, that in fact, Hashem doesn't need our blessings or anything else from us for that matter. This may not be so obvious from most translations of the word Baruch, the beginning word of many blessings, which is provided as "Blessed" as stating "Blessed are You, Hashem..." While I am not stating that this is not true about Hashem; however, this is not the real intent of the meaning here. In fact, what we are really saying is that Hashem is the SOURCE of blessings. That is, rather than praising Hashem per se, it's that Hashem is the source for US to RECEIVE His blessings.

The blessings that we recite is in fact ultimately for OUR benefit. We have to feel that we are in a position that we have to turn to Hashem for all our wants and needs, and that they come from Hashem alone (though we are supposed to show gratitude to people who help us as well). When we understand this to be the translation and meaning of the word Baruch; then and only then can we truly understand why we are saying blessings. Hence, with the proper concentration and intent, we cannot help but eventually feel some level of fear of G-d, as we continue on in some blessings "King of the world". Now, when we think of a king, do we think more of love or of fear? So yes, we need to first feel a level of fear of Hashem to have the proper reverence for Him. Then, we can hope to develop a level of love for Hashem, as we feel more of His bounty that He grants us. As it is in a true love relationship, where both parties are giving, one feels the love of the other and in turn reciprocates that.

To note, there are exactly 99 letters in this verse. By interpretating the word Ma to read Meah which means 100, it is the hidden meaning of the letter Aleph that makes this verse to be considered as having 100 letters.

So for our 100th blogpost, we have a verse here that becomes 100 in TWO different ways - how to read a word, and the count of letters. In fact, we do not read it literally in the Sefer Torah or Chumash as the word Meah, but is strictly an interpretation of a word; and hence you will still see only 99 letters.

Now, before I go on with my questions on this verse, there is a Sefer/Jewish book called Tanya Rabbati, first printed in 5274 (hundreds of years before the famed Lubavitch book Sefer HaTanya would appear), written by Rabbi Shimon HaLevi Horwitz (my first name is Shimon and I am a Levi). This book consists of exactly 100 chapters. The very first chapter is entitled "Subject of One Hundred Blessings", just as the name Blessings/Berachot is the name of the very first tractate of the Mishna. And in the beginning of this first chapter, the author first quotes from the Talmud (Menachot 43b) where Rabbi Meir states that one is obligated to recite 100 blessings a day, quoting the above verse, as mentioned above. And in the Jerusalem Talmud, it has the version of Rabbi Meir stating that there isn't a Jew that doesn't do a 100 Mitzvot/commandments a day, mentioning the list. Continuing on, the author mentions a few Gematriot as related to the concept of reciting 100 blessings a day:

1)The letters of the word Mah - Mem & Hei, interpreted homiletically to read Meah/hundred, in the method of Gematria via the AtBash method - where the first letter Alef is interchanged with the last letter Tav, the second letter Beit is interchanged with the next to the last letter Shin, etc. and vice verse, the corresponding letters are Yud=10 & Tzadi=90, which adds to the sum of 100.

2)In King David's final praise to Hashem recited with Divine Inspiration shortly before his passing, he states Neum HaGever Hukam Ol "The words of the man who was established ON HIGH" (II Samuel 23:1). The word Ol - on high" is the Gematria of 100 - letters Ayin=70 & Lamed=30, hinting to the fact that at one point during his kingdom, 100 people used to die every day, and so King David established reciting 100 blessings a day.

3)In King David's psalms (Psalms 128:4), it states: Hinei Chi Chein Yevorach Gever Yerei Hashem "Behold, FOR SO is blessed the man who fears Hashem." The words Chi Chein is the Gematria of 100 (Chi - Chaf=20 & Yud=10, Chein - Chaf=20, Noon=50), and as we see, the very next word is Yevorach/blessed as related to blessings; and hence similarly patterned to the verse in Deutronomy where it first hints to the 100 blessings and is then followed by stating to fear Hashem.

Now that we are back on the verse from Deutronomy, a couple of questions may be asked here. Why does this verse state three times "the L-rd, your G-d" when it could have stated this only once, and then refer to Hashem as Him, just as mentioned by loving Hashem "and to love Him"? Also, why specifically does it mention the three mentions of "the L-rd, your G-d" with everything else - "what does...ask of you", "to fear...", "and to serve..." but not with the mention of loving Him?

In today's society, quite too often, love relationships which seem on the surface that they no doubt seem to be great bonds wind up breaking apart to the surprise of many. This is especially applicable, or at least no less statistically as such, pertaining to Hollywood stars, singers, etc. where at least as far as the man is concerned, he married a top notch attractive lady who is world famous and wealthy. What in the world could go wrong? Boy, I think that if I was in such a position, I would be happy to keep my mouth shut if I knew it would create problems, because I would not want to loose such a lucky relationship.

Of course, many of us think of these things in theory, but the reality is that this simply does not happen for the most part. We certainly are not in a position to criticize others if we aren't ready to make sacrifices and swallow our pride in our marriages either. But the stark truth is that we live in a world full of fantasies, lies, and cover ups. The rich and famous relationships in which they marry each other usually fool themselves thinking that it was real love, when to begin with, they married each other for the money, fame, or other materialistic or convenient reasons. Their relationships last as long as the fancy shmancy make up used on these stars, some of whom really aren't exactly the most attractive on the block, but is just due to their image as a famous person by a public who made him or her that way because they spend money watching his or her movies, concerts, etc. But when the day is over, or when the movie or music video has been filmed, that makeup eventually fades or is removed, reality sets in, and if going in public with the family, it's done incognito, and the real colors of the greedy and materialistic famous couple surface. In fact, if I were to have placed bets on some of the famous pop stars that first appeared a little over a decade ago that all of them would have gotten divorced from an eventual marriage, I would not have made bad money.

My point here is that the problem in most of these failed marriages, is that their focus was on their love for each other. You read right, my friends. You see, these people ignore what their real mission in life is supposed to be, ignore their respect for each other, and ignore the realities of life - including making a hard living despite making tons of money and fame doing it. In a larger scale, the Torah is not focused just on "loving Hashem". The Torah already mentioned this earlier in the first paragraph of the Shema in relationship to particular Mitzvot where it is mentioned there "You shall love Hashem your G-d". But in this verse of today's post mentioning other factors in our relationship with Hashem, it is easy for some to say that because they love Hashem, stating "G-d will understand," "G-d will forgive".

Yes, Hashem understands very well. In fact, Hashem understands us better than we understand ourselves, because many if not most of us want to fool ourselves that because we do certain things right that we are pretty much "OK". But the Torah makes it very clear that someone or a group having such an attitude is the very room for failure and punishment from Him "he will bless himself saying "there will be peace for me..." Hashem will not agree to forgive him..." (Deutronomy 29:18-19).

And so, the Torah want us to first think "What does the L-rd your G-d ask of you?" What does Hashem really want? Perhaps if we put a little thought to this question, we would realize at times that our words and actions do not exactly much Hashem's expectations - whether it involves our relationship with Hashem in terms of ritual or how we deal with other people. While fear and respect aren't exactly the same thing, they do resemble one another, and so what is respect for one another in a relationship is what fear is in our relationship to Hashem. And finally, at the end of the day, did we serve Hashem to the best of our capabilities and efforts? Or is it just another day that we basically feel the "same ol' same ol' thing".

It's easy to say to love someone. But how can we prove it unless we give the other party a reason to love us? Without basic respect and knowing what the other party or significant other wants, before long, tension will start being felt, fights will start breaking out. The wealth recently earned goes only so far, and that's assuming that the rich and famous couple don't spend too much time apart from each other due to their conflicting schedules not allowing for them to see each other when one or both may fly around the world giving concerts or spending long hours making the film just right. For that matter, you can truly love someone without making a lifetime committment, and it doesn't have to have anything to do with sex for that matter either. But perhaps the ultimate factor that leads to how we get along in life with other people is our...


Attitude. The way we view things in life is in essence the number one factor that determines where we live, who are relationships are, our inner tranquility or lack of it. Do we in essence think only of ourselves, or how our behavior will effect others? Do we have the self discipline and humbleness to accept advice that will get us through the door? Or, do we feel that we can't allow others telling us how to live our lives no matter who or what the issue is?

And so, the attitude of the guy who says that there will be peace for himself without regard to what Hashem really wants is doomed both spiritually, and sometimes materialistically as well. Such an attitude will sooner or later totally tear apart whatever Jewish values one was raised with which will eventually lead to someone saying the most irrational things - even when it comes to their professed love of Israel while claiming that we are oppressing the poor "Palestinians" by not providing a platform of "land for peace", no matter how illogical this can be, both from a security and military viewpoint. The reason for this - is for one reason, and one reason only - the Evil Inclination. Psychology will claim, especially in the words of Sigmund Freud, an assimilated Jew, that this is the psyche in one's mind. The practical difference in these two statements is that while in the Torah - we talk of the Evil Inclination as enticing mankind to sin, as indeed it is a real angel believe it or not, who is also known as Satan or the Angel of Death; one's psyche as described in psychology does not necessarily determine what is a good or evil deed. After all, if one did something to the unliking of others, perhaps he can hardly be blamed because he supposedly thought that he was doing the right thing.

And so, psychologists easily rationalize adulterous relationships because the marriage wasn't working right; while according to Jewish law, once a woman commits adultery, she is forbidden to both her husband and her lover, regardless of what was wrong in the marriage that led to her sinning with her body. No matter what fix up is done afterwards to ensure that the lady will never sleep around again, the Torah makes it crystal clear that it is now too late. Yes, she can repent, but she has to accept responsibility of her actions, even if it was due to her husband not treating her right by his words and actions against her. If she really doesn't like him anymore, she has any and every right to request for a divorce; but as long as she is married, she has no right to excuse herself because of her husband's misdeeds or misactions.

Just last week, I came across a most fascinating mathematical video. As Gematriot involve the numerical value of the Holy Hebrew letters, l'havdil, the English alphabet is provided with numerical values from 1 to 26 corresponding to the 26 letters of the alphabet. And so, in an amazing discovery, attitude when counting the numerical values of its letters in this fashion, it comes out that attitude equals the number 100! Yes, attitude is the single biggest factor that determines virtually everything else, because the mind is an amazing tool that Hashem created. Our mind, which is in our head, the Hebrew word for which is Rosh, as it is the leader of the body, that controls one's actions. Yes, animals also have heads, they also have brains, but their main way of communication is with their bodies for their immediate selfish needs as Hashem created them as such, with the brains serving their bodies telling them to eat whenever they are hungry, end of story. But human beings are supposed to be way beyond this. We have responsibilities both to Hashem, society, and our families. But the only way that we will carry out our responsibilities in the appropriate manner is based on our attitude.


March 8 of last week marked the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. To come to think of it, why is there a special women's day to begin with? After all, they make up half the race. Why isn't there a special men's day? After all, at least in the United States, you have a Mother's Day and a Father's Day. So why the difference here?

The truth is that there really isn't supposed to be such a thing to begin with. You see, the reason this started is because men weren't exactly treating the women so well. At best, the women throughout society were treated as second class citizens, even though they are the ones who bear all our children, who cook for the most part, who breast feed crying babies. And so, women eventually came to the realization that unless they distinguish themselves, they will always be treated less well then the men.

Has anything changed much? Both ways for the worse. The women working in the public has led to far more divorces due to insufficient time for husband and wife to spend time together with each other or with their kids. Women who feel quite independent with their high paid professional job who have at least half their friends who are divorced want to feel part of the club. And at the other end of the spectrum, women at times pay more for the same exact service that are provided for men, such as at the cleaners. You see, clothes on women are viewed as more sexy in society, and so automatically, servicing their clothes demands more money than for the same amount of cleaning work on a man's suit.

In Judaism, it is all in reverse. Sure, some non-observant Jews may want to project "Orthodox" Jews as treating women as second class citizens, and unfortunately there are those observant Jews in the guise of movie actors who treat their wives as baby machines, but for the most part, we know that it is the woman who causes their child to be Jewish as she is the one who bears the child. So, if women aren't any less important according to this, if not more important, then how come we can't include women in the minimum quorum of 10 in the synagogue? You see, if whenever a 10th person would be needed, women would be able to be included, think of what would happen. Women who are mothers with young children at home no doubt would be bothered at times, and at times could be distracting from taking care of their children properly.

Yes, men and women have their own respective missions in life. Attempts to change the two is in essence no different than the situation of the Egyptians enslaving the Jews which included having each gender perform work that the other gender normally performs. In such situations, it is ultimately only a lose-lose situation. If neither party can perform their job correctly, it leads to a breakdown in society.

In any case, there are no coincidences. You see, the Hebrew year that this International Women's Day started was 5671 (1911). In Hebrew, this number make up the letters Hei, Tav, Shin, Ayin, Aleph. The last two letters - Ayin, Aleph - is the number 71. And of the six volumes of the Mishna, the name of the third one is Nashim - Women. And yes indeed, this order of the Mishna consists of exactly 71 chapters!


On a positive note, women do in fact surpass men at times. When the men fell for the Spies' evil report about Israel, upon which they became cry babies, preventing them from being allowed to enter Israel, their wives remained righteous, believing that Hashem wanted them to move to Israel and that everything would be safe. This is one time that the men could have well benefited listening to their wives!

Along these lines, we see in the Book of Numbers that the five daughters of Tzelaphchad of the Tribe of Menashe requesting a piece of the land of Israel as an inheritance being that their late father did not leave behind any sons, as the men are the inheritors of the land. In fact, Hashem agreed to their well deserved point, being the icons of women who are Zionistic.

And speaking of Zionism, a few days earlier, I had come across a list of 100 reasons to live in Israel, written by a newcomer to Israel from the United States. While there was a few points that he wrote that I didn't agree with, I do wish to state his 100th and last reason for living in Israel: "If you're Jewish, why on earth would you want to live anywhere other than the land that Hashem gave you?"

Now let's play the devil's advocate for a minute. Hashem created a beautiful world. One would think that if this is the case, we should have a right to live wherever we want, provided that we live according to the righteous dictates of the society and government living there. If so, why should there be a special country for Jews to live in other than the fact that Hashem designated some place for the Holy Temple, but other than this, since Hashem is everywhere, it shouldn't really make a difference as to where we live. If anything, since Hashem put us in this finite, challenging world, then it would seem that the whole idea of observing Hashem's laws and commandments is to perform them specifically where one's way of life will be challenged by society but he or she will nevertheless be strong, proving that Hashem's Torah goes beyond whatever rationale people come up with?

This is where the aspect of living in Israel comes in. True, one can also perform G-d's commandments outside of Israel. However, the ideal place to live a Jewish life is in a Jewish land. While our Rabbis tell us to perform good deeds of kindness even to non-Jews due to the ways of peace, and at times, we need to do business with non-Jews to make a living, our ultimate challenge is not to live as a good Jew among non-Jews, live separately as a good Jew. Rabbi Meir Kahane, HY"D, may G-d avenge his blood, points this very clearly on the verse "Israel will live in safety, ALONE in a land of grain and wine" (Deutronomy 33:28), among Moses' final blessings to the Jews. We know all too well what happened and happens when Jews living in the Diaspora became assimilated and intermarry. At least in the Holy Land of Israel, just about all of even the biggest secular, left-wing Jews will marry within the faith (so much for the left wing Jewish tolerance of Arabs if they won't marry them!). Even without a point blank statement from the Torah, the facts speak for themselves.

And while Israel is not all an hour's walk to the Temple or Temple Mount or Western Wall, the holiness of Israel is something that is not to found outside of Israel. It is worthwhile mentioning from the end of Tractate Ketubot of the Mishna which states that if either husband or wife want to move to Israel but the other one doesn't which leads to divorce, it is the spouse who wants to move to Israel who wins the upper hand in court. The same thing applies in terms of moving to Jerusalem, which is the city that seats the Holy Temple. Regardless of what rabbis held in terms of the Mitzva of living in Israel, there are none who disagreed with this statement in the Mishna.

And speaking of the Temple, it had the dimensions of 100 cubits long and 100 cubits high. Yes, the ultimate level - 100% level of serving Hashem, was in the Temple, the place where we turn to in all of our daily prayers wherever we are in the world. And as we mention in the Passover Haggadah - the list of 15 spiritual accomplishments that the Jews acquired over time, the final one on the list is "The House of Choosing (Temple) to atone for our sins".

Yes, it was the righteous 100% attitude of the women in Moses' time that allowed them to remain alive for nearly 40 more years regardless of their age to merit entering Israel, many of whose husbands unfortunately fell for the Spies' evil report. The women had full faith in Hashem like the dove, representative of the Jewish people whose Gematria (Yonah) is the Gematria of 71, as the number of chapters in the volume of Mishna that is called women. The dove as we see in Noah's time faithfully followed Noah's orders of seeing if the land was dry following the world's greatest flood of all time. And what did the dove come back with? It was an olive leaf giving the message to Noah that it would rather eat bitter food coming from Hashem than eat sweet human food (see Talmud Eruvin 18b). For immigrants to Israel such as myself, while you don't always have the same comforts of living as in the United States (no driving a car these days), this is the real "Land of the Living" (Psalms 27:13) as King David calls it.

100 TIMES 100

As Purim will be here in a week, let's focus on a part of the Purim story that led to this most special holiday. When Haman submitted his proposal to murder all the Jews on one day, he offered King Achashveirosh - 10,000 silver talents for this. While the king turned down this offer, showing his own bitter hatred for the Jews, the question can be asked - why specifically the amount of 10,000 silver talents?

Perhaps one can answer that this is the first number consisting of five digits, so it would be an impressive number to offer the king. But perhaps there is a more burning question here. Why should Haman needed to even offer any money up front? Perhaps the king would be willing to give in to him without needing to give away any money to begin with? The worse that could have happened is if the king would not be willing to or be hesitant about the matter, then Haman could have offered something.

Haman was no stranger to Jewish history. How he determined the lots as to when to murder the Jews was based on his knowledge as of such, and not just what was written in the Bible. No where in the Bible does it mention directly as to what month that Moses passed away on, based on which Haman played the lottery. With this being said, perhaps there was something significant here about offering specifically 10,000 silver talents.

Let's ask a mathematical question here: What is the square root of 10,000. Answer: One hundred. Hence, it takes 100*100 to yield the number of 10,000. So now, the question can be asked here, does the number 100 in itself have something to do with Haman's offer to murder the Jews?

Kabbalistically, each of the 12 months of the year are represented by one of the letters of the Aleph Beit. As we know, Haman picked the month of Adar for his evil attempt to do away with the Jews. And so, what is the letter that represents Adar? The letter Koof, which is the numerical value of 100. (Note: While in a leap year consisting of two months of Adar, it is the first Adar that is represented by the letter Koof, while we celebrate Purim in the second Adar. The truth is that the main reason why we read the Megilla on the second Adar rather than the first is to juxtapose the redemption of Purim in the month of Adar II right next to the redemption of Passover in the coming month of Nissan. Otherwise, it seems that most likely from Halacha that if it weren't for this, that we would in fact celebrate Purim in Adar I).

Basically, what Haman was attempting to do here is basing his month on the fact that Moses passed away on this month, he felt that this month would be the prime time to take FULL advantage of to plan the evil deed. Accordingly, for his money offer, he multiplied 100 times itself, realizing and representing the full potential of the "unlucky" month of Adar. While there are a number of words in Hebrew for the word lottery, it is the word "Pur" based on which is the name of the holiday Purim. Now, noting the letters of this word - Pei, Vav, Reish - reverse the last two letters to have the word read as Pru - "Be fruitful" as in the phrase Pru U'rvu "Be fruitful and multiply", the first Mitzva/commandment of the Torah. In another words, Haman used the number 100 representing the "unlucky" month of Adar to give FRUIT and in fact MULTIPLIED this number the same amount of times as this number itself - 100*100 - to be the amount of money to offer the king.

There is a view among the rabbis that Haman had 208 children, proving this from the Gematria of the word V'Rohv - Vav, Reish, Beit/Veit. While this may not be such an unlikely feat, it has to be remembered that Haman wasn't always the wealthiest guy on the block. In fact, according to a Midrash, he was a mere barber for 22 years in some village, who just made a living to pay the bills like you and I if he was even lucky at that, so the chances of him having numerous wives to bear so many children whom he would need to support was highly unlikely. And so, what this probably means when it says that he had 208 children is that this is referring to the fruit of his labors. You see, in the phrase of Pru U'rvu, the word U'rvu can in fact bear the Gematria of 208 twice - the first three letters spelling the same word as V'Rohv, the word that is used as a Gematria to state that Haman had 208 children, and then the last three letters "rvu" - the same three letters of the Aleph Beit, which means MULTIPLY. And what was the fruit of Haman's labors? Bearing in mind that his present labor was his vicious attempt to have all the Jews murdered, the fruits in this case was his offer of the 10,000 silver talent based on his multiplying 100 times itself to represent what he thought was the worst unluckiest month of the Jewish people.

Now, the significance of Haman offering money to begin with to do away with the Jews was in order to so to speak counteract the Shekalim, the annual monetary collection from Jews in the month of Adar to pay for the daily offerings in the Temple. Now, every year when reading the Torah, there are four special sections in the Torah that we read at the end of the weekly Parsha, taking place in or around the month of Adar. The first of these is the section in the Torah about the Shekalim, which we read the other week, and on this coming Shabbat, we will be reading from the second of these which is the section in the Torah called Zachor/Remember, remembering and not forgetting what Amalek - Haman's ancestor - did to us in starting war with us, as well as the Mitzvah of wiping out the memory of Amalek.

With this in mind, one of the phrases naming these four special sections is called Dalet (the letter Dalet which is the numerical value of four) Parshiyot. The Gematria of the phrase Dalet Parshiyot is 1,000. In terms of multiplication, this number is in between 100 & 10,000, for 100 times 10 is 1,000 and 1,000 times 10 is 10,000. Now, one of the purposes of the Shekalim, the first of these four Parshiyot, was to count the Jews in form of counting the number of coins that the Jews donated as opposed to counting them directly to avoid an evil eye leading to a plague, G-d forbid. And as we know, the minimum number of male Jews needed for a Minyan/quorum is 10. And as for the theme of the second of these four Parshiyot, the nation of Amalek, from whom Haman was descended, dared to attack the Jews. Our rabbis tell us that this particularly the Tribe of Dan who was behind the rest of the tribes when travelling. In fact, in the order of the tribes travelling, the Tribe of Dan was 10th in place. Hence, Haman's playing of numbers wasn't just a nice trick up his sleeves, he really knew what he was doing (except for the fact that the Jews repented at the end, so everything boomeranged back to Haman).

Now, let's focus for a moment on the exact date that Haman chose from his lottery - 13 Adar. You see, Haman chose this month knowing that Moses passed away on this month. But was is noted is that in fact, he didn't realize that Moses was also born on this month. It seems from this that the fact the Moses was born in this month had something to do with the victory of the Jews at the end. In fact, assuming that Moses had his Brit Mila/circumcision on his eighth day, this day - 14 Adar - would be the future date of Purim!

With this being said, in which Parsha of the Torah is the birth of Baby Moses mentioned? In Parshat Shemot - the 13th Parsha of the Torah! And as especially as it relates to this year - this coming Shabbat, which falls out on the 13 day of Adar II, which is in effect the 13th month counting from Nissan which is the first of the months, we read the 13th Parsha from Parshat Shemot of Moses's birth - Parshat Tzav. Now, when we write the word Tzav in cursive Hebrew, it looks just like the number 13!
So, especially in this year, you have the "unlucky" number 13 in the highest combination possible in the Jewish calendar. You see, for non-Jews, this may very well be an unlucky superstitious number. But for us Jews, this is the number that represents the 13 Divine Attributes of Mercy that Hashem has for the Jewish people.
I should note that the date of 13 Adar II marks the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, the top Poseik HaDor, leading decider of Jewish law of the previous generation, and was born on 7 Adar - the same birthday as Moshe Rabbeinu after whom he was named for this very reason. Could it be that Haman forsaw through the powers of impurity (black magic) the passing of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, one of the last top leading Torah scholars before the coming of Moshiach, would occur on this very date of 13 Adar, and hence having picked this very date rather than 7 Adar being the Yahrzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu, without knowing that he was also born in this month, sharing the same name and birthdate as Moshe Rabbeinu?

I should note that the Hebrew year of the passing of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein - 5746 - the letters Hei, Tav, Shin, Mem, Vav - is spelled in the same word (backwards) twice in the entire Tanach/Bible - one of these times in Megillat Esther! This is the verse (9:19) where it mentions that the Jews will now celebrate the 14th of Adar in the future - a day of "happiness and feasting". The Hebrew word for "and feasting" is U'Mishteh - and when spelled backwards, reads this Hebrew year of 5746! This is most significant, because Rabbi Moshe Feinstein passed away on the night of 13 Adar (II), he was then flown to Israel for burial about which there was a delay in the flight, and then he was buried during the daytime of 15 Adar, the date that Jews in Jerusalem celebrate Purim. But in this year, 15 Adar in Jerusalem was also a day of great mourning among some 300,000 Jews attending his funeral on Har HaMenuchot in Jerusalem, the largest funeral in Israel in a millenium! Hence, 14 Adar - the date in between the two dates of 13 Adar of his passing & 15 Adar of his burial - was the HAPPIER day in contrast to 15 Adar IN THAT YEAR (5746); 15 Adar normally being celebrated as the happiest day of the year in Jerusalem, the holiest city in the world. Yes, Rabbi Moses Feinstein's passing and burial was predicted in the Megillah nearly 2,350 years earlier!


Today, we encountered quite a few things with the number three. Well, the number 100 is the first of a 1,000 THREE digit numbers. In the verse that we begin this post with that is related to the number 100 in two different ways, the phrase "the L-rd, your G-d" is mentioned THREE times. And Moses, the star of today - 7 Adar, was the THIRD one born of his siblings, as he is called the "third one" in relationship to the giving of the Torah which consists of three parts (as mentioned in Talmud Sabbath 87). But perhaps what is interesting here is that Moses was the third born counting from Miriam, a most righteous woman, who looked after Moses of the age of THREE months who was placed in a reed basket on the Nile to prevent being kidnapped and murdered by the Egyptians, in effect saving his life, along with Batya, princess of Pharaoh, who behaved and eventually lived as a Jewess in stark contrast to her evil father's ways, who took baby Moses in her loving arms, who is actually the one who provided Moses with his Hebrew name Moshe. Yes, women do count for at least 50% of the world race.

In praise of Moses, we see the last letter of the first word of Sefer Vayikra/Book of Leviticus of which we just read the first Parsha this past Shabbat - is a little letter Aleph. Among many explanations for this, this signifies the fact that Moses felt humble in being called by Hashem. He felt that there were those more worthy than him to be the one to be called out to by Hashem - Vayikra "He (Hashem) called out to Moses", the first word Vayikra ending with that little letter Aleph. We see in the Midrash that Hashem granted him a thousand points of light, which was in fact taken away from him following the sin of the Golden Calf, but still merited to have this on the Sabbath and other holy days. You see, the word Aleph for the letter Aleph which is the Gematria of one, can also be read as the same letters to read Eleph/thousand. Indeed, in the beginning of Sefer Devarim/Book of Deutronomy, Moses blesses the Jews that Hashem should bless them a thousand times over. By the way, as we wrote about the English alphabet today in relationship to Gematria, just as the word for Aleph of which the equivalent is the letter "a", can also be read to read Eleph-thousand, the very first time that the letter "a" appears in the spelled out numbers - one, two, three, etc. is the word for the number thousand! Coincidence?

Yes, with the right ATTITUDE, comes the BLESSINGS. As we see from Moses' blessings to his people on the final day of his life on today's date of 7 Adar, his blessings primarily consists of the bountifulness of the land of Israel, what we read on Simchat Torah, virtually the happiest day on the Jewish calendar when we conclude reading the Torah, and then we begin it anew. It was following the conclusion of this day - two and half years ago, that I began And as I conclude my 100th post on, I write with the hopes of the next 100 posts being able to accomplish much more - with more followers; but most importantly, with much more action. Along these lines, I began this past week a new daily blogspot for the first five days of the week (relatively short) dedicated to learning the part of the Torah that is especially meritious to learn - the Holy Temple Service & Offerings - as it is considered as though we brought the offerings in the Temple that we learn about especially in absence of the Temple, as especially emphasized by the Chofetz Chaim - And then for learning how to keep Shabbat properly as there are numerous laws for keeping Shabbat , even for observant Jews who may learn something that they may have never come across before, I have a once-a-week post entitled

Actions accompanied with the right ATTITUDE will lead to many BLESSINGS.

7 Adar II, 5771

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

#99 - The Name is the Number

In Judaism, everything seems to be based on numbers. You don't have to go far in the prayerbook, starting with the 11 types of incense used in the Temple, the 13 ways that the Torah is able to be interpreted in learning out what the verses of the Torah come to teach us, and...the very name of the main prayer that we say minimally three times a day is called Shemoneh Esrei, which literally means 18 because originally, this prayer consisted of 18 blessings that were recited during the weekdays, and at one point, another blessing was added, but the title called Shemoneh Esrei remained.

And then in Parshat Terumah that was read a few weeks ago, numbers are the star when it comes to describing the various measurements of the Mishkan/Tabernacle. Though they may seem quite irrelevant in terms of day-to-day living, the Torah is full of lessons, even though it may not be obvious on the surface.

And so, the following Parsha called Tetzaveh, while not full of numbers, details the clothing that the Cohanim wore in the Tabernacle/Temple. While clothing itself may not be the main feature of how a person should be labeled in terms of religion, the fact that one wears a particular set of clothing often shows what one's belief system is. And believe it or not, the clothing one wears not only affects the environment where everyone sees him/her, but can also have a major effect on oneself. In the non-Jewish world, perhaps one of the best examples of this is that in the old days in the United States, when wearing uniform was mandatory even in public schools, children for the most part grew up to be respectful to their elders, especially their teachers. After all, if they had respect for themselves looking nice, they felt that they were grownup enough to act accordingly. However, in more recent times when children can dress in most different ways to say the least - let alone getting tattooed, boys wearing earrings, etc., much violence and addiction use have been practiced in the public school system where teachers are afraid of their own students, some of whom have even brought guns to school.

And so, with no further delays here, let's get right to the subject of our post - the Bigdei Kehunah/Priestly Vestments. While I kept having delays writing this post, in this week's Parshat Pekudei, these are mentioned once again, but in concise form.

Before I continue, I want to let you know that I discovered something most fascinating about this 99th Mitzvah of the Torah of the Cohanim wearing their Bigdei Kehunah in the Tabernacle/Temple. It is true that I am writing this in my 99th Post, but the big discovery here is that - the name of this 99th Mitzvah: Bigdei Kehunah - IS the Gematria of 99! And so, there is no doubt that these Bigdei Kehunah had a most significant purpose of being worn.

If this was not enough, on the first day of the week of Parshat Tetzaveh of this year, the worldwide Daf Yomi page of the Talmud (particularly in Zevachim 88b), mentioning what sin each of these garments atoned for, was learned. Amazing once again!

OK, so let me first show you what piece of clothing atoned for what sin. The order that I will write this list is the order in which the Torah details these clothing. To note, only the Cohen Gadol/High Priest wore all eight of these clothing. The rest of the Cohanim wore only the last four of the following eight clothes.

Ephod- Idol worship
Choshen (breastplate)- Corruption of justice
Meil (robe)- Evil speech
Tzitz (forehead plate) - Brazenness
Kutonet (tunic)- Bloodshed
Mitznefet (turban)- Haughtiness
Avnet (sash)- Evil thoughts
Michnasayim (pants)- Lewdness

Now, the Talmud is the original source for which sins these clothing atoned for, but mentions them in a different order. I will explain shortly as to why the Talmud doesn't list them in the same order as the Torah does. Meanwhile, I will list this list in order of the Talmud with the reasons or connections between the piece of clothing and particular sin based on various other verses of the Tanach/Bible. In this order, the four clothes that the regular Cohanim wore are mentioned first:

Kutonet (tunic)- Bloodshed: "They slaughtered a goatling and dipped the TUNIC IN BLOOD" (Genesis 37:31).
Michnasayim (pants)- Lewdness: "You shall make for them linen PANTS TO COVER THE FLESH OF THEIR NAKEDNESS" (Exodus 28:42).
Mitznefet (turban)- Haughtiness: Rabbi Chanina said- "Let something that is worn high on the head come and atone for haughtiness". As we know, wearing something on one's head represents fear of Hashem, as we call a skullcap in Yiddish "yarmulke", a composite of the words "Yerei Elokim"- Fear of G-d.
Avnet (sash)- Evil thoughts: The sash was worn just below the heart which harbors thoughts.
Choshen (breastplate)- Corruption of justice: "You shall make a CHOSHEN OF JUDGEMENT".
Ephod- Idol worship: "Without EPHOD, there are TERAPHIM (one of the many names for idols)".
Meil (robe)- Evil speech: Rabbi Chanina said- "Let something through which there is a sound (there were bells hanging at the bottom of the robe) come and atone for the evil sound of evil speech".
Tzitz (headplate)- Brazenness: It it written about the Tzitz "It shall be on Aaron's FOREHEAD", and it is written about brazenness "You had the FOREHEAD of a prostitute, not wanting to be ashamed".


It seems that there is a reason why the Torah/Chumash first lists the Bigdei Kehuna that only the Cohen Gadol wore and then the rest of the garments while the Talmud does the reverse. You see, when it comes to Kriat HaTorah/reading from the Torah scroll, even a Jew who does not even know the first word of Hebrew still fulfills the basic requirement of hearing the Torah as does the greatest Talmid Chacham/Torah scholar of the generation. Hence, the Sefer Torah, the contents of the Chumash, is read even to a Jew ignorant of any Torah learning, and as the Ba'al Koreh - one who reads the Torah - is compared to Hashem giving us the Torah, one technically does not even need to apply himself to understand what is being read. However, when it comes to Talmudic studies, which oftentimes is not understood even if one knows what each word means, is something that one has to spend some serious plowing to understand. Hence, the Torah listing first the vestments exclusive to the Cohen Gadol is showing that it is Hashem reaching to us when the Torah is being read.

However, when it comes to Talmudic studies, which oftentimes is not understood even if one knows what each word means, is something that one has to spend some serious plowing to understand. While in one sense, Hashem is the one who teaches us Torah, while in prayer, it is we who are reaching out to Hashem; the Talmud - the hardcore of Torah studies, is something that we can't expect Hashem just to "give it to us". One does not fulfill the Mitzva of Torah learning simply by chanting the words of the Talmud. One has to make a serious effort for Talmudic learning to be considered learning Torah. This is demonstrated by the Talmud first listing the vestments that all the Cohanim wore followed by the ones that was worn exclusively by the Cohen Gadol. We have to work our way to the top when it comes to the Talmud, as the teachings of the Talmud probes the wisdom of Hashem.

Unlike the words of the Torah/Tanach through which even a simple Jew can fulfill the Mitzva of Torah learning even without knowing the words mean when reciting them though of course he will benefit far more spiritually if he does know what he is reciting and concentrating on them, this is basically Hashem coming from above so to speak and spoon feeding us this part of the Torah. However, the Talmud assumes all of us to first be simple, and only after seriously applying ourselves to understanding what it is saying, do we then ascribe to be on a higher spiritual level of Torah learning. Along these lines, the conclusion of the Mishnayot on Seder Moed states, "When it comes to honor (these words aren't mentioned, but this is the meaning of the context), a Mamzer (mistranslated as bastard) one who is born of an illicit or illegal union according to Halacha/Jewish law - making him unfit to marry most Jewish women having a spiritual blemish - but is a Talmid Chacham, comes before a Cohen Gadol who is an ignoramus in Torah."


Now, another question needs to be posed here. Before the Torah details the requirements of the individual Bigdei Kehuna, it gives the immediate list of the Bigdei Kehuna (Exodus 28:4), but leaves out two of them - the Tzitz/headplate & Michnasayim/pants. Obviously, there must be a reason for this.

Before going further on this subject, we notice that when the Torah is addressing the Cohanim, the Torah specifies Aaron and his sons. Yet, we know that Pinchas, the son of Elazar who in turn took over the Kehuna Gedola/High Priesthood from his father Aaron, who was alive at the time of the Priestly consecartion, as we see that his name is listed in Parshat Va'eira among the list of his ancestors, being mentioned next to the events that took place in Egypt before Aaron and his sons became Cohanim.
So, why was he not included in being a Cohen when the Torah made it clear that all future male descendants of Aaron's sons in parental line would be Cohanim?

The answer to this question is not such a secret. We see that nearly 40 years later when Pinchas slew Zimri, the leader of the tribe of Shimon who was having a tryst with the princess of Midian, that he merited at that time to be a Cohen. Apparently, Hashem wanted him to do something special to earn being a Cohen rather than just being a Cohen being a descendant of Aaron.

This is nice and dandy. However, as brave as Pinchas was, so too were there other brave Jews such as Nachshon, whose sister Elisheva was married to Aaron, who was the first to jump into the Reed Sea despite the possibility of drowning in obedience of Hashem's orders to move forward and not be afraid of the Egyptians pursuing the Jews. And then there were outspoken Jews such as Caleb, whose wife Miriam was Aaron's sister, who was not afraid of speaking the truth when the evil Spies were discouraging the Jews from moving to Israel. Yet, neither Nachshon or Caleb, despite their close relative ties to Aaron, merited to be Cohanim. So just because Pinchas was Aaron's grandson, in itself did not merit him to be a Cohen, but only following his brave act of killing the evil Zimri, not fearing that the tribe of Shimon - whose leader was Zimri - would attempt to kill him. So, there must be some type of connection between Pinchas' act of killing Zimri and the Kehuna/Priesthood.

OK, so let's get to the Bigdei Kehuna not immediately mentioned in the Torah - the headplate and pants. As we already learned in this post, the headplate atoned for brazenness and the pants atoned for lewdness. And indeed, it was these very two sins that Zimri performed warranting his death. Unlike the other Jews who fell prey to the sin of lewdness via idolatry as part of the plan that was set up for the Jews to sin was that the goyishe women would sleep with the Jews only if they first worship the idol Peor, Zimri's sin of lewdness did not stem purely from lust but was a brazen act to show Moses that as far as Zimri was concerned, Moses was no better because he himself had married a Midianite woman (who by the way was perfectly Kosher for Moses, who obviously stopped worshipping the idols that her father Jethro used to worship before converting to Judaism), as he told this to Moses brazenly when he was together with the Midianite princess Kozbi. Following his brazen words to the greatest Tzadik of the world, he proceeded to a tent where he started becoming intimate with Kozbi, an act of lewdness, which led to Pinchas to killing the two of them.

Hence, the Torah must be hinting here that while Aaron and his sons would become Cohanim, the final status of Cohanim had yet to be set in place; and hence, hinting to this, the two garments atoning for the very sins that Zimri performed in his final minutes of life were left out, so to speak waiting until the time that Pinchas would kill Zimri who committed the very sins that are atoned for by these two garments, among the Bigdei Kehuna that Pinchas would wear in the future, including the breastplate that is exclusive to the Cohen Gadol, as Pinchas indeed became the Cohen Gadol following the passing of his father Elazar.


Typically, Parshat Tezave, of which the first half of the Parsha is about the Bigdei Kehuna, is read on the Shabbat before Purim. In this year, as a leap year, this Parsha was read on the Shabbat before Purim Katan, and this week's Parshat Pekudei, which also has mention of the details of the Bigdei Kehuna, falls out in between Purim Katan & the regular Purim.

Some may think that there is a connection between Parshat Tetzave about the Bigdei Kehuna & Purim, since after all, there is a custom to dress in a costume on Purim. Actually, they are not far off. I believe that the real source for this custom of costumes (a nice play on words) is based on the beginning of the Megilla, on which the Talmud in Tractate Megilla explains that King Achashveirosh wore the Bigdei Kehuna that the Babylonians stole when they destroyed the First Temple at the party that he hosted. But why was he interested in dressing up which was for him a real costume, into a set of clothing worn by the one who had the highest spiritual post in the Temple? Achashveirosh certainly did not want to be associated with being Jewish.

As our rabbis tell us in the Talmud, this king was the same rotten individual from beginning to end, even when he seemed to be giving in to Mordechai & Esther in benefit of the Jews at the end of the Megilla. His reison d'etre for having the parties that he hosted was NOT to impress the other nations of the world. His SOLE AND ONLY PURPOSE of these parties was to first of all mock the Jews whom he thought that Hashem deserted as he miscalculated Jeremiah's mention of 70 years ofBabylonian exile for the Jews, thinking that the 70 years were up. He was in fact celebrating of what he thought to be the fact that now, the Jews would no longer be able to have their land once again to be free on their own without serving him. And just like the goyishe women who purposely were set up to make the Jews sin performing idolatry and lewdness; so too here, he was hoping that the Jews would fress at his non-kosher feasts so they would be deserving of punishment from Hashem, G-d forbid, and then be able to be given the green limit to get rid of them.

Perhaps today's Jewish liberal democrats who stoop down to kiss the feet of Christians begging for their love can learn a lesson from here. You see, Achasheveirosh here showed no outwardly Anti-Semitism. He treated everyone the same way at his parties - regardless of religion, race or creed. Almost anyone seeing his demeanor would certainly come to the conclusion that he was on the finest kings that ever lived on this planet. In fact, following his evil wife Vashti's refusal of appearing naked before the king, he asked the Jewish scholars for their scholarly advice on this issue. Yet, his only intention of having his feasts, wearing the Priestly Garments in front of the party crowd, including the Jews who didn't listen to Mordechai when he warned them not to go to Achashveirosh's feats, and who didn't care if this evil king dared to wear the very garments which were worn by the last Cohen Gadol who served in the Temple. Indeed, it was these very Jews who chose to overlook this king's Anti-Semitism who disobeyed Mordechai who blamed him for causing the decree of the destruction of the Jews when in fact, what happened was a punishment for what these fresser and disobedient Jews did here.


Today, black hats and black clothing is associated with being dressed the most "religious" way, especially worn by those who learn or used to learn in Yeshiva and Hasidic Jews. Perhaps this would not be a problem wearing this types of clothes during the weekday; however, when it comes to Shabbat, when it is custom from the Torah for Jews to dress in white, most unfortunately, this is the very day of the week that so many Jews were the color of mourning. While many may justify wearing such clothes as this was the Jews that they customarily wore as Jewish clothing for hundreds of years in the European exile, this type of dress, especially the Hasidic style of the Hasidic groups who were only black (NOTE: There are some Hasidic groups who wear their special dress in a different color on Shabbat) as in fact being influenced by what the goyishe noblemen wore, which are very similar.

Perhaps I am now aware of the reason as to why the black color became the norm of Jewish dress In Europe instead of the white colo in the context of the siginificance of Jewish customs. But I will admit that in general, the type of clothing that the ones who are more of the religous type wear - can have a positive influence on Jews to behave the Torah way. While clothing is worn for reasons, such as covering nakedness and looking good, clothes also serve as a factor in virtually all religions (even as the goyim copy everything from us). We see from this that indeed, we have to be concerned about how much view us, and some will base their judgements on us, solely on what we wear.


The name Bigdei Kehuna is indeed the number of this Mitzvah. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, these words, which mean Priestly clothes, have the Gematria of 99, and are indeed the 99th Mitzvah of the Torah, this number is also very significant as it relates to clothes in another way. You see, the number nine, as I had mentioned quite a few times in my blogspot, represents the aspect of darkness, such as the 9th plague of the Egyptians which was darkness, as well as the 9th day of Av (Tisha B'Av), the saddest day of the Jewish calendar when both Temples were destroyed along with other major sad events for Jews that took place on this very date. Hence, the number 99, as associated with clothing, is a double nine being spelled as such. In fact, the word for clothing in singular in Hebrew is Beged, which is the Gematria of nine. Now, taking the same word as being spelled the same way as a verb, it means the cognate of being a traitor. Indeed, being a traitor of an idealism that one is thought to represent or is supposed to represent, is in fact being like a wold in sheep's clothing, such as Jews who turned over other Jews to non-Jewish authorities especially to look good themselves.

Yes, no coincidences here. Clothing indeed covers the body of a person, just as darkness is a cover up for light. For some, the right type of spiritual clothing befits the wearers of these clothing. For others unfortunately though, the clothing is not only a mere physical cover up, but also a spiritual cover up of who they really are inside themselves, showing off that they look so religious but do deeds hurting people in various ways that discourage some Jews from observing Judaism. And so, the number 99 - a number of a double nine, being the Gematria of Priestly Clothing, as well as being the 99th number of the list of the 613 Mitzvot of the Torah, can work both ways. It can indeed be a double darkness - covering up the body as clothes were first worn by Adam & Eve following their sin of eating from the forbidden fruit which resulted of them feeling naked; as well as being worn by people showing off in fancy shmancy stuff making others feel jealous or looking as religious dress, but truly not living a religious life as far as people are concerned when the latter are being cheated monetarily and otherwise by these fakers. Or, while indeed a physical cover up for all as a result of the first sin, they can use their clothing instead to enhance their spiritual status, giving a sense of pride and dignity for Judaism, which is very wanting of more Jews living the Torah way of life.

Now, aside from the color of our clothing, what type of clothing will we wear that will enhance not only ourselves, but enhance the honor and beauty of Judaism, as the Torah states of the Bigdei Kehuna "You shall make clothing for Aaron your brother for honor and beauty" (Exodus 28:2)?

26 Adar I, 5771