Friday, April 26, 2013

#173 - Using the Torah for LOVE

I rarely start posts on Erev Shabbat, shortly before Shabbat begins.  But today, I plan on writing rather a short post, but sweet to the point, literally.

Today's date - 16 Iyar - in Biblical news, is the date that the manna that the Jews ate in the wilderness for 40 years began to rain down.  While it was food that the Jews ate, it was much more of what is called spiritual food, and not just because it came to them straight from Heaven rather than plucked from the earth, though it came directly from Hashem rather than from manual labor.  However, it was spiritual food in the sense, most importantly, that helped them get the Jews to receive the Torah in a few short weeks, and continue with them as they were the generation that both spiritually and physically were at the giving of the Torah.  As Rabbi Shimon states in the Midrash, "The Torah was given to those who ate the manna" (Mechilta Beshalach 17).

Aside from the worldwide weekly Torah portion that is read in the synagogue on Shabbat and is studied, as it has been for thousands of years; without question, the number one Torah learning program in the world today is the famous Daf Yomi, the study of a folio of the Babylonian Talmud that takes nearly seven and a half years, or 2,711 days to learn in its entirety.  This year, which begins from Rosh Hashana, which is both the New Year and the date that the Daf Yomi began, is the 90th year since this began; and the word  Mahn (manna) is the Gematria of 90.

As I have mentioned in the past, there are many parallels between the concepts of Torah=611 and Gemilut Chasadim (providing kindness)=611, as especially shown through Gematria.  And as it relates particular to the Gemara (or Talmud), the word Gemara is the Gematria of 244.  And in the count of the Taryag Mitzvot (613 Commandments), the 244th Mitzva (not all the Mitzva codifiers have the same exact list, but the version that I am basing this on is the correct one) is a most special Mitzva - V'Ahavta L'Reiacha Kamocha "You shall love your friend as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18), known as the Mitzva of Ahavat Yisrael, love of Jews, both as a whole and individually.  Now, the Gematria of this famous phrase is 820, which is the same Gematria as the word number for 90 - Tish'im.

As you can the parallel here, Hashem in His great love for us, gave us the Mahn.  But the ultimate purpose of doing so was to support us, especially as the first generation of Jews to receive the Torah, so we wouldn't have to spend so much time working.  This was especially important, so at least in the beginning, we Jews would start off on the right foot, and learn the Torah at our optimum, especially time-wise, and not just a few Torah scholars who waive comforts and basic needs in order to master the Torah.

Accordingly, there is what is called the Yissachar-Zevulun relationship, which wasn't just two brothers from the same two parents - Jacob and Leah; but in this brotherly relationship, Yissachar learned Torah all day, and Zevulun provided for him, which is the standard that they set for their future descendants as tribes.  So in a way, Zevulun - though a business person rather than a Torah scholar per se, actually resembles Hashem who in His great love for us, provides us with food and basic needs in order to serve Him.  This was especially highlighted as the Mahn=90, and the word-number for 90 is Tish'im=820, the same Gematria as V'Ahavta L'Reiacha Kamocha.

And just as this Mitzva of Ahavat Yisrael is the 244th Mitzva of the Torah, as the word Gemara is the Gematria of this same number - 244; so too, Zevulun has an EQUAL SHARE in the eternal reward of the Torah learning of Yissachar; for without Zevulun's support, Yissachar would not be able to learn as much Torah otherwise, and so, it is only fair that Zevulun has a 50% share in Yissachar's Torah learning.

And speaking of Hashem's love for us, and the Mitzva of loving our fellow Jew, the word Ahava (love) is the Gematria of 13.  And presently, we are in the 13th cycle of Daf Yomi.

And speaking of Daf Yomi, we have recently learned in the present Gemara called Eruvin about the subject of the prohibition of walking beyond the Sabbath limits outside the city limits - not more than 12 mil according to the Torah, and instituted by the rabbis to be no more than 2,000 Amot.  Anyways, the prohibition of not walking beyond the Sabbath limits - the 24th Mitzva of the Torah - is mentioned in the very  portion of the Torah about Hashem providing us with the manna, since the Jews were forbidden to go out to attempt to collect manna; and instead, were provided a double portion of it on Friday, so they would have the second portion to eat on Shabbat.

It is true that on a personal note, this is my first post in my 44th year, and the word Bavli (Babylonian) - as referring to the Babylonian Talmud - is the Gematria of 44, and no doubt, it relates to the word Gemara whose Gematria number ends with 44.  And the name of the Talmudic Tractate Makkot - which is the original source of the mention of the Taryag Mitzvot - is the same Gematria as my first name Shimon.  And as we know, the Egyptians were visited with 10 Makkot (plagues), and the first one of them was Dam (blood), this word having the Gematria of 44.

In stark contrast, we wish only good things on our fellow Jews.  Shabbat Shalom!

16 Iyar, 5773

Monday, April 8, 2013

#172 - How Will The END - End?

In this post, in order to write about "the end", I will need to begin writing about the beginning.  The truth is that I meant to write this post like a month ago, but between Passover preparations and needing to spend more time with my little one, along with my regular schedule, I just didn't have a time to write a whole another post.  But as it turns it, some of the material that I will be writing here is not something that I would have written a few weeks ago, because it is based on recent news, but does tie in someway to the backbone of this post.

Speaking of the beginning, just as I wrote in my previous post about concluding Sefer Shemot (Exodus) - the SECOND book of the Torah, and Masechet Shabbat (Tractate Sabbath) - the SECOND tractate of the Daf Yomi schedule of the Babylonian Talmud, on the same day; so accordingly, the very next day, it began the week of Parshat Vayikra, the beginning of the third book of the Torah - Sefer Vayikra (Leviticus) and the beginning of Masechet Eruvin (plural for the word Eiruv which means merging, refering to ways that the rabbis instituted to permit carrying or walking in certain circumstances on Shabbat which would otherwise be forbidden) - the third Babylonian Talmudic tractate.

And unlike the similarities of the previous book of the Torah and the previous tractate - between the first and letters of their names, and the theme of Shabbat whose five Mitzvot (Commandments) are all mentioned in Sefer Shemot; the topic of Eruvin, the subject of establishing boundaries in terms of Shabbat, doesn't seem to relate in anyway to the various topics of Sefer Vayikra which includes 247 Mitzvot, more Mitzvot than in all the other four books of the Chumash (Penteteuch).

However, noting that a good portion of Sefer Vayikra deals with the various Korbanot (Temple offerings or sacrifices), we do in fact see a connection of the Talmudic Tractate Eruvin with this theme of Sefer Vayikra - at least at the conclusion of this tractate.  You see, aside from what the Torah forbids us to perform on Shabbat in terms of work, there are certain things that the rabbis have forbidden us on this holy day, in order that we do not come to perform a Torah forbidden work.  However, in the Temple, things that are normally forbidden to do on Shabbat due to rabbinical enactments are (I will use the term "are" rather than "were" because we are supposed to put ourselves in a state of mind as if we are presently living in the times of the Temple, so we don't feel complacent in our "comfort zone") permitted.  Anyways, it is Rabbi Shimon who concludes Tractate Eruvin in the Mishna stating "for they (the rabbis) have not permitted you to perform work forbidden by the Torah in the Temple, except that is normally forbidden by the rabbis"

The Talmud in its final piece explains the practicality of Rabbi Shimon's statement.  For example, a string in the harp that was played in the Temple during the singing of the Levites - brakes.  Now, the show must continue - of course, without violation of the laws of the Torah.  But this is how this works.  Under normal circumstances, the string needs to be fixed making a knot; but the problem is that making a regular knot is one of the 39 forbidden categories of work forbidden to be performed on Shabbat from the Torah.  Hence even in the Temple, this is forbidden (Note: For those who will ask how it was possible to perform the regular work in the Temple on Shabbat such as slaughtering the daily and Shabbat sacrificial animals, burning fires, etc., these things are specifically mentioned in the Torah as Mitzvot to be performed even on Shabbat.  However, if it is something that only helps with the Temple service without being a Mitzva per se, it is forbidden to be performed on Shabbat).  However, tying a bow, which is not a violation of a Torah categorized work that requires a Chatat (sin-offering) for performing it accidentally (without realizing it), while if intended to be a permanent bow - the same way that making a knot is meant to be permanent - which is forbidden to be performed on Shabbat from what the rabbis enacted, they did allow making such a bow in the Temple in repairing the string of the harp.

Shortly, we will see another connection between Sefer Vayikra and Masechet Eruvin...


Who hasn't heard of the Ten Commandments?  Actually in Hebrew, they are not called Aseret HaMitzvot, which would be the translation for the famous English phrase; but rather Aseret HaDibrot, or in the actual language of the Torah - Aseret HaDevarim, which both mean the Ten Statements.  For in fact, if one looks at the list of the 613 Mitzvot, there are precisely 14 Mitzvot in the "Ten Commandments".

Now, it isn't just the Ten Commandments, if you will, that we must observe, but all 613 Mitzvot, though many of these are impossible to fulfill literally, because either they apply only to certain people or groups, or they are not applicable today, or circumstances don't happen as such that they can be fulfilled, but learning about them in these cases is considered as though one fulfilled them.  However, the Mitzvot in the Ten Commandments were singled out because in fact, they encompass all the 613 Mitzvot, as the Sa'adya Gaon shows in a work of his, as mentioned by Rashi at the end of Parshat Mishpatim (Exodus 24:12).  Moreover, if one counts the amount of letters in the Ten Commandments from the letter Aleph in Anochi through the letter Chaf Sophit in L'Rayecha, there are exactly 620 letters - corresponding to the 613 Mitzvot of the Torah and the seven Mitzvot of the Rabbis (Note: While we are forbidden to add to the Mitzvot of the Torah, for in fact - one of the 613 Mitzvot of the Torah is the prohibition to add to the Mitzvot, these Mitzvot of the Rabbis are basically extensions of other Mitzvot of the Torah, and in fact, were already included in the Torah, but they were meant to be revealed by the Rabbis rather than Hashem Himself doing so).

OK, so the letters of the Ten Commandments have been counted, great.  So, it wouldn't hurt to count the amount of words for the same price; in fact, it should be way easier and quicker to count words than letters. And the number of words in the Ten Commandments are - 172.  Does this number sound familiar?

In Parshat Toldot, following Abraham's demise, Hashem appears to his son Isaac, and promises him that his descendants will multiply greatly and inherit the Land of Israel.  Then, He suddenly states "BECAUSE Abraham listened to My voice, and he observed My safeguards, My commandments, My statues, and my Torahs" (Genesis 26:5).  Now, the bridge to the promises that Hashem made to Isaac and the fact that Abraham following everything that Hashem said to do is the word BECAUSE.  Now normally in Hebrew, the Hebrew word for this, at least in the Tanach (Jewish Bible) is Ki.  However, in this instance, the word is Eikev.  Now, even school children in a Jewish day school who are learning the Hebrew words for the different parts of the body will know that this word means "heel".  But strangely, this word is used in a totally different sense.  But more importantly, the question is why the word for because in this particular instance is Eikev?

Surprisingly, while Rashi would normally be bothered by such exceptions and give some type of explanation for the unusual word, and as we know, he was a master in Dikduk (Hebrew grammar) and at times gives detailed explanations of how certain Hebrew words are used throughout the Tanach; in this instance, he gives zero explanation on this, and as if to spite this word, he explains the entire rest of this verse.  In fact, this would have been the perfect opportunity for Rashi to have given the explanation that he did for this word as the very first Rashi on Parshat Eikev, named after this very word, where he states that this refers to the "light" Mitzvot that one tramples with his heels, not paying serious attention to them, in the context of Hashem rewarding us even for these seemingly not so important Mitzvot.  Hence, over here where Hashem describes in detail as to the type of Mitzvot that Abraham observed, as Rashi gives examples for each of these, this would have been the perfect opportunity for Rashi to state that Abraham carefully observed even the "light" Mitzvot.  So, why didn't he?

True, some Mitzvot weigh more on the spiritual scale than others.  Of course we know that the Mitzva of learning/teaching Torah is the greatest of them all in terms of eternal spiritual benefit and reward.  However, all the other Mitzvot have price tags too.  After all, some Mitzvot are obviously far easier to fulfill than others; and as we know, Hashem rewards according to the effort we put in serving Him; so undoubtedly, there are some Mitzvot that involve far more effort than others, with their respective rewards.  The only exception may seem to be the Mitzva of Torah; for in fact, each word of Torah is equal or greater than all the other Mitzvot of the Torah combined; however, part of the Mitzva of learning Torah is applying ourselves diligently in understanding what the Torah says, which involves long hours of hard toil to become one of the great Torah scholars, who just about all of them did with very little sleep to reach the great spiritual accomplishment that they justly earned.

Apparently, Rashi had a very good reason for not explaining a word about why the word Eikev is used here, even though he could have easily explained that Abraham even kept the "light" Mitzvot.  As we know, Jewish children who learn Chumash begin from Sefer Bereishit (Genesis), which is not only the first book of the Torah, but is by far the easiest to learn; since after all, this book involves mostly stories, which are far easier for them to learn than a whole bunch of Mitzvot with explanations.  Undoubtedly, Rashi must have been afraid that if he were to start explaining to young children whose minds are far from developed about "light" Mitzvot, possibly giving the impression that some Mitzvot aren't so "important" as others, these children could get the wrong impression about Mitzva observance, and think that some of the Mitzvot are nice as a mere Jewish "lifestyle" or for "religious fanatics", which is a spiritual poisonous thinking in watered down Jewish movements - such as Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist.

And what do we see today? Jews who will go to a "Temple" every Friday night will not even keep the most important basics of Judaism observance - Shabbat (not just praying in a place of worship, but not doing one of the 39 Torah categorizations of work), Kosher food, and laws of family purity; and not because they simply haven't learned about them yet, though many if not most are sadly ignorant of these key parts of Judaism, but because these observances are simply not part of their "Jewish lifestyle".  They are already fooled to think that they are observing Judaism as far as their "rabbi" is concerned, so even if all of a sudden, they learned how to keep the Torah properly at least in these areas, most would feel that they would look like fanatics, and frankly, aren't ready to give up certain "freedoms".  Hence, Rashi waited until Parshat Eikev in Sefer Devarim, the fifth book of the Torah where one who has already learned most of the Chumash will well understand that ALL Mitzvot are important, to explain why this word is used.  Perhaps some Mitzvot are worth more in value than others, but clearly, they are ALL Commandments of the King of Kings.

Now, while Rashi at times does mention other explanations than the simple meaning of a word, verse, or context, such as Gematriot; here, Rashi makes no such mention of it for the word Eikev, even though he could have easily had mentioned that the Gematria of this word is the same number as the amount of letters in the Ten Commandments as the reason why this unusual word appears.  It seems to me that since Rashi did not mention the simple meaning of this word the way that he explained it at the beginning of Parshat Eikev, that he didn't mention the Gematria either (I'm sure that a Torah scholar on the caliber like Rashi would have known how many words there are in the Ten Commandments), since he typically does so only after mentioning the simple meaning of the word.  However, there is a different commentator who mentions this - the Ba'al HaTurim.  Along with this, the Ba'al HaTurim mentions that there are ten words in. this verse that corresponds to the Ten Commandments, which in turn has 172 words corresponding to the Gematria of the word Eikev, the first of the ten words in this verse.  Now, this is all nice, but what do these factoids have to do with Abraham personally, other than the fact that he observed the Mitzvot?  Why tie this with the connection of the Ten Commandments?  He never even saw the tablets on which they was written, and were not going to be given to the Jewish nation, his descendants, for another like 400 years?

The Ba'al HaTurim first mentions that during his lifetime, Abraham was tested with ten tests by Hashem, which he passed with flying colors; and since he was the Tzadik (righteous person) of the world), it was him who was the cause of the world to remain in existence which was created by Hashem's ten utterances.  Next, he states that Abraham listened to Hashem for 172 years in his 175 years of life, since it was at the age of three when he first recognized his Creator.

Now, there are something from both Rashi's and the Ba'al HaTurim's explanations on this verse that have a connection with Tractate Eruvin.   First from Rashi - he mentions that My safeguards refers to decrees instituted by the rabbis to prevent Jews from sinning, mentioning as an example, enactments of certain activities forbidden by the rabbis to be performed on Shabbat.  An example of this is riding an animal or climbing a tree, which from the Torah itself are permitted to be performed on Shabbat, were made forbidden by the rabbis lest someone will wind up cutting off a branch from a tree which is forbidden to be done on Shabbat from the Torah.  And indeed, we mentioned a little earlier here about this very topic of things forbidden by the rabbis to be performed on Shabbat as mentioned in the very end of Tractate Eruvin in the Mishna.

Now from the Ba'al HaTurim - he notes that the Gematria of the words: Eikev Asher Shama Avraham - "Because Abraham listened..." is the same as Kiyem Af Eiruvei Tavshilin "He also fulfilled the observance of Eiruvei Tavshilin, which involves setting aside two types of food, including something that is already cooked before Yom Tov (Jewish holiday) to be eaten on Shabbat immediately following Yom Tov, in order that it can be permitted to cook on Yom Tov (when it falls out on Thursday night-Friday daytime) in preparation for Shabbat, when otherwise, it is forbidden to make any type of preparations on Yom Tov for Shabbat.  This is one of three types of Eiruvin (the other two are Eiruvei Chatzeirot and Eiruvei Techumin, which I will not get into detail in this post).

Now, getting into a little more detail in Abraham's life, he didn't merely keep the Torah to himself, as past ancestors of his did.  Yes, Noah, Shem, and Eber, his ancestors whom he all saw, all were righteous people, but they didn't necessarily go out of their way to spread the believe in one G-d where everyone else were worshipping other gods.  It is true that Abraham learned how to do kindness for others from Shem, as recounted in a Midrash, since as Shem recounted, he and his family in Noah's Ark, when the whole world perished in the flood, were busy feeding all the creatures around the clock, and in was in that merit that despite whatever else, was what allowed them to remain alive.  And so, along with his going out and preaching monotheism to others, he set up a special place where people could stop by in the Be'er Sheba desert, and have a gourmet meal, and be taught to thank Hashem for it afterwards in lieu of payment.  The verse that describes Abraham's hospitality and teaching about the existence of Hashem at this spot reads "He planted an Eishel (orchard or inn) in Be'er Sheba, and HE CALLED there in the name of Hashem, G-d of the world" (Genesis 21:33).  In any case, the word who meaning is "he called" is Vayikra, the name of the third book of the Torah, beginning with Parshat Vayikra.

So as you can see, there is a special connection of Abraham both to the concept of Vayikra, which is in reference to his activities of bringing others close to belief in Hashem via actions of kindness such as hospitality and Eiruvin, which includes the concept of observing even the rabbinical commandments, which in turn represents the concept of "going out of our way" to make sure that we keep the Mitzvot that we have already been commanded in the Torah, in order that we won't come to violate them even accidentally.  In fact, we learn that one's dining table is compared to the altar, especially when we practice hospitality inviting poor people and Torah scholars to eat with us, along with words of Torah.  Hence, it is most appropriate that the very word that begins the book of the Torah that focuses on the sacrifices that were offered on the altar - Vayikra, is the same word used in reference to Abraham who exemplified the spiritual use of our dining tables.  And in turn, the concept of Eiruvei Tavshilin is preparing food for Shabbat, a time that our eating is on a higher spiritual level than during the rest of the week, even though it is on Yom Tov, since we already began the process of preparing for Shabbat before Yom Tov through the means of Eiruvei Tavshilin.
Hence, we learn that our eating as a Jew is totally different than the eating of a non-Jew, as we use food to bring other Jews to come closer to Judaism, as well as eating on Shabbat to celebrate and feel the holiness of the holiest day of the week; and usually, these two concepts pertaining to our eating go hand-in-hand, as it is usually on Shabbat when we invite others to our dining table, when especially then, non-observant Jews have a prime opportunity to truly enjoy the beauty of Judaism via the means of using something physical to accomplish something spiritual, as Hashem is not only in the synagouge or temple, but right here in our homes, just as in the beginning of Sefer Vayikra, where Hashem CALLS to Moses in the Sanctuary, for in fact, even our homes can become in essence "holy places", as they help us accomplish serving Hashem, CALLING OUT to others to become closer to Hashem; for in fact, the very word Korbon, which is loosely translated as "sacrifice", is based on the word Karov (close), for it is through the act of offering the sanctified animal, which begins with slaughtering it, that brings us closer to Hashem, whether via atoning and helping us repent when bringing a sin-offering, or thanking Him for having saved us from certain danger.

Now, getting back to the number 172, let us dissect this number into two parts: One (1) and Seventy-Two (72).  As we know, there are seven active Sephirot (Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod, Malchut).  The FIRST of these is Chesed (kindness), and this word is the Gematria of 72.  And it is Abraham who especially corresponds to this Sephira.  And looking at the word Eikev, which has the same letters as the Hebrew number for 172, the letters Ayin and Beit add up to 72, and the Koof is 100.  But for the Koof, we will focus on words that begin with this letter as it relates to the word Chesed.  You see, the word Chesed itself can be divided into two parts.  The first letter is Cheit=8 and the last two letters - Samech and Dalet, spell the number 64, whose square root is eight!  Now, the word Shemini, which means EIGHTH, has the same Gematria as the word Kadosh or Kodesh (holy) - 410.  And as for the number 64, this is the amount of verses of Parshat Kedoshim, the name of this Parsha means holy in plural.   So, not only do we see the phenomenon of the number eight tied to the word for holy in singular and that eight times eight, denoting plurality, represents the word for holy in plural; but that it is the letter Koof that begins the Hebrew word for holy.

And in another special connection of Abraham with the letter Koof, it relates espeically to a particular chapter in the Mishnayot.  You see, there is a custom among certain Jews that on each of the seven days of Succot, they learn a particular chapter of Mishna that relates to the special Heavenly Guest that represents his corresponding day of Succot.  And so, for the first day of Succot, it is Abraham, and the corresponding Mishna chapter is the fourth and final chapter of Kiddushin (Jewish wedding/marriage), because it ends off mentioning about Abraham.  In fact, the very end of this chapter, the end of this tractate, and the end of the third Seder (volume) of Mishna that is called Seder Nashim (women) is the very verse of Eikev Asher Shama Avraham...!  In any case, the first letter of this tractate is also a Koof, since Kiddushin, based on the word Kedusha (holiness) is just that, marrying a woman and being intimate with her isn't just what is needed in order to have children, but is in fact HOLY acts, if of course done according to Jewish law and one has the right intentions.  Moreover, as especially connected to Abraham, his son Isaac, the first Jew to be born as a Jew, and the very first one to have his Brit Mila (circumcision) on the EIGHTH day, was born to him when he was 100 years old.  In fact, Rashi points out (Genesis 17:19) that the very letters in Isaac's name - Yud, Tzadi, Cheit, Koof  represent the above basic concepts: Yud=10 representing the 10 tests that Abraham had, Tzadi=90 representing Sara's age at his birth, Cheit=8 representing his circumcision on his eighth day, and Koof=100 representing Abraham's age at his birth.

And as for Isaac's birth, this represents the concept of the ultimate kindness - creating a human life and hence, bearing the responsibility of performing all sorts of kindness in raising one's child - feeding, clothing, cleaning, teaching, etc.  Hence, as demonstrated especially in Abraham's case, the connection of the letters Ayin and Beit as related to the Gematria of the word Chesed and the letter Koof as related to Abraham's age at IsaaƧ's birth - in the word Eikev, highlights this concept.  And in another dimension, who would be a better teacher of how to perform Chesed for Isaac than his father Abraham who was the icon of Chesed?

And in connection with the word Nashim, the name of the third volume of the six volumes of the Mishna, which ends off with the verse that begins the word Eikev, there were exactly 400 years from Isaac's birth which happened on the first day of Passover until the redemption of the Jews on the first day of Passover, as the word Nashim is the Gematria of 400.  And as we see in more than one source or context, Abraham corresponds particularly to the holiday of Passover.

And as for this verse whose FIRST word is Eikev, it has TEN words to it, ending off the chapter of the Mishna that begins with Asara Yochasin "There are TEN levels of genealogy..." where the FIRST word of this chapter is Asara - TEN.

And before I forget...there is one more connection between Sefer Vayikra and Masechet Eruvin, at least in terms of numbers.  Sefer Vayikra consists of TEN Parshiyot, and Masechet Eruvin consists of TEN chapters.


There are many connections of the letter Ayin=70 in these various concepts.  First things first - in terms of Parshat Vayikra that begins the third book of the Torah, the Haftara for this Parsha begins with the letter Ayin in the words Am Zu "This nation (the Jewish people)".  And as for Masechet Eruvin - the name of this tractate begins with the letter Ayin.  Next, the word Eikev, beginning the verse describing Abraham's Torah and Mitzva performance, begins with the letter Ayin, which included, as especially mentioned by the Ba'al HaTurim, the Mitzva of Eiruv Tavshilin, which begins with the letter Ayin.  It is this very verse, consisting of TEN words, that ends the chapter of Mishna that begins with the letter Ayin in the word Asara, which means TEN.

Now, as connected to the beginning of the Haftara for Parshat Vayikra where it makes immediate mention of the Jewish nation, the beginning of the above fourth chapter in Masechet Kiddushin mentions the 10 categories of Jews in terms of who are permittted or forbidden to marry to whom.  And in terms of this final chapter of Sefer Nashim, this third volume of the Mishna consists of 71 chapters, just like there are 70 nations of the world, and the 71st nation is the Jewish people, represented by the letter Ayin=70, as if to say that despite what looks like is the main thing in this world with all of its materialism from all the other nations, it is because of the Jewish nation that Hashem created the world to begin with, since it is the Jews who are the Ikarim (main ones), this Hebrew word also beginning with the letter Ayin; as indeed, the 71st and final chapter of Seder Nashim begins with mentioning the 10 classifications of Jews in terms of Halacha.  And this is represented by the Gematria of the name of this volume of Mishna - Nashim=400, for it was exactly 400 years from the birth of the first Jew to be born as a Jew, who was born on 15 Nissan until the official birth of the Jewish nation that took place on 15 Nissan.  This is most connected to the concept of Nashim (women), for a birth only occurs being born from a woman, and as the Midrash tells us, it was in the merit of the righteous women that the Jewish nation was redeemed from Egypt.

Now, as I noted various words in reference to good things that begin with an Ayin, so do we see that it begins the names of Esav and Amalek, who both had connections to the greatest holiness.  You see, Esav was born in the most observant Jewish family in the world at that time, for in fact, it was the ONLY Jewish family, being raised by his most righteous parents Isaac and Rebecca; however, he rejected Jewish tradition to perform evil.  Resulting from this, he had a grandson named Amalek, who not only didn't feel some type of connection with the Jewish nation being related as cousins, but was the very first nation to dare attack the Jews, cooling down the fear of the other nations for the Jews, upon which Hashem told us to totally wipe out Amalek's memory.

Next, when Joshua first led the Jewish people to Israel, after winning their first battle at Jericho, they then came to a city named Eye that begins with the letter Ayin, where the Jews suffered a defeat after a small amount of them were sent out to fight.  The reason for this was because there was one Jew who stole from the excommunicated booty of the people of Jericho, whose name was Achan whose name begins with an Ayin, and was consequently stoned for his crime, and the place where he was stoned was called Eimek Achor - both of these words beginning with an Ayin.

Then, we see that in the times of the kings of Judah and Israel, there was a prophet named Ido whose name began with the letter Ayin; who though was a good righteous prophet, he messed up when he naively (or not so naively) listened to a false prophet who made it sound like Hashem was now telling him to eat by him, when Hashem came Ido the prophet very strict instructions not to eat over at any place in a particular mission that he had; which resulted in him being killed by a lion along the way as a result of his sinful detour of dining out.

Fast forwarding to the times of the Mishna, there were two great Sages who names began with the letter Ayin - Rabbi Akiva, and Akavya Ben Mahalalel.  Rabbi Akiva, who for the first 40 years of his life, who was what we call an Am Ha'aretz, an ignoramous of Torah, to the extent that he actually hated Torah scholars, was brought close to the Torah thanks to his wife Rachel who sacrificed her family's wealth for her newly married husband to learn Torah as her wealthy father disowned her for marrying an ignoramous, which resulted in him becoming among the greatest scholars of all time, but not for her, it could very well have been that he never would have took the initiative to start learning Torah and would have died being a sinner who hated Torah scholars.  And as for Akavya, whose name begins the third chapter of Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), he was one rabbi who wasn't swayed by the opinions of others, even to the extent that he turned down an offer to be the vice-president (Av Beit Din) of the Jewish court for not wanting to change his opinion on certain halachic issues.  In fact, it was thought by some that he was put in excommunication for violating a halachic ruling, when as it turned out, it was someone else who was actually put in excommunication for being the one for doing so (Eiduyot 5:6).  It seems that by the time of the Mishna came around, the letter Ayin beginning one's name may have had a change in the spiritual flow for a person, though was still thought of denoting bad having a name beginning with an Ayin.  (Note: Though a name can be of  influence on a person, one still has free choice to do good or evil, but may face certain spiritual challenges that others don't have)

In sharp contrast, we see that the last letter of the name of Joshua, Moses' successor, whose Yahrzeit was this past Shabbat (26 Nissan), and today's date of 28 Nissan marks his first conquest in Israel with the fall of Jericho, is an Ayin.  The reason that I say this is because when Moses sent out 12 spies to check out Israel before the Jews would arrive there, he already knew that 10 of these spies were up to something up their sleeve, and so, being that Joshua attended to Moses  all the time, Moses wanted to make sure that Joshua wouldn't be swept up by the evil plans of the spies, and so, added on the letter Yud to Joshua's original name Hosea at the beginning of the name.  Now, it is most interesting to note, that when Joshua led the Jewish people to Israel and won the first battle in the conquest of Jericho, he composed the Aleinu prayer that is recited at the end of every prayer service, which begins with the letter Ayin, symbolizing the fact that he himself was already one who totally conquered his evil inclination, just as he had immediate victory at the conquest of Jericho once the Jews had access to the city following the walls sinking to the ground.

And then, we see with the names of the Parshiyot that will be read this Shabbat - Tazria and Metzora - the two middle Parshiyot of the Torah, that both of the names of these Parshiyot ends with the letter Ayin.  In fact, this is the first time that the letter Ayin even appears in the names of the Parshiyot until this point.  And of the few more times that the letter Ayin appears in the Parshiyot names, the last one is Parshat Eikev that begins with Ayin.

In any case, these two Parshiyot Tazria-Metzora deal with the various types of afflictions that occur with one's body - from Tzara'at (that is loosely translated as leprosy, but in this case, was a divinely visited skin discoloration) to seminal flows that cause a person to become spiritually impure.  To be sure, though it may not be immediately obvious in the literal meaning of the "Bible", these bodily afflictions occur as a result of various sins, from speaking badly about other Jews to thinking lewd thoughts.  In fact, both of these Parshiyot names contains the letters that spell the word Rah (evil).  However, it doesn't have to be this way if we just focus on the purpose of life.  You see, the word Tazria (translated as "conceives" based on the word Zera (seed)) refers to the process of a woman bringing life to a human being, who comes to this world to serve Hashem; and though the Mitzva of Brit Mila (circumcision) has already been mentioned long earlier in the Torah in reference to Abraham and Isaac, it is mentioned here again in reference to a baby boy.  And then for the name of the second Parsha - Metzora (one with Tzara'as), though it seems to denote negativity, the Torah begins this Parsha stating "This is the law of the Metzora on the day of his purification", which included shaving his entire body (yes, this includes the beard and side curls that is associated with a very observant Jew), signifying a new slate in his life as a newborn so to speak following his sins being expiated through the various forms of atonement that he has received - from looking unkempt while exiled from his home and community to offering various animal sacrifices from his own pocket.  In fact, Sephardic Jews don't even call this Parsha by the name of Metzora, but the name Teharot (literally means pure items), the same name given for the sixth and final volume of the Mishnayot as well as one this volume's tractates, so there shouldn't even be a mention of negativity in relationship to Torah.

And then of course, there is the Mitzva of Kriat Shema (recital of the Shema) which begins with the verse Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad  "HEAR O Israel, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One" (Deutronomy 6:4), which is a most unique Mitzva, because first, this is the topic of the very beginning of the Mishnayot, and is also the very first Mitzva that one who becomes Bar Mitzva - which occurs when it becomes nightfall, the beginning of the Halachic day (NOT when the boy becomes Bar-Mitzvahed because he reads from the Torah or the rabbi declares it "official") - performs.  This word Shema ends with the letter Ayin.  But it doesn't end here.  You see, in the Sefer Torah, this letter is enlarged, as well as the letter Dalet at the end of the word Echad (one) at the end of this verse.  The significance of this?  I will address this in the following segment here.

I think that you will see a pattern here.  It seems that typically, when the letter Ayin begins certain words, it may have a good connotation, but there is potential that the concept related to the word could turn into something spiritually negative - such as Eisav and Amalek, who though were related to the Jewish people, chose to do the worst sins or be in the forefront of fighting the Jews.  On the other hand, other words ending with an Ayin, though the concepts related to these words may have potential for evil, could end up being very good.  As per the above illustrating this - Joshua, though was a most righteous individual who served Moses that eventually won win leadership of the Jews, could have fallen astray along with the ten evil spies had it not been for Moses looking out after him, giving power to Joshua's name by adding the letter Yud in front of it, being that his original name was actually Hosea.  And the names of the Parshiyot Tazria-Metzora, though the subjects of these Parshiyot deals with spiritually negative issues, there is always hope for a Jew to remind himself of his purpose in life and repent, having the potential of being like a newborn and start over again as with the purity of a Jewish child who has no sin stained on his soul (everything is just practice or preparation until he becomes a "man") until he becomes Bar-Mitzva (or Bat-Mitzva), which would explain why the very first Mitzva that he performs as a Bar-Mitzva man is Kriat Shema, being reminded with the big letter Ayin at the end of the first word of the Shema that all his trial and errors until now were just that - without his soul being stained with sin, and now has the potential to make good of everything he has learned and gone through until now, just as Joshua who withstood the trend of the ten spies who though may have been Torah scholars in their own right as leaders of their respective tribes, failed both themselves and the Jewish people, while Joshua stood steadfast with the unpopular view that Hashem was going to fight the Jews' battles in Israel, which nearly cost him being stoned by the Jews who were most ungrateful for everything Hashem had done for them up to that point in time.


At least until recently, if you were to ask almost anyone as to which country is mostly likely to attack the United States/Israel: most likely, you would be told something like Iraq, Iran, Syira, Khadaffi (or however you spell the late nut's name).  Certainly, such a person answering this question is not living in a shell.

The truth is, such a person may be living more like in a bomb shell.  You see, it is really Hashem who runs the world; and just when you least expect it, our salvation, or G-d forbid, some of the biggest tragedies, can come from some of the most unlikely sources.

At least, good Jews who are sincere and serve the good L-rd don't have too much too worry beyond whether they are doing everything right, for in fact, we are all in Hashem's hands, and it is He, and only He, who determines our ultimate fate - both in this world and in the next.

While the subject of Gog U'Magog may still be debatable, or the role of who is Gog may seem to be divided  up between U.S. presidents George Bush II and Obama, there are various sources in Talmidic, Midrashic, and Kabbalistic literature that are pointing to these very days in time.  In fact, we will soon see here that we don't have to go very far - some details of what will happen in our days is written out straight in the Chumash (Penteteuch).

For this, we need to rewind back to some 18 years ago, when a big Sephardic rabbi, Rabbi Levi Sa'adya Nachmani, may the memory of the righteous be for a blessing, gave a talk during Chanuka 5755 (December 1994), around 40 days before his passing, about who will be the nation that will (look to) attack us, G-d forbid.  As he mentioned, it is not Iran, Iraq, Syira, or Khadaffi, but...Seoul, Korea.  It may have not been very obvious at the time that he spoke these prophetic words, but recent events have pointed out that for all that we know, it is just a matter of time before they will be charging at the United States.  Now, even if (North) Korea only attacks the United States, and not Israel, one must be in mind that quite a few Jews still live in the declining wealthy country of the world.  Certainly, how can we forget that in the events of 9/11, there were some Jews who perished in the fires of terrorism, including even a few observant Jews who saw to it that they came early to work as usual on that fateful morning (as far as I am concerned, working at a job in the United States before 9:00 AM is working early)?

Now, the good rabbi did mention that we can thwart the threats of this Korean nation if we but just do Teshuva (repentance).  You see, even when a prophet does give a prophecy of bad things that are going to happen, G-d forbid, when we Jews repent, then these bad things do not happen.

Anyways, here is the punchline as to this rabbi's prophecy.  We see that it will be particularly Seoul, Korea who will attack from a particular verse in the Torah in Parshat Ha'azinu - "For fire has been kindled in My wrath, and it will burn until the lowest depths, it will devour the land and its produce, will strike the foundations of mountain (Deutronomy 32:22)."  O.K, you will not see the name of the country with the loose translation here, but the Hebrew word for what has been translated as depths is Sheol, as in the phrase here Sheol Tachtit, which in one sense, though not necessarily in the context here, refers to the lowest depths of Gehinnom (Hell or Purgatory).  At least in a figurative sense, we are presently at the very end of our exile from which we will soon be redeemed, G-d willing, once and for all, but this time in history can be catastrophic both physically and spiritually.  There are already many more things happening around the world both by nature and wars that are killing, injuring, and maiming so many people even without the upcoming World War III.  And all this - is because it reflects the spiritual decline of the world, and most especially, what is happening to our Jewish nation, as has never happened to such an extent of not merely choosing to go against the Torah, but the vast ignorance of Judaism that Jews are being raised with.

To be sure, there have been some good developments among the Jewish people in more recent years of Jews coming back to Judaism, returning to our Holy Land, more Yeshivot (Torah learning centers) as never before, along with all types of charity organizations, who have no doubt have had an impact on Jews in Israel for the most part being protected from our surrounding Arab enemies with constant miracles - which involve many more stories of what didn't happen bad to us than what has.  However, on the other hand, what has been happening in more recent years especially cannot be ignored - the dictatorship of the Israeli government being headed by Prime Monster Bibi Netanyahu working on every possible edge to give away more Jewish land and/or autonomy to the "Palestinians"; the government desperately finding a way to have Jews who are learning Torah and observing a strict observant lifestyle to be thrown into an army that is dictated by anti-Torah laws; and the wide gap in some places between different levels of Jewish observance between who are loosely called the "Ultra-Orthodox" and the nationalistic or "Modern Orthodox" in Israel such as the latter complaining about the former not wanting to do their "share" of helping the country by joining the army as they themselves have, even though there have been more "Ultra-Orthodox" Jews joining the army than ever, or some of those who label themselves as very observant with the large black hat or skullcap who will hire our Arab enemies for work any day before giving a chance to a nationalistic Jew with the knitted skullcap whom he looks down on as "I'm holier than thou", in stark contrast to what the Torah tell us about the importance of supporting our Jewish brethren, ESPECIALLY when giving a livelihood to almost ANY Jew (there may be exceptions, but I won't discuss it in this post) is the highest of eight levels of charity that can be performed for him.

But you know what the funny thing is - Rabbi Nachmani stated in his same sermon that if the Jews would just do the easy the thing of repenting, there wouldn't be a need of an army in Israel, and certainly not what is called Sheirut Leumi "National Service" which is attended to mostly by young observant Jewish women in the nationalistic camp who are brainwashed by this anti-Torah government that they are helping the country for the next year or two in lieu of being in the army in which women are forbidden to be obliged to serve according to the Torah to begin with, instead of getting married and starting Jewish families no later than the age of 18 as it used to be for most of Jewish history until recently (It's one thing if one wants to first go to college and get a degree or be set with something to make a living from before starting a Jewish family, but not to be coerced or convinced by those who spit on the Torah that they have to make a "contribution" to the State of Israel instead of the real contribution of bringing more Jewish souls who will serve Hashem into the world).

I will get back to the verse that I mentioned earlier momentarily.  But first, as typically, the Haftara of any given Parsha reflects on some theme within that Parsha, the Haftara for Parshat Ha'azinu, which is also read on the seventh day of Pesach following our reading in the Torah about the miracle of the Reed Sea, is also like in Parshat Ha'azinu in the form of a song, both in the wording style and the way the lines are written in the scroll.  With this said, we see that the first verse of this Hafatra (II Samuel Chapter 22, parallel to Psalm 51 with similar wording) mentions King David singing praise to Hashem for saving him from the hand of all his enemies "and from the hand of Saul".

Now, why did King David specify King Saul as a separate category of enemies as if to give the impression that he was the worse enemy of all?  After all, despite King Saul's constant attempts to do away with King David whose dynasty was to replace his after King Saul's failure to listen to Prophet Samuel to totally eradicate the Amalekite nation, which was due to his jealousy of him after King David won some local battles and the women who praising him and contrasting his greater accomplishments than King Saul's, King Saul was the father-in-law of King David; and in fact, King David himself, both in King Saul's lifetime and death, refers to him as "the anointed of Hashem".  At least as far as King Saul was concerned, he was in fact inflicted with an evil spirit covered with melancholy that led King Saul, despite his vast knowledge of Torah and past righteousness, that caused him to be going after King David so much.  However, most of the other enemies that King David encountered such as Doeg and Achitophel were rotten through and through to begin with.

It is true that despite what King Saul did from when he disobeyed Prophet Samuel, to what he did in his rage against King David following being fed by the High Priest, that he had the High Priest murdered as well as the Cohanim, women and even little babies in the town of Nob, that he did in fact go to Heaven following being killed in battle, as recounted by the Sages in the Talmud.  Now, I will tie everything together a little later on here; but first, as we proceed with this Haftara in verse 6, King David recounts - Chevlei Sheol...  "The bonds of Sheol surrounded me, the snares of death preceeded me".  We see that King Saul's Hebrew name Shaul and the term Sheol (loosely translated as depths) are spelled the same way besides the Hebrew vowels.  It seems that the experience that King David had with running away from King Saul and hiding from him most reminded him of what death is like, for after all, he himself experienced a change of lifestyle from his parents' home to being a respected local warrior to needing to flee from King Saul taking a chance finding refuge with other kings or nations who weren't exactly in love with Israel to say the least.  And aside from his other challenges with major enemies during the course of his 40 plus years as king, this was the first major experience in his lifetime of needing to deal with a situation of someone opposing him to the extent that he had to run for his life.  And so, no matter what happened later on, it wasn't so hard to handle, for he already knew what the experience of escaping danger and death was life.  But in stark contrast to what he was used to up to that point in time, it was King Saul who broke King David's sense of security.  For despite King David having already began fighting battles, he knew that at least then, he was serving Hashem in fighting enemies of the Jewish people, and is in fact forbidden according to the Torah to be afraid in the midst of such wars.  However, by needing to run away from King Saul, it totally disrupted his flow in life to the extent that he felt that he was like one who worships idols since he ran from the Holy Land at one point in the cat and mouse game.

Now, getting back to our verse in the Chumash, there are quite a few interesting facts pertaining to this verse, aside from the direct mention of the word Sheol which Rabbi Nachmani points out is referring to Seoul.  This  verse is in the midst of what  is called the Shirat Ha'azinu "Song of Ha'azinu, which Moses spoke more as a sermon on the day of his passing warning the Jewish nation of what could happen if they rebel against Hashem - literally.  You see, there are 43 verses to Shirat Ha'azinu, and this verse - verse 22 - is the MIDDLE verse of this Song!

Now, if we are to count the number of verses in the Chumash, we see that this is the 5,774th verse.  There are in fact, many parallels between the number of verse in the Chumash with the corresponding year of the world's existance.  And so, corresponding to this Year 5773, we see that the previous verse - the 5773rd verse of the Torah, mentions of a non-nation, which we (not all, and sadly, not all includes some who call themselves religious but believe that we have to still look to appease our Arab enemies, or we are being cruel to them) know as the "Palestinians" today; for in fact, there is no such country as Palestine, a name that was used to refer to Israel by the anti-Semitic British for a period of time before declaration of the State of Israel.
In fact, I wrote about this verse in my 156th post in connection to Joseph.  But the point here, is that as we see in the 21st verse of Shirat Ha'azinu, Hashem will bring the "non-nation" as a result of some Jews angering Him with their "acts of vanity", for in vain does Dictator Netanyahu attempt to appease Obama, Abbas, etc. who are all laughing at him, despite him thinking that at least he has made a nice show with his sincere efforts of capitulating to the demands of the non-nation and the United Nations whose sole purpose of existence is to rid Israel once and for all in the guise of making peace between nations.

Now, even though in the merit of the good deeds of the Jews in Israel, we have been saved from our enemies for the most part, it doesn't mean that Jews in other parts of the world don't have to worry about the Arab next door.  Quite the contrary, along with the increase of Muslim Arabs or Arab Muslims (which one makes more sense?) in various European countries who are holding their leaders by their throats to do what they want to do in their countries, including harassing, injuring and murdering Jews, things are getting steadily worse for Jews in the rest of the world, including the United States, since the Arabs feel that the Israeli government fears them instead of showing true strength, and they feed very well on this weakness which leads to them going after Jews in other countries.  And accordingly, the rest of the world, the media and all, see Israel not as this humanitarian country who provides free sustenance, medications, etc. to Arabs in Gaza even in times of war with the Arabs, or as the first ones who quickly rush to a major center of disaster somewhere in the world to help the survivors; but rather as a weakling who hasn't done enough, in their estimation of being fair to its enemies, if not openly accusing them of terrorizing them or stealing "their" land.

And so, whether directly or indirectly, this will lead to the next step, G-d forbid.  The next step being, what takes place in verse 22 after verse 21.  Certainly, regardless of who plans to attack Israel or the good ol' U.S. of A., it is Hashem Who has the ultimate say.  But, whatever does happen that reflects disaster, is not because Hashem wants something for Himself, but because of the evil actions of others.  And even though the anti-Semites blame us Jews for what happens wrong in this world, even though quite often, we at least physically have done the opposite, such as helping any given country financially; the anti-Semites do in fact have a point - though not the way that they interpret it, because our evil actions can cause other nations to suffer as well, and at times, they are the ones who are set as examples for us to repent.  However, if G-d forbid, we don't repent, then the tragedies G-d forbid hit closer at home.  This is just like the Midrash that tells us that when it comes Hashem punishing a Jew with Tzara'at, it begins with his home, then his clothing, and finally his own body, until he is forced to show everyone what a sinner he is, and only once he is totally shaved of his hair along with the other various atonements does he finally wake up that he needs to make a real change.

And so, wherever North Korea through its capitol Seoul plans on hitting, no doubt that this will be a MAJOR change in world history, especially since this near future event is openly hinted right in front of our eyes in the Chumash!  For today, unlike some 100 years ago, we can now visualize the damage that can happen from a major bombing - both the short term of people being killed and the long term effects killing the next generation, as we know from the nuclear point in Chernobyl how it changed so many lives, and Jewish children were being flown over the course of many years to Israel to both remove them from the dangerous airy environment and give them the necessary medical treatments to undo at least some of the damage that their bodies were exposed to.

Now, getting back to the verse in Parshat Ha'azinu hinting to Seoul, let us take a close look on other middles in relationship to this verse.  First, let's take a look at a phrase in this verse - Vatikad Ad Sheol Tachtit - "and it will burn until the lowest depths".  Now, in the 462 words of Shirat Ha'azinu (Deutronomy 32:1-43), the MIDDLE two words are Vatikad Ad "and it will burn until".  The MIDDLE two words of the 14 words of this verse are Sheol Tachtit "the lowest depths".  You see, it could have happened that the two middle words of Shirat Ha'azinu would occur in some nearby verse, since not all verses have the same amount of words, but as it turns out, the MIDDLE two words of the 43 verses are also within the MIDDLE verse of these 43 verses, and they are immediately followed by the MIDDLE two words of this MIDDLE verse that mentions the word Sheol.

And now the big winner.  Since we have established that the 5774th verse in the Torah is the MIDDLE verse of Shirat Ha'azinu, let us note the makeup of this coming Year 5774.  It consists of 385 days, the most amount of days in a year that can occur in the Jewish calendar as it does in a leap year consisting of 13 months. Also, just as there are 55 letters in this verse, so too there are 55 complete weeks in Year 5774; that is, a letter in the 5774th verse corresponding to a week in Year 5774.  And guess what is the MIDDLE date of Year 5774?  14 Adar II - the date of Purim!  Ironically, it seems that some non-Jews know more about this most joyous Jewish holiday than many assimilated Jews especially in the United States who would rather complain about the Holocaust or how quiet it is in the Reform Temple on the High Holidays where a good percentage of the worshipers are old people.  After all, the word Purim was the final word in the United States National Spelling Bee in 1983.  And then in 1991, the Persian Gulf War ended on Purim.  And speaking of the MIDDLE day, the Kabbalistic Sephira of the MIDDLE day of Sephirat Haomer - the 25th day of the Omer (falls out on 10 Iyar in our present calendar) is Netzach She'B'Netzach (Victory within Victory); and indeed, Purim celebrates our victory over our enemies, which was in fact a double victory, for not only our enemies who originally planned on murdering us did not succeed, but we had our victory over them, just as implied in the double wording of Netzach (Victory) as the Kabbalistic Sephira for the MIDDLE day of the Sephira.

And so, it seems that there is indeed tremendous potential for whatever the Korean government does in the near future will be rather to our advantage, for after all, Purim is the holiday that we celebrate our victory in war over our enemies.  However, we must remember to start doing some serious repentance, just as the Jews did that led to their victory over their enemies rather than vice-versa in the Purim story.  No doubt, Purim 5774, in this coming year, will be a turning point in the history of the Jewish people (and the world).

Now note, this middle verse in Shirat Ha'azinu is the 22nd verse.  And near the end of Megillat Esther (Book of Esther), the first word of a verse includes an enlarged Tav in the word VaTichtov "She wrote" (the first Tav in the word), the very verse that mentions that Queen Esther wrote the words that eventually formed the Megilla that we read twice on Purim.  One reason given for the enlarged Tav is because just as the Tav is the 22nd and LAST letter of the Aleph-Beit, so was Esther the 22nd and LAST of the righteous women mentioned in the Tanach.  Now, this verse is in Chapter 9, Verse 29.  Putting these two numbers together, the number is now 929.  And in the very LAST verse of the Tanach which consists of 929 chapters, Koresh the Persian king gives permission for the Jews to travel to Israel and rebuild the Temple that was destroyed 52 years earlier.  Now, bear in mind that not all the events in Tanach are in chronological order, for this event in the last verse of Tanach took place some 15 years before the Purim story, and then more action took place in Israel since then that is mentioned in Tanach.

The reason that I say this is because of an event that is mentioned in the Megilla.  When Esther made a party for King Achashveirosh and Haman, the king asked her "What is your request and it will be granted and performed until HALF of the kingdom" (Esther 5:6).  Now, it is true that this verse immediately proceeds the MIDDLE verse of the Megilla "Esther answered replying "My request..."  But what did the king mean when he said "until HALF of the kingdom"?  Was it just a figurative way of saying that he will give her half of what he owns or reigns over?  Apparently, the rabbis took this very literally.  You see, the MIDDLE, or HALF WAY POINT of his kingdom of 127 countries was of all places - the area of the Beit HaMikdash (Jewish Temple)!  In fact, it was at the very beginning of the Megilla that the king threw a major party that lasted for six months, and our rabbis tell us that he wore the clothes of the Cohen Gadol (High Priest) which were looted along with the Jews who were exiled to Babylonia following the destruction of the Temple.

In fact, we learn that the Temple is the MIDDLE of Jerusalem, Jerusalem is in the MIDDLE of Israel, and Israel is in the MIDDLE of the world.  The truth is that if you were to look on a map, it wouldn't exactly look  like this is the truth; for to begin with, the equator is in the center of the world, and Israel is definitely above the equator.  Hence, this statement in Talmudic literature must be referring to the spiritual middle of the Temple, Jerusalem and Israel.  And so, we see here about the king, who was rotten from beginning to end as far as the rabbis in the Talmud are concerned. that more than anything else, didn't want the Jews to be reattached to their spirituality, thus attempting to murder us spiritually, which is even worse than just murdering physically as Haman attempted to do, for one who murders another merely removes him from this temporary world, while one who causes another to sin removes him from the next world forever being bereft of eternal bliss.  And in this case of the Temple being in the middle of the 127 countries; Israel as the middle country was the 64th country.  And as we know, the square root of 64 is eight, which is the number that represents what is above nature - such as miracles.    

And speaking of the number eight, Moses addressed the Jewish people with Shirat Ha'azinu on the LAST day of his life - 7 Adar, his birthdate of 120 years earlier.  And it is the 14th of Adar - Purim, that is the EIGHTH day from 7 Adar, which was no doubt the date of Baby Moses' circumcision.  And speaking of last, the LAST Mitzva of the 613 Mitzvot of the Torah is writing a Sefer Torah (Torah scroll), which is mentioned in a verse in the previous Parsha (Deutronomy 31:19) where it states "Now write for yourselves this song and teach it to the Children of Israel, place it in their mouths, in order that this song will be for me as a witness against the Chldren of Israel".  Now, I will elaborate more on this verse shortly, but the immediate point here is that it seems that the whole Torah is supposed to be written SPECIFICALLY FOR THIS SONG OF HA'AZINU TO BE WRITTEN.

The question can be asked - isn't the Torah supposed to be written down for us to learn all the 613 Mitzvot and their details?  Why it especial importance being placed on Moses' final sermon which is about what will happen to the Jewish people based on their performance as though this is the very reason why we have to write a Sefer Torah?

The truth is, if Hashem really wanted to, He could have had the 613 Mitzvot, just like the Ten Commandments, be written on tablets and the like if it was simply a matter of knowing what He wants us to do, accompanied with the oral details of these Mitzvot and the telling of stories what went on with our ancestors that led to us being G-d's nation.  However, in terms of appreciating the importance of keeping Hashem's Commandments - this had to be written in a scroll.  You see, the scroll is what Jews were used to reading in the past in terms of Torah before the Torah was given.  And so, Hashem wanted to make sure that they could relate best to the words of promises and warnings, and that they should be immediately available in the form of a scroll.  Also, in sharp contrast to sapphire stone, the scroll coming from animal hide is far cheaper; and so, if every Jew is supposed to own a Sefer Torah, it had to be done in a more cheaper, convenient way possible (Note: As I have mentioned before, the rabbinical authorities have already noted that nowadays, we fulfill this last Mitzva of the Torah by buying and learning holy books; though if one can afford to fulfill this Mitzva in the literal sense, all the better).

In any case, as the verse that mentions the last Mitzva of the Torah makes mention particularly of Shirat Ha'azinu, it has to be a most important part of the Torah.  In fact, the Ramban (Nachmanides) notes that everyone is hinted somewhere in these 43 verses of the Torah.  But especially as we see it nowadays, these verses correspond to the years in Jewish history that are what we call the "End of Days" marking the end of exile and the beginning of our Redemption, G-d willing very soon.

Now, let us note the word Sheol in the middle Shirat Ha'azinu verse in connection with Purim.  For you see, it was Mordechai, the male hero of the Purim story, a descendant of Shaul HaMelech (King Saul), who cleaned up some of the mess that his ancestor made.  You see, King Saul failed to obey Shmuel HaNavi (Samuel the Prophet) when the latter told him to totally eradicate the Amalekite nation, including all its animals.  However, Saul thought that he was a little smart, and allowed the Amalekite King Agag alive as a trophy and kept some of animals so he could sacrifice them to G-d.  The problem with this is that just as he did once before, he allowed himself to be carried away with making sacrifices to G-d instead of worrying more about what he was ordered to do by Him via His prophet.  And so, in the one night that King Agag was in Jewish capture, he cried that he was going to die with leaving behind no children or descendants in the world.  As a result of King Saul's disobedience, Hashem heard King Agag's cries and he found himself a woman for a one night stand, from whom descended Haman, the villain in the Purim story that Mordechi helped get rid of.

Now, it is true that King Saul, despite his faults, died in battle in atonement for his sins, and as attested to by the rabbis, came straight to heaven.  However, the damage was done, and it was only thanks to his righteous descendant Mordechai that he averted some of the damage of Amalek from the Jewish people, resulting in a new Jewish holiday.  Indeed, King Saul had a big spiritual fall as well as his royal fall - Sheol Tachtit  "lowest depths" hitting rock bottom from being the first king of Israel, loosing his royal line to King David.  Yes, what I wrote earlier about King David's reason for specifying King Saul from the rest of his enemies from whom he was saved by Hashem is well applicable.  But perhaps, it can be suggested, as in addition to the Book of Samuel, King David wrote very similarly in the Book of Psalms which he wrote relating to the Jewish people throughout the generations, that at the end of time in our exile of being chased by our enemies, that the final nation that we will have to deal with or will attempt to attack us will be the nation whose capitol is Seoul right before the coming of Moshiach, King David's descendant.  And as this relates to Purim, we sure hope that Hashem in His mercy will spare us the worst, even as we read the Haftara of Parshat Ha'azinu also on the seventh day of Pesach, the date that we Jews were saved from the Egyptians at the Reed Sea and we sang the first of 10 songs recorded in Tanach.

Now, let us look at the last two letters/numbers of the upcoming Jewish Year 5774 - Ayin, Dalet.  Remember earlier what I mentioned about the first verse of the Shema - where the letters Ayin and Dalet as the last letters of the first and last word, respectively are enlarged?  This symbolizes the fact that we Jews serve as an Eid (witness), this word also spelling the Hebrew number for 74, that Hashem is our G-d and that He is One.  And amazingly, this word is also used in the verse mentioning the last Mitzva of the Torah "in order that this song will be for me as a WITNESS against the Jewish people".  Now excuse me for a moment, but is this a way that the verse that spells out the last Mitzva of the Torah to end off on such a negative note?  At the very least, the Torah could have spelled out both the positive and negative, as it does in other verses in the Torah.

Perhaps more than just a warning, since we have plenty of warning both in the context of around where this verse is mentioned as well as in the upcoming Parshat Ha'azinu, is that this could very well be a prophecy as to "the evil that will befall you at the end of days" (verse 29), just ten verses later.  For indeed, the last two letters of the upcoming Jewish year is Ayin and Dalet.  In fact, there are six words in the Sefer Torah that by tradition, have to be written at the beginning of a column, and the LAST of these six words is V'A'Ida "AND I WILL HAVE TESTIFY against them the heavens and the earth" (verse 28), which is based on the word Eid (witness) or Eidut (testimony).   Along these lines, we see that in our prayers, the LAST prayer that is recited at the end of every prayer service is the Aleinu prayer. This actually consists of two paragraphs.  Both of these paragraphs begin with the letter Ayin and ends with the letter Dalet, though in some versions of the Siddur (prayer book), the second paragraph begins with the letter Vav (and) immediately preceeding the letter Ayin in the word.  In any case, we see here a hint to the concept of two witnesses as Eid (V')Eid - for in many if not most cases, two witnesses were required to testify in a Jewish court for their statement to be considered valid, as in this Aleinu prayer, we testify about Hashem being one, just as in the Shema.  And then, in the 5774th verse in which the middle two words of Shirat Ha'azinu appear - Vatikad Ad "It will be lit UNTIL", where the word Ad is spelled the same way in its letters as the word Eid, again spelling the number 74, except that it means "until", but it comes to show here the special emphasis on the year 5774 in more than one translation for the Hebrew number 74 as a word.  And as related with Puirm, the LAST holiday recorded in Tanach, the Gematria of Mordechi's name is 274, which as you can see, ends with the number 74.

And in terms of the End of Days, there is an Aramaic phrase that refers to this period of time right before the coming of Moshiach - IKveita D'Meshicha "Footsteps of Moshiach", using the word Eikev, and the letters of these two words are Ayin and Dalet.  No denying, this number 74 (Ayin-Dalet) will be playing a major role in the final stage leading to the Redeption, as denoted by the fact that the word Ad (until), which also spells the Hebrew number 74, immediately proceeds the word Sheol (Seoul) in the Ha'azinu verse.

We have yet to see what will happen in the upcoming Year 5774, but as related to the MIDDLE verse of Shirat Ha'azinu which is the 5774th verse of the Torah, the Hebrew word for Korea includes the letters of the name of the third and MIDDLE book of the Chumash - Sefer Vayikra (Leviticus), which largely, especially the first Parsha of this book which is called Parshat Vayikra, deals with the various animal sacrifices.  Perhaps this hints here to the fact that King Saul, the FIRST king of Israel, whose Hebrew name very much resembles the word Sheol which in turn resembles the name of the capitol of Korea, failed twice to obey the prophet Samuel in his quest of wanting to offer animal sacrifices to Hashem, but which ran contrary to what Hashem really wanted, which resulted in his demotion of loosing the kingdom from his family to King David whose descendant will be Moshiach.

We see that the word Vayikra was put to good use way earlier in the Torah when it was Abraham, the FIRST Jew, who "CALLED OUT there in the name of Hashem" at his hospitality center. In fact, in the Book of Isaiah (41:2), which is also part of the Haftara for Parshat Lech-Lecha, it speaks about Abraham where it states "Who aroused on from the east, GREETED by victory at his footstep...", and has been pointed out, the Hebrew word for "greeted" which is Yikraeihu, has the same letters as the word Korea, which is located in the Far East, and that the first letters of the words located in verse 5 - Ra'oo Iyim V'Yira'oo Ketzot Ha'aretz Yecheradu "The islands saw and they were afraid, the ends of the earth trembled..." which are the letters of the word Korea in Hebrew, apparently hinting to a future time when Korea will threaten or use their weapons in a way that will frighten other countries.   And as connected to Abraham, he himself fought in a war (Genesis 14) as recorded in Parshat Lech-Lecha, with his ultimate intention of freeing his nephew Lot who was captured during this war, and as mentioned of Abraham's efforts of fighting "and the night divided for them" (Genesis 14:15) about which, Rashi notes that Hashem picked up the tab from where Abraham left off fighting until midnight, and in the night immediately preceding the Exodus, He struck the firstborn exactly at midnight.

So as you can see, we have a co-relationship here with the first, middle, and last as related to Seoul, Korea. And as for Rabbi Nachmani, his Hebrew name Levi Sa'adya shares the same Gematria as the word HaKeitz (the End) referring to the Messianic Era that he spoke and attempted to prepare the Jewish people for with his admonition for repentance.  This is also the same Gematria as the phrase Yimloach HaMelech (The King will reign) (Note: I didn't see this phrase anywhere, but this is something that I thought of), for indeed, as in the verse near the end of Shirat HaYam, the song that the Jews sang following their deliverance at the Yam Suf (Sea of Reeds) recited every morning in the midst of the prayer services - Hashem Yimloch Leolam Vaed "Hashem will reign forever" (Exodus 15:18); for though Hashem has always been King, He wasn't always accepted as such until today by everyone; in the future in the time of the Messianic Era, He will be accepted as King by everyone, as testified as such in the Aleinu prayer.  And as for Rabbi Nachmani's family name, we see that the one time that this name is mentioned in Tanach is in a list of Jewish leaders who accompanied Zerubabel to Israel (Nehemia 7:7) where this name is mentioned immediately proceeding the name Mordechai of the Purim story, who also exhorted the Jews in his time to repent, though many of them failed to listen until they knew that they were slated for extermination which caused them to repent.

It is interesting about the timing of Rabbi Nachmani's message.  You see, a few years earlier, Rabbi Meir Kahane, may Hashem avenge his blood, was murdered, and during his era of his constant activism since founding the JDL in 1968, he constantly warned the Jewish people of what could happen if G-d forbid, we don't listen to the Torah, especially when it comes with dealing with the Arabs in OUR land, to get rid of every last one of them to THEIR land in one of their 22 Arab countries and live happily forever.  Most unfortunately, few cried out when Prime Monster Menachem Begin, though he used to be a good fighter for Israel, gave in to pressure and signed the ill fated Camp David accords that shouted goodbye to the Sinai, falling for the sly words of Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt, who led his country in the sneak attack on Israel on Yom Kippur 1973, who claimed that he wanted peace for Israel, offering only the piece of paper that bore his false words for priceless Israeli territory.  However, Kahane was one of the few in the oasis of truth who exposed the truth regarding this whole fiasco, when hundreds, nay, thousands of rabbis should have took to the streets in Israel and the United States to protest this major sacrilege of the Israeli government even daring to offer parts of our Holy Land to our avowed sworn enemies.  And so, since there were a few too many Jews who refused to listen to one modern day prophet, Hashem sent another to tell everyone to repent.   Anyways, what we do see is the date of 14 Adar, the date of Purim, employing the letters Yud-Dalet Aleph-Dalet-Reish are all within Rabbi Kahane's Hebrew name Meir Dovid.

Now, during the time that Rabbi Nachmani spoke his message in 5755 (1994), Rabbi Kahane's son Binyamin Zev, may Hashem avenge his blood, was continuing his father's legacy, though fewer listened to what he had to say, because some past followers of Kahane the father rejected his son due to politics.  And so, it wasn't sufficient for the Jewish people to have Binyamin Zev Kahane warn them, but needed a rabbi from the Sephardic sector to reach out to many more Jews who would at least listen to what he had to say.  But as it turns out, Binyamin Zev's name is the same Gematria as the word Eikev - 172!  And though it may sound a little secular, as the word Eikev does mean END in some contexts, Rabbi Binyamin Zev Kahane (and his wife) were murdered on the LAST day of the secular year 2000.

This should remind us of a rabbinic statement that of the 6000 years of this world's existance, the first 2000 represents desolation (between the flood and the lack of G-dliness in the world).  The second and middle 2000 years was the period of Torah (from Abraham to the Giving of the Torah to the Mishnaic period), and the third and last 2000 years are the "days of Moshiach".  As it turns out, the 2nd Temple was destroyed 172 years before the end of the second period of 2,000 years in Year 3828, and is mentioned in the Talmud that Moshiach was born on Tisha B'Av, the date that the (Second) Temple was destroyed; meaning that the potential of Moshiach coming began from even that moment, if the Jews would but repent.

Let us hope that it won't take, G-d forbid, a major tragedy for us to wake up, but that rather, we take the initiative to repent ahead of time, so that by the time the next Purim comes around, we will have one more reason to celebrate this joyous holiday, ushering in the immediate Redemption which we should all merit in the midst of great happiness, as the beginning of Parshat Eikev, the 46th Parsha of the Torah (and the name Levi, the name of the one Tribe of Israel who obeyed Hashem all through the time in Egypt and in the wilderness before the Jews came to Israel, is the Gematria of 46) promises for obeying Hashem "He will love you, bless you, multiply you, and bless the fruit of the womb, your land, your grain, etc."  May we see the fulfillment of this very soon in our days.  Amen!

28 Nissan, 5773