Friday, September 23, 2011

Nitzavim – 370 Lights

After all these curses come upon you... God will collect you from the lands of all nations of the world, to which He had dispersed you... and bring you to the Land of Israel.”

This short passage contains the phrase, “God will bring you to the Land of Israel.” This is the 5708th phrase from the beginning of the Torah, and the year 5708 (1948) corresponds to the year of the establishment of the State of Israel. The passage itself consists of ten phrases, and each phrase the name of God Adonay (יהוה). Some of the phrases contain the name of God twice, making up 14 names of God, with the gematria of 14 * 26 = 364.

Further, God promises to increase the fruit (פרי) of your hands, your womb, and your animal, and these three fruits with their three letters yud (ייי) is one of the syllables in the 72-letter name of God. The first letters of the passage “God will again rejoice” (ישוב יהוה לשוש) constitute another syllable (ילי) of the 72-letter name of God. Together, these six letters complete the 364 and bring it to 370.

These are the 370 lights that anyone who turns away from bad and becomes good deserves, and the 370 lights are extended to him from Above. The source of these 370 is in the highest spiritual entity, Erech Anpin, or Long Face, hinted to in the phrase “God will again pity and love us.”

Art: Ignace Henri Jean Fantin-Latour - Fruits and Flowers

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ki Tavo – Eleven Curses

Cursed is the person who makes a sculptured or cast idol.”

This is one of the 11 curses that was given on the mountain Eival. The 11 blessings negating these curses were given on mountain Gerizim, and they were the complete opposite: “Blessed is the person who makes a sculptured or cast idol”. There were also 11 goat skins used in the construction of the Tabernacle, and 11 spices in mix used for daily incense burning. Why are there eleven? One would expect ten, since there are ten Sefirot, the ways of God in the world. As the Sefer Yetzirah insists, “There are ten sefirot and not eleven”. There is a spiritual rule, “One who increases diminishes.” How can it be violated?

In truth, just as there are 10 ways of Holiness in the world, or 10 Sefirot, so there are 10 ways of evil, corresponding to them. There is an additional spark of life of holiness that gives life to all the 10 ways of evil. The secret of this is in the phrase “And His Kingship is ruling over everything” that is sung of Rosh HaShanah. 

However, there is a difference between the 10 ways of good and the 10 ways of bad, in that the 10 ways of good are called Thusness and Essence, and they are also called Vessels. It is this Essence that sustains and makes the good alive, and being of the same kind, it is mixed with them, and this is represented by the 10 coverings of the Tabernacle. It is different with the 10 ways of evil, whose Essence, being good, does not mix with them, but hovers above them, and this makes the whole group consist of eleven parts. The eleven curses, goat skins and spices all work on the bad, to subdue and ameliorate it.

Art: Barbieri - The Spice Shop Paolo Antonio

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ki Teitze – Beautiful Woman Is Your Soul

When you wage war against your enemies, God will give you victory over them, so that you will take captives.”

As a child, man is given over to his evil inclination, as in “sin is waiting at the entrance to the world,” and he does not start on the road of self improvement – if at all – until he matures. That is the meaning of “when you wage war against your enemies,” who are your evil inclination and the members of your body, accustomed to self-gratification since childhood. However, “God will give you victory over them” – when one tries, he can indeed become better. Then “you will see a beautiful woman” - that is your soul. She will have to “trim the hair of her head,” that is, get rid of erroneous preconceived ideas. “She will have to pair her nails,” that is, to abstain from the overabundance of even permitted physical pleasures. And she will have to change the dress in which she was captured – that is the garment that the soul had created through her previous wrong deeds.

Now she will cry for her father – that is God, and her mother – that is the humanity. She will do this for a month – and that is the month of Elul, which precedes Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur. She will cry for a “month of days” - that is, the soul should rush as if she only has days, not years, in which to prefect itself.

Art: Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Blanzifiore

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Shoftim - Courts and Judgement

The Large Sanhedrin, or the Supreme Court of 71 judges, represents Understanding. Understanding, in turn, is the secret of the Supernal Judgment, as reflected in the name of God “The King of Judgment” which we use between Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur. Understanding and Repentance are spiritually synonymous, and these are the days when Understanding rules. The 71 judges in the Sanhedrin reflect the name of God Adonai (יהוה) with its gemetria of 26 plus the deep knowledge represented by the expansion of this name (יוד הא ואו הא), with the gematria of 45, and 26+45=71.

The Smaller Sanhedrin courts of 23 were first consulted on every matter, even that of capital punishment. The requirement for the 23 arises because the 10 are the minimum to acquit, two more are needed to find guilty, which gives 22, and since the court cannot have an even number of judges, they add one more.

However, there is a deep meaning for this number. The name of God usually connected to the quality of Mercy is Adonai (יהוה), and its expansions, for example, the one above (יוד הא ואו הא) have 10 letters. So 10 are needed to acquit. The name of God connected to strict judgment, Elohim (אלהים), has 13 letters in the expansion (אלפ למד הי יוד מם). Thus 23 judges can properly combine the Mercy and the Judgment and arrive at a just result.

Art: Charles Hunt - A Plea For Mercy