Monday, August 15, 2011

#117 - The Original Lovesong

Today's date - Tu B'Av (15 Av), means different things to different people. Known as Chag Ha'Ahava "Holiday of Love", bachelors and married people, regardless of being religious or secular in Israel, have no problem celebrating this day. On this date in former times, as recorded in the final Mishna of Tractate Ta'anit as mentioned by Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel, the unmarried women used to have dances in the vineyard in their quest of finding a guy to marry.

For those who are serious about Torah learning, our rabbis tell us to increase our learning at nights beginning with Tu B'Av, as it is around this time that the nights get longer, as mentioned in Kitzur Shulchan Aruch/Code of Jewish Law (71:1), which was learned a couple days ago by many Jews who learn a few chapters of Halacha/Jewish law a day in the cycle of Halacha Yomit.

More on this later, but first, let's talk about the number of this post - 117. As related to the Tanach/Bible, it is significant in two ways. The first is that the shortest of the 929 chapters of the Tanach is Psalms Chapter 117, consisting of two verses, 16 words, 62 letters. It states "Praise Hashem all you nations, praise Him all you assemblies. For He has strengthened His kindness over us, and the truth of Hashem is forever, Hallelujah!"

The question may be asked, why should the nations praise Hashem for what He had done for the Jews? If anything, the nations want to do away with us, let alone praise Hashem for the good that He does for a different nation?

In fact, a non-Jew once asked a rabbi this very question (at least the first sentence of the previous paragraph). The rabbi responded "If anything, you (non-Jews) are the very ones who know what G-d has done for us, because certainly there have been times that you attempted to plot things against us, but G-d prevented you from doing so. And when you will finally see the truth at the end when G-d will reveal Himself to the whole world, you will stop your anti-Semitism, at which point - all of you will praise G-d for the good that He has done for us".

There is no doubt that deep down inside, the non-Jews are jealous of us being G-d's Chosen People, and will look to blame us - logical or not - for what goes wrong. The fact that the Bible is replete with stories of those who attempted to do away with us didn't seem to help much throughout the ages, even as the Crusaders on the way to Israel stopped by hundreds of Jewish communities in Europe to murder and rape them, and Christians executed millions of Jews for nearly 2,000 years in the name of the Christian god in their attempt to "save our souls". And today's anti-Semitic shtick is to demand of us Jews to help the poor "Palestinians" - who by the way, with their Moslem religion, are for the most part disrespectful to Christians - by giving them a homeland, despite the fact that there is no such country as Palestine mentioned even in the New Testament, and that the boundaries of Israel for the Jews are well laid out in the Old Testament. And of course, we are accused of being the rich bankers of the world, even though the world's richest are not Jewish.

And this leads us to the second thing of the Tanach as related to the number 117, for Shir HaShirim/Song of Songs, a lovesong between G-d and the Jews, consists of 117 verses. It is this book of the Bible that has had much influence on romance, especially in Israeli culture (just ask my Israeli wife). If the Christians, who have a literal translation of the Bible, would have had long ago the translation of Artscroll on this book that is based on Rashi (whose name Shlomo is the same name as the author of Shir HaShirim - Shlomo HaMelech/King Solomon), displaying the great love between G-d and the Jews, no doubt that if G-d would have allowed it, we would have been decimated long ago from the great jealousy they would have had if they really knew what this book was saying.

One of the shortest books of the Tanach consisting of 117 verses, it is what we would call short and sweet, in a similar fashion to the shortest Bible chapter Psalm 117 which describes in 16 Hebrew words what the world will be like in the Messianic Era when even the non-Jews will be praising G-d for what He has done for us Jews. It is on this book that Rabbi Akiva states that the whole world was not worthwhile to be in existence until the day that Shir HaShirim was given to the Jews, for all of Scriptures are holy, while Shir HaShirim is holy of holies (Mishna Yadayim 3:5). While in the context of the Mishna, the Halacha does not follow Rabbi Akiva who mentioned this in asserting his position that the scroll of Shir HaShirim is not prone to spiritual impurity, his praise about this Holy Book was well received, mentioned by Rashi in his very first note on this book.

This book is recited by many on every Friday afternoon in spiritual preparation for the Sabbath, especially by Sephardic congregations, as the theme of this book relates to the Sabbath being a time that we show our love for Hashem as we have more time to devote to spiritual activities. It is also one of the five Megillot that are read by congregations during the course of the year, being recited on the Sabbath morning that falls out during the week long holiday of Passover, as it was a time that Hashem showed His love for us by redeeming us from the land of slavery, even though we were not so spiritually worthy, as we had yet to receive the Torah. And it was only seven weeks later when Hashem gave us the Torah, that Hashem so to speak wed us, as we see in this book that Hashem is compared to the bridegroom and the Jews are compared to the bride.


The Peninim Yekarim states that King Solomon, thinking that with his great Torah wisdom that he was invulnerable, did not observe what the Torah says about not having an excess of women, horses, and money. In general, the Torah doesn't give reasons for every single Mitzva/commandment, because if it would, some people would think that the reason doesn't apply to them and so they don't have to follow the particular commandment. For these three commandments for the king not to have these excesses, the Torah states that this is in order that his heart doesn't turn away from Hashem.
Hence, since for each of these three sins, he deserved a set of 39 lashes, coming out to a total of 117 lashes, he composed Shir HaShirim of 117 verses corresponding to this.

The question can be asked, he wrote three books during his lifetime - Shir HaShirim in his youth, Mishlei/Proverbs in his middle age, and Kohelet/Ecclesiastes in his old age (Talmud Bava Batra 15a). Though in fact, King Solomon lived only for 52 years, it is clear that he didn't get to the highlight of his accumulation of women and wealth when he began being king at the age of 12. So, if he wrote Shir HaShirim in his youth, how would this relate to being any type of atonement or realization of doing something wrong at a young age? If anything, it is the book of Kohelet that shows how King Solomon finally came to realize that everything is vanity of vanities except fear of G-d and observance of G-d's commandments. Shir HaShirim, on the contrast, shows that in the literal sense, you have two lovers who don't think much about the seriousness of life while enjoying their time together.

Some may want to answer that King Solomon prophetically wrote 117 verses of Shir HaShirim without realizing himself the significance of this number. But at a closer look, knowing Rashi's commentary on this book, as well as other Talmudic and Midrashic sources, this book also mentions the times when the Jews were in trouble for their sins; but nevertheless, G-d still was merciful to them. The point being made here is that indeed, the ride for the Jews wasn't always one smooth ride, for they fooled around with worshiping the Golden Calf, cried like babies believing the slanderous report of the spies about Israel for which they perished in the desert, and other no-nos along the way. It is clear even from this book that there is a price to pay for doing sins; and it is precisely as a parent that punishes a child for doing wrong to prevent that child from doing wrong in the future that would otherwise allow him or her to get into real big trouble later in life.

In King Solomon's case, he started off with the great frills of palace life, had the respect of all the world kings of the time who payed homage to him, had business dealings going for him right and left, and no wars to contend with unlike his father King David who lived a life of suffering and fought wars for many years. However, unfortunately, these luxuries paid on a toll on his spiritual life, following which, things did not come out quite rosy for him later on, and was warned by a prophet that his kingdom would not last in the future the way it was early on, and King Solomon refused to listen to this. Even of his 1,000 wives/concubines whom he married following the conversion of the non-Jewish ones to Judaism, many of them said "yes, yes, yes" to receive the Jewish certificate, but afterwards, it was back to idolworshiping; and even as King Solomon himself wrote in Kohelet, he did not find one woman who was right for himself (aside from what was under the sheets).

As it turned out, though he never reached the point of worshiping idols like some future Judean kings did, the Tanach testifies that in fact, he was influenced from his women and wealth. It reached the point that it states point blank that King Solomon built an altar for idolatry. While the rabbis explain (Talmud Shabbat 56b) that it means that he only thought of doing so, but didn't actually do it, the fact that he even thought of doing so, despite his great righteousness up to that point, his great Torah scholarship, and being the very one who had the First Temple constructed and led the Temple dedication ceremony, shows that when we don't follow the Torah like we are supposed to, there will be a breakdown in our level of spirituality.

And this is the ultimate lesson of Shir HaShirim. Yes, Hashem showed much love and mercy for us. Yes, we did accept the Torah with no strings attached. However, did we always keep up with our responsibilities as G-d's Chosen Nation? Can we say that we didn't deserve what bad things happened to us as a result of our shortcomings?

And so, what happened to the Jewish nation for thinking that they were smarter than Hashem happened in similar fashion to King Solomon who also thought that in certain ways, he was smarter than Hashem, smarter than the psychology of what happens to people when they get carried on with lust for women and greediness for money. But what he forgot while starting off with these frills in his younger years is that they would distract him to at least some extent from his purpose in life. While he may have thought while writing Shir HaShirim that perhaps only other Jews may not follow everything that the Torah says because they don't have the great wisdom that he had, it was just as important for him if not more so to understand this as well. He indeed knew what the Torah says and how important it is to observe what the Torah says, but his mistake is that he felt that he didn't need the safeguards that most other Jews need because he thought he had the weapons of wisdom to fight off the evil inclination. However, what he didn't realize early on is that in the heat of passion and blindness of money, people do things that may not be logical, being run over by their emotions, forgetting that despite their chances of being caught, demoted, or thrown in a prison cell, the animalistic part of them takes over, and many times, only after seeing that they will have to suffer the consequences of their foolish actions do they regret not behaving in a better fashion.

Speaking of King Solomon's women, the Talmud tells us (Berachot 8a) that as long as his Torah teacher Shimi was alive, he didn't marry the daughter of the Egyptian king.
It seems that his mind was set on marrying her one day, despite the fact that from the Torah, it is only the third generation of Egyptians and on following conversion to Judaism that a Jew who is not a convert can marry them. However, while he rationalized this, at least he waited until Shimi was no longer alive.

To understand the dynamics of this, Shimi wasn't always someone who loved King Solomon's father King David. Quite the contrary, when King David fled from his own son Absalom who claimed the monarchy; Shimi, who was related to King Saul who lost the kingship to King David as a result of failing to wipe out Amalek as he was told to do by the prophet Samuel, cursed King David while throwing stones at him calling him a bloody murderer. Though those close to King David suggested to do away with Shimi, King David would not hear of it. And when King David returned after his son Absalom was killed, ending the rebellion, Shimi came out to apologize to the king, begging him not to take revenge, upon which King David swore to him that he would not harm him. It seems that since then, King David hired Shimi to be the Torah teacher of his son, the future king.

No doubt that Shimi, despite his original opposition to King David, had to have been a brilliant Torah scholar to be hired by him to teach the son of the king. Indeed, the name of Shimi is the Gematria of 420, and the 420th Mitzvah of the Torah, which we just learned in last week's Parshat V'Etchanan, is learning and teaching Torah!
Nevertheless, on his deathbed, King David told King Solomon not to let Shimi get away with it, and when King Solomon told his own Torah teacher Shimi not to ever leave Jerusalem again and he didn't listen, the king had him put to death.

The point here is that even King Solomon needed a strong Torah environment, because without it, he was hardly less prone to making mistakes, or following what he thought was correct as being "the exception to the rule". But what he forgot is that if anything, as the king of the Jewish people, he had to set even a better example to teach the rest.

Continuing the story, he indeed married the Egyptian princess, who while she converted outwardly to Judaism, didn't wait long to show her true colors. The Talmud (Shabbat 56b) tells us that on the day that he married her, the sandbank that formed the eventual city of Rome, from which place the Romans came from and destroyed the Second Temple, was set in place. Anyways, on the day of the dedication of the Temple, King Solomon was quite late, because his Egyptian princess wife had a tapestry of stars with the darkness of black placed on the ceiling above King Solomon's bed, making him think that it was still nighttime when it was already day, in her vicious attempt to prevent him from leading the Temple dedication ceremony, as she still really believed in her Egyptian idolworshipping religion.


As the word Ahava/love, the description of the relationship between Hashem and the Jews, is the Gematria of 13, multiplying this word by nine also comes out to 117. And as we know, it takes NINE months of pregnancy for a baby to be born, the bridge between the intimate love of husband and wife and the life of a whole new being. Similarly, congregations read this book during the holiday of Passover, which marks the birth of the Jewish people as a nation, compared to a child of under Bar/Bat Mitzva age, except that this time period for the Jews was only seven weeks in contrast to 12 or 13 years for a child, until Matan Torah, giving of the Torah to the Jews, which was in essence, the Bar Mitzva/Bat Mitzva of the Jewish nation.

On a more positive note in relationship to King Solomon, as mentioned in the Zohar, he first recited Shir HaShirim on the day of the dedication of the Temple. And in relationship to the dating event of former times on Tu B'Av, the final Mishna in Tractate Ta'anit that I wrote about earlier in this post mentions the following verse from Shir HaShirim "Go forth and gaze, O daughters of Zion upon the King to Whom peace belongs (literally means upon King Solomon) adorned with the crown that His nation (literally means his mother) made for Him, on the day of his wedding, and on the day of the happiness of his heart" (3:11). The Mishna notes that "on the day of his wedding" refers to Matan Torah, and "on the day of the happiness of his heart" refers to the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash/Holy Temple that will be built speedily in our days, Amen. (It's interesting to note that Rashi does not bring this interpretation for the latter phrase at all, but instead states that this refers to the day of the dedication of the Tabernacle).

Getting back to what I wrote earlier about Rabbi Akiva's description of Shir HaShirim as "holy of holies", the Hebrew word used for the description of what takes place for a Jewish marriage to be valid is called Kiddushin, which is also the name of the Mishnaic tractate which is about this very subject. This word is based on the word Kadosh or Kodesh/holy, for it is not just a marriage ceremony like the non-Jews have to celebrate the happiest day of the couple's lives, but this marks the beginning of living a holy life together as a couple, which will result in bringing Jewish children infused with the holiness of a Jew into the world. And while the intimate act between the couple seems to be very animalistic, if done in the spirit of Halacha and right intentions, it is a most sanctified act, in keeping with the fulfillment of the very first Mitzva of the Torah - Pru Urvu "Be fruitful and multiply". It is in this spirit that Shir HaShirim, representing the romance between G-d and the Jews, was composed, as we use the physical in accomplishing the spiritual. And so, while there are deep meanings to the words of Shir HaShirim, it was written the way that it is written in Hebrew to denote physical acts, though representing the greatest and holiest spiritual concepts; the same way that this physical world is a mask of what reality is, but can be used for the greatest and holiest endeavors, being the means of us Jews gaining eternal reward, by following what Hashem tells us without getting sidetracked.

In a similar vain, whether it was the Tabernacle or Holy Temple - while built using much gold and made to look fancy shancy, it is the concept of using physical materials to create the holiest place on earth, and the holiest room of G-d's abode in this world is called Kodesh Kodoshim/Holy of Holies, THE VERY PHRASE that Rabbi Akiva uses to describe Shir HaShirim! And even at this, our rabbis tell us that in fact, the earthly Temple is a microcosm of the spiritual Temple in Heaven, as everything in this world is a reflection of what it's like in the next world.

And in conclusion about the lovestory of Shir HaShirim, mentioning about the Gematria of the word Ahava, the concluding word of the blessing that the Cohanim recite before the three verse fold blessing (Bircat Cohanim) is B'Ahava/with love, which is the Gematria of 15, following which they recite the Bircat Cohanim which consists of 15 words. And for the author of Shir HaShirim, King Solomon was the 15th generation from Abraham the first Jew by parental line, and it was his kingdom that was complete in every way, denoted by his name Shlomo which can also be read using different vowels as Shleima/complete, just as the moon which looks complete around the 15th of the lunar month, and it is Tu B'Av that combines these concepts of love and completeness.

Also to note, the very first verse of Shir HaShirim - Shir HaShirim Asher L'Shlomo which literally means "Song of Songs which is (authored) by Shlomo", begins with the letter Shin & ends with the letter Hei, just as with the name of Shlomo.

The tractate that concludes with the date of Tu B'Av is called Ta'anit, which means a fast (not eating). The idea of a fast in Judaism is to atone for sin or remembering our troubles which resulted from us sinning by abstaining from the physical. What the final Mishna is here to teach us is that it doesn't have to always be this way. It is true that to begin with, we have Yom Kippur to atone for our sins, and unlike the other fast days, Yom Kippur is in fact considered a day of happiness, as this is the day that our sins are atoned for if we won't repeat them, and it was the only other day of the year besides Tu B'Av that the unmarried women were out dancing to attract the men. The ultimate goal, as the Mishna teaches us, it to use the physical, and not have to need to fast all the time because we fall short of our responsibilities. Mentioning these two dates on the same line, we learn that whatever we accomplish on Yom Kippur through fasting on this date, we can accomplish spiritually no less on Tu B'Av through feasting and happiness, so long as we don't get carried away with the materialism of life and focus on using materialism to serve Hashem in the best way possible.


Mentioning earlier in this post from the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch to start learning more Torah at nights beginning with Tu B'Av, it is interesting to note that the numbers of chapter (71) and paragraph (1), when put together as 711 and then read backwards, it spells the number of this post - 117!

On a personal note, as there is a custom for some to recite the Psalm of the number that corresponds to their age, as I am in my 42nd year of life, the corresponding psalm is Psalm 42. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch quotes the Gemara (Talmud Avoda Zara 3b) in reference to the above which mentions a verse from Psalm 42. Let's look at this:

"Reish Lakish (whose real name was Shimon, my namesake) said: "Whoever is occupied with learning Torah at night, a thread of kindness is drawn to him during the following daytime, as it says: "In the day, Hashem will command His kindness, and at night - His song is with me" (Psalms 42:9). What is the reason that "in the day, Hashem will command His kindness", BECAUSE "at night - His song (the Torah) is with me"." Others say that this is how Reish Lakish worded this: "Whoever is occupied with learning Torah in this world which is compared to night, the Holy One Blessed is He, will draw on him a thread of kindness in the World to Come which is compared to day, as it says: "In the day, Hashem will command His kindness, and at night - His song is with me""."

It is most fitting that this concept of Torah learning at night is hinted particularly in the 42nd Psalm. You see, the Mitzva of Torah learning comes from the verse - V'Shinantam L'Vaneicha V'Dibarta Bam "You shall elucidate them (the words of Torah) and speak of them..." (Deutronomy 6:7), coming from last week's Parshat V'Etchanan, and is also recited as part of the first paragraph of the Shema. While the Mitzva of Kriat Shema/reciting the Shema, the following Mitzva in the Torah, comes particularly from the words V'Dibarta Bam "You shall speak of them", the Mitzva of learning/teaching Torah starts off from the beginning of the verse, so the continuation of the verse also explains the Mitzva of learning Torah, as the primary part of the Mitzva of Torah study is to pronounce the words with the lips; and hence, includes the Mitzva of saying the words of the Shema which are also words of Torah.

In any case, the word Bam/them (literally "in them") is the Gematria of 42, and it has been said that this particular word consisting of a Beit & Mem (Sofit) are the beginning of the words Bereishit - the first word of the Torah She'B'Ketav/Written Torah or Bible and Mei'ei'Matai - the first word of the Torah She'B'Al Peh/Oral Torah
or Mishna. Additionally, multiplying this number 42 by 10 times, - noting that the Aseret HaDibrot/Ten Commandments (the real translation is Statements), as Rashi quotes the Sa'adya Gaon, are the basis of the 613 Mitzvot - results with the number 420, and the Mitzva of Torah study is the 420th Mitzva of the Torah!

And in this week's Parshat Eikev, we have a very similar phrase V'Limadtem Otam Et Beneichem L'Dabeir Bam "You shall teach them to your children to speak of them..." (Deutronomy 11:19), which is part of the second paragraph of the Shema. In fact, it is on the phrase here of L'Dabeir BAM "to speak of them" that Rashi goes into detail as to how a father gets his young son to start learning Torah. In any case, Tu B'Av - the time when we increase our Torah learning at night - always falls out either during the week of Parshat V'Etchanan or Parshat Eikev, the two Parshiyot that speaks of the Mitzva of Talmud Torah.

One of the phrases used in describing the Torah is the adjective HaKedosha/the holy in the feminine form, as the word Torah is also in feminine form, ending with Kometz (one of the vowels) and the letter Hei, calling the Torah - HaTorah HaKedoshah. To note, the Gematria of this word HaKedoshah is 420, going hand in hand with the 420th Mitzva of Talmud Torah! And as I wrote earlier in this post about the concept of Kiddushin as related to the word in Hebrew that means holy, as a Jewish marriage is one of holiness, the phrase in Shir HaShirim where it says "on the day of his wedding", refers to Matan Torah "Giving of the Torah", for now, the Jewish people would henceforth be sanctified by means of being given the Torah. In a similar vein, Rabbi Akiva described Shir HaShirim, in which this phrase is mentioned, as being Kodesh Kodoshim, and mentioned that the world wasn't worthy of being in existence until the day that it was given to the Jewish people, using the same phraseology of giving; and indeed, the world from its creation was dependent on continuing on only because the Jewish people accepted the Torah right before Matan Torah.

And in the Tefillin, which is also a concept of binding ourselves to Hashem compared to the binding of husband and wife, there are four sections of the Torah on scroll, which includes the first two paragraphs of the Shema, and the last two sections of Parshat Bo where the wording of Torah is mentioned, in an ironic sharp contrast to the paragraph(s) of the Shema where the Mitzva of learning/teaching Torah is derived from, but the word Torah is not mentioned even once!

To note, the name of Parshat Bo consists of the same letters as the name of this month Av, except that the Alef & Beit are in reverse. Also, this is the 15th Parsha of the Torah; hence, it seems that this is a special hint to the date of Tu B'Av as a date of beginning to increase our Torah learning which is usually done at night for people who normally work all day along, especially in the old days when clocks weren't available and find themselves plowing away in the field all day long. Another sign of the hint of the month of Av as related to this Parsha is where in this part of Parshat Bo, it describes the month of Nissan as Chodesh Ha'Aviv/Month of Spring (Exodus 13:4). While of course it literally refers to Nissan, if we dissect the word Ha'Aviv into three parts, we read this phrase as Chodesh Hei - Av "Month 5 - Av"! It seems that the connection between these two months is just like Nissan is the time that the Jewish people became born as a nation, starting off on a fresh start with the Exodus which took place on the 15th of Nissan; so too, with our start of increased Torah learning, we begin this on the 15th of Av.

With this said, let's take a close look on the continuation of this paragraph in Parshat Bo where it states L'Ma'an Tihyeh Torat Hashem B'Phicha "in order that the Torah of Hashem will be in your mouth" (Exodus 13:9). The word Tihyeh/will be is the Gematria of 420, and is immediately followed by the phrase Torat Hashem, the ONLY time in the ENTIRE Chumash where this phrase is mentioned! This is as if to say that the 420th Mitzva of the Torah is reciting the Torah of Hashem with our mouths, for the primary fulfillment of this Mitzvah is reciting the words of Torah, of course accompanied with the understanding of what we are saying. This verse concludes with "for with a strong hand, Hashem has taken you out of Egypt". In Hebrew, the word for "out of Egypt" or "from Egypt" is M'Mitzaryim, which is also the very last word of Parshat Bo, is also the Gematria of 420! Indeed, it was only because we left Egypt that we were able to get spiritually ready to receive the Torah only seven weeks later.


On a personal note, the very last word of Shir HaShirim is Besamim/spices, which consists of the first letters of my wife's and my name and family name, as my name is Shimon Matisyahu (Shin, Mem) & my wife's name is Yael Miriam (Yud, Mem) and the Beit is the first letter of my family name (which I don't reveal in this blogspot). Being in apropo to the Chag Ha'Ahava "holiday of love" of the FIFTEENTH of Av, I will also mention here where my wife's name Yael Miriam can be spelled in the shortest spacing of equidistant letters in the Tanach, spelling out her name in every third letter, in the first part of the FIFTEENTH verse of Psalm 66 - Olot Meichim A'aleh Lach Im Ketoret Eilim "I will offer up to you burnt offerings of fat animals with the smoke of rams...". Now, while the word Ketoret here is used as smoke in reference to an animal being offered as a sacrifice, the usual meaning of Ketoret as used in the Temple refers to the combination of Besamim/spices used as a separate part of the Temple service of being burnt twice a day.

And as the word Korban, referring to the offering of sacrifices in the Temple, comes from the word Karov/close for through serving Hashem, we become close to Him, so too, we do different things in a love relationship to maintain being close to one another. And as for everything in the physical, there is a parallel to the spiritual - though in reality, it is the reverse as it is the physical that parallels the spiritual - we say in reference to making things better between spouses or lovers to "SPICING up one's marriage/relationship", as indeed, the Zohar tells us that the most beloved of sacrifices in the Temple was the offering of the Ketoret! Hence, it is most fitting that the final word of THE ORIGINAL LOVESONG, which is Shir HaShirim, is Besamim, a synonym for Ketoret. And why particularly this word Besamim rather than Ketoret? If you take a look at the word without the vowels, you can also read this word as B'Shamayim "in heaven", for it is only in the world to come that we will feel the ultimate pleasure, intimacy, and closeness with Hashem that cannot even begin to be imaginable in this world; the place where we will have this special feeling for our Torah learning and good deeds for eternity.

Tu B'Av 5771

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