Friday, May 2, 2014

#218 - Head of CREATION

As my first post since my Jewish birthday on 1 Iyar, I want to focus today on the number of my present year of life in this world - 45.

First, aside from how the number 45 is spelled in Hebrew as the letters Mem-Hei, it also spells the word that reads Mah.  Typically, this word is translated as meaning "what", but at times, depending on the context in the Tanach (Jewish Bible), is means "how" - not necessarily as a question, but rather as an exclamation of praise, such as "HOW goodly are your tents, O Jacob; your living quarters, O Israel" (Numbers 24:5) and "Oh HOW do I love Your Torah, it is my conversation all day long" (Psalms 119:97).

More on this later, but first, I want to write about Adam, the father ancestor of all mankind, since his name is the Gematria of 45, and today is Friday, or the sixth day of the week, the first one in my 45th year, noting that Adam was created on the sixth day of the week.  Indeed, I have started a new beginning, so to speak, with the commencement of my 45th year.  Thank G-d, I am already a parent of both a girl and a boy.

While Adam is called Adam HaRishon, the first, this is not referring to him as being the first of creation, but rather, the first of all mankind.  However, Adam can rightfully be called the HEAD of all creation, since of the four categories of vitality in creation - speaker, living, sprout, and inanimate - it is mankind who is called speaker, since it is only mankind of all creations that are able to speak as coming from the soul (Note: While we see animals, birds, etc. using their mouths in communication, this is not on the same level as it comes for human beings).  The ultimate proof of this, aside from the fact that we know that it is mankind of all creatures that is expected to serve Hashem, is that mankind was created last of all creations.  You see, it is just as it is in a gathering that is together to meet the king, president, or some other important personage.  As it always happens, everyone else is together, and it is they who are waiting for the last one to show up - the important person that they are waiting for.  After all, this important person's time is very valuable, and neither does he have the time nor is it respectful to expect him to have him wait for everyone else to show up.  Similarly, Hashem created everything else first, so that by the time Adam and Eve would be created on the sixth day following the first five days, including the animals who were created on the sixth day, everything would be ready for them rather than them having to wait for Hashem to create other things that would be of service to them.

With this said, when it comes to the various parts of the body, it is the head that is both literally the head, or the top of the body, and also the leader of the body, because this is where the brain resides, without which, there is no way that the body could survive, and as we know, the various limbs of the body move according to the thinking and will of the brain.  Moreover, we usually communicate with each other by seeing each other's faces that are part of the head and speaking to each other with our mouths.  And so in essence, mankind is the brainpower of all creation; for after all, what other creature in this universe, for example, is able to create the various modern technologies that mankind has invented, which happen not only because mankind has far more flexibility in moving their limbs than animalistic creatures, but ultimately, it is their brains that are far superior to that of all other creatures.  And finally, an injury to the head is far worse than to other parts of the body; for if a part of the body is injured, it is usually just that limb that is affected, but an injury to the head affects not only the head, but quite oftentimes, the rest of the body as well, as is most evident when one is in a coma.

In any case, it is true that the word Rishon (first) is actually based on the word Rosh (head), for indeed, it is the head that is the first to know of something happening, and it is only afterwards that other parts of the body react accordingly.  And speaking of the head of creation, the word for creation in Hebrew is Beriah, the Gematria of 218, and this is my 218th post.

Now, I personally believe that if Adam and Eve would not have sinned with the forbidden tree, then Hashem would have picked a different couple who would have sinned.  To make this clear, Hashem knew beforehand that Adam and Eve were going to sin; though in fact, they had a choice not to sin, so it isn't like they were forced with eating food that they weren't supposed to eat.  However, if Hashem would not have wanted a world with suffering physically or spiritually, he wouldn't have had a couple as the first couple that were going to sin.  After all, the very reason why Hashem put us all in this world to begin with was in order for us to earn reward, rather than receiving it par bono, which would make us always feel bad that we are receiving something for nothing.  And so, if this world would have been without suffering or temptations, it would defeat the whole purpose of Hashem taking us from a high spiritual place to a rather very low one.  And so, even as Adam and Eve were righteous people, Hashem already knew that they were going to sin, and hence, since everyone descended from them who were stricken with punishment, we are all stuck with the same deal, whether it is men working with the sweat of the brow or women dealing with the pains and all of menstration and pregnancy.  Hence, since Adam and Eve, as the heads or ancestors of mankind were affected as a result of their sin, we as their descendants are all affected accordingly.

In a similar vein, we Jews started off good with Hashem giving us the Torah and in fact, the impurity that attached to everyone else beginning with Adam and Eve as a result of the original sin, hence causing death, was removed at first from the Jewish people, but was returned followed the sin of the Golden Calf.  However, as bad as this was, aside from the much shorter life now that the impurity returned to the Jewish people, it was the crying of the Jews at the evil report of the Spies on the night of the date of Tisha B'Av (9th of Av) that made a major spiritual decline, first delaying them from coming to Israel for nearly 40 years, and this resulted with Moses not being able to come with them to Israel when the time come, for as our Sages say, had Moses entered the Land with the Jewish people, the Temple would have never been destroyed.  However, not only one Temple, but two Temples were destroyed - both on this very date of Tisha B'Av, along with a multitude of other major sufferings that happened to the Jewish people on this date.

In any case, we see that the date of Tisha B'Ab is the NINTH day of the FIFTH month (counting from Nissan, the month of the Exodus and birth of the Jewish people).  The reason that I write this is becuase the number 45, which is the Gematria of Adam's name, is a multiple of NINE and FIVE.  Now, we see that following the sin of the forbidden tree, Hashem confronts Adam, and the very first word that Hashem says to him is Ayeka (Genesis 3:9), which can be translated as "Where have you been", meaning, asking Adam as to how he could have allowed himself to be brought down spiritually from committing this sin.  In any case, we see that the word in the text as Ayeka is the very same word, except with different Hebrew vowels, as the word Eicha, the word that begins the book in Tanach that is called Eicha (Lamentations) that is read on Tisha B'Av.

And having said this, it is nothing short of Hashgacha Peratit (Divine Providence) that this word Ayeka is found in Chapter 3, Verse 9 of Genesis - for two reasons.  First, the letter with the numerical value of three is Gimel and the letter with the numerical value of nine is Teit, and these two letters when spelled together as this, is the word Get, the name of the document that the husband gives to his wife in divorcing her, and in essence,  Adam and Eve were divorced from Hashem's Presence "He (Hashem) chased away mankind" (Genesis 3:24), this word "chasing away" or Vayegaresh in Hebrew, whose root word is used in Tanach in reference of divorcing one's wife.  Second, these two numbers together - three and nine - when put together, spells the number 39, and as the Zohar notes (Tikkun 48), there were a total of 39 curses as a result of this sin - 10 for the snake, 10 for Adam (men), 10 for Eve (women), and 9 for the earth (the source of the forbidden tree).  This is also related to the 39 types of work which are forbidden to be performed on Shabbat, as these types of work are related to the curse of working that Hashem placed on mankind which are forbidden to be performed on Shabbat, the source of blessing.  And by the way, the story of the destruction of the second Temple can be found in the midst of the fifth chapter of Tractate Gittin, the tractate that is all about Jewish divorces, of the Babylonian Talmud.

Now, in a more positive sense, the 45th day from Rosh Hashana (1 Tishrei), the date of the creation of Adam whose name is the Gematria of 45, is the Yahrzeit of Matisyahu (my second Hebrew name that I adopted six years ago) of the Chanuka story - 15 Cheshvan. And it is Matisyahu, who led the rebellion that led to the victory of the Jews over the Syrian Greeks that allowed them to reenter the Temple after an absence of time due to the foreign oppression to attempting to prevent the Jews from observing the Torah, who was responsible for the holiday of Chanuka, marked by lighting the lights of the Menorah for eight nights, and is the 620th and last of the 613 Mitzvot of the Torah and seven Mitzvot instituted by the Rabbis, and the word Keter (crown) consists of the letters that spell the Hebrew number 620.  The reason that I write this is because the first days of the year beginning with Rosh Hashana and culminating with Yom Kippur correspond to the total of 10 Sephirot (Keter, Chachma, Bina, Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod, Malchut) as mentioned in the writings of the Ramak (Rabbi Moshe Cordovero); and hence, Rosh Hashana corresponds to the Sephira of Keter.  With this said, the name of Matisyahu who was responsible for the 620th Mitzva is the same Gematria as the name of the holiday Rosh Hashana - 861, of which the first day (which is really only one day according to the Torah, but due to technical reasons related to the timing of seeing the new moon, eventually became two days) corresponds to the Sephira Keter whose name is the Gematria of 620.  Moreover, as in this 45th year of mine, Matisyahu's Yahrzeit of 15 Cheshvan falls out on Shabbat on which Parshat Vayeira is read, the latter half of this Parsha is read during the two days of Rosh Hashana.


Yesterday, on my birthdate beginning my 45th year, I learned Tikkun 45 of the Zohar.  This is the very place in the entire Tikkunei Zohar, going in order of explanation on Parshat Bereishit, that it writes about the FIFTH day of Creation.  Amazingly, my 45th year began on the FIFTH day of the week, just as I was born on the FIFTH day of the week (as well as the day that I turned Bar Mitzva and the day that I became a full legal man according to the Torah at the age of 20).

With this said, let us see how some of the greatest Tzadikim (righteous people) bearing my namesake Shimon are especially related to the number five.  First, there is Shimon HaTzadik, one of the few righteous Cohanim Gedolim (High Priests) of the second Temple, whose Yarhzeit is 29 Tishrei, which is the first day of the FIFTH week from Rosh Hashana.  And then, there is Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Rashbi), author of the teachings of the Zohar, whose Yahrzeit is observed on Lag Ba'Omer, which is the FIFTH day of the FIFTH week of Sephirat HaOmer, and whose Sephira combination is Hod She'B'Hod, noting that the word Hod is a multiple of FIVE (as the Gematria of 15 or 5*3).  And as related to Rashbi, there was a Rabbi Shimon Lavie who composed the most famous song pertaining to Rashbi who passed away on Day 15=Hod of the FIFTH month (this is a special date known as Tu B'Av), noting that the Tribe of Shimon is the corresponding Tribe of the month of Av.  And as pertaining especially to the number 45, the song that this Rabbi Shimon Lavie composed includes the repeat stanza - Bar Yochai Nimshachta Ashreicha Shemen Sasson MeiChaveirecha  "Son of Yochai, fortunate are you that you have been anointed with the oil of gladness from among your peers", these last three words Shemen Sasson MeiChaveirecha coming straight from Tehillim Chapter 45 (Psalms 45:8), noting that some have a custom to recite the Psalm Chapter daily corresponding to the present age year that they are in, which means that Psalm 45 is my corresponding psalm as I am presently in my 45th year.  With this said, in this same song, there is a stanza that states  Na'aseh Adam Ne'emar Ba'avurecha "Let us make mankind (Genesis 1:26)" was said for your sake", noting that the word Adam, which is the Gematria of 45, is used here, as this was the 10th and final Statement that Hashem made in creating the world, creating Adam (and Eve) as the last creation.

In fact, we see in the Torah that the leader of the Tribe of Shimon brought special offerings on behalf of his tribe, in the midst of the leaders of the other tribes doing so, on the FIFTH day, which actually has three meanings - the fifth day from the dedication of the Tabernacle, the fifth day of Nissan, and...the FIFTH DAY OF THE WEEK!  And of course, the name Shimon consists of FIVE letters.


Today is the 17th day of the Omer, and the Sephira combination of this day is Tiferet She'B'Tiferet (Beauty with Beauty).  With this, I am reminded of the verse that I mentioned in the beginning of this post Mah Tovu Ohalecha Ya'akov "How goodly are your tents, O Jacob..."  This verse begins with the word Mah which is the Gematria of 45.  To note, this is one of six places in the Torah that the Sofer (Torah scribe) is supposed to write at the beginning of a column, the FIRST word of this column being the word Mah, which is the same Gematria as the name of the FIRST human being called Adam.  Now, the very next word is Tovu (good in plural) which is the Gematria of 17, just as the day of today's Sephira, falling out on the first Friday, or sixth day, of my 45th year, being the same day of the week as Adam was created.  And then we see that the name Jacob, the name of the third of the Patriarchs, is mentioned here (though in this context, it refers to the Jewish people).

I am reminded of what it states in the Talmud (Bava Batra 58a) "The BEAUTY of Jacob (the Patriarch) is a reflection of the BEAUTY of Adam".   Now, whether this is supposed to be referring to spiritual or physical beauty, it is obvious that the creation of Hashem has to be perfect in the way that He wanted it to be created, since after all, Adam was to be the ancestor of all mankind.  In any case, we do see a similarity between Adam and Jacob; Adam being the ancestor of all mankind, and Jacob being the ancestor, or father, of the 12 Tribes of Israel, showing that the Jewish people, despite differences are in essence one, having the potential to maintain unity among each other, which is in fact, an aspect of beauty, because it is precisely with an array of colors that are together that show how different colors are next to each other, side by side.  (Note: The word for beauty in this context of the Talmud is a different word being that it is Aramaic rather than Hebrew.)

To note, the Sephira of Tiferet, of the seven active Sephirot (beginning with Chesed), corresponds to Jacob of the Seven Shepherds.  And so, this day being the Sephira of Tiferet She'B'Tiferet (Beauty within Beauty) falling out this year on the sixth day of the week, the day of the week on which Adam was created, is an amazing connection between Adam and Jacob in itself.  But if this was not enough, this date falls out this year (unlike last year when it also fell out on the sixth day of the week, or in other leap years when we read the previous Parsha) as the sixth day of the week of Parshat Emor, and the sixth Aliyah of this Parsha is all about the Mitzvot of the holiday of Succot, the third of the Shalosh Regalim (Three Pilgrimage Festivals) that corresponds to Jacob of the three Avot (Patriarchs).  This is highlighted by a verse that shows a special connection between Jacob and the concept of Succot  "Jacob travelled to Succot (name of a city) and while there, he built a home and he made Succot (booths) for his cattle; therefore, he named the place Succot" (Genesis 33:17).

And noting that the above verse is Verse 17 where the word Succot is mentioned THREE times, we see that this number 17 is unique to Jacob in quite a few ways:
1)The Sephira combination of Tiferet She'B'Tiferet, the THIRD Sephira within the THIRD Sephira, which falls out on the 17th day of the Omer, is most connected to Jacob.
2)As the seven days of Succot correspond to the Ushpizin or the Seven Shepherds (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, David), the third day of Succot, which is the 17th of Tishrei, the THIRD day of Succot, corresponds to Jacob.
3)As is mentioned at the very beginning of Parshat Vayechi, Jacob's last 17 years of his life were spent in Egypt, the beginning of the 210 years that the Jews were in Egypt "Jacob lived in the land of Egypt for 17 years" (Genesis 47:28), noting that this Parsha is always read in the month of Tevet, and the name of the constellation for this month is Gedi, the Gematria of 17.
4)The Mitzva of Gid HaNashe, the prohibition of eating the sinew vein of the thigh, is the THIRD Mitzva of the Torah (and the very first of 365 prohibition Mitzvot), which is a result of Jacob being injured at his thigh as a result of having a fight with an angel who looked to wrestle with Jacob.  The first word of this phrase GID Hanashe is the Gematria of 17.
5)In the phrase Mah Tovu Ohalecha Ya'akov "How goodly are your tents O Jacob", which we recite at the very beginning of our morning prayers following putting on the Tallit (prayer shawl) and Tefillin (phylacteries), the word Tovu, in reference to the name Jacob, is the Gematria of 17.  In the original context of the Torah, this is the THIRD verse of a poetry of blessings for the Jewish people that the evil Bila'am stated that Hashem made him speak instead of his original intended curses in his THIRD attempt of doing so.

Exactly one year ago on this date of 2 Iyar, the 17th day of the Omer, which is Tiferet She'B'Tiferet, Rabbi Ya'akov Yoseph ZT'L, a Rosh Yeshiva in Jerusalem who gave numerous Torah lectures in various places each week, son of the famed Rabbi Ovadia Yosef who served as the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel and headed the Shas party of the Knesset, passed away.  I already wrote about him last year since his passing, especially as he was a champion to the rights of not giving any parts of Israel away despite being surrounded by others who weren't in agreement of his views, following in the ways of his namesake Ya'akov Avinu (Jacob our Forefather) who was especially attuned to the trait of Emet (truth) - Titein Emet L'Ya'akov "Give truth to Jacob", but one thing of significant interest, as it relates to Tiferet, as that on the day of his passing, unlike many others who are also very sick and aren't conscious in the last so many days of their lives, Rabbi Ya'akov Yosef was fully alert, having recited the morning prayers with his Tallit and Tefillin, noting that the Tefillin is especially related to the concept of Tiferet.  Of this rabbi, it can truly be said M'Ya'akov Ad Ya'akov Lo Kam K'Ya'akov "From Ya'akov (the Patriarch) until (Rabbi) Ya'akov (Yosef), there was none who rose like Ya'akov".

As per the above verse "How goodly are your tents, O Jacob", we see that right from the getgo that Jacob was the epitome of Torah learning, because of which is dubbed "The chosen of the Patriarchs", even more than his father Isaac and his grandfather Abraham, as the verse writes of him in his youth V'Ya'akov Ish Tam Yoshev Ohalim "Jacob was a man of simplicity, a dweller of tents" (Genesis 25:27), referring to the tents of Torah learning, as in a Yeshiva setting, as this is referring to the tents of Shem and Ever, two of his ancestors who established the very first Yeshiva in the world.  And as Jacob is the THIRD of the Avot (Patriarchs), we see in the Talmudic tractate of Shabbat that the Torah is called the "THREEFOLD Torah" (which can be either Torah-Nevi'im-Ketuvim the Tanach or Tanach-Mishna-Gemara).

And noting that today is the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Ya'akov Yosef, which is the first Friday of my 45th year, the SIXTH day of the week on which Adam was created, and having mentioned above about the connection between Adam and Ya'akov Avinu in terms of Tiferet (beauty), there is one chapter in the entire Mishnayot that begins with the word Adam (referring to a human being), the SIXTH chapter of Tractate Ahalot (Tents), this tractate which discusses the spiritual impurity that one can attain as a result of being under the same roof as a corpse, which is originally mentioned in Numbers Chapter 19, in which Verse 14 states - Zot HaTorah Adam Ki Yamut B'Ohel...  "This is the law of a person who dies in a tent, whoever comes to the tent or whatever is in the tent will be impure for seven days".  Now, aside from the fact that both the Chumash (Penteteuch) and the Mishna chooses the word Adam, rather than one of the other three synonyms in Hebrew for a person, highlights the concept of death that began with Adam following his spiritual downfall. In a homiletic sense, our rabbis tell us  "From where do we see that Torah is attained by one who "kills" himself for it? As it says "This is the Torah (law) of a person who dies in a tent"" (Talmud Berachot 63b). Indeed, it takes much Mesirut Nefesh (giving up of oneself) to be a Torah scholar, as we know of numerous examples of rabbis of yesteryear who spent endless hours in their youth, with little sleep, and oftentimes with little food when there was hardly any, learning Torah, especially in the areas of the Talmud and Halacha (Jewish Law), as what Rabbi Ya'akov Yosef specialized in.

And to end off on a GOOD note - noting that the Hebrew word for good is Tov, the Gematria of 17, the number of today's Sephira - as is common in finishing off a piece of Torah, it states Ein Tov Elah Torah "There is no good but Torah" (Talmud Avoda Zara 19b)

2 Iyar, 5774 - 17th day of Sephirat HaOmer

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