Friday, May 10, 2013

The Name The Ger

Parashas Bamidbar
Of Levites and Rechabites: Tales of The Distinguished
Rabbi David Katz

Parashas Bamidbar [3:21] introduces a new element in the Torah, this being that of the distinguished and elite families of the Children of Israel, i.e., those that were primarily found amongst the Levites. The Midrash explains and expounds on this principle concerning [of the Levites] the Livni-ites (amongst others listed) [with emphasis on “-ites” as a term of endearment to these elect families amongst Israel] as such: “Why are they called Livni-ites? …That going back to liberation from Egypt these families merited that Hashem should call each and every one of them [a name] based on their achievements and merit in their revealed deeds. Thus the Livni-ites were a reminder of the merit contained throughout Israel in response to Pharaoh having used brick and mortar to enslave them. …and the Shimi-ites were named after those that cried out from bondage…”

One can clearly see, Hashem rewards the deeds of the Righteous with terms of endearment [Jews and Gerim, i.e. Gerim are known to have as much of an affiliation with names as Jews; Names (on a level of High Intellect) are derived from Gerim such as Adam, Noah, Shem, and Ever…culminating with perhaps the most famous of sorts – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – all having special Names that match their merits.

In great merit are these families remembered by their names, and this beckons one to recall the famous families of Gerim [such as the famous Rechabites] who were also named and recalled by God in the exact same light. In a Parsha that begins with Moses giving [or revealing] each soul his “name and number” [the name meaning and gematria acc. To commentary, as the Vilna Gaon’s system in Kol Hator would call this “mysa v’ cheshbon” – deed and number] the depth of the Parsha shines forth through hinting at the meaning that names bestow upon a person, to the point that the commentaries state on these matters [i.e. Chronicles 1.2.55 when explaining the meaning of the Rechabites] – to attempt to exhaust such matters would render the efforts infinite.

Now that a precedent has been established of names, elite, prominent, etc., we can now illuminate perhaps the biggest mystery that exists in the entire Torah – the nature of “strange names” that are littered throughout the entire text. By the time we reach Chronicles, it should become quite apparent that there were a lot of names through the Tanach that seem important, yet no adequate reason is offered in a straight forward fashion that could easily explain this phenomenon, to the extent that the entire Book of Chronicles itself seems to be an isolated island predicated on this element of enigmatic idioms offered as “names” alone!
Once the interested reader comes to learn that the Livni-ites according to the Midrash actually is not a benign blip on the radar, and is a term/name that is actually invested with heavy meaning [warning: the entire Torah is as such! – proceed with caution is advised], then the proverbial dots can begin to become connected, and a map of sorts can be printed as documentation as to the true nature of Gerim [who are the prime subject of this science, again proving the severity of names and Gerim in history and Torah], which in brail-like fashion, will lead us into the camp of the Rechabites; elect ancient Gerim, of whom the account of the essential Ger is embedded in their very being, encapsulated by none other, than their names.

The Rechabites are a treasure-trail of a mystery that will literally captivate you to travail throughout the Torah from the days of Jethro [which are only fully understood through a Ger perspective of Bereishit, i.e. from Creation to Noah and Shem and onwards to the Avot and into Joseph and Egpyt, composing the entire first book of the Torah as an introduction to Moses, Jethro, and the appropriate commandments to each (much like Rashi’s commentary to the opening of Genesis as to why the Torah began a “law book” with an account of history)], into the Land of Israel with Joshua and his legion of Kenites [those from Jethro] who would exist in name, throughout the entire Tanach incognito if you will, until the Book of Chronicles, which there, in faint detail, the Torah tersely documents this lineage, that ultimately became the Rechabites, a family of nobility, of Gerim. The interested reader would literally have had to master the Tanach cover to cover, to gain a glimpse of the repetitious pattern that guards the path of the righteous gentile in Torah history.
Once settled in Chronicles 1.2.55, one will gain insight into these Rechabites, that echo the type of message delivered back home in Bamidbar 3:21, concerning the Levites, who again, were praised by their account and preserved merit in the Exodus, which is guarded by their lofty names. The Rechabites are said to be the righteous descendants of “Chamat – father of Rechav.”

The basic story of the Rechabites is told in text and commentary as follows: “The Kenites [descendants of Jethro the Ger, i.e. not a convert] came to dwell with the famous scribes [who were also a sect of Gerim, as Gerim were largely recognized as superior scribes in the first Temple time period] known as Yabetz. The famous Rechabites to dwell there were three-fold and recognized by the merit of their names – Teratites (gave “sound” to their prayers), Shimatites (their prayers were “heard”), and Sokatites (their merits “protect” Israel). One of the Kenites was Rechav [offspring from Chamat, and those of whom the entire lineage would be named after], and he was the forefather to Yonadov, who upon hearing of the Temple’s imminent destruction took upon himself three degrees of practice of sanctity: not to drink wine, not to dwell in houses, and to not sow seed. These righteous deeds that aided in Israel’s survival, merit, and protection, deemed these Gerim as eternal Rechabites, a term of endearment from the heart of God, as it says, “God loves the Ger like none other.

[*note: this Midrash about God’s love of the Ger is in reference to ANYONE who is a Ger, whether it be a Ger Toshav who eats neveilah (unkosher meat) or King David himself – God’s Love for him is like none other, for this you are commanded to Love the Ger as well.]
Thus the Rechabite is just one example of how the name explains one’s entire being, history, merit, place in the World, etc. In clearer terms – it is his Mazal, i.e. the bound up Wisdom, like a spiritual map/DNA of what this person possesses in the very depths of his soul, such that it defines his relationship with Hashem. The Levites of Bamidbar were the first to reveal this ancient wisdom to us in the post-Egypt World, yet it is an art that goes back to Genesis and the days of the Avot, Shem, and developed by Noah himself, a man whose name is his essence! The Zohar calls itself after Noah and his Ark, which is explained the word in Hebrew for Ark [Teivah] also means “word” which is a way of saying “the word Noah,” i.e. his Name.

It is upon this point that Shem ben Noah [Shem whose name means “name”] represents the level of reincarnation to Noah [even though they were alive at the same time], or the portion of his soul that was simply the name of Noah. This would embody its wisdom, properties to redeem [as Noah was said to have redeemed merely by the powers invested within his prophetic name, of which the Torah makes a revealed point of expression upon the birth of Noah and its implications; the Torah example of depth revealed within names], which ultimately is a person’s [Jewish, Torah-defined and intertwined] Mazal.

The Levites and the Rechabites are two examples cut from the same cloth that can express the deepest secrets of Torah, those that are embedded in a name as a source of merit. [Every soul born comes to this world with merit and per force Mazal. For this each soul possesses a divine prophetic name that gives account of the entire Torah from the vantage of point of his potential righteousness that becomes his mission to reveal to the World.] For this the commentaries state that it is beyond the scope of text to document infinite wisdom of names, thus making it known that this is indeed the nature of our reality in a Mazal, God driven World.

Moses, as the essential prophet, who was given the gift from above to bestow the infinite in a finite fashion, relays for us this lofty concept [of Levites, Rechabites, etc. – High Intellect in names] in one simple verse in the Torah: Moses counted by the number of their names. And thus God’s army was fashioned, armed with their essence [within the name] along with merit and Mazal, that each member may be able to hold his head high. No one else in History revealed this more, than those of the Redemption of Egypt [which the Arizal says is mystically retold each Seder night by every Jew, retelling his Mazal, or family merit that he was redeemed by], i.e. the Levites, and especially the Rechabites, the Gerim, those who have guarded the Torah’s lost secrets as a safekeeping until the End of Days, the time when Israel will see the great merit and Mazal bestowed to them, by God himself, for such bravery as Chamat, the father of Rechav, and his offspring who sacrificed themselves for the sanctity of God’s Temple, may it be built soon and in our days. Amen.

Don't Forget NEW Summer Hours CLASS TIME: 11 P.M. Motzie Shabbos - Parsha Shavua [from 10 P.M.]

and Wed 11 P.M. Torah of Ger Series - To resume after the Holiday


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