Friday, June 28, 2013

#181 - Seeing the LIGHT of the Son

While the subject of light, referring to both spiritual and physical light, is no stranger to my Gematriot blogspot, those who learn the worldwide daily Daf Yomi of the Babylonian Talmud will know that this past Shabbat, Tractate Pesachim - the tractate about the laws pertaining to Passover - was begun, which commences with the opening words of the Mishna: Ohr L'Arba'ah Asar, which literally means "Light of the fourteenth".  In this case, light refers to night, that is, the night of the fourteenth of Nissan, when our Sages bid us to search our homes for Chametz (unleavened food), which is supposed to be burned in the daytime if not eaten within the first third of the daytime before the start of the Passover holiday.

The Gemara/Talmud begins asking on the Mishna: "What is Ohr?"  Rav Huna says that it means light, and Rav Yehuda says that it means night.  Following this, the Gemara, for over a Daf, goes back and forth attempting to disprove one rabbi or the other.  Eventually, the Gemara comes with the conclusion that "light" refers to night; and that in fact, these two rabbis don't argue about this, but simply are mentioning what night is called in their respective locations - meaning, in Rav Huna's location, night was called "light", while in Rav Yehuda's location, night was called "night".  However, the reason that the Mishna uses the word "light" to refer to night, is because it wants to use nice language, and the Gemara brings several proofs from the Torah where nicer language is used instead of using the regular terminology, as for example, "not pure" instead of "pure".

Now, while night itself is not a bad or evil thing per se, at least in contrast to day, night represents a darkened  state.  Perhaps those who frequent night clubs won't quite agree with this, especially in South Beach of "sunny" Florida where it seems to be bumper to bumper traffic at 2:00 AM "in the morning", but perhaps, this is one of the best illustrations of how what is in this world is actually a reflection of what it is really in the spiritual world.  For in fact, spiritual night is darkness that attracts the forces of evil, and accordingly, our mission in this world is to conquer these forces of evil.  Indeed for some, nighttime is the time for sinful fun and all, but this type of lifestyle is devoid of spiritual meaning and purpose in life, not connecting directly with the Source of all vitality.

In stark contrast, our Sages tell us that if anything, nights were created for the study of Torah.  Perhaps until recently with the invention of the light bulb, nighttime study was a bit challenging dealing with candles, oil, and of course, upfront money to purchase these "light" items, or one would have a problem learning at night, pending the Torah committed to memory.  In any case, as we see in Kabbalistic and Hasidic writings, getting up at midnight to study Torah, as King David did, is a big thing for righteous people, for in Heaven, this is called prime time when it is especially bliss.

So as we can see, the ultimate challenge in this world is to take something devoid of holiness, and use this very thing for the greatest spirituality possible.  For while certainly, many Mitzvot are only performed in the daytime, including wearing Tefillin (phylacteries), Brit Mila (circumcision), and offering Korbanot (sacrifices); however, the study of Torah, as the greatest Mitzva (commandment), is eternal; and hence, is beyond time, and thus can conquer the evil forces that are associated with time, thus shining the brightest where there is the greatest darkness.  For indeed, we see that the Torah is called Ohr (Proverbs 6:23); and even though the official giving of the Torah took place in the daytime, there is a custom to stay awake all night on Shavuot, the holiday that celebrates this event, demonstrating our love of learning the Torah, keeping us awake the whole night.

Now, addressing the significance of the timing of the beginning of learning the Talmudic tractate called Pesachim, we will need to rewind the tape just a bit  You see, four years and three months ago in 5769 ("09), the ceremony of the recital of Bircat HaChama "Blessing of the Sun" (actually we thank Hashem for creating the sun, aside from the fact that the blessing itself mentions nothing about the sun, but rather, acknowledging Hashem as the One "Who does the actions of creation"), took place on the fourteenth of Nissan, Erev Pesach, a ceremony that takes place once in every 28 years.  Now bearing in mind that the timing of the recital takes place based on the spring equinox, one will notice that the recital of this blessing takes place on the same date on the secular calendar, until we pass the beginning of the secular century if there is no leap day when the year ends with two zeros making the following few times for its recital on the following calendar day.  Thus, the falling out of this past Bircat HaChama on the fourteenth of Nissan is coincidental - or so it seems.

Speaking of light, it is the sun of all the planetary system that gives off the brightest light.  And as the Mishna associates the concept of light specifically with the fourteenth of Nissan, even though it actually refers to night, the fact that at times, the Bircat HaChama ceremony takes place on this very date cannot simply be dismissed as "coincidental".  Moreover, this past recital that took place on this date - the very last time that it will ever be recited on this date in the 6,000 slated years of this world's existence, took place at the beginning of the 207th cycle of 28 years, noting that the Hebrew word for light - Ohr - is the Gematria of 207!

At this point, I should point out that in the past Mishna Yomit cycle, in which two Mishnayot are learned daily, the learning of the Mishnayot of the beginning of Tractate Pesachim, beginning with the word Ohr, took place on the first day of Chanuka in 5766 ("06).  As we know, the holiday of Chanuka is most associated with light, and in Israel, it is called Chag HaUrim "Festival of Lights".  And as well known, the 25th word in the Torah is the first mention of the word Ohr, corresponding to the 25th day of Kislev, the date of the first day of Chanuka.  And this past Bircat HaChama was in the midst of this same cycle of Mishna Yomit as it was 1,200 days earlier when the beginning of Tractate of Pesachim - Ohr L'Arba'ah Asar "Night of the fourteenth (of Nissan)", bearing the same date of this past Bircat HaChama, was learned on 25 Kislev/First Day of Chanuka that is most associated with Ohr.  Moreover, there are 89 Mishnayot in Tractate Pesachim which begins with the word Ohr - LIGHT, and the name of the holiday Chanuka - the Festival of LIGHTS - is the Gematria of 89.

Now, noting the amount of Hebrew months from this past date of Bircat HaChama until this past Shabbat Parshat Balak on 14 Tammuz when the worldwide learning of Tractate Pesachim in the Talmud in the Daf Yomi cycle began, there were exactly 52 months, for indeed, we see that this tractate beginning with "Night of the FOURTEENTH" began on the FOURTEENTH of a month, howbeit a different month than the one that the Mishna is referring to, but it doesn't specify that it is the month of Nissan.

Now, there is a question to be asked here.  We see that sometimes, the Mishna specifies the month associated with the date, and sometimes not.  For examples, we will refer to the beginning of three tractates.  The beginning of Tractate Shekalim begins with "On the 1st of Adar - we announce about the giving of Shekalim and getting rid of the mixed seeds in the fields".  As we see here, the month of Adar is specified.  However we see that in the beginning of Tractate Megilla, it states "The Megilla (Book of Esther) is read on the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, or 15th..." without mentioning the month of Adar in question.  And the same thing applies with our Mishna here "On the night of the fourteenth, we search for Chametz", which doesn't mention the month of Nissan.  So first, why do some of these sources not even mention the month in question; and second, why is it that some sources mentions the month while others don't?  We will address these questions a little later on.

As the months of the year each have a corresponding Tribe of Israel, the tribe for the month of Tammuz, as noted by the Bnei Yissaschar, is Reuven.  And in Kabbalah, the letters of his name can be rearranged as the words - Ohr Ben "Light of the Son".  Now, this may sound the same as the "Light of the Sun", and one may even want to make a connection here that just as Reuven was the FIRST SON of Jacob, so is Sunday the FIRST day of the week - if the context of a Jewish calendar in which Shabbat is the end of the week - named after the SUN, but the main connection in this case is the fact that the sun is the biggest resource of OHR (light) in this world.  However, the main point that I want to make here is that the word Ben (son) has the same letters as the Hebrew number for 52, just as there were exactly 52 months from this past date of Bircat HaChama - 14 Nissan until 14 Tammuz of last week when the Daf Yomi of Tractate Pesachim began, which begins with the word Ohr, in the midst of the month that corresponds to the Tribe of Reuven, whose name is a composite of the words Ohr and Ben!  And as for Reuven, the firstborn son of Jacob, himself, he was born on the FOURTEENTH of a different month, the month of Kislev.  So as you can see here, Reuven is very strongly connected to the number 14.

Now, even if one were to be skeptical about the points that I made in this past paragraph, thinking that there a few nice "coincidences" here, I'm not quite finished.  You see, the beginning of the previous 28 year cycle as related to the recital of Bircat HaChama took place on the date of 4 Nissan in 5741 (1981), which on a personal note, I remember this day very well when I was close to 11 years old, when the classes of the Yeshiva day school that I attended walked to the nearby beach grounds in gathering together for this day's special prayers of Bircat HaChama.  Anyways, as we know in Jewish history, the first 12 days from the dedication of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), during which time, one leader from each of the 12 tribes offered sacrifices on behalf of his respective tribe on a specific assigned day, which took place during the first 12 days of Nissan.  Now, this was not done in order of the birth of the Tribes, but rather, in order of the encampment of the Tribes in the desert beginning with Judah.  With this said, on 4 Nissan, it was the leader of the Tribe of Reuven who offered his sacrifices.  Moreover, just as it was both the FOURTH of Nissan and the FOURTH day of the week, being tha the dedication of the Mishkan took place on the first day of the week, so too, being that the Bircat HaChama ceremony, being that the planetary system which is chiefly ruled by the sun and moon was placed into orbit on the fourth day of Creation, always takes place on the fourth day of the week; in 5741, the FOURTH day of the week was also the FOURTH of Nissan.  And this is bearing in mind that this is related to the beginning of Tractate Pesachim, whose Gemara of the Babylonian Talmud is the FOURTH of the Talmudic tractates, whose subject Pesach takes place in the midst of the month of Nissan that is Kabbalistically represented by the Tribe of Judah, whose ancestor Judah was the FOURTH born of Jacob and Leah.

Now, this previous Bircat HaChama ceremony on 4 Nissan, 5741 began the 206th cycle of the 28 year cycle of Bircat HaChama.  Yes, this number 206, the number before 207 that is the Gematria of Ohr, is also very significant.  As we know according to Halacha, we learn the Parsha every week by reciting each verse twice followed by the Aramaic translation of Targum Onkelos once.  With this said, I have a quiz question.  What is the very first word of this Aramaic translation on the Torah?  Answer -  The word is BeKadmin, based on the word Kedem, which can mean early, as in the phrase used in the Tanach - Yemai Kedem "in the early days (of history)"; thus, the word BeKadmin implying that the creation of light (not necessarily the heavens and earth per se as implied by faulty translations that don't take the commentary Rashi into account) took place in the beginning of Creation.  And what is the Gematria of BeKadmin?  You guessed it - 206!

As you just read here - the very FIRST Aramaic word of the Torah, which also BEGINS with the account of the CREATION OF LIGHT, is the Gematria of 206, and parallel to this, the BEGINNING of the 206th cycle of Bircat HaChama took place on the same date and day of the week as it was back in the Hebrew year 2449 on which the leader of the Tribe of Reuven, whose ancestor Reuven was the FIRST one born to Jacob, offered sacrifices on behalf of this tribe.  Moreover, when we add the Gematria of the word Chama (sun) - 53 to the number 206, it adds to the Gematria of Reuven's name - 259!

Now, as related to the 28 year Bircat HaChama cycle, the number 28 in Hebrew - consisting of the letters Kaf and Cheit - it spells the word Ko'ach (strength).  Indeed, in Jacob's blessings for his children on his deathbed, he starts off for Reuven "Reuven, you are my firstborn, my STRENGTH.." (Genesis 49:3).  And in Moses's blessing of the Tribe of Reuven, he states "May Reuben live and not die; and may he be counted/numbered with the others (the other tribes)" (Deutronomy 33:6).  Now, the first word in Hebrew - Yechi "may he live" is the Gematria of 28.  And as we see here, the last word in Hebrew is Mispar, which literally means number, which is most significant here.  As we know, we count 49 days of the Sephira between Pesach (Passover) and Shavuot (Pentecost).  Correspondingly, there are exactly 49 times that this word Mispar is mentioned in the Chumash (Penteteuch), and this word in this context about Reuven is the LAST of these 49 times! (Note: There are 34 mentions of the word Mispar (NUMBER) in Sefer Bamidbar (NUMBERS), nearly 70% of the total times being mentioned in the Chumash).

In fact, there is a special connection between Reuven and the concept of NUMBERS.  You see, the Haftara (selected portion of the Prophets as related to its corresponding Parsha read in the synagogue following the reading of the Parsha) for Parshat Bamidbar, the FIRST Parsha of Sefer Bamidbar - NUMBERS - is from the Prophet Hosea, the FIRST OF TWELVE parts of Trei Asar "Minor Prophets" (literally means twelve in Aramaic) who was descended from Reuven, the FIRST OF THE TWELVE sons of Jacob to be born.  And
this Haftara immediately begins with "The NUMBER of the Children of Israel will be like the sand of the sea which won't able to be measured or counted..." (Hosea 2:1).

It is at this point that I must point out the context of this verse.  As the Talmud tells us, when Hashem complained to the prophet Hosea that the Jews were sinning, Hosea's quick reply to Him was they should be punished.  Hoping that Hosea would speak a little more favorably about the Jews, such as past Prophets, especially Moses, had done when Hashem was ready to punish/annihilate them, He instructed Hosea (commenting to Himself "What am I going to do with this old man?") to take a harlot for himself and bear children with her.  He complied, and after the harlot had a few children, Hashem instructed Hosea to get rid of the children from the house.  As any normal father would do with such a confrontation, Hosea could not see himself doing this.  Upon this, Hashem replied, "Look, you don't even know if these children are really yours from this harlot, and nevertheless, you don't want to chase out whom you think are your children.  Then, how do you expect Me to want to be rid of My children?"  Realizing his mistake, Hosea recanted, blessing the Jews to be so numerous that they can't be measured or numbered.

Now as related to strength, as most indicated via one's hands, the Hebrew number for 14 also spells the word Yad (hand); and thus, twice the word Yad - denoting both hands - is the Gematria of 28=Ko'ach.  And as related to time, in the beginning of Chapter 3 of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), we see that there is a list of 28 "times", denoting that any given action has its own time - "A time to be born, and a time to die...A time for war, and a time for peace."  But it isn't simply that 14 is half of 28, but in the series of verses on the 28 times, we see a total of 14 opposite parallels.

Mind you, Reuven is not always put in the best "light" in the Torah, if you will.  Well first, it was the incident with Bilhah (while the Talmud doesn't believe that Reuven actually had an affair with her but his political moving of the beds for Jacob not to be with Reuven's mother's co-wife's maidservant, but rather with his own mother Leah; the Book of Jubilees, which is a source that Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, ZT"L, translator of The Living Torah, quotes - mentions the details of the story of his one night stand with Bilhah) for which his father never totally forgave him for as indicated in Jacob's "blessing" for Reuven, noting that he lost the privileges of the birthright as a result of this, despite his Teshuva (repentance) which including fasting and wearing sackcloth. along with Reuven's foolish comment to Jacob that he would give him his two children to kill if he would not return Jacob's youngest son Benjamin from Egypt as a result of the Egyptian viceroy's demands that Benjamin would come with the rest of the brothers if they were to receive food the next time in the midst of a famine; and then some of his descendants in the time of Moses weren't exactly very good "Jewish boys", including the infamous Dathan and Abiram, the main troublemakers both in Egypt and in the desert, who perished along with Elitzur Ben-Shdei'ur, leader of the Tribe of Reuven who fell for Korach's
rebellion against Moses and Aaron, being swallowed alive by the earth as punishment for their evil deeds.  Hence, Moses gave a special blessing for this tribe as the end of his life that this tribe should be sufficiently numbered in comparison with the other tribes.

Nevertheless, Reuven is still treated with respect in the Torah.  In a number of times, including in this week's Parshat Pinchas, Reuven is called Bechor Yisrael (firstborn of Israel), just as in Egypt in Hashem's address to Pharaoh to let the Jews go, He calls the Jews - B'ni Bechori Yisrael "My son, my firstborn Israel" (Exodus 4:22).  Now, the first letters of Reuven Bechor Yisrael - Reish, Beit, Yud - are the same letters as the Hebrew number 212, the Gematria of the word Ohrah (feminine of the word Ohr), which the Gemara in the context of the debate as to what Ohr refers to, states that it refers specifically to the daytime, which is ruled by the sun, and as especially related to Reuven.  Moreover, the word Ohr, which is the Gematria of 207, is mentioned FIVE times (207+5=212) in the FIRST day of Creation, which consists of five verses.  And as for the latter phrase that refers to the Jews, the total numerical value of the first letters of this phrase - Beit, Beit, Yud - is 14; thus this being a recap, so to speak, of Ohr L'Arba'asar Asar "Light of the fourteenth".

Having mentioned both the fourteenth of the months of Nissan and Tammuz, it is mentioned in Kabbala that the months of the year also have corresponding letters.  With this said, Nissan's letter is Hei, and Tammuz's letter is Cheit.  Noting that on Pesach, we don't eat Chametz, but rather, Matza; the difference between these two words - Chametz and Matza - is that the word Chametz contains the letter Cheit while the word Matza contains the letter Hei.  Now, one of the privileges of the firstborn that Reuven lost as a result of his sin was the loss of kingship, which was transferred to Judah.  Thus, while we see that at times in the Torah, Reuven is still mentioned first among the Tribes, including in Parshat Bamidbar and Parshat Pinchas; however, in term of the order of encampment and the order of the offerings of the leaders of the tribes, Judah  was the first, while Reuven was the fourth - in reverse order of the birth of the first four sons born to Jacob and Leah - and accordingly, the months of the Jewish calendar correspond to this order (as detailed in the book Bnei Yissaschar, unlike different orders mentioned in other sources which aren't correct as they oppose what it really is according to Kabbalah).  Hence, Nissan's tribe is Judah and Tammuz's tribe is Reuven.  And so, on the 14th of Nissan, the month of Judah, we are supposed to get rid of the Chametz, as especially related to the letter Cheit that corresponds to Tammuz and Reuven, the letter that also begins the word Cheit (spelled Cheit, Teit, Aleph; unlike the word for the letter Cheit that is spelled Cheit, Yud, Tav/Sav ) which is sin; which will then allow for the eating of Matza, as especially related to the letter Hei, the letter of the month of Nissan, as well as being written twice in Judah's name Yehuda - Yud, Hei, Vav, Dalet, Hei, as it is also written twice in Hashem's name as the second and fourth letters.

As for the questions earlier as to the lack of the mention of the month in particular contexts of the Mishna, bearing in mind that some mention the month while others don't; at least in terms of the beginning of Tractate Pesachim, while the actual context refers specifically to Nissan, it seems that the mention of this month is left out to hint to other months as related to Reuven in connection to Ohr (14 Tammuz), which aside from the start of the learning of this tractate in Daf Yomi, was also virtually the longest daytime of this year, relating to the LIGHT of the sun, in the month that corresponds specifically to Reuven; and in connection to his birth (14 Kislev).  Additionally, as the beginning of the 14th tractate of the Mishna, this refers to the beginning of the 14th year of a Bar Mitzva boy being that he has lived 13 complete years, and now, he needs to especially be careful of sins, for from this point on, if G-d forbid, he does perform sins, his soul will be majorly spiritually affected by them, and will be held accountable for them, unless he totally repents of them.  As the Mishna then instructs - "We search for Chametz by the light of the candle, which the soul is compared to; and hence we need to get rid of whatever spiritual particles, the Chametz, that cause us to sin, and prevent our spiritual growth, G-d forbid   As for why the month of Adar is not mentioned in the beginning of Tractate Megilla, perhaps we will address this in a future post, but is beyond the scope of this post.

And, this would not be complete without mentioning the connection between this first chapter of Pesachim with the number of this post - 181.  You see, every chapter of Mishna that is explained in the Gemara is named usually after the first words of the particular chapter.  Hence, this first chapter of Pesachim is called after the first few words of this chapter - Ohr L'Arba'ah Asar.  With this said, it is technically called Perek Ohr L'Arba'ah Asar "Chapter Ohr L'Arba'ah Asar" - and the numerical value of the first letters of this phrase - Pei=80, Aleph=1, Lamed=30, Ayin=70 add up to 181, the number of this post!  Another way of looking at this, is that instead of the letter Pei of the word Perek (chapter), we can use the letter Pei as the first letter of the name of this tractate - Pesachim; hence, noting that the name of this chapter is also the beginning of this
tractate Pesachim.

Perhaps the lesson that we can learn from this second way of looking at how we arrive at the number 181 is that in attaining good and righteousness, one must first focus on getting rid of the Chametz, the negatives that prevent us from moving forward, as mentioned in Tehillim (Psalms) - "Turn away from evil, and do good"; for otherwise, it is like someone who is holding something spiritually impure in the Mikva (ritualarium) that defeats the whole purpose of dipping in the Mikva to be rid of the spiritual contamination of the impure item; and that the only way of getting spiritually pure is first to let go of the impure item, and only then can dipping in the Mikva help him attain spiritual purification.  And as especially related to Pesach, in the times of the Beit HaMikdash (Temple), it was forbidden to own Chametz already from the afternoon of the 14th of Nissan preceding the first night of Pesach, and one who still owned Chametz while having his Korban Pesach (Pascal sacrifice) being offered was liable to be punished with lashes, for owning Chametz on Passover eve (Erev Pesach), in total contradiction to what Pesach ultimately represents, the spiritual freedom from our bondage of sins, was totally incompatible with the Korban Pesach that we ate (and will hopefully eat this coming Passover if the police in Jerusalem stop their evil of violating the Supreme Court allowance of offering the Pascal sacrifice on the Temple Mount, unless Moshiach comes first) that is the greatest Passover symbolism of our past physical freedom from Egyptian slavery that alludes to our freedom from spiritual slavery.

Having said this, the letters of the Hebrew number for 181 are Koof, Pei, Aleph.  The first two letters Koof and Pei are the letters that begin the words Korban Pesach, which is the subject of the fifth through the ninth chapters of Pesachim, half of the 10 chapters of this tractate, following the first three chapters about getting rid of the Chametz and the fourth chapter dealing with what kinds of work were permitted or forbidden on the 14th of Nissan and until when in the day; and followed by the 10th and final chapter about the finale - the Seder.  And as for the letter Aleph, this is the first letter of this tractate, beginning the word Ohr.  Hence, we see how the number 181 is related to Tractate Pesachim in at least three ways.


After what I wrote above, one may wonder "This is all very nice.  But aside from the fact that the Daf Yomi for Tractate Pesachim began on the 14th of Tammuz, is there actually anything significant about this date that is of Halachic or of Jewish historical importance?"

Believe it or not - the answer is both, both in Jewish history and in Halacha, at least at one time.  You see, there is a Baraita (set of teachings that are similar but not included in the Mishna) that is called Megillat Ta'anit, with a list of dates and historical background in all 12 months of the Jewish calendar in which happy events happened to the Jewish people for a period of time beginning after the destruction of the first Temple.  These were days on which were forbidden to fast or hold eulogies.  Eventually, most of them were dropped from observance, except for Chanuka and Purim.

However, the record of these happy days is not obsolete, and this unique collection of teachings from our Sages paints a picture of how Jewish life in the midst of observance of Judaism, or being challenged of it in various forms, was like.  Among the challenges, there were groups of Jews who challenged the words of the Sages, holding strictly according to the literal meaning of the Tanach (Jewish Bible).

Anyways, there were a group of these wayward Jews called Tzadokim (Sadducees), named after the founder of their anti-Torah movement called Tzadok, who came out at one point with their "Talmud" consisting of decrees based on how they interpreted the Torah.  For example, they had their version of what kind of death from the Jewish court that violators of the Torah received.  For payment of knocking out someone's eye or tooth, they ruled that the same thing is done back to the one who did it, as it says "An eye in place of an eye, a tooth in place of a tooth", which our rabbis explain refer strictly to monetary payment.  In the due course of time, the rules of the Sadducees were questioned, not making quite sense to the general populace, and on the fourteenth of Tammuz, their book of decrees was abolished, which made this day a Jewish holiday of celebration.

In connection with Pesach, it is perhaps the most celebrated holiday as one of "tradition", the real tradition, as most exemplified at the Seder - the topic of the final chapter of Tractate Pesachim - at which the parent relates to the child the history of the Exodus as per the Mitzva of recounting the story of the Exodus on the first night of Pesach.  As we see in the Haggadah, the official text of the Seder, it is replete of teachings from our Sages that represent Torah She'B'Al Peh - the Oral Torah that explains in detail how the Mitzvot are supposed to be performed, and how we learn out various details of the Mitzvot or Halachot (Jewish laws) from various Pesukim (verses); and not simply the literal way of reading the Bible.  For if it were left to us to interpret the Torah that way that we like it, like how a food is prepared in a restaurant to the liking of one's taste buds, we would never have any sort of agreed set of laws to be observed by all Jews, even if were to follow the "simple, literal meaning" of the verse, the same way that the Sadducees interpreted the Torah that led to nothing but confusion.  After all, we have seen the tragic results of the Conservative and Reform movements among Jews of recent times (there is really no such thing as Conservative Judaism, Reform Judaism, or even Orthodox Judaism; there is only a halachic Judaism) that have led to massive assimilation and intermarriage, with the biggest irony where the non-Jewish woman fiancee goes through a phony Jewish conversion and/or the children who aren't Jewish are given a lavish "Bar-Mitzva" or "Bat-Mitzva" celebration, complete with non-kosher food for all the Jewish guests and immodestly dressed, or "dressed to kill" women dancing with men.  Oh, by the way, a Haggadah from the Conservative or Reform movements don't necessarily have the same text material as a Halachic Haggadah, including leaving out the parts of washing the hands, just as animals who come to their place to eat as soon as the food appears without any spiritual preparations beforehand.


As mentioned in the Mishna (Ta'anit 4:5), there were nine times a year that one family or another had a personal Yom Tov (Jewish holiday) because their respective ancestor had donated wood to the Temple following the Jews' return to Israel following the Babylonian exile and rebuilding of the Temple.  Today's date - 20 Tammuz - was one of them.  But perhaps what makes this date unique is that this day was celebrated by Bnei David Ben Yehuda, which is in fact the family who were descendants of King David, as they had contributed wood on this day, making this an annual date of celebration for them.

As the Daf Yomi is currently in the midst of the first chapter of Tractate Pesachim, the FOURTH Talmudic tractate and the FOURTEENTH Mishnaic tractate which begins with "On the night of the FOURTEENTH (of Nissan)", it is highly significant that King David's name is the Gematria of FOURTEEN, and the first and last letter of his name is the FOURTH letter Dalet which is the numerical value of FOUR.

There is in fact a direct connection between King David and the 14th of Nissan.  In the Talmud (Berachot 3b), Moses addresses Pharaoh for one last time, relaying to him Hashem's message of the upcoming plague of the death of the firstborn the following night "around midnight".  As the Talmud tells us, Moses' address took place on the night of the 14th of Nissan.  Anyways, the Gemara asks "We see that Moses was in doubt as to exactly when midnight was, but how did David know as per the verse in his Psalms "At midnight, I get up to thank you for the judgments of your righteousness (the Torah)"?"  Since David always woke up at midnight to learn Torah, obviously, he had to have known somehow when it was exactly midnight.  The Gemara tells us that exactly at midnight, the north wind blew at David's harp, waking him up.  A little later on, the Gemara tells us that Moses (the most righteous human being) certainly knew the exact time of midnight, which was also the time that Hashem told him when the final Egyptian plague would take place; however, Moses worded his message as "around midnight", so the Egyptians shouldn't come to even possibly think that Moses would be wrong about the exact timing.  In any case, we see that the Gemara's account of Moses address to Pharaoh on the night of the FOURTEENTH of Nissan is due to mentioning King David's rising up at midnight to learn Torah, whose name is the Gematria of FOURTEEN.

Now, looking in the Chumash as to where King David's name is spelled, well, he was born long after Moses' time.  However, there are two places in the entire Chumash where his name is spelled in consecutive letters within a word.

The first occurrence of this is the story of the young boy Reuven bringing mandrake flowers to his mother Leah.  In Hebrew, the word for mandrakes is Duda'im, in which the first three letters of this word can also spell the name David.  In this context, the wording of Duda'im is written five times (Genesis 30:14-16), which perhaps correspond to the five books of the Sefer Tehillim of King David.  Also, as the Torah tells us, this story took place during the "wheat harvest", which occurs around the holiday of Shavuot, the traditioal date of King David's birth and passing.  Anyways, as a result of these mandrakes, it somehow caused Jacob to spend the night with Leah of his four women, resulting with the eventual births of Yissaschar and Zevulun from Leah.

Noting the strong connection of the number 14 with both Reuven and King David, we see that there is a connection between Reuven the firstborn and royalty, for in fact, as his father Jacob told him, he had lost the royalty due to his misdeed with Bilhah, which was hence passed to Judah whose parental descendant was King David, head of the Davidic monarchy.  But more than this, we see that Reuven had good qualities about himself from the story of the mandrakes, and it could have even been in merit of this that he was qualified to be the ancestor of the Jewish royal line; for after all, it would be a good reward for causing the births of his brothers Yissaschar and Zevulun (Note: Even though it was meant from Heaven for Jacob to have 12 sons who would be the 12 Tribes and the only variable was from which wife, Reuven even as a boy had a share in the process in the formation of the Jewish people who are "kings, sons of kings" (See Mishna Shabbat - Chapter FOURTEEN, Mishna FOUR!), and so, Mida Kneged Mida "Measure for measure", as Hashem  rewards or punishes, Reuven should have rightfully been the ancestor of Jewish royalty, as well as the fact that he was the firstborn.  However, by the same token, due to his later misdeed that caused a breach in Jacob's family, he lost this eternal opportunity.

Now, the only question was, which other brother, who would also be a son of Leah (after all, why should Leah loose out, aside from the birthright that Reuven  lost to Joseph son of Rachel, but this is due partly with Jacob wanting to marry specifically Rachel in the first place) would be the ancestor of the royal line.  It wouldn't be Yissaschar or Zevulun, despite their loyalty to Torah learning or support of it, because they were born in the first place thanks to Reuven.  For the brothers next in line of birth - Shimon and Levi - they had their own faults that didn't allow them to be worthy of royalty (as far as Levi being the ancestor of the Cohanim, this was a special spiritual gift given to him from birth, which would have been from Reuven along with the birthright and royalty had he not messed up, but Hashem already knew what was going to happen).  And so, the most one worthy of royalty was Judah, who may have also had faults, but at least when he realized when he did something wrong, he admitted it, a trait that Jacob mentioned to him in his numerous blessings to him, and a trait that his most worthy descendant King David also had.

The only other time in the Chumash that King David's name is spelled within a word is in Jacob's blessing of Gad - Gad Gedud Yegudenu V'Hu Yagud Akeiv "Gad wll provide a troop and he will return on the same path" (Genesis 49:19), where the name David can be spelled within the word Gedud (troop).  And indeed, just like the Tribe of Gad which was in the forefront of fighting on behalf of the Jewish people in the conquest of the Land of Israel under the leadership of Joshua; so too, King David was in the forefront of fighting various battles for the Jewish people in Israel.

With this said, we see King David's name spelled in the Chumash within words related specifially to the Tribes of Reuven and Gad.  We see in Parshat Matot that will be read in the following week that they had requested Moses to remain where they were at the time in Transjordan as it was an area of wide, good pasture for their numerous cattle.  While at first, Moses was most suspicious of their intentions, remembering well the disastrous results of the Spies' evil reports which were believed by most of the Jewish men who consequently perished in the desert as punishment for this.  In response, these two Tribes promised Moses that they would cross over the Jordan to the Promised Land per se to fight on behalf of their brethren, and only then would they return back to continue living in Transjordan.  Moses accepted this deal, and the Tribes kept their part of the bargain.

This is all very nice, but what does this have to do particularly with King David?  Actually, I thought of a couple of connections.  First, King David had conquered certain areas which acquired certain aspects of laws as related to Israel, but never acquired full halachic status of the holiness of Israel, because there was land within Israel proper that he hadn't conquered as of yet   Similarly, while Transjordan inherited the holiness of the Land of Israel, even as three of the six major Cities of Refuge as related to Israel were located in Transjordan; but it still was not Israel proper; and hence spiritually, the Tribes of Reuven and Gad, who decided to remain in Transjordan due to materialistic reasons to begin with, didn't feel the holiness of Israel as much, thus falling into evil ways, and were eventually the first Tribes to be exiled as a result.

On the positive side, Moses had passed away in the portion of land belonging to Reuven, and was buried in the portion of land belonging to Gad; and as we know from Kabbala, the gravesites of the righteous have the holy status of the Land of Israel, even outside the land of Israel.  In a similar vein, King David's Sefer Tehillim has its unique status - both as part of the Tanach being words of Torah and as prayers, the only book of the Tanach with this status (there are sections of other parts of the Tanach that make up a part of our prayers, but are brought partly in due as proof of certain things that we mention in our prayers, or are Mitzvot of themselves such as the three paragraphs of the Shema from the Chumash, but most of the verses in these other sources in the Tanach are not verses of prayer addressing Hashem per se).

The ultimate lesson that we can learn from this post is that while we are supposed to inspect ourselves for the hidden "Chametz", the spiritual flaws that stain our souls and hinder our spiritual progress, making room for repentance and good deeds; we are supposed to look favorably towards other Jews, and look out for their welfare despite their shortcomings.  If we bear this in mind, just like King David who was quick to admit to mistakes, but in judging other Jews in court, reimbursed the loosing party in a lawsuit from his own pocket; we will indeed be worthy of seeing the ultimate LIGHT, the spiritual light that Hashem hid away from the wicked in the beginning of Creation, but will grant the righteous in the future world.

20 Tammuz, 5773

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