Friday, July 29, 2011

#113 - We Are All ONE

Taking a look at the number of this post - 113, we can read it as two numbers - 1 & 13. While this may not be so obvious in Hebrew, as the letters for this number - Koof, Yud, Gimel, have the respective numerical values of 100, 10, 3; Hashem doesn't allow anything just to be a coincidence. You see, the word for the number one is Hebrew is Echad. In turn, the Gematria of this word Echad is 13.

Hashem, the Jews, and the Torah each have a special aspect as related to the number 13. Hashem is One - and He has Yud Gimel Midot HaRachamim - 13 Divine Attributes of Mercy. And as noted from the Rambam/Maimonides, there are also 13 principles of faith that relate to to the concept of Hashem and how He runs the world. The Jews are "one nation on earth", Hashem's only chosen nation, and we Jews are officially expected to start serving Hashem the right away either as boys after 13 years of preparation becoming Bar Mitzva, or as girls beginning their 13th year - becoming Bat Mitzva. And as far as the Torah is concerned, there is one Torah - no two Torahs as two separate things such as the "Old Testament" and the "New Testament" which clearly contradict each other on many points. And it is this Torah that is ruled by 13 ways that the Torah is interpreted - as listed in the paragraph beginning Rabbi Yishmael Omer in the daily morning prayers, filtering out false or misleading ways for the Torah to be learned, maintaining the standards of Torah learning that has stayed with us since Moshe taught us the Torah from Hashem.

Hence, it stands to reason that in our connection with Hashem, we have a direct line to Him via the number 13. In fact, Hashem revealed to Moshe following the incident of the Golden Calf that whenever the Jewish people recite the 13 Divine Attribues of Mercy in prayer, that their prayers will not go unanswered. While Hashem doesn't just do magic for us every day, but via the channel of the number of 13 that represents Mercy, Hashem will no doubt show at least some form of Divine Mercy in his continued love for us Jews.

In fact, the word for love in Hebrew - Ahava - is also the Gematria of 13. And so, along with the word Echad which is the Gematria of 13, it is not surprising that these two words - bearing in mind that for a number that is not so big and so not too many other words will have the same Gematria - have a very close connection with each other, for when people love one another, they feel together as one.

The Ba'al HaTurim, a commentary on the Chumash that is full of Gematriot, comparison of verses with similar wordings, and other fascinating tidbits, notes that in Parshat Pekudei, the final Parsha of Sefer Shemos/Book of Exodus following the accouting that Moshe made of the donations made to the Tabernacle and what they were used for, it mentions the phrase "that Hashem commanded" 19 times (most of the phrases is "just like Hashem commanded Moshe, but I used a phrase that is mentioned in every single one) in reference to the various parts of the Tabernacle and Priestly vestments. Accordingly, we have 19 blessings in the weekday Shemoneh Esrei prayer. While the number 19 may be a cool number, the big thing here is that all the 19 phrases that include "that Hashem commanded", and the final wordings of each of the 19 blessings of the Shemoneh Esrei that begin with "Blessed are You Hashem" - each consist of 113 words.

Now, this in itself would already be a very strong connection, since after all, the Tabernacle was the first official place of prayer for the Jews and the Cohanim served Hashem in the Holy place officiating with their Priestly vestments. But the Ba'al Haturim has one more interesting piece on the number 113. There are 113 mentions of the word Lev/heart in the Chumash. The Artscroll Chumash with its English translaton of the Ba'al HaTurim mentions that in fact there are a total of 122 times that this word is mentioned. However, it notes that it seems that it depends on the context of the word. Meaning, that while there are nine additional times that this word is mentioned than the count given by the Ba'al HaTurim, in those nine times, the word Lev is used as a physical organ or as a metaphor. However, there are exactly 113 mentions of this word referring to the heart as the seat of intellect. With this said, we can understand the final statement of the Ba'al HaTurim who notes that there are 113 mentions of this word in the Chumash in relationship to the 113 words in the
end parts of the 19 blessings of the Shemoneh Esrei - that this hints to the concept that prayers require Kavvanat HaLev - concentration of the heart (NOTE: There are Poskim who say that one should be extra tentative to the concluding wordings of these blessings).

Personally, it was a couple of months ago when I purchased a Siddur/prayer book called Kavvanat HaLev. Aside from the Artscroll Siddur that has the English word on top of the Hebrew word for excellent focus on the words which I have found helpful in the past, this Siddur is the one prayer book all in Hebrew that I have found the easiest to be helpful for me to have concentration on my prayers. There is usually a brief explanation before each paragraph, and while it does not attempt to translate or explain each phrase, it has explanations on some of the words within the paragraph, rather than the explanation in a different place on the side or the bottom of the page; in short, allowing a good flow of understanding and making sense of the words being recited. While I do have my days or times that I don't have much time or feeling like having the ability to focus very well, for the times that I am able to, I have never in my life before felt that I could have such a grasp of concentration and feeling of meaning in my prayers. It is certainly not for naught that the name of this prayer book in Hebrew is Kavvanat HaLev - Concentration of the Heart.

Connecting the dots so far in this post, the word Lev is Hebrew which means heart is no doubt related to the English word "Love". In fact, perhaps more than in words, the symbol used for love as you'll see strewn in advertisements everywhere and on the internet is the shape of a heart. At least in terms of our relationship with Hashem, one can only have true love of Hashem is one is focused on what he or she says to Hashem, and one can only expect to gain feelings of love for Hashem if one thinks and understands what he or she says to Hashem.

Just blabbering a bunch of Hebrew words does little more good than prevent one from committing sins or wasting one's time, although at least in public prayer, one is instrumental in the bringing of the Divine Presence by being part of a quorum for prayer, but in terms of one's personal relationship with Hashem, it begins with prayer. After all, Hashem really doesn't need our prayers, as it will not prevent Him from doing what He wants. The truth is that Hashem wants to do a lot of good things for us, but instead of just being like animals who aren't expected to pray to Hashem for the food but receive it anyways, we are expected to be appreciative of the wide variety of things that Hashem does for us daily, and that reciting the daily prayers help us being aware of this and be appreciative of this. In short, when we stay focused on our prayers in this fashion, we can then view Hashem as our friend, building a strong and lasting love relationship with Him.

Along these lines, we comes to realize that we have to love Hashem's creatures - especially our own flesh and blood Jewish brethren. In fact, as the Arizal (the famed Kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria) notes, in order for our daily prayers to be accepted, we should accept on ourselves the Mitzva of loving our fellow Jew "You shall love your friend as yourself" in the morning before praying. To come to think of it, it works the same way in a family, that if you truly love your parents, then you will love your brothers and sisters as well, since they too are your parents' children (though this could be challenging at times when you have a sibling who is not exactly at terms with you for reasons ranging from jealousy to fear of loosing money). At the end of the day, we Jews are supposed to feel as one family.

Writing this post smack in the middle day of the Three Weeks - Bein HaMetzarim - that begins from Shiva Asar B'Tammuz (17 Tammuz) until Tisha B'Av (9 Av), a period wrought with numerous tragedies for the Jewish people, we have to be focused on the cause of this, or why we follow various practices in mourning for the destroyed Temple during these three weeks, even though the Temple only actually got destroyed on Tisha B'Av. As we know, it was 1943 years ago that the Second Temple was destroyed, chiefly due to the sin of Sinat Chinam/baseless hatred.

The problem with this spiritual disease is that it is very easy for us to fool ourselves at times that it is OK to hate one another because we are not exactly in agreement with the same things, and at times, to think that it is a Mitzva to hate certain people because they do not follow the Torah based on our opinion. While I will say that there are clearly some people - and very unfortunately, rabbis who not only say things against the Torah, but help implement what they believe in that clearly goes against the Torah, I think it can be agreed upon that the vast majority of Jews are not to be blamed for thinking of contrary things to the ways of the Torah. I say this particularly because especially in the last few years, various people who may have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Torah based upon which they received their rabbinic degree, have said various things against the Torah in the name of money and politics, and some went a step ahead to implement what they claimed to be the Torah way. I am referring especially to the Gush Katif fiasco that took place six years ago that broke apart 25 Jewish communities beginning the day after Tisha B'Av. There is video showing these rabbis in what I call "sheepskin" helping with chasing away Jews from the homes that they lived in for the last few decades, the majority of whom still don't have half decent homes.

As far as I am concerned, these phony Erev Rav rabbis along with the police and soldiers, especially the ones who are "Choveish Kipa" wearers of the skullcap, had no fear of G-d, or concerns as to where the nearly 10,000 Jews that they helped throw out would now live, or that what they were doing was helping the blood thirsty Arabs to ultimately be so much closer to attack Jews. However, for most of the rest of the Jewish people, some of whom may have faulty opinions who don't go out of their way to implement them against our own people, or the ones who have no concept of what the beauty of Judaism is like, there is hope for them. Hence, we have to take the first step and show that we love Jews, and that even as strong nationalistic Jews who follow Kahane pertaining to the wholeness of the Land of Israel, we would rather hire what we call a leftist Jew any day before we would dare ever hire an Arab who is trespassing on our Holy Land. If we were to start thinking along these lines and show that we mean it, then eventually, this love would rub off, and even the ones who are branded as the "leftist Jews of Tel Aviv" will start to realize that it is basically the government in Israel who is controlling everything, and that to the Arabs who want nothing more than our murder and ALL of Israel - including Tel Aviv and ALL of Jerusalem and not just the east part of it, it makes no difference to them who is religious or not, right wing or left wing, because as far as these Moslem Arabs are concerned, we are ALL infidels and "trespassing" on "their" land, even as just kicked off their yearly Ramadan month this morning with blasting their loudspeakers around dawn when it still looks dark out, disturbing people like me from trying to sleep.

Speaking of being kept awake, Hashem has been attempting to wake us up and realize that in order for us to be worthy of the arrival of Moshiach and the building of the Holy Temple, we need to start loving each other much more instead of hating each other. I do have to note, with the recent protests against the government in Israel pertaining to the high cost of gas, living quarters, etc., you can see Jews of all walks of life standing side by side protesting the grave injustice that the government is doing paying themselves tons of money, and hurting the masses with the high rise expenses, which is also due in part to the ten month construction freeze in attempts of appeasing the unsatisfied Arabs. However, there were a couple of incidents that happened among Jews this past month, with similarities to each other, that can't be marked off as "coincidence" or that "we have no right to second guess why Hashem does this as we don't have prophets today", the latter line being a rhetoric statement from certain modern orthodox rabbis who have been tainted with apikorses which is denying Hashem's Divine Providence, poisoning the spiritual lives of Jews who are honestly seeking to learn Torah and spiritual guidance.

The first is what happened a few weeks ago with the tragic murder of Jewish boy in Boro Bark - Leiby Kletzky, shortly before his ninth birthday by someone who is supposed to be an "Orthodox Jew", keeping Shabbat. It is true that Rabbi Yehuda Levin (see his website www.thefearkashes.com), who is very vocal against homosexual rights, mentioned connections between the gruesome events that happened to the boy and the concept of homosexuality and sexual impurity as related to Amalek, as recently, the self hating Jewish billionaire mayor of New York City - Mr. Bloomberg, legalized gay marriage in the most inhabited city of Jews in the United States.

The second tragic event is just what took place last night in Israel. A guy who pretends to be a Torah scholar and saint who had just the day before gave a lecture about the destruction of the Temple and baseless hatred, stabbed the kabbalist Rabbi Elazar Abu-Hatzera of Be'er Sheva several times, and very unfortunately he succumbed to to the wounds and was buried just hours ago. Yes, a second incident of a Jew - not a gentile - murdering another Jew with a knife, just weeks after the first incident, except this time, this happened in Israel, and mind you, to a kabbalist, the grandson of the world revered legendary Baba Sali. Also, this incident took place today - 27 Tammuz - which is the MIDDLE day of the Three Weeks leading to Tisha B'Av. And by the way, this was followed ONLY SEVERAL HOURS after the gay parade in Jerusalem. In both cases in New York & Jerusalem, how many residents took to the streets to protest these abominations?

The truth is that indeed, sometimes Hashem has more than one lesson for us to learn. In fact, perhaps the gay community has a point concerning unity, except for the fact that their whole concept of unity is based on things that go against Hashem and the Torah. Perhaps if we beefed our unity within our Torah communities and looked more for the things that bind us instead of divide us, there wouldn't be any more gay parades in Jerusalem, the holiest city in the world. And so, if it is not unity from the good side, then G-d forbid, it will be unity from the evil side, to make realize that we have to strengthen our unity within the good side. Yes, it's nice to see Jews from all walks of life coming together demanding their basic rights as human beings, but this unity should also be used to protest abominations such as gay rights
that even many secular Jews don't go for; and certainly, Jews from all types of religious denominations and cultures should have no problem getting together to protest what is clearly evil.

Don't know if anyone has yet or will notice, but in the murders of both cases - both the murderer and the murdered each had Hebrew names where the first and last letters of the name are the same as the other person! In Leiby Kletzky's case, Levi Aron's first name begins with a Lamed & ends with a Yud, just as the nickname of Leiby! While in fact, Leiby is a nickname for the real name Leib which bears two Yuds, the fact that his name is called Leiby in the world news is close enough as far as this is concept of matching letters are concern. And in today's murder, the assailant Asher Dahan's first name begins with an Alef & ends with a Reish, just as the first name of the kabbalist rabbi Rabbi Elazar Abu-Hatzera whom he murdered!

And as I mentioned earlier here about the word LOVE being related to the Hebrew word for heart - Lev, the name of the murdered child whose real Hebrew name is Leib (or Leiby for that matter), is very similar to the name Lev (Beit & Veit are the same letter in the Sefer Torah, it's just depends on how it is pronounced) with the addition of two Yuds in the name. In fact, you will see in some Siddurim/prayer books where Hashem's name is spelled as two Yuds (which we pronounce as Ado-noy), and as a rabbi once noted, the two Yuds placed next to each other indicating Hashem's name indicates the unity of two Yidden (Jews) standing next to each other.

As for Rabbi Elazar Abu-Hatzeira who was murdered on the sixth day of Parshat Mas'ei, it is the sixth Aliyah of this Parsha that mentions the details laws of a Jew killing another Jew, which while is mentioned pertaining specifically about the Cities of Refuge that shielded one who accidentally killed another, also mentions the law of one who murdered another in cold blood. Also, in the 31st cycle of learning the daily Mitzva of the Taryag Mitzvot/613 Commandments, the Mitzva for this Shabbat Parshat Mas'ei is the 34th Mitzva: Lo Tirtzach "Thou shalt not murder" from the Ten Commandments. Amazing! Additionally, the rabbi's name Elazar is also mentioned in this Parsha as Aharon's son, the present Cohen Gadol/High Priest, listed as among those in charge of seeing to it that the Land of Israel would be divided up for the various Tribes of Israel.

Two Jews pretending to be keepers of the observant Jewish faith murdering two pious Jews within one month - something that in itself is a rarity - while both murderers had the free choice of not doing the evil thing but did it anyways, is still not a coincidence, as Hashem, in His infinite wisdom, allowed both of these incidents to occur. As the rabbis tell us, Lashon Hara - slanderous talk about other Jews, part of the sin of Sinat Chinam that caused the destruction of the Second Temple, is equal in the sense of the severity of a sin, to the sins of murder, idolatry, and adultery; as a person who slanders another Jew forgets about the inner bond that he has with the one that he is slandering, resembled in the similarity of the names of the murderer and murdered in both cases.

It has been said that the heart is the "middle" part of the body. While this is not literally true, the inner meaning of this statement tells us that the heart is the center of our emotions and causes us to do what we do. You see, very intelligent people make all kinds of obvious mistakes, such as being attracted after sexual temptations, despite the fact that they have a high position in power and that they could loose their job, money, freedom, etc. People can talk like Esau, Jacob's brother, who no doubt was one of the most learned people in Torah being raised in the holy environs of his parents Isaac & Rebecca; however, his heart was in a totally different direction. Hence, it is no coincidence that the destruction of the Second Temple that was due to baseless hatred, despite the knowledge and learning of the Torah at that time, was wrought by the Romans who were descended from Esav who didn't used his heart in the same way as his mind was thinking, as the Jews also didn't use their heart to love other Jews the way that the Torah that they learned told them to do. In fact, one doesn't have to go far to see murderous hatred from one brother to another - the Torah testifies that Esau told himself that the day that his father Isaac would die is when he would murder Jacob for receiving the blessings that he felt himself entitled to.

Yes, let us start with getting rid of the Esav of our hearts - the baseless hatred, to making peace with one another, as Esav and Shalom/peace are two opposing words that have the same Gematria - 376. When we realize that indeed we Jews are all ONE, and start implementing ways of improving our relationships with each other, then we will soon merit the day when everyone in the universe will recognize that "Hashem is one and His name is one."


27 Tammuz 5771

P.S. Kudos to yeranenyaakov.blogspot.com (a source of Torah truth on the internet) for mentioning my blogspot with the mention of the similarity of the names of the murderer and murdered in both cases. Let us hope that the next time we mention each other's blogposts, it will be due to Besurot Tovot - good news!

2 comments:

Moriya's Place said...

Thank you for your post. I was also commenting about Leiby's name and his murderer's name, Levi, this past Shabbos, prior to your post and YY's post.

Leiby's real name in Hebrew is Yehuda ben Nachman. Rebbetzin Jungreis spoke about Leiby two weeks ago connecting his name to Moshiach.

http://moriyasplace.blogspot.com/2011/07/rebbetzin-jungreis-on-leiby-ztl.html

Dov said...

Aharon, the great peacemaker and lover of all, lived 122 years.