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


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