Friday, June 21, 2013

#180 - Isaac our Father: The Unexpected Hero

Had quite a busy week for the most part being a busy fater, including Sunday, which was Father's Day in the States, though I live in Israel.  However, it's not too late to write this post, especially since this involves words of Torah which are eternal.

As it turns out, I will be writing today about Yitzchak Avinu - Isaac our Father, the second of the three Avot (Forefathers), which parallels my second Father's Day.  Additionally, Isaac lived for 180 years, and this is my 180th Post.

But more than this, the following will involve the concept of years as it relates to Isaac - not to his years per se; but rather, to the years of the Jewish people.  For this, we turn to the Talmud (Shabbat 89b):

"Rav Shmuel bar Nachmani said in Rebbe Yochanan's name, 'In the future, Hashem will say to Abraham,  "Your children have sinned against Me".  Abraham will reply: "Master of the Universe, let them be erased for the sanctity of Your name"...

Hashem will say to Jacob,  "Your children have sinned against Me".  Jacob will reply: "Master of the Universe, let them be erased for the sanctity of Your name"...

Hashem will say to Isaac, "Your children have sinned against Me".  Isaac will exclaim: "Master of the Universe, MY children and not YOUR children?!  Excuse me, but when the Jews, upon being asked if they wanted the Torah, they said "We will do" before "We will hear" (showing their great willingness to observe the Torah), and You called them "My son, My firstborn".  Now You tell me that they are MY children and not YOUR children?!  Anyways, how much have they sinned? How long is the average man's life-span? Seventy years. Subtract twenty, for until this age, You don't punish (Hashem is very lenient with the young, due to their lack of maturity), thus remain fifty years. Subtract twenty-five which comprise the nights (when one sleeps and does not sin), thus remain twenty five years. Subtract twelve and a half years for prayer, eating, and restroom, and there remain only twelve and a half years that they could have sinned.  If You will bear them all, then good.  Alternatively, You and I will each bear half.  However, if You want me to bear them all; don't forget, I already went through the ordeal of being offered up on the altar."

Upon hearing this, the Jewish people will exclaim (to Isaac), "You are our Father!"  Isaac will reply, "Instead of praising me, praise the Holy One Blessed Be He, Who is your (true) Father."  The Jews will then exclaim, "You Hashem are our Father and Redeemer!""

Now, there seems to be an irony here.  We know that Abraham is the epitome of kindness, even as he presented a whole conversation of defense for the evil people of the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah, begging of Hashem that they shouldn't be killed if there were at least ten righteous people among them.  We know of Jacob for his characteristic trait of mercy, as he applied it for the sheep that he took good care of; and even for his evil, cunning father-in-law Laban, when Laban complained to him that his idols were stolen, Jacob cursed whoever would have stolen them (not knowing that it was his wife Rachel who took them, and died as a result of the curse).   However, Isaac is known for his trait of strictness, pertaining to which, some say that it was due to this that the ones whom his father Abraham embraced towards monotheism didn't stick around; leaving only Isaac's family as virtually the only believers in the one G-d.  So, how come in the time to come, are the Patriarchs going to behave the opposite?

The truth is, if we read our Bibles carefully, along with a little Rashi, the answer will be quite obvious.  The truth is that in the future, they will be behaving the same way as they were in the past.

It is true that Abraham loved both his children - Ishmael and Isaac - as recounted in the Midrash in which when Hashem told Abraham to offer up on the altar "your son...whom your love" before saying Isaac's name, Abraham said that he loves them both.  However, this depends on what period that we are talking about.  You see, earlier on when both children were living at home, Ishmael's behavior got way out of hand, and Isaac's mother Sara feared for both Isaac's spiritual and physical safety, and wanted Ishmael to be booted out the door.  Now, while it is true that Abraham did not want to do this until Hashem told him to listen to Sara, we do see, as Rashi points out when the Torah notes that Abraham sent Ishmael away with bread and water, that he did not give him gold and silver - which Abraham had some of as he was already wealthy at this time - "BECAUSE HE HATED HIM FOR HIS BAD BEHAVIOR".  Now mind you, Rashi doesn't simply say that Abraham no longer loved his son Ishmael, but writes point blank that he hated him, despite the fact that Abraham was not ready on his own to throw out Ishmael from home.  However, when it came to realizing Ishmael's evil behavior, he hated the evil doer as he hated evil itself, and it didn't matter if it was his own son in question.

As for Jacob, on his deathbed, the Torah states that he blessed his children - not only individually, but also in a general blessing for all his children, as Rashi makes clear.  However, in terms of blessing his children individually; well, that's another story.  When it came to his first three children, he clearly castigated them for their misdeeds, if he didn't curse them.   Perhaps he felt that as the oldest children of Leah, the co-wife of his true love Rachel, they should have set better examples for the rest of his children.  It seems that it was only when the next child of Leah in line, Judah, started walking out of the room seeing how his older brothers were castigated (see Rashi), that Jacob changed his tune and called out to Judah in a loving manner, the only one to whom he gave blessings comparable to the ones he gave to his favorite son Joseph.

In sharp contrast, Isaac never hated or showed hatred towards his evil Esau even when he later realized that he wasn't exactly the Tzadik'l, the good boy that he used to think he was.  At worst, when Esau cried blood murder following his brother Jacob receiving their father's blessings that Isaac originally intended for Esau, even though Isaac realized why Hashem arranged this the way that this happened, he simply told Esau that Jacob took his blessings so he had nothing left to bless Esau with; and even at that, following Esau crying bitter tears, realizing what he truly lost - which were the spiritual blessings, that Isaac blessed him with materialistic blessings.

And so, it is no wonder after all as to how our Forefathers in the future will react to Hashem telling them that their children, the Jews, have sinned.  True, our love for our children should not blind us as to their misdeeds,  and both Abraham and Jacob should be given credit for this.  However, by the same token, we need to learn
a lesson from this, as Isaac did, to put ourselves in other people's shoes, and feel both the physical AND spiritual pain of OUR children, rather than just feeling justified criticizing them without showing our love for them; for at least then, there will be a fighting chance that they will better their deeds.  And while we may see the opposite as to actually what happened with Ishmael having repented since Abraham kicked him out, while Esau never gave up his evil lifestyle despite Isaac's love for him; we have to remember that our actions towards our children also effect ours/their future generations.  We know that the Arabs, the descendants of Ishmael are as a nation, are today the most dangerous group of people - at least among the ones who observe Islam - both to Israel and the rest of the world.  And as for Esau's descendants, it has been noted that the majority of converts of Judaism are from Esau.  And so, as long as we are still in love touch with our children, there is always a hopeful chance that they will better their ways.

There is a point that I want to make based on the end calculation of twelve and a half years that Isaac mentioned in terms of sin.  As we know, a boy becomes Bar-Mitzva at age 13 and a girl becomes Bat-Mitzva at the age of 12.  As far as the percentage of males and females being born, what I can tell you that there was a study a while back of the percentage of baby boys and baby girls being born in a number of hospitals in South Florida.  The percentage rate was very close to 50%-50%, which seems to tell us that Hashem makes things quite equal in this world, which also shows that there is one mate for everyone just as for Adam and Eve.  With this said, the average of the ages between Bar-Mitzva and Bat-Mitzva is twelve and a half years - the exact amount of time that Isaac mentioned as to the maximum amount of time sinning in life.  And so, if Hashem were to so to speak rearrange the time as such that it would be considered for us that we sinned particularly in the early part of our lives, then certainly, we would be totally forgiven, because a child before the basic age of responsibility is not considered as having done any sins since his time until that age is considered only as preparation for doing the Mitzvot (commandments) and not doing the Aveirot (sins); and hence, his soul is not sullied by sins until then.  Ultimately, it seems that it will be Isaac's hope that Hashem will look at us as His cute little children, as children in this category who like to be mischievous at times but will otherwise do what daddy and mommy tells them to do.  After all, Isaac's own son Esau turned to evil ways only at the age of 13, so Isaac is looking for Hashem to treat us the same way as Esau would be treated as long as he was not Bar-Mitzva yet.


Our Rabbis tell us in the Talmud in Tractate Berachot, there are only three in the Bible who are called Avot (Fathers) in terms of the Jewish people - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, while there are four in the Bible who are called Imahot (Mothers) in terms of the Jewish people - Sara, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah.  Noting that the last two were both wives of Jacob, one would wonder why there are only three Avot but four Imahot.  It's true that according to the Torah, a man can have more than one wife while a woman is forbidden to have more than one husband.  But in this particular context, Jacob had intended only to marry Rachel, and it was only thanks to the trickery of Laban, his father-in-law to be that he married Leah first.

The truth is that in fact, Leah was the Basherte (Heaven intended mate) of Jacob's brother Esau, aside from the fact that people used to say, knowing that they were cousins, that Esau the older brother would marry Leah the older sister and Jacob the younger brother would marry Rachel the younger sister.  However, due to Esau's evil ways, he lost his Basherte, and Leah - after hearing from others what Esau was like, prayed to Hashem with bitter tears that she should not fall into the lot of Esau.  In reward, Hashem granted Leah to Jacob instead; and in fact, wound up being married to Jacob even before Rachel.  (Note: It is forbidden according to the Torah to be married to two sisters when both of them are alive; but Jacob lived before the Torah was officially given, aside from the bizarre set of circumstances in his situation).

As it turns out, the Hebrew singular word for father - Av - is the Gematria of three, the word with the least Gematria value.  Aside from the connection of this to the three Avot, the first letter of the name of the first of the Avot - Abraham - is an Aleph, and the last letter of the name of the last of the Avot - Jacob - is a Beit/Veit, the very two letters, and in order, to spell the word Av.

In today's Hebrew, the word used for father is Abba, with the addition of the letter Aleph at the end, making the total Gematria of this word to be four.  However, this is kind of ironic, because in fact, the word Abba is technically an Aramaic word, just as the phrase Bar-Mitzva "son of the commandment", uses the Aramaic word Bar for son, rather than the standard Hebrew word Ben.

In understanding Aramaic in relationship to Hebrew, while Aramaic uses Hebrew letters just like Yiddish, it is not the Lashon HaKodesh "Holy Tongue" that only Hebrew is referred to as, being the basic language of the Chumash/Tanach.  However, Aramaic is not only the key language in both the Gemara and the Zohar, but is also the language of the Onkelos translation, or the Targum, of the Chumash, being used in the weekly review of the Parsha, in which each verse is recited twice followed by its corresponding Targum once.

As related to Esau, while he may not have had the ability to sit still learning Torah as much as his most studious brother Jacob, neither did it mean that he was automatically damned to be an evil person.  In fact, he could have easily used his work in the fields to serve Hashem, if he really would have wanted to.  After all, as their father Isaac aged and eventually became blind, Esau could have been the breadwinner, especially to support his brother Jacob to learn Torah all day; the same way that Zevulun worked and supported his brother Yissaschar to learn Torah all day, and split the reward of Torah learning between the two of them - 50 % each.  And even with Joseph's two sons - Menashe and Ephraim - in which Jacob gave the greater blessing to Ephraim being that he was the Torah scholar, both of them merited to be separate tribes just as Jacob's own children.  Hence, had Esau would have at least been a good example of a Jewish layman in terms of Torah learning, he too would have merited to be among the Avot, would have married Leah, and could have even retained the spiritual service of the Bechor, having the status of a Cohen, even as his brother Jacob was the Torah scholar par excellence; just as Moses was the Lawgiver after whom the Torah is named - Torat Moshe, while his brother Aaron was the Cohen Gadol (High Priest).

Hence, the Aramaic word for father - Abba - hints to this concept in which Aramaic, though not called the Holy Tongue as Hebrew, at least serves as an accessory to the Holy Tongue, as with the weekly review of the Parsha, as well in time being the key language of the Gemara and the Zohar, being essentially commentaries of the Chumash/Tanach, the Written Word of G-d.  However, Esau completely missed the boat, and so, this aspect of the physical support of holiness, which would earn equal spiritual reward in the Hereafter, was not included among the Avot; unlike with the Imahot who automatically served as the spiritual counterparts of their respective husbands, even though as it is with women, they are not obligated in the
 Mitzva of Torah learning like men are (Note: Women are still obligated to at least learn the basic laws of
Jewish observance, but not as a Mitzva to learn Torah per se), but they do share 50%-50% of the reward for Torah with their husbands if they willingly helped and encouraged their husbands and children to learn Torah.


Today - 13 Tammuz - marks the Siyum (conclusion) of the study of Tractate Eruvin (plural for the word Eiruv which means merging, referring to ways that the rabbis instituted to permit carrying or walking in certain circumstances on Shabbat which would otherwise be forbidden) of the Babylonian Talmud in the worldwide daily study of Daf Yomi.  It consists of 96 Mishnayot and 104 (one hundred and FOUR) Dafim, both numbers beings multiples of FOUR.

One of the concepts discussed in this tractate is the labor of transferring an item from one domain to another.
In the Halachic sense, there are FOUR domains:
1)Reshut HaYachid (private domain) - Has minimum dimensions of FOUR Tefachim (fingerbreadths) by FOUR Tefachim.
2)Reshut HaRabim (public domain) - Minimum of 16 (FOUR times FOUR) Amot (handbreadths) wide.
3)Karmelit (refers to an area that is not of either of the first two categories) - Has minimum dimensions of FOUR Tefachim (fingerbreadths) by FOUR Tefachim.
4)Mekom Petur (exempt area) - Not in the above three categories being that its width is less than four Tefachim.

The tenth and final chapter of this tractate is named HaMotzei Tefillin, named after the beginning words of this chapter, which means "One who finds phylacteries".  As we know Tefillin is most connected with the number FOUR. for both Tefillin of the arm and head consists of boxes that are perfectly square, which consists of FOUR sides/corners, each consisting of FOUR Parshiyot (sections) of the Torah that are written on parchment.  In this particular context, one who finds old Tefillin in a field on Shabbat, considering the fact that this is an area where it is forbidden to carry on Shabbat, but are in danger of being destroyed or desecrated, though normally, one is forbidden to wear Tefillin in Shabbat, in this instance, according to one opinion, he wears one pair (for arm and head) at a time, bringing each one to a house in the city.  Now, the Hebrew word for pair is Zug, and in this Mishna, the wording is Zug Zug (pair by pair), and the word Zug is the Gematria of 16, of which the square root is FOUR.  The other opinion, which is Rabban Gamliel, holds that two of each kind of Tefillin are worn for this purpose, as there is technically room for two of each on the arm and head.  Now, the Hebrew word for two as used in this Mishna is Shenayim, being used here as the wording Shenayim Shenayim (two by two), aside from the fact that a total of FOUR different Tefillin boxes are being worn, the word Shenayim is the Gematria of 400, a multiple of FOUR (times 100).

Having said this, in this 13th cycle of Daf Yomi, and noting the conclusion of Tractate Eruvin on the 13th of Tammuz, the one Daf in the entire Babylonian Talmud which is entirely about the subject of Tefillin which is most connected with the number FOUR - Eruvin 96, whose number - which is also the number of Mishnayot in this tractate - is a multiple of FOUR, was learned worldwide on the FOURTH day of the month of Tammuz, which is the FOURTH of the Jewish months (counting from Nissan, the month of the birth of the Jewish nation with the Exodus)!  And if this was not enough, the FOURTH day of the FOURTH month marks the Yahrzeit of Rabbeinu Tam (Rabbi Yaakov Ben Meir) in 4931 (1171), grandson of Rashi, among the ones who compiled the Tosfos commentary on the Gemara, and one of the foremost Halachic decision makers in his day.  But one thing that he is famous for is his opinion pertaining to the order of the Parshiyot in the Tefillin, holding that the second paragraph of the Shema comes before the first paragraph of the Shema; unlike the opinion of his grandfather Rashi who holds that the Parshiyot are arranged strictly according to their order in the Torah.  Now, according to Halacha, we cannot fulfill the Mitzva of Tefillin unless we wear it according to the opinion of Rashi.  However, many pious Jews, including all Hasidim, as well as some Sephardim, wear another set of Tefillin that follows the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam, hence wearing a total of FOUR boxes of Tefillin daily.  And as for Rabbeinu Tam's title, which is based on the description of his namesake Yaakov Avinu who is described as "a man of simplicity (TAM), who would sit in tents (referring to his diligence in studying Torah)" both words in the title of Rabbeinu Tam are the Gematria of multiples of FOUR (Rabbeinu: 67*4=268, Tam: 110*4=440).

While we are on this subject, I should note that while one may get the impression from Halacha that one wears the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam only to make sure that one fulfills the Mitzva of Tefillin just in case Rabbeinu Tam is correct (seeming to imply that perhaps Rashi's Tefillin may not be the correct way even though it is clear in Halacha that one cannot fulfill the Mitzva of Tefillin wearing Rabbeinu Tam's Tefillin alone but rather Rashi's Tefillin), the truth is that Eilu V'Eilu Divrei Elokim Chayim "Both these and these are the words of the Living G-d", and there are Kabbalistic reasons for wearing both kinds of Tefillin, and is mentioned by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov as "hastening the Redemption".  In fact, there is a Sefer (Jewish holy book) called Sa'alot U'Teshuvot Min HaShamayim "Questions and answers from Heaven", pertaining to
Halachic issues that were asked from Heaven as to the correct ruling using some Kabbalistic means of finding out, even though in fact, we are supposed to follow the decision of the rabbis in this world, since Hashem left it to the Torah scholars to make these decisions since the Torah was given.  In any case, the question was asked as to what is the correct Tefillin - Rashi or Rabbeinu Tam.  The answer given - as Hashem, so to speak, decides - is the Tefillin according to Rabbeinu Tam; however, it is Hashem's wish that we fulfill the Mitzva according to the decision of the rabbis.  So, the bottom line here is that while we DEFINITELY fulfill the Mitzva of wearing Tefillin as per the opinion of Rashi, wearing the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam afterwards is fulfilling our inner spirituality as reflected by Hashem's OWN decision, which is ultimately on a greater spiritual level than the Tefillin as worn according to the opinion of Rashi; and as mentioned in reference to putting on the arm Tefillin first and then the head Tefillin which is holier, since "we go up, and not down, in holiness", so too, we wear the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam after the basic Tefillin of Rashi since (the spiritual source of) the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam is in fact holier, and NOT that we wear two types of Tefillin "since only one of them is correct, so we wear both to be on the safe side".

Now, one more thing about Tefillin, particularly the head Tefillin.  We see on this Tefillin that on the right side of it (that is, on the right side of the person wearing the Tefillin), there is a three-headed letter Shin - the usual shape of a Shin - embossed on it, and there is a four-headed Shin embossed on the left side of the Tefillin.  Now, Kabbalistically, the male corresponds to the right side, which represents Chesed (Kindness), while the female corresponds to the left side, which represents Din (Strictness).  While I won't be getting into this today, as per what I wrote earlier pertaining to the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, there are three Avot and four Imahot.  And with this said, only men have the Mitzva of wearing Tefillin, and not women, since women themselves emboss the concept of what they are called - the Bayit (house), the name of the boxes of Tefillin, and as I mentioned earlier, the Bayit of the Tefillin has FOUR sides/corners, and the Jewish woman who is the Bayit is represented by the first FOUR Imahot, Jewish mothers.

Having mentioned earlier being in the midst of the 13th cycle of Daf Yomi, the number 13 is related to both the concept of the father - and the mother.  You see, there are 13 Divine Attributes of Mercy (Yud Gimmel Middot HaRachamim), which are recited especially in the Selichot prayers, praying to Hashem to forgive us in His mercy for us.  In other prayers, we address Hashem as for examples, Avinu Av HaRachaman "Our Father, the Merciful Father" in the blessing immediately preceding the Shema in the morning, and Av HaRachamim "Father of Mercy", the opening words of the prayer that Ashkenazic Jews recite before the Mussaf prayer on Shabbat and following Yizkor, asking Hashem to have mercy on us in merit of the Jews who died for the sanctification of Hashem's name from the hands of the murderous Anti-Semites.  And as pertaining to the mother, the womb is Hebrew is called Rechem, having the same letters in order as the root word for mercy, such as the beginning word of the third blessing of Bircat HaMazon (Grace after Meals) and the beginning word of the second blessing following the recital of the Haftara (selected portion of the Nevi'im (Prophets) part of the Tanach following the reading of the Torah on Shabbat mornings and Jewish holidays) -  Racheim (Have mercy).

Now, the word Racheim has the same letters as the Hebrew number 248, and there are 248 Positive/Active Mitzvot (Commandments), which are related particularly to the Sephira of Chesed, which in turn is most related to the icon of Chesed - Abraham, FIRST OF THE AVOT, whose name is the Gematria of 248, and both this number, as well as the Gematria of the word Chesed - 72, are multiples of the number FOUR.  And as per the 13 Divine Attributes of Mercy, perhaps the greatest visual example of what a parent can do for a child showing mercy for one's child, especially if a baby, despite the mess, is cleaning up the baby after making a mess in the diapers, illustrating the concept of the 13th and final Divine Attribute of Mercy - V'Nakeh "He cleanses", the context of Hashem cleaning us from our sins.

Now, if you add the numbers one and three in the number 13, the total is FOUR, the Gematria of the word Abba, the word that is used in today's Hebrew for father.  However, looking in the Bible, particularly in the story of Abraham bringing his son Isaac to the future Temple grounds to offer him up on the altar, we see that Isaac addresses Abraham as Avi "my father", this word being the Gematria of 13 (Note: This exact Hebrew word is commonly used as a nickname for the name Avraham).

And as for Isaac himself, the Gematria of his Hebrew name Yitzchak - 208, or FOUR times 52, noting that the word Ben (son) has the same letters as the Hebrew number for 52, for he was the first son/child in the world born to Jewish parents, as well as being the first to have his Brit Mila (circumcision) at the age of eight days according to Hashem's commandment, and the Gematria of the common word used for circumcision - Brit (covenant) -  612, is a multiple of FOUR.  And, dividing the Gematria of the word Ben itself as THIRTEEN times FOUR, this further illustrates the concept of a parent's mercies for one's child, as Tehillim (Psalms) states K'Racheim Av Al Banim "Just as a father's compassion for his children..."

Moreover, Yitzchak's name consists of FOUR letters.  And while almost every other Hebrew name consists of four letters, Rashi notes the significance of each of the four letters of his name -  YUD=10 - number of tests that Hashem gave to Avraham (culminatinating with Avraham offering Yitzchak on the altar), TZADI=90 - age of Sara when she gave birth to him, CHEIT=8 - as per his circumcision on his 8th day, KOOF=100 - age of Avraham when he was born.  And mind you, usually Rashi sticks to the simple meaning of the verse without these types of Gematriot or number interpretations, but it seems that this was in honor of his own FATHER whose name was Yitzchak; just as we see in the very first Rashi on the Torah in which he immediately begins mentioning a Rabbi Yitzchak from the Midrash.

Now, getting back to the study of the conclusion of the Talmudic tractate of Eruvin on today's date 13 Tammuz, the very ending of this tractate is about a Halachic decision from Rabbi Shimon, my namesake.  And lo and behold, the Gematria of this date - 13 Tammuz (Tammuz=453) - is 466, the same Gematria as the name Shimon!

And how can I forget about the name of this tractate - Eruvin?  You see, the Gematria of Eruvin is a multiple of the numbers THREE and FOUR.  Now, the tractate Eruvin in the Babylonian Talmud is the THIRD such tractate, which focuses on concepts - especially in the beginning and the end, as related to the number FOUR, encompassing both the concepts of the Gematriot of Av=3 in Hebrew and Abba=4 in Aramaic, as well as the number three representing the Avot and the number four representing the Imahot.

With this, we will now begin to connect this with the next Talmudic tractate Pesachim, the FOURTH tractate in the Babylonian Talmud.  But first, as per Yitzchak, the hero of this post, he is the SECOND of the Avot, and the word Shenayim, which means TWO, is the Gematria of 400, and as mentioned, there were exactly 400 years from the birth of Yitzchak on the 15th of Nissan, 2048 until the Exodus on the 15th of Nissan, 2448.

Next, as per the names of the first holiday for the Jews, both the Gematriot of the names Pesach (Passover)=148 and Chag HaMatzot (Holiday of Matzot)=552 each are multiples of FOUR.

On an elementary level, we know that this holiday is very associated with the number four, as we see in the Hagaddah that there are FOUR cups of wine, which in turn correspond to the FOUR terminologies of redemption that Hashem mentioned in the beginning of Parshat Vaeira, the 14th Parsha of the Torah, just as tractate Pesachim is the 14th tractate of the Mishna and begins with Ohr L'Arba'ah Asar "On the night of the 14th (of Nissan)"; FOUR questions in the Mah Nishtana, FOUR types of sons that correspond to the FOUR mentions of the word Baruch (Blessed)=228, whose Gematria is a multiple of FOUR (as well as the fact that the Gematria of the singular word for son - Ben=52 is a multiple of FOUR) the three Matzot becoming FOUR so to speak when the middle of the three Matzot is split into two in the FOURTH step of the Hagaddah called Yachatz, and the Gematria of this word - 108, is a multiple of FOUR.  Moreover, the Gematria of the word Matzot itself - 536, is a multple of FOUR.  And before I forget, the Gematria of the phrase Korban Pesach (Pascal Offering)=500, naming among the most important parts of the Seder in the times of the Beit HaMikdash, is a multiple of FOUR.  And the Gematria of the word Seder itself - 264, is also a multiple of FOUR.

Having mentioned above that the word Yachatz, the FOURTH step of the Seder, is the Gematria of 108 and a multiple of FOUR, there is a most famous and popular tractate of the Mishna that contains 108 Mishnayot (includes six chapters, the last chapter not actually part of the Mishna but from what is called Baraita, teachings similar to the Mishnayot that weren't included in the Mishna proper) - Avot (which literally means fathers) or sometimes called Pirkei Avot "Ethics of the Fathers", which is part of the FOURTH volume of the Mishna, even though this is the sole tractate of the Mishna that consists of non-Halachic material, and doesn't seem to be directly related to the theme of this volume which is called Nezikin (Damages).  But what we do see are the beginning words of this volume (beginning tractate Bava Kama) - Arba'ah Avot Nezikin "There are FOUR categories of damages", using particularly the word AVOT referring to categories.

And let me not forget about the Tefillin, part of the name and one of the topics of the last chapter of Tractate Eruvin, as it relates to Passover.  While it is very associated with the Exodus of Passover, most Jews do not wear Tefillin during the week long holiday.  In fact, the first two of the four Parshiyot in the parchment of the Tefillin, comes from the end (the seventh Aliyah) of Parshat Bo, the 15th Parsha of the Torah, just as at the end of the Talmudic tractate of Eruvin, in the chapter that is named after the Tefillin, Rabbi Shimon mentions that even if one is 15 Amot away from the city's Techum boundary, he may enter it on Shabbat, aside from the 15 steps of the Hagaddah and the list of the 15 kindnesses that Hashem did for the Jewish people, beginning with the Exodus that took place on the 15th of the month that is called Aviv (spring) which is the Gemaria of 15, and is a composite of the words/letters Av Yud-Beit "FATHER of 12", for this month that we now call Nissan is the first of the 12 months of the Jewish calendar.

Anyways, in these two sections of the Tefillin, consisting of 16 verses, bearing in mind that the square root of this number is FOUR, it makes mention of the Exodus as well as a few related Mitzvot, including eating Matzot on Passover - having already relating the Gematria of Matzot as a multiple of FOUR, and telling the story of the Exodus on the first night of Passover, which is based on the verse V'Higadta L'Vincha "You shall tell your children", being that the primary part of this Mitzva is for the father to tell the story of the Exodus to one's childen, bearing in mind that the Gematria of the word Abba (father) is FOUR.  In fact, it is from this very source that the word Hagadda being used for the official text for the Seder is derived from.

And as for the other two Parshiyot of the Tefillin, let us focus on the first verse of the Shema, in which the last letter of the first word Shema - Ayin and the last letter of the last word Echad=13 - Dalet, are spelled bigger than usual in the Sefer Torah.  Now, the four Parshiyot are both in the arm Tefillin and the head Tefillin.  Hence, taking these two letters - Ayin and Dalet, spelling the Hebrew number 74 and multiplying these by two, the total amount is the same Gematria as the word Pesach - 148.  (The same thing can be worked out in terms of saying the Shema twice a day).

In conclusion, one more way to remember the theme(s) of this 180th post, is that the number of this post - 180, bearing in mind that this number marks the amount of years that Yitzchak lived in this world, is that this number is also a multiple of FOUR.

Stay tuned shortly for my following post, which will focus on the beginning of Tractate Pesachim, the FOURTH tractate of the Babylonian Talmud.

13 Tammuz, 5773

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