Tuesday, May 21, 2013

#176 - Torah on the HighWay

It would be best to begin this post, considering the post's title, with safety instructions.  It is not very advisable to read anything while being the driver of a vehicle not only on a highway, but even while driving very slowly in a quiet residential neighborhood, for you never know what can get in your way, anything from a car that is stuck in traffic to a young child who runs into the street in a flash of a second.

Fortunately, there are other ways today that one can learn Torah while traveling, even while handling the wheel - from repeating memorized words of Torah to listening to a Torah lesson on an audio tape or CD.  Of course even then, one has to be careful not to get distracted from being too mesmerized by what we are reciting or hearing; for as we know, many of the great Torah giants of yesteryear, as recounted in various stories, were totally unaware of their surroundings while being deeply immersed in Torah study.

Of course, those who don't drive vehicles, but instead receive rides such as tramps or public transportation, have the advantage of being able to learn Torah from a book without the worry of needing to be careful of driving on the road.  In fact, for some, this is their main time of Torah learning, and there are even Torah lectures, such as Daf Yomi, that are delivered daily to groups of observant Jews on their way to work such as on the train.  For after all, as Hashem created the world solely for us Jews to learn and observe the Torah, modern technology has come into being for the main purpose of aiding us being able to learn and observe the Torah; and at times, one can be listening to an Torah lecture on audio while using modern technological transport, maximizing our use of modern inventions in helping us learn Torah much better while traveling in a smooth, protected (at least from the elements) ride than the good 'ol days with the horse and buggy.

In this past week's Parshat Hashavua called Naso, there is no mention of Jews traveling in the desert, unlike in some of the other Parshiyot.  However, it is unique in that of the 54 Parshiyot, it is the one with the most Pesukim (verses) - 176 (which is also the number of this post).  It consists of like a half dozen topics, but as one can see in the latter half of this Parsha, the majority of the verses are repetitive verses, being mentioned for a total of 12 times.

I will address this a little later on, but first, there are a couple of other significant factoids of this number in terms of Torah learning.  The second significance of this number is that the chapter in Tanach (Jewish Bible) with the most verses consists of 176 verses, which is in Tehillim (Psalms) - Chapter 119, which consists of 22 sections corresponding to the 22 letters of the Aleph-Beit, in which each one of the eight verses begin with the corresponding letter in order of the Aleph-Beit.

The third significance of this number is that the Masechta (tractate) in the Gemara/Talmud with the most Dafim (folios) ends on Daf 176, which is Bava Batra "Last Gate", the third tractate in the fourth volume of the Mishna called Nezikin (Damages).  True, in my previous post #175, I did write that this tractate consists of 175 pages, but since each tractate in the Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud) begins with Daf Beit (Page 2), it winds up that this tractate ends off on Page 176.

So as you can see here, it is not just the similarity of the same number in three major areas of Torah study - Chumash, Tanach, and Talmud - but the fact that this number is associated as being the MOST in its respective place.

To assure you all, this is not my original Torah thought - this has already been known for the longest time.  However, I hope in this post to present both the connection between the three parts in the Torah that is connected with the number 176 as well as focusing on this number in other ways.

For this, let us first turn to Tehillim.  Of its 150 chapters, a number of them mention the Torah.  Of significance, Psalm 19 has a number of verses that mention the praise of the Torah, in which there are even parallels of phrases corresponding to the six volumes of the Mishna; as well as Psalm 68 which recounts the events surrounding the Giving of the Torah on Shavuot - both which are recited on Shavuot.  However, of the entire Tehillim, the one which is devoted EXCLUSIVELY to the subject matter of Torah is Psalm 119.

Moreover, as related to Shavuot, we always read Parshat Naso either on the Shabbat before or after Shavuot.  But while this Parsha doesn't seem to mention any verse that points to learning Torah, though it mentions the phrases Zot Torat HaKenaot "This is the law of jealousies" referring to the Sota, the suspected adulterous woman, and Zot Torat HaNazir "This is the law of the Nazarite", there are strong hints relating to the Torah, though not openly.  You see, in the latter half of this Parsha, the 12 leaders of their respective tribes each brought the same exact amount of offerings on behalf of their respective tribes, each one on a day of his own.  For details on the thoughts of each leader as related to his specific tribe via the type of offering or the amounts as related to that tribe, the Midrash Rabba is the primary source.

With this said, let us take a look in our Chumash for a minute, but make sure it comes with the chief commentator Rashi.  Good.  He makes a couple of notations on the section of the offerings of the leader of the tribe of Judah, the first one to bring these offerings.  And then, Rashi has extensive notes on the section of the offerings of the leader of the tribe of Yissaschar, the second one to bring these offerings.  And here is the obvious question.  O.K., it is understandable if Rashi were to make all his comments on the details of these offerings on the section of the first one belonging to the Tribe of Judah.  However, why did he reserve most of his comments specifically for the second one - belonging to the Tribe of Yissaschar?

It is true, as Rashi notes himself, that in fact, it was Nesanel Ben-Tzuar, the leader of the tribe of Yissaschar, who came up with the idea of each of the tribal leaders of bringing these offerings each on a separate day, immediately following and celebrating the dedication of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), which took place on the first of Nissan.  In fact, it would have made most sense for Nesanel Ben-Tzuar to have been the first one to offer his sacrifices, especially on this very day, since he was the one who came up with this idea.  Despite this though, it was Nachshon Ben-Aminadav, leader of Judah, who was chosen to offer his sacrifices first, doing so on this very day of the dedication of the Mishkan on the first of Nissan, and then the leaders of the other tribes brought theirs on their respective days for the next 11 days; the next one being the tribal leader of Yissaschar.  There were in fact a couple of good reasons for this.  First of all, he was the very one who had the bravery to jump into the Reed Sea following Hashem's command to enter it as the Egyptians were chasing the Jewish people, and he displayed great bravery in his faith and trust in Hashem, and so, he was rewarded accordingly to be the FIRST of the 12 Tribal Leaders to offer his offerings, and the only one to do so on the VERY DAY of the dedication of the Mishkan.  Second, he was related through marriage to Aaron, the first High Priest, who officially officiated in his position for the first time on this very day (though he had a week practice with his brother Moses for a week right before this day) for his sister Elisheva (Elizabeth) was married to Aaron.

Now, getting back to the leader of the Tribe of Yissaschar, it isn't simply that he was the one who came up with the idea of the tribal leader offerings, but as Rashi also notes, this tribe was especially knowledgeable in Torah.  And so, it is hardly surprising that Rashi reserved most of his comments on the offerings particularly for the section about this tribe.  And now getting to the details of the offerings in the Midrash Rabba, we see that each tribal leader brought the offerings on behalf of his tribe as per some theme related to that particular tribe.  And so, the theme of the tribe of Yissaschar that its leader brought the offerings on behalf of is, of course, Torah.

Now, it is true that Rashi notes that Hashem wanted the tribal leaders to offer their sacrifices according to the order of the tribes, Jacob's sons, who carried his coffin.  However, if this would have been the sole issue in itself, then it wouldn't matter why the Tribe of Judah came first with the offerings, and then the Tribe of Yissachar, in terms of their self sacrifice, or their Torah learning.  But since Hashem knows the future of course, he obviously had planted in Jacob's mind the order of his sons carrying his coffin, based on the actions of these sons' future actions, and hence, to prevent jealousy as it almost happened with the Tribe of Reuben with the offerings, since their ancestor Reuben was Jacob's firstborn, Hashem's reason, as He stated to Moses was because of the order of the sons with Jacob's coffin.  However, the underlying reason with this particular order was for the spiritual reasons as related to these tribes.

We learn from here a valuable lesson.  It is true that though jealousy is generally a bad trait, and in fact, it caused the fiasco of Joseph's brothers selling him, seeing how their father Jacob favored his young son Joseph over the rest of them in certain ways; it can be used in good ways too.  For example, there is what is called Kinat Soferim "envy of Torah scholars" which in this sense, jealousy, as in the form of what we call envy, creates a drive in those who see how one is a big Torah scholar, but instead of looking to hate him, they strive to be just like him, which is quite admirable.  However, this same jealousy can most unfortunately be used in a very negative way, as for example, as Rabbi Akiva, who only at the age of 40, began learning Torah, and in time, became one of the greatest Torah scholars who ever lived, testified about himself how in his ignoramous days, the extent of his hatred of Torah scholars.  Now, though Torah scholars generally find themselves with others of like kind, and at times, some who are bigger Torah scholars, are nevertheless not jealous of them to the point that the have anything against them, but quite the contrary, feel most privileged to be in company of even greater Torah scholars than they are themselves; it does happen occasionally, or I hope that it is only occasionally, that those who have much Torah knowledge begrudge others who may seem to stand out more than they do, or know that they are more spiritual, and hence, are somehow convinced that they are doing something wrong, despite the Torah knowledge that they have, or the good that they do.

There is one more dimension here as related to the Torah.  As we see, aside from the tribal leader of Judah's relationship in marriage to Aaron (and Moses), we note the self sacrifice that he had, which set the example for the entire Jewish people, in being the very first one to dive into the Reed Sea pool.  True, giving Torah advice, such as the advice or idea of the tribal leader of Yissaschar about the offerings, is in essence the greatest kindness one can do for another, since this is a kindness that relates to another's eternity, and not just some materialistic item or favor.  However, Torah must also be accompanied with outgoing action whenever needed, which at times, requires to get out of our comfort zones, and display to our Jewish brethren what it means living a Torah life, what it means having faith in Hashem, what it means to the extent that we need to stretch our necks, so to speak, in fulfilling the Mitzvot (commandments) of the King of Kings.  It is then, and only then, can it be said that we are fulfilling the Torah to the fullest extent.

And so, it was most fitting, even though it was not the original idea of Nachshon Ben-Aminadav to bring these offerings, that he should nevertheless be the first tribal leader to do so.  Indeed, it is not surprising that it was his parental descendants, starting with King David, who were the kings of the Jewish people (even though later following King Solomon's death, the kingdom was split into two, in which most of the tribes, besides Levi, Judah, and Benjamin, followed a different king), and from whom King Moshiach is descended, for it is the king who leads by example, and of the entire Jewish people, it is specifically the king who is commanded to write, or have written for him, two Torah scrolls, as one of them was to accompany him wherever he went, so he should always remember Hashem and his Mitzvot, and hence can set the finest example that the Jewish people need to see as to how one behaves according to the Torah not only in learning Torah, but also in daily action.

As for the Talmudic tractate Bava Batra, while it deals primarily with the laws of property and inheritance, we find an interesting conclusion of this tractate in the Mishna: "Rabbi Yishmael says: Whoever wishes to obtain wisdom should involve himself in the study of the laws of monetary matters, for there is no greater branch in the Torah that is greater than this, which is like a flowing fountain.  And whoever wishes to be involved in the study of the laws of monetary matters, should serve Shimon Ben-Nanas"".

O.K., don't have to go bananas understanding what is written here.  What Rabbi Yishmael is intending in conveying by his praise of the laws of monetary matters is that it is these laws that especially sharpen the intellect (as explained by the Tiferet Yisrael commentary on the Mishna).  It makes a lot of sense, for after all, when it comes to money, there are some whom you think are not too smart all of a sudden show how clever or cunning they are when it comes to making or receiving money - whether it is due to them or not.  Perhaps this explains why there are numerous laws in the Torah pertaining to this subject, for in a materialistic world that is focused on money as the key to get what they want, people need rules and boundaries; and despite laws, rules, and regulations in any given region where violation of such incurs various forms of punishments from fines to imprisonment, aside from their own religion which may forbid some of their illegal activities, many people still give in to the temptation of amassing more money that is not due them.

Now, for Rabbi Yishmael's final statement, Shimon Ben-Nanas was an expert in these laws, as recounted in the Mishna right before where Rabbi Yishmael was judging a monetary case, and gave a ruling, upon which, Shimon Ben-Nanas who was present stated a different approach which was to Rabbi Yishmael's liking.  Now note the wording "should serve" rather than "should learn from" or something similar.  Those who have learned some Talmud will know the reason for this, as this states elsewhere in the Talmud (Berachot 7b) where it states about the prophet Elisha "who poured" for Elijah the prophet, his mentor, from which it derives that greater is serving a Torah scholar than learning from him.  Now, this is not to say that one who tends to a rabbi's physical needs, especially if he is an old and weak man, will become a greater Torah scholar than one who learns Torah from him all day.  This is obviously referring to a student of a Torah scholar who not only learns Torah from him, but accompanies him around, and hence, winds up doing things for him as well.  But the point is that more than just the Torah that one learns from a Torah scholar, it is observing his daily behavior, which is supposed to reflect both the laws and the spirit of the Torah - both in observance of rituals and being a "mentch".  For if it simply a matter of acquiring knowledge, many can learn from books to become big scholars, but to learn the Torah way of life in action is learned best observing first hand someone else who lives the ultimate Torah life.

Ultimately, our greatest value in possessions is the Torah - its spiritual value, its meaning in life, and its eternal reward.  In fact in the sixth and last chapter of Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) which is learned worldwide on the Shabbat before Shavuot, it quotes a verse from the above Chapter 119 in Tehillim "Better for me is the Torah of Your mouth than thousands of pieces of gold and silver" (verse 72).  While people say to a youngster "You have your whole life ahead of you.  Take advantage now, don't rush to get married.  Get a good college education and degree," the truth of the matter is that not everyone lucks out on this route, for various reasons - college was too hard, couldn't find good employment, had a hard time later on finding someone to marry now that he or she is this thirty-some year old and looking more plump than he or she did ten years ago, tragedy strikes one with health or permanent injury, etc.  The point that I am attempting to convey here is that life for human beings isn't so long, and based on how Hashem created us, especially women in terms of pregnancy years with their biological clocks, there is relatively a set period in one's life that a generation can be created in one's family, along with the need of supporting it as the children grow up. Moreover, people sometimes get too distracted with their career to the point that instead of using it to help support their growing family, it is made as a means in itself, either delaying or preventing one from starting a family due to being too involved in work; or if married already, spend way more time on their career to the point that it takes away too many valuable, quality time from family, which often leads to a variety of negatives from spousal disputes to divorce, virtually defeating the ultimate purpose that a career, if it can be called as such, is supposed to serve.  For in today's modern world, one with a career, usually defined work as the result of a good college education, gives high status to one, along with the big money that one expects to make from it.

Perhaps for non-Jews, getting a college education and being set with a career is the best thing for them - far better than turning to crime and spending the prime, strong years of their life in prison.  However, we Jews who have learned Torah should know far better, and that everything else in this world that we make use of is supposed to serve our spiritual needs in some way.  And while not all Jews, at least observant Jews, will become Torah scholars or be teaching Torah all day, many if not most of them have a good sense of how to balance their lives between Torah, family, and work, and it is the use of time in both the short term and long term that will determine the success in their lives, and if it's a life based on Torah, then even one who has a career can find a way to balance everything that will both support their family and spend time with the family, along with praying and learning some time everyday in the synagogue or Yeshiva (study hall).


Taking a look at the name of Parshat Naso, the word Naso has the same letters as the Hebrew number 351.  And considering the fact that it consists of 176 verses, the number 176 is the middle number between one (1) and 351, or in other words, the number 176 is the middle number in the count of the first 351 numbers, making this number the first majority number.

Now, taking a closer look at the verses of this Parsha, we see that the latter half of this Parsha, is read during the eight days of Chanuka, with the last day of Chanuka concluding with the first four verses of the following Parshat Be'Ha'alotcha.  Actually, not everyone on Chanuka begins reading from the same place in Parshat Naso.  You see, Ashkenazic Jews, at least outside of Israel, begin from the beginning of Chapter 7, which consists of 89 verses - the longest chapter in verses in the Chumash, and interestingly, the Gematria of the name of the holiday of Chanuka is 89, aside from the fact that it is exactly 89 verses that make up the majority of the Parsha, for one verse less would make it exactly half, and so in this instance too, the number 89 is the first majority number in the count of the first 176 numbers.

On the other hand, the custom of Sephardic Jews, and the general custom in Israel, is to begin this reading from six verses earlier, which make up the six verses of the section about the Mitzva of Bircat Cohanim (Blessings from the Cohanim), which is also the very first words of Torah that we recite daily immediately after Birchot HaTorah (Blessings for reciting/learning Torah).  And while it may not seem to relate directly to Chanuka, it is true that the miracles and victory of Chanuka came about thanks to the self sacrifice and dediication of the Cohanic family, the Chashmonaim or the Maccabbees; and hence the blessings that the Cohanim bless us with is one of their many Mitzvot or priestly services that they perform, this one in particular even outside of the Temple.

At this point, it is worthy to point out about this section of the Bircat Cohanim consisting of six verses, that it consists of 41 words, corresponding to the amount of verses in the last Parsha of the Torah - V'Zot HaBeracha "This is the blessing", and 150 letters corresponding to the 150 Psalms of Tehillim.  And along with this, there are exactly 150 words in the Eishet Chayil (Woman of Valor) paragraph that we recite before making Kiddush on Shabbat night, which are the last 22 verses of Mishlei (Proverbs), each verse beginning with a letter of the 22 letters of the Aleph-Beit in order of the letters, and is interpreted according to one approach as refering to the Torah, as the "woman of valor".

In any case, pertaining to the majority factor, we have a concept in Halacha that if there is a majority of something, that it qualifies the whole as a Mitzva.  For example, when we make Kiddush, there is the concept of drinking a majority of the cup to fulfill one's obligation of the Mitzva (provided that one drinks at least the amount of what is called a Revi'it), unless one cannot drink much wine let's say but sips only a little bit, and then one or more drink enough of the cup to fulfill everyone's obligation of Kiddush.  In this instance, the majority of the Kiddush cup has to be at least a little than 50% of the wine or grape juice.

And so, considering the fact that the majority of verses of Parshat Naso, according to whatever custom, is read during the eight days of Chanuka, it comes to highlight the whole Parsha in a sense.  For in fact, it is especially the holiday of Chanuka that came into being as a result of our resistance against the evil decrees of the Syrian Greeks who forbade the observance of the Torah.  In fact, the spiritual war here was basically against the Oral Torah, for the Bible to the Syrian Greeks was a book of wisdom just like the rest of their books, being called "biblos" (book), but that is it, just another book of wisdom on the shelf, but the observance of the Torah, as a matter of being holy Jews, was what bothered these pagans.  For to them, the main thing was the body, which in Hebrew is the word Guf, which is the Gematria of 89, and as a result of the Jews fighting this perverted ideology, the holiday of Chanuka came into being, considering that the name Chanuka is also the Gematria of 89, symbolizing the victory of the forces of good over the forces of evil.  But ultimately, it is the concept of the Oral Torah, which consists of the details of how we serve Hashem, making up the core basis of the observance of Judaism, which Chanuka represents.  And as I noted the verse from Psalm 119 earlier "Better for me is the TORAH OF YOUR MOUTH than thousands of pieces of gold and silver".

And just as there are the FIVE books of the Chumash, so too is Tehillim - the Book of Psalms, though in fact only one book, is actually divided into FIVE sections which are called FIVE books as divided as such by the author King David himself as we see in the concluding verse of verses of each of these five sections, as in fact, King David did this to correspond to the five books of the Chumash.

As it turns out, Psalm 119, which is the one psalm in Tehillim that is devoted exclusively to the theme of Torah, is in the midst of the FIFTH book of Tehillim (Psalms 107-150), which corresponds to Sefer Devarim (Deutronomy), the FIFTH book of the Chumash, which is unique in a number of ways.  First to note, as noted in this book as the next to the last Mitzva of the Torah (Mitzva 612), every seven years following the Shemitta year (the year that the land was forbidden to be worked on), during the Sukkoth holiday (either on the second day of the holiday, or if it fell out on Shabbat, then it was on the following day), the KING read particularly from Sefer Devarim to the entire Jewish nation in the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) (Deutronomy 31:10-13).

We also see that it is in the midst of Sefer Devarim, in Parshat Shoftim, that the KING is commanded to write or have written for him two Torah scrolls (Deutronomy 17:18) (Mitzva 503) (didn't compare the amount of verses between Sefer Devarim and the fifth book of Tehillim to see what Psalm 119 corresponds to in the context of verses, but I think that it is safe to say that the approximate placement of the kingly commandment and this psalm are around the same corresponding area to say that each are in the midst of their respective place in their FIFTH book).

And of course, we see that Moses delivered his final set of sermons shortly before his passing during the course of Sefer Devarim, that took place for a total of 36 days from Rosh Chodesh Shevat (1 Shevat) through 7 Adar, as hinted by the fact that the very first word of this Sefer - Eileh (These) is the Gematria of 36 (it seems that in that year, the month of Shevat had only 29 days, unlike in our present fixed calendar which consists of 30 days).   It is this particular book of the Chumash that corresponds to the concept of the Oral Torah, the Torah that is transmitted by word of mouth from one generation to the next, which is the main theme of this final book of the Chumash as Moses, the one who received the Torah from Hashem, who spoke on his own, so to speak, without Hashem directly telling him right before what to tell the Jewish nation.   This represents the concept of the Oral Torah as transmitted by the rabbis, who have the power to enact rules and regulations to enforce the Torah, and based on their powers, were able to enact both the holidays of Purim and Chanuka.  With this said, there are 36 complete Talmudic tractates of the Babylonian Talmud, the main Talmud, the meat of Torah learning, that the Jews have learned for the last some 1,500 years.  And as related to Chanuka, aside from the fact that this holiday was rabbinically ordained, the Mitzva of lighting the Menorah lights consists of a total of 36 lights.

Now, as we know, there are seven active Sephirot - Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod, Malchut.  The Vilna Gaon notes that each of the holidays correspond to one of these Sephirot, and it is Chanuka that corresponds to the Sephirah of Hod, the FIFTH of these Sephirot.  And in the Talmud (Berachot 58a), we see that Rabbi Akiva relates some miracle or place to some of these Sephirot as mentioned in a verse, of which he notes that Hod refers to the Beit HaMikdash.   However, unlike another rabbi in this Talmudic source that related some miracle to each of the seven Sephirot, Rabbi Akiva stops short ending off with Hod.  And of course, the question to be asked here is why?

It can be said that since the Mitzva of lightings the lights of Chanuka is the last of the Sheva Mitzvot D'Rabbanan (Seven Commandments of the Rabbis), and Chanuka corresponds to Hod which is the last Sephira that Rabbi Akiva explained.  This would seem to be an indirect connection, except for the fact that the climax of the miracle of Chanuka took place particularly in the Beit HaMikdash, where a sealed amount of oil not contaminated by the touch of the Syrian Greeks who spiritually polluted almost everything in the Temple, was found, and was then used to light the Menorah on the night of 25 Kislev, which became the first day of Chanuka.

Now, I should note that the Gematria of the word Hod is 15 (see my 15th post - Dec '08 where I go into detail on this).  We see that in the Haggadah that we recite in the Passover Seder, we see a list of 15 things that we gave thanks to Hashem for (in the famous song Dayeinu and in the following paragraph).  This 15th item is none other than the Beit HaMikdash!  Moreover, the Talmudic passage in our daily morning prayers about the Temple service beginning with Abaye Hava Mesader Seder (Yoma 33a), we also see a list of  a total of 15 different services performed in the Beit HaMikdash (the Mussaf one was performed only on Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh and the holidays).

With this, now that I have shown the clear connection between the Oral Torah or the Talmud to Chanuaka which corresponds to the Sephira of Hod=15, let us mention the above Talmudic tractate Bava Batra.  Now, in the list of the 63 tractates of the Mishna, this tractate is the 33th, and it is Lag Ba'Omer - the 33rd day of the Omer, that corresponds to the Sephira combination of Hod SheBaHod.  And while this tractate is not the 33rd tractate of the Talmud/Gemara, as only 36 tractates of the Mishna are complete with the Babylonian Talmud (though in the Jerusalem Talmud, it is also the 33rd Talmudic tractate, but my main focus here is on the Babylonian Talmud as you will shortly see), having noted that this is the largest Talmudic tractate in Dafim, if we are to figure out the percentage rate of this Talmudic tractate with the rest of the Babylonian Talmud, it comes out that it is close to 1/15 - ONE FIFTEETH - of this Talmud in Dafim.  You see, it takes just about half a year, or six Hebrew months, to learn a Daf a day in Masechet Bava Batra.  And as we know there are close to seven and a half years of the Daf Yomi cycle, noting that in two or three of the years in the cycle, there is an extra month added.

Another way of looking at this is that if we mulitply 175 (pages) by 15, the total comes to 2,625, and the remainder of the total amount of 2,711 Dafim is 86, which is a little less than a majority of 175.  Also, the Daf Yomi cycle includes the Jerusalem Talmudic tractate Shekalim consisting of 21 Dafim, and there are several Dafim that include only the Mishnayot of tractates Kinim and Middot which have no Talmudic commentary, and so the percentage remainder gap is technically less in the Gemara pages of the Babylonian Talmud, making Bava Batra somewhat closer to one-fifteenth of this Talmud.   But having mentioned that the remainder gap in the total amount of Dafim in the Daf Yomi cycle to be 86, there are in fact exactly 86 Mishnayot in Bava Batra!

And what is also phenomenal is that since each tractate in the Babylonian Talmud begins with Daf Beit (Page 2), making the last Daf in Bava Batra as Daf 176, and hence, showing a number connection between this and the 176 verses of Parshat Naso and the 176 verses of Psalm 119 that both are connected to the concept of Torah and Chanuka (Note: In Psalm 119, there are EIGHT verses for each of the 22 letters of the Aleph-Beit which begin these verses, just as there are EIGHT days of Chanuka), it also shows its connection with these concepts as actually having 175 Dafim being one-FIFTEENTH of the Daf Yomi Talmud excluding the remainder of 86, which is the same number as the amount of Mishnayot of this very tractate, bearing in mind that the word Hod - the Sephira which corresponds to Chanuka - is the Gematria of 15.  Moreover, considering the fact that it was on the night of the 25th of Kislev that the Chashmonaim began the Temple service once again after an interrupted period with the SEVEN branch Menorah, these two numbers - 25 and 7 - when multiplied comes out to 175!

And since I am on the subject of Mishnayot, I should note that the phrase Mishna Yomit (daily Mishna), as one is supposed to learn some Mishna/Mishnayot every day, is the Gematria of both the phrases/word Beit HaMikdash as well as the name of Matisyahu - 861, the Patriarch of the Chashmonaim who was actually the one who called for the battle against the Syrian Greeks, and though he passed away before the miracle of the finding of the pure cruise of oil in the Beit HaMikdash took place, it is thanks to him that the EIGHT days of Chanuka came into being.  Moreover, the letters of the word Mishna can be rearranged to be the word Shemone or Shemona (EIGHT) (Note: As my full Hebrew name is Shimon Matisyahu,  I should note that the word Yomit in the phrase Mishna Yomit is the Gematria of my first name Shimon - 466!).  And here is something new that I only recently thought of in relationship to this - the phrase Kol HaMishnayot (all of the Mishnayot) also bears the same Gematria as my second Hebrew name Matisyahu!  Or in another words, both the phrases Mishna Yomit and Kol HaMishnayot have the same Gematria.  Truly amazing!

And of course, being that the Gematria of these Mishna phrases, if you will, have the same Gematria as the phrase Beit HaMikdash as well, I should note that there is a tractate in the Mishna that is all about the structure of the Beit HaMikdash - called Middot, which literally means measures, for needless to say (though not necessarily), there were exact measures of the various parts of this most holy place, just as we see in the description of the Beit HaMikdash in the Tanach; though one of the 10 miracles (or more) than took place in this most holy place was that despite the overcrowding, everyone had sufficient room to bow down to Hashem, as in the higher holy spiritual realms, they are above place, as in fact, the Beit HaMikdash on earth corresponds to the Beit HaMikdash in Heaven.

Now. a little more on this Mishnaic tractate Middot.  On a personal note, the first two letters of this word are Mem-Dalet (44), and I am presently in my 44th year.  In fact, I plan to elaborate more on this in my upcoming post.  But for today, I want to note being that this post follows in the heels of the holiday of Shavuot, as I have already wrote about in this post as being the holiday of Matan Torah, I want to note that Middot is the 50th tractate of the Mishna.  Now, if we take a look at this tractate as how it is laid out in the volume of the Babylonian Talmud as learned in Daf Yomi (though without Talmudic commentary), it is placed as the final tractate of Seder Kodoshim, the fifth volume of the Talmud, which would seem to make this tractate as the 51st tractate of the Mishna.

Sounds quite similar as to the debate between the Rabbis and Rabbi Yosi in the Talmud (Shabbat 86-87) as to the exact date that the Torah was given on - either on 6 Sivan or 7 Sivan.  Now, while the rabbis maintain that it was given on 6 Sivan, Rabbi Yose admits that in fact, the Torah was originally planned by Hashem to be given on this date, for after all, the Jews had a spiritual cleaning preparation period of seven weeks, or 49 days, and hence, the 50th day, as the Torah itself calls this day, was supposed to be the day; and in fact, is even hinted in the Torah where it states at the end of the account of the creation of the sixth day, that it states Yom HaShishi "THE Sixth Day", unlike with the other days of creation where it doesn't mention THE, thus hinting to the SIXTH day of Sivan, the original date planned for the giving of the Torah, based on which the world was surviving until this point in time, for without the acceptance of the Torah by the Jews, the world would have turned back to chaos.  And thus, the Torah was originally planned to be given on the SIXTH day of the week which was also the SIXTH of Sivan.  However, since Moses thought that it was a good idea for the Jews to have one extra day of preparation, as well as the fact that the following day was Shabbat, he felt that it would be most appropriate to give the Torah on this day instead, to which Hashem agreed; making the day of Matan Torah actually being the 51st day from the count of the Sephira period that the Jews counted in their spiritual cleansing preparation period.

O.K, this is all fine and dandy, but what does this have to directly relate to the Beit HaMikdash in terms of the details of this most holy place in Tractate Middot, other than being either the 50th or the 51st tractate?

Well first of all, one of the reasons given for the name of Har Moria (Mt. Moriah) (Note: Just as Beit HaMikdash is the Gematria of my second name Matisyahu, so is Har Moria the Gematria of my first name Shimon, though normally it is called Har HA-Moria, but the phrase Har Moria can be found in a Tosfot on the Talmudic tractate Ta'anit) on which the Beit HaMikdash stood is because it is based on the concept of the word Ho'ra'ah that is based on, for this word means instruction, referring to the instruction of the Torah that took place on the grounds of this mount at which the Sanhedrin, the Torah Supreme Court, was located.
Also, we see at the very end of Mishna Ta'anit where Matan Torah and Beit HaMikdash are mentioned in the same line based on a phrase in Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs 3) - B'Yom Chatunato U'VeYom Simchat Libo "On his wedding day and on the day of the happiness of his heart".   The wedding day refers to Matan Torah and the happiness of the heart refers to the building of the Beit HaMikdash, may it be speedily rebuilt in our days, Amen!


The following is what I also thought of recently, which does relate somehow to Parshat Naso that I discussed in this post.  You see, I mentioned that there are more verses in Parshat Naso than in all the other Parshiyot of the Chumash.

With this said, I want to note something of a similar nature, in fact, something that I have never seen before being used in Gematria, but is 100% factual.  Let us take the first three words of the Chumash - Bereishit Bara Elokim "In the beginning of G-d creating..."  The main focus here is not the translation, but these Hebrew words themselves.  Now, let us look at the letter with the GREATEST Gematria value amount of each of these words: Bereishit-Tav=400, Bara-Reish=200, Elokim-Mem=40.  Now, let us take a look at another famous three word phrase in the Torah - V'Ahavta L'Reiacha Kamcha "You shall love your friend as yourself".  Let us do the same thing here: V'Ahavata-Tav=400, L'Reiacha-Reish=20, Kamocha-Mem=40.  As you can see, not only in each of three three phrases, we come up with the same letters of the greatest Gematria value in their corresponding word, but in the same order.  Now, this is all very nice you may ask, but what does loving your fellow Jew have to do particularly with Hashem creating the world?

Well, we know the famous phrase that Rabbi Akiva said on the phrase "Love your friend as yourself" -  Zeh Klal Gadol B'Torah "This is a great principle in the Torah".  Now, this Mitzva is the 244th Mitzva of the Torah.  And noting that the word B'Torah "In the Torah" is the Gematria of 613, and there are a total of Taryag Mitzvot - 613 Commandments, let us take the letters of the Hebrew number of Taryag - Tav, Reish, Yud, Gimel, and using the Gematria method of Atbash, in which the first letter Aleph corresponds to the last letter Tav, the second letter Beit corresponds to the next to the last letter Shin, etc., we see that Tav-Aleph=1, Reish-Gimel=3, Yud-Mem=40, Gimel-Reish=200, and the total of the corresponding opposite letters in the 22 letters of the Aleph Beit is you guessed it - 244!  Moreover, since I mentioned earlier about the significance of the Gemara as the meat of Torah learning, these corresponding letters of the number Taryag are the very letters of the word Gemara!  Of course, there is no greater kindness, as an eternal spiritual kindness, to teach Torah to others as part of the Mitzva of loving a Jew, and most especially the Gemara, the number one learned Torah branch of study worldwide among Jews, studying the exact same page of the Talmud every day worldwide, displaying the ultimate unity among Jews, which helps increase the Mitzva of loving Jews, learning the Torah together.

Ultimately, Hashem created this world in order for us Jews to observe the Torah.  And in order to maximize Torah observance, there has to be unity among Jews.  At one time, the various sections of Jews, as you will, consisted of 12 or 13 distinct Tribes, as all Jews knew at that time as to which tribe they were descended from on parental line, and accordingly, lived in the part of Israel that belong to their particular tribe.  But at least then, ALL Jews, regardless of what tribe, at least until after the reign of King Solomon when the kindgom was split - all came to the Temple three times a year, which helped maintain a sense of unity among all the tribes.  Nowadays, Jews are split up in more than one dimension: culture-wise - Ashkenazic, Sephardic, Edut HaMizrachi, Yemenite, etc. as well as "religious-wise" with superimposed names such as Hasidic, Ultra-Orthodox, Yeshivish, Litvish, Modern Orthodox, Traditional, Charedi, Chardal, Dati Leumi, Mesortit, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, etc.  It seems that today, there are even more divisions of Jews in terms of religion than the amount of tribes that we descend from.    While in theory, there are reasons for Jews of all religious walks of life to unite together, for after all, as far as our anti-Semitic enemies are concerned, a Jew is a Jew without labels, it seems that these moments of unity are usually reserved for times of tragedy, G-d forbid, when we realize at least for a brief moment that we are the only family, and that is among ourselves.  Oh yes, nearly forgot right-wing, left-wing, and everything in between, but for the large part if not the most part, these political factors are usually dependent on the level of Jewish observance.

And certainly, it is no coincidence that the last word of the Chumash is Yisrael (Israel), referring to the Jewish nation, as the letters of the word Yisrael begin the word Yud-Yesh, Shin-Shishim, Reish-Reebo, Aleph-Otiyot, Lamed-L'Torah, or in English - "There are 60 myriads of letters in the Torah", noting that 60 myriads is the number 600,000, the amount of adult male Jews from the age of 20 and up left Egypt minus one, and Hashem as the One counted Himself so to speak with them to make up the exact number of 600,000 such Jews.  However, when we count the letters of the Sefer Torah which is the content of the Chumash, it has only 304,805 letters, which is a little more than just half of 600,000, or 50.80%.  There are explanations of how the figure can come out to 600,000 in terms of the letters, but the point of this statement is that just like the Sefer Torah is only Kosher if not one letter is missing, so too it is with us Jews that all Jews count, and so regardless of a Jew's sins, as the Talmud notes (Eruvin 19a), even the emptiest or baseless of Jews have Mitzvot to their credit as much as a pomegranate.  It is based on this that there is a theory that there are 613 seeds to a pomegranate.  Now personally, I don't have the patience to do this kind of counting to verify this, but just about all Jews have done some kind of good in their life, even if they have lived a life completely devoid of Torah.  And indeed, the Mitzva of "You shall love your friend as yourself" is named Ahavat Yisrael "Love of (a) Jew(s)".

And so, Hashem created a beautiful world, but it is we Jews especially who are expected to maintain this decorum, not just in economic recycling, but also showing how we can live together peacefully as G-d's Chosen Sons, despite our differences culturally, religiously, politically, etc.  Now, there are unfortunately few exceptions to this, but this is because the few bad apples totally ruin it for the others, such as those who are supposed to be leaders and role models of the Jewish citizens of Israel, but instead rule as dictators, with either their hatred of authentic Judaism, and/or their greed for money and power, bowing down to the nations of the world by decimating Jewish communities both large and small to appease our biggest enemies, and imprisoning those who dare challenge the government's policies, which is no different than how it was with Communism in the Soviet Union, even though the good Jews who are imprisoned by the self-hating Jewish government are the real Zionists who love and live on the land in self-sacrifice as the early secular Zionists did.

Now, this is all nice as far as making the connection between two famous phrases in the Torah, but what about the letters themselves that are the same in both?  These letters - Tav, Reish, Mem, forming the Hebrew number 640, don't necessarily seem to have any immediate conncetion, or do they?

When we rearrange these letters, it spells the word Tamar, which is either the palm tree, or the date (fruit) itself.  Of course, I should know this, because this is the first name of my baby daughter Tamar.  In any case, we see with the Mitzva of the Arba Minim "Four Species" that are taken and shaken during the holiday of Sukkoth, which are the Etrog, Lulav, Hadasim, and Aravot, that the Torah calls them by different names in phrases.  Anyways, the Lulav  is called Kapot Temarim "date palms", and when we recite the blessing over this Mitzva, we end it off with Al Netilat Lulav "on taking the Lulav", the reason being is that the Lulav is the tallest of these "Four Species".  And it is the "Four Species" that represents the four segments of Jews - 1)The learned and doers of kindness, 2)Only learned, 3)Only doers of kindness, 4)Not learned and don't do deeds of kindness.  Hence, by taking together all four types of fruits or plants, we are displaying that we wish to unite all Jews, regardless of level of observance, together.  For indeed, the Second Temple was destroyed due to Sinat Chinam (baseless hatred), and so the best way of ensuring that the Temple will be rebuilt in our days is if we display Ahavat Chinam (baseless love).

And now in conclusion, a new Torah thought that I recently thought of in relationship to Baby Tamar.  For this, we have to look at the first letters of the following, considering the full Hebrew names of my baby and myself - Tamar Tzadika Bat (daughter of) Shimon Matisyahu.  Let's show it like this Tamar-Tav=400, Tzadika-Tzadi=90, Bat-Beit=2, Shimon-Shin=300, Matisyahu-Mem=40.  So when we add up these numbers like this: 400+90+2+300+40 which equals 832.  And guess what is the same Gematria as this number - the phrase Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel)!  You see, my baby daughter is the first one born in Israel on my side of the family in perhaps as much as 2,000 years!  And so, even though I didn't give my daughter a Zionist sounding name such as Tziona or Bat-Tzion, it turns out that her name in relationship to my name as my daughter is hinted in connection to Israel via the first letters of these names/words.  Truly amazing!  And in connection with Parshat Naso which is the Parsha with is the HIGHEST in terms of the amount of verses of all the Parshiyot, aside from the meaning of this very word Naso "LIFT UP the heads of the sons of Gershon...", our rabbis tell us that Israel is HIGHER than all the other countries.  Now, it doesn't mean necessarily that it is the highest physically, at least in terms of land level, for if anything, its famous Dead Sea ironically is the lowest point on earth, but that spiritually of course, it is the highest, and is hinted in the Torah when it states about someone "going up" to the Land of Cana'an (Israel).  Yes indeed, Israel is the ultimate HighWay, especially when THE TORAH IS ON THE HIGHWAY, for as our rabbis also tell us, the land of Israel is the body, and the Torah is the soul.

12 Sivan, 5773 - Last of the Shivat Yemai Tashlumin, the seven days during which one could bring the holiday sacrifices in the times of the Temple starting from the holiday of Shavuot, the date of the Giving of the Torah

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