Tuesday, September 11, 2012

#152 - A Jew's BANK

Many years ago, there was an observant Jew, when talking to me about the anti-Semites who complain about Jews having "all the money", asked, "Hey, where is my bank, where is your bank?"  Indeed, quite logical if we are to say that the vast majority of Jews are not millionaires.  To be sure, a good percentage of Jews in the United States, at least until the last few years with the sliding economy, have had some of the higher upscale careers, and not just doctors or lawyers either.  The truth is that the wealthiest people in the world are not doctors or lawyers, like the Yiddishe Mammas of yesteryear hoped for their children to be, after their fathers or husbands had worked some 12 plus hours a day for six days a week (except for Sunday) when they first came off the boat at Ellis Island.  Ultimately, the big wealth is made through investments, some through stocks and bonds, some others through very successful businesses that they founded, and still others through major real estate investments.  And in fact, while there are at least a few Jewish billionaires, the world's wealthiest people are not Jewish.

The truth is that the anti-Semites have much to be jealous of the Jews.  However, I am not referring to the successes of the Jews' brains or wealth, though this is usually what seems to trigger the jealousy of the Jew, but rather, to the spiritual wisdom and deeds of kindness that we Jews perform and get major credit for, which is exclusively for Jews.  Last night, reading a piece of Torah of the Chofetz Chaim, whose Yahrzeit is today - 24 Elul, he notes how easy Hashem made it for us Jews to acquire major spiritual wealth via eternal spiritual reward for each and every word of Torah recited/learned, for which there is nothing equal to this in terms of value, because all the physical wealth in the world combined is only temporary, and will be of zero value in itself after we will no longer need money or wealth to acquire things once we live in a pure, spiritual state.  In fact, we were all at one time enjoying the spiritual bliss in the presence of angels, but in order for us to earn our keep, Hashem sent us all to this finite, coarse world to earn eternal spiritual reward - for free.  And certainly after the slated 6,000 years of this physical world's existance, which will end in just another 228 years, everything that we see around us - the high scale business buildings, centers, towers, etc., the factories, the hospitals, the well designed multi-million dollar homes, the internet, will be puff!  They will all be history - forever.

Of course Hashem knew beforehand how everything was going to be.  The truth is that the physical world, as we see in Kabbala, is a mere reflection of the spiritual world.  But the most important thing about this is that the physical that we have in this world is meant to be used for spiritual purposes.  So, while the physical objects themselves will eventually be obsolete, the benefits of the physical items being used for spiritual purposes will be eternal.  In fact, this is the same reasoning why the anti-Semitic kings, rulers, and presidents, while Hashem had used them to keep the Jewish people in tow to remind them who they are instead of continuing to follow the non-Jewish way of life, were and will themselves be doomed to be puff with the wind after being majorly punished, for these anti-Semites were merely tools to be used for Hashem's purposes, only to be permanently obsolete afterwards.

So yes, the words of Torah are the most valued items that exist.  But as we know, they are only worth of value if we follow what these words of Torah tells us to do; otherwise, as far as Hashem is concerned, we are learning the Torah merely as a mental exercise, or as just another college course under the guise of "Judaic studies".  And so, when it is time to pray, we can't excuse this by saying that we are busy learning Gemara for the next six hours.  And so too, when it comes to doing acts of kindness for others, whether it is helping an old or blind person cross the street, giving Tzedaka, or visiting a sick person who is especially expecting your visit, we have to act accordingly, even if it means that we are not learning Torah at the time that we are performing these seemingly mundane acts.  Speaking of which, we are obligated by the Torah to maintain our health, especially since this helps us serve Hashem, which means that we have to eat, sleep, use the facilities, and of course do something to make a living, spending time with family, even as it seems that Hashem created a world which is self-defeating when between all these things, we aren't left with much time to fulfill the most important Mitzva of learning Torah.

Now, it is true that when it comes to doing a favor for someone else, if one is in the midst of learning Torah, and there is someone else available who can help the person just as quickly and easily, then one is not to interrupt one's Torah learning, since the Mitzva of Torah learning is the greatest.  However, at the same time, we have to have a balance and make ourselves conscious of when it is time to learn, and when it is time to do other things that are necessary, especially if people are relying on us to perform certain tasks so they won't get delayed, upset, or miss out financially.

Included in this balance is the following.  Aside from the above about the availability of someone being able to perform a favor for another, we are supposed to set aside time every day to learn Torah.  However, this does not mean that are exempt for the next 23 hours from learning any more Torah after our daily hour Daf Yomi.  In fact, we are supposed to learn Torah whenever we have what is called spare time, which for a Torah Jew, it only means that there is no other Torah obligation or physical necessity at the moment that warrants attention.  The only difference is that for the set time for learning Torah everyday, it is a set time - not to be interrupted for anything (unless one needs the facilities, since not doing so can not only cause harm to one's body G-d forbid, but is also a violation of the Torah not to "make our souls detestable").  It is just that since most of us are busy with our work, families, and all, that as long as we are doing what is needed to be done without any violations of the Torah, we are exempt at the moment from learning Torah, and will not be held accountable for wasted time if we needed the time for constructive purposes, which by the way does not include watching the annual Super Bowl.

With this said, Hashem does not necessarily expect all Jews to become Torah scholars and teachers.  However, what Hashem does expect from all of us is using the Torah to serve Hashem and mankind.  Yes, I didn't write - to serve Hashem and our Jewish brethren, though our main interaction in the Torah world is with our fellow Jews whom we are supposed to help out in preference to people who aren't of the Jewish faith.  However, we are supposed to set a good example even for non-Jews and treat them fairly as well, so long as they aren't attacking us verbally or physically, and it is a sin to murder or steal from a non-Jew if it isn't to protect our lives.

In fact, there is one way that one can do another Mitzva and be considered as though we have learned Torah.  It is the support of Torah scholars, making a deal with them that one will have half the reward of their Torah learning, because without his support, some of them wouldn't be able to afford to learn Torah all day, and so, they have nothing to loose if they were to work for most of the day otherwise.  We see that twice in the Torah, in the blessings that Jacob and Moses gave to the tribes, the younger brother Zevulun is mentioned before Yissaschar, because it was thanks to Zevulun's support of Yissaschar that Yissaschar was able to learn Torah interruption free.

In a more demonstrative way, money being used to give to Tzedaka, or loans to help another out, turns into eternal spiritual coins and currency, for it was with this money that allowed Jews to live, Torah to be learned, and in short, peace of mind for people who can now continue serving Hashem without worries of where their next meal will come from.   In fact, there is an organization in Israel called Bank HaChesed (means Bank of Kindness) that one puts money into for the purpose of providing loans, copying the general trend in the Jewish communities in Europe who used to have what is called a Gemach loan society.  Indeed, in one of the many composed works of the Chofetz Chaim called Ahavas Chesed (means love of kindness), he writes the book on the laws of providing loans, paying wages on time, and other Mitzvot Bein Adam LaChaveiro - commandments involving dealing with people that he compiled to learn these laws very well.

So the bottom line is, some Jews are the wealthiest people living in this world.  However, I am referring specifically in terms of their spiritual bank, for between their Torah learning and the money which they give away - more than what they keep - being used to help other Jews with Tzedaka, loans, and other forms of kindness, these are preserved for their eternal bank which will never close once a person has lived his life in this world and has been a good boy in his service of Hashem, as the verse in Tehillim (Psalms) states V'Tzidkato Omedet La'ad - "his righteousness (Tzedaka) stands forever".

And in case you are wondering what all this has to do with Gematria - the word for bank in Hebrew - at least how it is in modern Hebrew is the same word.  This word in Hebrew, being spelled as the letters Beit-Noon-Koof, is the reversed spelling of the Hebrew number 152, and this is my 152nd post.


As I am writing this, it is around the same time of day that the horrific events of 9/11 happened that fateful day of September 11, '01.  Now in fact, the Yarhzeit, as you will, of some nearly 3,000 people who woke up that morning not knowing that they would not live to see that evening, was yesterday - 23 Elul.  But in a way, the secular date does coincide with something else in Judaism that was the same timing on that day 11 years ago.  You see, Ashkenazic Jews begin saying the Selichot prayers on the first day of the week before Rosh Hashana, unless there aren't at least four days before RH, in which case, we begin these prayers on the first day of the week before, at it is this year when we begin RH on this coming Sunday night.  Hence, it was on the third day of Selichot (on the third day of the week - Tuesday) that 9/11 took place, and this year today - it is also 9/11 and the third day of Selichot.  This phenomenon also occurred in between in '07, when in that year, it fell out on the 28th of Elul.  The difference is that back in '07, I had yet to begin my Gematriot post, and today, I am in the midst of writing my 152nd post on www.gematriot.blogspot.com.

But aside from this, there is an exclusive connection between the Tuesday of 9/11 of the year that that fateful date occurred, and today's Tuesday which is also the date of 9/11.  Both of these Tuesdays fell out during the week of Parshat Nitzavim.  And corresponding to the third day of Parshat Nitzavim is the third Aliyah of this Parsha.  So, let us look at what this part of the Parsha has to tell us: "Hashem won't want to forgive him...Sulfur and salt, all its land will be burnt, it won't produce seed, sprouts, or vegetation, like the overturn of Sodom, Amora, Adma and Tzevoim that Hashem overturned in his anger and rage" (Deutronomy 29:19,22).  First, just as sometimes, the week of Selichot prayers for Ashkenazim begin during this week of Parshat Nitzavim, so too, we see the exact wording of forgiveness - Selicha - in terms of Hashem not forgiving a person who has the attitude that everything will be O.K., when he is doing everything just the opposite of what he is supposed to be feeling or doing, which will ensure G-d's wrath against him.  And second, reading this verse about how the land (though in the original context, it would seem to be the Land of Israel that G-d has promised us that we have in fact been kicked out of upon the burning of the Temple) will be totally burnt with no vegetative life left in it as the destruction of Sodom and other cities that occurred in Abraham's times very much matches the state of Ground Zero following the burning and falling of the Twin Towers.  Indeed, this event, though in fact happened in the United States, rather than in Israel where there were suicide bombing occurring right and left that began within that past year, was a major worldwide event happening in the capital of the Capitalistic country of the world that caused the murder of nearly 3,000 people of many races.  You see, Hashem showed people that money, though it seems to be an assurance of "peace will be with me" as mentioned in the context of this section of the Parsha, can vanish in a moment's notice, and it happened in the very description of the verse denoting the destruction of land.

In fact, until the events of 9/11, it was thought to refer to the Holocaust, and for good reason.  Indeed, the murder of 6,000,000 Jews, along with other races that the evil Hitler has prejudice against, included the murder of some using crematoriums.  In fact, some visiting the areas where the Jews were murdered in the Holocaust can feel an eerie silence, including those who actually hear the screams of the Jews who were being gassed to death in the "shower" rooms.  As we know, though the Holocaust happened mostly between the years 5700-5705 (1939-1945), the events leading up to one of the worst atrocities of mankind began in the last several years beforehand.  The reason that I say this is because the destructive events that are mentioned in this section of the Torah are in the 5693th through the 5702nd verses of the Torah, which was the result of many Jews who felt complacent of being a better Goy (literally means nation, but it refers in this case to mean a non-Jew) than the Goyim (non-Jews) themselves.  Following this, the Torah speaks of the time of Jews being gathered back to the land (Israel) that they were exiled from, these verses being the 5703rd through the 5708th verses of the Torah, corresponding to the very years 5703-5708 that Jews started arriving in Israel, some of whom came to Israel following their horrifying experience in the Holocaust.

And so, history repeats itself, howbeit in a little different way.  And so indeed, the Torah can hint to more than one event through the same verses.  You see, following the events of 9/11 in '01, Nefesh B'Nefesh - a leading organization in helping Jews make Aliyah, held their first flight in the following summer of '02.  No doubt that some Jews making Aliyah since the 9/11 event of 11 years ago came to make Aliyah with the realization that in fact, we are no safer outside of Israel, than in Israel, the early ones who arrived with this organization in the midst of the years of various suicide bombings in Israel.  Though sadly, so many more Jews of all spectrums of the Jewish faith are still feeling comfortable in the country of capitalism despite the receding economy, there has been a significant increase of Jews making Aliyah from the United States as well as from other countries, especially where anti-Semitism is rampant.  In fact, it was in recent years that it has been noted that there are now more Jews living in Israel than in any other country in the world, including the United States.  Indeed, a repeat of the prophecy of the Torah in the very same verses, howbeit in a little different way.

And speaking of 9/11 and 11 years from that time, the initials of the phrase Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel) spells the number 11 in Hebrew.  And being that the event of 9/11 happened during the midst of the weeks that we read from Sefer Devarim (Deutronomy) in the Torah, this Book begins with the date of the first of the 11th month (Shevat) when Moses began his final address to the Jewish people before his passing, having mentioned right before this of the "ELEVEN days from Mt. Horeb", the time of the journey that it could have took for the Jews to arrive in Israel from this mountain had they not sinned, but instead, wound up in the desert for 40 years.  Moreover, Deutronomy consists of 11 Parshiyot, and in the 11th and final Parsha of this Book, Moses gives indivudual blessings to 11 of the Tribes (except for the Tribe of Shimon).  In any case, being that both the events of the Holocaust and 9/11, followed in each case by massive amounts of Jews moving to Israel, happening during the earlier part of the eighth century of the sixth millenium (5701-5800) of the world's existance, we notice - when the Parshiyot of Nitzavim and Vayeilech are combined as one Parsha - that there are 100 years corresponding to each of the Parshiyot of Deutronomy; and hence, the events happening during the eight century of this millenium, especially in the earlier part of it, corresponds to Parshat Nitzavim(-Vayeilech), the eighth of these Parshiyot where these very events are hinted in them!

Indeed, it is most important to learn from history - not to let history repeat itself.  True, the Messiah is supposed to be coming shortly.  However, the only question is - under what circumstances will he come, and how long will it be, even after he comes, until things are settled down for the Jewish people, depending on our present deeds.  Indeed, the only things that will ensure our safety net, will be our Torah, Teshuva, and Ma'asim Tovim (good deeds) - which is the real BANK OF A JEW.

24 Elul, 5772

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