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

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