Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: The Torah Is Completely Composed of Names of HaKadosh Baruch Hu

Technology is causing a distressing growth of ignorance.  I am not talking about automatic spell checkers/correctors, which increases both for the readability and humor (due to correctly spelled but horribly out of context words creeping into my message) these Thoughts for the Day.  Nor am I talking about calculators, which relieve our young'uns of having to memorize their times tables.  I am not even even talking about Google, which relieves all us of the burden of actually remembering anything.  Nay!  I speak of a must more pernicious ignorance: being able to read a clock.  (I refuse to call a box with numbers on it a clock.  A clock has a face and hands.  I even finally found an app for my phone that will put a clock dial on my phone.  Not that I am stubborn or anything.)  Worse, for all us physics and engineering teachers; the younger members of our society just sort of glaze over when you say "clockwise".

Before your eyes go into a permanent spin... do you know where clockwise comes from and why there are 12 hours in a day?  Well, completely true or not, this is what I heard from my research adviser (who once jointly taught a class on the concept of time with a philosophy professor; so there).  Ancient mariners needed to know the time to calculate their position (because there were no satellites, let alone GPS!), so they had an instrument that was a disc with hole in the middle and an a hand.  They would site the North Star through the hole an move the hand to point to one of the twelve constellations.  So there you have it, 12 hours, hands, face, and clockwise.  Btw, it's called and astrolabe.

I suppose now you are going to ask where 12 constellations came from.  (From whence came the 12 constellations for your grammar sticklers.)  I always thought that we about as random as random could be.  I mean, yes, once you draw a picture of a guy shooting an arrow in the sky, I can see how there are three stars in a line that would lie on his belt.  But, please, draw Donald Duck and you can make those same three stars his buttons.  Ergo, 12 hours in a day is random; or so I thought.

Then I saw the Shelah HaKodesh on parshas va'yeitzei.  The Shelah starts with the tetragrammaton (the four letter name of HaShem) and notes that if you take away the yud, you are left with hei-vav-hei, those three letters can be arranged three different ways: hei-vav-hei, hei-hei-vav, and vav-hei-hei.  Same with the vav.  Taking a hei away leaves you with yud-vav-hei, which can be arranged in six different combinations (left as an exercise for the interested reader).  Since there are two hei's, you get two groups of arrangements of three letters each.  Hence you get four groups (the yud group, the hei group, the vav group, the other hei group) each containing three subgroups.  Now, says the Shelah HaKodesh, that's why you have four seasons with three months each, four camps of three tribes each when Klal Yisrael traveled through the midbar, and four groups of constellations.

While I have no idea what all that really means, one thing is crystal clear.  The cosmos is one expression of HaShem in this world and Klal Yisrael is another.  One big difference: HaShem runs the rest of the world through the constellations (mazal), but He runs mazal through and for us.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…