Thursday, May 29, 2014

Bamidbar: Know Thyself

                                                          Parashas Bamidbar
                                                                The Name
                                                          Rabbi David Katz

Parashas Bamidbar is the home of perhaps the greatest entity that dwells within the confines of the Torah; this is none other than the great secret of "Shem Israel" – The Name of Israel. King David describes this concept in Psalm 83 as "The Name of Israel" – signifying one's close personal intimate relationship with the Creator and the Divine Providence and above nature elements that it entails. To put this simply, the Nation of Israel was created at Sinai through many generations of preparation stemming from the Ancients in order to receive and make Gerim who would be able to partake of and live by this Divine goodness; conversely the definition of evil is to attempt to character assassinate such endeavors and to ambush the Name of God in motion to the point of extinction. On a note of grace, this entire concept, one that encompasses the entire Holy Mission of Israel, can be predicated and superimposed onto one single entity – the name. The embodiment of the name [of anything or anyone] is the Divine gift that emanates first from The Creator, became enshrined with the archetype patriarch Shem son of Noah [for his name means "name"] and lives on through greater Israel [which includes all four houses, perforce then the Gerim, which has world-wide potential]. It is here in our Parasha with Moses and Aaron, where we become acquainted close-up with the intellect of exactly what goes into a name and its outcome of having one; this naturally applies to Jews and Gerim, keeping consistent with the concept of "The Name of Israel" and all that it represents.

In Chapter 1 verse 2 of Parashas Bamidbar Moses is told to take a census by means of patriarchal lineage, "number", and "name." To cut to the chase, the commentators have offered the following observations to this unique new quality that the Torah introduces: 1) a patriarchal link has been established by means of a proper [Jewish-style] name 2) the term of a greater Israel is used as opposed to a general command to Jews, thus implying Gerim 3) furthering the Ger inclusion is by inference, in that the meritless Erev Rav were not included 4) names were given with number, much like the stars above, as God calls out to them [Prophet Is. Ch. 41] – as the Vilna Gaon notes, this is gematria of a name 5) many Kabbalistic ramifications speaking of an innate spiritual truth to one's name 6) and the concept of names and Gerim [Noahides] relating to their meritorious rights of blessing through "Fruitful and Multiply."

The Torah is the source of tradition that names mater, and they matter a lot; this applies to Jews and Gerim, and this dates back to the Ancients, and the Torah's overt display of these spiritual gifts bestowed by the Creator.  One need not look to far to see this in action, as Adam famously named the animals of the Garden, along with himself and Eve, Enoch was invested in names of spiritual character and was deeply invested with the study and usage of Names of God, while Shem became encapsulated in the concept by means of his own name which in straightforward fashion means "name." Fast forward to our Parasha, and we see everybody in the desert was given a name and thus a spiritual tradition of which to delve into, one that ignites the passion of one's own personal mission and purpose that the name divinely possesses as a  direct pipeline to God's hand of providence. The Talmud investigates the practical demand of a Ger and his name.

The Tractate Yevamos 62a gives over the rationale of a Ger and his name, and this comes in relation to his opportunity to procreate as a mitzvah. It should be utterly clear that the normative Seven Laws of Noah do not take into account the commandment of procreation, thus there is death penalty for not procreating and such. However the Talmud does discuss the non-Jewish product of procreation as an effort to populate God's Creation. The Talmud and commentary conclude that Bnei Noah [of every type] have the gift of blessing with procreation, with its only limitation is that it is not a positive commandment to partake in its affairs, i.e. there is no death penalty for partaking in its fruit; and that should be seen not only as a good thing, but as a direct involvement in the highest intimate form with the Creator.

The explanation of sorts comes through a unique cooperation of procreation and names working in perfect spiritual harmony. As we all know, everyone has a name and history shows the prevalence of mankind's product qualities. Thus even without effort or intentions inclined towards the spiritual design of reality, life continues and legacies are born every day. The Talmud takes liberty to shed light on how to make this a spiritual and holy act such that one can actually lift up his soul, and the souls of those that come after him and to those who came before him. By simply stressing the virtues of names he institutes the spirituality of all souls involved into his existence, as his spiritual possessions are inherited and transferred through his name [in any language]. This is much like a circumcision ceremony for a Jewish child who receives his name at that time and a glorious celebration commences in honor of the child's covenant; namely and most specifically his name has become sanctified in the prescribed fashion. One can take from this that any exertion or emphasis placed in direct association with names, achieves the maximum merit and honor to God, the souls involved, and the world that receives his eternal impression; this would be a "glatt kosher" [absolute personification of the mitzvah] performance of being fruitful and multiply through mitzvah – to accompany the action with name indoctrination. This is the truest flavor of identifying with the Universal "Name of Israel" in identity and purpose, and as we have seen resonates on every level with Jews and Gerim alike.

Spirituality and Names [Jews and Gerim]

In our Parasha's commentaries, one can find a wealth of the vast knowledge of how powerful names are, as an individual burst in spiritual quality, and as having a profound effect upon a life and soul mission. Among the words or reflections of on topic wisdom include the following: 1) divine providential relationship with God as opposed to a lukewarm general effect 2) the name provides a tabernacle for the on-site dwelling of the Shechinah 3) divine knowledge and awareness of one's spiritual purpose and mission 4) gematria and patriarchal lineage to provide the spiritual DNA in observable fashion 5) and access to the rich tradition that is dedicated to the Torah of names. The sons of Noah were given the prophetic key to names, as we are told in the Onkelos commentary by way of his unique style of passing tradition, and particularly through topics of Gerim and/or the sons of Noah [literally]. Onkelos and kabbalah speak of the great potential of God-consciousness and Blessing to work with Hashem in Creation, in such efforts such as providing rest for the Name of God among us [i.e. the Temple and its concept and construction] through mastery of Names and the Torah that is involved with them. The tradition has it that any name investigation achieves the good intentions that are invested within any name, and allows the subject to naturally respond in alignment with the will of God. This is obviously true for any personal growth, Divine service, and of course for that was mentioned above in regards to spiritual legacy.

The beauty of names are that everybody has one, they are the prophetic gift that we inherit, and through the study and involvement of them brings upon oneself every type of spiritual gift that he can imagine and the highest expression of relationship with the Creator. A name is the impression upon our soul, such that God refers to us by name and number; our life-long investigation of our names [and by default soul by nature] yields the spiritual wisdom to master the Torah of our reality as we uniquely see it, as ordained by God. The term mazal is scripted to achieve this concept, for our name has within the mazal of our soul – the echoes of God calling out to us perpetually as we discover our name and purpose by means of living our God given lives. We have free will, yet names and mazal do not pose as cognitive dissonance, rather the two enhance each other and culminate in a life of liberty; one can have the knowledge and wisdom of choice that liberates his soul, releasing the very Torah reality that was taught to him in the womb of his creation.

In the end, we all have names, and as the Parasha makes very clear, this applies to Jews and Gerim alike. Similarly to the Noahide fruitful and multiply scenario, where one is not obligated to partake of its delights, yet the one who does finds infinite blessing in his life, so too with those who discover their divinely apportioned names. This is effectively latent within the light as "Name of Israel" and should that resonate in general terms, The Lord has already promised, "On that day He shall be One and His Name shall be One." It is then, that all Nations will know God and proclaim the unity of His Name; in fact then all names will be made known to Man…For that, the Name Israel has been established for us to enjoy its merit for today, in that we shall merit to witness its prophetic future, where the entire World will all call out with the Name of God, and realize their divine purpose, for that Place will know the Temple of The Lord, a place where His Name shall find rest.

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