Sunday, December 30, 2012

#167 - The Number in Reverse

Technically, this post can be considered a continuation of my previous post as it relates to Esther, or popularly called Queen Esther.

However, unlike last week when the number of the post was simply reversed to reveal the Gematria of Esther's name, the number of this post in itself has a special significance to Megillat Esther - in more than one way.  That is, the number itself, and when it is reversed.

O.K., without further ado, if you have your Tanach version of the Book of Esther that mentions the number of verses in any given book, that there are 167 verses in this Megilla.  And while there may not seem to be any special significance to this number to begin with other than this nice factoid, let us reverse this number to 761.  Last week, I mentioned that the name Esther is the Gematria of 661.  Now, if we include her title HaMalka (the queen), which is the Gematria of 100, then 661 plus 100 is presto!  The magic number 761.

Coincidence?  Perhaps this would be shrugged off as such.  But first, as I mentioned last week, the Megilla mentions the concept of V'Nahafoch, things becoming reversed, such as instead of the enemies of the Jews attacking them according to the letters that King Achashveirosh sent on Haman's request, the Jews were allowed to defend themselves via a second letter that the king sent out following Haman's execution, and at the end, the Jews won without loosing a single person, getting rid of some 75,000 anti-Semites.  And so, the reversal of these numbers, the number of the verses of the Book of Esther to be reversed to be the Gematria of the author of this book, is hardly surprising.

Another prime example we see of reversing a number - even bearing in mind that these numbers that we read here is not a number as it is spelled in Hebrew - is 613 and 316.  Well, virtually all of us know that there are 613 Mitzvot (Commandments).  The reverse of this number is the Gematria of the name Yeishu - referring to the false Christian god who as a Jew, totally rebelled against the Sages of his time, some of whom are among the rabbis mentioned in the Mishna.  Being the total renegade that he was, he started a movement, a religion, an anti-Jewish cause that led to the murder of millions of Jews who were executed in his name within the last 2,000 years.  He rebelled against the entire Torah that consists of the 613 Commandments of the King of Kings, and so, it is most fitting that such a name as Yeshu as he is referred to by our rabbis, being that the letters of this name - Yud,Shin,Vav - are the beginning letters of the words Yemach Shemo V'Zichro - may his name and memory be erased, this phrase which is also used for other wicked people, is the exact opposite Gematria number (316) of what represents the wishes of the King of Kings via his Torah.

Now, speaking of Mitzvot, and the number 167, let us turn to something that is connected to both of these.  But first, a little introduction.  You see, a number of years ago, as I was reciting Psalm 119 in Tehillim, the longest chapter in the entire Tanach, which consists of 176 verses, I noted something absolutely phenomenal.  If I am not the first person, or the first person named Shimon, who ever discovered this, there is no doubt that very few people today, even with the name Shimon, know of this.  I am referring specifically to Verse 167 -  Shmara Nafshi Eidotecha V'Ohaveim Meod  "My soul has observed Your testimonies, and I love them very much".  Now, there are various words in this psalm as synonyms for the word Mizvot "commandments", such as "testimonies".  Anyways, I noticed that in this five Hebrew worded verse, that the first letters of the words of this verse are the same letters that make up the Hebrew name - Shimon!  That is right, my friends, it is this entire verse of only five words and the first letters spell this name.

Now, the order of these letters in this verse are Shin-Noon-Ayin-Vav-Mem, and the letters in order for the name Shimon is Shin-Mem-Ayin-Vav-Noon.  Of course, we can't expect everything to come out "just right", or in the same order, but the fact that these are the same letters are good enough for my namesake as far as I am concerned.  But what makes this more significant is that this Psalm 119 is arranged as eight verses each beginning another letter of the Aleph-Beit in order.  Hence, this verse is the seventh, or the next to the last verse of the eight verses that begin with the letter Shin, the next to the last letter of the Aleph-Beit.  Aside from this, the only practical difference in the order of letters between my name Shimon and the letters beginning the words in this verse are the reversed positions of the letters Mem & Noon, the other letters are the same number position, including the Ayin as the 3rd letter, and the Vav as the 4th letter in both.

Speaking of my name Shimon, it takes up another special significance in both the Parsha of this week - Parshat Shemot, and the next Parsha of next week - Parshat Vaeira.  You see, in the list of the names of the Tribes in the beginning of this Parsha, which is also the beginning of the Book of Exodus, though the name of this Book (and this week's Parsha) is Shemot, which means names, the name Shimon in this verse, whose first two letters spells the word Shem - NAME, the only one of the Tribes whose name is like this, the name of the SECOND son of Jacob and Leah - is the SECOND word of the SECOND verse of the SECOND Book of the Torah.  Now, if this was not enough, in Parshat Vaeira, the name Shimon, amidst the Torah's account of the families of the first three Tribes, in the first of the two mentions of this name in the verse (Exodus 6:15), it is the SECOND word of the SECOND verse of the SECOND Aliyah of the SECOND Parsha of the SECOND Book of the Torah!  Yes, you counted five of the word second in this past sentence.

Now, I have wondered for some time as to the significance of this.  Yes, Shimon was the second son of Jacob and Leah, but why is the connection of the number two so strong with Shimon?  Why isn't the number one the same way with Reuven the first son, or the number three with Levi the third son.  Well, it is true that  the name Levi, who is the THIRD son, has THREE letters and he had THREE sons.  We also see with the name of Gad, the name of the SEVENTH son of Jacob who is mentioned, is the Gematria of SEVEN, and had SEVEN sons.  But in Shimon's particular case, it is the unique position of his name in terms of the number two in the first TWO Parshiyot of the SECOND Book of the Torah.  Certainly, there has to be some reason here.

I am reminded of a piece in the Haggada of Passover that mentions five pairs of the number two, just the way that I mentioned here about Shimon's five SECONDS.  As we know, the Egyptians were bombarded with 10 plagues before Pharaoh gave the green light with no interference for the Jews to leave.  Anyways, there is a verse quoted that hints to the 10 plagues.  Now mind you, this verse that I am about to mention is one of two verses in the entire Chumash (Penteteuch) that consists of ALL 22 letters of the Aleph-Beit.  The verse- "Or, has G-d ever attempted to come take a nation from the midst of another, with trials, signs, wonders, war, a strong hand, an outstretched arm, great manifestations, like all that Hashem your G-d had done for you in Egypt in front of your sight?" (Deutronomy 4:34).  Now, from five phrases in this verse - "With a strong hand", "With an outstretched arm", "With great manifestations", "With signs", "With wonders", each denoting two plagues, the Haggada states that "These are the 10 plagues that the Holy One Blessed Be He brought upon the Egyptians in Egypt".  With this said, the Hebrew word for plagues is Makkot, which is the Gematria of the name Shimon!  Moreover, there is a custom among a certain group of Jews to learn one or more Mishnaic tractates that is somehow related to the weekly Parsha.  And the very tractate for Parshat Veira - in which the name Shimon is mentioned in the five positions of the number two - is Tractate Makkot!  Now, this is bearing in mind that in Parshat Veira, only the first seven plagues took place, but I think that the connections here as pertaining to my namesake Shimon are pretty obvious.

Now, let me explain the underlying explanation of all this in terms of Shimon.  As a way of introduction, the weeks in which we read the first six Parshiyot of Sefer Shemot (and in Jewish leap years, the first eight weeks) are called Shovevim, the acronym of the Parshiyot - Shemot, Vaeira, Bo, Beshalach, Yitro, Mishpatim, which means "wayward", referring to the Jews in the Tanach for having strayed from the path of Hashem.  But in Kabbalistic terms, this is a time period to espeically repent and atone for sexual sins.

With this said, let us backtrack to Sefer Bereishit (Genesis) in the midst of Jacob and his family when his daughter Dina was rapped by Shechem, who was either named after the city Shechem in which he lived or the city was named after him, being that his father Chamor was the mayor of the town.  In any case, as per his anti-Semitic Chutzpa, Chamor attempted to get Jacob's family to agree to do business with and intermarry into his and the town's residents.  Jacob's children agreed - at least outwardly - to do so, but not before the whole town receiving circumcisions, to which they all agreed.  At the highlight of being weak as a result of their circumcisions, Shimon and Levi, avenging their sister's rape, slew all the men in town (who deserved being killed according to the Torah for not protesting the rape).  While Jacob protested what seemed to be their rash behavior, we see that in time, the picture on the flag for the tribe of Shimon is the city of Shechem.

In terms of Gematria, the words Shovavim (wayward) and Shechem have the same number value - 360.  Additionally, both of these words begin with a Shin and end with a Mem Sophit.  As we see, Shimon and Levi killed the men of the town of Shechem following their circumcisions of the organ that is related to sexual desire.  Now to think of it, circumcising themselves if anything would have decreased their sexual desires.  However, their intentions were literally 360 degrees away from the right reason.  Their sole reason for doing so was for the long term physical benefit - especially the reason of Chamor and his son Shechem, which would include defiling the rest of Jacob's family, since this town had no intention of doing so to follow in Hashem's ways, and so they did not become Jewish as a result of the circumcisions.  And so, aside from the physical act of Shimon and Levi killing these wicked people, this was also spiritually in a symbolic way conquering the evil inclination of sexual desires, especially that this whole thing started from Shechem the person following his own sexual desire, and of all people, to rape a young Jewish woman.  Accordingly, the period of time that is termed Shovavim which focuses on repenting for sins related to sexual desire, especially as prompted as a result of looking where we are not to supposed to, is most related to the evil Shechem, whose name is the same Gematria as the word Shovavim, who raped Dinah as a result of looking where he was not supposed to.  And so, just as Shimon and Levi wiped out the men of the town of Shechem, the town having the same name as the evil Shechem, so too we are supposed to especially wipe out our evil inclination for forbidden sexual desires during this time period of Shovavim.

Now, this time period of Shovavim is most related to the concept of Egypt and the Exodus.  In the time of the Exodus, Egypt was the most immorally misbehaved country on earth, which included their base sexual desires, and in the Tanach, are compared as such to a Chamor (donkey), the very name of the father of the evil Shechem!  In fact, our Sages tell us that had the Jews remained in Egypt just a little longer, they would have forever been spiritually enslaved to the 50 levels of Tumah (impurity) which included both idolatry and sexual immorality.  As it is, they were already entrenched in the first 49 levels of Tumah, and that is why they needed a 49 day preparation period between the Exodus and the Giving of the Torah to properly receive
G-d's Word.

Now, we see a connection between Shechem's rape of Dina and Egypt's enslavement of the Jews in terms of a particular word that is used for both.  As mentioned in the beginning of this week's Parsha, it states "They (the Egyptians) placed on him (referring to the Jews) taskmasters, in order to AFFLICT him with their burdens" - Lema'an ANOTO Besivlotam.  On this wording of afflict, the commentators explain that part of the Egyptian slavery was having the Jews buils structures in areas where they would easily tumble; hence, making the Jews feel that they weren't even accomplishing anything, unlike when one toils on a project that lasts, no matter how hard it was to accomplish it, at least at the end one feels satisfaction that something was accomplished.  Similarly, in describing the Shechem rape, the Torah states Vayishkav Otah VAYEANEHA, which literally means "he slept with her, and  he AFFLICTED her".  Rashi notes that sleeping with her was done the natural way, and afflicting her was done the unnatural way.  The part of the Shechem rape which was not natural - which is not a way that procreation is performed, and hence, not accomplishing anything lasting, is described by the same basic term of afflicting as for the non-accomplished work that the Jews were forced to perform.  Accordingly, part of the Shovavim repentance period is repenting for the sin of wasted semen, which did not enter the area of procreation, and hence, nothing was accomplished with the purpose that semen is supposed to be produced for.

Now, in the Hidden Codes of the Torah, we see a most phenomenal thing.  The word Shovavim is spelled the shortest equidistantly in the Chumash - as every 29th letter - in the FIRST ALIYAH OF PARSHAT SHEMOT, the beginning of the six Parshiyot of Shovevim!  In fact, in this word, as spelled backward every 29 letters, the first of these letters which is Mem appears IN THE VERY VERSE that speaks of the Egyptians afflicting the Jews with the non-accomplished word, beginning the word Miskenot - treasure cities, the very item that the Jews built that didn't last.  Then, the letter Yud begins the word Yeanu "they afflicted them" in the next verse, where it states that the more the Egyptians afflicted the Jews, the more the Jews multiplied and spread out, symbolically signifying the fact that despite the fact that the Egyptians attempted to spiritually defile the Jews as much as possible, the Jews maintained their basic Jewish traditions, including the laws of family purity, which involves curbing one's sexual desires for the period that the wife is considered in a menstrual state for nearly two weeks until using the ritualarium, and hence, the children that they bore afterwards were conceived in a holy and pure state.

Now, having mentioned that both the words Shechem and Shovavim being the same Gematria also begin and end with the same letters, this is also parallel to the order of the letters of the name Shimon as spelled as the first letters of Verse 167 in Psalm 119, which begins with a Shin and ends with a Mem as well.  But there is more.  We see that when Jacob first came to the city of Shechem, he is describes as Vayavo Ya'akov Shalem Ir Shechem  "Jacob came complete to Shechem" (Genesis 33:18), where the word Shalem (complete) also begins with a Shin and ends with a Mem (Sophit).  As Rashi notes on this, Jacob was complete with his body, complete with his money, and complete with his Torah.  Now, as for his body, aside from the physical sense, there is no doubt that this is also referring to the spiritual sense, for Jacob as a most righteous person used his body for all the right things, and hence, his body, as a spiritual being, was complete as well, for as he testified about himself to Reuben his firstborn, his very first drop of semen was for the formation of Reuben.  Imagine, Jacob lived for the first 84 years of his life without any sex, in stark contrast to his evil brother Esau who slept with women right and left at the young age of 15; and moreover, Jacob never had what is called a nocturnal pollution, or in simpler English, wet dreams.  And so, he himself was spiritually unaffected with the impurities of this town Shechem, and hence, had no problems himself moving there, though it resulted with his daughter's rape.  His high spiritual standing, in stark contrast to Shechem, is symbolized by the fact that both words Shalem and Shechem begin and end with the same letters, showing that  Jacob was the opposite spiritual match, as completely spiritual in holiness versus the total looseness of the evil Shechem who used especially a Jewish girl for his unbridled sexual activities.

Speaking of the above words having the same Geamtria as 360, so is the name of the letter Shin also the Gematria of 360 - Shin,Yud-Noon.  After all, all three words - Shin, Shechem, and Shovavim, begin with the letter Shin.  Now, as we see as the first word of the above verse in Tehillim - Shamra "has observed" or "has guarded".  We see that when it comes to behaving sexually morally, the terms referring to this are  - Shemirat HaBris "Observing the covenant (of the sexual organ)", and Shemirat HaEinayim "Guarding one's eyes" from looking at what is sexual tempting.  Similarly, when it comes to observing Shabbat, it is called - Shemirat Shabbat, and we see that the word Shabbat begins with a Shin as well.  For after all, this is when we read the Parshiyot of the Torah, and just as the period of Shovavim is a time of especial repentance, so too is Shabbat (though it is meant to be done before Shabbat to be completely spiritually prepared for this holy day), and as we see,  the words Shabbat and Teshuva (repentance) are similar to one another.  And so we see, both the words Shovavim and Shabbat begin with a Shin.

Now, getting back to Shimon, it is interesting to note that his birthdate is 21 Tevet (some versions have it as 28 Tevet, but in my strong opinion, this latter date is a mistake as the letter Aleph=1 in Rashi script looks quite similar to the regular script for the letter Cheit=8; and hence, the discrepancy), which always falls out either during the week of Parshat Shemot, as it is this year, or Parshat Va'era, the two Parshiyot that show special significance to the name Shimon.

Another close relationship between the name Shimon and the Parshiyot of these weeks is that when adding the amount of verses of the first four Parshiyot of Sefer Shemot - 124, 121, 105, 116 - they add up to 466, the Gematria of the name Shimon.  Now, the end of the last of these four Parshiyot - Parshat Beshalach - which is about the story of Amalek coming to attack the Jews and our war against Amalek - is read on Purim right before the Megilla reading which consists of 167 verses.  Now, in the 167th verse of Psalm 119, in which the first letters of the words spell the name Shimon, Mitzvot are referred to as "testimonies".  Considering the various names for the Mitzvot, there are reasons why the Mitzvot are given these different names, as they represent different types of Mitzvot.  We see that "testimonies" refer specifically to the Mitzvot that commemorate an event, which of course includes the story of Purim, in which Haman, a descendant of Amalek, attempted to have all the Jews in the world murdered on one day.

Now, after all is said and done, there are a couple of questions that need to be asked as per Shimon's attack on Shechem.  We see that in time, the picture of Shechem was the picture for the flag of the Tribe of Shimon, but how come the city of Shechem itself was not part of this tribe's territory, but rather, part of the territory of the Tribe of Joseph, or particularly, of Ephraim?  Also, we see that the leader of the Tribe of Shimon in the time of Moses publicly took the Midianite princess to sleep with her, only for both of them to be killed by Pinchas for this sexual crime.  But, is this the reward for Shimon who killed the inhabitants of the town of Shechem avenging his sister Dina's rape?  It's true that people have free choice, but why should such a thing happen to Shimon of all the tribes, when it was only Levi as well who helped Shimon kill the evil people who didn't protest against the rape?  For these questions, and much more, stay tuned to my next post.

18 Tevet, 5773

Sunday, December 23, 2012

#166 - Is It Purim Today?

In the last 2,000 years, non-Jews never seemed to have enough working on getting rid of us once and for all,   unless in some cases - we would, G-d forbid, convert to their religion.   But in many cases, like in the Purim story, too many of them hated us so much, that they seemed to have too much impatience to even attempt to murder us spiritually.  One who is very familiar with Jewish history will know that over the course of time, there have been various Jewish communities who had their own date, aside from the regular Purim, that they called Purim as well for having salvation from their enemies.  While these other dates of salvation never had the official status of Purim in Jewish law, we are obligated to thank Hashem for His miracles for saving us from danger, and there is a concept of celebrating the annual date that this happened on by having a meal celebrating the occasion.

Perhaps the one such "Purim" that must resembles THE Purim of the Jewish people is that of the town called Mezibuz which would in the future be the town in which the Ba'al Shem Tov would lead his Chasidim.  This event of the Jews being saved took place in the year 5408 in the midst of the Cossacks murdering Jews in hundreds of towns in Europe, but this town was saved thanks to a couple named Mordechai and Esther.  To this day, there are groups of Chasidim who will not say the usual Tachanun (supplicatory prayers) that are normally recited on a regular day, being that this is considered a day of happiness.  

It has been noted that the year 5408 is hinted in the Megilla (Book of Esther) in which the letter Cheit=8 of the word Chur (hangings of white) - (1:6) and the first letter Tav=400 of the word VaTichtov (she (Esther) wrote) (9:29) being unusually large, adding up to the number 408.  While there are those who say that this year, as the year of the Cossacks murdering Jews, is hinted in the Megilla, I beg to differ.  For first of all, why would a tragedy such as this one be hinted in the Megilla like this when the Purim story is about salvation of the Jews from our enemies, quite the opposite of a tragedy?  And besides, what is the connection between the two?  However, noting the salvation of the Jews in Mezibuz through the help of a Jewish couple in the year 5408 having the same names as the two heroes of the Megilla that brought about the original Purim, it makes sense to say that this particular event of salavation is hinted in the Megilla.

Anyways, the reason that I mention this now is because it was on today's date - 11 Tevet - that this event in Mezibuz took place.  In fact, I had first mentioned this three years ago on this date, at the end of the first post that I wrote following my marriage.  But today, I have something else to add to the table in relationship to this.  

First, mentioning the month of Tevet, this month is mentioned in the Megilla as the month in which King Achashveirosh married Esther.  Though normally, it is forbidden for a Jewish women to live with a non-Jewish person, even on pain of death, this was a most unusual set of circumstances which happened to allow for the salvation of the Jews as we read further on in the Megilla.  The reason that it happened in this fashion is because it reflected the unworthiness of the Jews, who indeed not only participated in the feast of Achashveirosh beforehand which was forbidden according to Jewish law even if the food would have been all Kosher, but to make matters worse, they disobeyed Mordechai when he told them not to do so, and to top it off, there were some of them who even had the Chutzpa to first blame Mordechai for being threatened with total annihilation of the Jews by Haman following Moredechai's refusal to bow down to Haman.  It was eventually thanks to Esther's declaration of a three day fast with Mordechai's approval, leading to the Jews to sincerely repent, that things changed, which led to the reverse situation of instead of the enemies of the Jews prevailing over the Jews, the reverse happened - V'Nahafoch Hu - "It was turned around - the Jews prevailed over their enemies" (9:1).

Now, it has been customary on Purim to joke around, and some give over what is called "Purim Torah" which may at times involve Gematriot that may not make much sense.  But in all seriousness, I have something to mention here based on this concept of V"Nahafoch "being turned around" that is used on Purim.

You see, the number of this post is 166.  Now, turning this number around, the number is 661 - the Gematria of the name Esther.  And after all, it is not only the name of the woman of the Purim story, it is also the name of the Megilla - Megillat Esther or Book of Esther.  Next, we will employ a method used in Gematriot called AtBash, in which the first letter Aleph is substituted for the last letter Tav, the second letter Beit is substituted for the next to the last letter Shin, etc.  Hence, taking the four letters of the name Esther - Aleph is reversed to Tav, Samech is reversed to Cheit, Tav is reversed to Aleph, and Reish is reversed to Gimel.  Now, let us note the numerical values of the reversed letters - Tav=400, Cheit=8, Aleph=1, Gimel=3, and so 400+8+1+3=412.  First, you will notice that the first two letters here Tav and Cheit are the same two letters that are enlarged in the Megilla hinting to the year 5408 in which the salvation of the Jews of Mezibuz took place.  Now, the perfect word that is the Gematria of the sum total of 412 is Bayit (house/home) which is also the name of the letter Beit, as well as having the same letters that spell the Hebrew number 412.  

The word Bayit especially relates to women, for they are the mainstay of the Jewish home - Akeret HaBayit, and as a rabbi in Tractate Shabbat in the Talmud noted, he called his wife - his house.  And so, in this case, it is most appropriate to call Esther with this appellation, for she is indeed the Akeret HaBayit whose call for fasting and repentance led to the salvation of the Jews, and in effect, was both the spiritual and physical mother of the Jewish nation, being that she also saved them from physical annihilation.  

And in case those who are non-observant Jews who want to pick on "Orthodox" Jews for looking down on women, there could not be nothing further from the truth.  True, there will always be individuals who don't treat their wives right, or look down on women in other ways.  But in Judaism, one is born Jewish ONLY due to his or her Jewish mother.  And the reason why women are not included in the 10 person quorum for communal prayer services is not because they are of lesser status, but because they have the most important job of raising our Jewish children, because if they would always be called to help "make a Minyan" in the synagogue, how well could they take care of their young ones who need constant care.  This is why they are also exempt from most Mitzvot (Commandments) that are dependent on time, including the hearing of the Shofar on Rosh HaShana, believe it or not.  If anything, it is "Conservative" or "Reform" Judaism, which should not be called Judaism, that looks down on women, because its rabbis, who are only called as such because their congregations know less than they do, as Rabbi Meir Kahane, HY"D was wont to say, allow for one who is born only from a Jewish father to also be considered Jewish.  And the fact that they allow men and women to sit together in prayer services in stark contrast to how it is in even Modern Orthodox circles where the genders sit separately at such times does not show that they believe in equal rights for women, but if anything, quite the contrary.  You see, how well can the men concentrate on their prayers when they are seeing women in front of them, aside of them, especially in such circles where the women aren't even dressed modestly for prayers in the temple?  In such surroundings, women are treated more like sex objects, at least in the minds of the men who are supposed to be in temple to pray.  However, in Jewish law, this is all completely forbidden, as we are supposed to have all our thoughts concentrating on the King of Kings to whom we are supposed to be talking to.  

To set the record straight, we see that when the Jews first came to Mt. Sinai, the very first words that Hashem said to Moses on BEIT Sivan (2 Sivan) following their encampment were - KO Tomar L'Beit Ya'akov "So shall you say to the HOUSE of Jacob" (Exodus 19:3) which the rabbis say refer to the women, who were addressed even before the men in preparation to receive the Torah.  And notice the word used here in reference to the women - BEIT (house) which is the exact pronunciation of the name of the letter Beit.  And as we see in the Sefer Torah - the very first letter of the Torah, which is a Beit, is enlarged.  

And as we see in many salvation stories of the Jews, the women are involved in one way or another.  As in the redemption from Egypt "It was in the merit of the righteous women", which included both Moses' mother Yocheved and sister Miriam who helped Jewish mothers give birth despite orders from Pharaoh to murder the Jewish baby boys.  In the story of the Jews being saved in the times of Judge Devorah, it was a woman named Yael who killed Chief General Sisera.  And in the Chanuka story, Yehudis daughter of Matisyahu killed the general with whom Jewish women before getting married were forced to sleep by orders of King Antiochus.  And how can I forget?  When Sara saw how Hagar's son Yishmael taking a shot at her son Isaac, in which he used his bow and arrow in his vicious attempt to get rid of Isaac "as a game", even as Abraham was hesitant to throw out his older son Yishmael from home, Hashem told Abraham to "listen to her (Sara's) voice, for it will be through Isaac that your descendants will be established".  


To note, I am presently in my 43rd year.  The Hebrew number for 43 is Mem-Gimel.  These are the first two letters of the word Megilla, which is also the beginning word of Tractate Megilla.  And noting that today's date is 11 Tevet, the date of the salvation of the Jews in Mezibuz due to the help of a couple named Mordechai and Esther as in the original Purim story, this tractate begins with Megilla Nikreit B'Yud Aleph "The Megilla is read on the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th, not earlier or later".  

Now, while today, we only read the Megilla on the 14th or 15th of Adar, depending on where we are living; in former times, being that Jews in villages were not always able to be in the city where a Megilla would be readily available, there were given a special allowance to read the Megilla up to three days before the holiday of Purim, depending on the closet market day beforehand which was always on a Monday or Thursday.  For them, the 15th of Adar was never an option because this date to read the Megilla is reserved strictly for those who live in walled cities, unlike villages, and the Megilla was never read on Shabbat. 

In observation, we see that when the tractate begins noting the dates on which the Megilla could be read, it doesn't mention the dates as being of the month of Adar, as the Mishna always does in other places, such as the beginning of Tractate Shekalim when it mentions that the annual coin collection for the Temple funds began on the first of Adar, rather than simply saying on the first of the month, even though this was the only month of such collections.  Is there a reason for this?

I never saw an answer to this, but it seems that Tractate Megilla may also be hinting to the salvation event that happened in Mezibuz that took place on the 11th of a month, and as the Mishna begins, "The Megilla is read on the 11th..." though in fact, we only read the Megilla publicly during the month of Adar, but the hint to the year of the more recent salvation is hinted in the actual Megillat Esther.  

Now, in the Babylonian Talmud, just as the first letter of the Tractate is a Mem, the very last letter is a Gimel, hence, spelling the Hebrew number 43 just as the first two letters of the word Megilla.  And how does this Tractate conclude in the Talmud?

""Moses spoke the matters about the holidays of Hashem to the Children of Israel" (Leviticus 23:44).  This tells us that it is a Mitzva to read the section of the Torah about each holiday in its own time.  Our rabbis taught in a Baraita (other teachings that were like the Mishna, but not included in the Mishna): Moses instituted for the Jews that they should inquire and expound about the matters of the day, which includes the laws of Passover on Passover, the laws of Atzeret (Shavuot) on Atzeret, and the laws of the Chag (Festival, referring to Succot) on the Chag."

Now, let us go back to the Atbash letters corresponding to the letters of Esther's name: Tav, Cheit, Aleph, Gimel.  Taking the letters Tav and Aleph, they begin the words Ta'anit Esther - which is the Fast of Esther which is observed the day before Purim (unless it is Shabbat in which case it is observed on the Thursday before) and the letters Cheit and Gimel which spell the word Chag, as in Chag Purim "holiday of Purim" on which we read Megillat Esther.  Moreover, as in the final words of Tractate Megilla in the Talmud which is Chag B'Chag - the word Chag is the Gematria of 11 and the word B'Chag is the Gematria of 13.  And as we see, the two possible dates for Ta'anit Esther are the 11th and 13th of Adar, and the word Chag (festival/holiday) being the Gematria of 11, concludes the Tractate in the same way that it began the Tractate stating that the Megilla is read on the 11th...Coincidence?

I would like to conclude with something that is mentioned in the Chasidic Sefer B'nei Yissaschar about the beginning of Tractate Megilla (Chodesh Adar, Ma'amar 6, 1st paragraph).  He notes that these five possible dates of reading the Megilla is comprised of a total of 120 hours, corresponding to the 120 days that Moses the lawgiver was on Mt. Sinai.  And as it states in the Megilla - Keemu V'Keeblu HaYehudim "The Jews fulfilled and accepted" on themselves, which in the immediate context of the Megilla, refers to the Mitzvot as related to Purim, but in a more general way, that they reaffirmed their commitment to the Torah that began from Mt. Sinai at which they accepted the Torah.  And as we see in Jewsh law, the Megilla needs to be arranged in a line writing format in the same way as it is with a Sefer Torah, the Five Books of Moses.  To add to this, Moses lived for 120 years, and as he was born on 7 Adar, his Brit Mila (circumcision) had to have taken place a week later on 14 Adar, the very date of Purim on which most Jews read the Megilla!  Moreover, the words Megilla and the name Moshe both begin with a Mem and end with a Hei, the same that the name of the month of Purim - Adar, and Esther's name both begin with an Aleph and end with a Reish.  

The bottom line here is that we see that just as the women were first addressed before the men upon their arrival at Mt. Sinai, and it is the letter Beit that represents the woman of the house that begins the Torah, so too do we see in Jewish law how the laws of the writing lines for the Megilla which is named after a woman - Esther, are the same as for writing a Sefer Torah.  

And indeed, the name Esther hints to the modesty of the Jewish woman, for "all the glory of the King's daugher is inside" (Psalms 45:14), just as the name Esther is based on the meaning of something that is hidden, just as the miracles that took place in the Purim were hidden miracles, in order that the Jews, though at first unworthy, would merit the salvation that they badly needed, but was ultimately in the merit of Esther who knew what it would take to save the day.  And as we call the Megilla as Megillat Esther, as the word Megilla is based on the word that means revealing, we are revealing the hidden miracles of Hashem through reading the Megilla on Purim, the same way that by reading the Sefer Torah, we are making aware to the Jewish people of their obligations to Hashem.  And by following in Hashem's ways, instead of being worried about politics from King Achashveirosh's feast to the political party in the Knesset to vote for without being "fanatical", then and only then will we merit Hashem's salvation, for a human being can only acccomplish what Hashem allows him to accomplish, but part of it is based on our behavior, which includes having full faith and trust in Hashem, despite the current trend of behaving the opposite.  Yes, Esther was hesitant in approaching the king to help save the Jews, though he was her husband, for fear of being killed if she came to him without being called, but after Mordechai explained to her about her important mission, facing the truth, she was willing to do what it took to save the Jews, even if it would mean her immediate execution.

Before concluding, there is a connection with this week's Parshat Vayechi with Purim.  In Jacob's blessing to his youngest son Benjamin "Benjamin is a devouring wolf'; in the morning- he will devour spoils, and in the evening- he will split the booty" (Genesis 49:27), Rashi notes that the morning time refers to King Saul, first king of Israel who was parentally descended from Benjamin who won war after war, and the evening time refers to his descendants in turn, Mordechai and Esther, who took over Haman's possessions as given to them by King Achashveirosh.

One thing that we see here is that the one verse in this Parsha that has a reference to the story of Purim is in the verse that begins in Hebrew - Binyamin Ze'ev.  Does this sound familiar?  It should to anyone caring Jew who doesn't live in a box - this is the Hebrew name of Rabbi Meir Kahane HYD's son and successor who took over from his father following his assassination, who faithfully continued spreading the Kahane teachings and activism on behalf of Jews and Israel for 10 years - noting that his second Hebrew name Ze'ev is the Gematria of 10, until he was also assassinated by one or more cursed Arabs, which resulted in his wife Talia being killed as well in the vehicle that they were in at the time that this happened some 12 years ago on the 5th of Tevet, 5761 (Dec. 31, '00).  You would think that after this happened, noting that their funeral(s) were among the most attended in recent Jewish history, that a good percentage of at least the "religious" or "right-wing" Jews would wake up as to who is the only ones who represent the truth in the Knesset.  Never mind the ones who don't want to vote for anyone seeing the big sham and shame that has happened over the years with all the crooked politicians, but many who supposedly want to vote for those who will claim will help Israel aren't truly sincere - including those who vote for parties from Likud (except for some who vote for Feiglin's party within Likud, but I won't get into this now) to the Jewish Home.  A true sincere Jew who knows about Kahane and what he represented - which is 100% unadulterated Torah - will vote ONLY for one, or the party who includes one who truly represents the Kahane idealism.  And for this coming election - the ONLY one who truly represents Kahane - with ZERO compromises, including as per the issue as to what one would do if one were given orders from the army to evict Jews - is Dr. Michael Ben-Ari, Shlita (along with Dr. Aryeh Eldad, but I am pinpointing on someone who is an observant Jew who can truly represent Kahane), and so it is ONLY his party - "Strength to Israel" - that one is permitted, and OBLIGATED, to vote for according to Jewish law (I am not talking about the ones in the Hasidic world who only know of their Rebbe and never even heard of Kahane).  This means that one who knows this - even in the back of their mind which was pushed there because of avoiding "fanaticism", but one does not want to vote for a "fanatic" or doesn't want himself/herself to be labeled as such, will one day have to give a reckoning to the Boss upstairs as to why he or she chose to have a part in the continuous murdering and injuring of Jews by our Arab enemies that is constantly inspired by the concessions that the rotten apples of the Knesset offer them, being that everyone else or all other parties in the Knesset are compromising in one way or another - EXCEPT for a Kahane based party.

I know, I may sound a little more than a bit "fanatical", but one must remember that Rabbi Meir Kahane, as much as he may be labeled as such, NEVER advocated killing the Arabs in Israel, but merely to transfer them to one of their 22 countries.  But the problem with the ones who are against Kahane is that when push comes to shove, they would for the most part exile Jews from their homes before daring to do the same to Arabs, just as it happened in the disgraceful Gush Katif expulsion named with the sly term "The Disengagement", which was performed by some who would never dream of eating non-Kosher, breaking the Sabbath in a non-life threatening situation, or even removing their skullcaps, but had different standards when it comes to our Holy Land of Israel and treatment of our fellow Jews, some who did so for fear of either going to prison or loosing their army benefits and all, forgetting or not believing that Hashem is not going to give them a thing less if they do the right thing, and that it is far better to suffer a bit in this world, then to be damned to hell for eternity.  

Yes indeed, we have much to learn for the women of our Jewish history.  But instead of doing the opposite of what Hashem wants in fear of what the non-Jews will complain about us, let us do what Hashem wants so He will do the opposite of what our enemies want to do to us, the same way that Mordechai & Esther, and Kahane & Kahane, Inc. did, and then, we will not even feel that we will have the need to worry about what "the world will say" when we go full force forward to occupy every part of Israel following the banishment of our Arab enemies from "the West Bank" which is 100% part of the Holy Land of Israel, including around 80% of Jordan which is also part of Israel but apportioned by the evil British as part of  "Palestine" to the Arabs, without any apologies to the world.

11 Tevet, 5773

P.S.  Noting the timing of this post - 4:37 PM, this is the very time of the 24 hours or 1,440 minutes, and on the same day of the week - Sunday, that a Jewish girl was born - none other than my daughter Tamar, who was born some 54 weeks ago.  I pray and hope for my daughter Tamar to grow up and be the courageous woman that Esther was in her spiritual and physical help of saving the Jewish people.   And as mentioned within the last Mishna of Tractate Megilla, the story of Tamar in the Torah, which involves her one time affair with Judah, is both read and translated, unlike other parts in the Torah that are shameful for the Jewish people or the person mentioned in the context of the story that were not translated in public, for Tamar's act of being with Judah was for righteous reasons, which in turn lead to her being the ancestor of King David and Moshiach, may he come speedily in our days, our ultimate salvation.  Amen!

#165 - How do we read 12-21-12?

So, it seems that the world didn't end after all on Friday; or for that matter, nothing especially spectacular seemed to take place about a new consciousness that was supposed to take place between 11:00 AM and 11:11 AM.  Of course I am not quite sure as to what time zone - this time period of 11 minutes was referring to, but is there any truth to the supposed end of the calendar or prophecy of the end of the world of the idolatrous Mayans?

Apparently, Rabbi Matisyahu Glazerson, Shlita, on the forefront of discovering hints of current events in the Hidden Codes of the Torah, thinks so.  But don't get me wrong.  I am not saying that the world is in fact going to end shortly - at least not for another 228 years.  On the contrary, we are awaiting for the very period of time in history that the whole world has been waiting for during the past 5772 years - the era of Moshiach, in which the world will eventually become the way it was before the sin of Adam & Eve, including the high spiritual level of consciousness.  In any case, the Mayan calendar is far from the only source in the non-Jewish world as to things changing in the universe in the near future.

Now, noting the Hebrew date of the now dysfunctional 12-21-12 at 11:00 AM - 8th of Tevet, this marks the day that the translation of the Torah into Greek, particularly the Penteteuch, was completed, upon orders of King Ptolemy of Egypt to 72 Torah scholars.  While the Torah was in fact translated into 70 languages by Moses, without getting into detail about how this was done, this was the first openly disseminated translation let loose to the outside world.  Hence, this date of 8 Tevet is considered a sad day in Jewish history, because this led to the non-Jews misusing the Bible to turn against us in the future, both by using it as an excuse to murder us physically as well as spiritually by attempting to baptize us, G-d forbid.

The Talmud in Tractate Megilla tells us, "If one tells you that the non-Jews have wisdom, believe him.  If he tells you that the non-Jews have Torah, do not believe him."  In fact, it is meant for the non-Jews to delve to science, mathematics, etc. to benefit mankind; but when it comes to G-d's word, aside from the Seven Noahide Commandents, the Torah belongs exclusively to the Jewish people.  And so, distortion of the Torah by non-Jews is nothing short of destructive, because the Bible as they call it is not addressed to them, and without the meaning of the Oral Torah, it is quite shallow without knowing what Hashem meant with His word.

Now, let us take the numbers of the 12-21-12, and we will see that these three numbers add up to 45.  Interestingly, as this date (with the time of AM, because the nighttime is already the next Hebrew date) fell out on Friday, the day of the week on which Adam (and Eve) were created, and the Gematria of Adam's name is 45.  Moreover, his name is the very first word of the 24th and final book of the Tanach (Jewish Bible) called Divrei HaYomim (Chronicles).

In any case, I think that without getting ourselves mixed up with the calendars of other idolatrous societies who were into human sacrifices, the ultimate act of murder in the name of religion, let us get straight down to our own beautiful Hebrew calendar.  As we know, Adam was created on Rosh HaShana, the 1st of Tishrei, which is the beginning of the New Year.  Hence, the date of Adam's creation is 01-01-0001, for it was in the Year 1, following five days of world preparation by Hashem in the Year 0, that mankind began its service to G-d, on the very first day of Year One.  And if we add the three number ones in the Hebrew date of Adam's creation, we have the number three, the Gematria of the word Av (father), for Adam is indeed the father of all mankind.  Oh yes, the numbers of no other date in the history of the world will add up to the small value of the number three, for it was on THIS DATE of the world's existance that Adam was created, and according to our Sages, begot children on this very date for the very first time in world history.

Now, let us continue reading the Book of Chronicles, and before we know it, we will be reading exclusively about Jewish history.   Don't think that we need to start reading histories of other nations to point to the truth, when we already have our Torat Emet - Torah of Truth.

Oh, by the way, I will be eagerly waiting for the date of 8 Tevet in seven years from now.  You see, this date in 5780 - Hei, Tav, Shin, Pei - the acronym of the words Heyei Torah She'B'Al Peh "Will be the Oral Torah" - will mark the beginning of the 14th cycle of Daf Yomi, G-d willing, - and ultimate Tikkun (rectification) of what took place on this date 2,000 years ago regarding the disabuse of our Torah - when we will begin learning the Babylonian Talmud worldwide for the 14th time, a date that Torah Jews should most anticipate looking forward to, as it is the Oral Torah that ultimately marks our exclusive relationship with Hashem.  Hope to see you all then before my 50th birthday, G-d willing.

10 Tevet 5773

#164 - Learning Greatness from THE YOUNG

As it turns out, though I hoped to have written this post and the previous post during Chanuka, today is the first day of the week of Parshat Vayechi.  You see, in the last few Parshiyot, since the brothers of Joseph sold him in their jealousy of him, and the story of the one night stand between Judah and Tamar, the focus of the Torah has been on Joseph for the most part.  It even continues in the final Parsha in which father Jacob lives, and gives his blessings to all of his children; however, not before he blesses Joseph's children.  And even at that, he didn't simply bless them as Joseph's son; Jacob went ouf of his way to show how Joseph's younger son Ephraim was destined for greater greatness than the older son Menashe, by criss crossing his arms to place his right hand, considered the superior hand, on Ephraim's head.  As Rashi notes, the major greatness coming from Ephraim was his descendant Joshua who would lead the Jews to Israel

In any case, we see a phenomenon that doesn't happen many times in a lifetime in the Jewish calendar.  I am referring especially to what we see in this Hebrew year 5773.  I am referring specifically to the three dates in the Jewish year that celebrate or highlight three great righteous Jews - Joseph, Ephraim and Joshua - all falling out this year on Shabbat.  Aside from the fact that even if it would be a different day of the week that all of these three dates would fall out, the chances that all three of them falling out on the same day of the week isn't usual, and so, when they all three dates fall out on Shabbat, this is a special significance as it relates to the particualar year in which they fall out on.

To explain - the three dates are 20 Tishrei - which celebrates Joseph - the Heavenly Guest of the sixth day of Sukkot; the 7th day of Chanuka - on which we read the offerings of the leader of the Tribe of Ephraim; and 26 Nissan - which is the Yahrzeit of Joshua.  Now notice, I didn't give the Hebrew date per se for the day celebrating the Tribe of Ephraim.  You see, between the months of Tishrei and Tevet - on which we celebrate the final days of Chanuka, the months of Cheshvan and Kislev occur - the only months in our Jewish calendar today that can have either 29 or 30 days, unlike the other months that are fixed with the numbers of days in the month.  And so, depending on whether Cheshvan is 29 or 30 days, we will celebrate Chanuka a day earlier and later.  And then, the last day of Chanuka will be on either 2 Tevet or 3 Tevet, depending on whether there are 30 or 29 days to Kislev, respectively.  And so, while in some years, 2 Tevet may be the last day of Chanuka, and in some years, falling out on Shabbat, which happened three years ago, the first Shabbat of my marriage; in this year, while 2 Tevet also fell out on Shabbat, it was not the eighth/last day of Chanuka, but rather the seventh day of Chanuka, something which has not happened in many years.

In any case, we see that we always read on the 2nd of Tevet - the offerings of the leader of either Menashe (when Kislev has 30 days) or the offerings of the leader of Ephraim (when Kislev has 29 days), noting that both Tribes are from Joseph, being that we begin reading from these tribes on the final two days of Chanuka.
And so, as you can see, this is how it is possible that especially this year, all three days celebrating part of a generation line can fall out on the same day of the week.

Another amazing phenomenon here is that on this past Shabbat Chanuka, there is a direct connection between the regular Parshat Miketz and the Maftir, the final Torah reading before the Haftara.  I had mentioned this before, but without going into all the details, we see in Parshat Miketz where Joseph orders a meal prepared for him and his brothers.  The rabbis note that this was Joseph honoring the Shabbat with a delicious meal, and so, in reward for doing so, his future parental descendant, the leader of the Tribe of Ephraim, was given special allowance to offer his offerings, unlike none of the leaders of the other Tribes who also offered special offerings on behalf of their Tribes following the dedication of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) on Shabbat, as per the Maftir of the day being the seventh day of Chanuka "On the seventh day, the leader of the Tribe of Ephraim..."  Now wait a minute, does the "Seventh Day" refer specifically to the seventh day of the week - Shabbat, for we see that the Torah continues with the "Eighth Day", the "Ninth Day", etc.  Yes, these 12 days were the first 12 days of Nissan, and a leader of one of the Tribes brought his offerings on one of these days.  But as our Rabbis tell us, the first of Nissan was also the first day of the week.  And so , the "Seventh Day" of Nissan was also the seventh day of the week.

In fact, the readings of the offerings of these leaders on Chanuka perfectly paralleled the days of the week this year, just as it was at the dedication of the Mishkan, making this year on Chanuka unique.  And as Chanuka represents the lights of the Menorah - and hence called Chag HaUrim "Holiday of Lights", the first day of Chanuka was also the first day of the week this year, and as we know, it was on the first day of the week, the topic of the very first five verses of the Torah, that light was created; the word Ohr (light) being mentioned five times.  In fact, it has been said long ago that the 25th word of the Torah is Ohr, the first mention of this word in the Torah "Let there be light", hinting to the 25th day of Kislev, the beginning of Chanuka.  And correspondingly, being that the eighth day of Chanuka also falls out on the same day of the week as the first day of Chanuka, it is most noteworthy to note that we read about Aharon, the first Cohen Gadol (High Priest) being commanded to light the Menorah on this final day of Chanuka, which fell out on the first day of the week this year, the day of the week on which light was created.


Yes, Joshua, though not mentioned in the Torah readings of the Parsha or the Maftir of Chanuka, has a direct relationship to this Shabbat Chanuka of this year, not just because he is a parental descendant of the leader of the Tribe of Ephraim - Elishama Ben-Amihud - who offered the offerings on behalf of this Tribe, as we will shortly see.  Acutally, we do read about Joshua in the Haftara of Chanuka.  But wait - this is not in the Book of Joshua, but rather,  in the Zecharia section of the "Minor Prophets" (Trei Asar).  Correct, but it is about a different Joshua, the name of the present Cohen Gadol in the context of the Haftara.  There are in fact no coincidences, as Joshua, the most worthy descendant of Joseph and Ephraim, having received the Torah directly from Moses and the one who led the Jews to Israel, and helped them fight and settle their territories, also has a strong connection to the concept of Chanuka, who fought the enemies who dared challenge the Jews' right to live in Israel, just as the Maccabbees fought the Syrian Greek enemies who attempted to prevent the Jews from practicing Judaism in Israel.  But shortly, we will see another amazing connection of Joshua to especially this Shabbat Chanuka of this year 5773.

As I mentioned in my 156th Post about Joseph, Tractate Sota, which is about the adulterous woman who is tested with the bitter waters upon her claim of innocence, is very much related to Joseph.  We see that there is a custom among some Jews to learn a specific chapter of Mishna on the seven days of Succah corresponding to the Heavenly Guest of that day.  Hence, the first chapter of Sota is learned on the sixth day of Succot that corresponds to Joseph, since it mentions in this chapter about Joseph burying his father, and then his own coffin being taken out of Egypt by none other than Moses.  Moreover, the last chapter of this tractate, as its beginning words, are about the Egla Arufa, the calf that was decapitated in lieu of finding the murderer of one found lying dead who was obviously murdered, the very last Torah topic that Jacob and Joseph learned together before Joseph was sold by his brothers.

In any case, this chapter begins with the word HaMekane, which literally means "One who has warned" his wife who has been spotted around talking with some other guy, in an attempt to prevent her from fooling around further, and certainly, that she should not be sleeping with anyone else but her husband.  Now, as I already mentioned in my previous 156th Post about Joseph, the 5773th verse of the Torah begins with the words Hem Kinuni V'Lo El  "They have provoked Me with a non-god...", the first five letters of this verse being spelled exactly at the very first word of Tractate Sota!  Hence, the corresponding Hebrew year 5773 to the 5773th verse of the Torah is very much hinted about the concept of Joseph, who chose not to fall into temptation when confronted with the daily persuasions of his master's wife.

Having mentioned this, the word Mishgal, which refers to sexual intercourse, is the Gematria of 373.  Now, dissecting the letters of this Hebrew year- Hei, Tav, Shin, Ayin, Gimel, the last three Hebrew letters of the year is the Hebrew number 373.  And indeed, Joseph who conquered his evil inclination for sexual intercourse with a forbidden woman, as well as not looking at the women who threw all kinds of congragulatory things at him following being appointed viceroy to Pharaoh in this Parshat Miketz, is given the title HaTzadik "the righteous one".

This is all fine and dandy.  However, there is one place IN THE ENTIRE TANACH that the word HaMekane, the exact way that the word is spelled as the first word of Tractate Sota - unlike the combination of the first five letters from two words that spell this word - is spelled.  This is in Parshat Be'ha'alotcha (Numbers 11:29), the context in which 70 people were appointed to be prophets as assistants to Moses.  Meanwhile, Eldad and Medad, two of these prophets, were in the midst of saying prophecy, which our Rabbis say, was about Moses dying and Joshua leading the Jewish people to Israel.  Upon this, Joshua was infuriated about what they were saying about Moses dying, and exclaimed "My master, Moses, incarcerate/get rid of them (depending on how the last word is translated)".  Moses replied back to Joshua, beginning with the word HaMekane "ARE YOU ZEALOUS for my sake..."

We see here something most interesting.  The SOLE time in the entire Tanach that the word Hamekane is used is in reference to Joshua, the descendant of Joseph and Ephraim, this word being the very first word of Tractate Sota that is most associated with Joseph.  And we see that although Joshua could have took pride in the prophecy, feeling that he would be Moses' successor, he was also humble to much of the extent of Moses' humility, and would not hear of any statement that degraded Moses even to his own benefit, even in the form of prophecy.  Hence, Joshua didn't fall into the temptation of haughtiness, just as Joseph did not fall into the temptation of forbidden sexual relations or forbidden looks at women.

Now, I have something to tell you that you will not see anywhere else.  Having mentioned about the trio Joseph-Ephraim-Joshua in relationship to Shabbat of this year, I will mention something about Daf Yomi that is related to Shabbat.  Yes, we are presently learning Tractate Shabbat of the Daf Yomi cycle, but I am referring to something else that is related to Shabbat and Daf Yomi.  You see, three Daf Yomi cycles ago, the beginning of the 10th cycle of Daf Yomi, began on Shabbat - 3 Iyar 5750.  Now, counting all the Shabbatot from that Shabbat until this Shabbat Chanuka 5773, if one were to learn one Daf per Shabbat, it would wind up that one would begin learning the first Daf of Tractate Sota of the Babylonian Talmud on this Shabbat Chanuka - 2 Tevet 5773!

And while this may not sound like such a big deal to some critics, there is another thing that I would like to refer you to.  You see, Rabbi Sholom Yehuda Gross, Shlita, who in his own way, didn't fall into the temptations of the politics and scams of the Kashrut industry like so many others have, and has revealed the truth of it all, especially about supposed Kosher meat which is almost non-existent especially in the United States that is due to the hanky panky business between the slaughtering and kashering of meat which aren't done correctly for the most part, causing just about all Jews - even very religious ones - to eat non-kosher meat howbeit unwittingly, has promoted the learning of Zohar, the main book of Kabbala, in recent years, in preparation for the upcoming Redemption, and to merit Jews of life in the world to come.   Anyways, one of his most recent projects pertaining to learning the Zohar was his division of the Zohar into 2,711 parts, to be learned one section a day corresponding to one of the 2,711 days of the Daf Yomi cycle of the Babylonian Talmud.

With this said, I took a look at what the corresponding Zohar section for the first Daf of Talmud Sota, and lo and behold, "Rabbi Shimon (Bar Yochai, author of the teachings of the Zohar) opened his discourse "Joshua Bin-Noon was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses laid (his hands on him)" (Deutronomy 34:9)" going on into a whole discussion comparing Moses to the sun and Joshua to the moon, and then about Joshua's wisdom.  So as you can see, the corresponding Zohar to the first page of Talmud Sota that is very related to Joseph is all about Joshua, direct parental descendant of Joseph, pertaining to his appointment as the new leader of the Jews following Moses' passing, just as his ancestor Joseph was appointed viceroy to Pharaoh in Parshat Miketz that was read on Shabbat Chanuka of this year.  And bearing in mind Joshua's zealousness for Moses' honor using the word HaMekane as Moses described him, being the first word of the tractate that is very related to Joshua's ancestor Joseph, we see that following in Moses' footsteps of humbleness is what ultimately earned him the right to take over the leadership from Moses.  Coincidence?  Now, here is the link to this section of the Zohar that is marked with Sota 2 in Hebrew  And of course, those who are interested in learning the daily Zohar corresponding to the Daf Yomi of the Talmud can refer to here


Turning to the end of Parshat Vayechi - we see how Joseph reaps Nachas from his descendants, to have seen great-grandchildren from his younger son Ephraim (Genesis 50:23), as noted in the verse - Vayare Yosef L'Ephraim Bnei Sheleishim "Joseph saw three generations from Ephraim".  But if one were to take this literally, and not see the vowels, one could read it as "the children of THIRTY", for the word Sheleishim here without the vowels could also be read as Sheloshim as the same letters.

Now, just as the 12 Hebrew months have a corresponding Tribe, so do they have a corresponding letter.  With this said, the month of Tishrei's corresponding Tribe is Ephraim, and corresponding letter is Lamed - which is the numerical value of 30.  This is besides the point that Ephraim's father Joseph is the only one of the 12 sons of Jacob who are among the Heavenly Guests of Succot, whose holiday takes place in the midst of Tishrei, Ephraim's month.   And it was at 30 years of age that Joseph became viceroy of Egypt, when he also married Osnat, who bore him his two children Menashe and Ephraim.

In Jewish history, though the Jews finally were able to leave Egypt following 116 years of slavery, members of the Tribe of Ephraim apparently misinterpreted Hashem's count of 400 years of the Jews being "in a land that is not theirs", for the land of Israel didn't belong to the Jewish people as of yet though our Patriarchs and Matriarchs lived there, anymore than was Egypt.  You see, Hashem told Abraham that it would be 400 such years.  Now, the 400 year count began with Abraham's son Isaac's birth on the future date of Passover, which would be exactly 400 years later when the Exodus took place.  However,  these Ephramites, in their eagerness to leave Egypt, interpreted these 400 years as beginning from when Hashem spoke these words to Abraham, which was 30 years before Isaac's birth.  Hence, taking matters in their own hands, they proceeded to leave Egypt 30 years before the future Exodus, but were met with war along the way out, and were all killed.

No doubt, these Ephramites had good intentions, and besides attempting to escape the physical slavery, they knew that they would also be escaping the spiritual impurities of the Egyptian idols and promiscuous behavior.  Indeed, the Tribe of Ephraim is related to the number 30 via the letter Lamed as related to the month of Tishrei.  With this said, it seems that this incident of the Ephramites escaping 30 years before the right time is hinted in where the Torah words the descendants of Ephraim that Joseph saw as B'nei Sheleishim, which can also be read as B'nei Shloshim, "the children of thirty", who attempted to rush the redemption from Egypt 30 years before its time.  And then in the very next verse, we see that Joseph told his family that Hashem will redeem them and bring them up from Egypt to the land of Israel.  It seems that perhaps, Joseph foresaw the unfortunate incident that would take place from his descendants in their rush to leave Egypt, and so to let his whole family know, it would be Hashem that would give them a sign as to when this redemption would happen - the code words of Pakod Yiphkod that Moses used when Hashem appeared to him in the Burning Bush telling him to begin his role to pave the way for the upcoming Exodus.

With this said, it seems that Joshua, aside from his humbleness in not wanting to hear of prophecies about Moses dying and himself leading the Jewish people to Israel, did not want the same fate to happen to himself as it happened to members of his Tribe Ephraim who jumped the gun 30 years early in their zealousness for the redemption.  And so, even though he realized that he was hearing prophecy, he didn't want to have any part in hasting the prophecy or attempting to gain leadership any sooner. If it was meant to happen, then it could happen without any such prophecies, and so, Joshua wanted to do away with the ones who said this prophecy.

And in conclusion, as Jacob said of Ephraim in contrast to Menashe - Ulam Achiv HaKaton Yigdal Mimenu "But his (Menashe's) younger brother will be greater than him", the word HaKaton "the younger", is the Gematria of 164, which is the number of this post.  But it would be Joshua, the descendant of the younger son Ephraim, who would be THE ONE to lead the Jewish people to their promised land, the ultimate rectification of the over zealousness of the Tribe of Ephraim, in the proper manner of leadership in its time which Joshua learned and practiced quite well.

And since this 164th Post is related to Chanuka, I want to mention a nice Chanuka thought that I came up with many years ago as related to Gematria.  As there are eight days of Chanuka, let us multiply each number of the day of Chanuka times its own number, like this:

So, I have dissected the number 164, the number of this post into the smallest number one (1) and the biggest number (64) in this number chart.  But now, add up the eight totals here like this 1+4+9+16+25+36+49+64=204.  And what is the number 204 - the Gematria of the word Tzadik, righteous one, which is the ultimate description of Joseph, who is the main topic of the Parshiyot that we read during Chanuka.  And just as Joseph avoid the temptations of the physical body when forbidden, so too, we celebrate Chanuka as the victory of Judaism over the philosophy of the Syrian Greeks who worshiped the human body as the main thing in life.  And though the word Guf (body) ironically is the Gematria of the name of the holiday Chanuka (89), we can transform our bodies into vehicles of holiness via our Neshama, our soul, and when we re-arrange the letters of Neshama, it can read the number Shemona (eight) which is the number representing the concept of miracles beyond nature that is confined to the human body, and the name Menashe, the name of the oldest son of Joseph, the Tribe whose leader brought offerings on behalf of on the "Eighth Day" that we begin reading about on the eighth and final day of Chanuka, that totally represents Joseph's righteousness.

10 Tevet 5773

Saturday, December 22, 2012

#163 - Are Miracles Always Good?

Well, aren't miracles always a good thing?  That depends on whom you ask.  You see, in the Torah, punishments happening to nations who oppressed Israel in saving Israel from further trouble were miracles for us.  For example, the 10 plagues that Hashem wrought on the Egyptians were meant for them to let the Jews go, and it finally took for the 10th plague of the death of all the firstborn to finally convince Pharaoh to let the Jews leave his land once and for all.

Now, the number 163 - the number of this post - is a number quite familiar to residents of North Miami Beach, Florida, my hometown until I moved to Israel eight years ago.  In fact, those who were living in this town in the eighties will recall that there was what was called "The Miracle on 163rd Street", referring to the 163rd Street Mall, which was completed in its finest in 1982.  For the next several years, it was the place where at least the residents of the surrounding area turned to for shopping and all.  However, over time, competition took over, between stores that moved out of the mall, competing businesses nearby, and then between the Intracoastal Mall which was more of a cool place to hang out at and the Aventura Mall that had just about all the major clothing retail store chains, things changed, along with the declining class of neighborhood which used to consist of more Jewish (though partly secular) residents who eventually moved away allowing for low elements to dominate the area, including the nearby public school.  And so, the place that at one time hosted the future president John F. Kennedy in 1960 is today for the most part a fragment of the yesteryear of financial success of the mall.

In fact, the word miracle in today's usage is not such a miracle.  For that matter, even atheists can describe something that unusually happens as a miracle, for after all, it is a relative term to describe something that happens less often than things that happen more often.  On the sharp end, even something that happens in nature is nothing less than the greatest miracle possible, both because of the complexity of the human being, animal, plant, or stone object, and because of its continued life force, without which, nothing would exist more than a tiny fraction of a split second.

In terms of the holiday of Chanuka that ended a week ago, there is a game that in Yiddish is called a dreidel, in Hebrew is called a Sevivone, and in English...I never heard an English word used for this game.  Anyways, on this dreidel, are the four Hebrew letters - Noon, Gimel, Hei, and...well, that depends on where the dreidel comes from.  You see, most dreidels that you will see in the United States, at least from what I can speak of, has the letter Shin; but the dreidels from Israel has the letter Pei.  The reason is this.  You see, the letters are the beginning words of Neis (miracle) Gadol (great) Haya (was)...for dreidels from out of Israel, it is Sham (there); for dreidels from Israel, it is Poh (here).

Makes sense.  You see, what is unique about the holiday of Chanuka, in sharp contrast to the other holidays from Passover to Purim, is that the miracles of this holiday TOOK PLACE IN ISRAEL.  And so, rightfully so, the Israeli dreidel, excuse me, the Sevivone, which is based on the Hebrew word which means surrounds, or goes around in a circle, is a Hebrew word, and so Hebrew, the ONLY holy language, should be spoken especially in Israel in sharp contrast to Yiddish which is at least a one-third German language; yes, the Sevivone, includes the letter Pei which means HERE, for we are supposed to live in Israel and be able to declare that we live HERE, in Israel, our only true homeland.

For me, it may be a little ironic to promote the letter Pei over the letter Shin, for the letter is what begins my name Shimon.  But I have to admit, when I was a young boy, I somehow received a Sevivone that was clearly from Israel with the letter Pei, and this was my favorite Sevivone, or dreidel if we are including the other dreidels that I owned, until at one point, it goes lost or misplaced somehow, never again to reappear.  But though it would be many years before I ever even visited Israel, I already knew that the fact that even a Jewish toy can be different between Israel and elsewhere had significance.

Anyways, since this is a Gematriot blogspot, let us note the Gematriot of these letters for both types of dreidels (O.K., we'll leave it at this name for its usual usage in the English language).  The letters for the ones outside of Israel - Noon, Gimel, Hei, Shin - add up to the numerical value of 358, which is the Gematria of the word Moshiach, and the letters for the ones inside of Israel - Noon, Gimel, Hei, Pei - add up to the numerical value of 138, which is the Gematria of the name Menachem.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am not saying that the late Luavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson is Moshiach just because Menachem is his first name.  For after all, several Hasidic Rebbes had this same exact name.  But rather, the connection begins with the Gemara which mentions Menachem as a name for Moshiach.  But as I explained in my previous Post #138, this name more describes Moshiach's function as a comforter, rather than necessarily being his actual name given to him at his Bris.

In fact, the name Menachem is also the name of a month - Menachem Av, the month in which both Temples were destroyed by the nations represented by the letters of the original name of the month Av, as Aleph begins the word Edom (Rome) and Beit begins the word Bavel (Babylonia).  In any case, our rabbis tell us that Moshiach was born on Tisha B'Av, the date of the destruction of the Temples; which means that the potential of Moshiach coming began then; meaning, that if the Jews would have repented right then and there, then Moshiach would have come immediately.

This is all fine and dandy.  However, what does this have to do with Chanuka other than some letters on a Jewish or Hebrew toy?  After all, Chanuka, in sharp contrast to Tisha B'Av, is rather a very happy time?

You will understand the answer to this question by turning to my 36th Post in which I address this basic issue.  But basically, on Chanuka, we can catch a glimpse of what we lost on Tisha BAv.  For as we see for example, the word that begins Megillat Eicha, the Book of Lamentations - is the word Eicha, which is the Gematria of 36, and we mention in this Megilla in the next verse "Cry at night", which we know is a time of darknesss.  And during the course of eight days of Chanuka, we are mandated to light a total of 36 lights.

As the Jewish nation, our ultimate miracle has been our survival throughout the milleniums despite the odds is our survival were to be based strictly by nature.  For as much as we have been scattered as a nation, and constantly harmed due to hatred that has been specifically geared towards Jews, we should have been exterminated as a nation, just like the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, and Romans of long ago.  So while this anti-Semitism phenomenon which is not rational for the most part, has been used against us throughout the years, it didn't determine our chances of  survival, for through the hand of Hashem, our existance as a nation is certainly nothing less than truly miraculous.

So, the only variable at this point is whether the nations choose to look back at history, or ignore it, and it doesn't have to mean whether they believe in the Bible or not, for some of the biggest Christian anti-Semitism was committed in Jesus' name, despite the gross contradictions between the Old Testament and their behavior towards us.  Perhaps they thought that miracles, at least the kind that struct nations who dared raise their hand against us, were no longer available, since after all, the Hebrew G-d destroyed our Temple and banished us from the land.  But in the long term, each and every society that threw us out of their picture, soon afterwards, found their picture being thrown out the window; and so if a country that contained or "tolerated" Jews at one time was financially quite successful, but then murdered us or threw us out, it was the next one that met its glorious end.  However, not one nation ever learned its lesson from the nation before in its seething hatred of Jews, thinking of miracles in the past in relationship to our banishment from our country as G-d not wanting us any more, they thought that they could take full advantage of us, but were quite proven wrong time and again. for even if we were worthy, G-d forbid of punishment, their intention was strictly to hurt us in their bitter hatred, not because we deserved it for not following in G-d's ways.

And in terms of the land of Israel, it in itself has shown to be a most miraculous land.  For while most of us were not in the land until recent times, the land for the most part was barren, as testified by Mark Twain upon his visit to the Holy Land.  He simply couldn't understand how such a land that at one time was a major landmark in world history had virtually no plant life to it.  But we understand why, for this land is not meant for anyone else but us Jews, and so, despite the numerous attempts of the various nations to settle in our land without agricultural success, we in modern times revived the land, and places which didn't grow things in virtually 2,000 years are now back in business.

Also, consider the fact that the Hebrew language was virtually a non-spoken language outside of written texts for nearly 2,000 years, which was substituted with Yiddish for Ashkenazic Jews and Ladino for some Sephardic Jews, but no language - no matter how many tens of myriads of Ultra-Orthodox Jews may speak it, makes it any more holy than Hebrew, which is the ONLY language called Lashon HaKodesh "The Holy Tongue".  True, many modern Hebrew words are now part of the language usage, and it was the anti-religious Eliezer Ben-Yehuda who compiled the first Hebrew dictionary, but the fact remains is that the holiness of the Hebrew language cannot be removed, but as with everything else, can be used for good or evil.  Hence, those who speak Yiddish in Israel fooling themselves that it is a holier language than Hebrew, are not only contradicting what the Rabbis in Talmud state about the Hebrew Tongue, but are loosing out on major reward as promised by the Talmud for avoiding the "Zionist impure" language, a language which is no worse than Yiddish which was also used in the United States at one time to mock observant Jews and Judaism in the Yiddishe theaters and movies.  The bottom line is that it is a modern day miracle, that Hebrew has been revived once again as a full spoken language, a phenomenon that has not happened with any other language in world history that dwindled over the period of time.

And so, on Chanuka, the holiday that celebrates the miracles that took place IN ISRAEL, the final holiday that came into place for the Jewish nation, we recall Hashem's great miracle of both the discovery of the one spiritually pure seal of oil for the Menorah, as well as the victory of the ill army trained small army of Jews versus the majorly, mighty nations who sought our spiritual destruction even more than our physical destruction, but in the long run, we won battle after battle with the long term goal of maintain our religious freedom.  But ultimately, as the dreidel represents, we await the ultimate big miracle of the coming of Moshiach, under whose rulership, we will be free to follow in Hashem's ways without non-Jewish spiritual and physical interference forevermore.

Motzoei Shabbat Parshat Vayigash 5773

Saturday, December 1, 2012

#162 - "This little One Will Be BIG"

Sounds familiar?  Perhaps if you see it in Hebrew - "Zeh HaKatan Gadol Yihyeh", which is recited immediately after the second mention of the newly circumcised baby's Hebrew name in the baby naming prayer.

In my previous post, I mentioned how the word Katan (little/small) is associated with the concept of disgrace, as being disgraced is being belittled making one feel that he or she is not worth anything.  Particularly, Ham the son of Noah who sexually disgraced his father, is in turn disgraced by the Torah for his immoral act, as he is called "the young son" of Noah, but not before he is previously called the "father of Cana'an", and we already know that Ham is listed as the last son of Noah when their names were first mentioned earlier in Parshat Noach.  This is why Rashi notes at this point that HaKatan is defined as the unfit and disgraced one.

However, when it comes to Jews or good non-Jews, the word Katan can denote rather something good.  In terms of non-Jews, we see that Ever's son Yaktan, based on the word Katan, is named as such, because as our rabbis tell us, he was a humble person, and hence merited to have 13 sons.  (Note: The Yukatan Peninsula derives its name from him, as his descendants were living in this location).

Now for Jews, the word Katan can mean a good thing.  We already know that Jacob is called by this title when his mother Rebecca dressed him in his older brother Esau's clothes in order that his father Isaac should think that he was Esau, as Isaac intended to give the birthright blessings specifically to Esau, as Isaac's eyesight no longer was able to help him see who was who, and so he would not know the difference, and it is in this context that Easu is called "her big son" and Jacob is called "her little son" (Genesis 27:15).  Now, the question can be asked, we certainly know by now who was older or younger between these two brothers, so why particularly here is this mentioned?

But as we see, this verse was the determining point for Jacob to receive the blessings in lieu of Esau from Isaac, as it was Esau's clothes that Rebecca dressed Jacob in that made the physical difference, as Isaac knew that Esau wore this type of clothing in his hunting expeditions, and as Esau as the moment was out hunting game for Papa Isaac, he obviously had more than one pair of such clothes.  And even though Esau tehcnically was supposed to have been the one to receive the birthright blessings as the firstborn "the big son", due to his evil ways, he lost out on this, and it was thanks to Rebecca's sharp thinking and quick actions that allowed Jacob, though he was "the little one", to receive those blessings instead.

Following the above in Parshat Toldot, the following Parshat Vayeitzei mentions the story of Jacob coming to the town of Haran where his uncle Laban resided.  In the midst of this story, the Torah mentions that Laban had two daughters - the older one was Leah and the younger one was Rachel (Genesis 29:16).  As it turns out, Jacob fell in love particularly with Rachel, and despite working for Uncle Laban to win Rachel's hand in marriage for seven hard breaking years, he was completely fooled thinking that he was marrying Rachel when he was at the age of 84, when in reality, the covered face bride was Leah.  In time, ironically, it was Leah who provided Jacob with half of his 12 sons, the future tribes of Israel, even though he had no intention of marrying her, and it was after several years of not having children due to being barren, Rachel finally gave birth to Joseph, and after several years, gave birth to Benjamin as she was dying.

Even though I usually use the English translation of names, following this in this post, I will call Benjamin as the Hebrew name Binyamin, and for good reason.  You see, after nearly 2,000 years, Hebrew is the revived speaking language of Israel, something that hasn't happened with any other language.  Meaning, once a language in world history is stopped being spoken for the most part, it is a thing of the past along with the once world leading nation that has also dwindled, including Egypt, Babylonia, Greece, and Rome, whose empires have long since vanished.  However, we Jews as the smallest and most abused, with constant attempts of annihilation and having been scattered to the four corners of the earth, most ironically, have stayed together as a nation, and a large segment of Jews have returned to our homeland despite the sacrifices involved in sharp and stark contrast to the good life in the United States.  Accordingly, Israel's language of Hebrew was part of the package deal.

This is all fine and dandy, but does this have to do particularly with Binyamin, Jacob's youngest son?  You see, he was the ONLY one of Jacob's sons who was born in Israel, making him the sole Sabra of his brothers.  In fact, his very name as Ben-Yamin "son of right", referring to the direction that Israel is located in terms of the other countries west of it, represents the special connection that Binyamin has with Israel.  Hence, it is only fitting that we refer to Binyamin to his name in Hebrew specifically, the same that we do for Israelis who are born in Israel today.

And so, Binyamin, as the youngest son of Jacob and Rachel, who are both called "the little/younger one", inherits this title in his genes.  You see, when Jacob's sons came to Egypt when the worldwide famine first hit, Jacob refused to let Baby Binyamin to come along with them, for fear that he would loose the only alive son of his from his favorite wife Rachel, being for all that he knew, Joseph was no longer alive for some 20 years.
In fact, the brothers, when they faced Joseph as the viceroy of Egypt, not knowing that he was their long sold brother (rather than their long lost brother for they knowingly sold him), told him that "the young one" is with their father (Genesis 42:13).

Though Binyamin was the youngest of the 12 brothers, it is kind of funny that he was referred to specifically as "the young one", for it wasn't afterwards when Binyamin among the entire family who move to Egypt, had 10 sons, ironically more than all of his older brothers (the Torah only mentions a handful of daughters in the family, so there is no way to know about how many daughters they had).  But then again, the letter Yud, as the numerical value of 10, is unique in that is is the smallest of all the Hebrew letters.  This also points out to the significance of Yaktan, whom we mentioned above about being a humble person, for in fact, his name is comprised of the letter Yud - the smallest letter and Katan "small", and amazingly, the Torah, like it does for Binyamin, mentions the names of all of Yaktan's 13 sons.

Now, as Binyamin was the youngest of Jacob's 12 sons, we see an interesting Gematria here.  Oh sure, Binyamin's name is the Gematria of 162, and this is my 162th post.  However, I am referring to what I wrote at the beginning of this post, where I mentioned that we recite as the boy's baby naming - Zeh HaKatan Gadol Yihyeh - "This little one will be big".  The word Zeh (this) is the Gematria of 12, this is in effect saying "This 12th one is the youngest", as hinting specifically to Binyamin, ancestor of Saul, the first king of Israel, saying that Gadol Yihyeh "will be big".

The truth is that in history, though Binyamin started out as having 10 sons, and in the laws of inheritance, the land goes according to the man of the house, as this is how the land of Israel was apportioned, this tribe was close to extinction at one point.  You see, in an incident near the end of Sefer Shoftim (Book of Judges), due to the Tribe of Binyamin's refusal to denounce a crime perpetrated by some thugs of its tribe against a lady, the maidservant of a guy who cut her body into 12 parts following her dropping dead after a night of being raped, and sending them to various parts of Israel, the rest of the Jewish nation fought the Tribe of Binyamin, and though originally the other tribes were badly defeated, the Tribe of Binyamin was eventually defeated to the extent that only 600 men of this tribe were alive being that they escaped.   So in fact, though Jacob's fears of losing his own son Binyamin in terms of the brothers travelling to Egypt were not materialized, it seems that he had a premonition that as some future time in Jewish history, Binyamin's descendants would be close to be exterminated, which happened specifically through the descendants's of Jacob's other sons.

With the above said, just as Israel as a nation has been despised by all the other nations of the world, despite the Jewish people's vast contributions in the materialistic world, we see a precedent of this pertaining to the two sons' of Jacob's favorite wife Rachel; for first, we see that Joseph incurred the jealousy of his brothers to the extent that they nearly murdered him and it was only at the last moment when they saw a caravan of spice peddlers that they thought it would be a good idea to sell him as a slave to them instead of cold blooded murder.  And then later in history, it was like 11 tribes against the one tribe of Binyamin in the above mentioned war, the latter who was nearly exterminated, including all the women and even the innocent little babies, save for 600 men who had to marry into the other tribes who members killed theirs to continue the Tribe of Binyamin dynasty.

In time, the Jewish people received a big surprise - their very first king came from the tribe of Binyamin - King Saul.  After all was said and done up to that point in history, it is hardly surprising that when the prophet Samuel informed King Saul that he was to be king, Saul wondered why as coming from the youngest of the tribes, that he should be chosen to be king of all.  But though Saul was at first quite righteous and humble, his humbleness was misplaced with the divinely appointed position as king of Israel, and led to his downfall.  You see, though he himself had a hard time understanding why he should be so "cruel" as to kill even the little babies of the nation of Amalek that Samuel ordered him to wipe out, even as his excuse for not following the directions to the tee by allowing its king to remain alive and sacrifice some Amalekite animals to G-d is because he "listened to the people", there was in fact truth to this.  For following his excuses to Samuel for not exactly following the orders of Hashem, Samuel first told him that while "being the head of the tribes of Israel may be a small thing in your eyes...", thus indicating that since Saul didn't feel that he was worthy enough of being king to the extent that it affected his sense of strong leadership, to whatever extent, he in fact did listen to the people as he admitted pertaining to not totally annihilating Amalek.  And so, though he may have seemed to be tough at times, when he felt that he had an element who felt that something should be different, despite knowing what Hashem really wanted, he let himself rationalize since after all, it wasn't his own decision, it would be O.K. to let the people have it their way.

Before I go on in Jewish history, let us rewind the tape here to the birth of Binyamin as we just read about on this past Shabbat in Parshat Vayishlach.  We see that as Rachel was dying, she named her newly born son Ben-Oni "son of my mourning" (Genesis 35:18), for she knew that she was dying, and that her son's date of birth would also be the date of her passing.  It is also quite possible that in fact, she was blaming her son for causing her death, especially after she waited several years following being barren until she finally first gave birth to Joseph, and then after several more years, finally gave birth to Binyamin, while her older sister Leah gave birth to six sons within several years with no trouble.  Now, it seems that Jacob, knowing what his deceased wife Rachel named their son, gave a name similar in sounding to what Rachel gave, but on a rather much more positive note.  In any case, it seems that Rachel too in a premonition had a feeling about mourning in terms of Binyamin, because his future descendants were nearly wiped out.  And indeed, the words of the righteous, even if the circumstances under which they said those words never come into fruition, as the reason for the words that they say didn't happen; nevertheless, their words do become fulfilled in some way for the lips of the righteous don't speak falsehood; for in fact, it is though it is Hashem who is saying the same words, and we know that Hashem is all about truth, and everything against falsehood, and the righteous are the ultimate representatives of Hashem.  In fact, it was because of Jacob's very statement to Laban who complained about his idols being stolen - that whoever stole his idols would die - that caused Rachel's early demise, as she was the one who stole the idols, unbeknownst to Jacob, and so since the words of a righteous person come true, even a curse due to not realizing something, they become true.  Of course, this is one more example of why we have to be careful of what we say, because at times, even the curse of a wicked person can G-d forbid come true, but this is not the post to get into detail about this subject.

Then amazingly, when Samuel shopped for the future king of Israel following Saul's failure of being a good king of Israel, we find a similar factor.  He came to the home of Jesse, parental descendant of the Tribe of Judah, to pick one of his sons as the future king that Hashem already had in mind".  Following all of Jesse's seven sons in the house who didn't fight the criteria, Samuel asked if Jesse happened to have another son.  Jesse replied "Oh yes, there is the little one who remains who is shepherding the sheep".  In reply, Samuel said that he isn't going anywhere until this son - the future King David - would be brought, and the rest is history.

Now, the question can be asked.  If Jesse, who was a big Torah scholar and righteous person, as our rabbis tell us, was visited by the prophet Samuel, wouldn't you think that for that reason alone, he would have had ALL his children, nay, his entire family, be present for the presence of the prophet Samuel?  So what is this thing that Jesse said about "the young son", as though he didn't count like his older sons.  And in case one gets the impression that he was a young boy, according to how the years of Jewish history is reckoned, King David as this point was in his late twenties.  Moreover, he wasn't an ignorant shepherd, and was himself among the greatest Torah scholars in Jewish history, something that his father Jesse, more than anyone else, would have most appreciated?

For the answer to this, we have to turn to the Midrash for what is behind the scenes.  You see, there is a Mitzva (commandment) in the Torah that "An Ammonite or a Moabite may not enter the congregation of Hashem" (Deutronomy 23:4), which means that even one of the nations of Amon or Moab who convert to Judaism is forbidden to marry a born Jewess, but only a convert as he or a Mamzer, who is born from a forbidden union.  Now the reason for this is because as the Torah states, not only did they not provide food for the Jews as they left Egypt, but they went out of their way to hire Bilaam to curse the Jews.  In any case, though in fact, this law about a convert from one of these two nations is applicable only to a male convert, but not a female convert, it seems that this law wasn't so clear in Jesse's days, though he thought all along that this indeed applicable only to a male convert.  Now, the reason why this was a concern to him was because his grandmother Ruth, who converted to Judaism, was a descendant of Moab; and despite what he knew the law was all along, he had feelings that perhaps, the law was misinterpreted and hence, it would apply also to a female convert from Moab, which would then make Jesse himself, despite the fact that he was a big Torah scholar and already had a whole family, ineligible to remain married to his wife.  Following this, he separated from his wife, and thought to be conjugal with his Canaanite maidservant (who obviously has to have converted to Judaism already in order for this to be permitted as a Jewish woman).  However, Jesse's wife wasn't so quick to drop the gun.  She made a deal with the maidservant to make it look like that Jesse would be sleeping with the maidservant, when in fact, it was to be Jesse's wife, considering the fact that Jesse would  not know the difference in total darkness.  The next thing that Jesse knows, his son David is born, and though he obviously expected him to look more dark like his Canaanite maidservant, he saw him to be similar in color to his other sons.  Hence, out of shame, both of David's parents, along with his brothers, treated him with contempt, and was looked down in society to the extent that he was falsely accused of stealing things for which he was forced by the Jewish court to pay for.  Indeed, it was not for naught that King David notes in Tehillim "For my father and mother deserted me..." (Psalms 27:10)

So as you can see, when Jesse replied to Samuel when he asked him if he had any more sons, Jesse was treating King David as though he didn't count as part of the family "the young one, who is shepherding the sheep", as though that was all that his son David was good for.  But though Rashi doesn't comment on this, and understandably so, since Rashi was a descendant of King David, I will, for now, it makes sense to say that when Jesse said HaKatan that is typically translated as "the young one" which was literally true, he also meant by this term, along with the rest of his reply to Samuel, that he was the "despised one" of the family, just as it is explained in terms of the evil Ham.  Perhaps Jesse explained to Samuel his dilemma, or perhaps not, but Samuel was unfazed by this, even as Samuel himself, as the righteous judge of the generation, must have known the truth of the law about the constrictions of marriage for a convert from Moab being only a male, and not a female.

Now, back to the phrase - Zeh Hakatan Gadol Yihyeh.  We see that in Jewish history, Binyamin - the 12th of Jacob's sons, bearing in mind the Gematria of the word Zeh (this) is 12, became great - as his descendant Saul became the first king.  However, due to Saul's unworthiness, it later became exclusively Gadol Yihyeh, as the word Yihyeh (will be) is the Gematria of the name Yehuda (30), the ancestor of the King David, who became the ancestor of the permanent of the Davidic dynasty, which includes Moshiach.  Now, why should this be hinted specifically with Judah's name?

As mentioned in this week's Parshat Vayeishev, Judah slept with Tamar unknowingly that she was his past daughter-in-law twice, until the death of his two oldest sons.  The next thing he knows, she was the pregnant prostitute of town, and condemned her to the death penalty.  Realizing what was happening, Tamar hinted To Judah of their one night stand without openly embarrassing him.  Now, while many others would turn away from responsibility and rationalize their own actions in 101 ways, despite Judah's faults, this was not one of them.  As soon as he was reminded of his one time affair, he confessed that she was pregnant from him, and one of the twins that she was carrying was the ancestor of King David.  And indeed, though Jacob scolded his three oldest sons for their misdeeds on his deathbed, he treated Judah very different, even though ironically, he was the very one who suggested to sell Jacob's favorite son Joseph as a slave, but as we see in this case too, at the end, he showed much remorse and responsibility to the extent that he put his eternal reward on the line to prevent Binyamin, Jacob's only other son from Rachel, from even becoming a slave for the "stolen" goblet that Joseph planted in Binyamin's sack to see how far his brothers were remorseful for selling him as a slave.  Hence, second to Joseph, Judah received many blessings from Jacob, which included the eternal dynasty of King David.

We learn from this a most valuable lesson in life.  Yes, we are all human beings, and yes, we will all make mistakes for all kinds of reasons.  However, wherein lies a major difference between King Saul and Judah.  While King Saul may have been a most humble person, a prerequisite for a true Jewish leader as was the case especially with Moses, he was one who because of his humbleness, didn't always take responsibility of his actions, relying on the fact that he would blame it on others "I listened to the nation" who by the way, were not punished per se for his lack of responsibility, for he was supposed to be the king to set the example, but he let his nation down, and even when Samuel confronted him of his misdeed, he still attempted to justify his misactions in a most political way, "and the rest we sacrificed to Hashem".  Oh sure, after Samuel told it all to him, then Saul felt remorse, and wanted to amend things, but too little too late.

On the other hand, while King David also did things wrong as king for which Hashem chastised and punished him, the good thing about King David is that he was quick to admit his guilt when pointed out to him, and it helped even mitigate some of the punishment that was originally meant for him to receive.  And after all, he followed the example of his righteous ancestor Judah who also was quick to admit wrongdoing when confronted.  And so, while virtually all of us sin at some point or another in our lives, including Moses, the ultimate thing that separates the men from the boys in terms of leadership is the aspect of taking responsibility of our actions.

And this is the ultimate lesson that we want to teach our newly circumcised and named son.  For even as a Jewish child may be given the name of a righteous person, even as that righteous person may have done certain sins in his life, the ultimate factor that determines a righteous person from one who is not is how one will behave following realizing his misbehavior, and what steps he will take to improve and insure that this will not happen again, rather than justifying and rationalizing one's behavior in terms of other people, or even worse, blaming others for one's own misdoing.  For once the baby's name is repeated, it is driving through the point that one is not simply given another Jewish name - it is the name that one is still to live up to.  And as we see in Judah's name, the first letter of his name is a Yud, the smallest of the letters, but it is also the first letter of Hashem's main name YKVK; and in fact, the name Yehuda includes all four letters of this Name.  For while one may come from a humble background, as King David, though he may have come from an illustrious family, himself was treated worse than dirt, but realizing at the same time that his talents and character traits are most useful in serving Hashem, rather than one is most convenient for one's comfort zone; in short, either being a leader, or being among the sheep who don't know of responsibility except for what is given to them.

Now, getting back to Binyamin, it is true that he has more letters in his name than all of the other son's of Jacob - having six letters, but it is also true that he has the only name of his brothers having two of the letter Yud.  For not only was he the youngest of his brothers, there was also the time in history when his tribe was made small down to 600 people; hence, the definition of Katan being both "young" and "small".

Speaking of even righteous people sinning, we see something unique about Binyamin and three other Biblical characters, of whom our Sages say that they never did a sin in their lives.  Now, this does not say that they were the greatest righteous people that ever lived on the face of the earth, for certainly, few have ever reached the ranks of the Patriarchs, the Matriarchs, and Moses.  However, if death were to be dependent solely on one's personal sinning as opposed to death to the world for the sin of the first couple, the ancestors of mankind, then Binyamin would have been one of the few people who might be still living today, even as righteous people greater than him would have did long ago for even one sin committed accidentally.  In fact, we see that due to Moses not listening to Hashem when He told him specifically to speak to a rock for water to come from it, but instead he hit it, he died before the Jews came to Israel, because if not for this, he would have still lived to have led the Jews into Israel instead of his disciple Joshua.

What else we see unique about Binyamin is the timing of the reading of his birth, as well as the birth of all of Jacob's sons, which we always read about during the month of Kislev, the difference being is that the birth of the first 11 sons are mentioned in Parshat Vayeitzei, and Binyamin's birth takes place separately in Parshat Vayishlach.  But the special connection here as it relates to Binyamin is that as mentioned by the Chasidic Sefer Bnei Yissaschar, the corresponding tribe of the 12 tribes for the month of Kislev of the 12 months is Binyamin.  Hence, we see a special uniqueness about Binyamin being the only one of Jacob's sons whose birth is mentioned in a Parsha by itself, and being read during the month that corresponds to his tribe.  Coincidence?

In essence, we see that the Tribe of Binyamin became unique in the three physical dimensions - in what we call in Kabbalistic terms - Nefesh (soul or being), Makom (place) and Shana (literally means year, but refers to time).   In terms of Nefesh - the first king of Israel - King Saul - was a descendant of Binyamin.  Next in history, though Binyamin lost out in terms of the kingship being transfered to King David and his descendants from the Tribe of Judah thanks to King Saul's misdeeds, it wasn't long before the first Temple was built on his territorial portion of the Holy Land in Jerusalem (along with parts of land belonging to Judah, but the majority part of the Temple belonged on the land of Binyamin).  And then even after the first Temple was destroyed, holding out until the Second Temple would be rebuilt, it was partly in thanks to his descendant Mordechai (who by the way was the parental descendant of King Saul, and rectified his ancestor's sin in term of Amalek to an extent) that the holiday of Purim came into being.  Thus, we see that Hashem was especially giving to Binyamin, bearing in mind that as an orphan, he never even had a chance to have his mother live for any period of time in his life, unlike all his other brothers, aside from his sinless life.  And despite the close call that his tribe had when a merely 600 men of his tribe were left alive in stark contrast to the tens-hundreds of thousands of members of the other tribes, and it was only a matter of relatively a short period of time that the tribe of Binyamin became a reasonable sized tribe once again (Note: Some say that King Saul as a young man was among the 600 men of Binyamin who remained alive).

Now, while mentioning about the Temple being in the territorial boundary of Binyamin, it should be noted that the Tabernacle was first in the city of Shilo, in the territorial boundary of the tribe of Ephraim, son of Joseph, for 369 years.  While the merit of the Sanctuary of Hashem was transferred from Joseph to Binyamin with the permanent establishment of the Temple, what we do see is that the "House of Hashem" was basically meant to be in the territorial boundaries of the sons of Rachel, who was the Akeret HaBayit, "mainstay of the house", the main wife of Jacob, whom he always loved.  For in fact, even as Leah provided Jacob with half of his 12 sons, she was really meant by Heaven to be married to Esau, but due to his evil deeds and Leah's prayers, the dice was played differently, to the extent that Leah, rather than Rachel, was the one who wound up being buried next to Jacob.  But what we do see is that just as the main ritualistic services were held in the "House of Hashem", so too, we are supposed to serve Hashem in our own houses, with our wives who are called "house", in our same devotional way, even though we are forbidden to bring sacrifices outside of the Temple.

And so, Rachel as Jacob's wife meant for him from the beginning of time, most represented the concept of the holiness of the Temple, and so, the Sanctuaries of Hashem was basically either in Joseph's or Binyamin's territories.  And as we see in the Tikkun Chatzot, the midnight prayers that the pious recite in mourning and requesting for the Third Temple to be built, it is divided into two sections, called Tikkun Rachel and Tikkun Leah.  It is Tikkun Rachel that are considered the more heartfelt prayers, with a greater emphasis on mourning the loss of the Temple, which we recite first, that puts us in the right frame to then concentrate on requesting for the rebuilt Temple; because in order for us to be worthy of this, we need to first correct our behavior, partly from realizing our spiritual loss, which is supposed to be the springboard for us to properly repent, and then, and only then, can we be worthy of the Temple rebuilding.

We see that in modern times, that we regained full access to the holiest area of the world which includes the site of the Temple, which took place on the 43rd day of the Omer in 5727 (1967).  And as I related the phrase Zeh HaKatan Gadol Yihyeh to both Binyamin and Yehuda, who share the territory of both Jerusalem and the Temple, the Gematria of the word Gadol (big/great) is 43!  And after all, even when after King Solomon's passing, the kingdom was split for 10 tribes having their following in Shechem, the tribe of Binyamin, even though ironically lost its kingdom to the Tribe of Judah, nevertheless remained loyal to the King of Judah, and thus, aside from the Tribe of Levi who served in the Temple rather than have their own official portion of land, these two troubles were the ones who always worshiped in the Temple, and it was only later in Jewish history that they turned to sin that eventually led to the destruction of the First Temple, unlike the other 10 tribes, who were basically idol worshippers, and were exiled some time earlier.


I wrote extensively about Malachi in my recent 159th post last month (Nov '12) as the last of the 12 "Minor" Prophets, though in Hebrew (or rather Aramaic), this book of the Tanach is called Trei Asar (Twelve).  In my previous post, I concentrated on the beginning of Malachi being the Haftara of Parshat Toldot.  Now, I am here to mention that we read the conclusion of Malachi, which is also the conclusion of the Tanach (Bible) section of Nevi'im (Prophets), on Shabbat HaGadol, which is the Shabbat before Pesach (Passover).
But as you can see - Zeh HaKatan - "This little one", and as the word Zeh (this) is the Gematria of 12, that is, the (end of the) 12th of the little/minor prophets (Note: They are called minor only in terms of the amount of textual prophecies, not necessarily the level of their spiritual greatness) is read on Shabbat HaGadol, hinted with the words Gadol Yihyeh, which can homiletically be translated as "will be read on Shabbat HaGadol", which is called "The great Shabbat".  Among the several reasons why the Shabbat before Pesach is called with this name comes from the end of this Haftara itself  "Behold I will send Elijah the Prophet, before the GREAT and awesome day of Hashem arrives".  And as related to the concept of Brit Mila (circumcision) after which, we mention the four Hebrew worded phrase, one of the prerequisites of the Jews eating the Korban Pesach (Pascal Sacrifice) was having their circumcision, since aside from the Tribe of Levi, many of the other tribes didn't have one sooner, and it was at virtually at the last moment shortly before the Exodus that they performed this.  Moreover, since Elijah's time on earth, he appears at every Jewish circumcision testifying that the Jews are loyal to Hashem, just as he appears at every Jewish Seder on the beginning holiday night of Pesach.

And by the way, there are those who say in the Talmud that Malachi, who was the last of the 12 Minor Prophets, was none other than Mordechai, descendant of Binyamin, the last of the 12 Tribes.  But whether this was actually so or not, what we do see is a parallel between the teachings or influence of the two.  For as we see at the end of Malachi - Zicru Torat Moshe Avdi  "Remember the Torah of Moses My servant", and following the Purim miracle of the Jews winning the war against their enemies, the Megilla of Esther states that Keemu V'Keeblu HaYehudim  "The Jews fulfilled and accepted on themselves and their descendants..." hinting to the fact that unlike at the Giving of the Torah when the Torah was forced on them (specifically the Oral Torah), it was for the first time in the history of the Jewish people that they officially on their own willingly accepted the Torah on themselves.

Oh, and before I forget - the LAST letter of both the names of Malachi & Mordechai is the LITTLE letter Yud.  Coincidence?


Baruch Hashem, my daughter Tamar Tzadika, who was born on 15 Kislev, is now one year old.  As the first Shabbat since my daughter's birth was Shabbat Parshat Vayeishev, and the first anniversary of her birthday took place before Shabbat Parshat Vayishlach, I see a parallel here.  For as I mentioned earlier, in the previous Parshat Vayeitze, the birth of all of Jacob's sons are mentioned except for Binyamin's.  And as I also mentioned earlier, the House of Hashem, which became eventually the permanent Beit HaMikdash, was for the most part located in the territorial land of Binyamin.  Similarly, it was only in the beginning of my daughter's SECOND year of life in this world that Parshat Vayishlach was first read, in which we read of Binyamin's birth, whose name also begins with the SECOND letter BEIT, synonymous with the word BAYIT (House), it seems that even though I named her Tamar after the righteous woman Biblical character from Parshat Vayeishev, as my daughter was born during the week on which we read this Parsha, there seems to also be a unique connection pertaining to my daughter to Parshat Vayishlach, as well as the fact that in some years, her birthday of 15 Kislev falls out during the week of Parshat Vayishlach.  This is of course aside from the fact that the concept of Bayit is especially related to the woman.  Additionally, this word can also be read as Bat (daughter) and the letter Yud, as this is the smallest letter of the Alef Beit, and a baby (daughter) is quite little...But even as my daughter did not have a Brit, I can still say, though the grammatical format of the Hebrew changes a bit - Zot HaKetana Gedola Tihyeh.  May this be the will of Hashem Yitbarach with His help, Amen

Motzoei Shabbat Vayishlach 5773