Thursday, September 24, 2009

Parashat Ha'azinu #3 - Diminished Letter Yud (י)


In Devarim/Deuteronomy 32:18 there is a letter Yud which is written very small compared to all the rest of the letters. It's the last letter in the word תֶּשִׁי teshi, meaning neglected or unmindful.

צוּר יְלָדְךָ, תֶּשִׁי; וַתִּשְׁכַּח, אֵל מְחֹלְלֶךָ.
The Rock that birthed you, you neglected; and forgot G@d, who bore you.

Yad, hand, indicates a means of action. Agency. The universe is set in motion by the movement of the Yad Chazaqah - the strong hand of G@D - being the symbol of creative and directive energy.

The Zohar Va-yiqra 147 explains that the letter Yud consists of three parts: a point rising upwards to The Holy One above, a point directed downwards to Earth, and the middle part uniting both. The shape of the Yud is symbolic of a person in prayer. Our eyes are lowered in humility as we stand before The Holy One, while our hearts are turned upward, toward heaven (Talmud Bavli Yevamot 105b). This is how Yud shows us the power of self-nullification.

All three parts of the Yud are of equal importance halakhically, according to Jewish Law. The Talmud notes that it is "obvious - peshita" that a mezuzah q'laf or Torah scroll is invalid if it lacks even a qotzo shel Yud, the point or serif of the Yud (Talmud Bavli Menachot 29a; Rashi).

The letter Yud also represents G@d's thought and hand (yad), which is the seminal origin of all Creation, and the Jewish soul. We see this expressed in the Hebrew Alefbet, as the beginning and end of every letterform reveals G@d's Omnipresence. Each letter is made up of a series of Yuds: some stretched, some diagonal, but they're all Yud. The seed, the sperm, the primordial force initiating the flow of life. The catalyst. Master writing this letter, and you've mastered the Universe.

Yud may be the smallest of the otiyot, letters, but it's the only one capable of suspending itself in mid-air and of birthing All Else. This is why Yud is known as The Little Who Holds Much. And with it's gematrial number of ten, it holds the Aseret Ha-Dibrot, the Ten Commandments, and the Ten Sefirot or Spectrums of the Tree of Life. It powerfully channels G@d's infinite light into a finite, limited reality for us to experience.

This Much refers to how G@d can hide His Infinity within the Yud/iota/jot of Divine Revelation, yet still possess Infinite potential to expand to all finite time and space.

This diminished Yud is written so because of our own failings. G@d had been expansive with us, so therefore we should have returned to Him in expansiveness. Instead, however, we contracted from Him. Contracted our agency, our power, our yad, hand. G@d had opened His hand to us, but we closed our hand to Him. We did not nullify ourselves and cleave to Him. We made a fist.

This tiny Yud also alludes to the Ten Battles of Yehoshu'a/Joshua. If we had responded appropriately to G@d, relaxed and trusted Him, then we wouldn't have had to fight ten battles to gain the Eretz Ha-Qodesh, the Land of Israel. We could've waltzed in and set up house, but instead we had to fight long and hard, relying on G@d's miracles to help us win. All that violence and those miracles wouldn't have been needed had we just...had faith. And not forgotten G@d.

This tiny Yud was listed in Midrash Rabbah Aqim as one of the letter oddities which must be written into a Sefer Torah for it to be considered kosher for ritual use.
R' Chayim David HaLevy, who is a Kabbalist rabbi I quote often, wrote that a letter written in miniscule indicates that a person or people in the narrative have somehow missed the mark; that they could have done better.

Among the many gifts that Ha-Shem has given us is the power of שִׁכְחָה shikh'chah — forgetfulness. Moshe Rabeynu said this to us right before he died. This is the last sheet of parchment in the Torah, people! Our problem is that va-tishkach Keil mecholelekha — we're using our power of forgetfulness to neglect Ha-Shem, Who gives us each breath straight from Divine compassion. Is that any way to act?

It's so hard to be human. & G@d knows just what a hard job we have. That's why we got Torah. But if we forget, then our agency, our yad, is diminished. So here we have a small Yud to remind us...not to forget :)

May we all be blessed with consciousness enough to become good humans this year, with humble hearts and open hands, like the letter Yud.

Copyright © A. Barclay
Based on "A Small Yud in Ha'azinu" originally posted Spetember 2006 at Netivat Sofrut: and cross-posted at Radical Torah

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Parashat Ha'azinu #2 - Enlarged Letter Hey (ה)


The letter Hey of Ha-le-Ad@nai in parashat Ha'azinu, Devarim/Deuteronomy 32:6 is a standard letter written enlarged according to Midrash Rabbah Aqim. This parasha is almost always read on Shabbat Shuvah, during the Ten Days of Repentance, and it is taught that Hey represents repentance. Why?

הַ לְיְהוָה, תִּגְמְלוּ-זֹאת-- עַם נָבָל, וְלֹא חָכָם: הֲלוֹא-הוּא אָבִיךָ קָּנֶךָ, הוּא עָשְׂךָ וַיְכֹנְנֶךָ.
Is this how you repay Ad@nai, O foolish and unwise people? Isn't He your Father who has gotten you? Hasn't He made you and established you?

This Hey is also special in that it's not just the prefix of the definite article ("the"), as the letter Hey at the beginning of a word can be, but it's to be treated as a separate word and therefore should be spaced (Talmud Yerushalmi Megilah 1)

The Ba'al Ha-Turim teaches that this Hey is an indictment against Am Yisra'el, the Jewish People, being so ungrateful to G@d. He had generously gifted us with the original self-help book (Torah), not for His sake but for the sake of our own self-improvement and growth through service. Our Sages taught that the Torah was given to us only to purify the people. The enlarged Hey is referring to the five books of the Torah, as Hey has a gematria of 5.

This Hey also balances out the diminished Hey which can be found in parashat Be-reshit Be-reshit/Genesis 2:4. This pasuq/verse reads:

אֵלֶּה תוֹלְדוֹת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ, בְּהִבָּרְאָם: בְּיוֹם, עֲשׂוֹת יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים--אֶרֶץ וְשָׁמָיִם.
These are the generations of the Heaven and the Earth, when they were created in the day that Ad@nai, G@d, made Earth and Heaven.

The letter Hey of בְּהִבָּרְאָם be-hibaram, "when they were created", is written smaller than all the other letters. So we have a small Hey at the very beginning of the Torah, and a large Hey at the end. And when we read from the end and then cycle back to the beginning again on Simchat Torah, we meet both Heys on the same day.

The world was created with the letter Hey. How do we know this? Because we can read be-hibaram, "when they were created", as be-HEY-baram, "with Hey He created them". These are the generations of the Heaven and the Earth, with Hey they were created.

We also know this by Hey's shape: it reeks of teshuvah, repentance. There are two ways we see this: The Gemara in Menachot 29b tells us that this world is like the letter Hey - very easy to fall out the bottom (sin). But G@d has left a little space which we can climb up to, and squeeze through, to "get back to the Garden". That is teshuvah.

Menachot 29b also teaches that this letter Hey is G@d's sacred breath - as in Tehilim/Psalms 33:6:

בִּדְבַר יְהוָה, שָׁמַיִם נַעֲשׂוּ; וּבְרוּחַ פִּיו, כָּל-צְבָאָם.
By the utterance of Ad@nai the heavens were made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.

What is the sound of Hey? Exhale. That's it. Just like G@d blowing this holy breath of spirit into humankind, speaking all of Creation into existence, the letter Hey shows us G@d's creative power.

The other way is this: Hey is in fact made up of two other letters - Dalet and Yud. Dalet (דלת = door) is the doorway to G@d, to teshuvah, while Yud (יד = hand) is our own will to transform ourselves and getting closer to G@d by pushing open that door...

Both Rashi and the Lubavitcher Rebbe indicate that there is a question and a response (teshuvah) here. The little Hey in Genesis requires and anticipates the large Hey in Deuteronomy. Also, as we accepted, then transgressed the Torah (again Hey, as there are five books to the Torah and the number for Hey is five), we were given an extra gift from G@d to fix everything with. Teshuvah.

This is a new thing in the Universe, the Fifth Element, if you will. Since G@d made Creation to have four elements, four directions, et cetera, Teshuvah is the "fifth dimension". It is with this tool that we repair our lives and the World around us. And it comes straight from G@d.

This enlarged Hey being five also shows us G@d's open hand (five fingers) open to receive our repentance and generously forgive.

We only have Ten Days between Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kipur. Please, let's use it.

Copyright © A. Barclay

Friday, September 18, 2009



30 Elul

My Hebrew birthday is tomorrow. Alef Tishrei, or Rosh Ha-Shanah as more people know it. The following is a list of events which happened in Jewish history on that date:

Death of Sarah Imeinu/our mother and Akeidat Yitzchak/the binding of Isaac, 1676 BCE

Birth of Rav Yisroel Abuchatzeira, the Baba Sali (1890-1984)

Death of Rav Yaakov Dovid ben Ze’ev Wilovsky of Slutzk, Chicago and Tsefas (the Ridvaz), one of the great European scholars to come to America. As a consequence of the halachic standards of kashrus that he attempted to impose in Chicago, he eventually had to flee for his life (1845-1914).

Death of Rav Meir Yeudah Leibush ben Yechiel Michel (Malbim). (1809-1879). He was born in Volhynia and was still a child when his father died. He studied in his native town until the age of 13. He then went to Warsaw where he was known as the ‘iluy (prodigy) from Volhynia.’ From 1838 to 1845 he was rabbi of Wreschen, district of Posen, and in the latter year was called to the rabbinate of Kempen, where he remained until 1860; he was thereafter known as "der Kempener." In 1860 Malbim became chief rabbi of Bucharest, Rumania. But he could not agree with the rich German Jews there; they wished to introduce the Reformed rite, and did not shrink even from violence in the pursuit of their aims. By intrigues they succeeded in throwing him into prison, and though he was liberated through the intervention of Sir Moses Montefiore, it was upon the condition that he leave Rumania. He became Rav of Moghilef, on the Dnieper in 1870, but his lack of subservience provoked the resentment of the richer Jews, who denounced him as a political criminal. The governor of Moghilef ordered him to leave town. Malbim then went to Königsberg as chief rabbi of the Polish community, but there he fared no better than in Bucharest and Moghilef; he was continually harassed by the German Jews. His fame and immense popularity rests upon his widely esteemed commentary to Tanach, in which he details the close reationship between the Oral and the Written Law.

Death of Rav Amnon of Mainz, who died Qidush Ha-Shem (was martyred), while composing the Rosh Hashanah prayer, Unesaneh Tokef (1012).

Death of Rav Yitzchak Meir of Kopycznitz (1931).

Death of Rav Shefatia, author of the selicha, Yisrael Nosha Ba-Ha-Shem, (886)

Committed Inquisitor Cardinal Caraffa (later to be Pope Paulo IV), with the backing of Pope Julius III, publically burns sefarim, including the Talmud, in Rome, 1553
(this list is chiefly from another website whose name & URL I have long since forgotten & I'm sorry)

As my thoughts turn to teshuvah/repentance, for which we Jews are given the gift of these 10 "daze", I'm publicly encouraging anyone reading this blog who I may have hurt & owe an apology to, to please contact me privately.

May 5770 bring you blessings from the flow of G@d of good health, happiness, love, laughter, joy and peace! May all your plans and desires be fulfilled for the good! May we see the Moshiach rise bimheyra be-yameynu, Ameayn selah!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Parashat Ha'azinu #1 - Enlarged Letter Tzadi (צ)


This week's Torah portion (read at Minchah prayers Shabbat Rosh Ha-Shanah) may or may not have an enlarged letter Tzadi (צ) which can be found in Devarim/Deuteronomy 32:4. The word הַצּוּר Ha-tzur, The rock, which may contain this enlarged letter, is referring to G@d.

I say a Torah may have this letter enlarged because those scribes who practice Kabbalah in particular areas of the world write this way. If the scribe is not a mystic, then he doesn't enlarge this letter.

This feature helps identify a scroll's origins. For example, a Torah written in Germany would never boast this enlarged Tzadi, but one from Poland or Russia could very well have it.

הַצּוּר תָּמִים פָּעֳלוֹ, כִּי כָל-דְּרָכָיו מִשְׁפָּט: אֵל אֱמוּנָה וְאֵין עָוֶל, צַדִּיק וְיָשָׁר הוּא.
The Rock, His work is perfect, because all His ways are justice; a G@d of confident faith and without iniquity, just and right is He.

Why is this letter Tzadi, in צּוּר tzur, sometimes enlarged?
What does the letter Tzadi (צ) look like? It's a pictogram! Tzadi comes to us in the shape of a Mystic bent in humble prayer, arms extended and hands raised. According to our tradition, the only time of the year we take this position is during the Aleynu prayer in the musaf, early afternoon service, on Yom Kipur.

The name צַדִּי Tzadi grows from the same root in Hebrew as צְדָקָה tzedaqah, which is often referred to as "charity". To give tzedaqah (or tsedakah) is to donate money, in the mundane sense of the expression, or to give of your time, resources, etc in the general sense. But the root of the word, Tzadi-Dalet-Quf, has a broader attitude.

The consonants צ–ד–ק, Tz-D-Q, mean the following:
To be right, just, or correct; fairness; to have integrity. So from this we learn that to perform an act of charity is to do an act of justice. To make something right. To be kind. Balance.

Look at the verse: at the end it says tzadiq ve-yashar hu, just and right is He. G@d is a Tzadiq. The Tzadiq. The Source of upright, perfect, righteousness. Fully present in every moment, whose consciousness includes the totality of All. Everything G@d does is appropriate, correct, and for the best.
Midrash on this holy symbol tell us that Tzadi was the first letter formed by The Holy One, for "Deeds of giving are the foundation of the world." Tzedeq, "justice".

Tzadi is here enlarged to remind us that G@d our Rock, tzur, is a tzadiq we can rely on always. With His total Divine consciousness of all souls, containing the Universe in which we live, we know we can entrust Him with anything, that our faith invested only in the One G@d is safe. The gematria of tzadiq is 204, which is double the gematria of the word emunah, faith - 102.

The form of the letter Tzadi is made up of a letter Yud (י) activating a letter Nun (נ). The Nun symbolizes Am Yisra'el, the Nation of Israel, where the Yud represents this tzadiq, G@d, our leader and guide.

The letter Tzadi also begins the word צלם, tzelem, which means image or shadow. This is the Divine, transcendent "image" in which G@d created humankind. This shows us that we can emulate and thereby draw closer to G@d, aiming to be that tzur of a tzadiq.

The letter Tzadi also has a gematria of 90, which teaches us that if we lead such high, holy lives as to take the opportunity to say "ameyn" ninety times per day, it can provide that structure on which we can build our own integral lives, supported by Ha-Shem.

Copyright © A.Barclay

Friday, September 11, 2009

Parashat Nitzavim - the Mysterious Dotted Letters ...לָנוּ וּלְבָנֵינוּ, עַד...


Sefer Ba'al Ha-Turim notes that Devarim/Deuteronomy 29:28 has letters which are מְנֻקָּד menuqad (dotted), despite the general rule that a Torah scroll must be without vowel points, any punctuation marks, cantillation symbols, etc., a dot is inscribed above certian letters:

הַנִּסְתָּרֹת--לַיהוָה, אֱלֹהֵינוּ; וְהַנִּגְלֹת לָנוּ וּלְבָנֵינוּ, עַד-עוֹלָם--לַעֲשׂוֹת, אֶת-כָּל-דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת.
The secrets belong to the Ad@nai our G@d, but that which is revealed are for us and also for our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

The phrase "...lanu u-le-vaneynu ad..." (...for us and also for our children until [forever]...) exhibits a total of eleven dots, one over each letter of these three words with the exception of the last letter, Dalet (ד).

What does this teach us, and why is the last letter not dotted?
Some commentary in Midrash Numbers Rabbah 3, 13 states that these eleven letters are dotted because they are not the ones which should be dotted. One popular interpretation of why some particular letters are dotted in our Sifrei Torah says these dots mean effacement, ie. that the dots indicate there is either a scribal error which has been incorporated into the traditional text or that there is a disagreement about whether these letters or words belong in the text at all.

Avot de-Rabbi Natan 30b explans that these dots were written to call attention to extrapolations on the words, however, they may indicate that the words or letters were doubtful and were to be deleted, presumably when Eliyahu Ha-Navi comes to resolve all the scribal variations before the coming of the Moshiach..

Ezra the Scribe is quoted as saying that if Eliyahu asks, “why have you written these words?”, indicating that they are incorrect, Ezra will reply, shrugging, “well, at least I've placed dots over them”, but if Eliyahu says, “you have written them correctly” then Ezra will remove the dots!

So when Midrash Numbers Rabbah 3, 13 states that these letters are dotted instead of the actual ones which should be dotted, what letters or words were meant to be dotted in the first place? And why can't they be dotted themselves? Why do these words carry the dots instead?

Because the letters which should be dotted are לַיהוָה, אֱלֹהֵינוּ. And because the dots are meant to efface, cancel, or annul, you can not cross out the Name of G@D...

So ChaZaL teach this pasuq, verse, is telling us of our accepting responsibility for each others' public sins, and to agree to be punished for not preventing them or not supporting each other sufficiently to avoid committing those sins.

Rashi explains that the way these letters are dotted means this deal we made with The Holy One only came into effect after Am Yisra'el crossed over the nehar ha-yarden, the River Jordan, and made the vow at the mountains of Har Gerizim and Har Eival.

So why is this last letter not dotted?
The Ba'al Ha-Turim writes about why there is a lonely dot over the letter Ayin (ע) of the word עַד ad, but not the Dalet (ד). It is because from the time that Moshe Rabbeynu began to expound the Torah at Arvot Mo'av, the Plains of Mo'av, until we crossed the Yarden was a total of seventy - the numerology of Ayin is 70 - days. This also hints at the seventy years of galut (exile) we would experience in Babylon, the collective punishment that the whole Nation of Yisra'el had to suffer for the shortcomings of those who were unrepentantly guilty.

But wait a second. If the letters are effaced by the dots, then we're off the hook, right?
No, sorry. G@d wanted to emphasise how much we could help our fellow Jews, and how important that is. We must learn from the very human mistake made by Qayin, Cain, in Be-reshit/Genesis 4:9: we are our brother's (and sister's!) keeper. We're all Jews and we must take responsibility for each other. We must take up the slack when they can't continue, help them when they're falling away from G@d. Kol Yisra'el areyvim zeh ba-zeh, each one of Israel is responsible one for the other. Go Team Jew!

And by embodying this directive of kindness, we can raise our interactions with each other, according to the mitzvot of beyn adam la-chaveiro (between a person his/her friend), and hopefully provide a security network for our family which is all Israel.

Copyright © A. Barclay

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Parshat Nitzavim - Enlarged Letter Lamed in וַיַּשְׁלִכֵם


This week's Parashah, Nitzavim, runs from Devarim/Deuteronomy 29:9 - 30:20. What I'd like to show you in Devarim 29:27 is the enlarged letter Lamed in the word וַיַּשְׁלִכֵם - va-yash'likheym, which means "and throw them out". This word has the same shoresh/root (שלכ) as tashlikh, what we do the afternoon First Day Rosh Ha-Shanah with our sins.

וַיִּתְּשֵׁם יְהוָה מֵעַל אַדְמָתָם, בְּאַף וּבְחֵמָה וּבְקֶצֶף גָּדוֹל; וַיַּשְׁלִכֵם אֶל-אֶרֶץ אַחֶרֶת, כַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה.

and the G@D rooted them out of their land in anger, and in rage, and with great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is until today.

Now, what is this verse talking about? Who is "them"?
"Them", unfortunately, is us. The Jewish People. The context of the pasuq/verse is this: just as we're preparing to enter the Land of Israel, the Eretz Ha-Qodesh, for the first time since Ya'aqov and our people left it so many generation previoulsy, G@d is foretelling of a future generation consisting of our descendants who rise up, along with foreigners from a distant land, and that they shall see the punishment directed against the Land (Israel), and the plague with which G@d has struck it...

A loose translation of the pasuqim/verses leading up to verse 27 read as follows:
29:23 "All the nations will ask, 'Why did G@d do this to the Land? What was the reason for this great display of anger?'"
29:24 "They shall answer, 'It is because they (the Jews) abandoned the covenant that G@d, L@rd of their ancestors, made with them when He brought them out of Egypt.'"
29:25 "and went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods that they knew not, and that He had not allotted to them;"
29:26 "therefore the anger of the L@RD was kindled against this Land, to bring upon it all the curse that is written in this book;"

So we're being warned that even though we have finally merited national and individual redemption from G@D, and are about to come home, like being on the brink of our wedding night, that in the future our descendants will be exiled because they will turn away from The Holy One and give their focus away. How sad.

So...why the word Sh-L-Kh? And why the letter Lamed?
The pictographic shape of Lamed is that of a goad - that's an instrument with which we coax animals to go in the direction we want, rather than the direction that they want. Sort of a non-electric cattle prod. So here we see that Ha-Shem is goading us away from the direction we would choose to go and instead take the better path which G@d wants for us.

The shoresh/root of "Lamed" (למד) is talmud or limmud, to learn or teach. And this is a big teaching, as my Holy/wholly good friend Chayim Rothschild Lev once said to me about this. What is the teaching?

R' Chayim Dovid Ha-Levy, z"l, the former Chief Sefardi Rabbi of Tel Aviv, was a great scholar, posek & Kabbalist. He said that anytime we see an enlarged letter in our writings, that is a place where G@d takes over the direction. That Ha-Shem steps out of the status quo and is proactive about something, always with great kindness and benevolence.
Example: the enlarged letter Bet which begins the Torah. Be-reyshit bara Eloqim...

So how is cursing our Holy Land of Israel so that we're forced to flee into exile an act of kindness?
The rabbis in Talmud Bavli Masechet Sofrim argue that this word should be read as lakhem, to you (plural), implying that G@d will be a personal G@d to the individual exiled Jews even after we're vomited out of the Land. Why is this relevant? Because in the ancient religions of the Fertile Crescent the gods and idols were very much tied to the local area where they were worshipped, and were only believed to have power in their own neighbourhood, so to speak. But we wouldn't have to worry, because wherever G@d scattered us, the Holy presence of the Shekhinah would be there too.

So this image of The Holy One driving us out is a violent one, but remember that Lamed is a goad, not a whip, it doesn't just punish, it coaxes. We would be taught a very hard lesson by our exile from our home, the Land of Israel, but only because we had first exiled G@d from our hearts.

Talmud Bavli Yoma 29a refers to 22 saintly women in our history, each with a quality which represents a letter of the Hebrew alefbet. The letter Lamed is the symbol of Devorah (Haftarah Beshallach, Shofetim/Judges 4:4-5:31). Who was Devorah? She was named after Rivqah's wet nurse, who died at the same time as Rivqah (Be-reyshit/Genesis 35:8 Par'shat Va-yishlakh) and was buried in that area.

And what did Devorah do?
She judged us and decided questions of law for the whole nation - a posek, or poseket. She was considered to have been a vessel for the ru'ach nevu'ah/spirit of prophesy. She also goaded Baraq - who was commanded by G@d to go to war with Sisera. Ha-Shem guaranteed Baraq would be victorious and yet he, feeling unworthy of such a miracle, refused to go to war unless Devorah accompanied him.

Baraq felt that only her merit would guarantee his success. Devorah's response:
"I will go with you, but the path you have chosen to go will not be for your glory. Ha-Shem will deliver Sisera into the hand of woman." Silly Baraq. You always get second best when you deviate from what G@d asks you to do.

In Devorah's song, Shofetim/Judges 5:1 - 31, she sings of how when the people of Israel devote themselves to Ha-Shem, they travel safely, the land blossoms and there was no war made against us. But when we forget G@d, we experience calamity.

This enlarged Lamed prophesies the coming of Devorah ha-Neviyah. Just to remind us about being very careful of the path that we choose.

Copyright © A. Barclay

Monday, September 07, 2009

Tehilim/Psalms Chapter 27


My loose translation of Tehilim/Psalm 27, traditionally recited daily during this Jewish month of Elul prayers...

לְדָוִד: יְהוָה, אוֹרִי וְיִשְׁעִי--מִמִּי אִירָא;
יְהוָה מָעוֹז-חַיַּי, מִמִּי אֶפְחָד
Of David: Ad@nai is my light and my saviour; who will I dread? Ad@nai is the stronghold of my life; who shall I be scared of?

בִּקְרֹב עָלַי, מְרֵעִים-- לֶאֱכֹל אֶת-בְּשָׂרִי:
צָרַי וְאֹיְבַי לִי; הֵמָּה כָשְׁלוּ וְנָפָלוּ
When malicious people caught me to devour my innards, my antagonists and my opponents, they tripped and fell.

אִם-תַּחֲנֶה עָלַי, מַחֲנֶה-- לֹא-יִירָא לִבִּי:
אִם-תָּקוּם עָלַי, מִלְחָמָה-- בְּזֹאת, אֲנִי בוֹטֵחַ
If an army sets up against me, my heart won't fear; even if war rises up against me, then I'll still be confident.

אַחַת, שָׁאַלְתִּי מֵאֵת-יְהוָה-- אוֹתָהּ אֲבַקֵּשׁ:
שִׁבְתִּי בְּבֵית-יְהוָה, כָּל-יְמֵי חַיַּי;
לַחֲזוֹת בְּנֹעַם-יְהוָה, וּלְבַקֵּר בְּהֵיכָלוֹ
One thing I've asked of Ad@nai, that I will pursue: that I may rest in the house of Ad@nai all the days of my life, to contemplate the pleasance of Ad@nai, and to visit early in His temple.

כִּי יִצְפְּנֵנִי, בְּסֻכֹּה-- בְּיוֹם רָעָה:
יַסְתִּרֵנִי, בְּסֵתֶר אָהֳלוֹ; בְּצוּר, יְרוֹמְמֵנִי
The Divine will hide me in the sukah on the day of broken-ness; conceal me in the shade of His tent; raise me up on a rock.

וְעַתָּה יָרוּם רֹאשִׁי, עַל אֹיְבַי סְבִיבוֹתַי, וְאֶזְבְּחָה בְאָהֳלוֹ, זִבְחֵי תְרוּעָה;
אָשִׁירָה וַאֲזַמְּרָה, לַיהוָה
And now my head is raised up above my enemies surrounding me; and I will offer sacrifices with trumpet-blast in His tent ; I will chant, I will sing to Ad@nai.

שְׁמַע-יְהוָה קוֹלִי אֶקְרָא; וְחָנֵּנִי וַעֲנֵנִי
Listen, Ad@nai, when I call with my voice, and be merciful to me, and answer me.

לְךָ, אָמַר לִבִּי--בַּקְּשׁוּ פָנָי; אֶת-פָּנֶיךָ יְהוָה אֲבַקֵּשׁ
To you my heart has said: 'Seek you My face'; Your face, Ad@nai, I'll seek.

אַל-תַּסְתֵּר פָּנֶיךָ, מִמֶּנִּי-- אַל תַּט-בְּאַף, עַבְדֶּךָ:
עֶזְרָתִי הָיִיתָ; אַל-תִּטְּשֵׁנִי וְאַל-תַּעַזְבֵנִי, אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׁעִי
Don't hide Your face from me; don't reject Your servant in anger; You've been my help; don't cast me away, and don't forsake me, my G@d of my salvation.

כִּי-אָבִי וְאִמִּי עֲזָבוּנִי; וַיהוָה יַאַסְפֵנִי
For despite my father and my mother abandoning me, Ad@nai will gather me up.

הוֹרֵנִי יְהוָה, דַּרְכֶּךָ: וּנְחֵנִי, בְּאֹרַח מִישׁוֹר--לְמַעַן, שׁוֹרְרָ
Teach me Your way, Ad@nai; and lead me on a strait path, because of those who lie in wait for me.

אַל-תִּתְּנֵנִי, בְּנֶפֶשׁ צָרָי: כִּי קָמוּ-בִי עֵדֵי-שֶׁקֶר, וִיפֵחַ חָמָס
Don't deliver me over to the will of my tormentors; for liars have arisen against me, and they exhale HAMAS, violence.

לוּלֵא--הֶאֱמַנְתִּי, לִרְאוֹת בְּטוּב-יְהוָה: בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים
If I hadn't believed to envision the goodness of Ad@nai in the land of the living!

קַוֵּה, אֶל-יְהוָה: חֲזַק, וְיַאֲמֵץ לִבֶּךָ; וְקַוֵּה, אֶל-יְהוָה
Hope for Ad@nai; be strong, and let your heart feel encouraged; await Ad@nai.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Full Moon of Elul - יָרֵחַ מָלֵא אלול



Today is the 13th day of the Jewish month of Elul (אלול). The yare'ach maley, full moon, is just around the corner. This month of introspection, of turning and returning to The Holy One, is almost half over, when the waxing moon will swell to her fullest, then wane through the days leading us to Rosh Ha-Shanah, the Jewish New Year, the anniversary of the Creation of people.

To remind us that another New Year is coming and to awaken our yearning for teshuvah, repentance, each Elul morning except Shabbat my husband and I have prayed in our lush garden facing east, to Jerusalem, then blown the shofar on our back patio. We recite Tehilim/Psalm 27. We are truly blessed.

קידוש לבנה Qidush Levanah is the monthly sanctification of the moon, called levanah or yare'ach in Hebrew. According to various traditional sources, one must perform this ritual either the first moment one sees the moon in its new phase, or before the tenth day of the lunar month, or by the full moon at the latest. And always at night.

Talmud Bavli Sanhedrin 42a gifts us with the words to bless this Heavenly body, although Ashkenazi and Sefardi customs differ. In essence we are praising The Holy One for for such marvelous creations, including the miracle of the moon's monthly rebirth. We see this as a symbol of G@d's promise to redeem all the Jewish People and to make us complete once more in the Land of Israel.

The gematria, numerological value, of Elul is 67. When one add this number to the gematrial of yare'ach, which is 218, we get 285. And what is 285 the number of?

רוח נדיבה - ru'ach nadivah - a charitable, generous open-hearted willing or ready spirit or essence. A giving, open-handed attitude. And guess what? It's feminine.

So when you bless the moon of Elul tonight or tomorrow, remember that The Holy One is waiting with open arms to warmly welcome you back for a New Year.

And say a shehechiyanu.

Copyright © A. Barclay