Wednesday, October 2, 2013

#193 - The All-Encompassing Unity

First, I should note that celebrates five years of  Gematriot based Torah content since I started this immediately following the Simchat Torah holiday on which we conclude the last portion of the Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll).

Speaking of the number five, the word Simcha (happiness), the basis of the name of the holiday Simchat Torah, has the same letters as the word Chamisha (five) or HaChamesh (the five), noting that the letter Shin in the word(s) Chamisha/HaChamesh and the letter Sin in the word Simcha is essentially the same letter - aside from its exact pronunciation - as written in the Sefer Torah.  For indeed, it is on Simchat Torah that we conclude the reading of the FIVE books of the Chumash - this word based on the word Chamesh (five).

To note, the name Simchat Torah is another name for the holiday Shemini Atzeret (outside of Israel, it is the second day of Shemini Atzeret that is called Simchat Torah), which immediately follows the seven days of Sukkot.  And as for the connection of Sukkot with the number five, the Hebrew letters of the word Sukkah-
Samech, Kaf, Hei - which is the hut that we reside in during this holiday, resemble the three different types of Sukkot (in this context, the plural for Sukkah) that may be constructed according to Halacha (Jewish law). The Samech is an enclosed letter from all four sides, and so is the Sukkah with its maximum of four sides. The Caf has three sides to it, and so can a Sukkah be constructed as with only three walls  And finally, the letter Hei - the FIFTH letter of the Alef-Beit and the numerical value of FIVE - consists of two sides and a part of a third, and so too, can a Sukkah can have two sides and a part of a third to meet the minimum requirement of a walled Sukkah.  

In terms of various parts of the Torah in relationship with the number five, the Mishnaic tractate of Sukkah consists of FIVE chapters. Also, the Maftir reading of the first day of Sukkot (Numbers 29:12-16) as well as the Maftir of Parshat Re'eh (Deutronomy 16:13-17) which is also the FIFTH Aliyah of the reading of the last day of Yom Tov (Jewish holiday) outside of Israel when it doesn't fall out on Shabbat - each consist of FIVE verses.   Additionally, of the five Megillot (from the Ketuvim/Writings part of the Tanach/Jewish Bible) that are read during the course of the year that begins with the reading of the Sefer Torah anew, Megillat Kohelet (Eclesiastes) is the FIFTH of the Megillot.

And then on Simchat Torah, the first FIVE Aliyot - consisting of the first 26 verses - of the last Parsha of the Torah that is called V'Zot HaBeracha are read over and over again to give a chance for every Jewish male from the age of Bar-Mitzvaz and up to have an Aliyah on this most joyous day of the Jewish calendar. In similar fashion, the Kabbalistic Rabbi Isaac Luria, or else known as the Arizal - who passed away on the FIFTH day of the FIFTH month (Av) - instituted reciting of the first 26 verses of any given Parsha during the course of the first FIVE days of the week, reciting each verse twice with the accompanying Aramaic Targum translation, divided as 6-4-5-6-5 verses for the corresponding five days.

Now, as for the word Simcha, it is the Gematria of 353, and there are a minimum of 353 days that occur in a Jewish calendar year.  Noting that Simchat Torah is the final day in the annual cycle of the reading of the Sefer Torah, as it occurred particularly this (past) year, Simchat Torah was the 353rd and final day of this past year of the cycle of the Sefer Torah reading, the day on which we conclude the reading of the FIVE book of the Torah - CHAMISHA Chumshei Torah, bearing in mind that the words Simcha and Chamisha have the same letters!

And speaking of the MINIMUM amount of days in the Jewish calendar in relationship to the number FIVE, as I mentioned a little earlier here, the MINIMUM required for a Halachic or Kosher Sukkah is its wall resemblance to the letter Hei=FIVE.  Perhaps this hints to the concept of even an "empty" Jew, who practices a MINIMAL standard of Judaism, is full of commandments as a pomegranate (Talmud Eruvin 19a).  For indeed, the Sukkah represents Hashem's protection of the Jewish people as He provided in the desert even for the wicked ones; and on Simchat Torah, all Jewish men are given a chance to have an Aliyah in the Sefer Torah, which concludes with the word Yisrael, which refers to the Jewish people, consisting of FIVE letters.  And speaking of letters, the total amount of letters in the Sefer Torah is 304,805.  Hence, after 3,048 units of 100 letters in the Sefer Torah, the final five letters that comprise the name Yisrael are the beginning of the 3,049th unit of 100 letters.

So as we see here, the concept of unity is especially connected to the holiday of Sukkot in which the Mitzvot of this holiday represent Jews of all levels of observance or non-observance.  In a way, this is in sharp contrast to the holiday of Passover when we read of the "Four Sons" at the Seder, who while they are all at the Seder, the wicked son is castigated for his bad attitude.  However, it is the holiday of Sukkot that relates in an embracing way to ALL Jews in terms of Judaism.  This is also reflected in the Mitzva of the Arba Minim "Four Species" which represent four basic types of Jews: the Etrog - the scholarly and those of good deeds, the Lulav - those who are only scholarly,  the Hadas - those who are only of good deeds, and the Arava - those who aren't scholarly or of good deeds.  And if you notice the names of the Four Species in Hebrew, you will notice that the letter Hei (5) is the last letter of the last of these species that represents the worst elements of our Jewish brethren, just as mentioned a little earlier here about the form of the letter Hei being the minimum requirement of a Kosher Sukkah.  For so long as a Jew lives and breathes, he always has the chance to repent as represented by the shape of the Hei in which figuratively, those who wish to repent can climb up at the open space of the bottom of this letter (see Rashi on Genesis 2:4).

As we see in the Zohar, the holiday of Sukkot is especially connected to Aaron of the Seven Shepherds; or in the context of the holiday of Sukkot - the FIFTH of the Ushpizin or the Seven Heavenly Guests (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, David).  And it was especially Aaron who went out of his way to make peace between two fighting Jews or Jewish couples; who was in fact mourned by more Jews than even Moses following their respective deaths due to his outreach peace making efforts.  In any case, on every Shabbat night in the Beracha (blessing) that we recite right before the Shemoneh Esrei prayer, we conclude it with HaPoreis Sukkat Shalom "The One Who spreads the Sukkah (booth) of PEACE over us, over the entire Jewish people, and Jerusalem.

Also, it should be noted that there are only two Mitzvot that are performed with our entire bodies - living in the Sukkah, and living in Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel), representing the unity of our entire bodies in contrast to the other Mitzvot that are performed with a specific part of the body.  This represents the concept of all Jews having an equal opportunity to be servants of Hashem, since after all, Judaism is not reserved for the select scholarly few, but for all Jews who are bidden to listen to the weekly Parsha being read in the Sefer Torah regardless of whether they may be Talmudic scholars or those who wouldn't know what a Chumash (Penteteuch) is if they fell over one.  And speaking of which, in the times of the Beit HaMikdash (Temple), there was a special ceremony called Hakhel, the 612th Mitzva of the Torah, which took place once every seven years following the Shemitta year during Sukkot in which the king read from the Sefer Torah to the entire Jewish people, including the women and children; once again, showing how Sukkot is especially related to the unity of the Jewish people.

And as related to Gematria, during the course of the seven day Sukkot holiday, we encircle the Bima (platform on which the Sefer Torah is read) once each day for the first six days, and then seven times on the seventh and final day which is called Hoshana Raba, resembling what Joshua and the Jews did with encircling Jericho for an entire week prior to conquering the first city in Israel.  In total, the Bima is encircled 13 times during Sukkot, and the number 13 is the Gematria of both the words Echad (one) which is related to the word Achdut (unity) and Ahava (love) which is related to the concept of Chesed (kindness).

And now, of the 49 Sephira combinations, the third one is Tiferet She'B'Chesed.  For Tiferet (beauty) - the THIRD of the seven basic Sephirot, represents the concept of various factions being combined as one, just as something multicolored, in contrast to being just one color, makes the masterpiece a beautiful object to be viewed.  And it is especially the holiday of Sukkot - the THIRD of the Shalosh Regalim "Three Pilgrimage Festivals", more than any other Jewish holiday, that represents the concept of unity and beauty.  In short, we display the beauty of Sukkot via the concept of the oneness and unity of the Jewish people - not in spite of the differences among us, but precisely BECAUSE of our differences, for it is only when everyone has something else, something different, to offer to the table, can there be a sense of completion, as demonstrated with the word Tiferet that both begins and ends with the letter Tav, the LAST letter of the 22 letters of the Aleph-Beit; and hence, it is on the 22nd day of Tishrei (in Israel), the holiday of Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah which immediately follows Sukkot, that we read the LAST Parsha of the Sefer Torah, the one Parsha of the Torah in which ALL Jews (male from the age of Bar Mitzva) receive an Aliyah every year.

28 Tishrei, 5774

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