Monday, August 29, 2011

#118 - Thanking HASHEM for Being ALIVE

It was only like an hour ago that good news came my way in time for this post. In Japan, a non-guilty verdict was laid down today for Yoel Goldstein, one of the three Hasidic boys who got arrested for unintentionally carrying drugs into that country thanks to a lowlife who used these boys as suckers due to his own greediness for money. While Mr. Goldstein is not totally out of the red yet, as first of all, prosecutors have up to 14 days to appeal a non-guilty verdict, and then he has to deal with immigration due to his long overexpired 90 day passport permission of stay in that country, it is clear that when we do our part with both prayers AND efforts, that Hashem helps out along the way. Even so, the fate of Yaakov Yosef Greenwald, the other Hasidic boy who has already been sentenced with eight years of prison along with harsh labor, is still heavily relying on others (with his full faith and trust in Hashem as evidenced by letters that he wrote) who are making every effort that he spend his prison time in Israel instead, but this has yet to be seen.

Indeed, as the first and last verse of Psalm 118 (and this is my 118th Post) states - "Give thanks to Hashem for He is good, for his kindness is everlasting". While there are a number of verses in Tehillim/Psalms that is this very verse; if I am not mistaken, Psalm 118 is the only chapter in the entire Tanach/Bible made up of 929 chapters in which the first and last verse consist of the exact same words.

To note, this psalm consists of 29 verses, and today is the 29th day of Av, near the conclusion of the month (the last date of the month, the 30th, only occurs in some months, and is already called the first day of Rosh Chodesh of the coming month). And as this month of Av is the month that the Jewish people mourned for Aaron the High Priest as he passed away on Rosh Chodesh Av, it's noteworthy to mention that in verse 3 of this psalm, it states "Let the House of Aaron now declare: For His kindness is everlasting".

As the 1st and 29th of any given month occur on the same day of the week; in this month, these two days fell out on the second day of the week. And as we see in the Torah about the creation of the world, of the six days of the work week, only for this day of the week is there no mention of the words Ki Tov "And G-d saw THAT IT WAS GOOD". The reason for this is since Hashem didn't finish His project on the waters on this day, and there was discord between the upper and the lower waters, He did not wish to state "that it was good".

The first letters of this phrase Ki Tov - Kaf & Tet - is the Hebrew number for 29. It makes sense, because just as Hashem declared whenever He finished a project "that it was good"; so too, as the month concludes, the number 29 - the concluding date of the month also declares, so to speak - Ki Tov - one more month that had a piece in the history of the world that was created by Hashem to accomplish a little more of what Hashem wants. This is most especially applicable to Jews who are the very reason that Hashem created the universe (a fact that non-observant Jews, as being assimilated in the non-Jewish world, may not want to admit, because they are afraid of showing that they are "racist" against non-Jews). And as we see that when it comes to time, Hashem handed over the power of declaring a new month to the Jewish
people - when it former times, it was dependent on the sighting of the new moon, while today is based on the Jewish calendar that was already determined by the Jewish court when it felt that due to the increasing troubles happening to the Jewish people, that there would a possibility that the sighting of the new moon was cease and so it felt that it needed to produce a Jewish calendar to insure that we would know when to observe the Jewish holidays.

And we see that just as today - the second day of the week which is not marked by the words Ki Tov in the Torah, is the date of Kaf Teit, the initials of Ki Tov; so too, the Hasidic young man Yoel Goldstein, though he seemed to be in not a very good situation as far as the circumstances that could have led to be given a harsh sentence, was given a non-guilty verdict, which will G-d willing be the end of his legal battle, and can continue on with his life in Israel and hopefully be able to marry like many if not most Hasidic people do at the age of 20. As it is, he already got wasted and snatched of over three years of young life in which are some of the greatest formative years in Yeshiva learning, while he had only a fraction of Yeshiva time learning all by himself with no study partner, no Rebbe, and not being in a religious setting of even praying in a synagogue.


Today, the 29th of the month being Erev Rosh Chodesh, the day preceding the beginning of the new month, is also known as Yom Kippur Kattan "Minor Yom Kippur", as there are those who fast and/or pray special Selichot prayers asking Hashem for forgiveness for sins, the same way that we do it on the annual Yom Kippur, as it is a matter of starting the new month with a fresh slate. This is especially so with this Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul, as the month of Elul itself is a month that we prepare ourselves spiritually, improving ourselves by making sure we do all the Mitzvot/commandments that we are supposed to observe and behaving better in our characteristic traits, before the High Holidays when we are annually judged by Hashem.

Historically, today's date of 29 Av was the day in between Moses' second 40 day period on Mt. Sinai asking Hashem for forgiveness for the Jews' participation in the worship of the Golden Calf and the third 40 day period on Mt. Sinai when Hashem rewrote the Ten Commandments on the tablets that Moses brought up with him, culminating with Yom Kippur when Hashem announced his formal forgiveness for the Jews. Similarly, today is a time to reflect on our past which may include sins and telling Hashem that we are sorry, and thinking of our future working on concrete steps to help prevent spiritual mishaps from reoccurring and finding ways to improve our lives spiritually, showing that while we may have failings here and there, in essence, we really want to do the right thing, making it all much easier for us in our judgement from Hashem on the High Holidays.


The month is not quite up yet. We still have the 30rd of Av, though it may be called the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, as we have two days of Rosh Chodesh this time. In fact, we will be saying the Hallel prayer tomorrow morning, which concludes with Psalm 118.

As I mentioned in Post 115 this month, this month of Av corresponds to the Tribe of Shimon. Moreover, the consecutive numbers - 115, 116, 117, 118 - add up to the total of 466, the Gematria of the name Shimon. As it turned out, I wrote my 115th through 118th posts in this month of Av corresponding to the Tribe of Shimon.

And as connected to the number 29, the number of today's date, it is on the fifth day of Chanuka, which falls out on the 29th of Kislev, that we read the offerings of that the leader of the Tribe of Shimon brought in the Mishkan/Tabernacle. Also, it was on the 29th of Tishrei that Shimon HaTzadik, the last of the 120 members of the Anshei Knesset HaGedola/Men of the Great Assembly and Cohen Gadol/High Priest for 40 years, that he passed away.

And with this, I have an amazing Gematria ride to offer you. If you have seen what I am about to write here in another source, please let me know, but I have something very original to offer here - exclusive on

First, let's take the FIRST word of the Torah - Bereishit.

Next, let's take the SECOND word of the SECOND verse of the SECOND Aliya of the SECOND Parsha (Va'era) of the SECOND Sefer (Shemot/Exodus) - Shimon (6:15).

Next, let's take the THIRD word of the THIRD verse of the THIRD Aliya of the THIRD Parsha (Shemini) of the THIRD Sefer (Vayikra/Leviticus) - M'Lifnei (10:2).

Next, let's take the FOURTH word of the FOURTH verse of the FOURTH Aliya of the FOURTH Parsha (Shelach) of the FOURTH Sefer (Bamidar/Numbers) - Figreichem (14:29).

Finally, let's take the FIFTH word of the FIFTH verse of the FIFTH Aliya of the FIFTH Parsha (Shoftim) of the FIFTH Sefer (Devarim/Deutronomy) - Acheihem (18:18). By the way, bear in mind, we began reading Parshat Shoftim - the FIFTH Parsha of the FIFTH Sefer/Book - at the end of the FIFTH month of the Jewish calendar, as we count the months from Nissan, the month of the Exodus marking the birth of the Jewish people.

Now, let's add up the Gematriot of these five words - Bereishit (913), Shimon (466), M'Lifnei (210), Figreichem (353), Acheihem (64) - and presto, the winning number is 2006.

As we know, we read the weekly Parsha in the synagogue on Shabbat morning between the prayers of Shacharit & Mussaf. Now, in some versions of the Siddur/prayer book, in the middle one of the seven blessings recited in the main prayer of Shemoneh Esrei on Shabbat, near the conclusion of this blessing, there is the word V'Yanuchu (they will rest) followed by one of three words. In the Arvit prayer of Shabbat night, the word is Bah/in it (feminine form), in the Shacharit & Mussaf prayers of Shabbat morning, the word is Bo/in it (masculine form) and in the Mincha prayers of Shabbat afternoon, the word is Bam/in them. Now, the letters that make up the word Bo in the Shacharit & Mussaf prayers of Shabbat morning are Beit and Vav. As a number, as the Beit becomes the numerical value of 2,000 at the beginning of a number, it is the number 2006 - the same exact number as the Gematria of the five above words in their respective number positions corresponding to the number of the book in the Sefer Torah from which the weekly Parsha is read on Shabbat morning! It is the very fact that the sole word that is changed in the ending of the middle blessing of the Shabbat Shemoneh Esrei is this very word of "in" - Bah, Bo, or Bam, that zeroes in on this amazing hint to the fact that part of the celebration of resting on Shabbat is reading the weekly Parsha from the Sefer Torah on Shabbat morning!

Of course, such a Torah thought as the one that I just mentioned here could only come from someone whose name is Shimon, as the name Shimon is one of these five words in the Parshiyot corresponding to their resective numbers. But in all seriousness, there is a lesson to be learned here - Hashem has amazing hints to show us, but we are the ones who have to take the initiative to show the beauty of Torah to others to show them that the Torah is much more than a history or factoid book. Hashem shows us all these hints to tell us that Hashem has a plan, and there is a purpose to what Hashem shows us. If a miracle - the word that we use for something that happens beyond the forces of nature - takes place, it is because wants to show us that the fact that G-d, so to speak, went out of His way for us, means that we have a purpose in life, and that the miracle that took place was in order that we can continue, or have a second chance, in fulfilling that purpose that we were born in this world to fulfill.

Along the above in reference to my name Shimon, speaking of reading the weekly Parsha in the Sefer Torah, the Gematria of Kriat HaTorah/Reading of the Torah, is the same as my full name Shimon Matisyahu (1327). Indeed, I was a Torah reader for many years in the United States - though at the time, I only had the name Shimon.

Until now, I wrote about my name in connection with the foundation of the Torah She'B'Ketav/Written Torah - the Chumash/Penteteuch, the contents of the Sefer Torah.
Now, I will write about my name in connection with the foundation of the Torah She'B'Al Peh/Oral Torah - the Mishna or Mishnayot. Perhaps the most popular worldwide Mishna study is the daily study of two Mishnayot a day, known as the Mishna Yomit. Now, the word Yomit/daily (feminine form) itself is the same Gematria as Shimon (466). The total phrase - Mishna Yomit - is the Gematria of my second name Matisyahu (861)! Along these lines, adding the Gematria of the word Mishna (395) to the Gematria of my first name Shimon (466), it also adds up to the Gematria of my second name Matisyahu.

But I'm not quite finished yet. Learning two Mishnayot a day, it takes a total of 71 months to learn the entire Shisha Sidrei Mishna, all six volumes of the Mishna. In fact, the first name of the founder of the Mishna Yomit program - Rabbi Yonah Stencil - is the Gematria of 71! Now, the Gematria of the word Mishna (395) plus 71 again yields the Gematria of my first name Shimon (466)! And speaking of the number 71, there are exactly 71 chapters of Seder Nashim, the third volume of the Mishna, and the name of this volume - Nashim (women) - has the same Gematria of my wife's full Hebrew name Yael Miriam (400)!

And in connection with the number of this post, the Talmud (Shabbat 31a) quotes a verse from Isaiah 33:6 in which six consecutive words correspond to the six orders of the Mishnayot in order. The word Hosen (strength) in Isaiah corresponds to Seder Nashim, and the Gematria of this word Hosen is 118, the number of this post (in the Talmud text, it is spelled with a Vav which would change the Gematria except for the fact that in the original text of the Tanach/Bible, it is spelled without a Vav). While there are reasons given for the connection between this word and Seder Nashim, it is true that the word Hosen, consisting of the letters Cheit, Samech, Noon Sofit, is similar to the word Hasan/bridegroom, both three letter words beginning with a Cheit and ending with a Noon Sofit; and indeed, the last tractate of Seder Nashim - Kiddushin, deals with the laws of getting married.

Now, the Gematria of the phrase Shem Shimon - the name Shimon - is the same as the word Mishnayot (806). And as per learning two Mishnayot a day, the Gematria of the phrase Beit (equals 2 as the numerical value of the letter Beit) Mishnayot is 808, and the phrase Yom Hei Kodoshim - Day Five (of Parshat) Kedoshim - the date of my birth - when spelled equidistantly in the Chumash which only occurs once - is spelled every 808th letter! In fact, this number has popped up in my life more than once, including the number of the condominium unit in South Florida that my late grandparents (my mother's parents) lived in.

And speaking of my birthdate - which on the monthly calendar, is Rosh Chodesh Iyar (1 Iyar), mentioned twice in the beginning of the 34th Parsha of the Torah - Parshat Bamidbar. Accordingly, as per my name Shimon being the combined Gematria of the word Mishna and the number 71, the 34th Masechta/tractate of the Mishna - Masechet Sanhedrin - consists of 71 Mishnayot, and as I had mentioned in my 71st Post (June '10), this is no coincidence, as there were exactly 71 members of the Sanhedrin, the (real) Jewish Supreme Court, as well as the fact that the 71st Mitzvah of the Torah is the prohibition of cursing the head of the Sanhedrin which consists of 71 members.
And the name of this week's Parsha, which is also the first word of this Parsha, is Shoftim, and the first Pasuk/verse of this Parsha is explained in the first chapter of Masechet Sanhedrin in the Talmud.


Indeed, as I just saw today at, Hurricane Jonah is headed towards North Carolina. And the reason given for this - Jonathan Pollard is being served major injustice by the United States government having him rot in a North Carolina cell. The name Jonah is quite similar to the name Jonathan. Moreover, it was none other than the prophet Jonah who was instructed by Hashem to warn the non-Jews of the big city Nineveh to repent or else they would have its city overturned in 40 days. In no time, the inhabitants of Nineveh did major repentance and so were spared of the potential punishment. Now, Hashem is sending Hurricane Jonah to the very state where the United States is violating its own laws of punishment terms for Jonathan Pollard who committed one count of handing over classified information to an ally country punishable with a 2-4 year maximum prison sentence, and has been wasting away for almost 26 years with no possible hope of Obama's pardon that would immediately free him once and for all. To this, I add that as the Gematria of Yonah/Jonah is 71, this is the number that represents the Sanhedrin consisting of 71 members, the highest Jewish court in power and numbers. And this hurricane taking place - in the week of Parshat Shoftim (judges)!

At our end, the Jewish people are compared to a Yonah/dove, and we are just about to enter the 40 solemn day period from the beginning of Elul until after Yom Kippur. It seems that one of the reasons why we reading the section of Tanach called Jonah on the afternoon of Yom Kippur is because it is at that time that we are close to the finish line of the 40 days, just as the people of Nineveh in Jonah were given 40 days to repent. And the number of this year - 5771, ends off wit the number 71. Indeed, there is no coincidence that Hurricane Jonah - on its way to wreak havoc and destruction around the area where a member of the Jewish nation which is compared to a dove - Jonathan Pollard, has been illegally being detained in prison for so many years, was named as such IN THIS VERY HEBREW YEAR THAT ENDS WITH THE NUMBER 71 - THE GEMATRIA OF THIS VERY NAME YONAH/JONAH! And as the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish Supreme Court, consisted of 71 judges, it is as saying that Hashem is now on the height of judging the United States for how it is treating Jonathan Pollard.

And while we are at the eve of the final month of the Jewish calendar year, let's note the number that is spelled as the reverse of the number of this Jewish year - 1775. In the beginning of the 23rd Parsha - Parshat Pekudei, it mentions that the silver money used to count the Jews at the time of the building of the Mishkan/Tabernacle came out to a total of 100 talents and 1775 Shekalim. Now, for whatever reason, the same word in Hebrew for silver - Kesef, is also the meaning of the word money (or the other way around, depending on what came first). And as we know, the highest priority of a person's physical survival is food and drink.

Accordingly, the 23rd chapter of Tehillim/Psalms, consisting of 57 words, bearing in mind that the word Zahn/sustains or nourishes is the Gematria of 57, is about how Hashem provides for us, and is customarily recited at a meal, especially on Shabbat. And as mentioned in Perek Shira, a list of verses recited by the various forces of creation, it is the Yonah/dove, quoting from the Talmud (Eruvin 18b), who states to Hashem, "Master of the universe, may my food come from Your hands though bitter as an olive leaf rather than through the hands of a creature of flesh and blood though sweet as honey". This was the very message that the dove conveyed to Noah after he sent it to check the world following the flood to see if the world was sufficiently dry to be inhabited once again, and returning with an olive leaf in its beak as an affirmative answer, the dove was saying the same thing to Noah, and shortly afterwards, it left the Ark for good, though Noah still had food for it, because the dove preferred to eat what Hashem would directly prepare for it. Bearing in mind that the Hebrew word for a dove is 71, we have the connection between the two numbers 57 - the number of words in Psalm 23 which is about Hashem's sustenance, and 71 - the Gematria of the word Yonah/dove which prefers sustenance directly from Hashem, and these two numbers put together spells our Hebrew year 5771!


While for some people, this may mean being alive in this world; for a good Jew who knows something of what the Torah says, the ultimate being alive is in the world of truth, the eternal world where we will receive our eternal reward. The life in this world is merely a means to reach this ultimate goal; and hence, while one may want to live a long life to enjoy their family, especially what is called "Nachas" or "Yiddishe Nachas", it is only in this world that we are able to do Mitzvot/commandments that will earn us the key to eternal life; and hence, the blessing of Arichut Yomim - long life in this world, takes on a whole another dimension.

While non-Jews may find happiness and find their lives to be fulfilling through certain ways, the ultimate life of a Jew is the Torah; and hence is called Torat Chaim - Torah of life. It is learning the Torah and following its laws that gives true meaning to the life of a Jew. Without out, many Jews, even without learning a word of Torah, feel that despite their materialistic success, feel that they are missing something, though usually, they can't quite pinpoint to the source of their awkward feeling. There are those Jews with these type of feelings who do some searching for something that they haven't come across before or haven't been open to before, and is at times the impetus of finding the Torah way of life, and then everything seems to click afterwards.

Taking the number of this post - 118, you first have the number one which represents Hashem as "The One", and then the number 18 - Chai, the shortened form of the word Chaim/life. In fact, in the long 51 verse chapter of Psalm 18, the 47th verse begins with the words Chai Hashem - "Hashem lives...". In fact, both Psalm 18 and Psalm 118 is about thanking Hashem for the things that He does for us - though in Psalm 18, it is King David who is personally thanking Hashem for the things that He had done for him during his lifetime, and in Psalm 118, it is basically us Jews who are thanking Hashem "Give thanks to Hashem for He is good, for his kindness is everlasting". And even at this, the last nine verses of this Psalm, as the conclusion of Hallel, are each recited twice in reminiscence of what took place leading up to the coronation of King David as the future king by the prophet Samuel when as far as even his own family was concerned, King David was not only expected to be the least candidate from the rest of his seven brothers to be the king, but his family, including his own righteous father Yishai, looked down on him so much that they didn't even think of calling him from the field where he was a shepherd, until Samuel the prophet asked King David's family if there was any other family member, as Hashem told Samuel to come to this family to annoint one of the family members as king, but Samuel knew that it was none of King David's brothers. It is these final nine verses that describe what took place in this story, ending off with the same verse that begins this psalm.

And as per the above about the five words in the Torah that added up the number 2006, it is the word from this week's Parshat Shoftim that is located in the 18th verse of the 18th chapter. While it must be borne in mind that unlike the Aliyot, the apportionment of the numbered chapters and verses were not put together from great rabbis, but from non-Jews, there is no such thing as coincidence. You see, the Torah, as represented by the Sefer Torah is our LIFE (Chai=18), and this week's Parshat Shoftim is always read on Shabbat in the beginning of the month of Elul, the preparatory month immediately preceding the High Holidays when Hashem judges us - which includes judging us for life if we so deserve it. While no doubt that this refers to physical life, as is clearly indicated in the famous U'Netaneh Tokef prayer listing the various ways that Hashem judges us, Hashem also judges us if we are worthy of the spiritual life - the ultimate life that counts, which is based on our weight of Mitzvot & Aveirot, commandments and sins. You see, if it was purely a physical life that Hashem judges us by; certainly, many if not most of the non-observant Jews would have died long ago. However, the biggest fear that we have to have is whether or not Hashem will forgive us for our sins. At the very least, we hope that we will have more in the weight of our Mitzvot than in our Aveirot, so we could be inscribed in the "Book of Life", which determines us to be like the Tzadikim, who are certainly worthy of the eternal reward.

And as we are speaking of the 18th verse of the 18th chapter of the FIFTH book of the Torah, we learn in Kabbalah that there are FIVE parts to the soul - Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Chaya, and Yechida. In fact, the fourth one Chaya, consists of the letters Chai and the letter Hei=5, for it is the soul that is the true living source of a human being, for unlike all other creatures when they die, they have no spiritual immortality, the living force of a human being is the soul, and so he or she lives on even after the physical death, except that it is at that time that it lives the real life, which is virtually not understood in our physical beings.

Indeed, we have much to thank Hashem for being alive. In my personal life, I had two close calls that happened to me in the coming month of Elul, one on the 3rd of Elul 5754/1994, in the week of Parshat Shoftim, when on my way to work driving on the highway, my car span out of control due to light puddles of rain that most fortunately did not roll over or hit anything, but made an eventual stop facing the side of oncoming traffic but having sufficient time to start my car, turn around and continue on, and the other on Shabbat Parshat Shoftim, the 4th of Elul in 5747/1987 (as it occurs this year) when on my way home from synagogue following Shabbat morning services, I was facing a huge dog out of the blues which was ready to attack me, but following me screaming and running across the street where cars where moving in opposite directions, and then the huge dog chasing after me got stuck between two cars facing opposite directions, I had sufficient time to run fast enough so that by the time the dog got out of its situation, I was too far for it to continue chasing me.

In both of these miracles, not only was my life spared, but aside from being hugely frightened, I was not even injured in the slightest way. While at the time that these events happened, it was hard for me to appreciate the fact that my life and health was spared as I was extremely frightened, Hashem, the Shofeit Kol Ha'Aretz - Judge of the world, clearly spared me of what He may not do at times for others.

Yes, we need to think of our purpose in life. If we think about it long enough, we will realize that with every breath, Hashem give us the chance to repent and better ourselves to earn our eternal reward. Yes indeed, we THANK HASHEM FOR BEING ALIVE.

29 Av, 5771 - Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul

P.S. The time of this post shows 7:17 AM. In Psalm 118, mentioned in this 118th post, the first and last verse which is the exact same words, consists of SEVEN words; and the word Tov/good, the least in Gematria numerical value in this verse, equals SEVENTEEN!

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