Monday, May 28, 2012

#145 - The Ultimate SEVEN

Today is a most unique day, for it is the SEVENTH day of the Hebrew month Sivan, which Kabbalistically is related to the letter Zayin which is the numerical value of SEVEN, in the Hebrew year whose letters - Hei (though in the context of the Hebrew year it is the numerical value of 5,000; its regular numerical value is 5), Tav (400), Shin (300), Ayin (70), Beit (2) add up to the number 777 - TRIPLE SEVEN.

Note that the observance of this day - 7 Sivan - in Judaism in not equal in all Jewish circles. You see, while in Israel, the holiday of Shavout, which is set on our present calendars to be observed on the 6th of Sivan, is only one day - the way it is in the Torah; outside of Israel - the 7th of Sivan is observed as the 2nd day of Shavuot, in commemoration of how it used to be outside of Israel in the old days when it took time for messengers of the Jewish court in Israel to let everyone know when the New Moon was spotted. In some places outside of Israel, it sometimes took up to two weeks to find out when this was; hence, not always knowing when the new month started, people had no choice but to observe two days of the given holiday out of doubt. In time, though this reason was no longer applicable as the Jewish calendar was set without the monthly moon sighting; the rabbis ruled that in order not to decrease in holiness, two days of any given holiday (except for Yom Kippur so people won't have to fast for two days) would be observed instead of the Biblical one day, the second day being called Yom Tov Sheini.

However, if one understands when the holiday of Shavuot is supposed to be celebrated according to the Torah, it wasn't dependent on when Rosh Chodesh Sivan - the first day of the month of Sivan, was supposed to occur. In fact, unlike for all the other Biblical holidays, no calendar date is given for this. Rather, it is called the "fiftieth day", for it is the 50th day from the day that the Omer offering was brought in the Beit HaMikdash (Temple). With this said, the holiday of Shavuot was ultimately dependent on when Rosh Chodesh Nissan, beginning of the month that the Omer was brought, took place. Hence, in Biblical times, depending on the amount of days in any given month based on the sighting of the new moon, Shavuot could fall out either on the 5th, 6th, or 7th of Sivan. Hence, in this particular instance, the reason of not knowing when the New Moon occurred to celebrate Shavuot was not applicable. Nevertheless, the rule of observing two days of holiday outside of Israel was applied to Shavuot by the rabbis in any case; because otherwise, Shavuot would look like a less important holiday than the rest of the holidays.

So from here, we see that the rabbis have the power to set rules based on what the Torah says. And while the Torah enjoins us as one of the Taryag Mitzvot (613 Commandments) not to add to the Mitzvot of the Torah, we are permitted - via our Torah scholars - to declare rules and regulations to uphold the Mitzvot of the Torah. And so, while we have what are called the Sheva Mitzvot D'Rabbanan "The SEVEN Commandments of the Rabbis", aside from the particulars of these observances which were ruled to strengthen the Torah, and not to add to the Torah per se, they are part of observing the Mitzvah of the Torah - Lo Tasur "Do not turn astray" from what the Jewish Court tells us to do. And as we see hinted in the Ten Commandments, there are exactly 620 letters in the Ten Commandments (the original layout in the Book of Exodus) - hinting to the 613 Mitzvot that come directly from the Torah, and the SEVEN Mitzvot of the Rabbis.

Hence, the SEVENTH of Sivan is very related to the concept that is behind the making of the SEVEN Mitzvot of the Rabbis as being declared a second day of holiday, EVEN THOUGH THE REASON BEHIND THE OBSERVANCE OF A SECOND DAY OF HOLIDAY BEING BASED ON THE CONCEPT OF BEING IN DOUBT AS TO WHICH DAY IS THE HOLIDAY WAS NEVER APPLICABLE TO SHAVUOT. Hence, EVEN IN THIS CASE, or rather, ESPECIALLY IN THIS CASE, we see the importance of listening to our rabbis/Torah scholars via the number SEVEN in more than one way.

Now, in some years (it occurred last three years ago in 5769, and the next time...I don't want to say because I expect Moshiach to come shortly and then before we know it, we will be observing Rosh Chodesh once again based on the sighting of the New Moon rather than our fixed calendar), the SEVENTH of Sivan occurs on Shabbat - the SEVENTH day. And so in this particular instance, even though in Israel it is no longer Shavuot, it is Shabbat, and not just another work day in the Jewish calendar. But perhaps the whole irony in this is that even as we see in the Talmud in Tractate Shabbat about the events of the Giving of the Torah on Shavuot, the rabbis state that this momentous occasion occured on the sixth of Sivan, while Rabbi Yose states that this took place on the seventh of Sivan; it seems that Rabbi Yose's line of reasoning is far more logical. Now, everyone agrees that the Torah was given on the holiest day of the week - the SEVENTH day - Shabbat. But without getting into all the details of how they arrive at their respective conclusions, the Talmud does state that Moses did three things on his own that Hashem agreed to. One of these three things was that Moses added an extra day for the Jews to be spiritually prepared to receive the Torah. And so, unless one were to say that this was made up, it comes to reason that while Hashem on His own was going to give the Torah on the sixth of Sivan - and is fact hinted as such in the words Yom HaShishi "THE sixth day", rather than leaving out the suffix "the", the way it is mentioned for the first five days of Creation, being the final words of the first chapter of Sefer Bereishit (Genesis); hinting to the fact that the world's existance up to that time and from that time on hinged on the Jews accepting the Torah on this date. And so, the conclusion, though not openly mentioned in the Talmud, is that the Torah was in fact given on the SEVENTH of Sivan, which occurred on the SEVENTH day of the week; even though ironically, we read about the events of the Giving of the Torah in the Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll) on the sixth of Sivan, and in Israel, we don't celebrate this date, the actual date of the giving of the Torah, as a holiday.

This is all fine and dandy, but questions can still arise. First, if Hashem knew on exactly what date He was going to give the Torah, since after all, Hashem knows the future no less than He knows the past, then why even hint about the previous date - the sixth of Sivan, as being the proposed date of giving the Torah? But at the end, it didn't happen on the sixth of Sivan, so why even mention it as a hint, unless Hashem were to be a human being who changes his mind? Second, if Hashem knew that in fact He was going to give the Torah on the seventh of Sivan, why did He indicate otherwise until Moses suggested to wait another day? Couldn't Hashem just said straight out about which day without waiting for Moses to suggest it? Third, though it wasn't Moses' reason per se, it seems that to begin with, it would make more sense for the Torah to be given on the holiest day of the week, and so why didn't Hashem make it clear from the outset that He felt that the Torah should be given on Shabbat, which occurred on the SEVENTH of Sivan, rather than on the previous day? We see that this seems to have been Hashem's main reason for when He gave the Torah to the Jewish people, because both the rabbis and Rabbi Yossi in their disagreement, all agree that the Torah was given on Shabbat.

In my step on answering these questions, I want to point out to a famous piece of Zohar, something that is recited by some Jews on a regular basis. It is in what is called Tikun 48, part of the Tikkunei Zohar, which is the holiest part of the Zohar, which consists of 70 Tikkunim, based on the first word of the Torah - Bereishit. In any case, it mentions in Tikun 48 the word Shevi'i (seventh) three times in a row. Now, on the simple level it is referring to the three mentions of this word in the three verses following the account of Creation which is about Hashem resting on the Seventh day. On a mystical level, this is referring to the Shelosha Avot, the three Patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As for the Seventh day itself, the Zohar calls this the Amuda D'Emtzaita "Middle Pillar", and as explained by the Matok M'Devash commentary on the Zohar, this refers to the Sephira of Tiferet (Beauty) within the Middle Pillar that is called "The Seventh Day" since it has an influence on the SEVENTH Sephira, which is Malchut (Kingship).

Now Kabbalistically, Jacob - the third of the Patriarchs, corresponds to Tiferet, and of the three Patriarchs, was the one who especially represented the concept of Torah learning. Moreover, the Talmud in Tractate Shabbat (119) notes that the reward of our observance of Shabbat resembles what Hashem promised Jacob in reference to the Land of Israel, in contrast to what was promised to his father and grandfather - "You shall spread west, east, north, and south" (Genesis 28:14).

Speaking of the Middle Pillar, let's turn to the verse in the Torah from where mentions the 420th Mitzvah of the Torah - learning and teaching Torah: V'Shinantam L'Vaneich V'Dibarta Bam "You shall teach them (words of Torah) diligently to your children and speak of them...". Now note, the first two letters of the word L'Vaneich "to your children" - Lamed & Beit, spells the word Lev (heart), which also spells the Hebrew number 32. As we know, there are 63 tractates of the Mishna, the foundation of the Torah She'B'Al Peh (Oral Torah/Law). Now, the MIDDLE - "the HEART of the matter" - tractate of the Mishna, is the 32nd tractate called Bava Metzia "MIDDLE Gate" (which isn't called as such because it is the middle tractate of the Mishna on the simple level, but because it is the middle of three tractates that were originally one). Now, the word Bam as in "speak of THEM", are the initial letters - Beit & Mem - of the name of this tractate Bava Metziah.

Noting that Tikun 48 is in the midst of Daf Pei Hei (Page 85 - as it was on the original printed manuscript of the Tikunei Zohar), which also spells the word Peh "mouth", as used to decribe the Oral Torah, I want to combine here the concepts of the "Middle Pillar", the Torah, and Shabbat, to how I am going to answer the above questions.

Before the Torah was officially given to the Jewish people, though individuals from the Patriarchs to the time of Moses learned Torah, it was basically Hashem's Torah. This means that everything that was observed up to the time of the Giving of the Torah was all strictly from Hashem. However, once the Torah was given to the Jewish people, it became OUR Torah - as we call the holiday of Shavuot - Z'man Matan Torateinu "The Time of the Giving of OUR Torah".

Now, while the Torah was not given until the month of Sivan, a little before this, while still yet in Egypt, Hashem already gave some Mitzvot to the Jewish people via Moses. The very first of these Mitzvot was Kiddush HaChodesh "Sanctification of the month", which is declaring when the New Moon would be based on the sighting of the moon. Up to this point in time, there were no official Jewish holidays, regardless of how the Jewish months were reckoned for nearly 500 years from the time of Abraham. However, the concept of determining time was now handed over to the Jewish people, to be officially declared by the Jewish court. THIS WAS THE BEGINNING of Hashem relegating power to the rabbis/Torah scholars who would from henceforth have the power - especially after the Torah would be given, to set rules and regulations to ensure compliance of the Taryag Mitzvot. This is the ultimate demonstration of the concept of the Torah She'B'Al'PEH, as it is not strictly what it says "in the Bible", the way that the nations of the world look at it as far as observance of their religion is concerned.

In a deeper sense of what the rabbis and Rabbi Yossi were arguing about - part of the answer lies on what they agreed about. The practical difference between the two is whether a "change" was made about the date of the giving of the Torah or not. On the simple level, the 6th of Sivan was the date meant for the Torah to be given, according to both opionions. However, while the rabbis maintain that the 6th of Sivan fell out on Shabbat, and so, there was no concept of Moses adding on an additional day of spiritual preparedness to the amount of time that Hashem gave the Jewish people; Rabbi Yossi maintains that in fact, the Torah was supposed to have been given on the 6th of Sivan, which according to his view, fell out on the 6th day of the week. This means assumingly that had Moses not spoke up to give an additional day, the Torah would have been given not on Shabbat, the 7th of Sivan, but the day before.

So as we see here, as especially demonstrated from Rabbi Yosi's view of the timing of events, that this concept of the Jewish people's power over time, which includes when Rosh Chodesh will occur based on the testimony of witnesses as to when they saw the New Moon, is what rules at the end, even if in Hashem's Celestial Court, everyone - the departed souls of past Torah scholars, the angels, and Hashem Himself, would rule differently if it came to deciding when Rosh Chodesh or a holiday would occur. We know this for a fact, because as we see in a story in the Talmud in Tractate Bava Metzia of two rabbis arguing about a point of Halacha (Jewish Law) where one of them was insistent on his opinion to the point that with his spiritual powers, was able to have the Bat Kol (Heavenly voice) declare that the Halacha follows him. However, the rabbis present witnessing this heated debate who also heard the Bat Kol were not impressed with this, because the Torah itself says about the Torah that Lo BaShamayim Hee - "It is not in heaven" (Deutronomy 30:12); and in the aftermath following the debate, Elijah the Prophet appeared to one of the rabbis telling him that Hashem declared happily that "My sons defeated Me, My sons defeated Me"; for in fact, Hashem gave the power to decide Jewish Law, other than what Hashem directly commanded, to the rabbis to decide if something is kosher or not, spiritually pure or impure, permitted or forbidden, etc.

Sure, Hashem knew exactly what was going to happen before it happened. But unless Moses would have spoken up, Hashem had no problem giving the Torah on a day other than the Shabbat, at least as far as giving it on the sixth day was concerned. Now, as far as the rabbis arguing with Rabbi Yossi are concerned, Hashem had it all planned out that THE 6th day of Sivan, as planned from the time of the creation of the world, which only existed up to this point in time on condition that the Jews would receive the Torah on this date, would fall out on Shabbat, even though the sixth of Sivan is hinted in the words Yom HaShishi "the sixth day", which in the original context, is referring to the original sixth day of creation, the day before Shabbat. However, Rabbi Yossi takes this literally, aside from what we would call the coincidence of the date of the SIXTH of Sivan, as hinting to the SIXTH day of the week that the Torah was originally meant to be given on.

Going back in time, we see that Adam & Eve, the ancestors of mankind, were created on Friday, the sixth day of Creation. At least in Adam's case, he was created by the last of Hashem's Ten Statements - corresponding to which are the Ten Commandents that were given on Shavuot - Na'aseh Adam "Let us make man". It was on this selfsame day that they were commanded not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Well, we know what happened next, but what is important to know is that after they ate the non-kosher fruit, they received a spirit of impurity which allowed death in the world.

Now, fast forwarding to Matan Torah (Giving of the Torah), when Hashem gave the Torah to us on Shabbat, He removed this impure spirit from us, which meant that the Jewish people would not be prone to die. This state of the Jewish people remained true only for the next 40 days until they screwed up with the sin of the Golden Calf which then allowed this spirit of impurity to return to them once more. However, the point that I making here that is that at least according to the rabbis, the only way this was going to work for the Jewish people to have the spirit of impurity removed is if the Torah would be given on Shabbat, the day of the week which is beyond the impurities of the weekda as discussed in detail in the Zohar. And so, while for Adam, so long as he didn't sin yet, there was no problem about him living without dying since this spirit of impurity has not yet been introduced; for the Jewish people, since this impurity was already in existence, the only way this could disappear is if the Torah would be given on Shabbat, the day of the week which itself has no connected to this impurity.

However, according to Rabbi Yossi, it was not necessarily necessary that the Torah would need to be given on Shabbat for this to happen. For after all, if the Torah would have been given on Friday morning, the same time of the week that Adam was created, it would have been no worse than when Adam was created, and would have lived without dying if not for his sin. For after all, all of creation, with its purities and impurities, were all based on the Jewish people receiving the Torah. And so, if the Jewish people, the raison d'etre of the world's existance, would receive the Torah, they would be beyond the confines of the limitations of this world, at least as far as death was concerned. Despite this, Moses wanted to make sure that the optimum amount of time would be given for the Jewish people to be spiritually prepared, especially in view of the fact that if they would wait one more day, it would be on Shabbat that the Torah would be given. And so, even though as far as Hashem Himself was concerned, it wasn't necessary for this extra day; despite the importance of receiving the Torah, Moses felt that it would be better to wait one more day for the optimum spiritual existence as far as time was concerned. Hence, Hashem agreed with Moses, for as we see in the observance of Jewish law, while there are certain things about which that we don't necessarily have to be so strict about, there are those Jews who want to go beyond what is called the "letter of the law", and perform things strictly, showing their total devotion of observing Hashem's Mitzvot, even though they would technically do no sin by being less strict.

Regardless of how the story played out, since although the Torah was given on Shabbat after all, the Jews still fell prey to sin only 40 days later, we do see here about the importance of both the Jewish people's power of deciding time and the importance of following what our rabbis tell us (I can't speak for every situation where rabbis today declare something forbidden for everyone if someone has his own rabbi who tells him something different, but the rabbis from the Mishnaic and Talmudic times must be listened to, even if their rulings don't seem applicable anymore due to modern technology, such as the use of vehicles and media communication, which would have taken away the issue of people not knowing for two weeks sometimes as to when Rosh Chodesh occured).

And this is the concept of Torah She'B'Al Peh. True, there are many things that Hashem told Moses as part of our observance of the Mitzvot that are not mentioned in the Bible. However, some of this Oral Tradition that would not be written down for a good 1,500 years was meant to be interpreted by the rabbis to decide, which includes the application of the 13 rules by which the Torah can be interpreted, which includes how a verse or a part of a verse can be interpreted based on these rules in determining what the Jewish Law will be. Aside from this, the rabbis declared certain things which while on the surface may seem to be adding to the Torah, is in fact part of what the Torah says, including the observance of the Mitzvot of the holidays of Purim and Chanuka which first started a long while since the Torah was given, but is included in the concept of thanking Hashem for the miracles that Hashem has performed for us. But what is even more of a novelty is that they can declare a date in the Jewish calendar with the same stringencies of a Jewish holiday that was originally an ordinary day as the Biblical mandated date in the form of Yom Tov Sheni, even though the original reason was no longer applicable due to the fixed calendar that they themselves decided to propose, which was in effect abolishing the direct monthly Mitzvah of deciding the months according to the sighting of the New Moon.

It is crucial for today's Jews to understand that there is a vast difference between the rabbis of our past who seemed to have "changed" things in the Torah, and who are known as reform rabbis or the Reform/Enlightment movement who wanted to "reform" Judaism to what they perceived for the needs of the Jewish people. You see, between 1,500-2,000 years ago, as foreign oppression made it harder for the Jews both in Israel and in the Diaspora, there was a great fear among the rabbis that G-d forbid, the Torah would be forgotten to the extent that Judaism would fall about without having a solid structure. This began with the writing of the Mishna, which was beforehand clearly forbidden to be written for the public since Hashem told Moses that these teachings of the Oral Torah were meant to be just that - orally, and not written. However, due to the increase of arguments on Jewish Law, partly due to foreign oppression which included the destruction of the Temple, the murder and exile of mass amount of Jews, there was a fear that soon, the Torah for the most part would be forgotten in terms of its basic observance.

And so, in order to preserve the Torah, with the powers that the Torah had given them, they ruled that it would be necessary now to write down the Torah, though the original way of transmitting the Torah mostly by word of mouth, which would ensure better memory as opposed to writing it down in a book which people could "always refer to", was to begin with the preferred method, but at this point, they had to follow what we would call "the lesser of two evils". And along these lines, they applied the same logic not only to writing down the Talmud, Midrash and other halachic and aggadic works since then, but as well to the determination of the new month, since they never knew when the Jewish court would be disbanded by the foreign powers who were constantly seeking ways to disrupt the Jews of their Jewish life. And so, though this meant that a Mitzva of the Torah - Sanctification of the New Month - would no longer be observed until the coming of Moshiach, they felt once again that in order that there would not be a problem later in terms of determining when Rosh Chodesh and the holidays would occur, since this can only be decided by a Jewish court following the testimony of witnesses, as the Jewish court, they arranged the Jewish calendar that could be used until the end of the year 6000 when the world is expected to cease to exist, in order that there would not be a problem later of when a holiday is to be observed, even if this meant abolishing a Mitzva for the time being, to preserve the Torah in the long run.

In sharp contrast to this, the Reform movement, or the Enlightment movement as it was originally known as, was created by whom were called intellectual Jews, looking at Judaism strictly in a "logical" manner. In their pursuit of this, they wasted no time creating "Jewish" schools to ensnare precious Jewish souls of children to abandon the traditional ways of their ancestors, some of whom were executed in their staunch refusal to renounce the Jewish faith in the anti-Semitic Europe of the Middle Ages in the midst of the blood libels, massacres, crusades, inquisitions, etc. that the "loving" Christians performed on us to "save" our souls. And most unfortunately, a few too many souls were spiritually trapped in this "logic" garbage, spewed by these Jewish intellectuals in their seething hatred of authentic Judaism and the rabbis representing it.

The tragic results of this is felt all ever more today, especially in the United States, where it is not enough that those who are called reform rabbis sanction phony conversions and declare the children of only a Jewish father to be no less Jewish, but we see that non-Jewish children as a result of this are raised as "Jewish", having a lavish Bar-"Mitzva" party being spent on them, a COMPLETE TOTAL waste of money since these children are not even Jewish, when both the Jewish father and reform rabbi want to fool themselves that they are doing the right thing. And all this my friends, is the tragic result of those intellectuals who wanted to make Judaism "easier" or "more compatible" for the masses, souping the essence of Judaism until no solid ground was left for the young Jewish children to realize what authentic Judaism is really like. It is these same intellectuals who despised the Talmud, claiming it to be made up, or having a bunch of strict rules not mandated by the Bible, when they refused to even keep the literal meaning of the Bible, using the Bible merely as "Bible stories", mimicking how the Christians teach the Bible to their little ones, leaving out the essence - the Commandments, and having more use for the Ten Commandments in the form of a movie than the actual observance of these Commandments.

Now, there is one more point that I want to make about Shavuot. You see, the date of its observance is actually rooted on when it became Rosh Chodesh Nissan, since Shavuot, according to the Torah, is the 50th day from when the Omer barley offering was brought in the Temple during the month of Nissan. With this said, this would explain why even though the Torah had yet to be given, the Jewish nation was already given the power to determine time from Rosh Chodesh Nissan, BECAUSE THE HOLIDAY OF SHAVUOT WAS DEPENDENT ON ROSH CHODESH NISSAN. As it was with the original Shavuot, the Jews counted seven weeks from after the day of the Exodus in anticipation of receiving the Torah. In commemoration of this, we annually count seven weeks in the form of the Mitzvah of counting the number of days starting from the day that the Omer barley offering was offered in the Temple, the day after the first day of Passover, for a period of seven weeks, or 49 days, until the holiday of Shavuot, the name which itself means "weeks" which is based on the number seven - Sheh'va or Shiv'a. Ac. cordingly, the SEVENTH of the month of Sivan which is Kabbalistically represented by the letter Zayin who numerical value is SEVEN, the actual date on which we received the Torah, is the ultimate representation of this concept of SEVEN TIMES SEVEN which occurred on the SEVENTH day of the week on that momentous occasion. Hence the concept of the word SHEVI'I - SEVENTH day being mentioned three times in the section of the Torah about the first seventh day from Creation, hints to the fact that the SEVENTH of Sivan was the ACTUAL date of receiving the Torah, immediately following the words Yom HaShishi - the SIXTH day, hinting to the original proposed date that Hashem originally planned on giving us the Torah. Indeed, in our weekly Mitzvah of KIDDUSH HaYom "Sanctification of the day (of Shabbat)", which is performed on the night of Shabbat, we include this very paragraph about the first Shabbat of creation - Vayechul HaShamayim..., but not before mentioning the words Yom HaShishi; and as we see, the words Yom HaShishi - the last two words of the account of the sixth day of creation, and Vayechulu HaShamayim - the first two words about the first Shabbat day since Hashem created the world, have their initial letters spelling Hashem's main name of YKVK, noting the special connection between these two days, through which are hinted the dates of the SIXTH and SEVENTH days of Sivan.

This is perhaps what is meant when it says in the Talmud about Moses deciding to add an extra day of spiritual preparedness for the Jewish people before receiving the Torah - Hosif YOM ECHAD M'Dahto "He added ONE DAY of his own". As we see in the account of the days of Creation, the particular words used for the first day of Creation is YOM ECHAD (Day One) - rather than the standard description of the day as Yom Rishon (First Day) - thus hinting to the fact that the first seven days of Sivan parallel the first seven days of the world's existence - Creation week, of which the first day is described with the same words which is used in reference to Moses adding an extra day - the Sixth of Sivan, which led to receiving the Torah on the Seventh of Sivan. And in a similar vein, we count the first day of the Omer as Hayom YOM ECHAD LaOmer "Today is DAY ONE of the Omer", the first day of seven weeks as the beginning of the general spiritual preparedness to receive the Torah (the spiritual preparedness about which is mentioned that Moses added one day to it was a special three day period of the men separating from their wives, so there would be no chance of being spiritually impure on the momentous occasion of receiving the Torah).

And having mentioned earlier in reference to the of the SEVENTH day about the "MIDDLE pillar" and the MIDDLE Tractate of the Mishna, the foundation of the Oral Torah, this Mitzvah of counting the Omer is the MIDDLE Mitzva of the Torah. And as for the month of Nissan, about which the Mitzvah of KIDDUSH HaChodesh is learned from the verse that describes Nissan as the "first of months", of which the two MIDDLE days of Nissan are the most important days of it in terms of Mitzvot - 15 Nissan which contains numerous Mitzvot related to both sacrifical and Seder observances & 16 Nissan which begins performing the MIDDLE Mitzva of the Torah, which is actually based on another Mitzva of offering the Omer.


Noting this post to be the 145th Post, I want to write about Psalm 145, the most repeated psalm in our prayers which we call by the word Ashrei, which is ironically called such from a verse (actually two verses) that begin(s) with this word from a different psalm - saying this three times daily. This originates from the Talmud in Tractate Berachot, where it is mentioned that one who recites this three times daily is one worthy of a share in the world to come.

One uniqueness of this psalm is that each verse of this psalm begins another letter of the Alef Beit - in order of the letters of the Alef Beit. But the main reason, though not the only reason, of reciting this psalm three times a day, is that it mentions Hashem providing sustenance to the world.

Now the Hebrew word describing Hashem as the One who sustains is HaZan, which is etymologically related the letter Zayin, which is both the SEVENTH letter of the Alef Beit, and whose numerical value is SEVEN. Hence, as I mentioned earlier in this post about the word Shevi'i - SEVENTH day - being mentioned THREE times in the part of the Torah about Hashem resting on the SEVENTH day; so too, we recite the psalm that is especially related to the concept of sustenance as hinted by the letter ZAYIN=Seven, by reciting this time THREE times daily. Moreover, the fourth of the Ten Commandments includes the Mitzvot of performing Kiddush on Shabbat night and the prohibition of working on Shabbat, begins with the letter Zayin - Zachor Et Yom HaShabbat L'Kadsho "REMEMBER the Sabbath day to sanctify it" from which we learn the Mitzvah of making Kiddush from this.

In the Talmud (Beitza 16), we learn an additional thing from this verse of Zachor to REMEMBER Shabbat from the first day of the week. There was actually a difference between Hillel and Shammai about how they treated the workday week in terms of food. Shammai used to shop from the beginning of the week already for Shabbat (noting that both his name and the name Shabbat begin the letter Shin); however, if he found a better food item than the one that he already purchased, such as a higher quality animal that he could use as meat for the holy day, he ate the original meat that he originally purchased for Shabbat during the week and saved the better cut of meat for Shabbat. However, Hillel with his special emphasis in having faith and trust in Hashem, though of course there is a special concept of preparing special foods for Shabbat, planned one day at a time as far as his food needs were concerned, just like the Jewish people were reliant on Hashem to provide the daily manna in the desert, as it says in Psalms: Baruch Hashem Yom Yom - "Blessed is Hashem day by day" (Psalms 68:20). Now, before anyone wants to criticize Shammai for what may have seemed to be a lack of faith and trust in Hashem that He would provide for his Shabbat food needs, it must be remembered that the Sabbath day itself is the "Source of Blessing" (Lecha Dodi in the Kabbalat Shabbat prayers) which if kept properly, is the source of blessing that also provides physically for the following work week. And so in fact, it was just a difference of approach as to how Hillel and Shammai observed these concepts of relying on Hashem for their sustenance both on the weekdays and on Shabbat.

In any case, there is another concept of something mentioned THREE times, which takes place in this psalm - Psalm 145. As we know, we count the final day of the Omer - the SEVENTH day of the SEVENTH week since the start of the Omer count - as Hayom Teisha V'Arba'im Yom She'heim Shiv'a Shavuot LaOmer "Today is 49 days which are seven weeks of the Omer". Now, the Kabbalistic Sephira for this day is Malchut She'B'Malchut "Kingship within Kingship". And as we see in this psalm that the wording of the word Malchut is mentioned three times ...Malchuto. Malchutcha Malchut... "...His KINGSHIP. Your KINGSHIP is the KINGSHIP..." (verses 12 & 13). To note, the letter MEM begins the word Malchut, and in this case, also begins the verse in this psalm beginning with Malchutcha "Your Kingship".

In a similar vein, during the Aseret Yemai Teshuva "Ten Days of Repentance", we make various changes in the Shemoneh Esrei prayer. The most significant change, which if forgoten, means that we repeat the Shemoneh Esrei, is that at the end of the THIRD blessing that begins Atah Kadosh "You are holy", we end off the blessing as HaMelech HaKadosh "The Holy King", instead of HaKeil HaKadosh "The Holy G-d". Now Kabbalistically, these first ten days of the Jewish year (though we count the months of the Jewish calendar starting from Nissan), which begin the SEVENTH month of Tishrei counting from Nissan, correspond to the 10 Sephirot - the three Sephirot as related to the mind and the seven Sephirot as related to the body. With this said, the last of these Sepirot is Malchut, which is related to the part of the body which is PEH (mouth). And as we mentioned earlier, there is a rooted connection between Torah She'B'Al PEH (Oral Torah) and Shavuot, for we received the Torah which not just the Written Word, but also the part of the Torah that was transmitted orally originally from Hashem to Moses, to be taught just that way for the next some 1,500 years until the Mishna was first written down.

We see that Malchut is especially related to both the day before Shavuot which corresponds to the Sephira Malchut She'B'Malchut and the holiday of Shavuot, on the day that "we want to see our King" declared by the Jewish people in their desire of receiving the Torah, when we received the Ten Commandments which begins with the Mitzva of the belief in the existence of Hashem, representing the fact that first we have to accept our King, and then accept His Mitzvot, for without accepting Hashem as King, there is no reason why we would want to observe what He commands us. Similarly, both High Holidays of Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur of the Ten Days of Repentance are especially related to Malchut. As far as Yom Kippur is concerned, it is the final day of the Ten Days of Repentance which automatically corresponds to Malchut, the last of the Ten Sephirot. And on the first Yom Kippur since the Torah was given, it was the 40th and final day of Moses' third time of being on Mt. Sinai for 40 days, and the numerical value of the letter Mem beginning the word Malchut is 40. And as far as Rosh Hashana is concerned, we mention the concept of Malchut in another part of Shemoneh Esrei especially on this FIRST day (actually the first two days nowadays) of the Ten Days of Repentance in the Mussaf prayer which is unique on Rosh Hashanah when we especially mention the three concept of Malchuyot, Zichronot and Shofarot, reciting 10 verses each related to the concepts of Kingship, Rememberances, and the Shofar, which corresponds similarly to the FIRST of the Ten Commandments which is related to the concept of Kingship in our belief in the existance of Hashem.

In a similar vein, we see a major connection between the creation of man and the numbers 1 & 10. As we know, it was on Rosh Hashana, the FIRST of Tishrei that the Creation of man took place. And how did this take place? It was via the TENTH and last of Hashem's Ten Statements - Na'aseh Adam "Let us make man" that created Adam.

Now, getting back to Psalm 145, this number 145 is made up of two numbers - ONE (1) and FORTY-FIVE (45). And as we know, Adam is called Adam HaRishon - "The FIRST Man". The Gematria of his name Adam is 45. Now, Adam was supposed to have lived for 1,000 following his sin of eating from the forbidden fruit, but seeing that his future descendant King David was going to live for only three hours, he provided him 70 years from his own life. And as we see in Adam's name, the letters of his name spell the beginning of the words Adam (Alef), David (Dalet) and Moshiach (Mem).

And so, King David, who is the ancestor of the Davidic Dynasty which will soon continue with Moshiach his descendant, is most related to the Sephira of Malchut, the SEVENTH and last of the Sephirot as related to the body. And as we know, he was both born and passed away on Shavuot, which is very related to the concept of Malchut. And it was none other than King David who composed the psalms (though there were several others who also composed psalms, it was King David who assembled them to compose what is now known as Tehillim - Book of Psalms). THIS IS MOST REPRESENTED BY PSALM 145 - for this psalm begins with the words Tehilla L'David, the ONLY such phrase in Tehillim. The reason that I say this is that the word Tehilla is the root word of the name of the Book in which this psalm is contained. Certainly, it is not merely coincidental that this is the most recited psalm in our prayers. This is also bearing in mind that this psalm is all about praising Hashem for sustaining the world, which is especially related to the letter Zayin whose numerical value is SEVEN. Moreover, as we see in Halacha, there is one verse in this psalm that must be recited with concentration, or we have to go back to this verse even later on in our prayers - Poteiach Et Yadeicha U'Masbia L'Chol Chai Raton "You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of all living creatures" (verse 16). This verse consists of seven words. Additionally, with this verse, the MIDDLE word U'Masbia "and satisfy" has a connotation of the word Sheva - SEVEN. Coincidence?

Now, how are people sustained physically? Of course, through the mouth, the part of the body that corresponds to Malchut. And as we see in relationship to King David who most represents this Sephira of Malchut, the shortest of the 24 books of the Tanach (Bible), which is the Book of Ruth, named after King David's great grandmother, consists of 85 verses, and the word Peh (mouth) also spells the Hebrew number 85. And the very last word of this book where it ends off with the generations from Judah's son Peretz, is King David's name. Speaking of which, his name is the Gematria of 14, which also spells the Hebrew number that spells the word for another part of the body - Yad (hand), and as mentioned in the above verse Poteach Et Yadeicha "You open Your HAND", which begins with the letter Pei, whose wording is most similar to the word Peh. Moreover, the mention of the word Shevi'i (SEVENTH day) THREE times in a row is mention in Tikun 48 of the Tikunei Zohar, which is on Dad PEI HEI - Page 85!

Remember when I mentioned earlier that the three mentions of the word Shevi'i, as mentioned in this Zohar, corresponds on a deeper level to the three Patriarchs? Well, in terms of the Merkava - the spiritual chariot which consists of Aryeh (lion), Shor (ox), Nesher (eagle) and the FOURTH and final Adam (man) - this also corresponds to the three Patriarchs and King David, the FOURTH and final one of these four. Moreover, his own name David BOTH begins and ends with the letter DALET which is the FOURTH and numerical value of FOUR. In a similar vein, Shavuot - the holiday on which King David was BOTH born and passed way, wound up being the FOURTH day from the three days of spiritual preparation, which became as such particularly because Moses added an extra day of special preparedness for the Jewish people to receive the Torah in purity.

Now, there is one thing that people reciting Psalm 145 may notice. Yes, each verse begins with another letter of the Alef Beit in order of the letters. However, there is no verse that begins the letter Noon. Now, the Talmud explains the reason for this is that this letter begins the word Nefilah (falling down), and mentions a verse with thAnd is wording in reference to the Jewish people; hence, a verse begining with this letter was left out of this psalm. And after this, the Talmud notes that there is a hint to the letter Noon in the verse that begins with the next letter Samech - Someich Hashem L'Chol HaNofilim "Hashem supports those who have fallen".

This is all nice; however, an obvious question can be asked. Is this the ONLY letter that begins a word with a negative connotation? Certainly, one only needs to open a Bible, and before long, will come across words that will describe unfortunate situations; so why then single out the letter Noon?

We must remember that as king, though not the King of Kings, King David represented the Jewish people. Now, as I mentioned a little earlier, Adam provided King David with 70 years of life, because he foresaw that otherwise, King David would have lived for only three hours. Now in Hebrew, a stillborn is called a Neifel, which is based on the wording of Nefilah (falling down). And while it is true that King David wasn't going to be dead at birth, but actually live for three hours; for all practical purposes, he might as well as have been considered with the statuf of a Neifel. And so, while he did in fact live longer after this, as the representative of the Jewish people, he didn't want the slightest negative connotation to be applicable to the Jewish people. And so, it was particularly this letter Noon, rather than any other letter, that he felt he had to leave out.

But I think there is a little more to this - in a good way. You see, just as the letter Noon is the 14th letter of the Alef Beit whose numerical value is 50, so is King David's name the Gematria of 14 and was born & passed way on the "50th day" which is Shavuot. Now, while normally, when the Torah wants to hint to something in a big way, there are times that an bigger or smaller letter than its normal size will be written as such, or an extra letter in a word will be written as such. However, the hint here particularly to King David via the letter Noon is left out. This represents the concept of Rosh Chodesh, which is especially represented by King David, and as has been noted, the phrase David Melech Yisrael Chai V'Kayaim bears the same Gematria as the words Rosh Chodesh - 819 (although in the entire Tanach, the word Chodesh is spelled without a Vav which helps makes the Gematria in this case). But more than just this, we know that the moon at this time of the month is either hidden or barely visible to the naked eye. And hence, it is the sighting of the New Moon, howbeit being tiny in size, is what causes the Mitzva of Kiddush HaChodesh to take place, noting that this is the FOURTH Mitzva of the Torah, just as King David represented especially the number FOUR as I mentioned in this post. This represents this little glimmer of hope that though things may seem to be bleak, it is this little ray of hope that makes all the difference in the world. Similar to this, King David didn't seem that he would have much of a chance of living. However, thanks to Adam's gift of 70 years, this was made possible, and became one of the most accomplished people of all time, whose psalms who have perhaps more influence on mankind than any other book of the Bible, including the fact that some of his psalms are incorporated in our daily prayers. In any case, the fact that a verse beginning with the letter Noon is left out of this most recited psalm represents the moon that is for a brief moment in time not visible to the naked eye around the time of Rosh Chodesh, as hinted to in Psalm 81 - Ba'Keseh L'Yom Chageinu "Covered (refering to the moon) on the day of our holiday" (Psalms 81:4) referring to Rosh Hashana which is always Rosh Chodesh Tishrei, beginning the month of Tishrei.

And speaking of the psalms, there are 150 psalms. Having mentioned the letter Noon as the numerical value of 50, THREE times the number 50 is 150, it is also related to Malchut, as mentioned in the first chapter of Likutei Moharan, the magnum opus of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, whose first wife passed away on the day before Shavuot, the last day of the Sephira, the SEVENTH day of the SEVENTH week of the Omer period, which is represented by the Sephira combination of Malchut She'B'Malchut. Accordingly, King David's wife's name was Bat Sheva, which literally means "Daughter of SEVEN", and the wording of Malchut is written THREE TIMES IN A ROW in the most recited Psalm 145.

Now, I would like to discuss about another psalm that is especially related to Shavuot - Psalm 19. However, I think that this post has been long enough; and so, I will leave this discussion for my following post. Stay tuned.

7 Sivan, 5772

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