Sunday, December 23, 2012

#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

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