Tuesday, October 16, 2012

#156 - Which Son of YOSEF?

Today is 30 Tishrei, the last day of the month of Tishrei.  However, this would not be complete without mentioning that today also is the first day of Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, for this month, we celebrate two days of Rosh Chodesh.  Now to think of it, the phrase Rosh Chodesh literally means Head of a Month.  So, if this is the case, then why are we calling the end of a month Rosh Chodesh?  The answer is that in truth, if we were to presently be performing the Mitzva of Kiddush HaChodesh, which was the sanctification of the new month by the Beit Din (Jewish court) by declaring it as such following the testimony of two witnesses having seen the new moon, then if the new moon would have been witnessed by two witnesses and their testimony delivered on the 30th day from the 1st day of Tishrei, then this day - instead of being the date of 30 Tishrei, with the declaration of a new month, this day instead would be the date of 1 Cheshvan.  It was only if the new moon was not yet sighted or their testimony was not delivered on time, then it was only the following day that became the date of 1 Cheshvan, being the official day of Rosh Chodesh instead.  In commemoration of this in our present fixed Jewish calendar, we observe two days of Rosh Chodesh when there are 30 days in the outgoing month, the same way that two days of Yom Tov (Jewish holiday) is observed outside of Israel in commemoration of how it used to be outside of Israel when some communities were not aware of which day Rosh Chodesh was declared in Israel in the wake of an upcomimng Jewish holiday before messengers from Israel were able to inform them.

With this said, there is something unique pertaining to the connection between this outgoing month Tishrei and  this ingoing month of Cheshvan.  You see, the 12 months of the Jewish calendar correspond to the 12 Tribes of Israel.  There are various opinions as to which month corresponds to which tribe, but the correct version is what is found in the Chasidic Sefer Bnei Yissaschar, which is based on the undisputed Kabbala of the holy Arizal (Rabbi Isaac Luria), which states that Tishrei corresponds to the Tribe of Ephraim, and Cheshvan corresponds to the Tribe of Menashe.  Being that Ephraim and Menashe are the two sons of Joseph, it seems that there has to be some special connection between these two corresponding months.

In any case, today being the last day of the month of Tishrei and the first day of Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, is thus the bridge between these two months.  Moreover, being that in this year, Cheshvan consists of 29 days (while in some years, Cheshvan consists of 30 days), today - 30 Tishrei - is the exact middle day between the first 29 days of Tishrei and the month of Cheshvan of this year.  Hence, at least symbolic,ally, this is the one day in the Jewish calendar that Joseph's sons are closest together as brothers.

Now, there is a good reason for me to say this more than just mentioning symbolisms, signs, or dates.  But first, let us mention a bit of Jewish history that has happened, or will happen, during these two months.

The construction of the first Beit HaMikdash (Temple) under the auspices of Shlomo HaMelech (King Solomon) began in the month of Iyar, and was concluded in the month of Cheshvan.  Yes, the dedication of the Temple honored neither of these two months, having waited nearly a year following the end of its construction, but rather, taking place in the month of Tishrei.  Now technically, Cheshvan should have been honored with the dedication being that the Temple was concluded on this month, but for some reason, did not happen at that time, the same way that the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was concluded during the month of Kislev, but being its dedication did not take place in this month, but rather in Nissan, so Hashem made it up to Kislev by honoring it with the future holiday of Chanuka.  Accordingly, as explained beautifully in Bnei Yissaschar, the future dedication of the third and everlasting Temple will take place during Cheshvan.

Now, this is all nice as far as the months are concerned.  But, could it be that the dedications of the first and last Temples in these months have something to do with their corresponding tribes who are brothers, the two sons of Joseph?

There is a most interesting story of how the site on which the Temple was going to be built was the place that was chosen by Hashem to be as such.  There were once two brothers who each owned fields of grain, except that one was poor with a wife and children, and the other was a rich bachelor.  At one point, each of them came up with the idea to give his brother some of his own grain - the rich brother wanted to help support his poor brother with his family, and the poor brother wanted to be friendly with his brother being that he was lonely.  Somehow, both of them managed for a while to deposit grain to each other's field, but each morning, both of them scratched their heads wondering how they wound up with the exact same number of bundled grains.  Finally, in the middle of the night, both brothers were on their way to each other, until...they met each other carrying their bundles of grain.  Both realizing what was happening, they hug each other with the greatest brotherly love, and it was on this very spot that was chosen by Hashem for the Temple to be built.

Indeed, the first Temple was destroyed due to the sins of idolatry, adultery, and murder, which tells us that two of the three sins that caused the Temple's destruction had to do with a breakdown of relationships.  However, being that when people are suffering being enslaved by another nation, there isn't much of a chance of fooling around between sleeping with other partners or killing each other, the reasons for the destruction of the Temple were no longer relevant after 70 years of exile, and then had a rebuilt Temple.  However, the destruction of the second Temple was caused by baseless hatred, the spiritual disease that hasn't left us until today, though shortly, we will have the Redemption, but the only question is in whose merit this will take place.  In any case, we are not talking about open destructive behaviors that is openly murdering people or sleeping with other people's wives, which are crimes that don't take long to perform, and then everyone is back to what they were doing unless the criminals are caught and punished accordingly.  However, hating people and showing them hatred on a daily basis becomes a part of some people's daily lives, and certainly defeats the whole purpose of why the Temple was built where it was, being the anti-thesis of all what the Temple is supposed to represent - not just as a Beit Hashem "House of G-d", but the place where the entire Jewish nation assembled three times a year, aside from the Jerusalem hospitality that was afforded to the non-Jerusalem residents visiting who stayed rent free during the Shalosh Regalim (Three Pilgrimage Festivals) of Pesach, Shavuot, and Succot.

So, it is hardly surprising that the dedications of the first and third Temples occur on the two months that correspond to the two brothers Ephraim and Menashe.  After all, when their father Joseph asked Grandfather Jacob to bless them, even though Jacob showed preference to the younger Ephraim with the greater blessing over the older Menashe with the lesser blessing, since Ephraim was the greater Torah scholar of the two; nevertheless, we see no negative reaction from Menashe, and in time, together with Ephraim, became two of the 12 tribes that inherited the land of Israel, their inheritance being named after them.  In Joseph's own life, not only at the end did he not hold a grudge against his jealous brothers who first attempted to have him killed by being thrown into the pit with snakes and scorpions and then sold him marking him a slave that eventually landed him in prison for 12 years; but quite the contrary, he supported his entire family in Egypt in the wake of the famine.  And so, it is hardly surprising that the Mishkan began being built during Tishrei that corresponds with Joseph's son Ephraim, but the Mishkan resided in Shilo, a city in the territory of the Tribe of Ephraim for 369 years.  And even when the Temple was chosen to be in the territory of a different tribe, the first Temple was completed in Cheshvan that corresponds to Josephs's son Menashe, and will be the month in the future for the dedication of the Temple.


As especially related to this Hebrew year 5773, it has been the first time in 14 years that the sixth day of Succot, on which the Biblical Yosef, the Ushpiz (Heavenly Guest of the Succah) who is represented on this day, fell out on Shabbat.  And if this was not enough, this was also the first Shabbat on which Masechet Shabbat (Tractate Sabbath) of the Babylonian Talmud, of the 13th cycle of Daf Yomi (daily learning of a folio of Talmud) was learned worldwide.

According to Kabbala, the seven Heavenly Guests of the Succah - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David (in this order according to Kabbala, not like some other versions who place them in a little different order which is incorrect) who are also called the Seven Shepherds in the Zohar, each correspond to one of the Jewish holidays of the year - Pesach, Rosh Hashana, Shavuot, Yom Kippur, Succot, Shabbat, and Rosh Chodesh - respectively (there is a different type of relationship of the three Patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob corresponding respectively to Pesach, Shavuot and Succot, but I am not going to get into explaining the connection or the difference of this in contrast to the holiday connection with the Seven Shepherds).  So as you can see, it is Joseph of the Chosen Seven who corresponds to the weekly holiday of Shabbat.  For in fact, not only is Shabbat called the head of the Jewish holidays, but is also the holiest of the holidays, even more than Yom Kippur, for as we see, there are a mandatory minimum of seven Aliyot for the Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll) reading on Shabbat (besides the Haftara Aliya), onlike on other Jewish holidays when there are less amounts of mandatory Aliyot.

With this said, it is not simply a nice relationship between Joseph and the Sabbath, but in fact, we see in the Torah that Joseph has special respect for the Sabbath - even in the idol filled country of Egypt.  You see, when Joseph's brothers, before he revealed himself to them as his brother following 22 years of separation, came for a second time to Egypt to restock their food supply, he arranged to have a reception lunch with them.  As the verse states UtVoach Tevach Vehachein "Slaughter an animal and prepare it" (Genesis 43:16) - Joseph's instructions for his meal with his brothers.  As the Da'as Zekanim M'Ba'alei HaTosfos explains, we see from here that Joseph observed the Sabbath before the Torah was given, as indicated by this verse of him wanting to prepare a tasty Shabbat meal, which is part of the Mitzva of honoring the Shabbat eating delicious meals, basing this proof on another verse in the Torah in reference to the manna that the Jews ate in the desert - "On Friday (the sixth day), they shall prepare what they will bring"  (Exodus 16:5), as the manna didn't fall down on Shabbat, and instead, a double portion of manna fell on Friday morning, half of which was prepared on Friday for eating it on Shabbat.

Now, before I continue with the words of this commentary on the Chumash (Penteteuch), I want to note that just as the above seven Biblical personalities correspond to the various Jewish holidays; so too do these seven in the same order correspond to the seven days of the week, as they also correspond to the seven active Sephirot.  Hence, Joseph actually corresponds to the sixth day of the week, while it is King David who in fact corresponds to the seventh day of Shabbat.  And hence, the question can be asked - what day of the week does Joseph really correspond to?  And so, the answer is that it depends on what context of spirituality that we are talking here.  You see, in relationship to the seven days of the week, Joseph corresponds to the sixth day, the preparation day for Shabbat, for while of course, the ultimate spiritual goal of the week is Shabbat, it is necessary that we prepare for the big day of the week, which for the most parts is done on the day before.  However, in terms of the various holy days of the year, it is Joseph of the seven Biblical personalities who corresponds specifically to the weekly Shabbat.

In terms of Joseph corresponding to the sixth day of the week, it is his descendant who is known as Moshiach Ben Yosef who is the preparation for Moshiach Ben Dovid, the main Messiah, who is the descendant of King David who corresponds to Shabbat.  But in another sense, he is unique among these seven righteous people.  For as we see, while all of the others correspond to Jewish holidays that are dependent on time in terms of the month, Joseph corresponds to the holiday of Shabbat that is strictly weekly based.  For in fact, while Shabbat is the holiest of the holidays, it is ironically within the context of the routine week, when we work six days a week, and only then do we take our weekly holiday brake.  Similarly, in Joseph's life, he was the most challenged in terms of spiritually within the context of both physical bondage and luscious materialism.  Unlike some of the others who may have run away into exile to escape being killed, Joseph had no free choice as being sold as a slave, and hence, not in complete control of himself in a free state.  However, this did not necessarily dictate Joseph's state of spiritual freedom, for while he was challenged at one point by Master Potiphar's evil wife who daily tempted the young lad to sleep with her, Joseph passed a major test that none of the other six righteous ones went through.  And then, even in his materialistic standing as second to Pharaoh, it didn't distract him from his spiritual goals, and maintained both his belief and observance of Judaism, which included the Sabbath.  True, he had his weekly work as one busy viceroy of Egypt, but he took time off for Shabbat, something that he had done for the last 80 years of his life, as opposed to the other six who at least were able to live the latter part of their lives in a more spiritual setting.  And hence, being second to the Egyptian king corresponded to his spiritual goal of specifically preparing for Shabbat, just as his descendant Moshiach Ben Yosef is the spiritual preparation for the main Messiah - Moshiach Ben Dovid, descendant of King David, for it is the Sephira of Malchut (Kingship) that corresponds to the day of Shabbat.  But as the end result, in the context of all the Jewish holidays, Joseph corresponds to Shabbat, a relationship that he rightfully earned as a result of his preparations for Shabbat, while King David corresponds to Rosh Chodesh, based on which determines when the other Jewish holidays, other than Sabbath, fall out on what day of the week, as King David was not only a physical king, but also the king in spirituality via Moshiach his descendant.

Now, continuing on with the above commentary about Joseph's preparation of his meal with his brothers for Shabbat, it mentions this in the context of the Nasi (leader) of the tribe of Ephraim bringing his offerings on behalf of his tribe "on the seventh day".  According to tradition, this seventh day is Shabbat, as the dedication of the Mishkan (tabernacle) took place on the first day of Nissan, which was also on the first day of the week.  In any case, although normally, it is forbidden for offerings of individuals to be sacrificed in the Temple on Shabbat other than the Korban Tamid (two daily burnt offerings) and Shabbat offerings.  However, in reward of Joseph honoring the Shabbat by eating meat, a descendant of his was allowed special permission to bring his animal sacrifices (although they were on behalf of his tribe, they came from his personal funds) on Shabbat, the only time that this was ever allowed on an individual basis. (By the way, this is one out of several proofs that vegetarianism based on having "mercy" on animals is forbidden by the Torah).  And then the question can be asked - why particularly the leader of the tribe of Ephraim, rather than the leader of the tribe of Menashe.  Now, while this commentator does not ask this question himself, he does mention that in the very first battle waged by the Jewish people led by Joshua, a descendant of Ephraim, in Jericho, the actual war, followed by six days of spiritual preparation by circling the city one time each and seven times on the seventh day, took place "on the seventh day" which Rashi also notes, was Shabbat.  Now the truth is, the event with Joshua took place after the offerings of the leader of the tribe of Ephraim.   However, it must be borne in mind that the offerings of the leaders of the tribes on the first 12 days following the dedication of the Mishkan corresponded to various themes of their corresponding tribe, which included events both past and future.

And in terms of the Daf Yomi of Tractate Shabbat in this present cycle, it actually began on the sixth day of the week, the day before Shabbat of the sixth day of Succot that corresponds to Joseph.  Moreover, the tractate begins with the words - Yetziot HaShabbat (refers to carrying things in and out between a private and public domain which is forbidden on Shabbat), beginning with the letter Yud, which also begins the name Yosef.  Moreover, this Talmudic tractate contains exactly 156 Dafim, and the Gematria of Yosef's name is 156 (and is the number of this post)!  And the concluding word of this tractate is the Aramaic word Ana (I), which is the Gematria of 52.  Amazingly, in Jacob's blessings for his 12 sons, the only one which does not begin with the name of the particular son is Joseph, beginning rather with the word Ben (son) - Ben Porat Yosef - "Joseph is a fruitful son", (in English though, it is translated differently than the order of the words in Hebrew) which is also the Gematria of 52.  Having said this, the word Ben, in a different context of Gematria in which the five letters that only appear at the end of a word - Chaf Sophit, Mem Sophit, Noon Sophit, Phei Sophit, and Tzadi Sophit - having corresponding Gematriot of 500, 600, 700, 800, and 900, is the Gematria of 702, as the letter Noon Sophit in this instance has a numerical value of 700, and Beit is the numerical value of two (2), which is the same Gematria as the word Shabbat!

However, this would not be complete without mentioning a story about another Yosef  in terms of Shabbat - actually, two people by the name of Yosef, both mentioned within this Talmudic tractate of Shabbat on the very same page (119a).  A rabbi known as Rav Yosef used to split wood in preparation for Shabbat.  And then it mentions the famous story of Yosef Mokir Shabbat (Joseph who honors the Sabbath) who was especially known by this title even by non-Jews due to his special honor for Shabbat by buying special delicacies for Shabbat.  Anyways, there was this rich non-Jew in town who was warned by astrologers that his positions would be taken over by the Jew known as Yosef Mokir Shabbat.  Fearing this prediction, he sold all of his possessions for a precious pearl which he placed in his hat that he was wearing.  Then one day, he passed by a river, and puff...the wind blew his hat into the river, which was swallowed by a fish.  Before long, fisherman were attempting to catch some fish at the river on a Friday, and after waiting long for their efforts, they came up with a big fish.  However, it was rather late in the day, and the Jews in town already had made their Sabbath purchases, and so there was no special demand of fish at this time of day (there was no refrigeration the way that we have it today, and hence, were afraid of loosing a day's work worth of fish).  Then, someone suggested "Hey, we know of the perfect customer - Yosef Mokir Shabbat".  Upon this, they wasted no time coming to his door with the prized fish, which he gladly paid for.  He then opened up the fish in preparing it for Shabbat, only to find that pearl that the rich non-Jew lost; following which, the Jew sold it for 13 attics full of gold dinars, making him a wealthy person.  Now, the story does end off with who is believed to be Eliyahu HaNovi (Elijah the prophet) who encountered him, telling him what the rabbis say that one who borrows to honor the Shabbat, the Shabbat repays him back, and we can all learn from this story when it comes to having faith in Hashem in terms of honoring the Shabbat via our finances.  But additionally, being that this we are presently within the 13th cycle of Daf Yomi, it is interesting to note that the particular number used in reference to Yosef Mokir Shabbat becoming wealthy as a result of his honoring the Shabbat is 13, and perhaps is even the basis, along with what I have mentioned in the past, as to why non-Jews consider the number 13 a most  unluckly number, while we Jews consider this a most lucky number.  And to think of it, this story of the fish took place on a Friday.  Indeed, following the story of the non-Jew loosing his wealth to a Jew who became wealthy on Friday and sold the pearl for 13 measures of gold, it is no wonder why non-Jews have a superstitious crush on Friday the 13th.


Look, I am not here to make predictions.  However, there are amazing resemblances of Joseph corresponding especially to this Hebrew year; and this is aside from what I mentioned about the Daf Yomi in relationship to Joseph and Shabbat in this year.  What I am about to reveal here relates to both a verse in the Chumash and another tractate in the Mishna.

Let's being with the Mishnaic tractate called Sota.  The word Sota refers to a married woman who is accused of having an affair as testified to by (a) witness(es), and in order to determine her innocence or guilt, goes through the ordeal of drinking what are called bitter waters which would kill her if she indeed slept with a guy outside of her marriage.  Now, among the steps that led to this procedure (in Temple times) was her husband warning her not to seclude herself with the guy that she was found to be hanging out with.  The beginning word of this tractate, which describes this very action of the husband, is HaMekanei, which halachicly means "One who warns", though the root of this word carries quite a few meanings, including Kinah (jealousy), and it is true that one who is into another relationship arouses the jealousy of the siginificant other with whom he or she, who is seeking an alternate relationship, has his or her relationship with.  The reason that I mention this particular alternate meaning, though not the main halachic sense of the beginning word of this tractate, is because the word Kinah has the same Gematria as the name Yosef - 156.  In fact, we see that Yosef incurred the jealousy of his brothers due to the multi colored garment that Jacob robed him with in his preferential treatment of his son Joseph in contrast to his other sons.  Following this, his brothers wound up selling him as a slave, and at the age of 17-18, was faced with the daily temptaton of his master's wife attempting to lure him for sex with her, but amazingly didn't give in to his hormones.  The reason that I word it like this, is because the Midrash tells us that Joseph at one point was in fact ready to fall into temptation, but then the face of Jacob appeared in his mind, warning him of some spiritual benefits he could loose out if he were to give in to temptation.

Having also mentioned earlier that the sixth day of Succot corresponds to Joseph, there is a custom among a group of Jews to learn a chapter of Mishna on the seven days of Succot that corresponds to the daily Heavenly Guest, mentioning the name of the Biblical personage of the day somewhere in the corresponding chapter.  For the sixth day of Succot, they learn the first chapter of Sotah, as it mentions near the end of the chapter about Joseph buring his father, and in reward for this bearing in mind that Joseph put himself on the line to convince Pharaoh to allow him to bury his father Jacob who passed away in Egypt to be buried in Israel, it was none other than Moses who carried Joseph's bones out of Egypt.

In any case, it seems that it is in fact the entire tractate Sota that corresponds to Joseph, even as the latter part of the tractate deals with other topics, such as the topic that begins the ninth and final chapter of this tractate which are the words Egla Arufa, the calf that was decapitated by the Jewish court as a result of seeing a person found murdered, but whose murderer had yet to be found.  Our rabbis tell us that this was the last Torah subject that Jacob and Joseph were discussing before their separation of 22 years; and hinting to this, Joseph sent food and other items on Agalot (wagons) as this Hebrew word for wagons is very similar to the word Egla (calf), in order that Jacob would know for a fact that it was Joseph who sent these items to him, assuring him that his long lost son Joseph was well and alive.

Now, let us turn to the Chumash, and check out the 5773th verse, being that we are presently in Year 5773.
"They (the Jews) have been faithless to Me with a non-god, they have angered Me with their vanities; I, in turn, will be faithless to them with a non-nation, I will anger them with a nation without feeling gratitute." (Deutronomy 32:21).  Now, the beginning Hebrew words of this verse are Heim Kinuni - "They have been faithless to me", and as you may have noticed, the word faithless in another meaning that is related to the beginning word of Tractate Sota - HaMekanei.  In fact, there is something even more amazing here.  Look carefully at the FIRST five letters of this verse which are within two words - these five letters together make up the FIRST word of Tractate Sota!

And so, what is the message for this Year 5773?  I say that on a national level, we Jews have to be more careful than ever when it comes to forbidden sexual relationships, for shortly, we will be in the midst of the final stage of the war of Gog U'Magog shortly, and while in the end, Hashem will take his vengence on the evil nations for all the anti-Semitism that we suffered from their hands, this will also be a refining period for the Jewish nation, and all those who refuse to repent of their evil deeds will be done away with during this time period, while the rest of the Jews will survive (the prophecy in what is called the New Testament of 144,000 Jews surviving this period may very well be true, for even though this prediction came from the forces of the side of evil, it is nevertheless a prophecy, the same way that the evil non-Jew Bilaam who attempted to curse the Jews wound up blessing them instead along with prophecies of the future, including the End of Days.  This is only around one percent of all Jews living on this planet today - a frightening prophecy about Hashem's Chosen Nation, even though there are more than 144,000 "religious" Jews, but how we live as "religious" Jews and what Hashem defines as religious are apparently quite different, and so we need to do some serious soul searching, and truly repent of our misguided ways, even in what we call our "religious" way of living).

And of course, this would not be complete without mentioning the meaning of the name of Tractate Sota, which is based the meaning of "turning aside/away", which in the faithless, adulteress wife, it means both turning away and cheating on both her husband and G-d.  Similarly, when we turn aside from what we are supposed to focus on in serving Hashem and instead are more concerned on which baseball/basketball/football team won the game on Sunday wasting several hours on the tube watching others making the millions, and feel terrible if "our" team, as belonging to the town that one is from or lives in - instead of living in the REAL OUR TOWN in Israel even though we may not be living in the land that G-d ordered us to live in - looses the game, then in fact, we have the lost the big game in effect, for we failed to realize our true purpose in this world, and is especially disturbing to Hashem that the ones who should know better, and learned in their youth what Judaism requires of a Jew, does not act accordingly, justifying themselves by praying in the synagogue daily, which for many if not for most, it means talking to their buddy about non-holy matters or gossip during the services, which is the ultimate Hutzpa that a Jew shows to Hashem, aside from the terrible punishments in this world and the next world that occur to such a person who publicly defies the King of Kings.  And as for Jewish education of one's children, the good Torah education that they receive in the Jewish day school is often highly diluted as a result of one sitting in front of the tube watching one's favorite team instead of opening up a Torah book, which results in his children being able to better recount the names and game scores of non-Jews on game cards than the names and Yeshivos of the true heroes of the Jewish people, which of course are the righteous and Torah scholars.

And there there is what is called the political level in Israel, which is currently dictated by Prime Monster Binyamin Netanyahu, who is the antithesis of everything that his name means and stands for, bearing the name of the original Binyamin, the only one of the Jacob's 12 sons who was born in Israel, while constantly attempting to figure out ways of giving away more land to our bloodthirsty Arab enemies since his handing over of 97% of Hebron to them, including keep running overseas to Islam follower Barack Obama to vainly convince him that Israel wants to make peace with the Arabs; turning away his right eye while secretly giving orders to former Prime Monster Ehud Barak to evict Jews from their own built homes on "loose settlements" which are no more illegal than the hut structures in Arab villages that Bibi turns his left eye away from, submitted his vote to throw the Jews out of Gush Katif; doing all too little to have American and Israeli hero Jonathan Pollard released from his illegal imprisonment in the States since his giving in to the Wye Accords despite Clinton's broken promise to release the true hero of Israel; and brokeraging a deal a year ago to have over 1,000 Arab terrorists,including the murderers of Rabbi Binyamin & Talya Kahane- may Hashem avenge their blood, to be released in exchange for Gilad Shalit, who by the way, came back home on the sixth day of Succot which is especially related to Joseph, instead of threatening to kill the several thousand jailed Arab terrorists over five years ago if Gilad Shalit wouldn't be released immediately.  And for the cherry on top, he also vainly attempts to convince the world that it is to their benefit to be rid of Iran, putting on a nice act of being strong and bold in words, but is sorely afraid of this very world who will be ready to pounce on Israel the moment that it dares defend itself by attacking Iran; in short, more afraid of what everyone else will say than the actual possible attack from Iran, G-d forbid.

Indeed, this is also quite the antithesis of everything that Benyamin's full brother Yosef stood for, which included his love for Israel, and made his brothers swear to him on his death bed to take his remains with them upon their future redemption from Egypt, so he could be at least be buried in Israel, since he was sold into slavery, leaving Israel at the young age of 17, and only returned to Israel to have his father Jacob buried, and then returned to Egypt to resume his duties as Egyptian viceroy.  Actually, one does not have to go to far in the Bible to see how Joseph was a Zionist, even though he lived most of his life outside Israel.  In fact, his name Yosef has the same Gematria as the name Zion - 156.

And most unfortunately, Israel has suffered much from the hands of the literal non-nation of "Palestine"
thanks to the non-god of secular Zionism which is the anti-thesis of authentic Zionism, most especially today when the definition of the fake Zionism is giving away holy land instead of conquering even more land since 1967, even as it is most contrary to logical reasons of equity and security, because it is the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination) that many evil members of the Knesset are worshiping, even to the country's own detriment, because they are purposely defying the Torah, which includes the clear cut definitions of what geographical areas constitute the Holy Land of Israel.

And now for the number 73 - the last two digits of our Hebrew year, we see that this is the first two letters of the word Eglah, as in the phrase Eglah Arufa, the name of the ninth and final chapter in Tractate Sota, which is the last Torah topic that Jacob and Joseph discussed before their parting for 22 years.  Amazingly, this is also the first two letters of the phrase Eigel HaZahav, the Golden Calf that the Jews worshiped, their first national sin since the Torah was given, and nearly caused their destruction.  Of course many observant Jews ask how it was possible that Jews who just 40 days earlier, witnessed and experienced the Giving of the Torah hearing Hashem Himself speak, which included the very commandments of "I am Hashem your God" and "Thou shalt not have other gods besides Me", could turn astray so quickly.  And as we see, Moses ground the Golden Calf into ashes, and with some water, forced the Jews to drink of it to determine who were the sinners in the worship of the calf, which came with the same results as for the Sota lady who drank what is called the "bitter waters", only to quickly die as a result of her turning astray.

Yes indeed, there are many icons on T.V., literally the true American idols, that most unfortunately, even some who are called "Orthodox" Jews virtually worship, praising how well they played, how tall and handsome they look, etc, which in itself is a Torah violation of one of the 613 Commandments of the Torah "thou shalt not show them grace", though the ultimate idols- the Golden Calves - in today's comfortable lifestyle include successful careers, money, spouse with a master's degree (or many will not even consider dating if not at least with this level of college degree), T.V., spacious house with a 30 year mortgage, two cars, swimming  pool, etc., while as for Torah books, most of them are waiting for the man of the house to open them up for 20, 30, or 40 years, clearly showing quite a spiritual disproportion of the life of an "Orthodox" Jew.  Can he even recall the last words of Torah that the rabbi spoke in his weekly sermon during the past Shabbat morning services, or rather, the last piece of conversation that he had with the guy he sat next to while the  mourner's Kaddish at the end of services was being recited?  Ultimately, this depends on his priorities in life.

What can I tell you my friends?  Well, one thing that I can tell you is that regardless of how it all plays out in terms of Moshiach coming - including which Moshicah (Ben Yosef and/or Ben Dovid), the war of Gog U'Magog, and who will win the elections in the States and Israel, one thing that will be for sure is that this Year 5773 will be quite a turbulent year, and the only question(s) is/are - are we ready to make the changes necessary to be deserving of salvation for ourselves when G-d forbid, the major blow will begin this year?  Are we going to be among the one percent of the Jewish people - the 144,000 Jews living in our present generation (aside from the millions of good Jews from past generations who will be resurrected) - that will receive salvation if we decide to stop playing games and be concerned about what Hashem wants rather than what we want, even if we live in Israel; as it will be Hashem at the end who will determine the ONE PERCENT who will survive both physically and spiritually for eternity, who will be left alive to declare: Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad - the L-rd Who at one time was only our G-d (which is still literally true because even the Moslems actually worship a different god, not Hashem), is today proven to the entire world that Hashem is One and the Only One?  Regardless of whether we are more like Joseph's son Ephraim who was the Torah scholarly son, or more like Joseph's son Menashe who was the career son but still remembered no less of his obligations as a Jew, if we but turn our hearts to  Hashem, and be considered a son of Joseph, following in Joseph's ways of remaining steadfast to Hashem despite the physical and spiritual turbulences that we go through in life, just as Joseph did, include the sexual temptations that he faced daily at one point, due to which he was nicknamed HaTzadik - the righteous one, then we will certainly be on the right path to the eternal salvation, at which point, the ball games will be over forever.

30 Tishrei - 1st day of Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan - 5773


Sunday, October 14, 2012

#155 - Sabbath 11

Any clues to what I mean by the title of this post?  Stay tuned for the answer in this post.

But first, I want to point out something that is related to the general concept of Daf Yomi.  It is true that Post 150 was focused on the 13th cycle of Daf Yomi, mentioning various things as related to the numbers 13 & 150, as well as the 13th letter Mem, including the fact that the phrase Daf Yomi is the Gematria of 150, and that the 150th and final psalm of Tehillim has 13 mentions of Hillul (one of the synonyms of the meaning praise in Hebrew), as well as the amazing Gematria of the 13th of the Shlosh Esrei Middot HaRachamim - Thirteen Divine Attributes of Mercy as recorded at the end of Micha (7:20) - Mimei Kedem, which is the Gematria of the word Gemara - 244.

Now, there is another Gematria about the phrase Daf Yomi that relates very specifically to the 13th Divine Attribute of Mercy.  Well, not exactly.  You see, sometimes, the phrase describing the study of the daily Talmud folio is called Daf HaYomi - Page of THE day.  In this case, this phrase is actually the Gematria of 155 - the number of this post.  With this said, this is related directly the 13th Divine Attribute of Mercy - the original list that Hashem dictated to Moses on Mt. Sinai in the beginning of the month of Elul, which is nicknamed Chodesh HaRachamim - The Month of Mercy.  This Attribute is the word V'Nakeh (and Who Cleanses).  Actually, since the Vav in this instance means "and", this letter is technically not part of the 13th Attribute, but rather indicates the last one on the list as we normally write a sentence when mentioning a list, ending off noting the final item on the list, "and...""  With this said, we note that the word Nakeh has the same letters as the Hebrew number for 155!  That's right folks, the Gematria of the name of the 13th Divine Attribute in the original list of the 13 Divine Attributes of Divine Mercy is the SAME Gematria as the phrase Daf HaYomi!  So as you see everyone, this 13th cycle of Daf Yomi is especially an auspicious time to learn Daf Yomi which began on the most special day of Tu B'Av, the date about which the rabbis of the Talmud declared is the time to begin learning more Torah at nights as the nights start to become longer around this time of year.

There is a question that has been asked on this.  We know that the timing of the seasons, and how long the days and nights are, are in fact based on the solar calendar.  If so, then why pick specifically the date of Tu B'Av as the date to declare as the time to learn more Torah at nights because "this is around the time that the nights become longer"?  And even if one were to say that this is because a number of happy events happened on this date, what does this directly have to do with Torah learning?  Why not already pick Rosh Chodesh Av or Rosh Chodesh Elul, the beginning of a Jewish month for that matter to start doing so?

And now an obvious question as related to this post.  What is the practical difference between the phraseologies of Daf Yomi and Daf HaYomi - or maybe there isn't?

OK, so let's get to the bottom of this.  The Daf for the first day of the week of Parshat Noach of this year - 28 Tishrei is Sabbath 11.  But normally, if I were to write about a theme on some Talmud page, rather than writing the name of the page, it would make a little more catchy title to write some theme that is mentioned on this page.  However, in this case, the whole reason for the name of the title of this post has everything to do with the name of this page.

You see, there are 2,711 pages of Daf Yomi cycle of the Babylonian Talmud.  Well, close to it, for in fact, Tractate Shekalim of the Jerusalem Talmud is included in the Daf Yomi, as there is no Gemara on Tractate Shekalim in the Babylonian Talmud.  In fact, for the first seven cycles of Daf Yomi, this Tractate Shekalim of the Jerusalem Talmud was in fact not included in the Daf Yomi, and was decided since to add this tractate to the Daf Yomi; hence, making the total amount of Talmud pages in the Daf Yomi cycle to 2,711.

Now in Hebrew, the number for 2,711 is made up of the letters - Beit, Tav, Shin, Yud, Aleph.  When these letters are rearranged, we see that we can spell this as... Shabbat Yud-Aleph (11).  So amazingly, the number of Daf Yomi pages is made up of the same letters as the name of one of its pages.  Now, this is a little nice mathematical game, or is it?

Actually, this is actually more of a scientific discovery - in fact in more than one way - as I will shortly explain.  But first, one will be curious as the contents of this Daf Yomi page.  There are actually several themes on this page, but the one concluding the explanation of the Mishna about the activities that we don't perform to begin with when it is the time to pray the Mincha (afternoon prayer) quotes a Baraita (similar to Mishna but refers to other teachings that were not included in the Mishna) that notes that just as one does not interrupt for prayer, so too one does not interrupt for the recital of the Shema, which is contrary to what our Mishna says that we interrupt for the Shema but not for prayer, the latter referring to Torah scholars who were so involved in Torah learning, that they were actually exempt from prayer, but they still have to say the Shema (which is not applicable nowadays considering the decline in the level of Torah learning compared to how it was thousands of years ago).  The Talmud answers the discrepancy between the two texts, noting that the Baraita refers to those who are involved in deciding whether to add an extra month to the Hebrew year, making the year 13 months instead of the usual 12 months, called the intercalation of the year.  This is necessary according to the Torah, since we see that the Torah calls the month on which we celebrate Passover - Chodesh HaAviv "The month of spring".  Now, unlike the solar calendar which needs an adjustment of once every four years usually to maintain the balance of its calendar to be in sync with the seasons, as the cycle of the sun is close to 365.2425 days, the Hebrew calendar on a regular year consists between 353-355 days, with an average of 11 days shorter than the solar calendar; and hence, as we have it on our Jewish calendar these days, every two or three years is declared a leap year with the month of another Adar added.

Tosfos, one of the main commentaries on the Talmud, explains that since the deciding of whether a leap month should be added to the year helped decide when the Jewish holidays would be celebrated, even the recital of the Shema, which is a declaration of Hashem as the One and Only, was able to be pushed aside to allow the Jewish court to be distraction free to make this crucial determination.

In connection to this, I would like to quote another Talmudic piece that is found in the same Talmudic Tractate Shabbat (75a):  Rabbi Shmuel Bar Nachmani said in the name of Rabbi Yonatan:  From where to we learn that it is a commandment to calculate  the cycles and constellations? As it says, "For it is your wisdom and understanding in front of the nations" (Deutronomy 4:6).  What is this wisdom and understanding  in front of the nations? You have to say that this is the calculation of the cycles and seasons.

Basically, since this science is something that the non-Jews are into, this is why this is refered to as (the literal meaning of the words "in front of the eyes of the nations".  Moreover, the Talmud declares that should one say that the non-Jews have wisdom, believe him, but if should one say that the non-Jews have Torah, do not believe him.  For while all wisdom in fact is Hashem's wisdom, only the Torah is actually called Hashem's wisdom, for the Torah is the holy part of Hashem's wisdom which was granted solely to the Jews.  Along these lines,  in the previous Daf Yomi page (Shabbat 10), we see that the Sabbath was also something that Hashem gave specifically to the Jews as a present.

In any case, in the count of the 2,711 pages of the Talmud in the Daf Yomi cycle, the Daf of Shabbat 11 is the 73th page, and Chachma (wisdom) is the Gematria of 73.  Moreover, this takes place in this Hebrew year 5773 which ends with the number 73.

Now, for our other scientific mention, which is also astronomical, has to do with the fact that the letters that spell the total number of pages of Daf Yomi are the very letters that spell one of the planets - Shabtai (Saturn).  And if this was not enough, in the entire Talmud, the one place that has a discussion about the planets, and one's destiny based on the hour related to which planet that he or she is born on, is again - in Tractate Shabbat Daf 156(a), which is actually the 155th Daf of the tractate being that all tractates of the Babylonian Talmud begin with Daf 2, and this section about the planets is part of the Talmudic discussion that is based on the Mishna on Daf 155,  and don't forget that we are on Post #155.

Anyways, the Talmud mentions that one who is born during the hour of Saturn will be someone whose plans won't come out to anything, while there are those who say that any plans that are plotted against him won't come out to anything.  Regardless of the exact outcome, this is based on the wording of the Hebrew name of this planet, as in a phrase in this very week's Parshat Noach - Lo Yishbotu - "They will not cease" which is referring to the planetary system.  In this context, Hashem was saying following everyone exiting from Noah's Ark after being cooped up for one year during the Flood and the aftermath, that unlike during the flood - the planets ceased working, and hence, one could not tell between day and night because the planetary system includes the sun and moon; from henceforth, never again will the planets cease from functioning.

Now, while we see in the Torah that the Sabbath is clearly Hashem's gift to the Jewish people, it is this phrase Lo Yishbotu, which also refers to the Halacha (Jewish Law) that non-Jews are forbidden to rest on the Sabbath - "they shall not cease", that is, cease from work, just like the planets who do not take off a day in the week from moving in the planetary system.  In fact, our rabbis tell us that a non-Jew who does rest on the Sabbath is liable to death (at the hands of Heaven).  Now, there are varying opinions as to how far it goes in terms of a non-Jew not being allowed to work on the Sabbath, whether this only applies to the actual day of the week that we observe it, or even if it a different day in the week.  There may be other questions about this issue, such as, are they simply forbidden to treat the day of rest as their own concept of rest from labor, or are they simply forbidden to observe it the same exact way that Jews observe the Sabbath with all the details of the 39 categories of forbidden labor?  Does not working for a non-Jew mean not working one's regular job where one gets a paycheck when taking off on Saturday or Sunday, or not even doing basic household chores?  These questions may be based on whether the prohibition of a non-Jew resting from work is based on one's intent, or even without intent simply because the non-Jew is making a appearance of not working looking like he wants a Sabbath to rest on just like Jews.  Thus, it would seem according to some, a non-Jew is only allowed to take on a paying job at which one's boss allows or demands that he works seven days a work, such as a restaurant; or, if he can't or doesn't want certain types of jobs, that he start his own business in which he will be able to work seven days a work.  Thus, it would seem that some forbid a non-Jew from ever going on vacation (which wasn't something that people always did until recent times being that travel was more of a pain than a luxury), aside from taking off of work because one is sick or is ordered by the doctor to take a rest to maintain one's health.

Anyways, in this phrase Lo Yishbotu - the middle five letters of this phrase does indeed spell the exact same letters as the Hebrew word for Saturn - Shabtai.  It seems that for some reason, the Torah wants to hint especially to this planet in its mention of the planets not ceasing from functioning.  In fact, the name Saturday of the day on which most of the Jewish Sabbath is observed on, is named after Saturn, but as far as Saturn is concerned, it is one of the planets with rings, consisting of nine rings.  This is quite interesting, because the Hebrew word for ring is Taba'at, which begins with the letter Teit, the numerical value of nine.

As a Midrash tells us, at the beginning of this world's creation, the Sabbath voiced a complaint to Hashem. It stated that all the other days of the week has a partner, except for itself - the first day with the second day, the third day with the fourth day, and the fifth day with the sixth day.  In reply, Hashem told the Sabbath that the Jewish people will be its partner.  In fact, there is a Shabbat Queen - Shabbat HaMalka, which is indeed spiritual like the angels.  And so in effect, we are partners with the Sabbath like a husband is partners with his wife, which began by the husband placing a ring on the wife's finger, as the beginning of Tractate Kiddushin tells us that a man weds a woman in Jewish law in one of two ways - with money (which nowadays is exclusively a ring) and a document.  In relationship to this, there is no concept of an official marriage ceremony for non-Jews to marry one another, but their official relationship in terms of not being allowed to sleep outside of their relationship is based on whether they are living together, regardless of whether they have a copy of the fine print marriage contract or not.  Now, the actual phrase that the Mishna begins with is HaIsha Nikneit "The woman is purchased", which is not meant to be demeaning by any means, but rather, how one can claim a woman to be one's wife rather than someone else, the same way that a purchase is made which makes it officially one's possession as opposed to anyone else.  And noting this, the root word in Hebrew for purchase is Kano - spelling the very Hebrew number for 155, the number of this post.

Anyways, getting back to the part of the Talmud about the planets, it does state Ein Mazal L'Yisrael "There is no fortune/constellatons for Jews".  This means that if Jews do what they are supposed to in serving Hashem, then even if there is a store of bad fortune that is meant for someone based on what hour related to its planet that one is born on, it will not affect him or her.  For after all, it is Hashem Who runs the world, and the planets are merely among Hashem's myriads of servants fulfilling His will.

With this said, we see that the number 13, while it seems to a number of bad fortune for non-Jews, is a most fortune number for Jews.  I have already written in past posts while significant this number is to Jews, including in this post, so I will leave it at that.

Now, let us get our above questions answered.  First about Tu B'Av - why is it particular on this date that we begin learning more Torah at nights based on the reason that the nights start getting longer around this time, when it fact, this is an occurrence that is based on the solar system, particularly the sun?  I heard an answer for this at one of the English speaking celebrations of the conclusion of the last Daf Yomi cycle a couple of months ago.  In reference to the fact that the new Daf Yomi cycle began on Tu B'Av, it was mentioned that Tu B'Av is the anniversary of Teshuva (repentance).  How do we see this?  Tu B'Av is 40 days before 25 Elul, the anniversary of the creation of the world, and as we know from the Talmud, Teshuva is one of the seven times that Hashem created before the creation of the world.  And as the Talmud in the beginning of Tractate Sota tells us, there is a Heavenly voice that matches one's intended mate 40 days before the creation of his embryo.  In another words, this world's continued existence is only possible due to Teshuva, for without it, the world would be too unworthy for it to continue to exist with all of its sins; and hence, the Teshuva and the world (the only planet that human beings live on) are partners with one another.  Hence, Tu B'Av is the anniversary of the creation of Teshuva.  And so, we look to improve our ways - most especially in increasing our Torah learning on this very date of Tu B'Av; and as a Midrash tells us, if one has sinned and is used to learning one chapter of Mishna (a day), he should now learn two chapters; if one Daf of Torah, he should not learn two Dafim.

Now that I mentioned Daf Yomi in terms of Tu B'Av and Teshuva, the letters that make up the number of Dafim of the Daf Yomi and the word Shabtai (Saturn - which is also used as a Hebrew name for a male), equal the Gematria of the word Teshuva!  Now bear in mind, the Daf spoken of in the days of the Midrash was more like a piece of parchment rather than the page that we turn in a book nowadays, being that the printing press had yet to print its first book.  But perhaps, the Midrash is hinting to something else - that one should not just learn the Daf Yomi for the day, and then tada...off with the T.V. night sitcom, but quite the contrary, if anything, to go over that same Daf that you learned earlier that day instead, to review it, understand it better, and remember it better.  For in fact, regardless of what you learn, it is the same Mitzva of Torah learning if you learn it once, or the 101th time, or the 1,001st time.

Now, is it Daf Yomi or Daf HaYomi?  Indeed, the phrase Daf Yomi is used most often to refer to the daily folio of the Babylonian Talmud that is learned by Jews throughout the world.  However, Daf HaYomi - Daf of THE day, carries with it its own meaning.  It means that the Daf learned on that particular day is THE page for THAT day.  Meaning, there is no such thing as that day passing by without learning the Daf meant to be learnt for that day.  If the Daf Yomi of Sabbath 11 is scheduled to be learned on 28 Tishrei, then there is no such thing as going though this date without learning this page of the Talmud, for Ki Hem Chayeinu V'Orech Yameinu - the Torah is our life and the length of our days.  O.K., I myself have a challenge at times to be able to learn a whole Daf of Talmud on a particular day depending on how the day goes between work and taking care of the baby.  But certainly, at least one should feel something is missing or needing to catch up on, without letting go of this thought until one has caught up learning the same Daf as everyone else is doing worldwide.  So at least, one can be said to be learning Daf Yomi, even if it isn't always Daf HaYomi - Daf of THE day, but the main thing is not to be distracted to the point that one feels totally behind and not even attempt to catch up until it is too late.  For this, we need to set goals for ourselves, and have two plans for ourselves, so that if the plan for Daf HaYomi doesn't work out for ever reason to always learn the day's Daf, that one can still have the plan of Daf Yomi to be said to be learning the same Gemara as everyone else, even if not everyday works it that it will be the same exact Daf, but in 2,711 days time, one will have finished the entire Talmud like everyone else because of his determination to learn the entire Talmud based on the Daf Yomi schedule.

Now, remember when I mentioned that Tractate Shekalim, though not part of the Babylonian Talmud, but rather part of the Jerusalem Talmud, is included now in Daf Yomi, something that wasn't the case for the first seven cycles of Daf Yomi?  There is special significance with this.  For first, the name/word Shekalim (coins) is the same Gematria as the word Talmud.  Moreover, the subject of this tractate, which was the annual donaton of the Machatzit HaShekel (half coin) that every adult male Jew was obligated to donate towards Temple expenses for certain sacrifices, took place during the month of Adar, the last of the 12 months that we begin counting from the month of Nissan.  Now, in a regular year, Adar is the 12th month.   However, if it is a leap year with the addition of another month of Adar, then it was in the second Adar that this took place; hence this happening during the 13th and final month of the Jewish months.  And so, the intercalation of the year, as mentioned on the Daf of Shabbat 11 involves the addition of a 13th month, for which the Torah scholars who were involved in doing this were even exempt from saying the Shema; and as we see in the first verse of the Shema, the last word is Echad, from which is the Mitzva in the belief of Hashem as One, and is the Gematria of 13.

Oh, I didn't quite finish the Daf of Sabbath 11 yet.  But what I should tell you, is that I spent quite a few hours the night before catching up on a few pages of the Daf Yomi, because if not now, then who knows when I will ever catch up.  So I couldn't do so during the work week, but when I am not working, I have a better shot of doing it right.

And before I sign out here, connecting the word in Hebrew for acquire - Kenei with the word Chochma, as they are the Gematriot of 155 & 73 respectively, there are three times in the entire Tanach (Bible) that the phrase Kenei Chachma  "Acquire wisdom" is mentioned.  The three times are found in only one book - Mishlei (Proverbs) - 4:5, 4:7, 16:16.  After all, Shlomo HaMelech (King Solomon), author of Proverbs, was the wisest person to live on the face of this earth.

Written for 28 Tishrei 5773

Monday, October 8, 2012

#154 - A Portion of Torah Please?

Once again, welcome to a new year at www.gematriot.blogspot.com, which began exactly four years ago on the night following Simchat Torah.

Looking back at this past year, I had the great fortune of becoming a daddy of my now 10 month old Tamar Tzadika, something that I could merely dream about years ago doubting if I Hashem would allow me to get married.  But I believe that if you truly want something, that it will happen unless Hashem does not want it to happen; and as it happened in my case, aside from prayers, an idea came to my head upon seeing an English publication in Israel to have a full page ad written about my quest, leading to me making fliers of that page, and the one flyer that I posted in the Old City of Jerusalem is what led to a phone call from my wife-to-be on her way to the Western Wall who was visiting from another town in Israel, who saw it the next day after I posted it.

Now, on the universal side, the once in seven and a half (or close to it) year Daf Yomi cycle celebrations took place,  having concluded the universal learning of the daily folio of the Babylonian Talmud for the 12th time, and the 13th cycle beginning on Tu B'Av, which is among the happiest days in Jewish history.

On this note, the day that we just celebrated - Simchat Torah, combines both of these aspects - it is also among the happiest days of the Jewish calendar - because on this day, we conclude the annual reading of the Sefer Torah, and we immediately begin it anew.

Now note, my description of the two days of Tu B'Av and Simchat Torah are a little different from each other.  You see, Tu B'Av became the happy day that it is today specifically because of various happy events that occurred on this day.  In this past year 5772, it became one more reason to celebrate due to the fact that it began the 13th worldwide Daf Yomi cycle of the seven and a half year study of the Talmud.  In stark contrast, Simchat Torah became the day that it became due to the decision of rabbis that it should be the designated day of concluding the reading of the Sefer Torah with its last of the 54 Parshiyot, which was set to be on the Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret.

You see, while Moshe Rabbeinu instituted that we should read from the Torah every Shabbat, Mondays and Thursdays, so that there should not be three days without the Torah being read from, there was no set Parsha that was to be read from.  Whether it began from day one or during the course of time, the Torah was read in order, but there was not necessarily a time frame that it had to be concluded by.  Eventually, there was a more orderly fashion in terms of dividing the Torah to be read as Parshiyot.  However, even at that, not everyone always read the same exact thing every Shabbat.  What we may take for granted today as 54 Parshiyot with combining a few of the Parshiyot in order to conclude the entire Chumash every Simchat Torah, there were communities that finished it more like in three years - as 154 Parshiyot, exactly 100 more than today's 54 Parshiyot.  Oh yes, this is my 154th Post, but aside from this, the 154th Parsha of the early days was the exact same Parsha that we now call V'Zot HaBeracha.

Anyways, looking at the number 154, we can divide this number into two parts - one (1) and fifty-four (54). And indeed, immediately upon concluding the Torah with its 54th Parsha on Simchat Torah, we immediately begin with the 1st Parsha starting with Bereishit.  With this said, the one who is called for the final Aliya of the Sefer Torah is called Chatan Torah (Bridegroom of the Torah) and the one who is called for the first Aliya of the Sefer Torah is called Chatan Bereishit.  In fact, before each of these two people are called, it is proceeded by a special paragraph that is recited in honor of these respective Aliyot.

It was only today, on this Simchat Torah, that I thought of the following question.  Why do we call specifically the person called for the last Aliya of the Torah as Chatan Torah, with the name Torah rather than the one for the first Aliya which is named after the first word of the Torah?  Why don't we call this the opposite way, naming the one for the final Aliyah after either the name of the Parsha as Beracha, which means blessing which would be a most beautiful word, being that it is the name of the last Parsha, or the word Yisrael which is the last word of the Torah; and call the one with the first Aliya of the Torah as Chatan Torah instead?

Of course if it were to be the opposite, then I would be asking the same kind of thing - why is it this way and not the reverse?  But while I can't swear that I have the full answer, there is one thing that I did notice - a reason why we call the one for the first Aliya as Chatan Bereishit.

As it is well known, this first word of the Torah - Bereishit, makes up the same letters as the date Aleph B'Tishrei (One in Tishrei), meaning, the date of 1 Tishrei, the (first) day of Rosh Hashana, which is the first day of the Jewish New Year.  And while we learn that the world began to be created on 25 Elul, it was five days later, on the 1st of Tishrei, that Adam and Eve were created by Hashem.  As Midrashic sources tell us, Adam and Eve wed on that very day that they were created, their wedding being attended to by Hashem and the angels - the first wedding that ever took place.  And so indeed, Adam was a Chatan on the 1st of Tishrei, this date having the same letters as the word Bereishit.  O.K, let us not forget Eve the Bride, but since only men are called up to the Torah, this explains why they are called Chatan, aside from the fact that in Hebrew, the word for wedding is Chatuna, which is based on the word Chatan (or the other way around).  So as you can see, the word Bereishit is most related to the word Chatan via the date the Adam wed Eve.  (Ironically, being that the date of 1 Tishrei is now the date of Rosh Hashana, it is forbidden for a Jewish wedding ceremony to take place on this day).

This is all very nice, but what does Adam's wedding have to do with our beginning the Torah other than a historical fact that is related to the first Parsha of the Torah?  True, the whole world are descendants of Adam and Eve, and hence, we the Jewish people are in existence.  However, I believe that what is meant to teach us here is that we should feel the happiness of the Torah in the same way as we felt on what most of us would call the happiest day of our lives - the day of our wedding to our beloved spouse.  After all, in Adam's case especially, he felt very desperate being that he saw all other moving creatures having a mate for themselves, but none for himself; at which point, Hashem created Eve from his rib.  Sure, Hashem could have created both Adam and Eve the same time the same way that He did it for all other creatures, but as our rabbis tell us, He didn't want Adam to take his mate for granted.  As it is, following the sin of eating the forbidden fruit, Adam blamed Eve for having brought him to eat of it.  In any case, at least at his wedding, he
had to have been most happy, especially after what he went through, including being put to sleep by Hashem to create Eve (the first surgical operation in the world).  And so, we in turn have to learn from this not to take the Torah for granted, for in fact, we too went through various hardships, including exile and slavery, to officially receive the Torah once we became a nation.

Now, when many people get married, they don't quite know everything about their significant other.  In fact, even in relationships where boyfriend and girlfriend shack it up for several years living together most romantically, the ball ends once they get married because now, things are viewed in a very different manner, and everyone's true colors "all of a sudden" appear.  But one thing is for sure - if it is a good marriage, there is more appreciation than ever for each other after so many years of marriage, as many will be able to attest at their golden wedding anniversary.

With this said, this would explain why particularly for the one called up for the last Aliya of the Torah, he is called the Chatan Torah, using the word Torah particularly for the end of the Torah rather than the beginning, for it is only after once we go through the entire Torah that we can appreciate the true value of the Torah more than ever.

We see another major connection of the word Torah as related especially to the last Parsha of the Torah.  The fourth Pasuk (verse) of this Parsha begins with the word Torah - Torah Tziva Lanu Moshe Morasha Kehillat Yaacov "The Torah that Moses commanded us is an inheritance of the congregation of Jacob" (Deutronomy 33:4).  The Talmud in Tractate Succa (42a) informs us that this is the very first verse that a Jewish child is taught.  That's right, the very first word of Torah that a Jewish child is taught is the very word Torah, though in his mental self, he has a very limited concept of what Torah represents, and it is largely through the example of others - between family and school - of living the Torah way of life, that the young child will understand more and more as time moves on as to what Torah is about in addition to his increasing studies in Torah.  (Note: On Simchat Torah 5767 ('06) in Israel - 22 Tishrei - the Daf Yomi page was Succa 42 mentioning this very verse that is read in the Sefer Torah as part of the last Parsha read on this day!)

Now, getting back to numbers, we know that each Parsha is divided up into seven Aliyot.  This was always the case - whether they read the Torah based on the 54 or the 154 Parshiyot of the Torah.  However, with the number 154, we see another significant thing.  This number can be divided as 77 plus 77.  Thus, we see that there is an intrinsic connection between the number seven and the Torah, which of course also has to do with Shabbat, the seventh day.  For in fact, the very first Aliya of the Torah is about Hashem creating the world in the first week of this world's existance on each of the seven days of the week, culminating with Hashem resting on Shabbat, and indeed, the first of the 154 Parshiyot is this very section of the Torah, hence beginning with a special connection to the number seven.

And in the final three verses of this first section which is about Shabbat, it mentions "Seventh Day" three times.  I already wrote about this in my previous post, but today, it is relating the number seven to the number four, for as we see, it takes four of the number seven as 77+77 for the amount of Parshiyot that used to be in existance for the weekly Shabbat reading.  For in fact, the Mitzva of Shabbat is the FOURTH of the Ten Commandments as it mentions Shabbat as the "Seventh Day".

With this, we see a little irony.  The only Parsha that is not read on Shabbat is the last Parsha of the Torah (except when Shemini Atzeret falls out on Shabbat in Israel).  And the question begs to be asked - since we know that in fact, Shabbat is holier than the other Jewish holidays, why was there a date fixed for reading the final portion of the Torah over which we rejoice rather than designating a certain Shabbat, let us say the Shabbat after Shemini Atzeret, as the one day in the year to conclude the Torah?

For this, let us mention Rashi (on Numbers 29:35) who quotes the Talmud (Succah 55b) which gives the reason for the observance of the holiday of Shemini Atzeret; which in sharp contrast to the seven days of Succot on which animal offerings were brought in the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) corresponding to the 70 nations of the world, on this final "Eighth Day", it is devoted exclusively between us and Hashem, offering animal sacrifices only on our own behalf.  Similarly, we see in the Talmud in the first chapter of Tractate Shabbat (that we are presently learning in Daf Yomi) that Shabbat in particular is Hashem's special gift to the Jewish people, and is not meant for non-Jews to celebrate.  You see, with the other Jewish holidays, they are quite obvious that they are meant only for Jews because of events that happened to the Jewish people which would give no other nation any reason to celebrate.  However, the concept of rest, which is related to Shabbat, isn't such a foreign idea, and so, Hashem makes it clear that Shabbat is in fact His special gift only for His Chosen Nation.

This is all nice, but why is Shemini Atzeret THE designated day to conclude the Torah as if it is on an equal footing with Shabbat?  After all, we have Passover - a SEVEN day holiday, the birth of the Jewish nation, which would seem to be a good time to not only conclude the Torah, but to begin it corresponding to our birth?  Or better yet, Shavuot - the day that marks the Giving of the Torah would seem to be most appropriate for this, even as the name Shavuot itself means weeks, which is also based on the word Sheva or Shiva (seven), as there were seven weeks of preparation for this momentous occasion, thus having a special connection with Shabbat, the Seventh day.  Or, why not Rosh Hashana, the beginning of the Jewish New Year, for after all, the very first word of the Torah is Bereishit, which makes up the same letters as the date "1st of Tishrei" - A(leph) BeTishrei, and thus we would perhaps think to begin the Torah on the beginning day of the year.  And then of course we have the most solemn day of Yom Kippur, though it probably would not be a very good idea to celebrate on a day of major fasting.  And then we have the SEVEN day holiday of Succot, except for the fact that since on this holiday, animal sacrifices were brought on behalf of the nations of the world, and so this is not exclusive time between us and Hashem to celebrate without distractions from the outside world so to speak.

There is one common theme between Shabbat and Shemini Atzeret.  Shabbat follows a week of work that involves much toil, suffering, working hard to earn a half decent living, etc.  In the old days of the Jews living in the poor ghettos of Europe, Shabbat was truly a day of happiness to help them forget how they half starved during the week, along with the worries of threats or attacks from Anti-Semites which was bound to happen at any time; and truly felt the loss of Shabbat when the sky darkened on Saturday night.  And so with Shemini Atzeret, we first celebrate Succot, which is in fact a most joyous time in the Jewish calendar, but we are reminded of the non-Jewish nations who hate us, even as on our part, we brought offerings on their behalf to atone for them, even if they didn't have any appreciation of this.  And so, Shemini Atzeret steps forward to remind us that at the end of the day, it is our relationship with Hashem that counts the most, just as it is with celebrating Shabbat.

Now, just as we have similarities in almost any two items, so too will there be differences between the two.  And so, while even Shabbat relates to the realm of nature, as there are six days of work and then one rests on Shabbat from the work week, only to face another such week; Shemini Atzeret follows a week of major joyous celebration so that by the time we have Shemini Atzeret, even though it is technically a separate holiday not celebrating with the Succa or Lulav, it is called Shemini "Eighth", highlighting the fact that this number is ABOVE the number seven, being that it represents what is ABOVE nature (as noted in the writings of the Maharal of Prague).  And so, it is most fitting that on this day that we read the concluding portion of the Torah, as after all, the Torah is after all above nature, as evident with stories of many holy rabbis who were hardly affected by nature due to their most highly spiritual state.

Now, there is something that I want to mention from the Hidden Codes of the Torah.  The phrase Simchat Torah (having a total of eight Hebrew letters) can be spelled equidistantly only one time in the entire Chumash - every 1444th letter.  This code is spelled in the three Parshiyot in the Book of Genesis - Vayeishev, Miketz, and Vayigash, which is largely about Joseph from his time in prison to being Pharaoh's viceroy.  In any case, upon a little observation in the Jewish calendar, one will notice that the holiday of Chanuka can only occur during one of the three weeks that these Parshiyot are read on the coming Shabbat (obviously only on two of the weeks on any given year, but will vary as to when Chanuka begins from year to year).   And while Chanuka is not one of the holidays from the time of Moses, but is only some 2,150 years old, it does celebrate our victory over the Syrian-Greeks who wanted to de-sanctify our Torah as a mere nice book of wisdom in the form of Bible stories, G-d forbid taking away the holiness from our holy Torah.  You see, if the Torah is just another nice book of wisdom, then why celebrate the reading of the Torah any more than any other book?  Hence, it is precisely because our holy Torah is "our life and the length of our days", which the cause of us having eternal spritual bliss, that is has such value, and all the materialism that the Syrian-Greeks, who were the world leaders at the time of the Chanuka story, had to offer, even their warped wisdom from Aristotle, Hippocrates, Plato, and Socrates, was of no lasting value to Jews understanding their purpose in life.

Having mentioned that the phrase Simchat Torah is spelled equidistantly every 1,444th letter in the Chumash,
there is a phrase in Tehillim (Psalms) that is the Gematria of 1,444 - Ahavti Toratecha "I love Your Torah" (Psalms 119:97).  Now, the first word Ahavti is the same Gematria as the word for the letter Cheit - 418, and the numerical value of the letter Cheit is eight.  So as you can see, it is the letter eight, that represents what is above nature, that above all represents the eternal value of the Torah which is way above nature that is of a limited existance in the physical world that the Syrian-Greeks worshiped.  And hence, realizing the eternal value of the Torah which is above all other wisdoms and philosphies, one cannot help but love the Torah, which we most express on Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, singing among the more popular songs dancing with the Sifrei Torot (Torah Scrolls) - Ma Ahavti Toratecha Kol HaYom Hi Sichati "How do I love Your Torah, it is my conversation all day long".  OK, not all of us are big Torah scholars who learn in Yeshiva all day, but one who does have a love for Torah will undoubtedly start speaking words of Torah without even thinking twice at times when others would be talking about everything else under the sun.

And in terms of Gematria of what is known as Mispar Katan "Small Number" when adding the immediate sums of the numbers of a give word, the word Torah being the Gematria of 611, becomes eight when we add the numbers of the Gematria of Torah like this: 6+1+1=8.  In fact, in terms of the eight days of Succot-Shemini Atzeret, following the first six days, the final day of the seven days of Succot is called Hoshana Rabba, being that we say special prayers called Hoshanot "Salvations" asking Hashem for His salvation, especially in terms of bringing water/rain to the world so we can survive, as Hashem judges the world especially in terms of water during the course of this holiday, sealing our fate on this final day of Succot.  But the point that I want to mention here is that it is customary among many Jews in terms of the importance of this day to learn Torah the whole night as all good healthy Jews do on the night of Shavuot.  Then, we have the final day of Shemini Atzeret which is also uniquely marked in term of the Torah.  Hence, the equation of 6+1+1 seems to hint to this breakdown of this eight day holiday period.  This doesn't seem coincidental to me.

On a personal note, being that my daughter was born in this past year, having celebrated her first Simchat Torah with me in the synagogue dancing around with dozens of other young children and babies, as well as having received her very first Aliya along with the other children who are given an Aliya that is entitled Kol HaNearim "All the Lads", both of her names have similar roots in this last Parsha of the Torah.  First, for her first name Tamar, right before Moses' passing, Hashem showed him both the entire land as well as the history of the Jews in the land until the end of time.  Among the places in Israel mentioned is Yericho Ir HaTemarim "Jericho, the city of date palms", as Temarim (dates or date palms) is the plural of the word/name Tamar.  And for her second name Tzadika, which is the feminine form of the word Tzadik (righteous person), earlier among the blessings that Moses gave the various Tribes, there is a phrase that refers to Moses (which he said prophetically rather than look just to praise himself being that he was the most humble person to walk this earth) - Tzidkat Hashem Asa U'Mishpatav Im Yisrael  "He performed the righteousness and ordinances of Hashem with Israel (the nation)".. Additionally, there is another phrase among the blessings that states Yizbechu Zivchei Tzedek "They will offer sacrifices of justice", for the word Tzedek (justice) is etymologically related to the word Tzadik or Tzidkut.

Ther is one more thing pertaining to my daughter Tamar as related to the last Parsha of the Torah.  There is a custom among a group of Jews to learn one or more tractates of Mishna corresponding to the Parsha of the week as related to a common theme between the two.  For example, the tractate Berachot (Blessings), which is the first tractate of the Mishna, is learned during the week of Parshat Toldot in which Isaac gave his blessings to his son Jacob.  It would seem to make more sense for this tractate to rather be learned along with the last Parsha of the Torah called V'Zot HaBeracha ("This is the blessing"), but instead, we see that it is Tractate Temurah.  Now, the word/name Tamar is very similar to the name of this tractate, as even the three Hebrew letters of Tamar is spelled in order within the name of Tractate Temurah, though the meanings of these two words don't seem to have any direct connection.  Perhaps they got the idea for this tractate from the phrase in the Parsha - Ir HaTemarim, but first, we need to note that the meaning of Temurah is exchange, referring to the laws and prohibition of exchanging a sanctified animal for the Temple with a different animal, even if the latter is a superior animal; in which case if done, the one who did this was lashed while both animals were now considered sanctified.

Now, in this final Parsha of the Torah, Moses confirms his love and Hashem's love for the Jewish people with the blessings that he granted them.   Along these lines, Hashem has promised us that He will never exchange us with another nation to be the ones to be His nation to observe the Torah and Mitzvot (commandments), which may be the symbolic reason as to why once an animal is sanctified as a sacrifice for the Temple, that it is forbidden to be exchanged for a different animal.  Additionally, the Talmud compares the Jewish people to the Tamar (date or date palm) in terms of its positive qualities, aside from the fact that it is one of the seven species of the Land of Israel (described in the Torah as honey, referring to date honey).  And in connection to Succot, where the Torah commands us to take for ourselves various items to shake which are called the Arba Minim "Four Species", which are the Etrog, Lulav, Hadasim, and Aravot, the Torah describes the Lulav as Kapot Temarim "branches of date palms"; and in fact, the blessing that we say on the Arba Minim mentions specifically the Lulav of the four species, being that it is the tallest.  But perhaps, it is also related to the fact that it is related to one of the species of fruit of the Land of Israel.  Guess it wasn't a bad idea to give the first Sabra (born in Israel) of my side of the family in 2,000 years - a name like Tamar, which seems to be most representative of the Holy Land of Israel of all the other fruits and plants.

Looking forward to many more exciting Gematriot posts in this year.

Motzoei Simchat Torah 5773