Wednesday, July 24, 2013

#185 - Holy Vacation

Got a little confused at first looking at the title thinking that it reads Holy Vatican?  Actually, the part of the Vatican that is really holy are the stolen objects from the Second Temple that the Romans stole, and even though of course the Catholics are presumed to be the strictest when it comes to the Christian religion, when it comes to the commandments in the Bible "Thou shall not steal" and "He shall return the stolen item that he stole", well, that is another story.

But, for whatever else is taking place in the Northern Hemisphere, it is summer time, and people celebrate it in various ways.  While for the more affluent, this means flying out of town to exotic places, the more down-to-earth folks will hang out in town, including food places - cafes, coffee places, and pizza restaurants.

For those of you who know Hebrew, you may have noticed an interesting phenomenon.  It starts with the Hebrew number 185, which is the number of this post.  You see, this number using the letters - Kuf, Pei/Phei, Hei - also spells two popular words in Hebrew - cafe and coffee.  After all, Modern Hebrew is full of words that resemble English words, aside from like half of the shopping places in Israel which are named in English.

And as for pizza, since this was a word that was not part of the early Hebrew jargon or lexicon, it is also spelled in Hebrew the same way that it is pronounced in English.  But here is an interesting factoid - the Gematria of this word is the same as the words cafe and coffee - 185.

Coincidence?  And even if one were to say that there is a heavenly message pertaining to these three Hebrew words having the same Gematria, could it be that there is a message pertaining to this number 185 in particular?

I will get back to answering this after a little bite - I mean, after a little bit.  But seriously, there is something serious here that I have to write about first.

Actually, there are quite a few serious issues. But in order to tell you what they are, I have to note today's date - 18 Av.  You see, as mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) as per a list of suggested fast days on which major tragedies occurred to the Jewish people (Orach Chaim 580), it was on this date that the "western lamp" of the Menorah (it actually refers to the middle lamp), which normally used to miraculously be lit longer than the other lamps, became extinguished in the days of Ahaz.  There is a version that states that this happened on the 17th of Av.

Now, the key to why this happened is "in the days of Ahaz".  You see, Ahaz, one of the kings of Judea, was among the most wicked kings of Judea.  It wasn't bad enough that he was one of those kings who worshiped idols, but saw to it that idols were all over the place, that is, even in his Sefer Torah (Torah scroll) that he inherited from his righteous father Yotham.  You see, at every place in the Torah that Hashem's name is mentioned, he had erased and replaced with the name of one of the most popular idols of his day, the Ba'al. However, his evil didn't stop here.  Knowing that the future of Judaism is dependent on the little ones, he ordered all the Yeshiva day schools for children to be shut down, not wishing that a religion not allowing his Ba'al idol into the picture be practiced anymore by the time that the next generation would grow up.  And so, the main light of the Menorah in the Temple that represents both Hashem's presence and the Torah became extinguished, because how could Hashem, so to speak, be comfortable in His home when His people were being trained not to follow Him or His Torah?  Finally, after 16 years of spiritual damage, he died, and his righteous son Hezekiah, who well reversed the spiritual situation of the Jewish people to the extent that even little school children were well versed in the complex laws of purity and impurity, publicly dragged his dead father at the funeral to show contempt for his father's evil deeds.

Now, let's turn to the year 5689 (1929) in Hebron, Israel.  It was at a time that Jews and Arabs lived side by side.  In fact, the Jews living there thought that the Arabs, who seemed to behave quite nicely to them, were like best friends.  But on the 17th of Av, Erev Shabbat Parshat Eikev, they were quite surprised when they saw some of these very Arabs were the very ones going around from home to home murdering Jews, quickly learning that the friendship of these Arabs was only a facade to hide their true intentions which they acted upon that day.  The bloodshed continued into Shabbat, the 18th of Av; and from the Hebron massacre, there were a total of 67 Jews murdered by these lowlifes.  It seemed to be most ironic that particularly on Shabbat on the date of the 18th of this month, this number in Hebrew being Chai (life), that this took place.

So as you can see here, two major tragedies or sad events happened on the same day(s), smack in the middle of when even the Ultra-Orthodox, or most observant Jews, especially in Israel, take off from the official Yeshiva studies from Tisha B'Av until three weeks later on Rosh Chodesh Elul.  And while tragedies to Jews during the course of a few thousand years have happened virtually on every calendar day, there are some that stand out above the others.  And the fact that the Shulchan Aruch mentions specific ones among the many more tragic ones shows that these particular events were not only lessons for the generation in which they happened, but for all future generations to learn something from them to become better Jews.

And as far as what happened in Hebron, though there were many more tragic events that happened to Jews involving many more of them being murdered, making the number 67 seem pale in significance, the circumstances in which the massacre occurred highlights how tragic this was.  For after this, Hebron, the second holiest city in the world, the town in which Abraham the first Jew spent a significant percent of his life living in, and the Mearat Hamachpela, resting place of our Avot (Patriarchs) and Imahot (Matriarchs), became desolate until the Six Day War in 5727 (1967) when we captured Hebron and the resting place once more.  Of course, thanks to Prime Monster Bibi Netanyahu and others, 97% of Hebron and a significant percentage of the resting place is under the dominance of the Moslem Arabs, who were quick this year to vandalize Jewish objects at the Mearat HaMachpela on the first Friday of this present Ramadan month that they had the place to themselves with forbidden access to Jews; and of course, as you can guess, they weren't penalized by our Pro-Arab/Anti-Jewish Israeli government for this; nay, the continued ignoring of these type of activities by this evil government if anything encourages them to continue these type of activities.

You see, the Knesset, the main body of this government, was busy focusing on its anti-Jewish side lately, between reducing the amount of money that it will be giving to Yeshivot, regardless of religious level; and now, the enacting of what is called the Haredi draft law, which basically states that the Ultra-Orthodox young guys learning in Yeshiva must draft in the army, or will be severely penalized.  Of course, if the IDF (Israeli army) heads wouldn't order its soldiers to evict Jews from homes, run away from Arab boys throwing stones at them, shoot in the air instead of at the Arab attackers until the latter start attacking, have females sing in public - a big no-no in Jewish law; then perhaps, the government who gives the orders to the IDF heads, would have a point in wanting everyone possible to join an army that will truly fight its enemies and respect Jewish religion.  But of course, with its already double standards of helping Arabs while hurting Jews, this type of logic, or rather, illogic, is nothing new.  So, this government is not blunt about stamping out religion as was King Ahaz, but it is sure cleverer than him.

The truth is, if the Knesset members who just voted for the young Torah learning students were a little more clever, they would realize that attempting to force these ones to join an army that they don't believe in joining would cause less of them to join.  You see, at this time, there are a couple thousand of young Ultra-Orthodox ones who willingly joined the army.  However, with the call from the rabbis of their camp to not follow the orders of this anti-Torah edict, even the ones who would have willingly joined on their own will now not join.  Actually, to come to think of it, the purpose of this edict is not to get more people to join an army that is not seriously fighting our enemies anyways, but to discourage Torah learning from the young ones by penalizing them if they don't join the army, because these evil Knesset members, headed by the anti-religious Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party, already know that the Ultra-Orthodox have already publicly demonstrated, and will continue doing so, until the Knesset is forced to back off interfering with Torah learning students, some of whom will be the leading rabbis of the next generation.  The only question is, what is the price that the Knesset will be willing to pay before it realizes that in fact, it is fighting Hashem, Who will be certain to give the Knesset warning signals until the Torah - via being learned from these students, and has been the main force in protecting Jews in Israel from rocket attacks and all which will NEVER be recognized by the evil people in the Knesset claiming that only the joke army can protect Jews - will reign supreme once again without being threatened of its books being shut.

With this said, let us get back to the number of this post - 185, the Gematria of the words in Hebrew - cafe, coffee, and pizza, pleasure foods that didn't always exist a nice few thousand years ago.  In any case, a good Jew is one who follows Halacha (Jewish law), and so, let us turn to another chapter within the same part of the Shulchan Aruch, the Orach Chaim "Path of Life" section that deals with daily life from prayers to eating to Shabbat and holidays - Chapter 185.   This chapter deals with some laws pertaining to Bircat HaMazon (Grace after Meals),  which is a Mitzva which is mentioned in this very week's Parshat Eikev, in the last verse of the first Aliyah  "You shall eat, be satisfied, and bless Hashem your G-d for the good land that He has given you".  Anyways, it is on this very chapter that the Chofetz Chaim in his Mishna Berura commentary quotes the Sefer HaChinuch (one of the book with details on the 613 Commandments): Whoever  is careful with Bircat HaMazon, will have his food available to him for all his life in dignity.  One who is careful about this Mitzva should see to it that he recites it from a book, rather than by heart.  Next, the Mishna Berura quotes the ethical book Sefer Chasidim: The story is told of one who died and came in a dream to a relative, telling him that every day, the Heavenly Tribunal judges him for not being careful to recite all the blessings with concentration.

True, vacation is an opportunity for many to recharge even their spiritual batteries.  However, the vacation that we take is temporary both in its immediate form being that it is of limited time until we have to get back to work and school, and in terms of our ultimate eternal life which will be a vacation for us, so to speak, if we worked properly in serving Hashem, which includes focusing our thoughts on how we relate to him.  For many, the fresh delicious smell of pizza coming straight from the oven when having an empty stomach may distract him from everything else (perhaps he needs to be mindful of his wallet when paying for the pizza), and while one will automatically say the blessing on it before eating because he has been well trained to say blessings before eating, thinking of the meaning of the blessing on this pizza may be a bit challenging.

And of course, a vacation for a good Jew is not complete without learning some Torah each day.  The truth is, taking time off from work (when allowed by the boss if an employee) to learn Torah may be a sort of relaxation, which is the purpose of vacation to begin with; but when we take a physical vacation, it is harder for some to focus on their spiritual activities, unless their mindset to begin with is in order to be more refreshed in serving Hashem, or is out with one's family so his children especially can have some fun at the children's games.  But in our own adult lives, not focusing on our purpose is in essence playing children's games.  So the next you have a coffee with your meal or having a good time with friends at the cafe, remember the Hebrew word for coffee or cafe, and then since this word is also the number 185 in Hebrew, it will lead you to think of Chapter 185 of the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim which consists of laws about the Mitzva of Bircat HaMazon, whose purpose is for us to constantly have gratitude and thank Hashem for the food that He constantly feeds us.

18 Av, 5773


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

#184 - Daf Yomi: ONE Year Later

Tu B'Av, popularly known as the Jewish holiday of love, has just passed.  Along with the various reasons why this is a day of happiness for the Jewish people, is mentioned that we began learning more Torah at nights being that around this time, the nights start becoming longer.

Exactly one year ago, this point became highlighted with the commencement of the 13th cycle of Daf Yomi of the Babylonian Talmud.   And as night is associated with physical darkness, it is mentioned in two places in this Talmud, in tractates Sanhedrin and Avoda Zara, that the verse "He (Hashem) has placed me in darkness" refers specifically to the teachings of the Babylonian Talmud.   Anyways, for fascinating information on this subject about Daf Yomi, especially as per the timing of the beginning of this 13th cycle, you can read more about this in my 150th post (Aug '12).

Last year on Tu B'Av, the Daf Yomi was Berachot 2.  On Tu B'Av of this year, the Daf Yomi was Pesachim 32.  Kind of wondered.  Is there any connection between these two particular pages of the Talmud?

Well, being quite familiar with Berachot 2, since after all, it is the first page of the Talmud, I focused my concentration on Pesachim 32.  Well, believe it or not, there is a connection between these two Talmudic pages - the subject of Teruma, or Terumot in plural, which is loosely translated as "heave offerings", referring to the 1/50 portion of one's crops given to the Cohen; the detailed laws of this mentioned for the most part in the Mishnaic tractate Terumot, the sixth tractate of Seder Zeraim ("Seeds"), the first of the six volumes of the Mishna.

Well first, in Berachot 2, in the very beginning of the Talmud,  it starts off with the Mishna asking "From when does the obligation of reading the Shema of the evening begin? From the time that the Cohanim enter (into a state of purity) to eat their Teruma."  The context of this answer is that these Cohanim were in some state of impurity from which they were able to be purified from by dipping in the Mikva (ritularium) before sunset; however, they must wait until it is definitely night, which begins the next day according to Halacha (Jewish law), before eating their Teruma, which is considered holy for Cohanim, and hence, must be eaten only in a state of purity.

Now, in Pesachim 32, it is based on the Mishna that is located on the bottom of Pesachim 31b: "One (a non-Cohen) who ate inadvertantly Teruma of Chametz (leaven) on Passover (not knowing of the prohibition of a non-Cohen eating Teruma, or not knowing that it was Teruma, even if he willfully ate it as Chametz), pays back the principal plus 1/5.  However, if he willfully ate the Teruma (even if he ate it inadvertently as Chametz), he is exempt from even paying back the principal, or even the value of firewood (which one is permitted to benefit from in a case where the Teruma contacted impurity and hence forbidden to be eaten but permitted to be benefited from in this manner)."

The Talmud, in explanation of this Mishna, immediately begins pertaining to the subject of making restitution by quoting a Mishna in Tractate Terumot (6:1): "One who inadvertantly ate Teruma, pays back the principal plus 1/5.  Regardless if he ate it, drank it, (beginning of Pesachim 32), annointed himself with it, whether it was in a state of impurity or purity, even the 1/5 is paid, and if he consumed this 1/5, then addition to paying this additional 1/5, he now pays back a 1/5 of a 1/5 in addition."

Following this, the Gemara goes into a long discussion in an attempt to answer the question as to whether one pays back the Cohen for the eaten Teruma with an equal amount of produce, or with the same value of the amount that he ate.  After a nice half Daf (or Amud) of this discussion, it goes into a new discussion of the differences between one who inadvertently ate a Kezayit (olive size amount) of Terumah which requires him to pay both the principal plus 1/5, and one who inadvertently ate less than a Kezayit of Terumah which requires him to pay just the principal.

Now, let us focus on the immediate subject of the above Mishna in Tractate Pesachim.  The first thing that some may have noticed here is that while the nice guy who just ate a sandwich for lunch as he usually does has to not only pay back what he ate, but also a punitive amount; the guy who willfully transgressed the Torah knowing full well that he was eating something that only a Cohen is allowed to eat doesn't pay back anything.  Now the truth is, if this Terumah wasn't Chametz on Passover, he would pay back the Cohen - only the value of the Terumah as any thief is supposed to for a stolen item.   However, being that it is Chametz on Passover, it has no Halachic value; and hence, he is exempt from paying back anything for his free lunch (until he pays bitterly for this in Purgatory, unless he sincerely repents).  If this is the case, then one could ask "Then how come the guy who ate it accidentally has to pay for it and more if in fact, it has no Halachic value?"

True, it has no Halachic value; however, it still has holy value, howbeit not as food that can be eaten even by Cohanim during Passover.  And hence, the poor guy, though he meant no harm, has to pay back even a punitive amount, which serves as an atonement for him for misappropriation of a holy item.  However, for one who willfully violates the status of a holy item, such an atonement is too mild for him, especially since he obviously doesn't care about the Torah or holy items anyways.  This is in essence no different than the obligation of bringing a sin-offering for one who committed certain sins unintentionally; but for one who blatantly, knowing that what he is doing is a sin, a rebellion against Hashem and the Torah, will have no remorse for his sin, at least at this time; and hence, all the animal sacrifices won't help one who is quite sick spiritually.

For anything to be atonement or spiritual cleansing for one, he has to first let go of the sin to attain the required spiritual medicine to be well again.  The typical example given for this is the one who goes to the Mikva to be ritually pure of the impurity of touching a creeping creature (particularly applicable in the times of the Temple when it came to issues of eating something holy or entering the Temple).  However, the process of being ritually pure will only work if he first lets go of the creeping creature, because as long as he is still holding it, the Mikva won't do any good for him.

Having said this, let us now turn to the opening Mishna of Tractate Berachot.  If one will notice, though there seems to be three opinions pertaining to the time of saying the Shema of the evening; in fact, there is actually one answer given as to "From when does the obligation of reading the Shema in the evening begin?"  And while one would think that one would give a standard of time via nature, that is, from when three medium sized stars appear (Tzeit HaCochavim), which is definitely nightfall, the answer is given specifically in terms of when the previously impure Cohanim who went to the Mikva are now able to eat their Terumah.  Perhaps the inner meaning of this is that we need to put ourselves in the same frame of mind saying the Shema, with the acceptance of the yoke of heaven, which in Hebrew is called Ohl Malchut Shamayim, the first letters of these three words spelling the word Shema backwards - in the same way that the Cohanim, even though they specifically are entitled to eat Terumah, have to spiritually prepare themselves to be cleansed from any impurity, in order to eat this sacred food.  For although this is merely food and not what we normally call a holy object even if just used for what is really a holy object, such as the standing post in the middle of the synagogue used to read the Sefer Torah (Torah scroll) on it, and in fact, not even an animal that we officially declared holy in order to place holiness on it for a sacrifice, the fact that it was separated from other food to be given specifically to a Cohen, who is the top class of representative of the Jewish people serving Hashem in the Temple, the Cohen must be sure that he eats this food only in a state of purity, and hence, will put himself in a proper state of mind knowing that what he is eating is holy, and will be careful about his own pure status.  Similarly, one who is ready to recite the Shema needs to be aware of the presence of Hashem along with accepting His will of the King, and not merely recite words that may sound more like a mantra after a while without thinking of what he is saying.  In fact, according to Halacha, one who does not have concentration for this first Shema verse (as well as the added sentence of Baruch Shem "Blessed is the Name"), does not fulfill his obligation of reading the Shema.  And by the way, the one who gives the answer in the Mishna about the Cohanim eating Teruma is Rabbi Eliezer, who was a Cohen.

And while on the subject of the Shema and Cohanim, let me write here a parable given by the Chofetz Chaim, who was a most worthy Cohen, about the subject of reading the Shema.  Once, a boss of a business was about to go on a trip, and gave a letter with instructions to the manager to read to all the employees everyday before beginning work.  And the manager did just that - he read the same letter every morning, following which, it was more like coffee break for everyone, and the merchandise was not being handled properly meant for customers.  When the boss returned, he saw how his business was turned to virtual shambles, and promptly asked the manager if he followed his instructions.  "Sure I did", the manager replied.  "I made sure to read that letter every morning before work commenced."  "You utter fool", the boss screamed, "Do you think that I meant for you to read that letter as a mere story?!  The whole purpose of that letter was for the employees to understand what their assignments were to maintain a steady flow of business.  Now, my merchandise is all a mess, orders were not handled properly, and only G-d knows how many customers were lost to me.  Mere words themselves can't accomplish anything, they have to be followed up by enforcement of these words!"   And this is the same lesson that we have to learn about the Shema.  True, there is a specific Mitzva to read the Shema twice daily.  However, the whole point is to pay attention to the Mitzvot that are mentioned in the Shema, in order that we will know exactly what Hashem, the King of kings, wants from us.

We must always remember that as Hashem's nation, though most of us may not be Cohanim, we in essence have to serve Hashem, whether at the synagogue, the home, or work, bearing in mind that we are in Hashem's place wherever we go, and have the same basic devotion to Him as did the Cohanim in the Temple, as well as outside the Temple, even when it came to food given to them by friends as Terumah without the official declaration of holiness.  For in fact, shortly before Hashem gave us the Torah,  He called us a Mamlechet Cohanim V'Goy Kadosh "A kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6).

As I conclude, one will ask, this was all nice, remembering the one year anniversary of the start of the 13th cycle of Daf Yomi.  But what does this have to do with Gematriot?  Oh yes, a way to remember the contents of this post, but look at the number of this post - 184.  Dissect this number into two parts - One (1) and Eighty-Four (84).  You see, the word Daf (folio, or double sided page), has the same letters as the Hebrew number for 84 - Pei and Dalet.  And in this post, I marked the ONE year anniversary of the start of the 13th cycle of Daf Yomi.  This is aside from the fact that the word Echad, which means ONE, as well as the concluding word of the FIRST verse of the Shema, is the Gematria of 13.

Daf Yomi - ONE YEAR LATER, Jews worldwide learned about the subject of Terumah on Tu B'Av as they did the year before on Tu B'Av, howbeit different teachings about it; however, the lessons that we can learn about Terumah are the same regardless of the Daf page of whatever tractate, for after all, the Talmud is not merely an academic study, but a way of life, always teaching us something about living as a proper Jew.

And as an added bonus, let us add up the number of the Gematria of the word Terumah - 651; that is, 6+5+1=12, and noting the one year anniversary, adding the one makes the total to be 13.

This reminds me of a story in the Talmud, and with this, I will conclude this post.  As recounted in Shabbat 33, learned in this past year in the course of Daf Yomi, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, author of the teachings of the Zohar, was sought by the Roman government to execute him for anti-Roman statements, disparaging the government.  Fleeing for his life, he hid in a cave along with his son Rabbi Elazar for 12 years, all the while learning Torah together.  After hearing from Elijah the Prophet that their lives were no longer in danger, they left the cave.  However, being that they had learned Torah away from everyone else and materialism, their stare at people not learning Torah harmed them.  At this, a Heavenly voice rang out, calling out to Rabbi Shimon and his son "Is this why I let you out here?  Return to the cave!" And so, they remained in the cave for one more year, following which, Rabbi Shimon at least got the point, and helped his son do the same, having a more favorable eye towards others, regardless of their mundane activities.

You see, it was that 13th year being in the cave, though ironically, didn't help them interact with the world per se anymore than the first 12 years who didn't hide themselves to get away from people, but merely from danger, that made the proper change to get them back to deal with society.  For the number 13 represents Hashem's 13 Divine Attributes of Mercy, which is helpful even for a sinner, giving him a chance to repent.
And hence, if Hashem, the King of kings, tolerates the sinner at least for a while, knowing full well whether the sinner will even repent, then we can learn from Him how to tolerate others, even if they don't have the same exact same viewpoints or way of life as we do, even if we know full well that we are living a true Torah way of life, while others could hardly care about what a Torah life is about.  If anything, we are supposed to reach out to other to help them attain at least something of the spiritual goals that we aspire for ourselves in the spirit of Ahava (love), this word being the Gematria of 13.  And then, we can hope for true Achdut (unity), which is based on the word Echad.

16 Av, 5773

P.S.  Just discovered a website where people can load up their information about their blogposts.  Most interesting, I wrote this post, focusing especially on the number 13, and uploading my information about my Gematriot blogpost, I am presently listed as #13.  Coincidence?  I don't know for non-Jews, but for Jews, the number 13 is a very good lucky number.  After all, is it also the Gematria of Ahava (Love).  Can't go wrong with this!


Friday, July 19, 2013

#183 - One at the End

While the title of this post may not necessarily be reflected by the number of this post -183 - as in fact, this number does not end with the number one, we will see the meaning of this subject title a little later on here.

But first, there is a paradox that we experience annually during the week of Parshat VaEtchanan.  Every year, the grand sad day of the Jewish calenadar - Tisha B'Av - is observed during this week, even if the technical date of Tisha B'Av - 9 Av - falls out on Shabbat on which we read Parshat Devarim, as we are forbidden to fast on Shabbat (unless it is Yom Kippur), and so, we fast on the following day instead, as was observed last year.  You see, we experience a spiritual low on Tisha B'Av, as sadness is usually an impediment to serving Hashem, especially as explained in detail in the teachings of Breslov Chasidus by Rabbi Nachman; however, in order to properly serve Hashem the rest of the year, we have to feel the absence of the Beit HaMikdash (Temple), which began being burnt by our enemies twice on this very date, as well as understand the reasons that led to this, in order that we learn not to repeat our past mistakes. 

Following this, we read in the Parsha in the upcoming Shabbat about the greatest aspects of Jewish observance and spirituality - The Ten Commandments that are similar to the original wording in Parshat Yitro, and the first paragraph of the Shema, both of which contain some of the greatest Mitzvot (Commandments) of the Torah, including the very Mitzva of learning/teaching Torah.  Moreover, this Shabbat is always dubbed as Shabbat Nachamu, based on the first words of the Haftara (selected reading from the Prophets that is usually similar in nature to the Parsha that was just read in the synagogue) - Nachamu Nachamu "Be comforted, be comforted, O My people, says your G-d", this first word being repeated, representing the aspects of both being similar to an oath in which a repetition assures that it will be fulfilled, especially as coming from Hashem; as well as denoting that not only we will no longer be mourning in the future once we have our spiritual glow once again in the Messianic Era, but that we will be rejoicing on the very days of the Jewish calendar that used to be our saddest days which included fasting, as we will realize only in the future how the sufferings that the Jewish people endured led to the supreme happiness that we will have in the future.

In essence, what I am saying here is that our future happiness is dependent on the troubles that we have experienced during our long exile.  Perhaps this can be best summed up with the conclusion of the Talmudic Tractate of Makkot (24b), involving four rabbis - Rabban Gamliel, Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah, Rabbi Yehoshua, and Rabbi Akiva, who, when they were on the Temple Mount grounds following the destruction of the Temple, they witnessed a fox emerging from where it used to be the Kodesh Kodoshim (Holy of Holies) room in which only the Cohen Gadol (High Priest) entered only on Yom Kippur.  All the other rabbis except for Rabbi Akiva then started to cry while he began to laugh.  Wondering about Rabbi Akiva's seemingly strange behavior, they wondered how one could not cry about how a place that once functioned as the holiest spot in the world could now turn into a place in which foxes were hanging out.  Answering their challenge, Rabbi Akiva reminded them of a verse in which two prophets are mentioned - Uriyah HaCohen who lived during the era of the First Temple, and Zechariah ben Yeverechyah who lived during the era of the Second Temple.  Of course, the question then begs to be asked - what do these two prophets have in common with each other if they didn't even live during the same time period?  Rabbi Akiva answered that the happy prophecy of Zechariah of the future time of old people sitting in the streets of Jerusalem is dependent on the sad prophecy of Uriah that Zion would be plowed over as in a field, Jerusalem would become a heap of rubble, and the Temple Mount would become like stone heaps in the forest.  Rabbi Akiva noted that he worried that perhaps Zechariah's prophecy wouldn't come true.  However, now that he saw that Uriah's sad prophecy came true, then for sure, Zechariah's happy prophecy would have to come true, being that Zechariah's prophecy is dependent on Uriah's prophecy being that they are mentioned together in the same verse, even though they lived in different eras (Note: The prophecies themselves are mentioned separately, but there is a separate verse that mentions the two prophets together).  Upon this, the other rabbis exclaimed: "Akiva, you have comforted us. Akiva, you have comforted us."

As we can see here, the rabbis' exclamation statement to Rabbi Akiva was doubled, with the same basic wording as Nachamu Nachamu, the double wording of comfort.  For in fact, this is the essence of what Rabbi Akiva was saying, that our future happiness is dependent on the troubles that we have to go through in exile; for it isn't simply that we will no longer have troubles happening to us by the anti-Semitic nations, but that we will in fact have our greatest joy SPECIFICALLY because of those troubles.  As we say in Tehillim (Psalms 90:15): "Gladden us according to the days that You afflicted us, the years in which we saw evil".

As for Rabbi Akiva's name itself, it is based on the word Eikev (heel), just as the name Yaakov as I wrote about in my previous post.  And as in the context of the above story, the double exclamation from the rabbis to Rabbi Akiva was more than just calling him by his name.  True, one can say that even though he was among the foremost rabbis of his time, they called him just by his name as they were like equals to each other (in fact, one of these rabbis - Rabbi Yehoshua, was one of Rabbi Akiva's main Torah teachers).  However, the fact that this story concludes this Talmudic tractate Makkot, which means beatings (referring to the punishment of lashes administered by the Jewish court), which at least in the metaphorical sense, refers to the troubles that the Jews have gone through in exile, must be telling us much more than just another Talmudic story (Note: Sometimes, a story that is recounted in the Talmud cannot be taken by its literal meaning, and can ONLY mean something metaphorical).  And so,  the fact that Rabbi Akiva's name is based on the name of the bottom or END part of the body signifies that indeed, it will be at the END OF DAYS, commonly called Keitz HaYomim, referring to the Messianic era, that we will indeed be comforted twice from the destruction of both Temples, as the Third Temple that we will soon be built, G-d willing, will be permanent without ever being destroyed again.  In fact, there is an Aramaic name for the END period of our exile that is called Ikveta D'Meshicha "The footsteps of Messiah" - the first Aramaic word being based on the word Eikev, allegorically referring to hearing Moshiach arriving at our door by his footsteps, as he will be arriving any moment (so to speak, but it could literally happen before the end of writing my sentence here), though there may be a question as to when this period began, but there is no question based on the fulfillment of recent prophecies that the time of our Redemption is - just a matter of time.

As it turns out, just as the name Yaakov, the subject of my previous post #182, is the Gematria of that post number, in this post #183, the name Akiva is the Gematria of this number; the difference between the two names besides the order of the letters is that the name Akiva includes the letter Aleph, the numerical value of one. (Note: In some rabbinic texts, the name Akiva may be found with the letter Hei instead, but this name with the Aleph is the standard in both the Mishna and Talmud texts.)  But more than the fact that it is particular with Rabbi Akiva's name that concludes Talmud Makkot as it relates to Tisha B'Av and Shabbat Nachamu, there is actually a special connection between Rabbi Akiva and something in this week's Parshat VaEtchanan as relating to the END of his life.

Under Roman rulership at the time, there was a point at which the Roman government forbade practice of religion, and most certainly, the teaching of Torah.  However, this did not stop Rabbi Akiva from teaching Torah in public, for he was one who did not take learning Torah for granted, being that he only started learning Torah at the age of 40, and studied hard, in time to become among the greatest Sages of his day. Before long, he was arrested, and eventually executed by scraping off his skin with an iron comb, a sure cruel way to torture someone to death.  As this was happening to him, his students who helplessly were watching him being murdered saw that he was saying the Shema, and questioned him about how he was able to do so under such pain.  Rabbi Akiva answered that in fact, he always wished to be able to fulfill the verse (the second verse of the Shema as recorded in the Torah) "You shall love Hashem your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might".  Being that "with all your soul" refers to one's life, meaning, that if one has to, he has to give up one's life in love of Hashem not to transgress His Mitzvot upon threat of execution (there are exceptions to this, but one needs to look up the laws on this to know the circumstances of doing so or not).  Now that he was in this very situation, this was his prime time for him to show his love for Hashem, even with the pain being inflicted on him in his execution.  Following this, as he breathed his last, he passed away saying the word Echad (One) as the final word of the Shema verse - Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad "Hear O Israel, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One". (Talmud Berachot 61b)

Anyways, it is this first paragraph of the Shema, declaring Hashem's being One and being commanded to love Him, that is found in the beginning of the sixth Aliyah of this week's Parshat VaEtchanan, corresponding to today, the sixth day of this week (some learn the Aliyah of the Parsha day per day corresponding to the day of the week).  In fact, it was exactly a year ago as the sixth day of the week of Parshat VaEtchanan, that the 13th cycle of Daf Yomi began (though the Hebrew date was the 15th of Av), beginning with Talmudic Tractate Berachot which in fact begins with the very subject of the Shema recital; though the above story of Rabbi Akiva's execution is near the end of this tractate being that it is based on the Mishna near the end of the tractate where it states that one is obligated to bless Hashem for misfortune the same way that one blesses Hashem for good happenings, quoting the verse of the commandment of loving Hashem.  Now, the reason for this is because Hashem sends misfortunes to us either to remind us to correct our misdeeds, or to serve as an atonement for our past misdeeds, or to be worthy of more reward in the world to come. Whatever the reason, the ultimate result is the same - Hashem sends us misfortune, though we don't initially welcome it beforehand, for our ultimate spiritual good.  Hence, bearing in mind that our eternal spiritual bliss, at least in part, may be dependent on our troubles in this world, it will become a little easier to bear what we go through in life.   Thus, it certainly is hardly coincidental that we read annually in the Parsha about the Mitzva of loving Hashem within days after Tisha B'Av, bearing in mind that though some of the worst tragedies that occurred to the Jewish people happened on this date, which included Jews being murdered in masses or thrown in chains being sent to exile, all the above reasons of why Hashem sends troubles to an individual were applicable here, and by henceforth being steadfast in Judaism with our love for Hashem, even as demonstrated in many such stories in the Holocaust, such as celebrating Shabbat and Jewish holidays in happiness despite the gloomy environment, revealed the inner beauty of the Jewish people that justifies being Hashem's Chosen Nation, despite much wrongdoing that took place among certain Jewish elements.

Ultimately, if we do choose to do the right thing, the Torah promises plenty of blessings for us -  both materialistically and spiritually.  One such place in the Torah describing this is at the very beginning of the following Parshat Eikev that we read in the Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll) in the afternoon of Shabbat Va'Etchanan/Nachamu - V'Haya Eikev Tishmeun "It will be that if you will hearken..." continuing on with blessing us for listening to Hashem.  Anyways, the word Eikev (which in this context means if) being used here is the name of this following Parsha.  It has been noted that in this verse, both Rabbi Akiva and one of his prime students Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai (author of the teachings of the Zohar) are hinted in these words, where Eikev is similar to Rabbi Akiva's name, and the following word Tishmeun is similar to Rabbi Shimon's name.  In any case, being that the name of this Parshat Eikev resembles Rabbi Akiva's name, as per the above story in Tracatate Makkot where the rabbis exclaimed "Akiva, you have comforted us" twice, the last seven weeks of the Hebrew year before Rosh HaShana are called Shiva D'Nechemata "The Seven Weeks of Comfort", during which time, we recite various Haftarot from Sefer Yeshaya (Book of Isaiah) relating to comforting the Jewish people, beginning with the Shabbat of Parshat Va'Etchanan with the opening words Nachamu Nachamu "Be comforted, be comforted", but continues for six more weeks; not being a one time quick comfort thing, but a good period of time showing Hashem's love for us in turn for our loving Hashem even in the worst of times which includes our present period that is called Ikveta D'Meshicha, the footsteps of Moshiach that we can hear coming - V'Haya Eikev Tishmaun "It will be that if you hearken..."

As for the phrase "Rabbi Akiva", it is the Gematria of the word Mishna - 395; and indeed, as the Talmud states (Kiddushin 72b), on the day that Rabbi Akiva died, Rabbi Judah the Prince, also known simply as Rebbe, compiler of the Mishna, was born.  This seems to parallel another Talmudic statement that Hashem brings the cure before the blow (Megilla 13).  And in this particular case, the Mishna is full of statements of Rabbi Akiva, and had five students, including Rabbi Shimon and Rabbi Meir, who have numerous statements throughout the Mishna.  Imagine what the Mishna - and Judaism for that matter - would have been without Rabbi Akiva, who only began learning Torah at the age of 40 with a class of young children learning the Aleph-Bet instead of insisting that it was too late in life to begin learning Torah, and became one of the greatest Torah sages of all time; and even Moses, who was shown a vision of Rabbi Akiva teaching Torah, asked Hashem why He didn't choose to give the Torah to Rabbi Akiva instead of himself!


As I just wrote, Hashem brings the cure before the Makka (blow), which is singular for Makkot.  And just as I mentioned earlier that in Parshat Eikev, there is a hint to Rabbi Akiva and his student Rabbi Shimon who are hinted to in two consecutive words - Eikev Tishmeun, bearing in mind that the Parsha is named Eikev, being similar to Rabbi Akiva's name; in terms of the other way around, Rabbi Akiva's name is mentioned - not once, but twice, at the end of the Talmudic tractate of Makkot, whose name is the Gematria of the name Shimon - 466.

The connection between Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Shimon in terms of Tractate Makkot do not end here.  We see in Mishna Makkot (1:7), where Rabbi Shimon states that just like two witnesses  - the minimum amount of witnesses needed for testimony in Beit Din (Jewish court) - aren't executed for false testimony plotting to have someone killed by the court until both of them are proven as such, so too three or more such false witnesses aren't executed until all of them are proven as such.  Rabbi Akiva then comments that even though the third witness wasn't technically needed in court since only a minimum of two witnesses are needed for testimony to be accepted, the Torah punishes one who joins with others doing a Aveira (sin) as the original ones doing the sin (in this case, giving false testimony); all the more so is one rewarded joining those who are doing a Mitzva as these original ones doing a Mitzva.

Then, near the end of the Misnaic tractate (3:15), Rabbi Shimon makes another statement pertaining to Mitzvots and Aveirot, saying that one who sits refraining from doing a particular sin that has presented itself, is given reward as doing a Mitzva.  Following this, there is another rabbi with the name Shimon who makes a related statement - Rabbi Shimon the son of Rebbe, compiler of the Mishna - that one who refrains from the sin of consuming blood, which is something that is disgusting to ingest, receives reward, or the more so (the same way that Rabbi Akiva worded his above statement) will one who refrains from stealing and illicit relations will be rewarded until the end of generations.

As it turns out, the latter statement of Rabbi Shimon, who refers to Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai (whenever it states Rabbi Shimon in the Mishna without mention of his father or family name) is in the 33rd Mishna of the tractate whose name Makkot is the Gematria of his name Shimon, and he passed away at the end of the 33rd day of the Omer, or known as Lag BaOmer.  Coincidence?

At this point, I should mention that various means of remembering one's Torah learning have been suggested by various rabbis.  One such memory method, that is mentioned in the Kabbala, at least in terms of remembering one's Mishna learning, is to state the phrase Lo Eshkach Lah "I will not forget her", which is the Gematria of the word Mishna.  But the reason that I mention this particular thing is that the word Lah (her) spells the Hebrew number 35, and the 35th Mishnaic tractate is Tractate Makkot; hence, "I will not forget the 35th Tractate (Makkot)".  The reason I say this is because I feel a special affinity towards this tractate, being that the name of this tractate is the Gematria of my name Shimon.  Moreover, as the first word Lo (not) spells the Hebrew number 31, I should note that I was born on 1 Iyar, which is the 31st day from 1 Nissan which is Rosh Chodesh Nissan the beginning of the first month of the 12 months, as we count the months in terms of numbers beginning with Nissan being the month of the Exodus, the birth of the Jewish nation.  Moreover, the date of my birth, which is Rosh Chodesh Iyar, begins the month that is especially related to the concept of healing, or cure, as noted being that the letters of the name of the month of Iyar are spelled out as the beginning letters of the phrase Ani Hashem Rofecha "I am Hashem your Healer" (Exodus 15:26), which is mentioned in the context of Hashem saying that if we listen to Hashem in following His Mitzvot - using the phrase Shamoa Tishma, double cognate of the word Shemia, which is listening or hearkening, based on which is my name Shimon - then we won't be visited by the sicknesses that Hashem wrought on the Egyptians for their mistreatment of us as slaves in their land, which are known as the Eser Makkot "The Ten Plagues" (Note: In this context, the letters of the month of Iyar are spelled as Aleph, Yud, Reish; but in other contexts, the letters of the month of Iyar are spelled with two of the letter Yud in the middle).

To note, the first of the Ten Plagues was Dam (blood).  Presently, I am in my 44th year, and the Hebrew number for 44 is made up of the letters Mem and Dalet, the same letters as the word Dam.  So at this point, I want to make mention of the timing of the Ten Plagues.

There is actually a difference of opinion about the timing of these plagues.  According to Rabbeiu Sa'adya Gaon, each plague which take place during the course of 23 days, was proceeded by a week of warning, and followed by a week of recuperation before the warning of the next plague.  The only exceptions to this were the last two plagues, in which the plague of darkness was only for three days, and the final plague of the smiting of the firstborn happened instantly.  In any case, the warning and beginning of the first plague of blood began in the month of Iyar.

According to Rabbeinu Bechaye, each plague lasted for a week, beginning on the 22nd of any given Hebrew month and ending on the 28th of the month.  Again, what differs here are the last two plagues.  The plague of darkness, unlike with the preceding eight plagues that were proceeded with three weeks warning (a couple of them were without warning, but still had the same amount of waiting period between one plague and the next), began shortly after just getting over the previous plague with no warning, which occurred on the first seven days of Nissan; and then for the final plague of the smiting of the firstborn, there was one week of warning, and then while the plague itself occurred in one brief moment, there was a week burial in the aftermath of all the smitten firstborn Egyptians.  In any case, the warning of the first plague of blood began from the beginning of the month of Av, and the plague itself began on the 22nd of Av.

Now mind you, unlike in Halacha in which two give opinions, where though the law can only follow one of these opinions, both are still considered valid in terms of being "the words of the Living G-d"; when it comes to historical facts, only one of the opinions at most can be correct, at least in terms of when something actually took place.  However, I should admit, both of these rabbinical opinions as to the timing of the months within the year before the Exodus for these plagues have a basis.

First, in terms of Rabbeinu Bechaye's opinion, the first plague of blood with its warning took place in the month of Av, whose corresponding tribe is Shimon, whose name in turn is the Gematria of the word Makkot (plagues).  Moreover, as I mentioned earlier, Hashem told the Jewish people that if they surely hearken to Him, they won't be visited with the plagues that He wrought on the Egyptians, noting that the Hebrew for hearkening used in this context is Shamoa Tishma, a double phrase that is similar to the name Shimon,whose corresponding month was the very month of the first of these plague.

Now, in terms of Rabbeinu Sa'adya Gaon's opinion, the first plague begin in the month of Iyar that is related to the concept of healing that is hinted by Hashem's statement to the Jewish people in stark contrast to the plagues that He visited on the Egyptians.  Next, in terms of the amount of days for the plagues, there were 23 days for each of the first eight Makkot.  And in terms of Tractate Makkot, there are 23 Dafim (double sided pages) to this Talmudic tractate.  For the ninth Makka of darkness, there were three days; and corresponding to this, there are three chapters to Tractate Makkot.

In fact, in Tractate Sanhedrin (1:2) - the 34th Mishnaic tractate which is followed by Tractate Makkot which consists of 34 Mishnayot - it begins stating that the punishment of lashes, which is called Makkot in the Mishna though normally called Malkut, is judged by a tribunal of three, with a difference of opinion by Rabbi Yishmael that it is judged by a tribunal of 23; thus noting the striking parallel of the number of chapters and the number of Dafim to the Talmudic tractate of Makkot, respectively.

Rabbi Nachman Kahane, Shlita (brother of Rabbi Meir Kahane, may Hashem avenge his blood), in his introduction to his Tosfot explanation commentary in his book Mei Menuchot on Tractate Makkot, notes that this tractate corresponds to the Three Weeks (Bein HaMetzarim) which is from 17 Tammuz to 9 Av (Tisha B'Av) which marks the saddest period of the Jewish calendar.  Aside from the fact that this tractate whose meaning means "blows", consists of THREE chapters,  it deals with the very types of BLOWS that we Jews have gone through in our trying times as symbolized by the themes of these three chapters.

Chapter 1 - Punishment for false witnesses who plotted to get an innocent person punished by the court.  It's nothing new for Jews, we have been falsely accused by the world for whatever goes wrong for non-Jews all throughout the milleniums - including sickness, recession, and blood libels.

Chapter 2 - Exile for those who accidentally killed someone.  We Jews have been the most exiled nation on earth.

Chapter 3 - Lashes prescribed by the court for various sins.  We Jews have been beaten by non-Jews as early as the Egyptian slavery.

Now, the phase used describing the Three Weeks is Bein HaMetzarim (between the straits) which comes from the end of the THIRD verse of Eicha (Book of Lamentations) that we recite on Tisha B'Av. Moreover, the word Metzarim, aside from the Hebrew vowels, is spelled as the same word as Mitzrayim (Egypt) or Mitzrim (Egyptians), for in fact, our saddest three week period in the Jewish calendar is reminiscent of our past Egyptian slavery; for just as we experienced the first Redemption from Egypt; so too, following the Three Weeks of mourning ending with Tisha B'Av, the date of the birth of Moshiach - meaning, the potential of Moshiach coming began on this date even immediately following the destruction of the Temple - when we eagerly await our final Redemption.

Now, while Halachicly, the Three Weeks begin on the 17th of Tammuz, known as Shiva Asar B'Tammuz, on which we fast, the source of various tragedies that befell the Jewish people began from the events that happened from noontime on the day before, the 16th of Tammuz, in connection with the sin of the Golden Calf, when they assumed that Moses would return from his 40 day retreat on Mt. Sinai receiving the Torah, but miscalculated the timing of his return one day early.  When they saw that Moses didn't return to them when they thought he would,  Satan showed them a vision of Moses being dead, and it was from this that they sought a godlike figure which was made on that day via black magic, but it was on the following morning of the 17th of Tammuz that they actually worshiped it.

In any event, the main event that we fast over on the 17th of Tammuz is of the Roman enemies breaching the wall of Jerusalem that shortly led to the destruction of the Temple on the 9th of Av.  And at this, the burning of the Temple actually began on the 9th of Av, while most of the burning happened on the 10th of Av; however, since the worst part of a tragedy is the beginning of it, it is on the 9th of Av that we fast and mourn (unless it falls out on Shabbat, in which case, we fast on the following day, the 10th of Av).  In any case, even though we cease our fasting and major mourning at the end of the 9th of Av, certain laws of mourning that were applicable before Tisha B'Av are continued until the noontime of the 10th of Av.  Hence, from noontime of the 16th of Tammuz which was the original source of our troubles of Shiva Asar B'Tammuz until noontime of the 10th of Av when the mourning ceases according to Halacha, there are exactly 23 days as per the noon hour of the day.

So as we see, the number 23 really stands out in terms of troubles, for according to Rabbeinu Sa'adya Gaon, the Egyptians were punished for 23 days with the first eight plagues, and there are 23 Dafim to the Talmudic tractate Makkot that is most related to this concept both by name and the subject matter.  Correspondingly, according to this opinion that for the NINTH plague of darkness, it lasted for THREE days, and it is on the DARKEST day of the Jewish calendar, the NINTH of Av, the month that Kabbalistically corresponds to the NINTH letter Teit whose numerical value is NINE that culminates the Three Weeks period, and there are three chapters to the Mishnaic tractate Makkot.  Accordingly, according to the opinion of Rabbeinu Bechaye, the Egyptians has THREE WEEKS of warning before any of the first eight plagues, and hence, it was on the 22nd day (of the month) that one of these plagues began, just as in our case, we have THREE WEEKS from Shiva Asar B'Tammuz during which time our mourning increases as time goes, and it is on the 22nd day - Tisha B'Av, that we feel the greatest impact of our spiritual loss.

Another way of looking at the comparison between the plagues and the saddest period of the Jewish calendar is that corresponding to the TEN plagues, are the first TEN days of Av, the highlight of our mourning, in which Tisha B'Av - the NINTH of Av, the darkest day of our calendar, corresponds to the Egyptian plague of DARKNESS, the NINTH plague.  We can also look at this having in mind that there are 22 days from Shiva Asar B'Tammuz through Tisha B'Av that correspond to the 22 letters of the Aleph-Beit; hence, it is Tisha B'Av that corresponds to Tav, the LAST letter.  With this said, the LAST Egyptian plague was the smiting of the first born, called Makat Bechorot, in which the LAST letter in both words ends with the LAST letter Tav/Sav, noting that this is the only one of the 10 plagues in which the wording of Makka is used.  It was this plague that took place exactly at midnight of the 15th of Nissan, 2448, the date of the Exodus that took place exactly 400 years after the birth of Issac that took place on the 15th of Nissan, 2048, as per what Hashem told Isaac's father Abraham that his children will be strangers in a land that doesn't belong to them and will be enslaved for 400 years which began with Isaac's birth since at that time, Israel, where Abraham and Isaac where living at the time, did not belong yet to the Jewish people until they finally came to Israel as a nation, even though the slavery in Egypt would happen at a much later time within the 400 year period.  In any case, it is the letter Tav, which is the numerical value of 400 that corresponds especially to the date of the Exodus - both in terms of the 10th plague as connected to the letter Tav that happened on this date, as well as the Exodus itself.

Now that we have a connection here with the letter Tav between the date of the Exodus which is the first day of Passover and Tisha B'Av, it is mentioned in Halacha (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Chapter 428) that on the same day of the week that the first day of Passover falls out on, that the upcoming Tisha B'Av also falls out on; and the way to remember this are the corresponding opposite letters which are the first letter Aleph=1 for the first day of Passover, and the last letter Tav that begins the name of the date of 9 Av- Tisha B'Av; noting that for the first 10 numbers, the letter Tav begins the Hebrew word particularly for the number nine.  And for corresponding opposites, the first day of Passover marks our Redemption as we left Egypt on this date, and Tisha B'Av marks our exile, for it was on this day that the enemy took masses of Jews along with them into exile at the time of the destruction of the Temple on this date.  And in our way of symbolizing this, we eat a hard boiled egg, a symbol of mourning, both at the Seder on the first night of Passover (outside of Israel, also on the second night of Passover) which reminds us of the sacrificial meat that we used to eat on the holiday during the times of the Temple that we await for once again, and at the concluding meal shortly before the commencement of Tisha B'Av while sitting on the ground as a mourner does.  In connection with this, the Talmudic tractate that is called Beitza (egg), which is about the laws of Yom Tov (Jewish holidays), consists of 39 Dafim, and typically, the Beit Din administered 39 lashes for certain sins, the subject of the third and final chapter of Tractate Makkot.

Having mentioned the Seder, at which we read the Haggada, we see that the featured person of this post - Rabbi Akiva - is mentioned more than once in the reading.  First, we mention of a group of rabbis that include Rabbi Akiva who were so involved in telling over the story of the Exodus at the Seder all night long and beyond, that they had to be reminded by their students in the morning to say the Shema before the prescribed time for saying it would pass.  And then, in terms of how many plagues that the Egyptians were visited with both in Egypt and at the Reed Sea, as one of three opinions, Rabbi Akiva states that each of the 10 plagues in Egypt were divided up into a total of 50 plagues, and that each of the 50 plagues at the Reed Sea were divided up into a total of 250 plagues.

And so we see with Rabbi Akiva, that he is especially connected to both the first day of Passover as well as Tisha B'Av in terms of the theme at the end of the Talmudic tractate Makkot about the ruins of the Temple and the prophecy in terms of our future Redemption.  For in fact, we see that the basic difference between the words Gola (exile) and Geula (redemption) is that the latter word includes the letter Aleph, which especially represents the first day of Passover which marks our first Redemption.  And in Rabbi Akiva's name which is mentioned twice at the end of the Talmudic tractate Makkot, it is the Aleph that is at the end of his name, symbolizing the concept of our final Redemption after which there will be no more exiles.


No misspelling here.  I do plan on concluding this post in terms of Rabbi Akiva, but first, I want to write a bit about another Tanaic Sage whose name contains the same letters as Rabbi Akiva' name, except that in this Sage's name, aside from a little difference in the vowels, the letter Beit/Veit comes before the letter Yud. Otherwise, he is known as Akavya ben Mahallalel.

By now, you probably figured it out.  His name begins the third chapter of Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), whose name is mentioned at least once or four times a year, depending on how many times one recites a chapter of Pirkei Avot on Shabbat every year (Ashkenazic Jews recite it four times between Passover and Rosh HaShana, and Sephardic Jews recite it once between Passover and Shavuot).  In any case, one may wonder how this Sage got such a prominent position whose name begins a chapter of Mishna, also bearing in mind that there is a custom to learn chapters of Mishna in memory of a deceased, learning chapters whose first letters make up the name of the deceased.  In this case, the first letter is Ayin, from Akavya's name, and there are only 11 chapters among the 523 chapters of Mishna to pick from which begin with the letter Ayin.

To better appreciate the significance of the name of this Sage beginning the third chapter of Pirkei Avot, it is Moshe Rabbeinu's name that starts off Pirkei Avot in the first chapter, and the title of Rebbe - referring to Rabbi Judah the Prince, compiler of the Mishna - which starts off the second chapter.  So for the third chapter, one would think that a Sage such as Rabbi Akiva would begin this third chapter; and in fact, he is mentioned in this chapter, but only much later on.  In fact, looking at this chapter, there are quite a few Sages mentioned whose names are popular in the Mishna.  So, why is Akavya ben Mahallalel the one picked to begin the third chapter, when he is hardly mentioned elsewhere in the Mishna?

The key to this is in fact a story about him in another place in the Mishna (Eduyot 5:6-7) where is praised stating that there was no found among all the Jews who came to the Temple who were as wise in Torah learning and having fear of sin as him.  While many a Sage could be described as such in various generations, there is a story recounted here about his chance to become the Av Beit Din, the vice-president of the Sanhedrin.  But there was a catch to this.  The ones who offered him this position told him that this would be conditional on retracting four halachic statements that he made to concur with theirs.  Now, he could have easily rationalized that since both Halachic opinions are considered "words of the Living G-d, and that in order to make peace, it would be O.K. to give in for only four Halachic decisions to have the chance and merit to be only second in charge to the president of the Sanhedrin in teaching and transmitting the laws of the Torah.  However, Akavya wasn't one to be bought off, even if it meant that he wouldn't have the opportunity to teach Torah.

Moreover, as the next Mishna notes, while on his deathbed, he ordered his son to teach on his behalf the opposite of his decisions on the above four Halachic issues.  When his son questioned this, Akavya told him that the decisions that he held by were based on the majority decision on the Halachic issues in his time that he heard, and the rabbis who held the opposing views heard them from a majority on their part.  However, it was a new genearation now, and his son heard Akavya's Halachic rulings only from him, while he heard the opposing views from a clear majority, so now he was to follow their Halachic decisions on the four issues , as usually, the Halacha follows the decision of the majority of rabbis.

And finally, when his son asked his father Akavya to secure him a position in the Jewish community, he refused to, telling him that it is only his good deeds, or otherwise, that would determine if this would happen.

What a stark contrast between the sage Akavya and today's politicians in the Knesset, especially most of the "religious" ones!  Forget about the non-observant, left-wing/liberal/Democratic Jewish politicians who weren't raised the Torah way and care basically about money, fame, power, etc.  However, unlike Kahane and perhaps a handful of others who served their time in the Knesset, most of the others, though they may have been raised with a Torah education, keep Shabbat, eat Kosher, wear a skullcap or head covering, sooner or later, make some statement that shows that at the very least, they aren't totally fearing of G-d or sin, but rather, fearing of what the Prime Monster of the Knesset will say or do in retaliation, who in turn, makes major damaging decisions to the Jewish people and Israel based on what the United States, the United Nations, the Arabs/Moslems, the world, the media, will say or do in retaliation.  Of course, this isn't limited to the Knesset, but in the IDF, the police, the secular Israeli court, attorneys - men or women who may seem to have an observant Jewish lifestyle will put the anti-Torah secular law above the Torah, and most of whom would not even think of asking a rabbi for a Halachic decision, let alone follow it in full faith in Hashem, regardless of the temporary consequences of this world.

Oh, by the way, unlike most community rabbis in yesterday Europe who were quite holy and pure, and weren't tempted even by money despite most of them having lived in poverty despite their rabbinical position; today ironically, in the Holy Land of Israel, many a rabbi - regardless of the Hasidic camp, the Haredi camp, the Dati Leumi camp, are more into camping out with materialism than truly caring for what is right for the Jewish people and Israel; let alone outside of Israel, especially in the materialistic United States, where Modern Orthodox rabbis, for a lack of a better term, would have been far better off being an authentic politician in the government, as some of them twist the Torah, for example, to show how the IDF is doing a wonderful job being humane by flying down leaflets from the helicopters to the Arab civilians in Gaza warning them of an upcoming attack from the IDF to get rid of hidden bombs in residences.  These political rabbis for the Satan are right; most unfortunately, the IDF heads are wonderful for our Arab enemies, who are incidentally, the same ones who threw and constantly throw Jews from their homes in "settlements", and will continue doing so until the evil regime dominating Israel will cease.  However, there is no valid Halachic difference of opinion that they can give for the Talmudic statement that one who is merciful to the cruel will at the end be cruel to the merciful, learning this especially from Saul, the official first king of the Jewish people, who was a little humane to Amalek, which included the Amalekite king and the animals that he intended to sacrifice to Hashem, beginning with his logic to himself "If the Amalekite men hurt the Jews, what did the women do?  If the women hurt the Jews, what did the childen do?"  In fact, Hashem gave orders for Saul to obliterate even the babies of the anti-Semitic Amalek nation - no ifs, ands, or buts.

And EVEN MORE CERTAINLY IN OUR CASE TODAY, since we have been in a constant war with these Arabs since 1948 with the founding of what is called the State of Israel - and I don't mean the outright wars, but the constant wars from our Arab enemies every time that anyone of them attacks a Jew in any way, shape or form, which happens on a daily basis; believe it or not, there are NO INNOCENT CIVILIANS as far as we are concerned, and IT IS FORBIDDEN according to Torah law TO WARN THESE ARAB "CIVILIANS"; and instead, we are supposed to do anything and everything to assure that no more Jews than necessary will fall in the line of battle duty, even if it means that Arab babies will be killed in the process if that is what it takes to prevent even one Jew, regardless of religious or non-religious affiliation, from being ever only injured in the slightest way.

Perhaps the above is a little too hard for some Modern Orthodox rabbis in the States to swallow, nay, this is even hard for many rabbis living in Israel, who are paid well by the government for their respective rabbinical positions, to swallow.  However, if they ever learned the Mishnayot in Tractate Eduyot about Akavya ben-Mahallalel, who could have easily rationalized to change his teachings on his opinions in view of a different majority, which would not necessarily have been a breach in Halacha, but nevertheless, gave up an opportunity of teaching Torah - the greatest Mitzva and merit of the Torah - when given this choice; they will one day have to face the Big Judge and explain why they put politics above Torah, which somehow caused Jews to be murdered, maimed and injured by our enemies as a result of these rabbis' fearing the anti-Torah government instead of fearing Hashem and His Torah, who should have used their influence to prevent any concessions, compromises, or compassions towards our enemies, but allowed our enemies, who saw how the Israeli government being weak in fear of everyone and everything but the One, to constantly attack us.

And now, let us see what Akavya ben-Mahallalel in the Mishna of Pirkei Avot has to tell us: "Look at three things, and you will not come to sin.  Know where you are coming from, where you are coming to, and before Whom you will one day have to give an accounting to.  Where do you come from? From a putrid drop.  Where are you coming to? To a place of dirt, maggots, and worms.  And before Whom are you going to one day have to give an  accounting to? Before the King, the King of kings, the Holy One Blessed Be He."

You see, in life, we are constantly burdened about to whom we will have to give an accounting to besides Hashem - the boss, the wife, our friends, etc.  Sometimes, it could be a good thing, for after all, for example, it is in fact a sin not to perform according to the boss' terms if we are getting paid for our work.  And for others, fearing that their wives will find out if they cheated on them will prevent them from fooling around, or at least not overnight.  But regardless, only one who fears Hashem and afraid to commit a sin, knowing that one day, he will be held accountable for any misdeeds, will be sure not to cheat the boss, not to fool around with women with whom he is forbidden to be with, not assist with making policies that will G-d forbid hurt one's Jewish brethren even to the extent to being less popular or being hated or not being paid as well if not fired or not re-elected.  Indeed, this is the Akavya ben Mahallalel method of being a good Jew, the same method that the likes of Kahane and Dr. Michael Ben-Ari, Shlita use in the corrupt world of politics that abhors our Holy Land and the holy Torah with the help of Lapid, Piron, and Bennett in their own way of assisting Prime Monster Bibi Netanyahu to desecrate our Holy Land and holy Torah institutions,

Perhaps the sage Akavya did not have the good fortune of having any Jews bear his holy name.  However, no doubt that he merited having the reward of having his name as the beginning word of the third chapter of Pirkei Avot due in part to turning down the rabbinical court position as a result of refusing to change what he knew to be the correct Halacha, regardless of whatever rabbis held otherwise.  It was this same way of thinking that guided him to the extent that he wouldn't get his son any rabbinical or political positions in the Jewish community; for after all, if someone else would be more qualified, why should everyone loose out by having his son take a leader position by using his clout to get him promoted if he wouldn't do such a good job as someone else.  At least for Akavya, his son wouldn't be in power due to his father, but only if he would be worthy himself of a position in the Jewish community.  Indeed, many a Jewish politician have much to learn from Akavya!

Rabbi Akiva and Akavya ben Mahallalel.  Two sages with names having the same exact letters.  Two sages not fearing what others would say.  Two sages, bearing in mind that at the end of one's life, they would be facing the One, according to the last letter of their names - the Aleph, which is the numerical value of one, accounting for how they spent their lives, not fearing what the children classmates would say or laugh at a 40 year old man learning with them, not giving in to pressure to change Halacha even if other rabbis said otherwise.  Two sages, following in the footsteps of one with a similar name Yaakov - Jacob our forefather, who lived the Torah of truth way of life, not looking to crook others for personal gain as his evil brother Esau did.  As Rashi comments at the beginning of Parshat Eikev on the word Eikev which forms the basis of the names Yaakov, Akiva and Akavya - that one is to perform even the Mitzvot that tend to be trodden down upon by others with their Eikev (heel) because they are looked down upon as insignificant or not popular. For when it comes to following the Commandments of the King, there is no separation of categories of Mitzvot, no difference between the Mitzvot that are more convenient or less convenient, but as far as one is concerned - they are all equal because they have been equally commanded by Hashem to perform.


Actually, Hashem has always been only One G-d.  However, the problem with this world until now is that not everyone recognizes this fact.  And I don't mean only non-Jews who worship other deities, with or without belief in Hashem.  I refer specifically to those who twist the Torah, and use Torah for their own selfish gain, including some rabbis, believing in an anti-Torah government because it is heading the Medinat Yisrael "State of Israel" that has very sadly followed the ways of other nations who rule their respective countries, and then these so called Zionist rabbis and all exclaim that everyone has to follow what the corrupt Knesset politicians claim has to be done, even to the extent to throwing out Jews from homes, even to the extent of handing over parts of Israel, or giving autonomy of these areas, into the murderous bloody hands of our avowed and sworn Arab/Moslem enemies, who have proven way beyond a shadow of a doubt that being given free land is only a step in the process of throwing Jews into the sea and taking over our Holy Land as "Palestine".

Meanwhile, let us rewind back in Jewish history to Abraham our forefather, the first Jew, who while being the ancestor of both Jews and Arabs, the Bible is very clear as to who are his spiritual descendants and inheritors "for it is through Isaac that will be called your seed".  Moreover, after the account of Abraham's passing, the Torah devotes seven verses to Abraham's Arab descendnts, and then back to business with his son Isaac "These are the accountings of Isaac son of Abraham, Abraham bore Isaac".

A little later on, Hashem speaks to Isaac, telling him that he and his descendants will inherit the Holy Land as per His oath to his father Abraham because of his allegiance to Him - Eikev Asher Shama Avraham B'Koli "because Abraham listened to My voice and he observed...My Torah" (Genesis 26:5).  Noting use of the word Eikev here, it is used as the meaning "because".  In the beginning of Parshat Eikev, this word is used as the meaning "if".  Yet, this word Eikev is associated in both places in terms of following Hashem's Mitzvot.

But perhaps, this word in the context about Abraham, hints to his grandson Yaakov whose name is based on this word, for it was Yaakov, of the three Avot (Patriarchs) who was the Torah scholar par excellence.  In any case, we see later how Yaakov was confronted by an angel, whom our rabbis say, was Yaakov's evil brother Esau's guardian angel, who became the guardian angel of his descendants, the nation of Edom.  In the heat of the night, the angel managed to injure Jacob's thigh that is called the Gid HaNashe, as a result of which, we Jews are forbidden to eat this part of the animal, which is the first of the 365 Lo Ta'aseh (Negative/Prohibitive) Mitzvot of the Torah that correspond to the 365 days of the year, and it is this particular Mitzva that corresponds to the day of Tisha B'Av, which marks the date of the destruction of our Temple, the second time around being done by the nation of Edom (Rome).  Anyways, it was after this that Yaakov wouldn't let go of the angel until the angel informed him of his new name - Yisrael, which includes the letters making up the word Rosh (head), in sharp contrast to his first name Yaakov based on the bottom of the body.  And hence, what we see here is that while in exile, we are treated as the lowest form of human race; following our future Redemption, we will rise as the head of the nations - as the ultimate fulfillment of our name Yisrael - once and for all.

We see that in Abraham's name, that the first letter is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet - Aleph, most fitting for Abraham who was the first to spread the belief in monotheism - the belief in one G-d.    In time, Hashem promised him that He would give the Land of Israel to his descendants, the Jewish people.  When it was time, it was Joshua, a descendant of Ephraim via parental line, who led the Jews to Israel.  The name of Ephraim, just like Abraham's name, begins with an Aleph and ends with a Mem Sophit.  On the other side of the coin, the name of Edom, the name of the nation who destroyed our Temple last, who caused the Jews to be in exile for nearly a third of the slated 6,000 years of the world's existence, also begins with an Aleph and ends with a Mem Sophit.

Moreover, Edom is presently associated with the United States of America, as the name Edom is the Gematria of 51, and the U.S.A. consists of 50 states and its capitol Washington D.C. which is a state in itself for all practical purposes.  And presently, it's being headed by its evil 44th president, Barack Hussein Obama, bearing in mind that the Hebrew number for 44 consists of the letters Mem and Dalet, which are two of the four letters of the name Edom.  And while Obama continuously pressures Israel do everything that is everything against Israel's interest, causing much bloodshed of Jews in the long run, G-d forbid, bearing in mind that the Hebrew word for bloodshed - Dam, consists of the same letters as the number 44 in Hebrew, what he doesn't realize is that at the end, we Jews - who observe the Mitzva of Brit Mila (circumcision) which involves the Dam Brit "blood of circumcision", the 2nd Mitzva of the Torah first commanded to Abraham, which is mentioned in the Torah before the Mitzva of Gid HaNashe, the 3rd Mitzva of the Torah which was the result of a different part of the body that was injured in Yaakov's body from the angel of Edom - will win out at the end, while Obama and his ilk will be defeated when in the future of the Messianic Era, the angel of Edom will be slaughtered, which will signal the downfall of the United States as a world power, while Israel will be the world power; measure for measure for the United States presently pressuring Israel to lower itself.

"Son of man, those who inherit the ruins of Israel boast "Abraham was one man and he inherited the land; but we are many, and so the land is now given to us as an inheritance"" (Ezekiel 33:24).  Looking at the chapter number and verse number of this verse, when we put the two numbers together, this reads 3324.  For indeed, there are exactly 3,324 years from Tisha B'Av 2449, the date on which the Jews cried like babies, believing the evil report of the Spies who said that it would be impossible for us to conquer the Holy Land, until this past Tisha B'Av in this year 5773 that just passed, when at this time, the evil Obama, along with the evil John Kerry - whom Obama endorsed as the Democratic presidential candidate back on Tisha B'Av 2004 - who has joined the club of pressuring Israel to give in to the "peace" concessions of the Arabs, may both of their names and rememberances be forever be blotted out, are pressuring Israel more than ever, attempting to injure the Gid HaNashe of the Jewish people one more time.  This is aside from the fact that Obama keeps refusing our requests to release Jonathan Pollard, who was born on Tisha B'Av, being imprisoned illegally way beyond the maximum sentence for his one count of giving classified information to an ally nation of four years maximum imprisonment, but has already spent more than 10,000 days in prison for the sole reason of being a Jew.  But what they don't realize is that Abraham, whose name is the Gematria of 248 corresponding to the 248 Mitzvot Aseh (Positive/Performative Commandments) and the 248 limbs of a person, became this name from his original name Abram which was without the letter Hei at first, as a result of performing the BRIT Mila, which will eventually conquer the United States, called in Hebrew Artzot HaBRIT, which is currently the narrator of the verse in Ezekiel.

But the evil politicians of the United States are correct. Echad Haya Avraham "Abraham was one".  He is the first ONE who spread the belief in the ONE throughout the known world in his time.  And as Hashem declares "I am the first and I am the last, and besides Me, there is no god" (Isaiah 44:6).  That is, except for the one Elokim (G-d), whose name also begins with an Aleph and ends with a Mem Sophit, Who will at the end of our long Edomite exile, raise up high the spiritual descendants of Abraham, while lowering the nation of Edom, (spiritual) descendants of Esau, whose heel was being held on to by his brother Jacob, father of the twelve tribes of Israel, on their way out of the womb of their mother Rebecca.

And at the rock bottom of our Jewish history involving Rabbi Akiva, whose name ends with an Aleph, who was murdered by Edom (Rome), whose name begins with an Aleph, while it seemed that Edom had the upper hand over Rabbi Akiva, who was the ultimate representative of the Torah in his day, it was Rabbi Akiva who won out at the end, at least spiritually, with his last breath finishing the first sentence of Shema Yisrael - with the word Echad (One).  To note, this story in the Talmud (Berachot 61), was learned last worldwide in this present 13th cycle of the Daf Yomi, bearing in mind that the word Echad is the Gematria of 13, on the FIRST day of Sukkot, which is represented by Abraham of the Seven Heavenly Guests (Ushpizin) of the seven days of Sukkot.  And bearing in mind of the concept of ONE as especially related to Abraham, the Haftara of the first day of Sukkot includes the verse "Hashem will be King over the whole world, on that day, Hashem will be One, and His name will be One" (Zechariah 14:9), which is quoted by Rashi on his explanation on the sentence of Shema Yisrael which he explains that Hashem Who is our G-d today (as the One G-d today), will be Hashem as One in the future when Hashem will be King over the entire world when everyone will recognize that Hashem is One, the same One who first became news to the world thanks to Abraham, and hasn't changed, even though the world has yet to acknowledge this, but AT THE END of our long exile, the world nations will admit Hashem as ONE, as the ultimate Boss in charge, Who will make it crystal clear beyond the pages of the Bible that Israel belongs to the ONE nation who is called Israel.

12 Av, 5773

Friday, July 5, 2013

#182 - From YAAKOV 2 YAAKOV

Beginning this post on Erev Shabbat Mevorchim Chodesh Av, when tomorrow, we will be blessing the coming month of Av, whose meaning means "father", this comes in time for this post; for the number of this post - 182, is the Gematria of the name Yaakov, the last of the three Avot (fathers); bearing in mind that the singular word for father - Av - is the Gematria of three.

We find a little irony here.  You see, while Yaakov (Jacob) is one of the three who are called Avot of the entire Jewish nation, the meaning of his own name is based on the word Eikev (heel), the very bottom of the body. Now  it is true that Jacob's later acquired name Yisrael include the letters of the word Rosh (head), the name Yaakov is still used very often, both in the Torah and in our prayers.  In fact, in the first blessing of the Shemoneh Esrei, the main prayer that we address Hashem with at least three times a day, is called Avot, for we address Hashem as Elokei Avraham, Elokei Yitzchak, V'Elokei Yaakov "the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac, and the G-d of Jacob".  So, at least if we are calling our forefathers as "fathers", we should treat them with the greatest respect, calling them by their most exalted name, as Yisrael is a name of higher status than Yaakov (Note: When we address our own parents or grandparents, we never call them by their names according to Halacha.  However, when we learn the Torah about our righteous ancestors, we call them by the names that the Torah uses in the course of learning, since anyways, we are not addressing them directly).  If this is the case, why are we referring to Yaakov by his name of lesser status in the blessing that is named after our Avot, while in several other Berachot (Blessings) of the Shemoneh Esrei, we refer to Jews as Yisrael, as though it is an exclusive name that belongs only to the Jews as a whole without acknowledgment that the source of our name is that it is Yaakov's other name?  Moreover, the Avot blessing is the most important blessing in the Shemoneh Esrei, and the proof is that the Halacha (Jewish law) dictates that in order to fulfill the basic requirement of saying the Shemoneh Esrei prayer, one must has concentration on this blessing (though of course, one should have concentration on the following blessings as well if he prays sincerely).  Hence,  it is ironic that Yaakov's lesser status name is used specifically in the most important Shemoneh Esrei blessing, even though it is referring to him specifically and not his descendants, the Jewish people.

Most certainly, the fact that we mention these three righteous people at least three times a day in the most important prayer in the Siddur (prayerbook) comes to show that they had to have been among the most righteous people of all time.  Nevertheless, it is very clear that we are addressing specifically G-d.  But at that, there is a much bigger question that begs to be asked - why do we address G-d as "the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac, and the G-d of Jacob", as if - perish the thought - there were three gods that we are addressing, instead of making it simple and without confusion as "the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob"?  And at this, we see that if the main subject of this blessing is G-d, then rather than naming this blessing specifically as Avot referring to human beings, regardless of how righteous they were, perhaps we should at least refer to this first and most important blessing as the "G-d of the Patriarchs"?

The truth is, as much as we pray and learn about G-d, some of the information that we know about Him is about what He is not.  He is not more than one god such as the Trinity (excuse me, the word should be spelled as trinity without the capital T, for there is nothing holy about idol-worship), there is no other independent god, He does not have a gender, and He does not have a body.  And aside from the Bible beginning with G-d as the Creator of the universe, we know in general terms that He is everywhere, He knows the past, present, and future, He knows exactly what we are thinking or happening in the midst of our bodies, and He can do whatever He wants whenever and wherever He wants, without anything stopping Him.  But whatever other information we will learn about G-d from the Talmud to Kabbala, the truth is that we know all too little about Him, and very few of us have experienced Him.  The sole time that the Jewish people heard Him, whatever that means, was when G-d recited the Ten Commandments at the Giving of the Torah.

With this said, if we are going to relate to G-d at some minimal level, there has to be some common ground that can bring us to this point.  The creatures who are closest to G-d in holiness are the righteous people, who surpass the angels who are always at the same spiritual level, because while a human being who is living on Planet Earth is not experiencing the spirituality that the angels are being very close to G-d's Divine presence - even though G-d is in fact everywhere - he still has the chance to surpass the spiritual level of the angels if he so chooses to live a holy life the way that Hashem wants him to live.  And it is the first Jews - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (aside from their righteous wives), and from whom most of Jews are descended from (aside from converts), who were among the closest to G-d in terms of spirituality and holiness (yes, this does exclude Adam and Noah who were not Jewish, though these two were also righteous).  Hence, in order that we can feel that we can somehow relate to G-d, even though we can't see or hear Him at least in our physical state, we describe G-d as the G-d of these Avot.  And part of this experience is that we should feel Hashem as our Father and King, which is in fact describing Hashem in male terms, even though Hashem in fact does not have a gender.  But the obvious reason why this is so is because in nature, males are of a more stronger nature than women, and hence, people fear men more than women; and hence, even though the wives of the Avot were most righteous as well, we mention the Avot specifically in terms of G-d.

Now, knowing a bit about our Avot, our ancestors, we know from the Torah that each had different personalities.  Abraham was the man of kindness, par excellence.  Isaac, though of course was raised by his father Abraham to do kindness as well, he didn't go out of his way to invite guests as Abraham did, but was much more of a judgmental nature, since after all, he saw that his father's outreach efforts didn't create too many Jewish families, and hence, reserved his spiritual energies as home, making sure that his own two sons received the best Torah education possible without being influenced from the outside world - although it didn't help his son Esau at the end (there are times that one must choose not to be too liberal, but focus on the ones who show true sincerity in outreach efforts, but this is beyond the scope of this post), and devoted himself with the majority of his time in prayer.  Jacob, whose father was Isaac and his grandfather was Abraham, combined the above two traits of kindness and judgement/strictness, and excelled in Torah learning - even more than Abraham and Isaac.

Hence, after making the distinction between the three Avot, even though they were all very righteous people, we can see why we mention G-d as the G-d of each individual Patriarch rather than as the G-d of one lump sum; for in fact, there are various ways of relating to Hashem, and one should not feel that since he is no "Abraham, Isaac or Jacob", it won't matter all that much to Hashem as to how hard he tries serving Him.  In fact, the Midrash tells us that a Jew should ask himself "When will my deeds reach the spiritual level of the Avot?", for even if one doesn't became a great Torah scholar due to his being a business man, let's say, he can still learn Torah in some spare time every day, using his circle of influence to bring other Jews close to Judaism, and perform great deeds of kindness by supporting Torah institutions while choosing whom he supports wisely by making sure that the institutions whom he supports are in fact following the Torah way and not behaving otherwise.  Thus, here is an example of a Jew, even though not one whom may be called a Torah scholar, who is relating in some way or another to ALL THREE AVOT.

As particularly the name Yaakov being used, rather than his more illustrious name Yisrael that Hashem Himself gave him, we see a couple of distinctions between the two names used in reference to Jews.  First, as mentioned by commentaries at a number of places in the Tanach (Jewish Bible) where both names are mentioned in the same verse as referring to Jews, Jacob refers to the layman while Israel refers to the Torah scholar.  And then, shortly before the Torah was given, Hashem tells Moses "So shall you say to the House of Jacob and tell the Children of Israel" (Exodus 19:3), where it is explained that Jacob refers to the women
while Israel refers to the men.  And as our rabbis tell us, women receive merit, even though they don't have the specific command to learn Torah - the greatest Mitzva of the Torah - as men do, by sending off their husbands and children to learn in Yeshiva and await their returning home.  Similarly, the ones who are successful more in their careers can earn merit by supporting those who study and teach Torah, thus acquring a share in the Torah learning.

Thus, even if one is not a Torah scholar in any way close to the way that Jacob was, by his support of Torah, he too can feel a connection to Jacob.  In fact, there is a verse that describes our special connection to the Torah, that is read in the midst of the last Parsha of the Torah that we read on Simchat Torah, the day on which all Jews feel a special connection to the Torah through rejoicing (and all males above the age of 13 get an Aliyah to the Torah) - Torah Tziva Lanu Moshe Morasha Kehilat Yaakov "The Torah that Moses commanded us is a heritage to the Congregation of Jacob", (Deutronomy 33;4) noting that the name Jacob - rather than Israel - is used in a verse that writes specifically about the Torah.  For in fact, as we see, there are relatively few rabbis compared to the majority who are layman, because the Torah - more than just meant to be learnt or taught, is meant to be observed with its 613 Mitzvot (Commandments), via the Halachot (Jewish Laws) that explain how these Mitzvot are performed, and can be relatively understood in terms of following the laws of the Torah correctly, even without knowing how the Gemara/Talmud, for example, arrives at the conclusion via the give and take discusssions, arguments, etc., though thorough knowledge is needed of this to arrive at the proper Halachic decision to tell others.  This is aside from the story in the Talmud in which one rabbi made a sarcastic remark to an unlearned Jew based on the latter's lack of Torah knowledge, who in turn quoted to the rabbi this verse, showing that the Torah, as a heritage, is for EVERY JEW, and not for a particular Torah scholar.

And so, while the Jews are usually called Yisrael as a whole, as reflected in later blessings of the Shemoneh Esrei, an individual Jew has to feel his own personal worth as a Jew, with the potential of being able to at least reach the level of the GOOD DEEDS of the Avot, even if one didn't have the opportunity, time, or brains of being a Torah scholar, so long as one bases his life on Torah standards, being reminded no less than three times a day that one has the potential to have his life based on G-dliness, the same way as each of the three Avot did in their own way of serving Hashem.  And hence, it is this most crucial point that a Jew begins with and must realize when having his most direct audience with Hashem via the Shemoneh Esrei; and it is then, and only then, can one have the proper reverence for Hashem, knowing that it is not simply enough to praise Hashem with various titles, but that one must treat Him as King in observance of His Commandments as the Avot did (even though the Torah wasn't officially given yet in their days), and in the midst of this blessing, we recite "KING, Helper, Savior, and Shield".


Before I continue on with this part of the post, one unique characteristic that must be mentioned about Yaakov Avinu (Jacob our Forefather) is that he especially represented the quality of truth.  For certainly, only one who is concerned about what the truth is and wants to live a life of truth can hope for Hashem's Seyata D'Shemaya (Divine Assistance) in becoming an accomplished Torah scholar - both in terms of quantity and memory.

While today, there have been some rabbis, who while they may be quite knowledgeable in Torah, have made statements that clearly are against the Torah, or cause arguments between different factions of Jews, they may have acquired their wealth of Torah knowledge at a young age when they weren't corrupted at the time, or due to some special merit such as self sacrifice living in poverty.  Whatever the case, only one who knows Torah and isn't afraid of the truth, especially if he says the Torah truth the way it is, regardless of the potential harmful consequences in this false world ruled by crooked and corrupt politicians and media, can truly be called a Talmid Chacham (Torah scholar); otherwise, one who is simply famed for his Torah scholarship but his statement and/or deeds do not reflect the Torah that one knows is certainly at the very least no better than a professor of Judaic studies who feels that he can be a critic and commentator of how he views the Torah that he teaches to his students simply as a college course that they are studying for credit.

There have been a number of Torah scholars since Yaakov Avinu's time with the name Yaakov who have made significant contributions to the literary library of the Torah.  This includes, first of all, a number of rabbis whose statements made their way in the Talmud and Midrash.  In later times, we had Rabbeinu Tam - grandson of Rashi and among the scholars whose statements are part of the Tosafot commentary on the Talmud.  Then there is the Ba'al HaTurim, one of the early works of Halacha which formed the basis of the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) written by Rabbi Yosef Karo.  Then, in terms of Midrashic contribution, there is Rabbi Yaakov Culi, who began the Meam Loez commentary on the Tanach, which was completed by others since his passing in the midst of his writing.  And, we don't want to forget Rabbi Yaakov Emden, a scholar of more recent times who wrote an extensive commentary, somewhat of a Kabbalistic nature, on the Siddur.

And in our generation, we had a Torah scholar who for some forty years, taught Torah on a regular basis in various places in Israel, aside from his own Yeshiva - Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, may the memory of the righteous be for a blessing, who passed away a few months ago following a period of suffering from cancer. Now, there have been a number of Torah greats with the Hebrew name Yaakov Yosef; but in this particular case, the name Yosef happened to be his last name, being the son of the former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel - Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.  In any case, his concentration of his teachings were in the area of Halacha.

But to many, Rabbi Yaakov's fame was partly due to his strict stance on certain issues, especially as related to Israel in that he was strictly against giving away any part of Israel to our sworn enemies even for the sake of Pikuach Nefesh "saving lives".  While his views did not necessarily always correspond to his own father's views in earlier times in the hopes that giving land away would appease the Arabs to prevent further bloodshed of Jews, we see that quite the opposite happened of these hopes, resulting in even more Jews being murdered, maimed, and injured after the Oslo Accords than before it, about which Rabbi Ovadia's Shas party refrained from voting against it.  Meanwhile, Rabbi Yaakov, as Rabbi Ovadia's son, who ruled such a "fanatical" Halachic ruling not to give in to Arabs, was treated along with his immediate family with disrespect for a while, but not only he would not dare say anything that he knew was against the Torah, he openly said what he believed in as the Torah truth, even though he could have easily justified himself by saying that he didn't want to contradict his famed father.  And a few years ago, he showed no less strength not only by writing an approbation  to a Sefer (holy book) which deals with the Halachot of fighting non-Jews who live in Israel who don't respect the rule of Jews whose rightful land is Israel, but also refused police orders to be questioned about his "crime" of showing "racism" against non-Jews who treat us as racists, until the police forcefully arrested him to question him.

At one point, when Rabbi Yaakov's father started the Shas party who had his son Rabbi Yaakov head it, this was during the very period that Rabbi Meir Kahane, may Hashem avenge his blood, started his Kach party and got his foot in the door of the pro-Arab Knesset, to be the voice of truth on behalf of Jews.  As it turned out, when Rabbi Kahane spoke, one by one of the Knesset members walked out on him, but it was always Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, though the head of the newly formed Shas party that his father founded, who stayed in the room being intrigued by what Rabbi Kahane had to say.  After a year, Rabbi Yaakov felt that politics was not for himself, and resumed teaching Torah which was his mainstay in life.  Speaking of which, there was the time early on when the Gabbai (the one who makes the arrangements in the synagogue) of one synagogue complained to the rabbi that as a result of him teaching Torah classes there, it was costing it more money for electricity.  Perhaps if the Gabbai would have realized that the main thing in a Jew's life is Torah, or if he would have cared to find out if the rabbi was even receiving any money for teaching, he would have approached others instead to help defray the electricity costs.  However, despite the rabbi's meager living quarters at that time and didn't receive any money for teaching classes, Rabbi Yaakov - who realized the eternal value of teaching Torah - gave whatever little money he had in his pocket to the Gabbai who could care less, in order that he should be able to continue teaching the Torah class in that synagogue without interruption.

While many hoped that Rabbi Yaakov Yosef would survive his cancer, since after all, his own father was living having already reached the age of 90, it was not meant to be.  He passed away on 2 Iyar, Erev Shabbat.  But, unlike some others who are unconscious for some time before passing on, he was alert virtually to the time of his passing, even wearing Tefillin (phylacteries) while praying, despite his weakness. Now, to note the significance of his passing on this date, it has to do with the Sephira count of 49 days that takes place between Pesach (Passover) and Shavuot (Pentacost), and the date of 2 Iyar falls out on the 17th day of the Sephira.  We know that in the beginning of Parshat Vayechi, the final Parsha of Sefer Bereishit (Genesis), it states "Yaakov lived in the land of Egypt for 17 years", which were the last 17 years of his life.  But more significantly, it pertains to its corresponding Kabbalistic Sephira - Tiferet She'B'Tiferet (Beauty within Beauty).  Among the Sephirot as corresponding to the Seven Shepherds, or known as the Ushpizin (Heavenly Guests) of the Succah, it is Tiferet that corresponds to Yaakov Avinu.  Moreover, Tiferet relates especially to the concept of Tefillin, being the Pe'er, the beauty of Jewish uniform, and unlike others who are unconscious for a while before passing on, and hence, can't perform Mitzvot right before passing on, Rabbi Yaakov was able to perform this very important Mitzva of Tefillin in full consciousness on the day of his passing.  We also know from the teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov referring to the Tzadik (righteous person) as Pe'er (Likutei Moharan II:67), in which he was referring specifically to the Chasidic master Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berdichov who had passed away right before Rabbi Nachman delivered this teaching, referring to the departed rabbi as the Pe'er of the generation; and hence, decided to have his own Tefillin, which are called Pe'er, checked for any possible blemish as related to the rabbi's passing.

Ultimately, the most important thing pertaining to Rabbi Yaakov Yosef is that he lived the full potential of his name, following in the same TORAH OF TRUTH that the first Yaakov followed.  But the fact that he passed away on the very Sephira day that is most connected to Yaakov - as the ultimate level of Tiferet, one inside the other of its own Sephira, comes to show that indeed, this was one rabbi, one Torah scholar, one Tzadik, who was one of the few who didn't fall for politics and lived his entire life sticking to his principles of Torah truth without compromise, just as Rabbi Kahane, in his own way - and despite the challenges of his difference of opinion from that of his own famed father, living the characteristic trait that most resembled the first one with his namesake.  And while there have been many great rabbis with the name Yaakov in between, it would not be a mistruth to describe Rabbi Yaakov Yosef as "from Yaakov to Yaakov, there was none who rose up as Yaakov", for in a generation in which a few too many rabbis are blinded by falsehood who are the ultimate ones to be the cause of much bloodshed of Jews giving in to the whims and bribes of the pro-Arab anti-Torah Israeli government, Rabbi Yaakov shone out as one of the few beacons of truth in this final generation of exile who will shortly be witness to the coming to Moshiach.


In a recent post #179, I wrote all about Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, may the memory of the righteous be for a blessing, on the date (3 Tammuz) on which 33 years earlier, he completed his his translation on the Chumash (Penteteuch) called The Living Torah.  Little did I know that on that very morning, a well known rabbi passed away -  Rabbi Yehoshua Yeshaya Neuwirth, may the memory of the righteous be for a blessing - since I didn't even check the news being that I wanted to focus on writing my post that day as being the date of the completion of The Living Torah.

Rabbi Neuwirth accomplished quite a few things in the area of Halacha, including Taharat HaMishpacha (family purity) and Shemitta (letting the land of Israel rest from working on it once in every seven years).  But perhaps, his most famous accomplishment was his Halachic work on the laws of Shabbat entitled Shemirat Shabbat K'Hilchato "Observance of the Sabbath according to Jewish Law", which is both in Hebrew and English (the latter in four volumes), divided into a total of 68 chapters, including the laws of Yom Tov and Chol HaMoed.  His work is unique in that the chapters are divided into categories in easy breakdown and explainable terms, accompanied with a very thorough index, considering the fact that there are numerous laws of Shabbat, along with the Halachic decisions as related to today's modern technology.  Indeed, the Chofetz Chaim quotes the Ya'aros Devash (Rabbi Yonasan Eibschutz) as saying that unless a Jew constantly goes over all the laws of Shabbat, one can always come to make some Sabbath violation.

Anyways, I want to first make mention of the significance of his two Hebrew names as related to Shabbat, and then relate this to Yaakov Avinu.  As for this Rabbi's first name Yehoshua, it was on this very date of his passing - 3 Tammuz - that the first Yehoshua, Moses' successor, and who led the Jews to Israel, who commanded the sun and moon to cease their functions until he was finished fighting the enemy (Joshua 10:12-14).  As a result, he was able to continue fighting without the sun setting on him until the end of the battle.  While there is a disagreement in the Talmud as to how many hours this wait time of the planetary system took place, what is most significant here is the reason for this - so the Jews could finish the battle BEFORE THE START OF SHABBAT.  Now, even though this was a Mitzva war, in which the Jews would not only be permitted to fight on Shabbat, but even would have obligated to do so despite violation of Shabbat, Joshua did not want the holy Shabbat coming up to be treated any less than any other Shabbat, and hence, called for a miracle, a cessation of nature until the immediate needs of the Jews were completed so Shabbat could be observed and celebrated properly.

As for the rabbi's second name Yeshaya, this is the name of the prophet whose book that is named after him, consisting of one of the largest books in the Tanach, includes quite a few places in which he mentions about Shabbat - especially the observance of this day.  One such passage is recited by many in the daytime Kiddush of Shabbat, which is the following: "If you draw back your foot because of the Sabbath, if you will restrain  yourself from doing that which you desire on My holy day, if you call the Sabbath a joy, if you call Hashem's sanctified day honored, and respect it by not following your usual ways, by not pursuing your business and by not speaking about forbidden matters, then shall you rejoice in Hashem and I shall make you ride over the heights of the earth and shall feed you the inheritance of Jacob, your father; for the mouth of Hashem has spoken" (Isaiah 58:13-14).  In practical terms, this passage is the very rabbinic source (meaning, not included in the laws of Shabbat as handed down from Hashem to Moses in explanation of the 39 categories of work as derived from the Chumash) for various that we do in honor of Shabbat, as well as refraining from certain activities that though they themselves aren't work as per the 39 categories of forbidden work on Shabbat, they take away from the spirit of Shabbat.

As it turns out, Chapter 29 of Rabbi Neuwirth's Sefer on Shabbat deals with this very topic, entitled "Laws Derived from Isaiah: Running, Walking Commerce, Measuring, Reading, Speaking".  You can check out the details for yourself in this Sefer, but perhaps what makes this most interesting, is that there are exactly 66 numbered paragraphs, just as there are 66 chapters in the Book of Isaiah? Coincidence?  I believe that somehow, the rabbi managed to find a way to get this arranged according to the exact number of chapters in Isaiah.  In any event, the topic in this chapter is unique, because it is this chapter, in which its laws are based on two verses in Isaiah, that focuses on THE SPIRIT OF SHABBAT.  You see, one can indeed be a good abiding Sabbath observant Jew, not technically violating any Shabbat laws; but aside from the obligatory prayers, eating three hearty meals, and sleeping half of Shabbat, while conversing with friends in the synagogue for the remaining time, one could easily loose track of what Shabbat truly represents - spirituality, holiness.  In fact, there is a story about my first Gemara Rebbe, Rabbi Zev Leff, Shlita, presently the Rav of Moshav Matityahu (in Israel of course), who was the rabbi of a synagogue many years ago back in my hometown of North Miami Beach who was among those who installed the Eiruv, a device involving strings attached around an area that allows Jews to carry things in what is normally considered in the public domain , but is Halachicly legalized as being in a private domain .  Following this, there were those who took advantage of this and started playing basketball in public places on Shabbat, hardly keeping with the spirit of Shabbat, and certainly an activity that takes away from the study of Torah.  In reaction to this, Rabbi Leff threatened that if this would not stop, he would take the Eiruv right down.

On the other hand, for many, especially for those who didn't have much time to learn Torah during the week, if anything, it is on Shabbat on which not only they hear the Torah portion being read, but will go to Torah lectures or learn from Seforim (holy books) as part of the spirituality of the day in which they don't have to report to work.  For Hasidic Jews especially, the Sabbath is truly a day that is compared to the bliss of the world to come, praying at length without the pressures of the workweek for some, and many of whom attend their Rebbe's Tisch (table in Yiddish) who eats his Shabbat meal in the presence of his Hasidim, and delivers words of Torah.

Anyways, back to Rabbi Neuwirth, as per his second name Yeshaya, the LAST Shabbat in his life in this world was also Rosh Chodesh, in which we read the Haftara that pertains especially to a Shabbat that coincides with Rosh Chodesh, which is the LAST Chapter in Sefer Yeshaya, as it concludes with "It will be on every Rosh Chodesh and on  every Shabbat (in Messianic times), that all flesh will come to bow down to me, says Hashem".  Certainly, in the case of this rabbi who wrote a well used Sefer on the laws of Shabbat, whose name includes the name of the prophet who mentions Shabbat in his book many times, this can't be dismissed as mere coincidence.

As for Yaakov, well, his name is mentioned in the above Isaiah verses.  But to understand what his special connection is to Shabbat, we must turn to the Talmud (Shabbat 117b) in which it states: "Rabbi Yochanan said in the name of Rabbi Yose: Whoever delights in Shabbat will be given an inheritancc without boundaries, as it states "Then shall you rejoice in Hashem...the inheritance of Jacob your father".  Not like Abraham...Not like Isaac...But like Jacob about whom it is written "You shall spread out to the west, east, north, and south" (Genesis 28:14)", this verse indicating that one's inheritance will be compared to Israel in all directions, which was promised specifically to Jacob.

And being that Shabbat is the SEVENTH Day, it should be noted that the above verse is in Parshat Vayeitzei, the SEVENTH Parsha of the Torah.  Additionally, both the chapter number 28 and the verse number 14 are multiples of SEVEN.  As this verse is particularly about Israel's boundaries, bearing in mind that its land is granted rest every SEVENTH year, it was Yehoshua who led the Jewish people to fight the enemies to win uncontested takeover of Israel, consisting of a total of 14 years, which included SEVEN years of fighting, and SEVEN years of dividing the land between the tribes, half of Yehoshua's total of 28 years of leadership until his passing, which took place entirely in Israel.  And as mentioned earlier, we see Yehoshua's devotion to Shabbat, particularly in not wishing that the Jews should have to fight a war on Shabbat, even though it would have been obligatory under the circumstances, but was concerned that the Jews would not otherwise feel the spirit of Shabbat if the would have to fight.  And as for Yaakov himself, the Gematria of his name - 182 - is a multiple of the numbers 26 and 7, bearing in mind that Hashem's holiest name, which can only be written (consisting of the letter Yud, the letter Hei, the letter Vav, and the letter Hei) but forbidden to be pronounced, is the Gematria of 26, and the holiest day of the week is Shabbat, the SEVENTH day.  And in additional support of this, there are 26 times that the phrase Yom HaShabbat (Day of the Sabbath) is written in the entire Tanach.


And finally, as Yaakov Avinu's special characteristic trait was truth, it has been noted that the last letters of the first three words of the Torah - Beeishit Bara Elokim (Tav/Sav, Aleph, Mem) - can be rearranged to spell the word Emet (truth).  Accordingly, the last letters of the final three words of the section about the first Shabbat following the Creation - Bara Elokim La'a'sot (Aleph, Mem, Tav/Sav) - which can be read directly as Emet.  Now, while in both instances, we are treating the Mem Sophit (the way that the Mem looks specifically as the last letter of a word) as a regular Mem.  However, when including the five letters that are spelled only as the last letter of a word within the 22 regular letters, making the total as 27 letters, it turns out that the word Emet consists of the first letter, the middle letter being that when we include the Chaf Sophit immediately after the regular Chaf, that the letter Mem comes out to be the 14th and middle letter, and Tav is the last letter.  With this said, there are a total of 27 letters or forms, and when multiplied with the Gematria of Hashem's main name - 26, the total is 702 - the Gematria of the word Shabbat (27*26), as mentioned in beginning of the Chasidic book Bnei Yissaschar about Shabbat, quoting the Zohar that the word Shabbat is a name of Hashem, and it can multiply evenly with another number that yields the total that is the Gematria of the word Shabbat.  And just as Shabbat is the end, or the seal of the week; so too is truth the seal of Hashem, as mentioned in the Talmudic tractate of Shabbat (31a) of all tractates.

And speaking of the truth, I recently came across a Jewish blog whose owner cares very much about the truth as it pertains to Israel.-  This is a regularly updated post, exposing and specializing on what is REALLY happening in Israel.  This includes a four part video somewhere on the right hand side of the immediate post page, which exposes the traitors in the expulsion of some 9,000 Jews from Gush Katif, including both rabbis and some members of the Yesha council which included leaders of the "settlement" movement, who are clearly among the Eruv Rav who will perish for eternal punishment in the soon to come Messianic days, which is no differenent than the evil Spies who returned from visiting Israel with their slanderous report which caused the death of nearly a whole generation of Jewish men who believed the fairy tale lies about Israel, who cried like babies on the night whose date of Tisha B'Av became a future date of crying for Jews as a result.

And speaking of Tisha B'Av, let's turn to the midst of the Haftara (selected reading of the Prophets that's read publicly in the synagogue that is read as a related theme to what was just read in the Torah) for the morning of Tisha B'Av - Ki Chol Ach AKOV YA'KOV "for every brother acts crookedly" (Jeremiah 9:3), noting that the double wording for "crookedly" most resembles Jacob's name ironically; and then followed by the following verse mentioning further about how the Jews in Jeremiah's time were misbehaving in other ways, including "they don't speak the truth, they train their tongue to speak falsehood'; traits that diametrically oppose the good traits of pure truth of Yaakov.

In fact, Yaakov's very name was based on the very fact on holding on to his twin brother's heel - EIKEV - as they were exiting the womb.  Some 63 years later, when Yaakov wound up be blessed from their father Isaac instead of Esau, and Esau realized this, he exclaimed Hachi Kara Shemo Yaakov VaYakeveini Zeh Pa'amayim  "So that is why he is called YAAKOV for (alluding to the future) he TRICKED me twice" (Genesis 27:36), the first time being when Yaakov received the privileges of the birthright from Esau the firstborn, who in fact sold it to him for a bowl of beans.

In least in Jacob's case, while he is described as Ish Tam "man of simplicity" (Genesis 25:27), and when the Hebrew letters of Ish Tam are rearranged, they can also be read as Yesh Emet "there is truth", there are times that one has to deal crookedly - not with just anyone who expects you to deal honestly with him in business who doesn't have an agenda, but with someone who is clearly out to crook out someone, whether it is you or someone else; otherwise, the evil of corruption will be allowed to fester and spread.  Of course, one who is truly honest and can read people will smell a rat.  The Talmud relates that when Jacob first met Rachel his cousin, whose father Laban was the crook of town, she warned Jacob of her own father as she knew that Laban would do everything in his power to see to it that he would have Leah, Rachel's older sister, to be married first.  Jacob then assured Rachel that he is "Laban's brother in trickery", for as the verse in Tehillim (Psalms) states "with the crooked, You act perversely" (18:27), for even Hashem, so to speak, has to act the same way as the crook to bring him down.  For if one were to say "Well, two wrongs don't make it right", in this type of case where one can potentially hurt others financially or otherwise G-d forbid, not taking action that is necessary to nip it in the bud will cause much heartache, and hence, there are times that one must speak the same language, so to speak, as the one who looks to harm others for his own selfish gain, which will be the only language that he understands if he doesn't want to know what's good for himself.

Ultimately, while the functions of Yaakov are well needed in this world of falsehood, the time will come at the End of Days that the concept of the name of Yisrael, the END word of the Torah, will stand out, being that unlike Eikev (heel), the root of Jacob's name, represents accomplishing what needs to be done via the backdoor at times without revealing the good deed to all to "get away with it" in a world in which the good is despised; the name Yisrael that includes the letters of the word Rosh (head) - Reish, Aleph, Shin - is what will define the Jewish nation at the end of time when it will be obvious to the nations of the world that we will be the "head of nations", who will be able to serve Hashem without fear of anyone or nation protesting the good that we will do, including repossessing the ENTIRE LAND OF ISRAEL, including additional land parts.

27 Tammuz, 5773