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 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

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