Wednesday, February 29, 2012

#136 - Tribe of Levi: The Levite VOICE (Part 4)

It can clearly be said that the most distinguishing service of the Levites in the Beit HaMikdash/Temple was their singing. In fact, taking the word Kol/voice, spelled Koof-Vav-Lamed, contains the first two letters of the name Levi.

And since this is a Gematria blog, it is worthwhile to note that in many if not most Machzorim (prayerbooks for the High Holidays), where it states at the highlight of the Unetaneh Tokef prayer "Repentence, Prayer, and Charity remove the evil decree", you will notice tiny words on top of these three live saving features as the words Tzom/Fasting, Kol/Voice, and Mammon/Money. While it is quite obvious that there is some connection between the features of repentance, prayer, charity and their respective parts of fasting, voice, money; the punchline here is that all of the three words that are brought to translate or explain the meaning of the factors that remove the evil decree have the same Gematria of 136, which is the number of this post. So as we see, the Kol/voice is very related to Tefilla. And in turn, Tefilla has the same Gematria as Shira/song (515), for song was indeed the distinguishing factor of the Levi, the Levites who were not Cohanim, in the Temple.
And as the uniqueness of the Gematria number of 136 to the Hebrew word Kol, it is comprised of the same letters that spell the number 136 in Hebrew.

Today, we recite the daily Shir Shel Yom/Song of the Day that the Levites used to sing in the Temple for the corresponding day of the week. We introduce the daily psalm with "Today is the _________ day of the week on which the Levites would recite in the Temple". Question: If the Levites sang the psalm then why do we merely state that they recited, as though it were another prayer. Wasn't the whole idea that the Levites would SING the psalm?

As we see in the beginning of the fifth chapter of Pirkei Avot/Ethics of the Fathers, as well as the very beginning of the Midrash that is called Yalkut Shimoni - "With 10 statements was the world created". You see, Hashem was able to create everything in the days of creation with mere statements, rather than needing to physically, if you will, create the objects that He wanted to appear and exist. In Hebrew, these statements are referred to as Asara Ma'amarot. The word Ma'amarot is the noun for the verb say, or to say. Hence, when we mention in our prayers that the Levites SAID these psalms, rather than sing them, it is hinting to the fact that Hashem created the world with statements, rather than some other way of the Bing Bang Theory (which should really be uncapitolized as bing bang theory, because it clearly denies G-d as the Creator of the Universe). This is especially relevant to the Temple, because the Mishkan/Tabernacle or Temple was built as a microcosm of the world that Hashem created with ten statements.

Now, let's turn to other numbers. We see in the section of the Torah about the consecration of the Levites (Numbers 8:5-26)
that there is a verse that mentions the phrase B'nei Yisrael/Children of Israel five times (verse 19). Rashi notes that the five times of this mention shows how beloved the Jews were to Hashem, as these five mentions correspond to the five books of the Chumash.

Now as we know, the Chumash is what comprises the Sefer Torah/Torah scroll, which we read from throughout the year. However, the words are not merely recited, but they are sung with a tune that are indicated by cantillation notes, which is based on the tradition that Moses received from Hashem on Mt. Sinai.

We see in the Talmud another connection between the concept of the voice and the number five. It mentions (Berachot 6b) that whoever partakes of a wedding feast and doesn't gladden the bridegroom and bride (which is typically performed by dancing at the minimum when the newly wed couple enters the room) violates the five voices that are mentioned in Scripture - the voices of joy, gladness, bridegroom, bride, and people thanking Hashem (Jeremiah 33:11). In fact, the word Simcha/joy, one of these five voices, when its letters are rearranged, spells the word Chamisha/five, speaking of which, we are presently in the month of Adar of which the Halacha notes "When Adar enters, we increase with joy".

There is a uniqueness of the number five to the voice in other ways. As we see in the Kabbalistic writings about the Alef-Beit, there are five phonetic divisions that help us pronounce the 22 letters of the Alef Beit - throat, lips, palate, tongue and teeth (Sefer Yetizra 2:3). And in secular knowledge about using the voice, there are five dimensions of voice, using the acronym of the word VAPER - volume, articulation, pitch, emphasis, and rate. Also, of all the 22 letters of the Alef-Beit, the letter Hei - whose numerical value is five - is the lightest of the letters in terms of pronunciation, for though this letter shares the same part of the speaking area - the throat - as the letters Alef, Cheit, and Ayin, this letter Hei is pronounced as a mere breath, which is Ruach in Hebrew, name of one of the five parts of the soul, and as we see in the Torah about Hashem bringing life to mankind "He breathed in his nose (nostrils) the breath/spirit of life" (Genesis 2:7).

The voice in connection with a wedding is also hinted as such in Psalm 29 where the word Kol/voice is mentioned seven times, and as we know, there are seven times that the bride circles encircles the bridegroom, the Sheva Berachot/Seven Blessings that are recited under the Chupa/wedding canopy, and the seven days of feasting for the newly wed if at least one of them was never married before to a Jewish spouse. To note, Psalm 29 refers to the alarming events that took place at Matan Torah/Giving of the Torah, which was the spiritual wedding day between Hashem and the Jewish people when He gave them the marriage contract - the Torah. In fact, every Shabbat, we recite this psalm twice; once - in the Kabbalat Shabbat prayers on Friday evening when right afterwards, we chant the song called Lecha Dodi stating "Come my beloved to greet the bride, we will receive the countenace of Shabbat", and the second time on Shabbat morning when the Sefer Torah is returned to the Ark following the Torah reading, bearing in mind that it was on Shabbat morning that the Giving of the Torah took place.

And making another connection between the numbers five and seven in relationship to the voice, of the different parts of the body that cause one to speak that correspond to the four letters of Hashem's name YKVK, it is the mouth that corresponds to the last Hei of Hashem's name, which has the numerical value of FIVE. Also, as we see in the Tikunei Zohar, the Sephira that corresponds to the mouth is Malchut/Kingship, the SEVENTH and last of the active Sephirot.

And finally, let's note Psalm 136 which is most unique because this 26 versed psalm is the only one in the entire Tehillim where all the verses end with the same words, and these words are "for His kindness is everlasting". It has been mentioned that these 26 verses correspond to the 26 generations that had yet to receive the Torah, and it was only in the midst of the 26th generation after nearly 2,450 years from the creation of the world that the Torah was finally given. For in fact, the world only exists in the merit of the Torah; however, Hashem in His great kindness allowed the world to exist despite the fact that the Torah never was obligatory on people until He finally officially gave it to the Jews. As we see, the three worded phrase that ends all 26 verses come out to a total of 78 words, and the last word of each verse Chasdo/His kindness is the Gematria of 78. Moreover, the word Lechem/bread is also the Gematria of 78, as it was only the physical sustenance and substance that allowed people to exist until the spiritual aspect of the Torah came into being, as the verse states "for not by bread alone will mankind live, for on all that will come out of the mouth of Hashem will mankind live" (Deutronomy 8:3).
And while in the immediate context of this verse, the last part is referring to the Manna that the Jews ate in the desert for 40 years, the rabbis tell us that the Torah was given to those who ate the manna, being that it wasn't merely another type of physical food, but also some sort of spiritual food.

The Chida on Tehillim (Psalms) quotes the Sefer that is called Reishit Chachma about the verse that states Zecher Rav Tuvcha Yabiu V'Tzidkatcha Yeraneinu "The remembrance of Your goodness will they enunciate, and Your righteousness will they sing" (Psalms 145:7) (the verse beginning with the letter Zayin=7 of the psalm that each begins with another verse in order of the Alef-Beit), the first letters of the last three letters of this verse (Yud-Vav-Yud) add up to the Gematria of 26, hinting to the fact that when they enunciate with their mouths to sing, they have in mind to unite the name of Hashem (YKVK=26) Blessed Be He whose name is etched in the voice (as the various parts of the body that allow the voice to speak or sing correspond to the four letters of Hashem's name). Thus, it is hardly coincidental that Psalm 136, as the letters of the Hebrew number 136 having the same letters as the word Kol/voice, consists of 26 verses, whose theme which is repeated in each of the 26 verses is that Hashem's kindness is everlasting.

Now, the question may be asked, what is the determining factor of what was 26 generations? At best, we know that at the flood where Noah and his family were the only survivors, we can say that it was the 10th and 11th generations who survived. However, beyond that, there could be a number of generations in existance based on when people got married, had children, etc.? So, who is this 26th generation in which the Torah was given?

While in Divrei Hayomim (Chronicles), the final book of the Tanach, we see many genealogical listings of various tribes of the Jews; in the Chumash, the foundation of the Torah, or at least the Written Torah, we are able to trace generation after generation starting from Adam until people living at the time that the Torah was given through only one set of generations. We see that the first 10 generations are listed in the first Parsha of the Torah that ends with Noah, and the next 10 generations are listed in the second Parsha of the Torah that ends with Abraham. Following this, are the generations of Isaac, Jacob, and then we see especially listed for the Tribe of Levi, more than any of the other tribes, the following few generations following Levi the son of Jacob - Kehath, Amram, and...Moses & Aaron (as well as Miriam, but her age at passing is not mentioned). Yes, in no other family except in the sibling family of Moses, the Lawgiver, the ONLY ONE in his generation - where the word generation refers to the group of people living at any given time even if made up of a number of generations in their family trees - whose lineage in the Torah can be traced WITHOUT INTERRUPTION all the way back to Adam, or of more recent generations, to the ancestor of the particular tribe that he belonged to. Additionally, every single generation through Moses in his parental ancestry is mentioned with the amount of years that they lived. Even though Joseph, the only other son of Jacob whose age is mentioned in the Torah, the ages of his children and on are not mentioned. Hence, Moses is the 26th generation that is referred to when mentioning the amount of generations that passed before the Torah was given. Moreover, the Gematria of Hashem's main name - YKVK - is 26, and the surname that we use to refer to this name as Hashem, when spelled backwards, spelled Moses' name Moshe, the 26th generation, in whose merit the Jewish people were fed the manna, the spiritual bread, which was a preparation for the Jews to receive the Torah "the Torah was given only to those who ate the manna".

In conclusion, the Levite VOICE represents much more than just a Jewish choir of heimishe songs, but more like heimelshe (heavenly) songs, for the idea of the Levites singing in the Temple was to highlight the awareness of Hashem's kindness to us both in physical and spiritual ways. In a similar vein, we see that the offering of sacrificial animals also represented both aspects, of which the animal that was slaughtered, especially to atone for one's sin, was to have to have the effect of reminding one to repent of one's ways, for in fact, the guy who brought the animal as a sinner really should have been the one to have been killed. However, Hashem in His great kindness allowed a person to make amends in various ways, part of which is reminding a person of what he was spared, and instead, the animal was the one that was killed, skinned, burned, eaten, etc., using a very physical object to accomplish major spiritual goals and ways of improving one's relationship with Hashem.

On a personal note, I will always be grateful to Hashem for sending me Dr. Miriam Arman, Ph.D, for saving my voice at a time when I began to notice myself sounding hoarse when reading the Torah. It was totally by "accident" that I discovered her, and unlike most other instructors who blindly teach their students to breathe via the abdomen when singing, having them swallow raw eggs, etc., I had none of this nonsense from her. Right from day one, she made it very clear that singing is a most spiritual activity, and as such, we need to open our mind for the voice to go up - rather than go down. I actually thought of becoming a public singer until I moved to Israel, but aside from saving my voice, I learned practicalities of how we open our voice to Hashem. We just have to open our minds, our hearts, and hear what Hashem is telling us without our own ideas of what we think is the best way of relating to Him. For more information, you can check up her website

And in my upcoming final segment of the Tribe of Levi series, I will spill the rest of the beans about this unique tribe, and Gematriot never beforehand seen, at least not all in one place, as well as a unique addendum which will be exclusive to

6 Adar, 5772

P.S. As per the timing of this post 4:26 AM, I mentioned in this post about Hashem's main name YKVK which consists of FOUR letters (Yud, Hei, Vav, Hei) and is the Gematria of TWENTY-SIX.


BestMake said...

And my dear special friend, 78 is also the gematria of "Ana H-shem", "please H-shem", and "oovihchayn," which appears in Megilas Esther and which begins a few of the paragraphs of the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur ameeda (Mahchzore Zichrone Reuven).

BestMake said...

Dear Shimon Matisyahu,

Hope you are well.

Thoughts on the recent situation:

The media describe the start of the recent hostilities as the killing this past Friday, Shushan Purim, of a top leader of jihad terror in ahza, who planned the attacks near Eilat last year that killed 8 HY"D and was suspected of being in the process of planning a similar attack.

His being killed on Shushan Purim was the start very soon after being reminded of the commandment, of fulfilling the mitzva of the battle against ahmahlake yeemahch shihmahm. And since their whole existence is based on hating and wanting to kill us, those fakestinians in ahza are none other than ahmahlake yeemahch shihmahm, as Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik ztl and many others said that they are anyone who desires the complete destruction of H-shem's chosen
nation Yisrael.

And therefore, ahza needs to be a hole in the ground, right away!

Proof Is In The Pudding Proposal For The Situation In Gaza

There are many groups of true refugees in the world today in 2012 that are peaceful people. So with upwards of 200 rockets fired upon Israel since Friday, over 50 on monday alone, the question is what should be done.

Whatever missions that have gone and been blessed with success baruch H-shem to eliminate terrorist targets in ahza that's well and good, but any other country on earth would not tolerate an assault such as this with the extreme restraint shown by Israel the past few days.

The truth is, ahza should be a hole in the ground right now. And simply to prove the point to the world that it is not a desire for more land or territory, simply a desire to dwell in peace and security which is impossible with jihadists who base their entire existence on war and killing of Jews and Israelis, once ahza is bombed from the air in self defense and made into a hole in the ground, it should be given to a peaceful people needing a homeland. People who do not call themselves the lie that is Palestinian.

By giving away the hole in the ground that should be ahza at this point, it will be a proof to the world. It may not help one iota, but it's worth a try.

Posted on #136 Kee Liholahm Chahsihdoe from the city of Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaacov ztl, with deep thanks to H-shem for saving us baruch H-shem bihahyeen Tova.

And likewise, may H-shem protect you and your family always and bless you with all berachot.