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

No comments: