Monday, February 10, 2014

#209 - The Righteous One

The truth is, the ultimate righteous One is Hashem.  However, those who follow the righteous path, following in Hashem's ways, are also called righteous.  In fact, the 611th Mitzva of the Torah is to be similar to Hashem, as the Talmud (Shabbat 133b) states: "Just as Hashem is compassionate, so too must we be compassionate. Just as Hashem is merciful, so too must we be merciful", being derived from what the Torah states "You shall walk in His ways" (Deutronomy 28:9).  Small wonder then that it is the 611th Mitzva of the Torah, for the Gematria of the word Torah is 611.

While there have been many righteous Jews, as well as some righteous non-Jews, throughout the generations, there have been a few that particularly bear the title of HaTzadik (the righteous one), most notably Joseph and Shimon HaTzadik, the latter being the Cohen Gadol (High Priest) for 40 years, and the last surviving member of the Anshei Knesset HaGedolah (Men of the Great Assembly).

Now, the big question is, who was the most righteous person to walk this planet?  Well, if we go through the Chumash (Penteteuch), the greatest star of this five book series is Moses, whose birthdate/Yahrzeit was just a few days ago on 7 Adar I.  Ironically, he is not mentioned even once in Genesis, the first book of the Torah, but that is because he wasn't born yet until the beginning of the book of Exodus.  But as believers of the Chumash, what is written in the Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll), that it comes from Hashem, rather being a man made written material (Moses just transcribed what Hashem told Him to write), we can see that Hashem spends most of His time with the greatest righteous ones, as is evidenced from the amount of material that is written on them in the Torah.  Similarly, in this physical world, the business people who are wealthy don't just spend the majority of their time, outside of their families, just with anyone, but with other similarly minded people, ultimately helping them reach their goals of being financially successful.

Now, while with Moses, who is typically known as Moshe Rabbeinu, is called HaTzadik many times in the Midrash, it seems that he is given this title only once in the entire Talmud, particularly in the Mishna (Nedarim 3:11), where it states: Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Korcha says, Great is circumcision, to the extent that (even) Moshe HaTzadik was not held back from punishment for even a moment over it.  Now, the particular context of this is when Moses delayed circumcising his second son Eliezer on his trip to Egypt, even though going to Pharaoh telling him to let the Jews go was on Hashem's orders.  Nevertheless, he was nearly killed because this Mitzva of circumsion to be performed on the eighth day is so great, it supercedes virtually all other Mitzvot, even Shabbat, unless the child's health could be endangered.  Now, the reason why Moses delay his son's circumcision was for this very reason, or at least supposed reason, being afraid that the travel would have an effect on his son's health.  However, he was blamed nevertheless because Moses spent time staying in a motel instead of going as quickly as possible to follow Hashem's orders, and so, if he already was going to delay following Hashem's orders, then he had no excuse not to circumcise his son.

Now mind you, the various Midrashim are also part of the Torah She'B'Al Peh (Oral Torah).  However, the Mishna and Gemara, making up the Talmud, is the most important part of the Oral Torah, being that this comprises all the basic laws, and discussions thereof, of the Torah.  And so, if this is the only instance in the Talmud that Moses is referred to as Moshe HaTzadik, there has to be a good reason for this.

As we know from Kabbala, the Sephira of Yesod represents the sexual organ part of the body, representing the Brit Mila, the Holy Covenant; and accordingly, it is the Tzadik who is called the Yesod HaOlam "Foundation of the world", especially because it is the righteous one who is careful to guard the Covenant. This means that not only he doesn't misuse his sexual organ for pleasures that are forbidden from the Torah outside of marriage, but he doesn't do anything that can arouse himself, aside for his wife, that could lead to misusing it, including improper thoughts.  Indeed, while we may very well know what the Torah wants and expects of us, undeniably, sexuality is very tempting, and without the proper controls, one can easily be led astray after it, especially in this day and age when more than ever, girls and women walk around more immodestly dressed, or undressed, then ever before; which was not always the case even a hundred years ago.  And so, it is in the particular context about the Brit that Moses is referred to by the title of HaTzadik, noting that despite his own great righteousness, especially in this area of controlling himself from sexual temptations, just as Joseph did that earned himself the title of HaTzadik, all his merits did not save him from being nearly killed for not circumcising his week old infant, and it was only when his wife Tzipora who realized what was happening and circumcised their infant herself, was Moses then released from being punished.

Now typically, righteous people do the type of heroic deeds that few others would do.  A prime example is in this week's Parshat Ki Tisa, in which is recounted the story of the Golden Calf that unfortunately, some Jews fell prey in worshipping it.  Now, while Moses himself told his Tribe of Levi to go out and kill the sinners, he still had a love for the Jewish people as a whole, to the extent, that not only when Hashem told him that He was going to destroy His nation and make a new nation from Moses, that he turned it down, not wishing for the Jewish people to be killed (but Hashem's offer of Moses having a nation descended from him became fulfilled in having a multitude of descendants); but knowing how Hashem was still very upset and angry over what some of the Jews did, Moses told Him that if He would not forgive them, then He should remove his name from the entire Sefer Torah that was destined to be written (which was also fulfilled in a way by the lack of his name being mentioned in last week's Parshat Tetzaveh, even though Hashem said that He forgave the Jewish people).  For even though certainly, if Hashem was upset and angry at the Jewish people, it was for good reason, Moses did not find this justifiable in terms of letting the Jewish nation being destroyed or not remaining on good terms with Hashem, and even though Moses of all people could have had it easy and not worry about the rest who weren't as righteous as he was, he would not hear of this, and was willing to even give up his own spiritual merits if this is what it would taken to secure the Jewish people's future.

At this time, I would like to note that my daughter Tamar's second Hebrew name is Tzadika, which has the same letters as HaTzadik, which by the way, is the Gematria of 209, the number of this post.  And indeed, the Biblical Tamar in the Chumash was one of the 22 righeteous women mentioned in the Tanach (Jewish Bible).  And while on the surface, it may seem that Tamar was simply looking to have a one night stand, and for a prostitue fee, with Judah her former father-in-law, following the death of her past two husbands who were both sons of Judah, her intentions were for the sake of heaven, which I will not discuss in this post, as the discussion of this is beyond the topic of this post.  However, what is important to note is Tamar's willingness to take a chance being burned in the furnace following being judged to death by Judah who didn't realize that it was Tamar whom Judah made pregnant; and it was only when Tamar sent him the items that Judah placed with her as a deposit until he would pay her the prostitute fee, with the hope that Judah would get the hint without being embarrased, that it reminded him of what happened which prompted him to confess, saving Tamar from death.  In fact, the Talmud praises Tamar in more than one place for her heroic deed of not wishing to embarrass Judah, even if it would mean that she would be burned to death otherwise; and it is from this very incident that the rabbis learn out that it is better for one to even be thrown into the furnace than the sin of embarrassing another Jew.  In essence, Tamar, just like Moses, went the extra mile to save face for someone else who condemned her to death, and she could have easily made him look bad, especially after Judah refused to give over his third son Shela over to her for marriage.  Truly, it could be said of Tamar that her actions of sleeping with Judah was full the sake of heaven.  In fact, the Midrash tells us that it was meant to be from Hashem that it would be from this very union that the Davidic dynasty and Moshiach would be descended from.  Interestingly, the letters of Tamar's name - Tav, Mem, Reish - are beginning of the words Torat Moshe Rabbeinu - the Torah of Moses our Teacher, for it is both through the teachings AND the actions of the righteous that we learn from.

And before I conclude, I would like to point out to the next Sephira combination in posting, Netzach She'B'Tiferet, the 18th one in line.  Kabbalistically, it is Moshe Rabbeinu of the Seven Shepherds who represents particularly the Sephira of Netzach (Eternity or Victory), who indeed, secured the eternity of the Jewish people in the incident of the Golden Calf, in the midst of Tiferet, which is the combination of Chesed representing pure kindness and Gevurah representing pure strictness, which was displayed among the Jewish people in punishing the rotten apples while letting the rest of the Jewish people remain alive in this incident.

There is one more personage that I would like to mention here bearing the same name as Moshe Rabbeinu, Moshe ben Yaakov from Coucy (a town in France), known as the Semag, an acronym for the name of his work Sefer Mitzvot HaGadol, an early work on the list of the Taryag Mitzvot (613 Commandments).  The reason that I mention him here is because his name is Moshe, just like Moshe Rabbeinu who represented the Sephira of Netzach; and his father's name is Yaakov, just like the name of the Biblical Jacob who represents the Sephira of Tiferet.

Having dedicated a recent post #207 (Jan '14) to the Chofetz Chaim, whose birthdate (11 Shevat) - which falls out during the week of the Jewish calendar that corresponds to the Sephira of Netzach She'B'Tiferet - in this year fell out on the FIRST day of the week of Parshat Yitro, it is most interesting to note that the Hebrew word for "from Coucy", in terms of the Semag, is M'Kutzi, which has the same Gematria as the title of the Chofetz Chaim, which is also the name of the Chofetz Chaim's first Sefer.  Having mentioned this, the work of the Semag is divided up into two parts - the 248 Mitzvot Aseh (Positive or Action Commandments) and the 365 Mitzvot Lo Ta'aseh (Prohibitive or Non-Action Commandments).  Now, the first of the Mitzvot Aseh in the list is the Mitzva in the belief in Hashem, and the first of the Mitzvot Lo Ta'aseh in the list is the Mitzva of not believing in a god other than Hashem - the FIRST two Mitzvot of Parshat Yitro (which are the first two of the Ten Commandments).

Indeed, it is most fitting that Moshe Rabbeinu, who was the greatest one in emulating Hashem's ways as per the 611th Mitzva of the Torah, should be the one after whom the Torah - this word being the Gematria of 611 - be named after, as mentioned in the END of the prophecy of Malachi, the LAST of the prophets - Zichru Torat Moshe Avdi "Remember the Torah of Moses My servant", and in English, the Chumash, the material of the Sefer Torah that was first written down by Moses who miraculously wrote 13 Torah Scrolls on the LAST day of his life, corresponding to the 13 ways that the Torah can be interpreted and the 13 Divine Attributes that we are supposed to emulate, of which the END of it mentions his passing, is known as the Five Books of Moses,.

10 Adar I, 5774

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