Through hints, acronyms and Gematria’s that are embedded in the Hebrew letters, words and verses of Torah we come to appreciate the fascinating precision, symmetry and accuracy of our holy Torah and tradition.
Elul, the month that precedes Rosh Hashana, is spelled with four Hebrew letters. There are numerous verses where the first letters of the first four words spell out the word Elul.
One of the most famous is the verse taken from Song of Songs, אני לדודי ודודי לי . I am to my Beloved and My Beloved is to me. This conveys to us that in the month that precedes our Heavenly Judgement we share a special closeness and bond to the Almighty. This encourages and motivates us to pay special attention to our relationship with our Beloved. The Almighty will return His favor to us in kind.
If you look at the final letters of the aforementioned verse you will notice that each word ends with the letter Yud. The Gematria – numerical value of Yud is 10, thus the four Yuds equal 40. This is the number of days from the beginning of Elul until Yom Kippur. This means that throughout this holy period, G-d cherishes our relationship and wishes and hopes that we come closer through repentance, and Mitzvah and Torah observance.
Commentators go a bit further and tell us that the number 40 also alludes to the forty Sa’ah volume of water needed to form a Mikveh – the pool of water that a person who is spiritually impure immerses to achieve purity. These forty days which we are currently experiencing, to a certain degree, also serve to purify our misdeeds.
Each Sa’ah of volume contains 24 Lugin of liquid so that a Mikveh contains 960 Lugin. Fascinatingly, there are 960 hours in this 40 day period. So we see that we have a special opportunity to accomplish Spiritual purity during this 40 day/ 960 hour period more so than any other time of the year.
I’ll share a few remarkable hints and Gematria values in this week’s Parsha.
The Torah tells us that a first born son receives a double share of inheritance. The Hebrew word for a first-born is Bechor -בכר. Says the Baal Haturim, within the construction of its three letters there is a hint to double. The letterב – Bais (2) is double the previous letterא – Alef .(1) The letter כ – Chaf (20) is double the preceding letter י – Yud (10) and the letter ר – Raish (200) is double the letter ק – Kuff (100) that precedes it.
The Torah sternly warns us to be honest in regards to weights and measurements, and that one will only gain by being honest. The Talmud tells us that man is programmed in such a way that if he acquired 100 dollars he yearns for $200. The word the Talmud uses for money is Mamon – ממון It is fascinating that each letter of the word Mamon is spelled with a doubled letter. The letter Mem is spelledמם . The letter Vuv is spelled וו The letter Nun is spelledנן Embedded in the composition of the word “money”ממון is a hint to our desire to double our wealth.
The Torah tells us that a man who is in the first year of marriage, is forbidden to go to war. He is to make his wife happy. The word happy is ושמח Says the commentator Rokeach, the Gematria of ושמח is 364. This is an indication that there are 364 days during the year when by Torah law it is possible for a couple to be intimate (providing she is ritually permitted). The one day of the year that is excluded from this type of happiness is Yom Kippur since intimacy on this holy day is forbidden.
The Torah speaks about the Mitzvah of writing a divorce when all avenues of trying to work things out have been exhausted. The term that our Sages have given for a divorce is Get – גט The Vilna Goan, with his encyclopedic knowledge of Torah, points out something fascinating. The letters Gimmel – ג and Tes – ט never appears together in the entire written Torah – Tanach. Embedded in the word Get – is the notion of separation.
Additionally, our primary commentary on the Talmud, Tosafos explains that a Get is scribed in 12 lines. Wouldn’t you know it that the Gematria of the word Get is 12.
Many years ago, Dr. Harry Kroll o.b.m., a veterinarian in town, showed me a picture that he took in India which had an ox and donkey plowing a field side by side. On the bottom of the picture he cited a verse from this week’s Parsha where the Torah forbids such a type of combination.
A few reasons are given for this prohibition. One is that an ox is stronger than a donkey and this match will make the donkey work harder and cause him distress. Another reason offered is a cow is a kosher animal and even when it has finished grazing or eating from the trough it continues to chew (ruminate), while the donkey which is a non kosher animal doesn’t chew. The donkey will become agitated that the cow is eating while he is not. Therefore the Torah says, don’t cause an animal pain.
A consequence of this law is; if we are sensitive toward the feelings of animals – it will positively affect the sensitivity we have toward humanity.