Sunday, May 5, 2013

#175 - Abraham from the Days of Creation

True, the stories about our Patriarchs and Matriarchs take place in Sefer Bereishit (Genesis), which we concluded reading in the Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll) four months ago, but for those who read/learn the weekly Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) that is customarily recited on Shabbat morning/afternoon (depending if you are Sephardic or Ashkenazic) between Pesach (Passover) and Shavuot (Pentacost) (which is the Sephardic custom, Ashkenazic Jews continue weekly until Rosh Hashana), Abraham was well and alive yesterday.  In fact, why don't I just list the things that are mentioned about him in the fifth chapter of Pirkei Avot that we recited yesterday:

"There were 10 generations from Noah to Abraham to indicate how patient Hashem was, for all these generations continuously angered Him, until Abraham came along and received the reward of them all."

"Abraham our father was tested 10 times (by Hashem), and he passed all of the tests, to indicate how beloved Abraham our father was to Hashem."

"Ten things were created right before Shabbat began (in the week of creation)...some say also...the ram of Abraham our father (which he sacrificed in lieu of his son Isaac)..."

"Whoever has the following three traits are among the disciples of Abraham our father...a good eye, low in spirit, and a humbled soul...What is the difference between the disciples of Abraham our father (and the disciples of Bilaam the wicked one)?  The disciples of Abraham our father enjoy in this world and inherit the world to come, as it says "My loved ones will inherit substance, and I will fill up their treasures"..."

Wow, Abraham's name is mentioned seven times in this chapter, even more than Moses!  Now, if this was not enough, in the sixth and final chapter of Pirkei Avot that we will be reading this coming Shabbat (though technically, this chapter is not part of the Mishna that Rabbi Judah the Prince composed, but rather a set of teachings established later as Baraita), where Abraham of all individuals in listed as one of the five "possessions" of the Holy One Blessed Be He.

But sticking with the fifth chapter, we see that it begins with the words - Ba'Asarah Ma'amarot Nivra Ha'Olam "With ten Divine statements was the world created".  Now, if you take a careful look, the latter part of this first word Ba'Asara (with ten) is pronounced as the name of Sara, Abraham's wife!  And if you think that this is mere coincidence, if you recall my 172nd post from last month (Apr. '13), I mentioned that the fourth and final chapter of the Mishnaic tractate Kiddushin which ends off about Abraham, the very first word of this chapter is Asara (ten) which again the latter majority part of the word spells the name of Abraham's wife Sara!  Indeed, the years of the world's first Jewish couple were TEN years apart, and the first Hebrew letter of the name of their son Yitzchak (Isaac) is a Yud, which is the numerical value of TEN!  In fact, Sara's original name was Sarai, in which her name ended with a Yud=10 rather than a Hei, but Hashem changed it to Sara at the time that He gave the Mitzva (commandment) of Brit Mila (circumcision) to Abraham, and made it up to the letter Yud centuries later by placing it in front of Joshua's name, as his name was original Hosea.

Now, noting that this chapter begins with the letter Beit, which is the numerical value of TWO, and the Torah which begins with the account of the week of creation also begins with the letter Beit=2, it is in the SECOND chapter of Genesis, following the account of Hashem resting on Shabbat, that it states - Eileh Toldot HaShamayim V'Ha'aretz B'HIBARAM "The following is he accounts (literally means generations) of the heavens and earth WHEN HE CREATED THEM"  Now,  as the Ba'al HaTurim commentary states, the letters of the word B'Hibaram can be rearranged to spell the word B'Avraham, "with Abraham", for it was in his merit that the heavens and earth were created, spelling out Abraham as a partner in creation so to speak. Moreover, this verse begins with the letter Aleph in the word Eileh, and ends with the letter Mem Sophit in the word V'Shamayim (and heaven), just as Abraham's name begins with the letter Aleph and ends with the letter Mem Sophit.  Coincidence?

Perhaps at this point, a question can be asked.  True, Abraham was the first Jew.  True, he exemplified being the ultimate Jew as one who brings others to Judaism via kindness such as hospitality.  But as we know, it was Moses, the "humblest of all mankind", who was the greatest Tzadik (righteous person) who ever lived, and it was him who learned the entire Torah from Hashem Himself and then transmitted it to the entire Jewish people.  So, if it true that the "Tzadik is the foundation of the world", then it stands to reason that really, it was due to Moses that the world was created, because the only reason why Hashem created this world was for us Jews to serve Him, and Moses was the greatest example of this.

Yes, it is true that due to Moses' humbleness, it was he more than anyone else in the universe merited to be the one to be the Lawgiver.  In fact, if it wasn't for this factor, it would have actually been Jacob, the father of the Twelve Tribes, who would have been the one to receive the Torah from Hashem on behalf of our nation, as actually, it was Jacob of the three Patriarchs who most excelled in Torah learning, as while we are supposed to observe all the commandments of the Torah, including deeds of kindness, the greatest Mitzva of all is Torah study, and it is for this reason that Jacob is in fact called the "Chosen one of the Patriarchs".

In fact, all of these Tzadikim (righteous people) had all these good traits; except that each one excelled in one particular area; and as we see even with Moses, while he was the Lawgiver, the Torah was in fact given to Him as a gift from Hashem following learning together for 40 days, while Jacob on his own sweated it through for many years to be the great Torah scholar that he became.  However, there is one factor here, in terms of the creation of the world, in whose merit this happened, that matters - who was the FIRST one to cause this.

It was Abraham who was the FIRST one in the universe to openly declare monotheism, the Oness of Hashem, in the universe.  He was the FIRST one to walk the walk and talk the talk.  And as we see when counting the words of the Torah from the beginning, the word B'Hibaram that hints to Abraham is the 474th word of the Torah.  And the word Da'at (Knowledge), one of the three Sephirot that relates to the mind, is the Gematria of 474.  And indeed, we see that the wording of Da'at is used particularly in the Torah to indicate about the existance and Oness of Hashem - Ata Hareita L'DA'AT "You are instructed to KNOW that Hashem is G-d, there is none besides Him".  V'YaDATA "You shall KNOW today and let it lie on your heart, that Hashem is G-d in heaven above and on earth below, there is none other".  L'Ma'an DA'AT "In order that all the nations of the world will KNOW that Hashem is G-d, there is none other".  And so, since it was Abraham the FIRST Jew who promoted the KNOWLEDGE of Hashem who is the FIRST "I am the FIRST and I am the last, and besides Me, there is no god", it was in his merit of what he was going to do that Hashem created the world.  Hence, it is most fitting that in the chapter of Pirkei Avot that begins with mentioning that Hashem created the world with ten statements, that Abraham's name of all other Biblical characters should be mentioned several times - a total of seven times, perhaps to parallel the seven days of creation.

To note, today's date is the 25th of Iyar.  Now, there are quite a few acronyms given for the letters of this Hebrew month Iyar.  One of them are the names of the Patriarchs and the Matriarch Rachel, as this: Aleph-Avraham, Yud-Yitzchak, Yud-Ya'akov, Reish-Rachel.  Perhaps another time, we will explain the special connection that Rachel, of the four Matriarchs (Sara, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel) has with this month.  But for now, we see that the name of this month BEGINS with the same FIRST letter ALEPH of the Aleph-Beit that BEGINS the name of Abraham, and this fifth chapter of Pirkei Avot is ALWAYS customarily learned during the month of Iyar.  And as for the number of the date of this month - 25, the 25th word of the Torah is the FIRST mention of the word Ohr (light), which also BEGINS with the letter ALEPH, and the name of this month Iyar is related to the word Ohr (It has been noted that the fact that the word Ohr is the 25th word of the Torah hints to the 25th day of Kislev, the FIRST day of Chanuka, which is called Chag HaUrim "Holiday of Lights).  And as we see Kabbalistically, the concept of Ohr is especially related to Chesed (kindness), the main characteristic of Abraham our father.

And speaking of this 175th post, Abraham's 175 years, as spelled out in the Torah, can be divided into SEVEN parts of 25 years each.  We see that there in fact a few resemblances of these divided sections of his life as paralleling the seven days of creation.

Now, for a moment, let's note that today - the 25th of Iyar - is the first day of the week of Parshat Bimidbar, which begins the fourth book of the Torah that is also called Bimidbar (Numbers).  And as I already related today's date and month to Abraham, the name of this week's Parsha and the fourth book of the Torah has the same Gematria as Abraham's name - 248.  And as we all already know, this number marks the amount of Positive/Active Mitzvot and the amount of limbs in a male's body (the atheist scientists will tell you 206, but see Mishna Ohalot 1:8 for a breakdown of the 248 limbs).  Significantly, it was Abraham the first Jew who fulfilled all the commandments of the Torah, especially in the world which in his time was Bimidbar, in the spiritual wasteland, and actively with his body went around to spread the belief in Hashem, the real spiritual light (in sharp contrast to what the world calls spiritual light, such as a Higher Power, outside of the realm of religion, which actually stems from the powers of impurity), as well as his actions of hospitality which gave both physical and spiritual benefit to his guests at his buffet branch in the middle of the wilderness, whether in Hebron or Be'er Sheba.  Moreover, the beginning of this Sefer/Parshat Bamidbar begins the scenario mentioning the date of the FIRST of the SECOND month, which is the 1st of Iyar (which by the way is my Jewish/Hebrew birthday, the only birthday that counts), showing a further connection between Abraham the FIRST Jew and this month of Iyar where both names begins with the letter Aleph.  A little later on, I will mention another connection between the subject theme of the beginning of Sefer/Parshat Bimidbar and Abraham.


With this, let's take a like at some of the highlights of Abraham's life with his corresponding age:
25 Years Old - Married Sara (according to Midrashic sources)
75 Years Old - Moves to Israel
100 Years Old - His son Isaac is born

Now, noting that Abraham's lifespan can be divided into seven parts of 25 years each, we will see how each event is related to the specific part of his life in terms of the seven days of creation or in numbers.

His marriage in the beginning of the second period of his life corresponds to the second day of creation.  To note, on the first day of creation, there were no creatures other than Hashem, and this implied, as Rashi notes from the Midrash (Bereishit Rabba 3:8), when it states at the end of the first day of creation - Yom Echad  "one day" (Genesis 1:5), rather than Yom Rishon "first day, the way that it is written with the following days of the creation "second day", "third day", to imply that Hashem was Yachid "single" on that first day, and the angels, even though not mentioned as part of creation in the Torah, were created on the second day.  Similarly, Abraham was single during the first seventh of his life, and it was particularly in the beginning of his second period of life that he got married. Moreover, the word for the letter Beit, which is the second letter of the Aleph-Beit and the numerical value of two, can also be read as Bayit (house) using different vowels, as we see in the Talmud (Shabbat 118b) that Rabbi Yosi called his wife "my house".

Speaking of the second day of creation, we notice that unlike the other days of creation, the phrase "for it was good" referring to the completion of an aspect of creation is not mentioned.  The reason for this is because there was strife between the upper and lower waters, and accordingly, Hashem didn't finish their arrangement making peace between them until the following day.

Perhaps we can learn something from this as per the early part of Abraham's marriage in the second period of his life.  While we all seem to get excited about being with our girlfriend, getting engaged, and then getting married, and then everyone seems to be our best friends at our wedding, showering us with good wishes, gifts, and all; the ultimate test of our marriage begins when all that celebration and excitement is over, and now it's time to live together as a married couple.  Now, if one thinks that somehow, everything will be fine and dandy, especially if one or both are making a good living, this is exactly how the troubles begin, because in this mode, one is not working on the marriage to make sure that things will go smoothly, and assumes that because they love each other, are intimate with each other, etc., that there is no way that they will ever get divorced for sure, and before long, they already have had their first fight.  This is exactly why when Hashem determines that He will provide Adam with a wife, he states E'eseh Lo Eizer K'neggo, which literally means, "I will make for him a helpmate - against him".  As Rashi notes from the Talmud (Yevamot 63a), "If he merits, she will be his helpmate.  If he doesn't merit, she will be against him, to fight him".

Sure, almost every husband who gets divorced will paint his ex-wife as the witch of town, and at times, he may be right as to her real character when he used to see her interaction not only with him, but with others as well, and knows that other women are far better in terms of good characteristics.  True, there are some wiper snappers that get married when young, didn't look out for the warning signs, and then find themselves in an obviously bad marriage; these things do happen at times.  But for the most part, especially if one has had much experience with dating, love, and all; there are times that even if the guy is a true sweetheart and knows how to treat a woman that the one she marries is not exactly that same type of good person.  You see, he got a little too blinded with her outer beauty, or other factors that he thought were good because they were similar to his.  In other words, he didn't marry her for the right reasons such as her being a good person or other traits that marks someone as one who knows how to deal with responsibilities; and hence, he indeed did not merit that he should merit to marry a good woman.  Or, since he himself is not one of desired characteristics that Hashem wants one to have, he gets exactly what he deserves, and then he wonders how the marriage could go so wrong when in fact, he married the same type of selfish or haughty person that he himself is.  In the long run, one is supposed to look for a mate not just in terms of physique, but most importantly, for the spiritual aspect; and especially for observant Jews, for a woman who is G-d fearing, and cares to serve Hashem as well as behaving good to other people.  Then, and only then, along with one's working on the marriage, realizing that there will be challenges during the course of their marriage - the same way that the period of Abraham's life in his early marriage corresponded to the second day of creation in which there was disagreement - can he be assured that things will go "fine and dandy", long after they are left to fend for themselves when everyone else are also involved in their own families.

Next, in the beginning of Abraham's fourth period in his life, he moves to Israel.  Significantly, just as on the fourth day of creation, the sun, moon and stars were created as related to the heavens - what is above or higher, in contrast to the earth which is below or lower; so too, as our rabbis tell us "The land of Israel is higher than all the other lands".  To be sure, this is referring specifically to the spiritual aspect of Israel, which indeed is holier than all the other lands, even though they too are creations of Hashem.  We also see that when it mentions at times in Genesis when someone is traveling to Israel, it states that "they went up", referring to this same concept.

Another direct relationship of this period of Abraham's life with the planetary system outside of Planet Earth is in the conversation that Hashem had with him, assuring him that he will have children "He brought him outside and said, "Look now at the skies and count the stars.  See if you can count them.  This is how many your descendants will be" (Genesis 15:5).  We know that this took place in Abraham's fourth period between the age of 75 and 100, because this followed his participation in the war in which he had his nephew Lot freed from being a war captive of the king of Sodom since he lived there following his disagreement with Abraham after moving to Israel, and Hashem then came to assure Abraham that he did nothing wrong in killing whom he did in that war, and that if anything, his reward was great.

As a side note, but must be mentioned, as per Abraham's age when he moved to Israel, this took place in the 76th year of his life.  And as Rabbi Meir Kahane, may Hashem avenge his blood, is no stranger in my blog, I should mention that his family name Kahane is the Gematria of 76.  He was among the few in his generation who made it clear to Jews that it is a Mitzva to live in Israel, as he writes about in the midst of his magnum opus Ohr HaRayon "The Jewish Idea".  In fact, he is not the only one in the Kahane clan to have lived in Israel.  When he was young, his parents lived in Israel for a while; and in fact, his younger brother Rabbi Nachman Kahane in the beginning of his marriage, moved to Israel ten years before Rabbi Meir Kahane did, who also had talked and written about the Mitzva of living in Israel.

Now, let us look at this period of Abraham's life from another angle.  You see, after the first three periods of his life, he moved to Israel in the beginning of his fourth period.  With this said, the name Gad, the name of one of the tribes of Israel, consists of the letters Gimel=3 and Dalet=4.  Very nice, but what does this have to do specifically with Gad, who was only out of Abraham's many great grand children?  If you recall in Parshat Matot (Numbers 32), the tribes of Gad and Reuben approached Moses with their request to remain in Transjordan instead of moving to Israel proper due to their numerous livestock.  We know that it was the Tribe of Gad who came first to Moses, because in the context, following mentioning that the tribes of Reuben and Gad had numerous livestock, it then mentions Gad before Reuben with approaching Moses.  After Moses told them off for what he perceived as their lack of faith in Hashem, recounting to them the story of the Spies which delayed the Jewish people in the desert for nearly 40 years, they then promised him that they would go along with their brethren to Israel proper and fight their enemies before themselves settling in Transjordan, a deal which Moses accepted.  In any case, we see that reference to Israel in the blessings of the tribes from both Jacob and Moses is mentioned specifically for Gad and not Reuben, for it was especially the tribe of Gad who had some of the fiercest warriors, which was an open sign of these tribes fulfilling their promise in helping to fight the enemies along with their brethren.

Next, in the beginning of Abraham's fifth period of his life, his son Isaac was born.  Now mind you, his son Yishmael was born many years earlier; and at the age of 140, he remarried following Sara's passing, and had several more children.  However, Abraham's only spiritual son was Isaac, and this is what counts eternally.  With this said, we see in the fifth day of creation that the fish were created, and among other creatures, were blessed that they should be fruitful and multiply.  Moreover, we see in Parshat Vayechi, where Jacob blesses Joseph's children, that he states "...they should be called by my name and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and they should multiply like fish in the midst of the earth" (Genesis 48:16).


I have already mentioned a bit about the significance of this letter in relationship to Abraham.  But if one noticed what we read this past Shabbat and counted the Omer, one would have noticed a very common theme.

Yesterday, we read two Parshiyot in the Sefer Torah - Behar & Bechukotai.  You see a similarity between these two names?  Of course, they both start with the letter Beit.  And then at Mincha (afternoon prayers) when the Sefer Torah was read again from the beginning of the next Parsha, called Bimidbar, this name also starts with a Beit!  In fact, there are quite a few other Parshiyot whose names begin with the letter Beit, and there are several consecutive Parshiyot whose names begin with the letter Vav, which is common for Biblical verbs.  But the fact that the names of three Parshiyot in a row begin with letter Beit can hardly be dismissed as mere coincidence.

There is in fact a theme in each of these three Parshiyot whose word begins with a Beit.  In Parshat Behar, it mentions laws in relationship to houses or land being sold and redeemed, and the Hebrew word for house is Bayit.  In Parshat Bechukotai, it begins with verses of Berachot (blessings) for us if we keep Hashem's commandments.  And in Parshat Bamidbar, one of the subjects is about redeeming the Bechor, the firstborn son who doesn't have a Cohanite or Levite parent with five Shekalim.

But that's not all.  The fifth chapter in Pirkei Avot that we learned during this past Shabbat begins with the letter Beit.  Hardly coincidental, because as we see it begins with B'Asara Ma'amarot "With ten Divine statements was the world created", just as the beginning of the Torah which begins with the account of Creation starts with the letter Beit in Bereishit. (It's interesting to note that the Midrash on the entire Tanach that is named Yalkut Shimoni begins with this very Mishna!)  In fact, according to some views, the first of these ten Divine statements is the word Bereishit, even though it's not an outright command from Hashem like in the other statement where He gave clear cut instructions.

Actually, before all this, on Shabbat night when we counted the Omer (39 days), there was another connection to the letter Beit.  You see, one of the prayers that we recite following the counting of the Omer is Psalm 67, which besides the introductory verse, consists of 49 words, and the middle verse (verse 5) consists of 49 letters.  And since one of these 49 letters are matched with the 49 days of the Omer as noted in virtually all Siddurim (prayer books), the letter for the 39th day of the Omer which was this past Shabbat is a Beit, beginning the word BaAretz "in the land".

Now getting back to Abraham, the SECOND letter in his name is a Beit.  As connected to Bereishit, the first
two words of the Torah's first verse begin with the letter Beit - Bereishit Bara.  Moreover, the first three letters in these two words have the same three letters as the first three letters of Abraham's name.  Indeed, this confirms what I wrote earlier in this post about the word B'Hibaram "when He created them" having the same letters as B'Avraham.  And in terms of Israel, the very first Rashi on the Torah explains why the Torah begins with the account of creation rather than the Mitzvot which are the main thing in the Torah as they are the very reason of the world's existence, because if we Jews were not to observe Hashem's Commandments, then there wouldn't be a reason for this world to continue to exist.  The account of creation comes to show that Hashem is the Ba'al HaBAYIT, the "owner of the house", the world, and it is He who decides who owns what land.  And so, there was a time that the Cana'anites were living in Israel, but when it was the time for the Jews to come to Israel, then we took it over as per Hashem's wishes.

And as related to Abraham, Hashem told him to move to Israel and promised him that He would give it to his descendants, though at the moment, the Cana'anites were living there, and towards that, Abraham made sure that his animals would not graze in others' fields, since though the land was eventually going to be given to his descendants, the land at the time did belong to the Cana'anites, and that is why the Torah continously calls it Eretz Cana'an, because as long as the Jews didn't take it over yet, it belongs to these people which was also part of Hashem's wishes.  And as we know in Jewish law, it is forbidden to steal from a non-Jew as well; in fact, in a way it's worse to steal from a non-Jew, because it is also a Chilul Hashem, a desecration of Hashem's name being that non-Jews will then say that the Torah doesn't care about stealing from other people, especially if they aren't part of the clan of Jews.   True, the world was created solely because of us, but we have to set the example and make a good impression on other people, regardless of religion, race, creed, color, country, or whatever else you can think of.  For in fact, we Jews are supposed to be a light to the world, the same way that Abraham was at a time that the whole world, save for a few, worshiped idols.  For when Abraham was at the scene, it wasn't time for him yet to conquer the land for him and his future descendants, since he had other work to do, and attempt to get as many people as possible to stop worshiping the false gods, and turn to the One and Only G-d, and this takes much love to accomplish, rather than fighting.  It was only after the Jews became a nation, and after Hashem offered the Torah to all the other nations as well so they wouldn't have an excuse later to say that they were never offered the Torah, but after all is said and one, no one but the Jews accepted it, it was then and only then that the Jews were going to take over the Land of Israel, and only if the non-Jews living there already would accept the standards placed on them by us would they be allowed to continue living there; otherwise, they were subject to being killed in war.

And in terms of Abraham owning a piece of land in Israel when he purchased the Cave of Machpela, he was the SECOND one of the SECOND couple of a total of four couples who are buried at this site - Adam and Eve, Sara and Abraham, Rebecca and Isaac, Leah and Jacob.

Remember earlier when I mentioned about the final chapter of the Mishnaic tractate Kiddushin?  This chapter begins with the ten levels of Jewish pedigree and ends off about Abraham.  This is surely no coincidence that this chapter was arranged this way, for all of us Jews can relate to Abraham.  Either we are descendants of his, or a convert relates himself/herself to him, as since a convert can't be called to the Torah as the son of his father's name as most Jews do since he is considered as a newborn upon becoming Jewish even if his biological father is Jewish.  Instead, he is referred to as the "son of Abraham (our father)", just as Abraham himself so to speak converted to belief in Hashem, and in time learned and observed the whole Torah.  Now, in the beginning of Sefer Bimidbar that we read this past Shabbat afternoon, it begins off saying that the Jews should be counted for a census.  However, in order for Jews to be included in the census, they had to have proof of pedigree.  In fact, the English name for the fourth book of the Torah that begins with Parshat Bimidbar is Numbers, named after this very event, the first event taking place in this book.  And as I mentioned earlier, the name Bimidbar has the name Gematria as Abraham's name - 248.

Don't worry, I'm almost done.  But since I mentioned in relationship to the number of this post that Abraham lived for 175 years, there is a fabulous connection between this and the Talmud.  Have you ever wondered, what is the longest tractate in the Talmud?  Well, at least those who learn Daf Yomi, the daily folio of the Babylonian Talmud should know the answer to this one - Bava Batra "Last Gate", consisting of 175 double sided pages, and ten chapters.

To come to think of it, it is mentioned in the rabbinic writings that Abraham's 175 years correspond to the 175 Parshiyot of the Torah/Chumash.  You see, at one time, the Torah wasn't all read in one year, but more like in three years, or some say, three and a half years.  There are divergent views about the exact amount of Parshiyot that there were at one time, even as I mentioned in the past of the view of 154 Parshiyot.

I have already mentioned the connection between Abraham and the beginning of the Chumash, so I will leave it at that.  But in a way, it is even more significant showing the connection between Abraham and the Talmud, because as we see in the Torah about describing Abraham following Hashem's commandments "Because Abraham headed My voice, and he observed...My Torahs" (Genesis 26:5), Rashi notes based on the Talmud and Midrash that the plural form of the word Torah being used here includes the Torah She'B'Al Peh (Oral Torah), the laws given to Moses on Mt. Sinai.  Now eventually, with the troubles that were occurring to the Jewish people by the Roman Empire and all, the Mishna and Talmud were written down so these teachings should not be forgotten.

With this said, we see that the LONGEST tractate in the Babylonian Talmud has the SAME AMOUNT OF DAFIM as the years of Abraham's life.  Coincidence?  But that's not all.  First, the word Bavli (Babylonian)'s first TWO letters are both a BEIT/Veit, aside from the fact that all tractates in the Babylonian Talmud begins with Daf BEIT (unlike the Jerusalem Talmud which begins with Daf Aleph) and the TWO words of the name of this longest tractate Bava Batra both begin with a Beit (the first two letters of the first word Bava is a BEIT/Veit).  Moreover, the Gematria of this name - Bava Batra - has the same Gemaria as the name of Abraham's father Terach, which is also the Hebrew number (Tav, Reish, Cheit) - 608.

Wait a minute!  True, Terach was Abraham's father, but not only was he an idol worshipper, but he owned an idol store, and he himself reported on his son Abraham to King Nimrod following his smashing the idols in his store.  But it is true that Terach in fact repented in the latter part of his life, for after all, he saw how his son Abraham miraculously emerged unscathed from the burning furnace set up by the king.  In fact, Rashi asks this same basic question on the words that Hashem spoke to Abraham "You will come to your father in peace, and be buried at a good old age" (Genesis 15:15), noting from the Midrash (Bereishit Rabba 38:12) that Terach in fact repented.

This is all very nice, but is there in fact a connection between the theme of this tractate and Abraham as well as his father Terach?

Believe it or not, there couldn't be a better tractate to show these connections.  The first thing to note about this tractate is that it is all about the laws of property rights and transactions.  This includes the concept of Kinyan ownership or possession, just as we see in the sixth chapter of Pirkei Avot that Abraham is among the five "possessions" of the Holy One Blessed Be He, which is called a Kinyan.

We see that in chapter THREE, which is called Chezkat HaBatim "Acquisition of Houses" after the beginning words of this chapter, that generally, for one to have possession of the property, he has to show that he uses the property the same way that a regular owner uses it over a period of THREE CONSECUTIVE years.  This concept is called a Chazaka.  Interestingly, we see another three in connection with the letter Beit - there are THREE CONSECUTIVE Parshiyot whose names all begin with the letter Beit - Behar, Bechukotai, Bamidbar - which could be nicknamed Chezkat HaBeitim, the Chazaka of the (three) letter Beit.  In fact, at the conclusion of Sefer Vayikra (Leviticus) whose last two Parshiyot are Behar and Bechukotai, as done for the other four books of the Sefer Torah, we exclaim Chazak Chazak V'Nitzchazeik "Be strong, be strong, and be strengthened", for as we see the concept of Chazaka is very related to the number three, for when something is performed three times, it is assumed that it will continue, for it is strong being that it already has momentum and being performed on a regular basis.  In fact, the concept of the Torah staying in the family once the father, son, and grandson are Torah scholars are based on the three Patriarchs beginning with Abraham, then his son Isaac, and grandson Jacob.

Moving forward, we see that the eight chapter of this tractate is about the laws of inheritance, in the midst of which discusses the division of the land of Israel among the tribes , which was based on being descended from any particular tribe strictly on the male side.  So as you can see here, since this tractate - especially this chapter - deals with inheritance as handed down from father to son, the first choice of who inherits, it is hardly surprising that the name of this tractate should have the same Gematria as Abraham's father, when it is most connected to Abraham, even though Terach, in fact, never stepped foot in the Holy Land for all that we know.

Having made the comparison between the 175 years of Abraham's life and the Talmudic tractate Bava Batra consisting of 175 Dafim, let me mention here information about Abraham in this Talmudic tracate:

Genesis 12:1 - "Behold, now I know that you are a beautiful looking woman", as Abraham told Sara in the midst of traveling to Egypt, and hence was afraid that as a result of her beauty, the Egyptians would snatch her away.  The Gemara notes on the word "now" that until now, Abraham was unaware of her beauty. (16a)

Genesis 13:17 - Satan himself, impressed with Abraham's great faith in Hashem, praised about him to Hashem exclaiming that he went through the entire world, and didn't find anyone as faithful to Hashem as Abraham, as the verse states "Get up, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I have given it to you", as Hashem promised Abraham; yet, he wasn't able to find a place to bury his wife Sara until he paid out 400 Shekels of silver for the Mearat HaMachpeila, but he still didn't question Hashem's ways. (15b/16a)
Much later on in the Gemara, there is a difference of opinion as to legal status of Abraham walking the Land of Israel as mentioned in this verse.  Rav Elazar says that Abraham acquired the land by waking on it, while the rabbis say that it was due to Hashem's love for Abraham that he told him this, for while it didn't help himself acquire the land, it made it easier for his descendants, his heirs, later to conquer it, as Satan then wouldn't be able to complain that they were stealing the land (100a)

Genesis 24:1 - "Hashem blessed Abraham with everything"  What does "with everything" mean?
1)He was blessed that he didn't have a daughter (who would have otherwise had a hard time finding a marriage partner since just about the whole world were idolworshipers) - Rabbi Meir
2)He was blessed with a daughter - Rabbi Yehuda
3)He was so versed in astrology that all the kings came over to consult him - Rabbi Elazar HaModai
4)He had a precious stone hanging from his neck, and any sick person looking at it got cured instantly - Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai
5)His grandson Esau didn't rebel against the Torah during his lifetime
6)His son Yishmael repented of his evil ways during his lifetime
(Bava Batra 16b)

Three people had a taste of the world to come in this world - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob
Three people had no power of the evil inclination over them - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob
Six people had no power of the angel of death over them - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Miriam
Seven people had no power of worms or maggots over them - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Miriam, Benjamin
(Bava Batra 16b-17a)


Abraham's original name was Abram, but Hashem renamed him Abraham to have the connotation of Av Hamon Goyim "father of a multitude of nations".  And as Hashem told him - Koh Yihyeh Zarecha "So shall  your seed be", which Hashem told him when he showed his the stars to tell him how many descendants he would have.  Anyways, the word Koh (so) is the Hebrew number for 25, noting the date of this post as the 25th of Iyar, which is also the 40th day of the Omer, and the Hebrew word for 40 - Arba'im, begins with the letter Aleph and ends with the letter Mem Sophit, as does Abraham's name, as well as the fact that the last letter of these words - Mem, is the numerical value of Mem, as well as the word for the letter Mem itself.  But most importantly, the number 40 is most related to the Torah, for Moshe Rabbeinu learned the Torah from Hashem in 40 days, and Rav Ashi, the redactor of the Babylonian Talmud, was the 40th generation from Moshe Rabbeinu to have received the Torah from teacher to student in an unbroken chain from Moshe to Rav Ashi (we see that just as Avraham's name is associated with the word Breishit, so too the letters of "Rav Ashi" make up the first five letters of the word Bereishit) And as the longest Talmudic Tractate Bava Batra, which consists of 10 chapters, includes the laws of inheritance, so we see that Abraham, so to speak, "inherited" the reward of the past 10 generations that they would have had, had they been good boys, as noted in the chapter of Pirkei Avot that begins with "with TEN statements was the world created".

While indeed, Abraham was the biological father of a multitude of nations, we are lucky to be not only biological descendants of his, but his spiritual descendants as well.   And of course, let us learn from Abraham to use our time wisely, especially with the greatest Mitzva of Torah learning, the highlight of which is the study of the Talmud, which is a detailed explanation of the commandments of Hashem that we are supposed to perform, the very reason of this world's existance.  For as the rabbis tell us, of the 6,000 years of the world's existence, the first 2000 years were the years of chaos, the middle 2000 years were the years of Torah, and the last 2000 years were/are the years of Moshiach.  And it was Abraham, the first Jew, who began the 2,000 years of Torah, reaching out to others beginning with teaching them of the existence of Hashem.  And just as Hashem is the Ba'al HaBAYIT of the world and provides for all His guests, so too, in our lives having families and homes, we are the Ba'al HaBAYIT of our homes in which we invite guests, emulating Hashem and Abraham, the first human Ba'al HaBAYIT who invited guests for not only their physical needs as Noah and his family did for the survivors of the world, but provided spiritually for them as well, teaching them the ways of Hashem.

25 Iyar, 5773

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