HOW TO BE CLOSE TO THE TORAH

The prophet warns us: שמעו אלי אבירי לב הרחוקים מצדקה Shimu elai abirei lev harchokim mitzdaka, “Hearken unto Me, ye stout-hearted, that are far from righteousness” (Isaiah 44:12). The Zohar says on this pasuk, “This is so, because they are far from Torah. Rabi Chizkiah says, that it is because they keep themselves far from G-d; they refuse to draw near to G-d and therefore they are far from righteousness” (Lech Lecha 76b). Since the Torah’s essence is to transform a person’s selfish nature into a giving nature, which is the root of all tzedakah, thus to become a giver, which is the point of Creation, we have to listen to the Torah’s divine message. Now, the gematria absolute of הרחוקים מצדקה “far from righteousness” plus its 12 letters is 620, the total number of mitzvot (613 + 7 rabbinical injunctions = 620, also gematria keter/crown). Indeed, they are far from righteouness, they are far from Torah. The Zohar says further, “Therefore they are far from peace, and they have no peace, as it is written: אין שלום אמר ה’ לרשעים Ein shalom amar Hashem larshaim, ‘There is no peace, says the L-rd concerning the wicked’ [Isaiah 48:22]” (ibid. Zohar). Behold, the gematria atbash plus the kolel for הרחוקים מצדקה is 498, the same as gematria absolute of עשה מלחמה, oseh milchama “to make war”.

 

CHOOSE LIFE

And it is written: העדתי בכם היום את-השמים ואת-הארץ החיים והמות נתתי לפניך הברכה והקללה ובחרת בחיים Haidoti vachem hayom et-hashamayim veet-haarets hachayim vehamavet natati lefaneicha haberacha vehaklala uvacharta bachayim, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life etc.” (Devarim 30:19, Nitzavim). Now, the prophet says: כי הלבישני בגדי-ישע מעיל צדקה Ki hilbishani bigdei-yesha meil tzedaka, “For he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). Avraham avinu was the prototype of chesed/kindness, of giving tzedakah. He was the moral pillar the world stood on. His life was one of caring and giving tzedakah* for others, and that in turn raised and enlivened him to incredible levels. Thus Hashem considered all his righteous acts as pure tzedakah (ref. Bereshit 15:6) and endowed him with a spiritual meil tzedakah: a holy robe of righteousness to crown the “fullness of his years” (ref. Bereshit 25:8). In atbash, מעיל צדקה “robe of righteousness” has the same gematria as חיי אברהם “Avraham’s life”. Truly, tzedakah is life! Furthermore, בחרת בחיים vacharta bachayim, “Choose life”, has gematria atbash of 814. This is the same as the milui (“spelling out”) gematria of G-d’s Name Sha-dai (shin-yud-nun, dalet-lamed-tav, yud-vav-dalet, or [300+10+50] + [4+30+400] + [10+6+4] = 814). The Name Shad-dai also corresponds to a level in Divinity called the Shekhinah (“Divine Presence”). When the person gives tzedakah he literally chooses life, for he becomes directly connected to the the Shekhinah, the Source of all life in the universe. And so it was with Avraham avinu**, and so it can be with anyone, amen.

* In all truth this is not a word best translated from Hebrew as “charity”, but as justice. When we help someone with tzedakah, we are in fact making use of the “robe of righteousness/justice”.
** In the first contact Hashem made with Avraham (Bereshit 15:1), the Torah uses the Holy Name Sha-dai/Almighty (see also Zohar 88b, Lech Lecha).