Is it Good to Own a Pet According to Judaism? Of Pets & Children.

Winning the Raffle

It was a prize from the Pet Show raffle. He came home not only with his knapsack that day – but with a small bird cage – bird and all. OK – we decided to keep it. I figured – oh no – I don’t like to take care of pets because if you are a bit careless – you might find a fish floating on top of the water after about a week.

Taking Care of the Bird

It wasn’t my first pet. We got it so I might as well take care of it. Perhaps there was a mitzvah the pet could help me to do? Like feeding it before I eat. I took care of it. I fed it. I gave it to drink. I showered it & cage with a hose. Rarely did I take it out of the cage. I was concerned it would fly away and I would be able to get it back in its cage.

Bird Babysitter – Stress and Animals

Once I left it to a friend to bird sit. His family liked the bird. Some time later I was informed that the bird died. I was saddened but a bit relieved that I was relieved of my duties as bird caretaker. I had theories that it had died because of stress in the house or old age. They offered to buy us a new bird – but I politely refused.

Prohibition of Pain to Animals

We have a Mitzvah not to cause pain to animals – it’s called Tzaar Balei Chaim. So I had to treat it nicely. Once a rabbi shooed away a lamb seeking refuge under his garment – ans since it was an act that was not to his stature – he was stricken with a toothache for 13 years. Taking care of animals is a responsibility towards the animal and towards the surroundings.

Don’t aDopt Dangerous Dog

A dangerous dog is forbidden to have as a pet it might hurt people. I heard of stores of pet dogs attacking children when parents weren’t home. Dogs also bark. Their bark can cause a woman to miscarry if she is startled of fear.

Yes – I know pet lovers will say – my dog is so kind. Still one must to be concerned about the points mentioned above. There are stories about dogs saving a person’s life in the Torah. Yes I know that dogs are called a man’s best friend.

Essence of a Dog

The word for dog in Hebrew is KELEV. Kaf-Lamed-Vet. Adam – the first man- gave the animals their Hebrew name based upon their nature. Adam called this animal KELEV because it is KULO LEV (All Heart). Someone gave me an interesting possible reason of why a dogs are able to connect with humans more than others. A dog has more hutzpa / audacity than other animals. This audacity makes it think it is on the level of a human. Other animals are not so brazen and they recognize they are inferior to humans. The preferred animal as a pet in the US is a dog. Interesting theory.

Of Pets & Having Children

A couple who lacks children should consult a competent Orthodox rabbi whether it is worthwhile to have a dog. A dog may serve as a comfort for people without children. This comfort may cause them to relinquish praying with all their heart to Hashem to help them bear children. Perhaps not having the dog would cause them to daven / pray with more fervor. This intensified prayer could open the heavens for their prayers to be answered.

Search for Satisfaction that is Productive

Once someone who had difficulty bearing children asked a rabbi what he could do to bear children after being childless of years. He asked the man – Is there anything that gives you satisfaction. He replied yes – my business. He told him to reduce his business dealings. He did so – and a short time later he bore children. Apparently a person is supposed to get a certain amount of satisfaction and pain during the year. He was deriving all his satisfaction from his business and that was eating up what was due to him in satisfaction. When he relinquished it from the business, Hash-m gave him the satisfaction from the children.

Do Animals Communicate

It was known that Shlomo Hamelekh / King Solomon wisdom allowed him to speak with animals. Apparently they have feelings also – as illustrated in a story between Shlomo and a bird boasting to its wife that it could destroy the castle of Shlomo to his wife.

The Curse of the Birds

Recently I heard that there are animals in Heaven – by a Rabbi Meyer Eliyahu (shiur in Hebrew). I also heard recently about birds that cursed their master. Someone was convicted of a crime. The Man asked a Mekubal – a Rabbi that is well versed in Kabbala / Jewish Mysticism – why he was convicted of a crime. The Mekubal answered that His Birds cursed him. He told the rabbi he would get rid of the birds. He said the decree was already decided in heaven.

Were the birds at least partially responsible for his sentence? I don’t know. Should you avoid birds as pets? You decide.

Fish, however, I heard are good pets to have because they have a good eye. They were not corrupted by the flood of Noah.

Don’t fall for the $5.42 Trick

I needed gas. I went to the gas station. Got the gas. Then I noticed I needed windshield wiper fluid. I asked the cashier – How much is that? He mumbled $5.42.

I didn’t hear the price clearly. Then he repeated. 5-4-2. I thought he meant 5$ for two bottles. $2.50 for a bottle isn’t bad.

I said I’ll take 2. He charged me $10.84. He told me – one bottle is $5.42. Realizing the error, I then told him forget it, I’ll just take one. I ended up paying more than double than what I thought the price was.

We see things in life. we think we’re getting a good deal, but end up paying much more. Some Jewish children are not privileged to go to a Torah day school. Later in life they realize the value. Some Jews send their children to secular schools. And only afterwards, when children abandon the Torahs ways, they realize they paid a high price – for saving on Torah school tuition.

In this week’s Parasha, Ki Tavo – Moshe tells the Jews to inscribe on Rocks the entire Torah. It could be an allusion to the fact that when building a home or doing a new endeavor – it should be founded on the principles of Torah. Meaning- Torah learning is heard in the house, the father learns himself and with his children, the children are sent to Torah schools, the parents consult a competent Orthodox Rabbi for major decisions – like which school their child should attend.

The Man who Converted to Judaism because of Shoes

I was speaking with a friend. He said people commented to him that they would observe Torah Judaism (a better name for Orthodox Judaism) if there weren’t as many prohibitions. He told them “But look at all the things you can do!”

I told him it’s much more than that. It’s that by doing Mitzvot you improve your world tremendously. By doing Shabbat – one person will say – I can’t do it. I can’t drive.. I can’t go shopping. I can’t light a fire. I can’t use the phone, internet, other media and electronic games

But really, by not doing all those things you are guided to spend time with your friends and family. you are guided to focus on priorities in life. After 120 years, when a person is about to die he or she will not say, it is too bad I should have shopped more. They will say it’s too bad I would have liked to spend more time with loved ones.

Doing Mitzvot you change the world for the good. You have more meaning for every mitzvah that you do. Every mitzvah is an opportunity to improve. it’s a beracha – blessing.

A religion or movement that tries to reduce the commandments from people is completely missing the point. Every mitzvah is an opportunity to connect in a meaningful way with others and with Hashem. why do I want to limit connection?

A man converted to Judaism. Asked “why?” – he responded “there is a mitzvah – commandment (rabbinical ) to tie your shoes a particular way. I wanted to be in a religion that G-d is with me even agent I tie my shoes.”

Your Personal Messages from G-d

G-d communicates with us daily. We just have to understand His messages.

When in Israel, someone asked me for a donation. I checked my pockets – no change to be found. I wanted to give. He then said to me in Hebrew “Yesh Bo Mamash.” There is something there. In Hebrew – the word “Mamash” is spelled Mem-Mem-Shin. Those are my Hebrew initials. Apparently he didn’t know that. He was telling me there was money in my pocket.

I thought of the message – perhaps Hash-m was telling me – You have capabilities – Mamash.

So I took the statement – that may have offended others in the positive way.

If you listen to the messages and hear what happens to you daily – you can understand where Hash-m wants to guide you or test you.

If someone asks you for a donation – it might mean that you need a kapara / an atonement or a zechut / merit. Or perhaps G-d simply wants you to give you an opportunity to do a mitzvah.

In Morocco – once a rabbi saw a person with a sign of death on his face. He went up to him to ask him for Charity. Charity saves from death. He pleaded with him to give charity to save him. I don’t think he gave in the end. I don’t know the rest of the story.

Even if you pass a person talking with a friend and you over hear them saying “Your friend is so generous.” It might be a message for you – either in the positive way – that you are also generous – or perhaps you should work on your generosity.

The other day a rabbi told me a story. He said that someone told him that people should be more generous in giving blessings to others. He said he took it to heart. He was sitting at someones house – and children were kind of looking for attention and running around him. A bit annoyed – instead of screaming at them – he shouted “Zei Gezunt!” “Be Healthy” in Yiddish. The children continued running around him and started also yelling “Zei Gezunt.”

I took it as a message that perhaps I should be more flowing with blessings and positivity and compliments.

6 Rules for Good Relations – With Spouse, Kids & Friends

I walked in to the Inauguration Reception for HaChaim VeHashalom Beit Midrash / House of [Torah] Study. I see a Rabbi that I faintly recognize. It was Rabbi Bousu – the Grandson of the Baba Sali. He was discussing the subject of “Shalom Bayit” with some men. I listen in. “It is a positive commandment from the Torah to have peace with your spouse! It’s not enough to just do some kind things to her. You should try to assure that she is happy. If she is happy you will be happy. Think of ways to make her happy. Pray to find things and Do things to make her happy. If you do so you will have success!” said Rabbi Bousu. He mentioned why a person will have success in business, materially, spiritually and learning Torah. “Because where there is peace – the Shechina [Divine Presence] dwells. Where the Shechina dwells there is success.

I asked him the source : He said it was in Sefer Chareidim. I looked it up – but was not able to find the source he said. But I tried to figure out what it was on my one. This is what I found:

סֵפֶר חֲרֵדִים – פֶּרֶק ד – מ”ו
[תְּהִלִּים פֶּרֶק-לד-טו] סוּר מֵרָע וַעֲשֵׂה טוֹב בַּקֵּשׁ שָׁלוֹם וְרָדְפֵהוּ: – ‫דְּאוֹרָיְתָא‬‫ הִיא‬ ‫דַּאֲפִלּוּ‬ ‫בִּשְׁעַת‬ ‫מִלְחָמָה‬ ‫צִוָּה‬ ‫י‬ת’‬ ‫לְהַקְדִּים ‬‫שָׁלוֹם‬ ‫שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר‬ ‫ {דְּבָרִים כ:י} כִּי-תִּקְרַב אֶל-עִיר לְהִלָּחֵם עָלֶיהָ וְקָרָאתָ אֵלֶיהָ לְשָׁלוֹם: ‫וּמִנָּאֶה‬ ‫סְמָ”ג‬ ‫בְּמִצְוַת‬ ‫עָשָׂה‬‫ וְכָל‬ מָקוֹם ‫שֶׁיֵּשׁ‬ ‫שָׁלוֹם‬ ‫אֵין‬ ‫הַשָּׂטָן‬ ‫יָכוֹל‬ ‫לְקַטְרֵג‬ ‫שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר‬‫ [הוֹשֵׁעַ ד:יז]  חֲבוּר עֲצַבִּים אֶפְרַיִם הַנַּח-לוֹ: ‫צִוָּה‬ ‫הקב”ה‬ ‫לִמְחוֹת ‬‫שְׁמוֹ‬ ‫הַגָּדוֹל‬ ‫שֶׁנִּכְתַּב‬ ‫בְּקָדוֹשׁ’‬ ‫עַל‬ ‫הַמַּיִם‬ ‫לָשִׂים‬ ‫שָׁלוֹם‬‫ בֵּין‬ ‫אִישׁ‬ ‫לְאִשְׁתּוֹ‬ ‫וְהָרוֹצֶה‬ ‫לִזְכּוֹת‬ ‫בְּמִצְוָה‬ ‫זוֹ‬ ‫יִזְהָר ‬‫בְּמִצְוָה‬ ‫אַחֶרֶת‬ ‫וְהוּא [אָבוֹת א:ג]‬ ‫וֶהֱוֵי דָּן אֶת כָּל הָאָדָם לְכַף זְכוּת ‫תָּמִיד‪,‬‬‫מִמִּנְיָן‬ ‫תרי”ג‬ ‫‪:‬‬

Sefer Haredi – Chapter 4 – 46.
[Psalms Chapter 34:15] Depart from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it: It is a Torah Commandment that even during the time of war Hash-m commanded to start off by offering peace as it says “When you approach to a city to battle it – call out for peace.” (Devarim/Deut 20:10) And the Smag [Sefer Mitzvot Gedolot] counts this as Positive [Torah] commandments. And any place that there is peace – the Satan cannot accuse – as it says: [Hosea 4:17] Ephraim joined to idols – let him be: [Athough they were sinning – G-d said let them be – because they maintained peaceful relations] The Holy One Blessed Be He commanded to erase His Great Name written in Holiness with water [in Sota Ritual] to place peace between a man and his wife. And one who wants to merit this mitzvah – should be careful of another Mitzvah [Pirkei Avot 1: 3] “And judge every man favorably” [lit, on a scale of merit] always – from the count of 613 Mitzvot.

Rule # 1 – Be proactive in pursuing peace – meaning be yielding – seeking peace not arguments.

Rule # 2 – Judge people favorably

I heard and interview with Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein – z”l. In an interview he was asked “What is the most important thing that one should do for a healthy family?” His answer: Give them time.

The children want to connect with the parents and the spouses also want to. The greatest detriment to this is : Technology. My family wants to connect – instead I am on my cell phone, computer, watching videos. A big turn-off. They want to connect and you would rather connect with that video or whatsapp message.

Rule # 3 – Search for ways to make others happy.

Rule # 4. Give them time and be there for them.

Rule # 5 – Help out and Be present.

Rabbi Eliyahu Benhaim – said “Better than giving your wife a diamond ring – offer her to do the dishes.”

Rule # 6 – Be happy. Smile and make others happy.

Show a Bright face not a sad face. A face is part of the public domain – don’t “damage” people with your scour.

The Baby Brought You a Gift

A new baby is born. How can we make the other siblings happy? What can we do to prevent jealousy? Bring them a gift when the baby is born. Some parents go to the extent to tell the siblings – “The Baby Brought You a Gift.” Is it truthful? I don’t know – but that’s not the subject today.

Where Prophesy Resides Today

Baba Batra 12b – says Rabbi Yoḥanan said: From the day that the Temple was destroyed, prophecy was taken from the prophets and given to “fools” and children. Prophesy was removed from the world – it was given to children. We can understand this in various ways.

Autistic Savants

Regarding the prophetic “fools” – this might refer to the autistic people. A method of communication with autistic people was discovered called “Facilitated Communication” People use a computer as communication device for the autistic person to type on. The person asks a question and the autistic person responds by typing the answer. They found these people to have highly developed souls that know things of the spiritual world that an ordinary person knows not. A book on the subject was written called “Secrets of the Soul.” An entire website is dedicated to it.

Children Savants

Regarding the prophetic “children” – this may refer to children that recite a Torah verse in response to a question asked. Children used to learn Torah verses by heart. A person wanting an answer to a question  would ask a random child what verse they learned and that verse would at times give a response to their question.

Another explanation by rabbi Shimon ben Elazer in the Talmud that a house, a child, a woman even though there is no nichush – there is prophesy.

A sefer called Etz Chaim – written by Rabbi Haim Vital the talmid / student of the great Sage and Kabbalist – Rabbi Yitzhak Luria – the Ari”zl. He says If a person’s mazal / fortune increases, or intelligence in Torah,  after buying a house, or after having a child or marrying a wife. Rabbi Salman Eliyahu – Kerem Shlomo – writes on the Etz Haim. He says Every child that is born to a person brings a gift – like a better income, or better fortune or better Torah understanding. When the child leaves the house – he takes the gift with him.

This also applies to gentiles. Judaism is against abortion – unless the fetus is threatening the immediate life of the woman. He is another reason why people shouldn’t abort children – perhaps they will bring you a good fortune.

The Baby will Bring You a Gift.

His Soul is Bound with His Soul – How to Connect with People in Judaism

Featured

Yehuda was pleading before the ruler of Egypt (Parasha Vayigash). Tzafenat Paneach (who was actually Yehuda’s Brother Yosef) wanted to take Yehuda’s brother, Binyamin, as a slave. Yehuda, son of Leah, was ready to give his life in this world and the next to save his brother from same father – Yaakov / Jacob – but another mother – Rachel. He told the ruler – you cannot take my brother. If you do so his elderly father will be brought down to the grave – he says:

And now, when I come to your servant, my father, and the lad is not with us; . (Bereshit 44:30)

The Torah tells you the essence of all. Here the Torah teaches the definition of Love. The text says in Hebrew “Ve Nafsho Keshura BeNafsho” – “and his soul is connected with his soul.” Targum Yonathan (the Aramaic translation of the Torah) translates Keshura – bound or connected as haviva – beloved. Meaning he translates that “And His Soul is Beloved like His Soul”

Thus Love is equated to connection.

Rabbi Nechemia Grama spoke about the subject of Connecting with children entitled – Ve Nafsho Keshura BeNafsho.

He asked for a one word definition of love. The response was “Connection.” He made a distinction between fulfilling a child’s physical needs – and the child’s soul’s needs.

He asked children What is the difference between their mother and their live in cleaning lady?

One child said “The cleaning lady gets paid to clean the house. My mother doesn’t”

Another “You can fire the cleaning lady – you can’t fire my mother.”

The point is that – children need to feel the relationship.

If a child that thinks his mother is an alternate cleaning lady – it may mean that his mother (or father) may be lacking in the connection department. A child should know and feel that their parents love them.

Soul Connection

When we make a physical connection between objects there are two parts. When we connect with another person – what are we connecting with? We are connecting one soul with another soul.

One Question he asked was “Why does a child do nothing significant in the first 5 years of life?” You feed them, you carry them, you play with them – but they accomplish little or nothing. He explained that one reason is to give a parent opportunities to connect with the child those 5 years.

Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe says a 3 month child can distinguish between a smiling look and angry look. Who knows what is more important to a child – is it the food that you give to them or the orat hapanim (illumination of the face) – connection that you give to them. it is clear a child that grows without the orot hapanim – is like a plant without sunlight.

Is Connection more important than food?

He told a story of children survivors after Holocaust. In the freedom camps there were many starving children standing on a long line. One American soldier was giving out chocolate to children. Kids waited patiently in line for their portion of chocolate.
Another soldier saw a kid passing, called him over to him and gave them a hug. The entire line of children went off the chocolate line and went on the hugging line.

How to connect

The rabbi mentioned that it is not the activity that causes connection. There are some activities that are more apt to cause connections – but it is not the activity – it is the interaction. Thus any activity can be used to create a connection.

He mentioned that a woman used to put the coat on her child just like she would put it on a coat rack. Then she started using the opportunity to connect with her child.

Suffering Loneliness

A person can be surrounded by people but still feel lonely or empty. The lack of connection causes loneliness or emptiness.

Certain problems can be caused by this lack of connection. He mentioned fear, lack of self esteem, lack of self-value, lack of sense of security, lack of calmness, and other concerns.

Connection Benefits

A child that is connected will want to be an eved hashem / Servant of G-d. How do we develop a ratzon / will to be an eved hashem? Rabbi Chaim Friedlander explains how to achieve it – Only if we can make a kesher hanafshi / Soul Connection. The kesher hanafshi with rebbi – will make a person want to learn. The parent who has a connection – the child will naturally want to make parent happy.

What Children Want Most from Parents

Featured

Rav Shimshon Rephael Hirsch was a rabbi in Europe about 200 years ago. Born in 1808 – he explained Judaism with a point to inspire the intellectual Jewish populace. He wrote that the main thing that a child wants from parents is Love. “The Love that you give to the child is greater to the child than any gift in the world you can give them.” When someone asks the child – does your father (or mother) love you? their answer should be a sure answer – “of course”.

This lesson does not only apply to children but to students, friends, spouses and oneself.

I heard this shiur / lecture from a live broadcast from a The Beit Knesset Moshayov from Yesterday (in Hebrew).

What is love?

To understand how to educate children – it is not enough to “Just love them” but to understand what love really is. Love means giving for the interest of the child – not for our personal interests. People err. They think if I buy them a toy, a game – that expresses my love. It does but is that what the child wants? Apparently – they would rather a hug than a roller coaster ride. They would rather quality time than an expensive vacation. They would rather a kiss on the cheek – than a Play station.

I was listening to a rabbi – he told two stories. One child on Passover – found the Afikomen / the piece of Matza that is hidden by some families at the Passover seder. The child that finds it can choose their prize. Some ask for toys, games, Jewish books and the like. This child asked for a kiss on the cheek from the father.

Affection is important – but the way that the child wants it – not the way that we may want to give it. A child understands more than we think. They know when you hand them a video – you’re basically telling them – I have more important things to do.

So how can we bond with children?

The Shabbat Table

When the family enjoys the Shabbat meals together – it is a great way to bond. We talk with children. We give them attention. We sing together – interact together – learn together – eat together and develop as a person. We say words of Torah and encourage to do the same.

No Substitute for Spiritual Bonding

Some think that taking the kid to the local park is a substitute. Truthfully – in the park a parent sits on the bench and the kid disappears with their friends until it is time to leave. Where is the bonding? Take them to a baseball game? OK. We watch grown men throwing a ball around. What about watching TV? The TV is the center of attention – the child is just a spectator – secondary to what appears on the screen. Give them a cell phone? A nice way of saying occupy yourself with this while I carry on my own life. Go shopping together? the focus is on the buying – not on the kid.

The Torah School

Many Jewish parents send their children to public school. I myself went to one. One of the the main qualms of parents is – Jewish Day school costs money. OK. But did they ask themselves – what is the best interest for my child’s emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical development. A public school only teaches secular knowledge. A Torah Day school teaches secular knowledge and how to be a beautiful functioning person that wants to help society and be a good person deep down.

The Kiss of Life

A five year old child was wetting their bed. The parents tried giving him gifts to motivate him to not do so. They asked psychologists. Talked with him. Nothing worked. One rabbi heard the problem and said perhaps the kid lacks affection from the parents. He instructed them to spend time with him at night, read him the Shema Yisrael before sleeping and give him a goodnight kiss. Within the week that they started – they solved the bed wetting problem.

Lech Neche et HaAm – Go and Speak nicely with the people

Menashe Yeshoshua – speaking on on Education in his sefer / book Shaarei Hamishkan writes on the verse “Go and speak calmly with the people.” When G-d spoke to Moses – he said Go and speak calmly with the people. The Nursing woman speaks with baby softly. This is the way we are to speak with the child.When we want to correct the child we correct the improper action – but the love should remain. We don’t say you are the problem. We do not say “You are selfish!” We try to instruct them on being more selfless – by being selfless ourselves and the like.

When the Jewish people rebelled – Moses asks G-d “Am I their father that I should calmly guide them like a nursing woman to the nursing baby?”  This is teaching us that the parents – all have the ability to calmly educate the child. G-d gave us this ability. We are to believe in ourselves and in Hash-m / G-d that He gave us the ability to do so and will help us to get the proper results.

Why is Infinity a Number Eight on it’s Side?

Why is Infinity a Number Eight on it’s Side?

The Number 8 is the only number greater than zero whose writing can technically continue forever.

Torah says in Bereshit / Genesis of Five Books of Moses – that G-d created the world in Six Days Days and rested on the seventh day.

All of nature was created in Seven Days. Above the seven days is a the supernatural. Eight is above the natural world. Beyond the natural and limited world is infinity.

Spiritual Block? Try This

Featured

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.