The Jugs of Oil that Yaakov Went Back For

Yaakov / Jacob took the right of the first born & blessings from Esav / Esau, his brother. Esav wanted to kill Yaakov. He went to make peace with Esav. The Night before his meeting with Esav – Esav’s Angel encountered Yaakov and wrestled with him till the morning. The Angel encountered him when Yaakov was going back over the river to get some small jugs he forgot.

By Morning time the Angel had to leave to sing praises to Hash-m. Yaakov – told him to bless him and also asked his name. The Angel told him he would no longer be called Yaakov – but Yisrael – for he wrestled with the Divine and won. When asked about his name he responded “Why do you ask my name?”

The Angel was the Evil Inclination – the Satan. Why did he come to attack Yaakov at this time? He had many other opportunities to attack.

Yaakov was going back to retrieve the small jugs of oil. It represented the spark in each and every Jew that cannot be tainted. Some say that the Jug of oil was the actual Jug of oil that was used for the miracle of Hanukah. The angel wanted Yaakov to give up hope on this spark of holiness. Yaakov struggled for all the sparks of holiness – even in a Jew that is very far from Judaism. He still had hope.

When the Romans conquered the Jews and wanted to ransack the Holy Temple in Jerusalem – they were afraid to enter. They sent in a Jewish Informant against the Jewish people. They told him – anything he found he could take. He went in and took the Menorah. They said that is a prize of war that they wanted to keep to show their victory. They told him to take something else. He refused – he said I angered my G-d once – I don’t want to anger Him again. They threatened him with death. He died as a Martyr not to anger Hash-m.

How is this? Several minutes before he was willing to ransack the Temple – in one moment he changed to become a Very Righteous Jew – who gave his life for the Sanctification of Hash-m’s name? The answer – the holiness of the Temple inspired him and removed all of the coverings of impurity that covered that Holy spark within him.

Every Jew has a holy spark within him or her. They just have to uncover it. A Jew should never give up on spirituality – a connection with Hash-m. They are closer than they think.

 

Spiritual Block? Try This

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Over 20 years ago, I was learning with a rabbi. He told the following story. A woman who apparently was following his lectures asked him – “I want to become more spiritual. I want to follow Judaism and Torah – but I just can’t get myself to do it. I don’t understand the Mitzvot – even if you explain them.”

The Rabbi replied “Try eating Kosher food for a month and you might better understand the Mitzvot.”

She had to go through a detox period. Just like one has to detox for overcoming alcohol addiction – they do also for spiritual growth. Part of the process is start eating Kosher, guarding the eyes, removing oneself from impure thoughts and acts. Then a person can become a better receptacle for spiritual growth through Torah.

I didn’t quite understand the connection between understanding Mitzvot and Eating Kosher. Recently I came upon a Sefer / Book By Rabbi Matityahu Glazer – On Repentance and Hebrew Letters called THE PREREQUISITES FOR REPENTANCE
REPENTANCE IN WORDS AND LETTERS.

Hebrew letters have significance – in that the Hebrew word defines their essence of the object. The word for “sin” in Hebrew is Het / Sin / חטא – Het, Tet, Alef.

REPENTANCE IN WORDS AND LETTERS
THE NEGATIVE EFFECT OF SIN
…This comes to teach us that the destructive power of the סתן (Satan) creates a “screen” ( מסך ) which separates and “locks out” (נעל) the Divine light.
מ precedes נ
ס precedes ע
ך precedes ל

 

The numerical value of the words פגם [imperfection – (in matters of holiness – especially promiscuity)] and מגף (plague) is 123 (80 + 3 + 40), which is the same as נגע (nega, plague: 50 + 3 + 70) and teaches us about the common source of these words, which is בלע (bela, corruption: 2 + 30 + 70).

 

מגף (magaf) is related to מגפה (magaifa, plague),the letter ג and פ combining to form the word גוף (goof, body) and showing that he comes as a result of overindulgence in the material world.

 

The word אלף (alef. instruction or learning the same as the name of the letter א) refers to an אולפן תורה (oolpan Torah, “study of Torah”), the acquisition of Divine wisdom, as is written in the book of Job (13:33): אאלפך חכמה (a’alfecha chochma ; “I will
teach you wisdom”). Through אולפן תורה , the study of Torah, a person merits the revelation of the Divine light of א, for the light of the Torah has the ability to penetrate the barriers created by sin. From here one learns that the repentant should involve
himself in אולפן תורה as much as possible. Rabbeinu Yona in “The Foundation of Repentance” (“Yesod Hat’shoova” found in Gates of Repentance)
teaches that for one who is accustomed to learn one page of Torah, a proper repentance should include learning two pages of Torah.

 

The opening of the letter ח (chet ) is directed downwards, which symbolizes the sinner whose tendencies and desires are also directed “downwards,” that is, to his materialistic and baser nature. Opposed to this is the letter ה (hai )-of the same shape but with an opening at the top, hinting to higher spiritual aspirations. Therefore, if a person
blocks his spiritual striving and closes the upper opening of the ה, it becomes a ח (chet , sin).

 

The difference can be clearly seen in the words חמץ (chametz ) and מצה (matza ). חמץ, the leavened food forbidden to eat or even possess during the Pesach festival, is a symbol of the Evil Inclination (it “fills” with a void and emptiness-like the yeast that
puffs up dough, makes it rise and expand but essentially adds nothing). The word מצה (matza, unleavened bread), on the other hand, is the symbol of the Good Inclination. The only difference in the letters of these two words is the “window of repentance”- the slight opening at the top of the ה.

 

ונטמתם בם

“That you should be defiled thereby,” referring mainly to forbidden food that defiles the
soul of man. One of the most impure foods is the חזיר (chazeer , pig), equal to 225 (8 + 7 + 10 +200) as is the word op (kleepa , shell; 100 + 30 + 10 + 80 + 5).

 

טמא Impurity is the Blockage of the Spiritual. טמא (tameh , impure) has the same letters as אטם (otem obstruction). Impurity causes a general breakdown of the spiritual structure of a person. Just as an אטם in the body is a barrier that prevents the
flow of blood to the heart, so too does impurity ( טומאה, tooma ) prevent spiritual abundance and existence from reaching the heart and brain of a person. The evil impurity caused by an עברה (aveira transgression) can be clearly seen in its letters רע בה (ra-ba, “evil in it”). This is what our Sages mean when they say (Yoma 39a): עברה מטמטמת לבו של אדם
– “Sin dulls the heart of man.” Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler (Michtav M’Eliyahu ) writes: “The sin itself is the dullness-the desire for and cleaving to the sin does not allow a person to find something to oppose it.”

The Power of Humility as a Prerequisite for Overcoming One’s Sins.

 

חטא  (chet, an unintentional sin) involves a lack of thought at the time of the transgression. When one’s mind-the אלף ( א , alef )-is “plastered over” (טח tach ), the result is sin, חטא. Intentional sins (עוונות) comprise -עוות – נ (avoot noon, “the distortion or corruption of the letter נ, which represents understanding). These letters also allude to the power of thought and purity (עיון, eeyoon ), which
is connected to the Fifty (נ = 50) Gates of Impurity  and Understanding,

A pleasant eye”) עין נוה is ( ענוה )The source of humility”

 

The Chida says that the power of humility is so great that it can mend one’s sins; the letters of ענוה (anava , humility) are the same as those of the word העון 190 (ha’avon, the sin). As our Sages say (Rosh Hashana 17a) כל המעביר על מדותיו מעבירין לו על כל ; “Whoever overcomes his feelings, all his sins are passed over.”

 

Repentance out of humility and love for G-d changes negative actions into positive ones. This amazing concept is unique to Torah thought: not only is a person capable of wiping the slate clean, he also has the ability to turn the negativity he has caused in the world into a positive force.

טמא – tameh is impurity. The letters also spell – Alef, Tet, and a Mem – spell Atum – which means blocked or clogged. If a person removes themselves from transgression – they will open up this blockage of the Spiritual.

Who is Watching Over You

I was pouring sugar into a spoon to put into my Coffee. The container suddenly let out a spurt of sugar over my spoon. Apparently – it was equal or less to the amount of sugar I usually put into my coffee. I thought – “why did that happen?”

Nothing is chance. I figured either G-d wanted to give me the amount of sugar I needed without me having to make the effort of measuring it out – or He wanted me to limit my sugar intake by allowing less than I usually take to fall into the coffee – yet, an amount that I would be satisfied with. I figured it was something that a parent would do.

Where is G-d

As a child prodigy, Rabbi Yonathan Eibeshutz was asked – I’ll give you a Ruble if you tell me where G-d is. He replied “I’ll give you a Ruble if you tell me where He is not.”

G-d is Everywhere

Hash-m is everywhere. In Hebrew G-d is called “HaMakom” – “the Place” because He is every place. It is not that G-d is in the world – the world is in G-d. G-d is infinite – the universe is finite.

Hash-m Helps based upon Belief

Hash-m helps all people. Yet he helps people based upon how much one believes in Him. One who has strong belief in Hash-m He will help more than one who doesn’t believe as much.

Winning the Lotto

My aunt – once needed to go to visit her parents. She has much emuna. She needed to pay for the plane ticket and travel expenses. She bought a lottery ticket and prayed very sincerely to Hash-m to help her make the money she needed.

She won over $2000 dollars that week – enough money to buy tickets and to pay for traveling expenses.

 

Gratitude to the One Who Gives

This week’s parasha – Ki Tavo – talks of the first fruits / Bikurim. Farmers bring the first fruits that blossom – of the 7 species special to Eretz Yisrael / the Land of Israel – to the Beit HaMikdash / the Holy Temple in Yerushalayim / Jerusalem.

He says a text and he gives the fruits to the Cohen. The rich people who would bring fancy baskets of gold and silver – the Cohen would return the basket. Yet the Cohen would not return the baskets – made of reeds – of the poor people. Why?

  1. The poor people worked hard to make the basket – Hash-m appreciates the hard work of the common man for a Mitzvah.
  2. The poor people – may have put the best fruits on top and the lesser quality fruits on the bottom – thus we didn’t want to embarrass him by taking out the fruits.
  3. The Cohen was sending a message that I’ll take this basket – so that, with the help of G-d – you will return next year with a gold basket.

The Mitzvah of first fruits is to show that all that we have we owe our first and foremost gratitude to Hash-m. We also do the redemption of first born boys and first born animals showing our gratitude that all we have is a Gift from G-d.

Is “the L-rd” the L-rd?

Joe ate the sandwich.

A Simple sentence.

The editor edits it – “The person ate the sandwich”

Who ate the Sandwich?

OK. What’s the difference?

Before the sentence is edited – we know who ate the sandwich. After it is edited – we do not know who ate the sandwich.

The Proper Translation of the Five Books of Moses

I don’t know if “editors” or “translators” changed the proper noun of “Hash-m” to the common noun of “the L-rd” on purpose – to mislead people or to refrain from mentioning the true name of G-d because it is forbidden – but that’s what they did to The Torah / the Five Books of Moses. In many translations or editions of the Five Books of Moses / Humash it says “And the L-rd spoke to Moses Saying.”

That is not an accurate translation – in the Hebrew it says “Vayomer ‘Hash-m’ el Moshe Lemor.” Hash-m Does not mean the L-rd. The Word Hash-m replaces the actual name of G-d. Since we are not allowed to use the name of G-d we use Hash-m.

Hash-m refers to a the Name of the Jewish G-d.

It should say “And Hash-m spoke to Moses Saying.”

What is the difference?

When it says “the L-rd” people think it is a generic name of G-d – so anyone can be misled to believe that it is the god of their choice.

But really it says “Hash-m” – the Name of the Jewish G-d.

Some more recent translations of the Humash / 5 Books of Moses accurately translate Hash-m’s name properly. One such edition is The Artscroll Stone Chumash.

Removing the Wool from the Eyes

In the entire Tanach / Torah – 5 Books of Moses, Neviim – Prophets, Ketuvim – Witings – Only Hash-m – the Jewish G-d – is mentioned as G-d of the Universe.

There is No Coincidence Unless … You Believe in Coincidence or G-d’s Daily Providence

As the Joke Goes: A guy is running late to an interview in Manhattan. He’s looking for parking. He prays to G-d : “Hash-m – please help me find a parking space. If you do I will start keeping Shabbat, putting on Tephillin regularly, and keeping Kosher. He turns the corner and right in front of his appointment site – he finds a parking space. He declares “What a Coincidence!”

G-d’s Individual Supervision

Hashgacha Pratit is Individual Supervision. For certain individuals – who believe in Hash-m’s Providence – He will guide the situation. If not He will leave the situation to “chance” – rather let things be guided without His help. Bar Kochba was a great warrior. He believed in Hash-m. He won battles consistently. Rabbi Akiva thought that he was Mashiach / Messiah. He asked Hash-m to “step aside” and let him take care of his battles. He was killed soon afterward.

The Divine Matchmaker

Once a Noble Woman asked a Rabbi – after G-d has created the world – what is G-d doing? He replied he is matching couples. The woman said – that’s all? I can do the same thing. She took 1000 menservants and maidservants and married them together. After the Marriage – they came back to her complaining – one had a broken arm, one a black eye, each with another wound. She told the Rabbi – “Your G-d is truly superior.”

Rabbi Michael Toledano of Ohr Baruch Yeshiva in Yerusalayim explained – “It is not just that G-d is matching couples for marriage. Hash-m is matching a person with a toothache with the right dentist, a building contractor with someone who needs a house, etc. That is the meaning of Mezaveg Zivugim / matching couples.”

If one prays to Hash-m – Hash-m will help. If One believes in Hash-m’s providence He will help. One who does not – He leaves to the hands of “chance.”

Hearing G-d’s Messages

Emmanuel AssarafTo see and understand G-d’s providence we are to be observant to the daily messages he sends us. About a Month ago – my cousin Emmanuel passed away in Florida at the ripe age of 28. He was a kind, smiling, soft-spoken soul.

I feel a bit guilty that I should have reached out to him more. I should have learned Torah with him. If I did perhaps  he would have had the merit to live longer. I regret my indolence towards him. He was a good person.

But with all my other activities it slipped my mind. But G-d apparently did send me messages. I looked on my Talit and Tefillin bag today. I noticed on the tag the name of the artist who made it – embroidered there was “Emanuel”. I didn’t pay attention to that detail. I didn’t make the connection that it should have reminded me of my cousin – perhaps to reach out to him.

I regret. What now? Let’s learn to reach out the people we can help.

Emmanuel in Hebrew means “G-d is with us.” Let’s also learn Hash-m is with us.

G-d Wants the Heart

Once a man was doing the Pesach / Passover Seder. He got everything ready in advance. The night of Pesach he donned his nice garments. He started well in advance and started doing the Seder nice and slow – telling the Hagaddah, singing, drinking the wine, eating the matzot and finished eating the Afikomen right before Hatzot / Midnight.

He was smug and proud about the beautiful seder he did.

The next night of Pesach he took a nap before the seder. He woke up with little time before Hatzot. He had to conduct the entire seder in a short amount of time. Quickly he read the Haggadah, drank the wine and ate Matzot – finishing just in time before Hatzot.

He was a bit upset about how he conducted the second seder. He had a dream – telling him – that his second seder was more beloved than the first. Since he did the second seder with sincerity, humility – it was preferred.

Hash-m / G-d wants the heart.

Do it right. Do it with sincerity.

 

Believe It and Receive It

Believe it will be good and it will be good. If you believe something will be good – Hash-m / G-d will make it good.

Once Hillel Heard yelling from a house in the street. He said to a fellow “I know this is screaming not from my house.” He knew because he taught his household not to scream. But another proposed answer is that Hillel knew everything would be good – so he knew the yelling was not coming from his home.

Hash-m watches people as would a parent. Once I saw a Jewish person filling his tires with air at a Gas Station. I gave Him a card that says “Ein O’d Mile’vado” / There is Only Hash-m. He was astounded. He told me “Thank You. That is my motto in life. Don’t Just give out the card – Live it!”

The way that one wants to go – Hash-m brings him. Live your life a certain way – they will help you in heaven to go in that path. A thief that prays to be successful in his theft will be helped. Though, obviously he will be punished for the theft.

Thus – a person might be led in a path – because he wants to be lead that way. Thus a proper prayer is to ask Hash-m to guide him in the path of Truth. And search for Truth.

Don’t Just Thank G-d – Do This Too

Weekly we read a new Torah portion / parasha at the synagogue. In parasha Be’haalotecha – Hash-m commands Aharon to light the Menora.

He says : “Speak to Aharon, and say to him; When you light (literally: ascend) the lamps towards the face of the Menorah shall the seven lamps cast [their] light.” (Bamidbar / Numbers 8:2)

Ki Ner Mitzvah ve Torah Or / A Candle is a Mitzvah & Torah is Light. Many Torah commentators explain the Menorah’s significance and what it symbolizes. Some say the 7 branches represent the 7 types of wisdom. Some say that it represents the 7 days of the week. The center being Shabbat. It is possible to explain when one sanctifies the Shabbat – (the face of the Menorah was the center lamp) – the 7 lamps shall cast their lights. When one observes the shabbat – the entire week takes on new holliness and light. The observance of Shabbat gives sanctification for the rest of the week allowing a person greater success.

Another interpretation is that – When you ascend to do the Mitzvot / commandments – you shall bring in Holiness 7 days a week. Our attachment to Hash-m / spirituality is really experienced when we are immersed 7 days a week in Torah and mitzvot. When a person is immersed in Torah 7 days a week then they see the light. They see the light of Torah. They see light in their lives. They see the blessing. When people observe Torah as a nice tradition – when convenient – they do not necessarily experience that light. Thus is why many Jews seek other philosophies – they never sought to immerse themselves in Torah & Mitzvah observance completely – 7 days a week. They didn’t feel the closeness to Hash-m – because Judaism was treated as a nice pastime – rather than life itself.

Part of feeling the Spirituality / Closeness to Hash-m of Judaism is being thankful every moment for the good in one’s life. People get depressed because they see the difficulties, the lackings – the Torah says be thankful for what you have. Do not envy. Look at the half full cup as completely full.

When we have good in our lives – let’s be thankful for every single thing.

When we thank G-d – He sees we appreciate our blessings and provides us with more. But we should ask for more after thanking G-d – to continue giving us the blessing or to give us more.

We learn this from Leah – our Matriarch. When she had Yehuda – which means “I will thank” – she stopped having children for a period. Why? Because sometimes thank you may mean “No Thank You” or “Thank you – that is enough”. Thus when we do thank Hash-m – don’t just express your appreciation – ask for more.

But feeling thankful also entails feeling indebted to the person. Many will go out of their way to help others who did them a favor in the past. This feeling of gratitude – should help to motivate us to do more good, do more Mitzvot, to learn more Torah & to reciprocate the good that we received from Hash-m to our fellows.