Sunday, September 16, 2018

Hidden Thoughts of Teshuva

As Yom Kippur approaches, I thought to share some very inspiring insights from Niflaos MiTorasecha from Rav Mordechai Aronovsky. This is the sefer that reveals words hidden in Tanach in either roshei teivos or sofei teivos sequences and explains their significance.


The word צום does not appear in a roshei teivos sequence anywhere in the Torah. It does appear about ten times as a sofei teivos sequence. Four of those are a phrase that is repeated four times throughout the Torah (although none of these are in the Yom Kippur service in Acharei Mos):

ורחצ בשרו במים

Rabbi Aronovsky writes that this indicates that the Fast of Yom Kippur requires the Kohen Gadol to immerse four times. He comments that although the Mishna says he must be tovel five times, the first one of these is the standard tevila he must do on any day that he wants to do avoda and is not unique to Yom Kippur.

Another three occurrences coincide with this phrase that appears three times:

על הארצ תשפכנו כמים

He says that this is a remez that on the fast day of Yom Kippur one must pour out his heart like water like the pasuk says in Eicha: שפכי כמים לבך נוכח פני ה'

The eighth occurrence can be found in this pasuk:

ויהושע בן נון וכלב בן יפונה מן התרים את הארצ קרעו בגדיהם

He says this is an indication of the procedure to tear one’s garments as a part of the teshuva process together with his fast. He goes on to support this with this pasuk in Melachim 1 (21, 27):

ויהי כשמוע אחאב את הדברים האלה, ויקרע בגדיו וישם שק על בשרו ויצום.

We all know that the megillah also mentions wearing sackcloth as part of a fast for teshuva although it does not mention tearing one’s clothes.

He notes two other occurrences. Although he doesn’t comment on them as having a connection to Yom Kippur, they are both very inspiring and show that these occurrences are not random.

One of them is the pasuk in Parshat Noach that we find quoted in our machzorim as the first pasuk in Seder Zichronos on the musaf for Rosh Hashannah (Breishis 8:1):

ויזכור א-לקים את נח...ויעבר א-לקים רוח על הארצ וישכו המים.

Perhaps Noach also prayed and fasted while he was on the teivah and this hastened the end of his ordeal.

The last one does not have much to do with teshuva but it has a different fascinating “coincidence”. This deals with the prohibition to eat non-kosher fish and shrimp and lobsters. Here is the pasuk (Vayikra 11:11):

ושקצ תהיו לכם, מבשרם לא תאכלו ואת נבלתם תשקצו.

Here you have the word צום in code while you have the term לא תאכלו in the open text. Rav Aronovsky says that there is always some hidden meaning when an encoded word (צום) is identical or strongly relates to the open text (לא תאכלו) in the same pasuk although he makes no suggestions here.  

טבל Immersed

We mentioned earlier that the צום of Yom Kippur comes together with the mitzvah to immerse, did we not? Well, let’s look at word טבל. The letter “tes” (ט) is a very rare letter and the word טבל occurs as a roshei teivos sequence only two places in all of Tanach. One is found in Eicha 1:9:

טומאתה בשוליה לא זכרה אחריתה.

Its tumah is in its lowest point. They do not remember (consider) the end result.

Rav Aronovsky explains that the hidden message here is that the teshuvah and tevilah (purification) of the generation of the churban is not accepted because the tumah remains in their depths – they have not cast away the “sheretz” that is defiling them.

The other occurrence (more optimistic) is here (Tehillim 51:12):

לב טהור ברא לי א-לקים

When one does indeed cast away the sheretz and immerses himself, he becomes like a new briah.

חיים Life

Hard to believe that there is not a single roshei teivos sequence of חיים in all of Tanach! There are three sofei teivos occurrences two of which are in the Torah.

One is in reference to the mizbeach hanechoshes in Shmos 27:6:

ועשית בדים למזבח בדי עצי שיטים וצפית אותם נחושת.

We know that there is a Mishna in Midos 3:4 which says that the mizbeach haolah which will eventully be made from stones cannot be fashioned with any kind of an iron blade. This is because “iron shortens the life of a person and the mizbeach is meant to extend the life of a person”.

The second occurrence is more connected to Yom Kippur. Vayikra 16:5:

ומאת בני ישראל יקח שני שעירי עזים לחטאת ואיל אחד לעולה.

The basic message is self-explanatory. The avoda of Yom Kippur and the sacrifice of the two goats is a preservative of life for the chosen people. But if we extend the code sequence we see something else:

 ומאת בני ישראל יקח שני שעירי עזים לחטאת ואיל אחד לעולה.

It says: לחיים תלד

Says Rav Aronovsky that the avoda of Yom Kippur is meant to bestow many benefits. These are spelled out in the special Yehi Ratzon prayer that the Kohen Gadol says as he exits the Kodesh HaKedashim as is printed in all of our machzorim. Among them is this:

שנה שלא תפיל אשה את פרי בטנה.         A year in which no woman should miscarry…

So one of the benefits that we hope to achieve with our avoda is protection from miscarriage. This benefit seems to be encoded in our pasuk in the words לחיים תלד.

סדום Sodom

There is one roshei teivos sequence of the word סדום in all of Tanach. There is no sofei teivos sequence whatsoever. The sole sequence is also found in the avoda of Yom Kippur in this pasuk (Vayikra 16:12):

ולקח מלא המחתה גחלי אש... ומלא חפניו קטרת סמים דקה והביא םבית לפרכת.

Rav Aronovsky has a lengthy explanation on this one but, to summarize briefly, he says the following. There are five types of damage that occur due to the wrath of HKBH which is generally called חרון אף – the wrath of His “nose”. These are: עשן, אש, חמה, אף, משחית. Each of the five kingdoms of Sodom corresponded to one of these damages. Thus it says in Parshat Nitzavim:

כמהפכת סדום ועמורה אשר הפך ה' באפו ובחמתו

Certainly, when we anger HKBH, we also instigate the damages that come from this “wrath of the nose”. Hence HKBH instructs us to bring the ketores ­– a rayach nichoah, a pacifying scent – into the Kodesh Kedashim on Yom Kippur to assuage the anger of HKBH.

לב עצובA Despondent Heart

My final entry for this essay is the word עצוב. This also only occurs one time in Tanach in aroshei teivos sequence and not at all in a sofei teivos. This also appears in the avoda of Yom Kippur in this pasuk (Vayikra 16:17):

וכל אדם לא יהיה באהל מועד בבאו לכפר בקדש עד צאתו וכפר בעדו ובעד ביתו ובעד כל קהל ישראל.

Throughout his magnificent work, Rav Aronovsky looks at the pasuk as if the encoded sequence is the open text of the pasuk. In this case, the pasuk would then read:

וכל אדם לא יהיה באהל מועד בל"ב עצו"ב.

No man may be in the vicinity of the Tent of Gathering (the Mishkan) with a despondent heart. In short, nobody is permitted to be despondent on Yom Kippur!

These are the encoded messages that we find in the Torah. Hat tip to Rav Mordechai Aronovsky and his sefer, Niflaos MiTorasecha. I only want to add another code that is not divinely referenced in the Torah, but fascinating just the same.

My youngest brother is a paramedic for the local Hatzala of a sizable “out of town” community. He always talks about the importance of C.P.R. and why it is essential for everyone to be skilled in it. A few days ago, he posted the following on his Facebook page:

A new perspective on the importance of KNOWING CPR:

If you have ever had a patient in cardiac arrest, then you know the only chance of survival is Quality CPR. As we approach the New Year we must remember to awaken our souls and bring LIFE back into our LIVES (now more than ever in these troubled times).

On Yom Kippur, we 'bang' on the left side of our chest (over our heart). We use our closed fist (approx size of our heart). We go at a steady beat against our heart.

Heart/Lev= Lamed Beis= 30:2 - As if we are doing CPR on ourselves c"v.

Make those 'compressions' QUALITY ones; to secure LIFE for yourself, not just to get pulses back.

But there is more. Before a person goes into cardiac arrest, there is a time when they are sick; and if not treated, can get worse to very sick c"v. If they get treatment early enough, they won't need to be resuscitated.

That time is now - Elul and Rosh Hashanah.
We are at the moments before we would need CPR on ourselves. We have the tools to secure LIFE for ourselves, families, and loved ones.

Please utilize the time NOW. Secure the 'treatment' (Tefillah) and grab the 'cure', before it's c"v too late.
C = CHARITY – צדקה

A gut gerbencht year filled with Nachas and Simcha for:

C = Children (family) בני
P = Parnassa (work) –
R = Refuah (health) –

Written by a Hatzalah Paramedic, just a shliach of Hashem trying to help others.

May we all have a gmar chasima tova, arichas yamim and בני חיי ומזוני!

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