LIFTING UP THEIR HEADS

And it is written: כאשר צוה ה’ את משה ויפקדם במדבר סיני Ka’asher tsiva Hashem et-Moshe vayifkedem bemidbar Sinai, “As YKVK commanded Moshe, so he counted them in the wilderness of Sinai[1]. See, this verse’s gematria is 2012, that is 4 x 503, this being the numerical value of המחנת ha-machanet, “the encampment”. And the parsha brings[2] how each one of the shevatim/tribes was positioned in the desert. There were four encampments situated in different positions, and each machaneh consisted of three tribes. Now, the gematria of vayifkedem bemidbar Sinai is 618, that being the same numerical value as בריתו berito, “Your pact”. And as it is explained, “When He came to cause His Divine Presence to rest among them, He counted them”[3] in order to bless them. Furthermore, the holy Zohar comments: “We do not find another counting among Israel by which they received blessings from it as in this count, because this counting was purposely meant for a blessing”[4]. He counted the people to bring them the strength of the Shechina to direct and to interact with them. For the Shechina vitalizes the people, as She is the source of the blessings[5]. The pact further strengthened the people much like a ship that is docked at the pier, but that is always subject to the strong and constant movements of the waves that could carry it away. So, in order to firmly secure and protect the ship, it is necessary to wind many times the ropes that connect the ship’s anchor to the pier’s post. Truly, the count united the Shechina with the Bnei Israel above and below, as this was a pact through which new brachot came down to them through the Divine conduit of their original pact at Matan Torah. See, the ribua perati (“individual squaring”) of the ordinal gematria of בריתו berito is: (bet, 22 = 4) + (reish, 202 = 400) + (yud, 102 = 100) + (tav, 222 = 484) + (vav, 62 = 36) = 1024, this being the same gematria of בתורתיו beTorotav, “Your Torah[6]. The number 1024 alludes to the wholeness of the two Torot – the Written and the Oral. More so, 210 = 1024, where the power of 10 indicates the perfection of each one of them[7]. And the gematria atbash plus the kolel of beTorotav is 506, this being the same numerical value of הראש ha-rosh, “the head”. Through the counting of the people, YKVK distinguishes the Bnei Israel from the nations, “Because they were dear to Him”[8]. And ישראל Israel is a tzeruf of לי ראש Li rosh, “A head for me”[9].

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[1] Bamidar 1:19, Bamidbar.

[2] Starting on Bamidbar 2:3.

[3] Rashi on Bamidbar 1:1.

[4] 117b, Bamidbar.

[5] See Maggid Mesharim, Bamidbar.

[6] Daniel 9:10. To better understand the gematria operation used here, in the ordinal gematria (mispar siduri) each of the 22 letters is given an equivalent from one to twenty-two. For example, alef equals 1, kaf equals 11, tav = 22. The final kaf equals 23 etc. In the text above, each individual letter of בריתו was examined in its ordinal gematria, then squared. The ribua perati is the summing of the squares of each letter that make up the word.

[7] In Kabbalah, squaring signifies maturation and development, while a power of ten is Divine perfection.

[8] Rashi on Bamidbar 1:1.

[9] The Ari”zal, Sha’ar HaPesukim, Vayeitzei.

MEASURE BY MEASURE

And it is written: ויהיו חיי שרה מאה שנה ועשרים שנה ושבע שנים שני חיי שרה Vayihyu chayei Sarah mea shana veesrim shana vesheva shanim shenei chayei Sarah, “And the life of Sarah was a hundred and seven and twenty years; these were the years of the life of Sarah” (Bereshit 23:1, Chaiye Sarah). The Talmud (Sanhedrin 95a) relates something extraordinary regarding king David and his nephew Avishai. At a certain time, they were involved in a ferocious fight against the giant Yishbi B’Nov, Goliath‘s brother. And I saw that the death of this wicked giant that tried hard to kill David (just as his brother Goliath had done so in the past, in II Samuel 22), was a tikkun/rectification for the matriarch Sarah’s death. See, in this piece of the Talmud it is related that David and Avishai realized that even together, they did not have sufficient strength to put an end to this giant of evil. There are various extraordinary details on this account (including the use of Shemot Kodashim/Holy Names to alter the reality in favor of David HaMelech/king David), but here I shall not tell them. At last, they attempted a new tactic to kill the perverse: They said to Yishbi B’Nov: “Go e find your mother Orpah in the grave, for we have killed her!” And so it was that, when they mentioned his mother’s name and said they had killed her, the giant’s strength was depleted in full, and then they killed him. Now, the Midrash reveals the known passage regarding the Satan, who visited Sarah when Avraham and Yitzchak were in the Mount Moriyah for the Akedat Yitzchak/Sacrifice of Isaac. When she heard from the Satan the news that fulfilling G-d’s command, Avraham was going to sacrifice Yitzchak like a korban/offering, “Her soul flew away and she passed away” (Rashi on Bereshit 23:1; Pirkei d’Rabi Eliezar etc.). “Apparently”, the side of evil prevailed here, chaz v’shalom, for the stress caused in the holy mother of the patriarch Yitzchak stroke her down. However, truly the side of good prevailed, making a tikkun, for the stress caused in the giant with the news of his mother’s passing allowed that this great agent of evil could be slaughter, midah k’neged midah/measure by measure. Moreover, the Sages of the Torah explain that שני חיי שרה shenei chayei Sarah, “these were the years of the life of Sarah” signifies that “All of them were equally good” (Rashi on Bereshit 23:1). She lived her life fully, and when her time here was completed, she lacked nothing to complete her mission. All was perfect, as we see hinted in the gematria atbash of shenei chayei Sarah being 286. This is the numerical value of the gematria of the Tetragram/YKVK (gematria 26) times 11. And the numerical value of 11 is the gematria of the word טב tov, “good” (written haser, without the Vav). As such, since multiplication psychologically signifies the strengthening in stages”, we see that at each stage of the life of Sarah, all was good (26 x 11 = 286). From the beginning to the end, her life was blessed. See, the sofei tevot/end letters of חיי שרה chaiye Sarah, “life of Sarah” are the two letters yud and hei, which form the Divine Name Kah/G-d. Truly, all follows always in accordance to the Divine Plan.

 

THE SALVATION OF YITZCHAK

And it is written: ויאמר יצחק אל-אברהם אביו ויאמר אבי ויאמר הנני בני Vayomer Yitzchak el-Avraham aviv vayomer avi vayomer hineni veni, “And Yitzchak spoke unto Avraham his father, and said: ‘My father’. And he said: ‘Here am I, my son’”[1]. Note that the gematria albam of אבי avi “my father” is 370. Now, there are 370 lights (ShA Nehorin) which shine out of the “face of Arich Anpin”, the outer partzuf of Keter, and in so doing manifest tremendous good will and mercy. Thus, these 370 lights of kedusha/holiness are pure “states of chesed” (propensities to give). More so, they correspond to the two spelled-out (milui) Names Kel (alef-lamed) as such: Alef, alef-lamed-pei = 1 + 30 + 80 = 111. Lamed, lamed-mem-dalet = 30 + 40 + 4 = 74. 111 + 74 = 185 (the gematria of הפנים hapanim, “the face”, meaning the profile of a “cheek”). Thus, for the two Names Kel, we have: 2 x 185 = 370 (that is, two hapanim/cheeks). Therefore, the expression avi is a powerful conduit to bring down great mercies. Furthermore, this is intrinsically related to Avraham, the channel of chesed/kindness to the world, for the gematria of the name Yitzchak is eight times that of the Name Havayah (gematria 26): Yitzchak, yud-tzadik-chet-kuf = 10 + 90 + 8 + 100 = 208 = 8 x 26[2]. These eight Names Havayah are the eight “states of gevurah” (propensities to withhold) of Yitzchak (while Avraham has eight states of chesed), each one corresponding to one Name Havayah. Also, the 370 lights yield eight Names Kel, which together equal the numerical value of Avraham, to wit, Kel: alef-lamed = 31. 31 x 8 = 248. Avraham: alef-beit-reish-hei-mem = 1 + 2 + 200 + 5 + 40 = 248. So, as Yitzchak perceives the moment of great tension, his deep and humble call for avi/Avraham signifies the inner aspect of his being pleading for mercies to “sweeten” the gevurot/severities. We note Avraham’s (concealed) kindness and utter trust in Hashem in the secret of his immediate reply: הנני בני hineni veni, “Here I am my son”, with milui 776, that being the same as the gematria of the pasuk בטחו בה’ עדי-עד כי ביה ה’ צור עולמים “Trust you in the L-rd forever; for the L-rd G-d is an eternal Rock”[3]. Now, Avraham could not reveal his feelings for his son’s impending fate. Yet, he was overwhelmed with emotions, and secretly shed tears when replying to his son, as shown in the gematria of hineni veni being 177, the same numerical value of זעק za’ak “to cry out”. Nevertheless, his cry was with the unhesitant intention to act, fulfilling G-d’s command[4], for as written: והאמן בה’ ויחשבה לו צדקה “And he believed in the L-rd; and He counted it to him for righteousness”[5]. The gematria of this pasuk is 696, as it is of עתיק יומין Atik Yomin, the inner partzuf of Keter, which is enclothed by Arich Anpin. We see here how intimately is the association of Avraham and the Name Kel, which corresponds to Keter/ShA Nehorin.

The pasuk continues: הנה האש והעצים ואיה השה לעלה, “Behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?” with reshei tevot ההווהל has gematria atbash 450, this being the numerical value of מררי Merari. The Ari”zal explains regarding the sons of Merari[6] (meaning “bitter”), that “They manifest the hardest and most bitter states of gevurah in the yesod of Nukva that do not ascend. For were they to ascend, they would make the higher states of gevurah bitter”[7]. Therefore, in this imminent moment of rigor, “fire and wood” are the embodiments of gevurah, as it is known[8], which are made bitterer through the basic doubts and fears expressed by the question ואיה השה לעלה “Where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?” with gematria avgad 613. This is the same numerical value as בגבורת b’gevurot, “with severities”. Now, I understand that, as these bitter states of gevurah “do not ascend”[9], Yitzchak avinu does nothing with these primary emotions. That is, no action is taken (he did not try to escape from his father[10]) since at a basic human level, these emotions are too much a matter of pure feelings to be diverted to the path leading toward practical action. More importantly, by subjugating these primary emotional responses, he “sweetens” them. This is a major part of his test, that is, the fact that these feelings do not ascend and negatively affect his mentality. Otherwise, ‘they would make the higher states of gevurah bitter’, to wit, he could have thought of fleeing from this test. However, he “conspicuously honored his father”[11]. Still, Yitzchak sought understanding, as the pshat shows and as hinted by the gematria avgad of the sofei tevot (השםההה) being 474, the same numerical value of da’at (dalet-ayin-tav = 4 + 70 + 400 = 474). ויאמר אברהם אלקים יראה-לו השה לעלה בני וילכו שניהם יחדו Vayomer Avraham Elokim yirelo hase leola beni vayelchu sheneihem yachdav, “And Avraham said: ‘G-d will provide Himself the lamb for a burnt-offering, my son’. So they went both of them together”[12]. This verse’s reshei tevot (ואאילהלבושי) has gematria 401, the same as ישעיהו Yeshayahu, “Salvation of Kah/G-d”[13]. We see that the Akedat Yitzchak/Sacrifice of Yitzchak is actually a narrative of the salvation that G-d performs on the merit of the patriarch. Salvation is a deliverance from death – a preservation of חיים chayim “life” (chet-yud-yud-mem = 8 + 10 + 10 + 40 = 68), also the ordinal gematria of Yeshayahu.

 

[1] Bereshit 22:7, Vayeira.

[2] The Ari”zal, Sha’ar HaPesukim, Lech Lecha.

[3] Isaiah 26:4.

[4] See vayizak in Esther 4:1.

[5] Bereshit 15:6.

[6] Shemot 6:19.

[7] Likutei Torah, Bamidbar.

[8] Also hinted by the number 671, the gematria avgad of האש והעצים, the same as ארץ מצרי eretz Mitzrayim, “land of Egypt”, a place of utter bitterness.

[9] For these being are the five states of gevurah, each one of which is a type of mayin nukvin/feminine water.

[10] See Zohar 103a, Vayeira.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Bereshit 22:8.

[13] The Hebrew name of the prophet Isaiah.

 

LOT’S OF PROBLEMS

As it is written: הפרד נא מעלי Hipared na me-alai, “Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me”[1]. Avraham knew that his nephew Lot was evil. He had an unstable character that could not be redeemed. In fact, the gematria of the reshei tevot (הנמ) is 95, the same numerical value of פחז pachaz, “unstable”[2]. Lot failed to admonish his herdsmen, he wanted to give away his daughters in Sodom, and ultimately because of his drinking he had illicit relations with them. Therefore, Avraham thought with his great wisdom how to rid himself of this rasha, who was thwarting his path to perfect himself. This is hinted in the gematria of הפרד נא מעלי being 490, the same numerical value of תמים tamim, “perfect”, as if to say: “Leave, so I can be perfect with G-d”[3]. He then proceeded saying: הלא כל-הארץ לפניך “Is not the whole land before you?”[4]. The pasuk’s gematria hides Avraham’s feeling about Lot, for its numerical value is 572. And this is the same gematria as ברשע Birsha[5], the name of the evil king of Gomorrah, which means “with wickedness/iniquity”. So, the verse can be understood as if saying: “You, who is filled with iniquity, see what is there for you!”[6]. Now, when Avraham then said אם-השמאל ואימנה ואם-הימין ואשמאילה “If you will take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if you depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left”, he was gracefully suggesting a way out for Lot, so as to be free from this evil. Beyond the pshat, this is also hinted in the gematria albam of this pasuk’s reshei tevot (אהווהו) being 410, the same numerical value as דרור dror, “freedom”. More specifically, this is the “freedom not to be under the domain of others and to dwell wherever one sees fit”[7]. Thus, Avraham spoke in a manner suggesting Lot’s freedom from his “stifling” ways. Truly, righteousness was a domain not fit to have Lot nearby, for while being close to Avraham, the rasha derived spiritual nourishing from him. This was so, because in order to exist, every form of evil must cling and derive its sustenance from some form of kedusha, of which it is a fallen and corrupted version. However, he had to convince Lot to voluntarily separate from him, for otherwise he could have insisted in remaining at his side to continue deriving material and spiritual benefits. More so, since the patriarch had gone to Eretz Israel, and only there he could arouse the supernal unions of Z’eir Anpin and Nukva, it became imperative that Lot part from him now, to avoid hindering Avraham’s new spiritual heights[8] and the beneficence to be brought to the world through these holy unions. Continuing, Lot then looked up וירא את-כל-ככר הירדן Vayar et-kol-kikar haYarden, “And beheld all the plain of the Jordan[9]. The gematria atbash of the reshei tevot (אתלרן) is 433. This is the same numerical value as גלת galut[10], “exile”, and משפחה mishpacha, “family”. And what did Lot see? Since his uncle’s path was already discarded from his heart, he then chose the “other” (evil) path, as he consulted his idols[11]. And so they fooled him[12] into seeing two futures: one, with the harshness of exile yet rich in material possibilities, and another, with the wellbeing of building a family and its rewards. He then decided to take his chances and go to the East. Now, in doing so he completely rejected the ways of Hashem taught by his uncle and mentor Avraham. A hint to that, the ordinal gematria of ויסע לוט מקדם Vayisa Lot mikedem, “And Lot journeyed east”[13] and the gematria absolute of מלחמה milchamah, “war/conflict” have both the same numerical value of 123. Moreover, the word mi-kedem, “from the East” is equivalent to mi-Kadmono, “[distancing] from the Ancient One”[14]. Ultimately, he met his ill fate[15] finding both futures, to wit, galut through his family[16]. And so Lot was no more[17] in the Torah.

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[1] Bereshit 13:9, Lech Lecha. This was a moment of great tension as hinted in the verse’s ordinal gematria being 112, the same numerical value as יבק Yabok, the river symbolizing the struggle of good and evil (Bereshit 32:25).

[2] As in פחז כמים pachaz k’mayim, “unstable as waters” (Bereshit 49:4).

[3] Later echoed as התהלך לפני והיה תמים “Walk before Me, and be perfect” (Bereshit 17:1).

[4] Ibid. Bereshit.

[5] Bereshit 14:2.

[6] Similarly, “Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked, and this is the place of him who does not know Kel/G-d” (Job 18:21).

[7] Rashi on Vayikra 25:10.

[8] There are other issues which are beyond the scope of this text. See the Ari”zal, Sefer HaLikutim, Lech Lecha.

[9] Bereshit 13:10.

[10] This word is spelled haser, “defective” (without the letter Vav).

[11] See Zohar 84a, Lech Lecha.

[12] See Jeremiah 10:14.

[13] Bereshit 13:11.

[14] Ibid. Zohar. In fact, Lot’s journey towards the East is a code to his desire to further his knowledge of sorcery and witchcraft. This is hinted in the Zohar, which says: “It was said that those who teach sorcery to men are found in the east mountains. And from the east country came לבן Lavan,  ובעורBeor,  ובלעם בנוhis son Bila’am and all the sorceress” (133b. Chayei Sarah). The gematria of ובלעם בנו ובעור לבן is 572, incredibly, the same as ברשע Birsha, the evil king of Gomorrah, as before mentioned in association with Lot. And its reshei tevot is לווב, which with the kolel has gematria 45, that being the same numerical value as לוט Lot.

[15] We could say he had a “taste” of his idol’s falsehood, as a tzeruf/anagram of the sofei tevot (semantically meaning, “at the end of the matter”) of Vayisa Lot mikedem spells טעם taam, “taste”.

[16] Referring to the illicit relationships with his two daughters (Bereshit 19:32).

[17] Save for his name being referenced in parashat Devarim, chapter 2, verses 9 and 19.

 

THE MATRIARCH’S ABDUCTION

And as it is written: וינגע ה’ את-פרעה נגעים גדלים ואת-ביתו על-דבר שרי אשת אברם “And the L-rd plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife”[1]. As the Torah brings in this holy parsha, due to a severe famine in the land, Avram and his family had to travel to Egypt where there was an abundance of resources. The patriarch Avram was a wise and righteous man, and he had already had contact with Hashem, which spiritually elevated him even more so. His perception of reality was advanced, so in order to prevent possible problems before entering Egypt, he requested his wife Sarai to affirm being his sister and not his spouse. Avram knew that the Egyptians were idolaters and that they were not guided by any moral code that would stop them from kidnapping Sarai if they knew she was Avram’s wife. Now, as his sister, perhaps they would leave her alone. However, when the Egyptians saw Sarai’s extraordinary beauty, she ended up being taken captive to Pharaoh. And he desired her. Still, ולאברם היטיב בעבורה Ule’Avram heitiv baavura, “And he dealt well with Avram for her sake”[2], for he presumed[3] that such kind dealings would be enough to calm the patriarch’s feelings, so he would judge him positively, although his wife had been captured. In fact, Pharaoh gave Avram much cattle and slaves in the hopes to bribe the feelings of the holy man. Yet, Avram knew from divine inspiration who in fact was this evil master of the occult. A hint to that, the gematria of this pasuk is 600, the same numerical value as שקר sheker, “lie”. The Torah narrates that it was then that Hashem punished the Pharaoh and his house for having just thought of touching the holy matriarch, chaz v’shalom. And Rashi explains על-דבר שרי al-devar Sarai, “because of Sarai etc.”, as such: “Through her word [came the punishments]. She instructed the malach/angel: הך hach, ‘Strike!’, and then he would [obey and] strike them”. See, Pharaoh was connected to the “forces of externality” (“Evil”) which only exist through a minimal nourishment given “behind one’s back/posterior” (אחוריים achorayim) of Holiness[4], as hinted when he begins speaking to Avram: ויקרא פרעה Vayikra Faro, “And Pharaoh called …”, with gematria atbash 633, the same as achorayim. And the Torah continues revealing Pharaoh’s astonishment, who then said: מה-זאת עשית לי Ma-zot asita li, “What is this that thou hast done unto me?”[5], with the reshei tevot/acrostic (מזעל) that forms the expression ע מזל ayin mazal, signifying “the ‘Divine Nothing’ [Hashem] is the spiritual root”. And the end of this verse למה לא-הגדת לי כי אשתך הוא Lama lo-higadta li ki ishtecha hiv, “Why did you not tell me that she was your wife?” has the sofei tevot/final letters האתייךא, with gematria 927, the same as ממקור ישראל mi-mekor Israel, “from the fountain of Israel”. As such, Pharaoh’s perplexity hid his understanding about Avram and Sarai, that “Hashem is the spiritual root from the fountain of Israel”. Although Pharaoh was terrified by the plagues that afflicted him, still he did not recognize Hashem, the G-d of Avram. Quickly, he sent them to be escorted out of Egypt, as the Torah relates[6]. Now, the reshei tevot of the verse וינגע ה’ את-פרעה נגעים גדלים ואת-ביתו “And the L-rd plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues” is ויאפנגוב, with gematria albam 589. This is the gematria (sofit version) of ואבימלך ve’Avimelech, “And Abimelech”. Moreover, in the sequence of this pasuk, the reshei tevot of על-דבר שרי al-devar Sarai is עדש, with gematria atbash 109, the same as gematria of ואבימלך ve’Avimelech, “And Abimelech”! In a secret level, the Torah alerts us about a character that until now had not appeared: Abimelech. More so, another hint regarding the future appears here, as the gematria of הך hach, “strike” is 505, that being the same numerical value of שרה Sarah, but not שרי Sarai – the matriarch’s name up to this point in the Torah’s narrative.

And so time passed, and after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah[7] Avraham and Sarah journeyed again[8]. Therefore, they went to Gerar, in the land of the Philistines. However, before entering this land, Avraham sensed that something needed to be done to prevent, hopefully, his wife Sarah form being approached by this people. The Philistines (Heb. Pelishtim) were known by their great sensual indulgencies and adoration of the entire Canaanite pantheon. Now, the name פלשתים Pelishtim derives from the Hebrew root pei-lamed-shin, signifying “overdoing it”. Over-indulgence in the sensuality of this world renders a person spiritually closed and “clogged up”, impervious to Divine inspiration and insensitive to the inner reality of life and its experiences. Avraham knew this, for Hashem was at his side, divinely inspiring him. And it was then thatאבימלך מלך גרר Avimelech melech Gerar, “Abimelech king of Gerar[9] sent his men to take and bring Sarah to him. The gematria of this verse is 598, the same as איש-מרמה ish-mirmah, “deceitful man”[10], a secret regarding his nature. Although Avraham again could not stop the abduction of Sarah, Hashem was with him and his wife. Therefore, Hashem appeared in a dream to Abimelech saying he would die for having taken Sarah against her will. In fact, “Abimelech never came close to her, המלאך מנעו ‘because he was hindered by an angel’”[11]. The king of Gerar then spoke to Hashem claiming his Noachide righteousness, which kept him away from transgressions. However, Hashem told to him that without His intervention, indeed he would have sinned. Hashem then orders Abimelech to return Sarah to her husband, and He calls Avraham a prophet, saying he would pray for Abimelech so the plagues would cease. As such, perturbed with these experiences, Abimelech tries with wisdom and reason to defend and gain favor for his position with Avraham, thus affirming his purported righteousness: ויקרא אבימלך Vayikra Avimelech, “And Abimelech called…” with gematria albam 1200, the same numerical value as two times שקר sheker, “lie”. The Torah continues revealing the astonishment of Abimelech, who then said: מה-עשית לנו Me-asita lanu, “What have you done unto us?”[12], with reshei tavot לעמ la’Am, “to the people”, for Abimelech was very much bothered that Avraham suspected that his people had taken his wife, being that this was forbidden by the Seven Laws of Noach – a capital crime. Thus responds Avraham: כי אמרתי רק אין-יראת אלקים במקום הזה Ki amarti rak ein-yirat Hashem bamakom haze, “Surely the fear of G-d is not in this place”[13]. The reshei tevot of this verse (כאראיאבה) has gematria avgad 365, prophetically revealing the number of negative mitzvot given to Israel at Sinai. For a place where the fear of G-d really exists, none of these commandments are transgressed. Therefore, Avraham, a name with gematria 248 (as the number of positive mitzvot), represents the completeness in the Divine service that only a prophet has, as alluded by 365 + 248 = 613 mitzvot. The Torah brings Abimelech’s the wisdom and reason, however Avraham does not concede to it, because he knew that despite these inferior wisdoms, Abimelech and his people did not have fear of G-d. In fact, the holy Zohar says, “Abimelech and his people worshiped the stars and constellations. And Abimelech was an astrologer”[14]. He and his people were not true Noachides, although they thought of themselves as such. It is for this reason the pasuk ends: והרגוני על-דבר אשתי Vaharaguni al-devar ishti, “And they will slay me for my wife’s sake”, with gematria ordinal 172, the same numerical value as two times the Name אלקים Elokim, which is associated to the severe judgments. Everyone that finds himself in a dangerous situation, his merits are examined[15]. Since they were not Noachides, then Avraham feared for his life.

At last, the moral here is that, where the fear of G-d is absent, wisdom and abstract knowledge of the law are not enough to overcome the evil inclination. And for a truly righteous man, all of these realities are revealed and he always influences them, even while keeping a calm and peaceful posture, for ה’ ילחם לכם ואתם תחרשון Hashem yilachem lachem veatem tacharishun, “The L-rd shall fight for you, and you shall hold your peace!”[16], with gematria ordinal (plus five for the kolel of each word) equal to 243, the same numerical value of אברם Avram.

 

[1] Bereshit 12:17, Lech Lecha.

[2] Bereshit 12:16.

[3] Since common woman were devalued in his society.

[4] As if throwing food to an enemy from the back.

[5] Bereshit 12:18.

[6] In verse 20.

[7] Bereshit 19:24-25, Vayeira.

[8] To distance themselves from Lot (Rashi in loco).

[9] Bereshit 20:2.

[10] Tehilim 43:1.

[11] Rashi on Bereshit 20:4. This hindrance came in the form of a deep darkness, hinted by the milui gematria of מנעו being 328, the same as חשך ”darkness”.

[12] Bereshit 20:9.

[13] Ibid. 20:11.

[14] 140b, Toledot.

[15] Talmud, Shabbat 32a.

[16] Shemot 14:14.

 

TIME FOR ATONEMENT

It was two years ago, when on 8 of Tishrei 5774, after mincha/afternoon prayer in the erev-erev/two days before Yom Kippur, I first thought of studying the parshas Vezot HaBracha (yom chamishi/fifth day). The time of the shkiah/sunset was approaching and soon we were going for kaparot – the ancient Jewish ritual for atonement of sins, performed before Yom Kippur. However, before leaving I was moved strongly to study the first pasuk/verse of this parshas’ fifth reading, which says: ולדן אמר דן גור אריה יזנק מן הבש U’leDan amar Dan gur ariye yezanek min-haBashan, “And of Dan he said: Dan is a lion’s whelp, that leapeth forth from Bashan” (Devarim 33:22, Vezot HaBracha). Therefore, I was instructed to investigate the rashei tavot of דן גור אריה Dan gur ariye, being the letters dalet-gimel-alef with gematria 8, just as today’s date, 8 of Tishrei. Moreover, I saw that the gematria atbash of this rashei tavot was equal to 700, that being the same numerical value as the word כפרת kaparot. Immediately, I was filled with a spirit of awe of G-d and exclaimed: “Truly, today is a time for atonement”, baruch Hashem.