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).

 

SITTING DOWN TO WALK

“Said Rabi Shimon… ואשב בהר ארבעים יום וארבעים לילה לחם Vaeshev bahar arbaim yom vearbaim laila lechem, ‘Then I stayed in the mount [har in Hebrew] forty days and forty nights’ [Devarim 9:9].  Truly, wisdom is not acquired by a man save when he sits and rests, as it says of Moshe that he ‘sat on the mountain forty days’ (ibid.). As said, ‘I dwell’, in fact ‘sit/yeshev‘. So they all sat down” (Zohar 223a, Vayechi). I have always endeavored to teach about the importance to fight against restlessness and how it is like a “thermometer” on spirituality. However, to sit is something spiritually elevated if and when in the performance of a mitzvah. For instance, ישראל וישב על-המטה Yisrael vayeshev al-hamita, “Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed” (Bereshit 48:2, Vayechi), to bless Yosef. Moreover, וישבו לאכל-לחם Vayeshvu leechol-lechem, “And they [Yosef‘s brothers] sat to eat bread” (Bereshit 37:25), etc. Now, when seating is vain and futile, it is considered like seating in judgment. Behold, the word for mount is har, written hei-reish, and its absolute gematria is 205. This is the same numerical value of the regression of the Shem Elokim (alef-lamed-hei-yud-mem): alef, alef-lamed, alef-lamed-hei, alef-lamed-hei-yud, alef-lamed-hei-yud-mem. Then, we see that the numerical value for this regression is: 1 + (1 + 30) + (1 + 30 + 5) + (1 + 30 + 5 +10) + (1 + 30 + 5 + 10 + 40) = 5(1) + 4(30) + 3(5) + 2(10) + 1(40) = 5 + 120 + 15 + 20 + 40 = 200. Finally, we add 5 for the value of the 5 letters of the Shem Elokim for a total of 205. As it is known, the Shem Elokim is always associated with gevurah – the Divine attribute of judgment and severity – and its “withdrawal” (implicated by the regression of the actual Shem), means a situation especially negative, in which the Divine beneficence is severely limited. The Divine consciousness implied by such a situation is not sufficient to “sweeten” (i.e., rectify or even “civilize”) reality, and therefore leaves reality outside its own realm a “desert” or “wasteland,” devoid of Divine consciousness. This is to do nothing, just sitting down. As such, to sit down without doing something to foster the Divine consciousness that can rectify reality – to perform a mitzvah – or care for the body (a mitzvah as well) etc., makes the person simply “sit on the mount”, that is, to sit against the regression of the Shem Elokim: the severe judgment. Any action that contributes for the elevation of reality has the power to “sweeten” this reality. While sitting, the person can and should elevate reality, that is, to raise the 288 Holy sparks from the sefirot of Tohu that fell and became entrapped in the lower worlds (the subject of the Shevirat HaKelim). Incredibly, the ordinal gematria of Vaeshev bahar arbaim yom vearbaim laila lechem, “Then I stayed in the mount forty days and forty nights” is 288. This is something that needs further explaining in another opportunity, with the help of G-d.

 

THE DANGER OF STRESS

It is written: ולא שמעו אל-משה מקצר רוח Velo shamu el-Moshe mikotser ruach, “But they hearkened not unto Moshe for impatience of spirit” (Shemot 6:9, Va’era). The Rashi here says, “But they did not listened to Moshe. They did not accept the consolation. That is, they [the people] got completely desperate over being redeemed at any time due to their shortness of breath. Anyone who is under stress, his wind and breath are short, and he cannot breathe deeply”. The lack of air to breathe is what a person feels when drowning. She can only have a few short respirations, not enough to sustain her. This is what the moment of stress causes in the individual. Behold, the gematria katan of this pasuk is 78, the same as Mabul (the “Deluge”): mem-bet-vav-lamed = 40 + 2 + 6 + 30 = 78. Mystically, the word mabul alludes to the removal of the vital Divine force. This is why the sense of desperation occurs, because the “turbulent waters” from stress rise and “flood” the person’s mind, so to speak. And when we calculate the “regression” (the vision of the posterior/achorayim) of the 3 Divine Names (the manner in which the Tetragram/YKVK is spelled) – the 72-letter Name (Shem Ayn Bet), the 63-letter Name (Shem SaG), and finally the 45-letter Name (Shem MaH) – we have a total of 78 letters, indicating (by the regression of these iterations of the Divine Names) a “withdrawal” of the Shem Havaya (YKVK) from the world, signifying in the global scale the earth’s “drowning” and its demise. Now, we can understand why stress is so dangerous!

 

INTENSE COLORS

On a certain night during the week of parashat Bo, in the month of Tevet 5774, I was meditating as I always do, expanding my conscious with the millennia old mental exercises from the Torah. And it was them that suddenly I felt as if I had entered into something – it was another environment. When I realize that this dimensional translation took place, I immediately began feeling a great primal anxiety, generated by the biological instinct that sharpen the senses when we find ourselves in an unknown habitat. My heart accelerated. And with the eyes of the mind, there I saw and all dark environment, not like the darkness of the night but rather as if in some manner the sunlight was absent during the day. In this great region, different things and objects shined with intense colors. The colors were strong, almost saturated. The only light there were the one coming from these things and objects, for all the rest was the purest of darkness. There were no bright stars shining, nor visible heavenly bodies, nothing. Only the intense darkness and the things and objects with their strong and gleaming colors that shined the path in that place. I thought I was in another dimension, being allowed to see another physical location in the universe. I even prepared myself for a possible encounter with some being. However, at that moment, I lost focus and came back to the state I was before the meditation. But, a few seconds later, I returned to that place and the same anxiety came back to ravage me. I did not see anything different in this second experience, but only confirmed the vision of the first one: full darkness and objects of varied sizes with intense colors that were the only light source in the place. Moreover, I could see everything as if standing somewhat above ground, or on top of a mount. Both experiences did not last much, perhaps a minute, but it seemed like an eternity… And it was when I started to meditate again and soon after I heard what I heard: “That what you saw was truly the singular darkness from the Makat Choshech [‘the plague of darkness’]. The colorful lights were the divine sparks exceedingly revealed from the objects and treasures that the Jews got during the three days of this plague. And this is why it is written, ולכל בני ישראל היה אור במושבתם Ulechol-bnei Yisrael haya or bemoshvotam, ‘All the children of Israel had light in their dwellings’ [Shemot 10:23]”. I then finished my meditation. After this once more incredible experience, I investigated and found that the gematria atbash of this pasuk is 2370, that is, 10 times 237, that being the gematria of Zichri, (“My Remembrance”, spelled: zayin-chaf-reish-yud = 7 + 20 + 200 + 10 = 237) – this being the expression used by Hashem in His revelation to Moshe (Shemot 3:15) and to refer Himself to the Shem Havaya (YKVK) saying, “This is My Name forever, and this is My Remembrance [zichri] for all generations”. I understood that the relation here to my experience is that everything Hashem does is eternal and can be remembered, that is, “accessed” and truly experienced. The Torah all in of itself are made of infinite portals of space-time. When a person studies, meditates and understand Torah as alive and dynamic, the light shine in his “dwellings”: his mind and life.

 

THE PLAGUE OF RATIONAL IMMATURITY

“Consider a rasha/evil person that in some manner finds himself in Gan Eden, going and coming amongst the tzaddikim/just people that sear in the splendor of their crowns of glory, bathing themselves in the light of the Shechina. The tzaddikim experience there indescribable pleasures, while he suffers incommensurably. Completely unaccustomed to spirituality, for the rasha, this Gan Eden is an incomparable discomfort. As such, this is the essence of the makat choshech [‘the plague of darkness’]. And thus Moshe brought the darkness below, for he ‘extended his hand above the Heavens’ [Shemot 10:21] and Egypt fell in a darkness like never seen before” (the Slonimer Rebbe, Netivot Shalom, Parashat Bo).

The makat choshech meant a tzimtzum (“contraction and restriction”) of the light of Hashem and its physical manifestation. Truly, first a tzimtzum occurred at the spiritual level, in the degree of נטה ידך על-השמים Nete yadecha al’hashamayim, “Extend your hand to the Heaven” (Shemot 10:21), which was the command Hashem gave to Moshe to begin this plague on Egypt. And the ordinal gematria (mispar siduri, in the sofit version) of this pasuk is 166. This is the numerical value for the “regression” (i.e., the posterior/achorayim vision) of the Shem SaG (Name of Hashem spelled with 63 letters, being that the gematria of SaG equals 63). The Shem SaG is associated to Binah, and in man, it means the power of rational intellect. When the Holy Name is “regressed”, this indicates a diminishing or immaturity in the rational understanding – a state of contraction and restriction of the consciousness. In a level, the darkness indicates exactly the incapacity to see, hence rationally understand, resulting from the withdrawal of Divine light. Now, in the physical level, the material darkness is the actual result of this spiritual regression. This is the reason that immediately following the verse says, “That there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt”. Now we can understand something more. For the talmid/student still distant from Torah, everything is strange, uncomfortable and devoid of meaning. The light of Torah, through the words of the rebbe/master, is so strong that the students close their eyes and hid themselves with fear from the great intensity of this Divine irradiation. Then, in this period, they still exist against a thick darkness, in a state of rational immaturity. With the eyes completed closed, they fear opening them to then experience the restrictive reality of their own (private) Egypt. In time and great patience from the master, as they begin opening their eyes so unaccustomed to see the spiritual truths, the light finally begins to enter them, at least to some degree. Finally, they begin perceiving that there is אור במושבתם Or bemoshvotam, “Light in their dwellings” (Shemot 10:23). In fact, the gematria of the millui/spelling of this pasuk is 997, with two for the kollel for each one of the two words we have 999 – the same numerical value of the Holy Name Kel Shakai (“G-d Almighty”), which refers to the level of “Creator of the world”*. Now, more illuminated, they can be cured and redeemed, and in this way begin revealing the aspect of Mashiach that exists in each and every one, G-d willing.

* The Sages note that the word shakai can be interpreted as meaning “He who [sha-] said ‘enough’ [-dai] for the expansion of the world, at the end of the week of creation” (Talmud, Chagigah 12a).

 

SHOFETIM: “BE PURE!”

It is written: תמים תהיה עם ה’ אלהיך Tamim tihye im Hashem Elokecha, “You shall be pure/perfect with the L-rd your G-d” (Devarim 18:13, Shofetim). The gematria absolute (mispar hechrachi) of this pasuk/verse is 1112. I saw that this is the same gematria of the pasuk ‘ונח מצא חן בעיני ה  Ve-Noah matsa chen be’einei Hashem, “And Noah found grace in the eyes of the L-rd” (Bereshit 6:8). Moreover, the next verse says: נח איש צדיק תמים  Noah ish tzaddik tamim, “Noah was a just man and perfect etc.” Now, the gematria avgad of the cited verse (from Shofetim) is 421, the same as the expression לישועה  L’yeshuah (“For salvation”). And this is my understanding: as Noah was a righteous tam, he found the Divine grace that saved him from the mabul/deluge, while all other human beings perished. To have pure and simple faith – to be a tam – is something that can save a person from his “personal deluge”. Moreover, the tzaddik helps “sweeten” the deluge of others. When the person comes to the tzaddik b’tzedaka (meaning, “giving a tzedaka”), of gematria 201, this mitigates (“sweetens”) the five states of gevurah (corporified in the sofit/final letters mem-nun-tzaddi-pei-chaf), being 201 x 5 = 1005, the gematria of ish tzaddik tamim. Perhaps this can better understood as 1005 / 201 = 5. The righteous takes the tzedaka and “distributes” (divides) it in order to sweeten the gevurot/severities. There is a difference between the ish tzaddik and the ish tsadik tamim, because the gematria of the first is 515, the same as yesharah (“straight”, see the Ari”zalSefer HaLikkutimVaEtchanan), but the attribute of tamim/pure gives a degree yet superior to the tzaddik. In this manner, the wholeness of being comes through righteousness (being “straight”) with the purity and simplicity that honors e makes the tzelem Elokim/Divine image shine. We see that מי כה’ אלקינו המגביהי לשבת  Mi ka’Hashem Elokeinu hamagbihi la’shavet, “Who is like the L-rd our G-d, who dwells on high” (Tehillim 113:5) has gematria 1005.

TRANSFORMATIONAL FIRE

As it is written: “Devekut [bonding] with Hashem is one of the 613 commandments. One is obligated, in accordance to ones ability; to make all efforts to properly observe this mitzva, at all times. One must be bonded with Hashem continually, with great yearning, and with sparks of burning love. There is no greater attribute than this, for all things are included in it. The difficulty in achieving it [devekut] is in direct proportion to its level of importance. The one who sanctifies himself below, is sanctified by above by Hashem, until such a time when that one receives a spirit from above which purifies, and sanctifies him. It is an obligation accordingly with you hability to make all efforts in order to fulfill this mitzva in the appropriate way in all moments” (Rabbi Eliezer Papo, Peleh Yoets, Dalet, Devekut). Now, it is written: והאש על המזבח תוקד בו Ve-haesh al-hamizbeach tukad-bo, “And the fire shall be burning always upon the altar; it shall never go out” (Vayikra 6:5). If we consider this pasuk without the initial vav and hei, I realized that its gematria is 981, the same as for ואתם הדבקים ביהוה אלהיכם חיים כלכם היום Ve’atem ha’devekim baHashem Elokeichem chayim kulchem hayom, “But you who held fast to YKVK are alive every one of you this day” (Devarim 4:4, Vaet’chanan) – possibly the most emblematic verse regarding the mitzva of devekut in the Torah (as well as Devarim 10:20 and 13:5). As such, the fire at the altar is the passion for Hashem that needs to burn constantly in the heart of man. Nothing is more transformational than devekut.

 

BEHA’ALOTECHA: “PULLING ON EARS”

Once upon a time there was a rasha that came to a tzaddik saying he wanted to learn Torah. Truly, he did not want to learn, because all he wanted was to disturb the tzaddik. Anyway, the tzaddik said to the rasha: “Let us begin by learning the Alef-Bet. This is the letter Alef“. And the rasha answered him: “How do you know that this is the letter Alef?”. The tzaddik then took the rasha‘s ear and pulled on it. The rasha said: “Ouch, you are stretching my ear!”. And the tzaddik replied: “Who told you this is your ear?” From this mashal/story we learn the nature of the yetser hara/evil inclination. See, she knows well the yetser hatov/good inclination. She says to it: “Go do a mitzva, go study Torah or pray”. However, deep down it does not want any mitzva done. Therefore, when the person goes to fulfill a mitzva, like in the tefillah, the yetser hara comes and disturbs her. Now, the yetser hatov also knows very well the yetser hara, after all they are always at war with one another. So, it says to the yetser hara that this time she is indeed allowed to lead a person into doing an averah (chaz v’shalom). Then, the yetser hara gets happy and comes very close to make a person transgress, yet before that, the yetser hatov pulls away the yetser hara as if it was “pulling on its ears”, moving her far from the averah, leaving it dejected and subjugated. And regarding the words in the parsha Beha’alotecha, הצר הצרר אתכם Chatzer hatzorer etchem, “The enemy who oppresses you” (Bamidbar 10:9), the Shlach HaKodesh says: “These [words] are a very clear allusion to the yetser hara, since no enemy disturbs us more than the Samech-Mem [Satan]… There is a constant struggle between man and his yetser hara. At times, man wins over the yetsar hara, and in other moments, the powers of the Samech-Mem win over man. In any manner, both are constantly involved in a state of war”. Truly, the yetser hara is the “enemy” that brings that which is מרת morat, (“bitter”) to man. And this term has gematria atbash of 640, the same as the pasuk Chatzer hatzorer etchem. However, if man learns to subjugate the yetser hara, he then walks in the דרך הקדש derech ha-kodesh, (“holy path”), with gematria 633, the same as the gematria albam of Chatzer hatzorer etchem.

tzedakah