Monday, November 18, 2013

#195 - Righteousness Ends with Kindness

Continuing on with the time of the year on the Hebrew calendar, the 29th and end of the first month of the Hebrew year - Tishrei, marks the Yarhzeit of Shimon HaTzadik "Simeon the Righteous", who was the last surviving member of the 120 members of the original Knesset and served as Cohen Gadol (High Priest) for 40 years in the Second Temple.  He is perhaps most famous for his statement, recorded in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), where he states "On three things does the world stand - Torah, Avoda (prayers or Temple service), and Gemilut Chasadim (performance of deeds of kindness)" (1:2).

And as righteousness (Tzidkut) follows in the heels of justice (Tzedek), noting the similarity of these Hebrew worlds, so too, does the Sephira Hod, the theme of this post as Hod She'Be'Chesed, the fifth of the 49 Sephira combinations, serve as a companion to the previous Sephira of Netzach, the Sephira of my previous post.  For in fact, Netzach represents the right side of the body and Hod represents the left side of the body.

We see an amazing parallel between the Biblical Aaron, the first Cohen Gadol, and Shimon HaTzadik, one of the few righteous Cohanim Gedolim (High Priests) in the times of the 420 years of the Second Temple's existance.  Aaron passed away on the FIRST day of the FIFTH month (Av), and Shimon HaTzadik passed away on the FIRST day of the FIFTH week of the Hebrew year that begins with Rosh Hashana.  It is hardly of any surprise, for Kabbalistically, Aaron - as the FIFTH of the Seven Shepherds (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, David) - especially represents the Sephirah of Hod.  Moreover, we see in Kabbala that the Cohen is dubbed Ish Chesed "personage of kindness".  In another way of looking at this, in the seven Aliyahs, the seven people who are called up to the Torah reading on Shabbat morning (aside from Maftir which is based on the honor of reading the Haftara), the first one who is called up is a Cohen, just like Chesed (kindness) is the first of the seven Sephirot.  Hence, both the Sephirot of Chesed and Hod are espeically related to the concept of the Cohen.

Now the truth is, mentioning by both Aaron and Shimon HaTzadik being that they passed away on the FIRST (day) of the FIFTH (month/week), in one sense, the particular Sephira combination would seem to be Chesed She'Be'Hod.  But, in terms of the order of the Hebrew year, it seems that at least for Shimon HaTzadik, the particular Sephira combination seems to be the opposite way - Hod She'BeChesed, that is the FIFTH Sephira of the FIRST Sephira, rather than the FIRST Sephira of the FIFTH Sephira.  In any case, we see that indeed, Shimon HaTzadik mentions particular the concept of Chesed among the things that keep the world standing, that is, the raison d'etre of the world's existance, for otherwise, there would be no reason for this world to continue existing as for the reason that Hashem created it to begin with.  In fact, the very last word of this statement of Shimon HaTzadik is Chasadim (kindnesses), as indeed, the first week of the seven weeks of the Sephira period leading to Shavuot is indeed the week of the Sephira of Chesed, hinting to this by the word for Chesed in plural.

While we are on the topic of Hod and the number five, we see another amazing parallel in terms of the Yarhzeits of two of the early Kabbalistis - Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Rashbi) who is the author of the teachings of the Zohar, and Rabbi Isaac Luria (the Arizal).  Rashbi passed away on Lag Ba'Omer, which is the FIFTH day of the FIFTH week of the Sephira period leading to Shavuot, representing the Sephira combination of Hod She'Be'Hod; and the Arizal passed away on the FIFTH day of the FIFTH month (Av).

And we see another amazing thing here.  Both Aaron whose parallel here is Shimon HaTzadik, and the Arizal whose parallel is Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, passed away in the month of Av, which is represented by is corresponding Tribe of Shimon, noting how my namesake is especially connected to the number FIVE, being that the months corresponding to the 12 Tribes, as correctly pointed out in the Hasidic Sefer Bnei Yissaschar (unlike other sources who claim other orders of the tribes in relationship to the months), is based on the concept of the order of the 12 Tribal princess who brought offerings in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) during the respective first 12 days of Nissan, being that the dedication of the Mishkan took place on the first of the month of Nissan; and hence, the leader of the Tribe of Shimon brought his offerings on the FIFTH day.  And while we are at it, being that Shimon HaTzadik mentions that one of things that cause the world to continously stand is the Avoda, which includes the interpretation of Temple service, the leader of the Tribe of Shimon brought his offerings based on themes related specific to the Mishkan, the forerunner of the Temple, in which the Cohanim were the main ones who served in the Temple Service, headed by the Cohen Gadol. Indeed, of the six volumes of the Mishna, it is the FIFTH volume, called Kodoshim, which is all about the various holy offerings and the details of the building of the Temple.

And this leads to another parallel of Hod and the number five.  In Tehillim (Book of Psalms), it is divided into five Sepharim (books) parallel to the Chumash (Penteteuch) which consists of five books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deutronomy), which is also known as the Five Books of Moses.  On this note, Psalm 107 is the beginning of the FIFTH book of Tehillim.  Now, turning to the FIFTH psalm of this FIFTH book, it is Psalm 111.  This is one of the psalms in Tehillim that is based on the order of the Aleph Beit.  In this particular psalm, every half verse begins with another letter of the Aleph Beit in order.  And so, the beginning of the third verse (111:3) begins with the word HOD - Hod V'Hadar Pa'alo V'Tzidkato Omedet La'ad "Majesty and spendor is His work, and His righteousness stands forever."  Indeed, we see a similar parallel of this verse to the statement of Shimon HaTzadik and what he represents.   First, Hod that represents Shimon HaTzadik as Cohen (Gadol) begins this verse, and we see that he is called Shimon the RIGHTEOUS, and his statement in Pirkei Avot mentions three things upon which the world STANDS.  By the way, this verse in Tehillim begins with the letter Hei and ends with the letter Dalet, just as the name of the Sephira HOD, the very word that begins this verse.A

In fact, in terms of Gematria, the word Hadar (splendor), the companion word to Hod (majesty) which corresponds to Shimon HaTzadik, is the Gematria of the word HaTzadik (the Righeous) - 209. Coincidence?  And while we are at it, the Parsha of Vayikra, the first Parsha of  the THIRD book of the Chumash - Vayikra (Book of Leviticus) which is also called Torat Cohanim (Laws of the Cohanim) being that most of this book contain Mitzvot (commandments) and Halachot (laws) that are related especially to the Cohanim, consists of 111 verses - which is the Parsha that is a composite of the various types of offerings - noting that the connection of this verse in Tehillim about Hod is in the THIRD verse of the 111st chapter of Tehillim.  Moreover this verse consists of 24 letters, just as Parshat Vayikra is the 24th Parsha of the Chumash.   And after all, the number 24 is very connected to the Cohanim, for there were 24 watches of Cohanim who rotated their turns serving in the Temple every week, as well as the 24 Matnot Kehuna (Priestly Gifts), consisting of various alloted food portions from the various Mitzvot which materialistically benefit the Cohanim who served as teachers of the Jewish people instead of regular work that most other Jews performed to make a living.

And so is the number 15, the Gematria of the word Hod.  For first of all, we see in the Talmud (Berachot 58a) where Rabbi Akiva notes that the Sephira Hod represents the Beit HaMikdash (Temple).  And as we see in the Haggada of Passover that is recited at the Seder, there is a list of 15 things that Hashem granted us, and the 15th and last one on the list is granting us the Temple "to atone for all our sins".  Moreover, in our daily morning prayers in the section of the offerings, there is a section from the Talmud (Yoma 33a) which begins off with Abaye having made a Seder (true!) which in this context means order of the various daily services in the Temple, which were a total of 15 different things.

So as we can see here, the 15 spiritual gifts that Hashem has given us is from His bountiful kindness, which is the ultimate representation of Hod She'Be'Chesed; and accordingly, Hashem wants us in return to reciprocate His kindnesses, which are also the means through which, we can serve Him in the Temple, the ultimate representation of the number 15, the Gematria of the name of the Sephira of Hod that represents the Temple.  And while presently, the Temple has yet to be rebuilt (which by the way, is not necessarily dependent on the coming of Moshich, but could have happened already had the religious world took advantage in 1967 when the Temple Mount returned to our hands, but since it didn't, it was allowed to be returned to the Wakf by the traitor Moshe Dayan, who is certainly burning in hell until today for giving back to the Arabs the most holiest spot in the world), our prayers and study of the Temple service substitute the Temple service until we have our Temple rebuilt shortly.  May this happen in our days.  Amen!

16 Kislev. 5774

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