My dear talmidim,
At shul, in an introductory shiur to parshas Devarim, I asked what can/should a talmid “see”.
Chazal gives an advice for the talmid to gain real knowledge from his Rebbe.
The Gemara in Kereisos (daf 6a) says that talmidim should חזו לפומיה דרבכון
B’pshat, literally looking at the Rebbe’s mouth during the lesson helps keep the talmid’s focus.
However, it goes deeper than this. For the objective is to receive and absorb knowledge (דעת).
In fact, the essence of this is not even simple knowledge, but true “knowing” (דעת).
Knowing means the union of mental and emotional faculties necessary for acting on the matter.
One cannot act on anything successfully without “knowing” the issue.
Knowing/knowledge is a deep integration of all of our understanding of a reality.
The Rebbe brings this level of knowledge, a precious gift. Therefore, the talmid must pay attention.
When the talmidim achieve knowing/knowledge, the raise their level of consciousness.
This is true growth, and not mere studying an “interesting” subject.
Raising the level of consciousness directly means raising your level of kedusha.
Amazingly, the gematria of חזו לפומיה דרבכון is 474, which is the gematria of דעת.
Moreover, the gematria of the reshei tevot (חלד) is 42, an important number in Torah.
See, 42 is the gematria of a Shem Kodesh, the Shem Mem-Bet. (See Talmud, Kidushin 71a).
There is much that could be explained regarding this Shem–Kodesh, but it is a Shem of ascent.
B’ruchniyut, it is through this Shem that our prayers and thoughts are raised to Shamayim.
This is why after sections of tefillah, we say Ana B’Koach, which corresponds to the Shem Mem-Bet.
We say this prayer on the קריאת שמע על המטה to ensure our neshamos are raised at sleep.
As such, when the talmid pays attention to the Rebbe’s mouth, he gains knowledge and ascension.
Also know that the talmid receive a ruach from the Rebbe, which connects them together.
This is why the respect owed to the Torah teacher is even greater than to our own fathers.
(See Pirkei Avos 4:12; Shulchan Aruch YD 242:1, 16 etc.).
And it is written: וישב ה’ לי כצדקתי כברי לנגד עיניו Vayashev Hashem li ke’tsidkati kevori leneged einav, “Therefore hath the L-rd recompensed me according to my righteousness/tzedakah, according to my cleanness in His eyes” (Shmuel II 22:25). And the ordinal gematria (mispar siduri) of Vayashev Hashem li ke’tsidkati is 187. This is the same numerical value as the expression כסא המלוכה Kise hamelucha, “Throne of kingdom” (Melachim I 1:46). This needs to be explained, with the help of Heaven. Each person is supposed to give strength to the Kingdom of Heaven, so in this way he can help subjugate the Kingdom of the Other Side (sitra achra). This occurs when the person fulfills and studies Torah with enthusiasm and sincerity. When the individual gives strength to the side of kedusha/sanctity, his own “personal kingdom” – his malchut – is strengthened by the brachot/blessings from Hashem. As it is written, “The way of Hashem are righteous, and the righteous walk in them, whereas the sinners stumble in them” (Hoshea 14:10). When the person walks in righteousness and makes justice/tzedakah (where righteousness, justice and charity, in Hebrew, all have the same root), he is allowed to sit in his own “Throne of kingdom”, that is, he is permitted to have a blessed life, balanced and with peace. Those distant from Hashem walk in remorse, chaos e interior emptiness. Their lives never have peace. This pasuk of Shmuel also teaches that kevori leneged einav, “According to my cleanness in His eyes”. In giving tzedakah, the person rectifies himself, and in this way purifies his soul, which is completely seen by Hashem, singularly in Rosh Hashana – the Day of Judgment – when all creatures pass by the Supreme Judge: one after another, to be judged if to be inscribed in the Book of Life or not. And the gematria of this pasuk (187) also equals the name אליועיני Elioenai, which means: “To G-d [spelled Yud-Kei] my eyes” (Ezra 10:22). As such, the person that gives “his eyes” to Hashem, seeking a dignified path, avoiding to look at forbidden things, is positively seen by the “eyes of G-d”, as said in the pasuk of Shmuel. Moreover, our holy sages teach, וישב ה’ לי כצדקתי “Nullify your will before His will…”, כדי שיבטל רצון אחרים מפני רצונך “So that He should nullify the will of others before your will” (Pirkei Avot 2:4). The eyes represent the entire “capturing” of material reality, filled by the sitra achra. When the person nullifies his eyes and only seeks to look at what is holy and correct, he in fact lowers the evil inclination and gives strength to the Kingdom of Heaven – to the King of World Himself. As such, the sinners do not damage his life, and his kingdom/malchut is care for and allowed to exist by Hashem Himself. Behold, the ordinal gematria of “Nullify your will before His will” is 210, the same numerical value for the name וצדק Iohtzadak, “Kah is righteous” (Ezra 5:2), and the gematria katan of “So that He should nullify the will of others before your will” is 105, the same as the name מלכיה Malkiah, “Kah is King”.
כְּתִיבָה וְחֲתִימָה טוֹבָה
K’tiva ve chatima tova
May you all be inscribed in the Book of Life, amen.
שָׁנָה טוֹבָה וּמְתוּקָה
Shana Tova u’metuka – A good and sweet year.
Sometimes a person feels a lesser connection with the Torah. Indeed, there are “spiritual winters”. It is as if the inner fire for Torah has diminished somewhat, creating confused feelings of guilt and sadness, chaz v’shalom. Now, it is a spiritual law that kedusha/sanctity and tumah/impurity cannot occupy the same place. If in the heart of the yid the fire for Torah has lessened, chaz v’shalom, this means that a “strange fire” of tumah – of low self-esteem, secular ideas, heretical thoughts etc. – is burning therein. Therefore, it is imperative to quickly extinguish and annul the impure fire which depresses the person. Sometimes, a segulah/spiritual remedy can help. Truly, there are countless segulot. Now, it is written: ואשריהם תשרפון באש Vaashereihem tisrefun baesh, “And burn their Asherim with fire” (Devarim 12:3, Re’eh). Truly, holy fire is needed to burn away the negative energy – the Asherim/idolatrous trees – that afflicted your own fire, in order to strengthen again your resolve for kedusha. Now, to help reignite this inner fire for Torah one can meditate on this pasuk: ידעתי ה’ כי-צדק משפטיך ואמונה עניתני Yadati Hashem ki-tsedek mishpateicha veemuna initani, “I know, O L-rd, that Thy judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness Thou hast afflicted me” (Tehillim 119:75). Behold, both ואשריהם תשרפון באש and ידעתי ה’ כי-צדק משפטיך ואמונה עניתני have the same gematria 1901. There is a powerful hint to the effectiveness of this segulah. The sofei tavot (“end lettes”, which semantically means “at the end of matters”) of this Psalm is יהיקךהי, with gematria atbash plus the kolel of 335. This is the same numerical value of parah adumah, “red heifer” (pei-reish-hei alef-dalet-mem-hei, or [80 + 200 + 5] + [1 + 4 + 40 + 5] = 335), whose purifying ashes completly remove all tumah.
A certain frum yid (“Torah observant jew”) I had visited to ask for tzedakah told me, when I asked him if he could help me: “Today until Friday there are critical meetings about my portion in Parnasah/financial sustenance for me to help you and others”. I wished him hatzlacha rabbah/great success and left him. He did not help me this time, but I went on my way, happy and confident Hashem would care for me. On the way out, after thinking on our conversation, I wrote him a note and left it at his office’s entrance desk: Dear Reb Fivish, the millui (“spelling out”) of צדקה tzedakah is צדי דלת קוף הא, which has gematria 730. This is the same numerical value as what is said in the verse of parashat Toledot: מטעמים כאשר matamim kaasher, “savoury food” (Bereshit 27:14). Now, I will be praying for you to be served this most “savory food”. And since you have fear of G-d, I know you will serve holy shirayim* to us all, for this is something אהב אביו ahev aviv, “his ‘Father in Heaven’ will love”**.
* A popular Chassidic custom to endeavor to obtain food from which a Rebbe has partaken from. This practice is referred to as shirayim, meaning “leftovers”.
** The pasuk mentioned ends: מטעמים כאשר אהב אביו matamim kaasher ahev aviv. The last part is here interpreted (and the verb tense changed) as meaning that Hashem (Av/Father in Heaven) approves of this sharing in the food/money.
It is written: “For whoever promotes charity promotes peace, both in the upper world and in the lower world” (Zohar 200b, Mikets), that is, here in the Olam HaAsiyah (our material reality), where all things happen. As such, we learn that although giving tzedakah clearly helps the “receiver”, this act goes much further, to wit, it promotes peace in the world through the beauty, the greatness and the light that means giving to one who needs. As such, a person who fulfills this mitzva of tzedakah directly participates in the Tikkun/Rectification process of the world. This also implies on the “sweetening” of the severe decrees (in Hebrew, gevurot) that afflict us all in this most troublesome time and world. This “sweetening” is particularly important in the place the person lives: in one’s country, state, city and even neighborhood, where there can be many severe decrees, chaz v’shalom. Now, the holy Zohar brings a Psalm to speak on the subject of tzedakah: צדקתו עמדת לעד Tsidkato omedet laad, “His righteousness endures forever” (Tehilim 112:9). Here, we are taught something even greater than observed before: not only the person receives merits and divine kindness for his practice of charity – which helps his own environment, the world at large and even the “spiritual worlds” – but the effects of the tzedakah last forever. It is a mitzva with eternal value, always giving merit in the lifetime of the person and even his descendants. Behold, when we investigate the ordinal gematria (mispar siduri) of צדקתו עמדת לעד Tsidkato omedet laad, the result is 156, that being the same as gematria of the word Yosef. Truly, he was called Yosef HaTzadik/The Righteous, where tzedakah/charity, tzedek/justice and tzadik/righteous all are correlate words. Yosef the tzadik is intrinsically connected with tzedakah, as the Torah is teaching us on another level that the person who gives charity is like a tzadik. Moreover, we can see the “seal” of Hashem in these holy words, because 156 is also the gematria YKVK (26, known as the Tetragram) times six (26 x 6 = 156). And six is the numerical value of the Hebrew letter Vav, which in the reality of our soul, represents the person’s character. A person desirous of true character rectification in all of its major components (which are six, for “six sefirot“) is one who merits to be called a tzadik, for he has Hashem (26) directing and healing all of his personal traits (6). The path of righteousness (156) is truly a blessed one.
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”.