Tuesday, December 31, 2013

#205 - Which New Year?

Though I am writing in this post on the first day of the new secular year (actually, the blogpost will show the last day of the outgoing secular year, because it is based on a different time zone than where I am at in Israel), it so happens that I am writing this post for a totally different reason.  In fact, when it comes to Rosh Hashana that some call the Jewish New Year, it is techically a misnomer, because the actual definiton of Rosh Hashana is Head of the Year.  But the reason why I chose the subject of this post to read New, rather than Head, will be evident during the course of this post.

The Hebrew number for 205 - the number of this Post - is Reish-Hei, which is the acronym for Rosh Hashana.  Though there may not seem to be any connection between this number and Rosh Hashanah other than the acronym aspect, you may expect some surprises here.  For what I will soon mention, though the ideas that will be presented here come from Torah sources no doubt, putting together the puzzle pieces will make some think about the difference between Hashgacha Peratit (Divine Providence) and coincidences, the latter which is called in Hebrew - Mikreh, which can actually be reread when rearranging the letters in this word as Rak Mei'Hashem "Only from Hashem", aside from the fact that the last two letters of this word Mikreh are also Reish-Hei.

With this said, Rosh Chodesh Shevat - the first day of the month of Shevat - falls out this year at night of the first day of the secular calendar year.  But the real significance of Rosh Chodesh Shevat, aside from being Rosh Chodesh, has something else that is connected to Rosh Hashana.

There is a Mishna learning program in which a chapter of Mishna is learned daily, which takes like a year and a half for a full cycle, and is presently in its 9th cycle since its inception on 27 Shevat 5762 (2002).  And out of the 525 chapters of Mishna to be learning about Rosh Chodesh Shevat takes place on this very date - as the first chapter of Tractate Rosh Hashana!

So, lets turn to the first Mishna of this tractate: Arba'ah Roshei Shanim Heim "There are four Rosh Hashanas (New Years, literally means "Heads of Years"): On the first of Nissan, it is the Rosh Hashana of kings and holidays.  On the first of Elul, it is the Rosh Hashana of the tithing of animals.  Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Shimon say that it (the tithing of animals) is on the first of Tishrei.  On the first of Tishrei (when we normally refer to as Rosh Hashana), it is the Rosh Hashana of years, Sabbatical years, Jubilee years, planting, and vegetables. ON THE FIRST OF SHEVAT, IT IS THE ROSH HASHANA OF THE TREE, according to the words of Beit Shammai.  Beit Hillel say that it (the Rosh Hashana of the tree) is on the fifteenth of the month (Tu B'Shevat)."

Now, there is a little irony here.  You see, as the Gemara on this Mishna explains, the reason why these four dates are designated as Rosh Hashanas, the New Year for their respective reasons, is because they are all Roshei Chodashim (plural for Rosh Chodesh); for in fact, there are other dates in the Jewish calendar that can be called Rosh Hashana.   For example, there is the 16th of Nissan, which marks the Omer barley offering being brought in the Temple, allowing the barley of the new harvest to be eaten according to Jewish law (which was forbidden beforehand).  However, the Gemara explains that it is only the dates of Rosh Chodesh, which represent something that terms these dates as Rosh Hashana, that are recorded as such in the Mishna.

So here is where the irony enters.  For in fact, what we observe as the Rosh Hashana of trees is (at least nowadays) on the 15th of Shevat, what is normally called as Tu B'Shevat, following the Halacha like Beit Hillel, as is typically the case, rather than the views of Beit Shammai, who hold that this Rosh Hashana is on the first of Shevat.  However, had it not been for the opinion of Beit Shammai to begin with, it seems that Tu B'Shevat would never have been mention here, based on what the Gemara said as to the qualifications of the dates that are called Rosh Hashana in the Mishna.

And so, it seems on the surface that basically, Beit Shammai is being used so to speak, due to the fact that he holds the Rosh Hashana of trees to be on Rosh Chodesh Shevat, when we don't follow the Halacha like this group, but according to his rival group, Beit Hillel, instead, who hold that this Rosh Hashana is observed in the middle of the month of Shevat.  So, what's the deal here?

The truth is that, as I have mentioned before in posting, that both opinions, even if they are opposing opinions, in Halacha (Jewish Law), are "words of the Living G-d" (P.S.  This does NOT include the opinons of some straying rabbis of today who will claim that parts of the Land of Israel can be given for "peace" or that soldiers have to follow orders to throw Jews from their homes because these are orders from the ruling Israeli government, which is clearly against the Torah, but this is a subject to be dealt with on its own); and so, even though technically, only one of the two opinions are able to be followed, there is Torah truth to the opposing opinion as well.

Now, to understand the Halacha in question here in terms of the New Year for trees, the Torah tells us not to eat from the produce of new trees for the first three years, and then in the fourth year, we redeem the fruit with money which then allows us to eat the fruit from henceforth.  Now, while the Jewish calendar year begins from the standard Rosh Hashana, the Rosh Hashana in this case that determines the new year for trees begins in Shevat, which we observe as Tu B'Shevat (15 Shevat) nowadays following the view of Beit Hillel.

So, it seems that in fact, the real Rosh Hashana for trees SHOULD BE on Rosh Chodesh Shevat; but it is only due to the technicality of the opinion of Beit Hillel that we observe this on a different date.   But still, how is it possible to even theoretically call Rosh Chodesh Shevat as a Rosh Hashana when it is not observed as such, for there cannot technically be two Rosh Hashanas, two New Years for the same thing.  And the reason that I say this, is that if you look carefully at the wording of the Mishna, it seems to imply that Rosh Chodesh Shevat is the fourth of the Roshei Hashana (New Years), for only after it mentions this date, does it say that this is "according to the words of Beit Shammai"; and then immediately afterwards, it mentions Beit Hillel of giving a differing opinon, but reversing the wording of mentioning the name of the one giving the opinion before the opinon itself.  For sometimes, the Mishna, when it mentions different opinions, mentions each rabbi and then his opinion.  And so, if this Mishna would have followed this same format, it would have first mentioned "New Year of the tree" followed by the two opinions of what the date for this is.

Believe it or not, you will not find the date of Tu B'Shevat anywhere in the entire Tanach (Jewish Bible). However, the first of Shevat is found in a very prominent place - the very beginning of Sefer Devarim (Deutronomy) the fifth Book of the Chumash (Penteteuch), which is termed as "the eleventh month, on the first day of the month", counting the Jewish months from Nissan, the month marking the Exodus and birth of the Jewish nation.  It was on this very date that Moses began his final series of discourses that ended on 7 Adar, the day on which he passed away, making up the content of the last book of the Five Books of Moses in just a matter of 36 days (in our present calendar, it seems to be 37 days, but I will soon mention why I mentioned 36 days specifically).

Now, in recent times, it has been mentioned in Hassidus, including in the Hasidic book called Bnei Yissaschar, that Rosh Chodesh Shevat marks another type of Rosh Hashana - the New Year of Torah She'B'Al Peh (Oral Law).  Now, while we received the Torah on Shavuot, which included Torah She'B'Al Peh; we see that the Torah demonstrates the concept of Torah She'B'Al Peh especially via the sermons of Moshe Rabbeinu to the Jewish people.  For as we typically see in the Torah, when Hashem wanted Moses to instruct the Jewish people with Mitzvot (Commandments), it writes "Hashem spoke to Moses saying. Speak to the Children of Israel..."  Until Deutronomy, there aren't many places where we see Moses directly speaking to the Jewish nation with commandments; for typically, this is was Moses did following Hashem speaking to him, so it is not necessary for the Torah to tell us everytime that this is what Moses did. However, while obviously, the Mitzvot and Halachot that Moses instructed the Jews in Deutronomy were no less from Hashem's instructions, here the narrator is Moshe Rabbeinu.  And it is this format that demonstrates the tradition of Torah She'B'Al Peh, for as it literally means, it is Torah that is spread by word of mouth, from generation to generation.  For if it was just the Penteteuch or the Bible, with no details or explanations of what the Written Word means, then we would be no better than the non-Jews who are left to figure out what the Word of G-d says.  And so, the fact that we see that the Book of Deutronomy focusing on Moshe Rabbeinu as the narrator, rather than Hashem, in the last five weeks of his life, shows us the importance of our Oral Tradition, and following our rabbis who are responsible for instructing us in the right path, through correct interpretations of the Torah (as opposed to what the ones who started the Enlightment, Reform, Conservative, etc. movements wanted to do was to water down Judaism "to make it easier" while they basically ignored the Talmud) based on the rules handed down from Hashem to Moses, including the 13 ways (Shlosh Esrei Middot) through which the Torah is interpreted.

Now, in this week's Parshat Bo, we see one of the few times in the Torah, within the middle three books of the Chumash (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers) in which we see that it is Moses who is giving over Mitzvot and Halachot to the Jewish people, starting off with Vayikra Moshe "Moses called to all the elders of Israel and said to them..." (Exodus 12:21), with instructions for observing Pesach (Passover), which by the way, is the very beginning of the Torah reading for the first day of this holiday.  In fact, this also marks the beginning of the fifth Aliya of this Parsha, and correspondingly, the fifth day of this week is Rosh Chodesh Shevat, marking the date of Moses speaking to the Jewish people in the final days of his life.

A hint to this concept of Torah She'B'Al Peh with the Book of Deutronomy can be found withe the opening words of this Book - Eileh HaDevearim Asher Diber Moshe El Kol Yisrael "THESE ARE THE WORDS that Moses spoke to the Chldren of Israel..."   Now first of all, it has been said that the letters of this opening word of Deutronomy - Eileh (Aleph, Lamed, Hei), begin the words Avak Lashon Hara "Dust of Evil Speech", referring to statements that one makes about another that could possibly lead to thinking bad of the latter.  While this may also be implied with this word, I say that the letters of Eileh begin the words Issur Lashon Hara "Prohibition of Evil Speech", for these are the words that Moses wanted to convey to the Jewish people.  For as the Chofetz Chaim, whose title is the name of the book that compiled these laws, notes that while the greatest Mitzva of all is learning/teaching Torah, for each word of Torah is another Mitzva of its own.  And conversely, each word of forbidden/evil speech is another Aveira (sin).  Hence, we see that in the very beginning of Deutronomy, the concept of Torah She'B'Al Peh, as is related particularly with the mouth.  Moreover, the word Eileh, the FIRST word of Deutronomy, can be dissected in two parts - the letter Aleph (1), and the letters (or number) Lamed-Hei (35), for indeed, the mention of Rosh Chodesh Shevat, the date in the context of the beginning of Deutronomy, is also mentioned in the beginning, in the FIRST of the 35 Mishnayot of Tractate Rosh Hashana.

And so, the fact that the study program of one chapter of Mishna a day places the first chapter of Tractate of Rosh Hashana, which includes mention of the very date on which this is learnt, which besides being the Rosh Hashana of trees according to Beit Shammai, is also termed the Rosh Hashana of Torah She'B'Al Peh, can hardly be dismissed as mere "coincidence".  And observing the name of this tractate and holiday - Rosh Hashana, this can also be read as Rosh (Head) of Hashana, this word having the same Gematria as the acronym Shas - 360, which are the letters Shin and Samech beginning the words Shisha Sedarim "Six Orders" referring to the Mishna that consists of six volumes.  Moreover, the words Hashana and Mishna are quite similar, the only difference in these four lettered words is that Hashana begins with a Hei and Mishna begins with a Mem.   Now, what is the head - the beginning - of the Mishna?  Mei'ei'matai Korin Et Shema B'Arvit "From when do we read the Shema in the evening?" which begins the six orders of the Mishna, the beginning of Tractate Berachot ("Blessings").  And this HEAD word Mei'ei'matai, the word that begins the Mishna, is the Gematria of the word Rosh (Head) - 501!  And so, the phrase Rosh Hashana, though the name of its own tractate, also hints to the beginning of the Mishna.

Furthering the connection between the two tractates of Berachot and Rosh Hashana, bearing in mind that the above Mishna study program is in its NINETH cycle, we recite a total of NINE BERACHOT in the Mussaf Shemoneh Esrei of ROSH HASHANA, the only time in the year that we recite particularly nine blessings in the Shemoneh Esrei, being that the three middle blessings each consists of 10 verses from the Tanach that represent Malchuyot (Hashem's Kingship), Zichronot (Rememberances) and Shofarot (plural for Shofar), respectively.  It is most interesting to note that on the first day of ROSH HASHANA, we read the Haftara from the beginning of the Book of Samuel about Chana, mother of Shmuel Hanavi (Samuel the Prophet), who was barren for many years until Hashem finally answered her prayers for children and granted him the future prophet.  Following this, we see that Chana prayed a special thanksgiving prayer in a poetic form.   But interestingly, the Talmud in Tractate BERACHOT (31a) learns several important points about prayer from the earlier part of the Haftara about Chana.  And as for her name, it is the Gematria of 63, the amount of tractates of the Mishna.

Now, back to Tractate Rosh Hashana itself, having mentioned that the difference between HASHANA and MISHNA is with the first letters Hei (5) and Mem (40), respectively, the difference of Gematria between these two words is 35, the amount of Mishnayot in this tractate, and is also the name of the concluding Daf of this tractate in the Babylonian Talmud.

Next, let us look at the HEAD (or first) letters of the first words of this tractate Ar'ba'ah Roshei Shana Heim "There are four Rosh Hashanas", which are the same letters that make up the word HaRosh "the head", or if just the letters of the first three words, it is the word Rosh (head).  Now, the word Rosh consists of the same letters as the name of the tribe Asher - WHO IS THE CORRESPONDING TRIBE OF THE MONTH OF SHEVAT!  And if this was not enough, we are told that Asher the son of Jacob prevents people who learned Mishna from entering Gehinnom (Purgatory or Hell).  And so, it is no wonder why the first word of all the Mishnayot has the same Gematria as Asher's name.

And as for the letters of the first words of the Mishna (in Tractate Berachot) - Me'ei'matai Korin Et Shema, the numerical value of these first letters (Mem, Koof, Aleph, Shin) add up to the Gematria of the word Emet (truth) - 441, and as it says in Tehillim (Psalms 119:160): ROSH Devarcha EMET "The HEAD (normally translated as beginning) of Your words are TRUTH", for in fact, the Torah She'B'Al Peh, of which the Mishna is its source (which then includes the Gemara, Shulchan Aruch, etc.) is part of the "Word of G-d", no less than the Written Word in the form of the Tanach, Bible, or whatever other name you want to call it. And in fact, the opinons of the rabbis in discussing issues in the context of the Oral Law are called Divrei Elokim Chaim "WORDS of the Living G-d".

Now, there is another number here that comes very much into play - 300.  First, both words in the phrase Rosh Hashana share one common letter - SHIN, which is the numerical value of 300.  And of the four months that are represented in the first Mishna of this tractate Rosh Hashana, it is the month of Shevat that begins with a Shin.  And while in this Mishna, all the dates are referred to as "first of...", each of them are Rosh Chodesh, and both words in this phrase also share the one common letter Shin.  And it is particularly according to Beit Shammai that it is Rosh Chodesh Shevat (all three of these words each having the letter Shin!) which is the Rosh Hashana of trees, noting that the first letter of the word Shammai is also a Shin.  And speaking of the Mishna, its 300th chapter (which includes the fourth chapter of Tractate Bikkurim which in fact is not part of the Mishna per se but a Baraita, but is included in the Mishna study program as mentioned in this post) which is the first chapter of Tractate Avot (also called Ethics of the Fathers) which begins with the words Moshe Kibel Torah M'Sinai U'Mesara L'Yehoshua "Moses received the Torah from Mt. Sinai and handed it over to Joshua", the VERY BEGINNING OF THIS 300TH CHAPTER DETAILING THE PROCESS OF HOW THE ORAL TORAH WAS HANDED DOWN FROM GENERATION TO GENEARTION!  Moreover, the Gematria of the name for the letter Shin (consisting of the letters Shin,Yud, Noon) is 360, the same Gematria as Shas, the acronym of Shisha Sedarim, which refers first and foremost to the Mishna, the root of Torah She'B'Al Peh.

Continuing on with the beginning of Tractate Avot, the numerical value of the first letters of this phrase (Mem, Koof, Tav, Mem, Vav, Lamed) add up to the Gematria of the word HaTorah (the Torah) - 616.  Also, there are 410 words to this first chapter of Tractate Avot, and pertaining to the subject of the beginning of the Mishna, which is the reading of the Shema, the word Shema is the Gematria of 410.  And being that the beginning word of Tractate Avot is Moshe, it has been noted that the letters of Moshe's name begin the names Moshe (Mem), Shammai (Shin), and Hillel (Hei), the latter two names being part of the first Mishna of Rosh Hashana.

As for Shammai's name, although the Halacha usually follows Hillel or Beit Hillel, his name is the beginning of two tractates - Eduyot and Nida.  And so, we see here that the Torah - particularly the Oral Torah, would not be complete without the opinion of Shammai, even though in practical terms, the Halacha does not follow his words.  Also, the Gematria of Shammai's name is 351, and adding the four letters, it equals 355, which spells the Hebrew number Shin-Noon-Hei as well as spelling the word Shana (year).

Speaking of FOUR, we see a phenomenal thing here.  While several chapters in the Mishna begin with the number four - Ar'ba'ah or Arba, the ONLY two tractates which  begin with this word (Arba'ah) are Rosh Hashana and Bava Kama.  And in this NINETH cycle of the daily Mishna chapter, the first chapter of these tractates are scheduled for learning on Rosh Chodesh Shevat and Rosh Chodesh Nissan, respectively.  And so, as we see here, the learning of this FIRST chapter of Rosh Hashana which includes mention of Rosh Chodesh Shevat, the FOURTH of the FOUR Rosh Hashanas, is scheduled for this very date.  And the learning of the FIRST chapter of Bava Kama ("FIRST Gate") is scheduled for Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the FIRST of the FOUR Rosh Hashanas, which begins with the word Ar'ba'ah (FOUR), beginning the FOURTH volume of the Mishna, beginning with the words Arba'ah Avot Nezikin "There are four major categories (literally translated as fathers, as per the Hebrew word Avot) of damages.  The ox..."  Now, the numerical value of the first letters of the words of this tractate (Aleph, Aleph, Noon) add up to the number 52, which is the Gematria of the word Echad=13 FOUR times, being that each of the four Rosh Hashana dates are describes as Echad B... (FIRST of...).  And the name (or word) of the FIRST of the four major damagers is HaShore (the ox), noting that the word Shor (ox) is the same Gematria as the first letters of the opening words of Tractate Rosh Hashana (Aleph-Reish-Shin-Hei) - 506.

And as in this post, we are speaking of the Head of the Year, the New Year, etc., let us speak for a moment about the year itself, that is, the Hebrew year 5774.  Now, to visualize this in Hebrew, it consists of the letters Hei-Tav-Shin-Ayin-Dalet.  And at this, we can dissect the spelling of this year into two parts.  The first four letters Hei-Tav-Shin-Ayin that spell the word HaTeisha "the NINE" and the letter Dalet which is FOURTH letter and is the numerical value of FOUR.  And to note, this entire Hebrew year 5774 is included within the 9th cycle of the daily Mishna chapter study in the midst of the Mishna's 525 chapters.  On a personal level, aside from the connection of my Hebrew names with the concept of the Mishna in terms of Gematria, the numbers nine and four have been in my bloodstream since the minute I was born, literally. You see, the time of my birth was 9:04 AM, which parallels the breakdown of the numbers nine and four in this Hebrew year.  Could this year be a year of fortune for myself?

It is true that the name of this tractate Rosh Hashana is the same Gematria as my second Hebrew name Matisyahu - 861; and the last word of this tractate - Chovatan "their obligation", is the same Gematria as my first Hebrew name Shimon - 466.  Also, noting the fact that I was born on a Rosh Chodesh, approximately half of this tractate (of the Mishnayot) is about the FOURTH Mitzva of the Torah of Kiddush HaChodesh "Sanctification of the (New) Month", which is this very week's Parshat Bo, which is usually read during the week in which Rosh Chodesh Shevat occurs, as it does this year, and especially in this Hebrew year, the Mishnayot on Kiddush HaChodesh, included within the first three chapters of this tractate are scheduled for learning in the last three days of this week of Parshat Bo that is the original source of this Mitzva.  Truly amazing!

And as per the content of Kiddush HaChodesh in this tractate, the announcement of Rosh Chodesh when it used to be done by sighting the moon, the letters of the Hebrew word for moon - Levana - can be rearranged to read Ben Lamed-Hei, "Son of 35", meaning, having the characteristics of the number 35, and indeed, this Mishnaic tractate consists of 35 Mishnayot.  Moreover, the psalm for Rosh Chodesh - Chapter 104 in Tehillim - consists of 35 verses.

Now, turning to the Gematria of the names of the two tractates that start with the word Arba'ah (FOUR), the combined Gematria of these names (Rosh Hashana=861 and Bava Kama=146) is 1,007.  Lo and behold, this four digit number is the very Gematria of my son Shevach's full Hebrew name Shevach Tzion Yisrael, whose Brit Mila (circumcision), took place five months earlier on Rosh Chodesh Elul (1 Elul), the second of the FOUR Rosh Hashanas mentioned in the first Mishna of Tractate Rosh Hashana, on a Wednesday, the FOURTH day of the week (as well as his birth one week earlier)!  And per my son's last Hebrew name Yisrael, it is the Gematria of 541, and Rosh Chodesh Shevat, the FOURTH and last of the four Rosh Hashanas, begins my 541st month of life in this world!  And as we see in the very first Rashi on the Torah - on the word Bereishit, the first word of the Torah, the letters of which can be rearranged to read Aleph B'Tishrei, (Day) One in Tishrei, the date of Rosh Hashana - the question is asked as to why the Torah didn't begin with the first Mitzva that we Jews - using the word Yisrael - were commanded, since after all, the Torah's main objective is to teach us the Mitzvot, the commandments of the King of Kings?  The answer to this is that the Torah wanted to start with Bereishit, showing that the whole world belongs to Hashem, and it is Hashem who decided that we Jews - using the word Yisrael - will live in the Land of Israel, despite what the nations of world will claim against us, as we can see all too well today; in fact, more than ever, despite what the Bible says of our rights to our land that so many Christians will deny while claiming they believe in the Bible, showing so many of them to be the hypocrites that they are, not being satsified with the fact that so many millions of Jews were murdered in the name of their false god, including during the Crusades in which, on their way to OUR Holy Land, they travelled through town after town in Europe murdering Jews along the way, including during the end of Rashi's life.  Could it be that when Rashi began his commentary on the Torah early on, that he had a feeling of what was going to happen later on during his lifetime, that could have motivated him to write what he did in his very first comment on the Torah about our rights to the Land of Israel?

Now, this is all very fine and dandy.  But, getting to what I mentioned at the beginning of this post, why did I name this post using "New Year" rather than "Head of the Year"?  You see, a part of the aspect of the Rosh Hashana of the Oral Torah is the concept of Hitchadshoot (renewal), for in fact, we are supposed to feel every morning when we recite Birchot HaTorah (Blessings for reading the Torah-) that we are receiving the Torah anew, as though we received the Torah on this very day.  And the Hebrew word for month is Chodesh, which as the same letters with different vowels, can also read as Chadash (new), and being that the moon is renewed after its disappearance from our eyes for so many hours, this is why we call the beginning of every lunar month as Rosh Chodesh, which is normally translated in English as "New Moon", though Rosh Chodesh technically means "Head of the month".  But be it as it may, having said that Rosh Chodesh Shevat is the Rosh Hashana of Torah She'B'Al Peh, and is mentioned in the Mishna as the FOURTH of the Rosh Hashanas, it should be noted that King David, as I have mentioned in past blogging, is very connected with the number FOUR.

Another major personality who is especially connected with this Mitzva of Kiddush HaChodesh is the Rambam (Maimonides), who is hinted in this week's Parshat Bo, particularly in the part of Hashem giving over the Jewish nation's first Mitzvot which include Kiddush HaChodesh, as shown in the writings of Rabbi Michoel Ber Weissmandel, ZT"L, a pioneer in discovering Hidden Codes of the Torah.  The hinting of the Rambam includes the letters of the name of his magnum opus, Mishne Torah, which emboddies the Halachot covering the Taryag Mitzvot (613 Commandments).  And within his Mishne Torah, the section of the laws on Kiddush HaChodesh consists of 19 chapters and 235 paragraphs (or laws), which amazingly correspond to the 19 year cycle of the solar and lunar calendar coinciding around their same respective days.  For example, if one was born on Rosh Chodesh Iyar with the secular date of May 7 (like I was), 19 years later - these dates will virtually coincide.  However, unlike a straight 12 months in the annual secular/solar calendar; there are seven years within the 19 year lunar cycle that have 13 months which include an extra month of Adar; and hence, there are a total of 235 Hebrew months in 19 years, just as there are 235 paragraphs in the 19 chapters of the Rambam's Hilchot Kiddush HaChodesh.  And as per the other name for the Mishne Torah which is Yad Chazaka, this phrase is in the last verse of this week's Parshat Bo.

Now, let us make a parallel here with the number of dates in the first Mishna - which are in fact five, the last of which is Tu B'Shevat.  You see, speaking of Torah study, there are four major areas of Torah interpretation: 1)Pshat- Simple meaning (what Rashi focuses on in his commenatary on the Torah and Talmud), 2)Remez- Hint, such as Gematriot, 3)Drush- Expounding, such as the material we see in the various Midrashim, and 4)Sod-  Secrets of the Torah, referring to Kabbala.  Now, the first letters of these four words Pshat, Remez, Drush, Sod, spells the word Pardes (orchard or garden; seems that the word Paradise comes from this word) to remember these four areas of Torah interpretation.  And in recent times, we have what we call a "new" way of Torah interpretation - Chasidut, which is based, at least in part, on the Kabbala; for although Rabbi Isaac Luria, known as the Arizal, announced some 450 years ago that "It is a Mitzva to reveal this Kabbalistic wisdom", not too many people can truly grasp these deep secrets of the Torah, as so in time, the Ba'al Shem Tov founded the Hasidic movement, and he, along with his followers, and his followers' followers taught various teachings, known as Chasidut, that helped Jews feel their self-worth and have the motivation to want to serve Hashem better, for in effect, Chasidut brought down the teachings of Kabbala to a level that people, even unlearned people, could better relate to.

Now correspondingly, we see that there are four Rosh Hashanas that all fall out on Rosh Chodesh. However, the last of the four - Rosh Chodesh Shevat, which corresponds to Kabbala, though the reason for its mention in the Mishna as Rosh Chodesh, is not the accepted date for this Rosh Hashana, but rather, Tu B'Shvat, when the moon is full for all to see, as opposed to the timing of Rosh Chodesh when the moon is barely visible because it is a tiny speck at best, just as there are relatively few Jews who can truly understand Kabbala.  However, Chasidut is the form of Torah that brings down the teachings of Kabbala for the masses to be able to relate to both in terms of learning and serving Hashem, just as the full moon is visible to all without having to strain to see where it is, for its light is pretty obvious in the thickness of the night.  Similarly, though the view of Beit Shammai who hold that the Rosh Hashana for trees is technically the right timing of this observance; the general masses of the Jewish people can better relate to a little later time when the spirituality of this Rosh Hashana will be more easily felt, and so, the Halacha of the timing of this Rosh Hashana follows the view of Beit Hillel as the date of Tu B'Shevat.

We can also make a comparison of these five parts (which seem on the surface to be only four) of Torah interpretion to the five books of the Chumash.
1)Bereishit (Genesis)- Pshat.  This book is basically filled with simple history without mention of Mitzvot (except for three) being that the Torah had yet to be given in the history of this first book of the Torah.
2) Shmot (Exodus)- Remez.  It is in this book that the Torah was given, following the Redemption of our nation from Egypt which Hashem had hinted to Abraham about (see Rashi on Genesis 15:9 "Eglah Meshuleshet" where Rashi uses the word Remez in reference to the animals that Abraham offered in the Treaty of the Covenants in which Hashem told him of the Jews' slavery and consequent redemption from Egypt).
3) Vayikra (Leviticus)- Drush.  This book consists mostly of laws, which consists of 247 Mitzvot, more than all the other books of the Chumash; and hence, requiring a lot of expounding to know the correct Halacha. In fact, this is reflected in the middle double worded phrase in the Torah is found in this book- Darosh Darash (Leviticus 10:16), in the context of Moses inquiring (Derisha) of why his brother burnt the sin offering of Rosh Chodesh rather than eat it as is normally supposed to be done (but Aaron was correct since he was a mourner whose two oldest sons died a short time earlier on that day, and therefore wasn't allowed to eat of it; however, Moses forgot this Halacha until Aaron reminded him).
4) Bamidbar (Numbers)- Sod.  As its English name, this book is full of numbers of various counts of the tribes of the Jewish people.  Correspondingly, the Zohar, the main book of the Kabbala, is full of Gematriot (numerical values), especially in the holiest part of the Zohar, the Tikkunei Zohar.  It is interesting to note that in this year 5774, the first day of the week of Parshat Bamidbar falls out on Lag BaOmer, the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Rashbi), author of the teachings of the Zohar.
5)Devarim (Deutronomy) - Hasidut.  For just as Moses, as the narrator of this book, spoke to the entire Jewish nation of the various Mitzvot and Halachot at the end of his life in this finite world; so too, the Ba'al Shem Tov and future Hasidic Rebbes openly taught Hasidut to the masses (unlike Kabbala which is normally not taught in such a public fashion, though today, you will see lectures of the Zohar on internet videos, but is meant strictly for learning, not for using Kabbala for one's own needs) for the purpose of bringing them closer to observing the Mitzvot and Halachot.

And finally, there is one more set of four that I want to mention here.  You see, it started here pertaining to the 9th cycle of the learning of the daily chapter of Mishna, having mentioned that the learning of the first chapter of Rosh Hashana - beginning with the word Ar'ba'ah (FOUR) which includes the mention of Rosh Chodesh Shevat falls out on this very date, along with the fact that the learning of the first three chapters that include the topic of Kiddush HaChodesh falls out on the last three days of this week of Parshat Bo which is the original source of this topic, the FOURTH Mitzva of the Torah, in this Hebrew year that is a composite of the numbers NINE and (ending with the number) FOUR.

There are three more periods in this 9th cycle of Mishna study that somehow relate to the timing during which a particular chapter or tractate will be learned.  During the 30 days of the month of Nissan, the first three tractates of the FOURTH volume of the Mishna called Nezikin - whose name begins and ends with the letter Noon just as the name of the month of Nissan - which at one time was one large tractate called Nezikin, consisting of a total of 30 chapters, and begins with the word Arba'ah (FOUR), will be learned, beginning with Rosh Chodesh Nissan which is the FIRST of the FOUR Rosh Hashanas.  Next, the first chapter of Tractate Avot will be learned on 7 Sivan (not to be confused with the normal learning of this tractate during Shabbat at this time of the year from after Passover until Rosh Hashana), the actual date of the Torah being given (as discussed in detail in the Talmudic tractate of Shabbat), this chapter beginning with "Moses received the Torah from Sinai", which was the beginning of the 40 day period of Hashem teaching the Torah to Moses on Mt. Sinai.  And finally, the beginning of the sixth and last volume of the Mishna, called, Teharot (pure things), will be learned on 18 Elul, the  Yahrzeit of Rabbi Judah Lowe of Prague, who initiated a program of learning a chapter of Mishna a day over 400 years ago, bearing in mind that this final volume of the Mishna contains more Mishna material (126 chapters and 1,003 Mishnayot) than all the first five volumes.

Now, before I sign off on this post, there is one more significant thing to mention here.  Continuing on with the Sephirot combinations in my blog posts, we are now on the 14th one, which is Malchut She'B'Gevurah (Kingship within Strength), and speaking of Rosh Hashana, it is the time that we especially corronate Hashem as King (so to speak), reflected in the first of the middle three blessings of the Shemoneh Esrei of Rosh Hashana which are called Malchuyot, which includes the mention of the holiness of the day (as opposed to the other two blessings of Zichronot and Shofarot which do not mention this).  And this is done on the day that represents the creation of the world, and more specifically, Adam and Eve.  And as I mentioned earlier in this post, the first word of the Torah - Bereishit - is a composite of the letters that read when rearranged as Aleph B'Tishrei - Day One of Tishrei, the date of Rosh Hashana (though nowadays, we celebrate the first two days as Rosh Hashana because in former times, some places didn't know what day was supposed to be Rosh Hashana, being that they didn't know when the New Moon was announced, and so kept two days as holidays by not working).  And it was in this first week of creation (Genesis 1:1-2:3), that particularly, Hashem's name of Elokim (G-d) is used, this name particularly reflecting the Sephira of Gevurah, which represents strict justice, for it is on Rosh Hashana that Hashem begins judging us as to what will be our fate in this coming year, and in recognition of this, we declare Hashem as King, with hopes that He will be a merciful King, allowing us to live both physically and spiritually, with no tragedies that would otherwise, G-d forbid, impede our service to Hashem.

Now, a little earlier, I mentioned the Rambam's work of the Mishne Torah, which was the most comprehensive compilation of the Mitzvot and Halachot up to his time as per Torah She'B'Al Peh, following the Mishna and Gemara, and consists of 14 volumes.  Aside from the Rambam's personal connections with the number 14 which I have mentioned in past posts; I want to focus today on the number 14 as it relates to Torah She'B'Al Peh.  Now,  corresponding to the 14th Sephira combination of Malchut She'B'Gevurah in the Jewish calendar beginning with Rosh Hashana, the 14th week is the week that immediately follows Chanuka, until around the date of Asara B'Tevet (10 Tevet).  This includes the date of 8 Tevet, which is considered a day of tragedy, following the completion of a Greek translation of the Torah that King Ptolemy of Egypt ordered 72 sages to compose, for it now exposed the Torah to the non-Jewish world, who could and did treat the Torah as a book of wisdom, rather than respecting it as a holy book whose Mitzvot we are bidden to follow.  For it was KING Ptolemy that caused the Torah to be used by non-Jews to use it against it, treating us with STRICT JUSTICE, and in the future, translated (a play on words) in the sense of murdering millions of Jews in the name of the false god of the Christians, claiming that now we have to now accept the NEW Testament, along with what they called the "OLD" Testament, which in fact is supposed to be considered NEW to us each and every day, no different than looking forward to Rosh Chodesh, a new beginning at each month.

It seems that Hashem prepared Hashgacha Pratit (Divine Providence) to allow to be a Tikkun (rectification) for the Greek translation that was completed on the 8th of Tevet.  You see, presently, we are in the 13th cycle of Daf Yomi, the most worldwide Torah study program (aside from Parshat HaShavua) of the daily Daf of the Babylonian Talmud; and in my 150th post following the commencement of this cycle, I went into length showing the special significance of the number 13 in terms of Torah She'B'Al Peh.  Now, think of this as a future Bar Mitzva, which means, 13 complete cycles, just as a Jewish male celebrates his Bar Mitzva after having lived 13 complete years.  This means, the beginning of the 14th cycle of Daf Yomi will occur in six years, G-d willing, on 8 Tevet, 5780 ('20)!  And whether Moshiach will have already arrived by then or not, we are clearly in the Messianic Era times when major prophecies relating to the time of our Redemption have already occurred or are occurring, and so, this will be a major rectification, and perhaps the completion of the rectification of the damage of the Torah having been translated - which was completed on this date so many years earlier that overtime caused major trouble for the Jewish people - with learning the major body work of Torah She'B'Al Peh, in stark contrast to the learning of the Bible by non-Jews who don't have the Oral Law to know how to perform the Mitzvot properly, even if they would be commanded to perform them.  And in terms of the daily learning of a chapter of Mishna, the beginining of the 14th cycle will fall out on 29 Tishrei, 5781 ('20), in the coming Hebrew year, which is the Yarhzeit of Shimon HaTzadik, who is considered the ROSH Chachmei Torah She'B'Al Peh, the "HEAD of the sages of Torah She'B'Al Peh", whose statement of "The world stands on three things - Torah, Avodah, and performance of deeds of kindness" - is in the second Mishna of Tractate Avot (1:2).

Oh, I almost forgot.  The 36 final days of Moshe Rabbeinu's life, encompassing his sermons taking up the entire book of Deutronomy, which is especially related to the concept of Torah She'B'Al Peh, have its correspondence to the 36 tractates of the Babylonian Talmud, which was put together by Rav Ashi and Ravina, noting that the name Ashi has the same letters as the Hebrew number 311, the Gematria of the name of this month of Shevat, the beginning of which Moses began his Deutronomy sermon.  And while in our present calendar, we have 30 complete days of Shevat, and then we have the 7 days of Adar ending with the passing of Moses, being a total of 37 days; I mentioned here that in the year of Moses' passing, there were 36 days - for two reasons.  First of all, the Gematria of the first word of Deutornomy - Eileh (These) - is 36. Secondly, as our rabbinic sources tell us that Moses passed away on Shabbat, it would make much more sense if Moses would have began his Deutronomy sermon on Shabbat, making this a total of 36 days, rather than on Friday - Erev Shabbat - on a rather short winter day when everyone focuses on getting ready for Shabbat, even as the Halacha tells us to curtail our Torah learning on this day to get ready on time for Shabbat, which would otherwise make this 37 days in total.

And so, it would have made most sense that he chose to begin lecturing on Shabbat, which is something that he instituted some 39 years earlier, as the Midrash in Yalkut Shimoni tell us, and as quoted in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Concise Code of Jewish Law by Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried), that the beginning of Parshat Vayakheil, where Moses gathered the Jewish people to tell them about observing Shabbat, hints to the fact that Moses gave Torah lectures on Shabbat.  And so, it would have made most sense to continue on this path to the end of his life, just as the Torah (with the giving of the Ten Commandments) was given on Shabbat, rather than on the original slated day of Friday, but was changed to Shabbat thanks to Moses asking Hashem to give the Jewish people one more day to prepare for this most momentous occasion, to be prepared in the most holy way possible, to receive the Torah on the day of the week that is most auspicious to holiness, which in turn was following Moses' past efforts of convincing Pharaoh of Egypt to let the Jews have a day of rest "to be refreshed for a new week of work", when the real reason, aside from it making it a little easier for the Jews physically, to be spiritually refreshed by learning Torah (though it was not officially given yet) on Shabbat.  

Erev Rosh Chodesh Shevat, 5774

Monday, December 30, 2013

#204 - "Light Is Sown For The RIGHTEOUS"

Continuing on with the combination Sephirot, this post will be discussing the 13th one, which is Yesod She'B'Gevurah (Foundation within Strength).  It is with this one that this is passing the first quarter of the 49 combination active Sephirot.  The reason that I mention this will be clear a little later on here.

But first, looking at the corresponding week or time period of the full Jewish calendar year to this Sephira, it is the holiday of Chanukah, eight days that are included in the dates of 25 Kislev- 2 Tevet or 3 Tevet.  Now, the reason that I wrote 2 or 3 Tevet is simply because that depends on when Chanukah ends.  For in some years, Kislev consists of 30 days, such as this year, and hence, the last day of Chanuka is on 2 Tevet; while in other years, Kislev consists of 29 days, and hence, the last day of Chanukah is on 3 Tevet.

And as I have mentioned before about the special connection of light to Chanukah, which is fact called Chag HaUrim (Festival of Lights) in Israel, I am not going to go through everything once more about it.  However, there is one thing that I do what to mention that is related especially to this post.  You see, this is my 204th Post, and the Gematria of the word Tzadik (righteous) is 204, which is related to Chanukah - in more than one way.

First, in terms of Gematria - For the eight days of Chanuka, multiply the first eight numbers by their own number, such as 1*1, 2*2, etc.  After this, add up the eight totals, and the grand sum is 204.  Now, I will mention something else here in connection of the word Tzadik with Chanuka that I didn't mention before. There are 192 hours in the eight day holiday of Chanuka.  The difference between these two numbers - 192 and 204, is 12 (204-192).  And how is the number 12 related to Chanuka?  During these eight days, we read the section in the Torah about the various sacrifices that the leaders of the 12 tribes (including the Tribes of Ephraim and Menashe, but excluding Levi) offered duiring the course of the respective 12 days from the dedication of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), in the latter half of Parshat Naso (Numbers Chapter 7), consisting of 89 verses, which correspond to the Gematria of the name Chanukah, which is 89 (Actually, the first day of Chanuka in many circles includes the six previous verses which is the section of Bircot Cohanim (Blessings of the Cohanim) and the last day of Chanuka includes the following four verses which is the section about the Cohanim lighting the Menorah - Numbers 8:1-4).

Second, in terms of the Parshiyot of Shabbat that we read during Chanukah.  In any give year, Chanukah falls out either during the weeks of Parshat Vayeishev and Parshat Mikeitz, or Pashat Mikeitz and Parshat Vayigash.  It this these very three Parshiyot that focuses on the life of Joseph, who is sometimes called Yosef HaTzadik (Joseph the Righteous), due to his resisting the sexual temptation of the wife of his master Potiphar, having overcome, or as it can be said in Hebrew was Gover (overpowered) his Yetzer Tov (Good Inclination) over his Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination).  And indeed, this fits perfect with the Sephira of Yesod She'B'Gevurah, for it is the Tzadik, who is the foundation of the world, as it written in Mislei - Tzadik Yesod Olam "The righteous are the foundation of the world" (Proverbs 10:25) who control their base desires, not allowing themselves to cave in to them.  As it says in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) "Who is STRONG (Gibor, upon which the name of the Sephira of Geverah is based on)? One who conquers his (evil) inclination".

In fact, there are a couple of more interesting aspects of Yesod She'B'Gevurah.  The first letters of the words Yesod and Gevurah are Yud-Gimel, which is the Hebrew number for 13, and this is the 13th Sephira combination.  And as related to the number 13, the Mitzva of Brit Mila (circumcision) consists of 13 Beritot (covenants), and as we see in the Torah, the wording of Brit is mentioned 13 times in the section of the Torah pertaining to Hashem telling Abraham to fulfill this Mitzva, the source of this Mitzva (Genesis Chapter 17).  For it is the Tzadik who is one who is Shomer HaBrit (Observer of the Covenant), who guards himself from sinning in terms of sexual matters, just as was Joseph, and that is why he is sometimes referred to as Yosef HaTzadik (Joseph the Righteous One).

Moreover, the Gematria of "Yesod She'B'Gevurah" - 598, is the same exact Gematria as "Netzach She'B'Netzach" (Victory within Victory), the Sephira combination of the middle day of the 49 days of the Sephira period, which is the 25th day of the Sephira.  And just as the number 25 is the middle number between one (1) and forty-nine (49), so is the number 13 the middle number between one (1) and twenty-five (25).  And the connection between these two Sephirot combinations is evident by the fact that the Tzadik achieves the ultimate spiritual victory by conquering his evil inclination, especially when it comes to sexual matters, which are the strongest physical temptation.

And as related to Chanuka, Day One of Chanuka - bearing in mind that the Hebrew word for one "Echad" is the Gematria of 13 - falls out on the 25th day of Kislev.  Moreover, the name of the Sephira of Netzach has the same Gematria as the name of the holiday of Pesach -148, and as per the Sephira combination of Netzach She'B'Netzach, the plural for Pesach is Pesachim, which is the name of the Tractate that is all about the Mitzvot and laws of Pesach, which consists of 89 Mishnayot, just as the name of the holiday of Chanuka is the Gematria of 89.  Also, bearing in mind that the Jews were considered to have been enslaved in Egypt for 400 years as it was really supposed to be (but they only actually lived in Egypt for 212 years, and were slaves there for 116 years), counting the years from the birth of Isaac who was the first person to be born Jewish and have his Brit Mila at the age of eight days, the prime time for this Mitzva, until the Exodus when right before, many Jews had their Brit Mila to qualify to eat from the Korban Pesach (Pascal Sacrifice); adding 400 to the Gematria of the name/word Pesachim, which is 198 - the sum total is 598, the same Gematria as the above two Sephirot combinations!

This year, Chanuka fell out in the midst of the learning Tracate Yoma of the Talmud, the tractate about the Mitzvot and laws of Yom Kippur, of the worldwide Daf Yomi study. And at the very beginning of the Yom Kippur services commencing with Kol Nidrei, while all the Sifrei Torah (Torah Scrolls) are being held by members of the congregation right before the start of Kol Nidrei, the Chazan (cantor) recites a particular verse seven times - Ohr Zarua LaTzadik... "Light is sown for the righteous, and happiness for the straight of heart" (Psalms 97:11).  While there are obviously good reasons for this verse to be recited at this time, this is in the midst of Psalm 97, which is among the 11 Psalms (Chapters 90-100) that Moses compiled corresponding to one or another of the tribes, and this psalm corresponds to Joseph, who is called Yosef HaTZADIK.  In fact, according to the Book of Jubilees, the selling of Joseph by his brothers took place on the future date of Yom Kippur.  Indeed, this may well explain why particularly during the Chazan's repetition of the Mussaf prayer of Yom Kippur, we recite a solemn poetic piece about the murder of 10 Torah scholars by the Roman government, which was to atone for the sin of selling Joseph, aside from the fact that Rabbi Akiva, one of the ten, was murdered on Yom Kippur evening; and according to Kabbala, these 10 were in fact reincarnates of the 10 brothers involved in the selling of Joseph (including Joseph, but excluding Reuben and Benjamin).

As explained by commentators, this part of the verse that states that light is SOWN for the righteous indicates that the seed, the reward for the good deeds, are SOWN, rather than being used or merely stored. For instead of eating the seed (some are edible), if we plant it in the ground, it allows whole trees to grow which in turn will consist of fruit, each which will consist of one or more seeds.  And so, it is the spiritual light which will grow in abundance over time, which will be reserved and waiting for the Tzadik after his time on this earth.

Now, among the blessings that Bilaam - who intended to curse the Jews, but Hashem forced him to say blessings instead - he stated U'Mispar Et Rova Yisrael "Count the seed of Israel" (Numbers 23:10).  In this context the word for seed is Rova.  Now, we know for a fact that the word Rova means a quarter, or one-fourth, because today, we refer to the section of the Ir Atika (Old City) of Jerusalem as the Rova "Quarter", being that the area is divided up into four sections, which include obviously, the Jewish Quarter.  In any case, why is the word Rova used here in this context as meaning "seed"?

Well, as we know, while we all know that the Children of Israel are divided up into 12 tribes; in the desert, they were grouped into four groups of three tribes each, and hence, each direction in the desert camp consisted of three tribes.  Hence, Bilaam was in effect saying, in praise of the abundant amount of Jews, Bli Ayin Hara (without an evil eye), that even counting ONE QUARTER of the camp seemed to be pretty numerous.

And being that the first word of this verse is Ohr, I should note that this is also the first word of Tractate Pesachim.  For it was the slavery of Joseph, who corresponds to Psalm 97 that includes this verse, that eventually led for his family to come to Egypt, and they finally left Egypt on the date of the first day of Pesach.  And even at this event of the Exodus, it didn't happen without somehow being directly related to Joseph.  For first of all, before he died, he gave a sign to his brothers and family as to how they would know when the redeemer would come to take them out of Egypt, and it was Moses who gave the Jews the sign - Pakod Yifkod "He (Hashem) will surely remember".  Secondly. he made them swear that they would take his bones out of Egypt to be buried in Israel.  Now, when the time came, Moses came to where Joseph's coffin was hidden, and it was only after Moses beseached Joseph to come up from where he was hidden at the bottom of the Nile River, did it surface up.

On a concluding note relating Joseph to Chanuka, the reading of the Torah in Parshat Naso for the last two days of Chanuka begin each with the offerings of the leaders of the Tribes of Ephraim and Menashe, the sons of Joseph, respectively.   And as we see here, one-fourth, or a QUARTER of the eight days of Chanuka, are related especially to Joseph as per the reading of the Torah.  And as we see with the name of Ephraim, Joseph's Torah scholar son, he was so named by Joseph "for Hashem made me FRUITFUL in the land of my affliction".

And as especially related to Ephraim, his paternal descendant Joshua is the one who led the Jews to Israel, and his very first war with the Canaanite nations was in the city of Jericho, whose wall he encircled for seven days, and it was on the seventh day when the wall "came tumbling down", and then the Jews were able to successfully win this fisrt war in Israel.  According to tradition, this week war took place during the dates of 22-28 Nissan, immediately following the week of Pesach.  And as for that final day that signaled VICTORY (Netzach) for the Jews - 28 Nissan - it is also the 13th day of the Omer, whose Sephira combination is Yesod She'B'Gevurah that is most related to Chanuka, as well as Joseph - whose descendant is Joshua - in terms of the Sephira of Yesod.  And though the main aspect of Chanuka is the spiritual victory of freedom of religion as demonstrated by the Menorah being able to be lit in the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) once more, the Hasmoneans/Maccabees won a series of wars, the physical VICTORY, that led to the spiritual VICTORY (Netzach She'B'Netzach).

Finally, looking at the word Rova - consisting of the letters Reish, Beit/Veit, Ayin - it can be dissected into two words - Rove (majority) and Ayin, the letter Ayin being the numerical value of 70.  And so, the majority of 70 is 36, and on Chanuka, we light a total of 36 mandatory LIGHTS.  And as I mentioned early on this post, relating the connection of the Gematria of the word Tzadik to the first eight numbers which is the result of mulitplying each of these numbers by their own same number, the sum of these first eight numbers is 36. Hence, OHR - hinting to the 36 lights of Chanuka, ZARUA LATZADIK - sown for the TZADIK, for the seed, which begins with the concept of the number 36, the reward - the spiritual light - for the Mitzva that we do, as represented by lighting  the Menorah on Chanuka, is sown for us Jews - V'Ameich Kulam Tzadikim "All of you (Jewish) people are righteous", and this LIGHT at the end will represent the concept of the number 204, the ultimate reward for the TZADIK, the ones who faithfully keep the Mitzvot of Hashem, and it is the lighting of the Menorah on the EIGHT days of Chanuka which is the LAST of the Sheva Mitzvot D'Rabbanan "The Seven Commandments of the Rabbis" which was instituted.

28 Tevet, 5774

P.S.  Noting that the timing of this post is 6:20 PM, as I ended of this post with the Mitzva of lighting the candles of Chanuka which is the last of the Sheva Mitzvot D'Rabbanan; adding these seven Mitzvot (though the Torah forbids us to add Mitzvot, the rabbis were empowered to add these as enactments, but are the beyond the scope of this post) to the Taryag Mitzvot (613 Commandments), making a total of 620 Mitzvot, the Mitzva of lighting the Menorah is the 620th and LAST Mitzva that was instituted.

#203 - Thou Shalt Not B A STRANGER

Don't think that the subject line is mentioned anywhere in the Tanach (Jewish Bible), though there are similar phrases to this, such as "Thou shalt not oppress a stranger", and "Thou shalt love the stranger".

I will get to why I worded the subject line the way that I did shortly.  But first, I would like to point out that the word for stranger in Biblical Hebrew is Ger, which contains the same letters - just in reverse - as the Hebrew number for 203.

In life, whom we view as strangers don't necessarily reflect the Torah's view as to who are strangers.  But first, we have to know to whom the Torah refers to when it says the word Ger.  So first, let us turn to Parshat Mishpatim "You shall not oppress a stranger.  You should know what it feels like being a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt." (Exodus 23:9).  At least in this context, the first mention of stranger refers to one who converted to Judaism.  Our rabbis tell us that we are not supposed to say things to him such as "Remember the deeds of your ancestors" or say about him "Oh, yesterday, he ate all kinds of non-kosher foods, and today he puts himself under the wings of the Shechina (Divine Presence)".

Now the question can be asked, "If the Torah mentions that we were strangers in Egypt, where it means that we were in a land that was not ours as the Egyptians', then perhaps the word stranger here means someone whom we don't know, even if it is an observant Jew."  Well, it is true that there are those who say that until the time we were ready to receive the Torah, we we not officially Jews, though we may have had to observe a few more Mitzvot than the other nations.    And there are those who hold, though not necessarily in this context, that we are supposed to treat other Jews who visit or have come to live in our town that they don't have connections with - as our fellow Jews as we would want ourselves or our friends in the local synagogue would want to be treated.  But I think that the main point here is that the Torah focuses on the feelings of the convert who, while he may be in love with our way of life, deep down inside, he knows that he doesn't come from the same cultural background that most of us come from, and so, unless he is made to feel at home as we would want to do for any friend who visits us from out of town, he will truly feel that he is being treated as a stranger.  And when we were in Egypt, we weren't only (not) treated as second clas citizens, but we were literally slaves, when even our basic rights of respect as human beings weren't granted.

Next, let's turn to Parshat Kedoshim ''When a Ger (convert) comes to live with you in your land, don't hurt his feelings.  The Ger who lives among you has to be treated just as the citizens among you.  You shall love him as yourself, for your were strangers in the land of Egypt.  I am Hashem you G-d."  (Leviticus 19:33,34)
Now, the good news here is that loving a convert is not merely fulfilling a Mitzva in the Torah to love the convert, but it is additonal to the Mitzva of loving one's fellow Jew that is stated a little earlier in this Parsha (verse 18).  In another words, one fulfills an EXTRA Mitzva by loving the convert, and hence, more brownie points in Heaven.  But for some reason, this Mitzva of loving the convert is actually derived from Parshat Eikev "You shall love the Ger, for you were strangers in Egypt" (Deutronomy 10:19)

While no doubt, there are always those who are careful to perform ALL Mitzvot that are possible to be fulfilled, there are those who will rationalize certain things, and including pertaining to the Mitzva of loving the convert.  I once read a letter in the Jewish Press from a Jewish Afro-American lady (don't remember if she wrote about being a convert, but the message here will be clear) who called up a Yeshiva day school in Crown Heights to send her child to.  On the phone, she was told about paying a certain amount for tuition and were discussing about sending the child on the school bus.  However, when the lady came in person, she was told that she would have to pay full tuition and that her child will not be able to use the school bus.

I'm sure that the above story is far from the only such story in what goes on in the Yeshiva educational system, though I will not say that this is what goes on in every single such school.  However, I can tell you from personal experience when I worked on dating for several years in the United States where I contacted over 100 matchmakers over a period of time, and I told them what I was looking for, and I always indicated that I would be open to a convert.  My friends, guess how many converts were even suggested to me as a possibility?  You guessed it folks - not one!  Why?  I won't believe that very few girls of a younger age who converted to Judaism exist.  All the time, men and women of almost all adult ages convert to Judaism. And I happen to know from one older lady who converted to Judaism, observed it well, and was looking for a Shidduch.  Anyways, there was one matchmaker that she had contacted, and before the lady knew it, everyone around knew that she was a convert, which didn't make things easier for the lady, which was obviously thanks to the Baba Yenta (Yiddish for one who has a big mouth) matchmaker who was supposed to keep private the information of her clients, especially when it comes to something personal, like Shidduchim, to begin with.

It is true that when I came to Israel and dated, I was offered two bona fide converts (there was another who went thorugh the conversion to be sure that she was Jewish) as dates, neither of whcih worked out.  But for good news about those who love converts, I heard a story pertaining to one convert who decided that his Derech (way) would be being a Belzer Chosid (a follower of the Hasidic Belz dynasty).  The next thing he knew, the present Belzer Rebbe, Shlita had him summoned.  When the convert arrived, the Rebbe pointed him to a Chosid follower of his who would take care of the convert's needs; and in time, the Chosid found him a job and a Shidduch.

Think of it.  Unless somone has a dynamic, open personality, or is famous, how is one who doesn't know anyone in town supposed to feel.  Sure, if you know you have to survive, you somehow find a way to do it. But, I think we will all agree that if we were in this position, we would want someone to be there for us for basic questions, moral support, and offer us a place to stop by for at least a friendly chat over coffee and cake, especially if we make Aliyah, despite friends having moved to Israel before us and the vast amount of information on the subject of Aliyah on the net.  And not just because we need help with something, but that we don't need to feel lonely and instead, feel part of a community, the same way that a convert is supposed to feel, to be given no less of an opportunity of finding work and a spouse.

Now in Hebrew, at least in these days, we refer to a convert to Judaism as a Ger Tzedek "righteous convert".  This phrase is especially pertinent today when people go through a phony conversion via the Conservative or Reform movement, when they are no more Jewish the day after than they were the day before. It is all too common for the boyfriend or girlfriend to go through the few thousand dollar conversion ceremony that will stuff more money in the "rabbi"'s pocket towards his next Porsch, but it is clear from Jewish tradition that converting because of marriage is an invalid reason for converting.  After all, if one converts to any given religion, it is with the understanding that they convert to that particular religion because they believe in it, and presumably, they will be following what the religion requires.  So then, why should it be any different when it comes to the only authentic religion (which really isn't the right word for Judaism, but I won't get too technical now)?

Now, there is another type of Ger that the Torah bids us to give assistance as we would for someone who is Jewish - a Ger Toshav (literally "stranger resident").  There are differences as to who qualifies as a Ger Toshav, but it could either be one who accepts the Seven Noahide Laws (Sheva Mitzvot Bnei Noach) or at least one who repudiates idolatry and perhaps will observe some of the Mitzvot of the Torah, but doesn't keep kosher.  In any case, we see how far the Torah goes as far as making people feel at home.

And there is another type of stranger situation that we should be mindful of.  You see, children are trained from since they are young by responsible parents not to listen to strangers, not to accept candy from them, etc.  Now, a true meaningful stranger, that is, someone who doesn't know the family or child, will not approach a child to offer candy or anything like that without the presence of a parent to begin with, unless let's say, the child is crying, and the guy wants to help the child.  And while we all Jews are supposed to be treated as brothers and sisters unless there are pending facts that show they could be dangerous physically or spiritually, children still need to be trained accordingly.  While it may not happen every day in a religious community or school, there are unfortunately those who look very religious sometimes, and perhaps even the teacher or principal himself, who is a sexual predator.  For that matter, anyone wearing a skullcap could walk to a religious Jewish school, call a child by his/her name, and the rest is history.  And so, for safety reason, children need to always be forwarned of these things - not because we want to hate anybody, but strictly for their safety.

Now, for the ongoing Sephira combination, we are up to the 12th one - Hod She'B'Gevurah.  Now, I don't see any connection between this particular Sephira and the topic of this post, except for the fact that the letters of the word Ger are included in the word for the Sephira of Gevurah, and the word Gibor (strong) begins with a Gimel and ends with a Reish, the letters that make up the word Ger.  However, the date of this corresponding Sephirah is 27 Nissan, which is observed as Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Day).  Now the truth is, the great Torah scholars and leaders of these past couple of generations never officially accepted this day as Yom HaShoah, since first of all, since Nissan is a month that is supposed to be considered of a festive nature to the extent that we do not recite the Tachanun (supplicatory) prayers throughout this month, and so, we don't establish a rather solemn day of this month to begin with.  Also, the idea that this day should be chosen as such, regardless of the reason, was not the idea of the rabbis, but of others who were not necessarily observant Jews.

In any case, being that the topic of the Holocaust has been brought here through this connection, we will go for it.  Though there were a number of countries that clearly showed their anti-Semitism when it came time for the Holocaust and allowed and/or assisted the Nazis to ship out the Jews and make slaves of them or murder them, the country that gets the most points on this is Germany.  And I don't think it will take long to figure out - the first syllable of the word Germany is...Ger!  Yes, a country where there were Jews who behaved more like gentiles than the gentiles themselves, and hence, thought this would save them from continued anti-Semitic persecution.  Well, Hitler came along, and he made no distinction betw een religious and secular Jews, for both types were standing side by side at the gas chambers.  Indeed, it was Germany who were the biggest STRANGERS to us, for all of a sudden, they showed themselves as though they never had friendly ties with us once Hitler gave them the green light.

Now, observant Jews generally aren't so bothered by anti-Semitism, at least in terms of the rationale, or rather, irrationality behind it, because they know that anti-Semites are just pawns by Hashem that allows them to be this way to wake Jews up.  However, it is the non-observant Jews who are typically very bothered by this because after all, we Jews have contributed so much to the world, we have gone out of our way to help Afro-Americans, etc.  I recently came across a blogpost in which there is an article from an IDF soldier visiting the States and giving lectures, and among the various anti-Semitism that he encountered, there was a lady professor who asked him how many Palestinians did the IDF rape.  When the soldier replied that he didn't know of any, she replied that of course the IDF soldiers didn't rape any Palestinians, because they are so disgusted and racist against them, they wouldn't even touch them.

Personally, in all my years of reading about anti-Semitism, I think that this cuts the cake.  It has been nothing new for gentiles to blame us for everything under the sun, even when it was their fault, such as the Black Plague in the Middle Ages, or rather, Dark Ages, when it was due to insanitary conditions on their part that this happened when the Jews were rather very clean, for we have to wash our hands, go to the Mikva (ritualarium), etc.  And so, blaming us for something as a result of not behaving like animals to our sworn enemies is just like blaming someone for either one of two opposing choices that one makes.  For certainly, if IDF soldiers were to be rapists, the world would certainly pound on us for something that they themselves would do.  So, since they hate Jews and Israel, they find a way to find fault with what we are not doing wrong, despite the fact that the dictatorship Israeli government has no problem sending packages of food, medicine, etc. to our enemies in Gaza during war time, and can hardly wait to release more terrorists and give more land away to them.  However, this doesn't impress the world, and ironically, certainly not the Arab Moslems who call our land Palestine, for as far as they are concerned, ALL of the terrorists that hurt our brethren should be released from Israeli prisons, and we should walk away from ALL of Israel for their Palestinian dream, not just a few prisoner terrorists here (even if they are over a 1,000 of them released at one time as it happened the other year as a tradeoff for Gilad Shalit), and not just another significant piece of land there. They want it all, and the world will blame us for anything and everything that goes wrong with the "peace" process that Israel didn't have to agree with to begin with, as we are blamed for the "Palestinians" not wanting to have peace, as though they were forced in a corner to murder and maim Jews, G-d forbid, and so this "proves" that we are the ones who don't want peace.

So the question is, who is the true stranger, the one whom we treat as a stranger - or we - when we don't want to do the right thing and we treat the other person as though he or she is doing something wrong by existing because we have our prejudices pertaining to their color, race, lifestyle, culture, etc.?  I will say that there is a fine line between not having a group of friends who belong to a different culture and having total disgust for them to such an extent that we won't even say hello to them but we will speak bad about them when the subject about them come up in conversation.

And by the way, for those Modern Orthodox girls looking for guys with college degrees only (or with big money), such as a minimum B.A. degree, (and it happens the other way too by the way, though maybe not as much), aside from the fact that they don't have true faith in Hashem Who provides a living for all who look to work, they are truly not looking to marry out of love.  Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying that they should feel that they have to marry someone like a truck driver.  However, the college degree is only an aid to getting what could be a good career, but working for someone else due to the college degree is still not being in much control of one's livelihood as one who owns a successful business even without a college degree.  And then of course, some of these college educated women wonder why they get divorced one day, even though both husband and wife have college degrees, have good jobs, keep the Orthodox Jewish faith - at least as far as they think they do; but something is just missing from the puzzle.  In this case, I say - Thou Shalt Not B A Stranger Against A Non-B.A. Human Being.

But for everyone else - Thou Shalt Not Be A Stranger To Someone Else, at least the same way that we would not be treated as a stranger BY someone else.  As Hillel said to one who came to him to be converted to Judaism "Don't do to others anything hateful that you don't want to be done to you", based on the Commandment of "Thou shalt love your friend as thyself".

27 Tevet, 5774

Saturday, December 28, 2013

#202 - FIGHTING 4 the MAJORITY: Is it Right?

In the number of this post - 202, you see a rather very even number, and can even be read forwards and backwards the same way.  But ironically, the number for 202 in Hebrew can either mean multitude (Rove) OR fight (Reeve, as a noun), OR many./much or rabbi (Rav) - depending on the vowels.

In life, people like to be on the winning team.  Of course, those who come from a certain area in the United States where their favorite team hails from that location, can get very upset sometimes if "G-d forbid" the opposing team winds up winning.  I bet that the ones who spent several hours watching the annual Super Bowl game only to see "their" team having lost will have no problem finding fault and so called foul plays with the "criminal" loosing team, while for all that G-d knows, the ones with these faults was the loosing team, which was the real reason why that team lost.

And so, it isn't always who is the winning team or the majority that count after all for many.  However, when it comes to something evil, or what hides the real truth, the masses have no problem relating to it.  For example, as per the Knesset elections in Israel close to a year ago, many who pat themselves in the back as "nationalists" or "right wingers" justified voting for the Jewish Home party, which had joined forces with the National Union party, the latter which started off four years earlier as pretty right wing which included a Kahane believer, Dr. Michael Ben-Ari, Shlita; in this last election, he ran his own party called Power to Israel because this now combo party Jewish Home - National Union did not have a strong stance on the true important issues as they may have claimed.  And so, a few too many chose to vote for the fake right-wing party, having all kind of excuses, attempting to fool themselves that they were helping to save Israel, when the opposite was true, as has been proven in this past year.   True, there were a couple of good nationalists on the Jewish home ballot who did get voted in, and I wish them good luck in their attempt to make things right in the Knesset.  But aside from the family and friends of the few good ones in the Jewish Home party, the rest voted either because they wanted to vote for a party headed by a finacial success tycoon Naftali Bennett, or they didn't want a nationalist party that's a little too "fanatical" like Dr. Ben-Ari's, or that is what all their other friends were voting for.  So, while Power to Israel party lacked only like 9,000 votes to receive the minimum two seats in the Knesset, the Jewish Home received a nice dozen seats  Sure enough, Naftali Bennett pretended that he cares so much about the safety in Israel, he used this merely as a front, for he was busy teaming up with the self hating Jew Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid "There is a Future" party to take away major funding from Yeshivot not only from the Ultra Orthodox, but even from those of his own camp called the National Religious, the latter who now got paid back by Hashem for their lack of faith in Him by not voting instead for the ONLY party that stands for the truth, headed by one with the idealisms of Rabbi Kahane, that could have made a real difference in the Knesset as Dr Ben-Ari has proven in his four years in which, among other accomplishments, he got many illegal Sudanese to be kicked out of Israel.

And the proof that I am right?  Let's turn right to Parshat Mishpatim that we will be reading in a few weeks, which deals mostly with judicial cases.  The verse in our subject is Exodus 23:2 "Don't be for the majority when it comes to evil, and don't answer pertaining to an argument as being swayed to after the majority to make a mistake".  Now, in case this sounds a little too literal, rather than the "correct" meaning of this, let's see what Rashi has to say on this.  After going through a detailed analysis on this, Rashi's conclusion take on this is like this:

"Don't be for the majority when it comes to evil" - If you see wicked people perverting justice, don't say that since they are the majority, I will follow after them.

"And don't answer pertaining to an argument as being swayed to after the majority to make a mistake" - If the defendant asks you about that judgement (which was perverted), don't answer him about the dispute with a view that follows the majority to turn the judgement away from the truth, but state your opinion on the judgement just as you know it to be, and let the chain hang on the neck of the majority.

The point here is that just because a majority on the court, no matter how scholarly, may take a certain view, that doesn't necessarily determine that they are correct.  If you feel that the truth is different than what the majority of the judges are claiming, then you have to speak up your piece, regardless of how unpopular you may sound or become.  In fact, even though typically, the Halacha (Jewish Law) does follow the majority, and you know already that your words won't make a practical difference, you still have to do your part and speak up your piece.  For who knows, perhaps after you do, there will be some who will rethink their position, and it will make up the difference as to whether the defendent has to pay or not, or whether the suspect will be executed or not.

To be clear on the Hebrew in the text here, the word majority is a translation for the word Rabim, which is the basis for the words Rove and Rav ( the word dispute (fight) is a translation for the word Reeve, spelled in this instance as Reish-Beit/Veit, which also spells the Hebrew number 202; although in other instances, Reeve is spelled with the letter Yud in the middle.

So as you can see, even those who are supposed to be among the top Torah scholars can become corrupt if they let personal interests or otherwise get the better of them.  And if one thinks that this is hardly unlikely, on doesn't have to go far to see how some rabbis even in Israel who are supposedly very Zionist cave in to the so called Zionist government that basically caters to the Moslem Arabs and throws true Zionistic Jews in prison or tears down their homes, the most famous case being what is called the Disengagement (rather than the true name of something more like Destroyment) of nearly 10,000 Jews from their homes in the Gush Katif and Gaza areas.  In fact, the police had special vests prepared in advance for these traitor rabbis for them to wear with the word "Rav" written on them, so it could convince the thrown out Jews not to give a hard time about having to leave their homes, since after all, if a rabbi himself could come to tell them to leave, then who were they to say otherwise.  In addition, there were lay leaders of the Yesha Council who conspired with the police, including one of the main leaders of what is called the settler movement, who was the main man that everyone turned to for the final decision, so as when a mass amount of Jews came to Kfar Maimon like a couple of months before doomsday to try to stop this, but were prevented from doing so by being misdirected by this Yesha Council so the good Jews, including some who lost their jobs for taking off from work, would not be able to continue their true Zionistic work.  And in case some think that I am making up stories, one can turn to israeltruthtimes.blogspot.com, and after scrolling down a bit, one can see a series of four videos on the right hand side of what can be called the biggest fiasco that has happened in the State of Israel's 65 years of existance.

And now, I will be discussing the next Sephira combination following the last 10 plus blogposts - Netzach She'B'Gevurah (Victory within Strength).  Basically, this means that the victory that was achieved shows that strength was used to make it happen, or in other words, the victory, such as in war, shows everyone the power of the winning side.

In more practical terms, the date of this Sephira combination during the Sephira period is 26 Nissan, which is the Yahrzeit of Yehoshua Bin Noon (Joshua), Moses' main student and successor.  If only the ones who call themselves Zionists today - who are loosely called religious and secular - would truly not only read the Tanach (Jewish Bible), but would actually take to heart what these true Biblical heros stood for and accomplished, we would have a few less problems today in a country that is run by a dictatorship.  For it was Joshua, the first Jewish leader, who would enter and live in Israel following the Jewish people becoming a nation.  And during the course of seven years of fighting the Canaanite nations, he conquered 31 kings, followed by seven years of helping the Jews settle on their respective tribal lands.  Then and only then, was he able to retire for a corresponding 14 years (except for lecturing Torah to the Jewish nation as we see  he did towards the end of his life) until his passing at the age of 110.  And during his seven years of fighting, he showed no signs of weekness not only physically, but also mentally, for he knew that he was fighting the "wars of Hashem", and that VICTORY in this case meant showing Hashem's STRENGTH.

Perhaps it is of no coincidence that Joshua, even though he certainly was a brilliant Torah scholar, and followed Moses as his faithful RAV, that he should be become the leader that the Jews needed to head their wars.  The reason that I say this is because it isn't enough for a Torah scholar to know Torah and have good character traits.  He also needs leadership skills to be a successful communicator and knowing how to lead.  For example, not everyone, despite their knowledge, knows how to be a successful teacher, for it isn't merely transmitting knowledge, but knowing HOW to do so, as well as being able to handle teaching a class, let's say, that includes kids who misbehave and attempt to manipulate adults to get their way.  Perhaps they would be better being writers, like me, or be on the advisory board, or something else in the way of education or transmitting Torah knowledge.

We see that there was the time when the Jews were complaining that they didn't have enough satisfying food, even though the manna was supposed to have accomplished this.  Anyways, it reached the point that Moses felt that he couldn't handle them all alone anymore.  Hashem agreed, and had Moses appoint 70 elders/leaders to be assistants.  This would mean that they would be granted a spirit of Hashem that Moses would accomplish by appointing them as leaders.  Meanwhile, two of these appointed were starting to say prophecy.  After Moses was informed of this, we see that Joshua gets all upset and tells Moses to stop them. Moses replies "Are you zealous for my sake?  If only all the Jews would be prophets that Hashem should place His spirit on them!" (Numbers 11:26-29)

Now, if one were to read this for the first time, without knowing what anyone had to say on this, one would wonder what was so terrible for two particular people to start saying prophecy, especially after this was supposed to be expected, so much so that Joshua would want them to be stopped.  But as our rabbis tell us, the prophecy that they were saying was bad news for Moses, and didn't sound very respectful for them to say this.  These two, Eldad and Meidad, stated that Moses was going to die in the desert, and Joshua would lead the Jews to the Holy Land.  No doubt that Joshua was quite humble, especially in following Moses who was the humblest of men to have walked the earth.  He apparently didn't feel a whole lot of pride about being the next leader after Moses, because he seemed to be rather very agitated to hear such a thing from these two, begging Moses to stop them from speaking further.  And accordingly, Moses, who certainly had reason to be upset about what they were saying, not only brushed this off as though nothing  personal, but even wished that all Jews would have this level of prophecy.

O.K., so it seems that Joshua as a younger man had a quick temper, though of course for good reasons. However, we already see his leadership skills early on, not wanting people disrepecting Moses, even in the name of prophecy.  And on Moses' part, he wanted to make sure that Joshua would not go overboard, but that sometimes, one should think things out, and to see situations at another angle before coming to a conclusion, as is especially supposed to be done in court, and most certainly in a Jewish court that follows the Torah.

Now, a year ago, I mentioned a significant word that is used rarely in the Tanach that is mentioned in this context, and the word in question is HaMekanei  "Are you zealous?", the very first word of Tractate Sota. And the connection between the two places are certainly of no coincidence, for in the Torah, it was Moses who addressed Joshua, who was a parental descendant of Joseph, and Tractate Sota is inherently connected especially with Joseph, who resisted the temptations of an adulterous affair, and this tractate is about the laws of a woman who is suspected of such an affair, and the details of how she is tested to see if she is guilty or not, along with the fact that Joseph is mentioned at the end of the first chapter of this Mishnaic tractate, and is learned by some Jews on the sixth day of Sukkot, the day that highlights Joseph, the Heavenly Guest of the day.

No doubt, Joseph was rewarded for holding himself back from temptation by having Joshua as a descendant of his, the one who would take over the leadership from Moses of all people, and be the author of the first book of the Nevi'im (Prophets) section named after himself, of which the first chapter is read on Simchat Torah, the day that we rejoice concluding the reading of the Sefer Torah, and beginning anew.  For as we know, Hashem pays back Mida Knegged Mida (Measure for Measure).  Just as Joseph, the ELEVENTH of Jacob's sons, WON over his temptation, uses the trait of Netzach (Victory) in a spiritual sense, and he was Gover (the verb based on the word Gevurah) OVERPOWERED his Evil Inclination to not sin with his master's wife who begged him to sleep with her; so accordingly, he was blessed with Joshua as his descendant who would fight the physical battles with the ultimate purpose of getting rid of the idolatrous nations and allowing the Jews to live in the Holy Land, and whose Yahrzeit is on the ELEVENTH day of the Sephira whose combination is Netzach She'B'Gevurah.

Now, the question can be asked.  We see that with everyone else in the Tanach, when it is written that one is the son of so and so, the word Ben (son) is used.  However, with Joshua, we see that the word for son is with a different vowel, and hence pronounced differently as Bin as Bin Noon.  And the question is why?

The answer given is that Bin is similar to the word Bina (understanding), and the name of Joshua's father is the name of the letter Noon which is the numerical value of 50.  It was Joshua, of everyone else, despite Moses' two children, or other great Torah scholars such as in Aaron's family, that was chosen to be the successor of Moses' who attained the 50 levels of Bina (the truth is that he attained only the first 49, and it was only right before his passing that he attained the 50th level).  And so, in showing the importance of Joshua, even though no one could truly take the place of Moses' spiritual level, he is accorded with this honor, equating him to Moses in the leadership sense, so that no one would disrepect Joshua as the leader of the Jewish people teaching them Torah.

In recent times, we see that Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, who founded the only official Hasidic movement without a dynasty of further Rebbes within the familiy, trained his faithful student Rabbi Nosson Sternhartz to take over the leadership (without being a Hasidic "Rebbe") of the Breslov movement.  But part of this were the number of hints that Rabbi Nachman alluded to their Rebbe-Talmid (teacher-student) relationship in comparison to Moses and Joshua.  Aside from this, we see something fascinating that no doubt relates to the original Rebbe-Talmid, and that is, both Rabbi Nachman's and Rabbi Nosson's names begin and end with a Noon.  Perhaps the fact that Joshua's surname, so to speak, as BIN Noon, rather than Ben Noon, hints that near the end of our exile, there would be a similar relationship as Moses-Joshua for Hasidic teachings that would guide the Jewish people as a light at the end of our exile.  For as Rabbi Nosson said, all the advice that a Jew needs are contained in Rabbi Nachman's teachings.  And of course, this advice isn't simply what Rabbi Nachman thought was logical for people, but based purely on the teachings of the Torah. Additionally, as compared with Moses, Rabbi Nachman passed away on the fourth day of Sukkot on which we especially invite the Heavenly Guest - Moses.

In this past year, I read an incredible book about the life of Rabbi Nosson called "Through Fire and Water". One cannot help but be amazed at the tremendous self-sacrifice, persistence, and leadership skills that Rabbi Nosson showed.  At one point, he had major opposition that affected him physically, including from a major Hasidic Rebbe who turned against him, along with other people, but Rabbi Nosson wouldn't give up his devotion to helping Jews become better spiritually, though he certainly didn't make any money from it, but only what his followers helped him out with when his family lost its fortune that it once had.  His hardships included being exiled from his home in Breslov for three years on orders of the government thanks to Jewish informers and was briefly imprisoned at one point.  And as time went on, Rabbi Nosson trained a Reb Nachman, who was named after Rabbi Nachman of Breslov short after the latter's passing, to take over the leadership of the movement after Rabbi Nosson's passing, which he did until his passing on the same date as Joshua's Yahrzeit - 26 Nissan.  So as we see, the first three leaders of the Breslov movement all had names that begin and end with a Noon, and as especially related to Joshua.  Coincidence?

Ultimately, it was thanks to Reb Nosson that the Breslov movement grew, despite the low amount of numbers that this movement had early on in contrast to other Hasidic movements, which comes to show that when it comes to the truth, few go for it at first.  But in time, the efforts bore major fruit, and today, Breslov - especially in Israel, is among the fastest growing Hasidic movements, even without an official Hasidic Rebbe, as evidenced by the fact that some 30,000 Jews, some from all other kinds of walks of life, make the annual Rosh Hashana pilgrimage to Uman in the Ukraine (even though efforts to have Rabbi Nachman reburied in Israel were thwarted, it doesn't take away from this fact of the attractiveness of this movement).  And in terms of the Sephira of Netzach as used in reference to Joshua who is especially connected with the concept of Noon, Rabbi Nachman's name is the same Gematria as the word Netzach.  And the enlarged form of the word Netzach is called Nitzachon, this word also begins and ends with a Noon.

Before I conclude this post, there is another aspect of fighting that is called fighting for "the same of heaven"(L'Shem Shamayim).  To give an example of what is and what is not, Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) in the fifth chapter, tells us that "for the same of heaven" includes the arguments between Hillel and Shammai; and not for the sake of heaven includes the strife that Korach and his cronies created, complaining that his cousins Moses and Aaron took the best leadership and honors for themselves, claiming that it wasn't Hashem who told them what to do.  Well, we all know what happend to Korach at the end, swallowed up by the first earthquake that ever happened in this universe.  But as for Hillel and Shammi, since they true motive was arriving at the Torah truth, they remained good friends.

However, someone who is somewhat learned in Torah will notice something a bit peculiar.  True, there were a few disputes between Hillel and Shammai.  However, the vast majority of disputes in terms of their names were actually between their students known as Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai.  So, why are Hillel and Shammai shown as prime examples of disputes for the sake of heaven when it was mostly their disciples who had the disputes?

You see, things weren't always so rosy between the Hillel-Shammai disciples.  There were times that things got out of  hand, and in one case, Beit Shammai put their foot down to enforce some Halachot to be observed their way.  And so, if Pirkei Avot is to give a prime example of disputes for the sake of heaven, it needs to give a prime example of it without possible objections.

Now, if this is the case when it was quite common for various rabbis throughout the centuries to have Torah disputes about what the Halacha should be, then it is not too surprising when you have, let us, a Hasidic Rebbe who passes away, and then some of his followers decide that things aren't the way that they like it and they start disputes with the other followers "for the sake of heaven".  Well, there is one way to know, at least at the end, as to whether it really is for the sake of heaven.  If at the end, things are peaceful between both parties, then yes, this is exactly what Pirkei Avot is talking about.  However, if it leads to much fighting that causes their cause to become news in the non-Jewish loving media, along with vandalism, beating up, and on occasion, even murder, then obviously, something went very wrong along the way.

Politics in synagogues are nothing new, it just has spread to be an unbelievable rate, especially in the United States.  As we all really know, when it comes to elections of virtually any type, there will almost always be one party castigating the other party, when in fact, the former party is no less guilty if not of the same thing, then of something else.  But just to tell you a story that happend nearly 25 years ago back in my hometown of North Miami Beach, there was a building within a retirement community that the Jewish worshipping residents used for prayers.  While perhaps it may have not looked a synagogue from the outside, they had their president, vice-president, etc.  Anyways, there was one member who wanted a certain synagogue position, but for whatever reason, it didn't happen.  Angry at this, he decided to ruin it for all, telling the zoaning board that it didn't have the proper licensing and all.  To make a long story short, this led to an investigation, and at the end, the place was shut down for non-compliance to the zoning laws.  So here was this one guy, who instead of caring about Hashem's honor, turned it around to attack those who didn't care about his own personal honor for the few short years he had left in this world as a senior citizen, and caused a place of worship to be shut down.  I don't think any one of us would want to be in his shoes, to imagine how much holiness he prevented in this world and Jews from performing Mitzvot everyday, including answering Amen and other responses to certain prayers that can only be performed in a quorum of 10 or more adult males; one can only imagine the punishments in the next world that awaited this guy as one can see described in the Zohar for one who disgraces the honor of Hashem in a synagogue. And all for what?! In the name of righting a so called wrong?  And in this particular situation, for these old people to go to another synagogue without driving on Shabbat, it would probably take them like a good half hour to reach the main religious area with their feable legs if they could even walk without problems.  And for those who would drive on Shabbat, and decided to join another place for Saturday morning services, now they wound up violating Shabbat by driving, even if it is to a place of worship, which they weren't doing when the location of prayer services was right on the grounds of the senior citizen community.

The bottom line is, before we think we know what the truth is because there is a majority following a certain way, we have to ask ourselves if this is the real truth, just because so many people go for it or because rather few people go for it.   Hopefully, the rabbis that we turn to will not be afraid to declare the truth.  Just make sure that at the very least, without saying "Yes, but..." or "Don't be too fanatical", they are supportive of Rabbi Kahane's ideals.  Or better yet, I strongly advise getting Rabbi Kahane's magnum opus either in English "The Jewish Idea" (in two volumes), or in Hebrew "Ohr HaRayon".  Then, after reading this holy Sefer, I don't think you will have too many questions as to who to follow, or who to vote for in the next set of elections in Israel.  My rule of thumb of voting in Israel is, if the political party is not connected to Kahane, it is simply not worth voting for, nay, it is dangerous voting for; for even the so called religious parties in the Knesset have all proven at one time or another to be full of politics and will sell their souls to the devil for stuffed pockets of money "to support Yeshivot", which happened especially when it came time for our Jewish brethren to be thrown out of Gush Katif.

So if you don't have an official Rav that you can turn to for questions in Halacha or Hashkafa (Torah outlike), make sure that he is Kahane certified.  It's not so hard today, because through the internet, if he is a well known Rav, statements of his will show up, and you will be able to compare to see if this is the true Torah/Kahane truth, even if most of your other friends who claim to follow the Torah don't agree with Rabbi Kahane.  And G-d willing, over time, the question will not be "Is he right?" but rather, "When will we be able to get a MAJORITY of Jews to change their way of thinking to think the authentic Torah way of life?''

26 Tevet, 5774