Parashat Behar – In Faith we Count

PART I – The religion of counting

  To what can I compare the Jewish people? They are like a beggar who was given a great amount of money, and he counted the money, and counted it, and when finished, he counted it again… and although he didn’t use it yet, his Joy was so deep that he could only be thankful for this gift and count it and count it.

We commemorate the season from the Exodus to the arrival to Mount Sinai by counting the days. 50 days. 7 weeks. Shavuot. Pentecost.

The three-letter root of the verb ‘to count’ in Hebrew is a very special word: sefer, ספר .  Kabbalah teaches that God began his creation with three ‘Sefirot’ (cf. Yetzirah 1:1). The first time this word appears in Torah is in the verse: “This is the Sefer (ספר) of Adam’s generations” (Gn 5:1). It can be interpreted as “book” or as “account”. Similarly Abraham was told: “gaze at the sky and count (וספר) the stars” (Gn 15:5).

Remember when the Mayan Calendar reached its end and stopped counting? How people “believed” it was the end of the world? Well, it’s not coincidence, for certainly there’s something about counting that leads to faith, as it’s written after this: ‘And he had faith in HaShem, and He considered it for him as righteousness’ (Gn 15:6).

When you enter the Land… Six years sow your fields… and harvest your crops, but in the seventh year the land is to have a Shabbat for rest; a Shabbat to the Lord” (Lv 25:1-5).

In this week’s Parsha we are commanded once again to count. To count the years; each 7th year is a Sabbatical year, in which we let the field to rest. We are also commanded to count 7 years seven times (7×7 = 49) so that in the 50th year we declare Yovel (Jubilee), the day of restoration; the slaves are freed and the properties given back to their owners.

“When the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Menasseh went into exile, the Yovel was not observed, as it is said, ‘And you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof,—that is, (only) at the time when all its inhabitants dwell upon it, but not at the time when some of them are exiled” (cf. Arakhin 32b).

You may notice that both, the counting of the Omer and the counting of the Sabbatical years are equally made of 7’s and 50’s.

There’s also a command for the woman to count 7 days after her Niddah (separation because of menstruation) and then baptize (immerse in a mikvah) for ritual purification. The 7 is indeed a number of wholeness. The first counting of sevens in the Bible is when God created the world, and the 7th day was the day of Rest; Shabbat.

PART II – The Messiah and the Wicked

The six years of working the land, which are also the first 6 weeks of the Omer counting resemble the six millennia of humanity; the preparation for the world to Come by dressing and keeping this field, which is our Torah observance, and our self development.  The seventh year is the Messianic era: the time of redemption, the resurrection of the dead, the millennium of Rest – the time when the ‘Wicked Sama-el’ will have no power over the Land, as it’s written: “And I will cause the unclean spirit to pass out of the land” (Zech 13:2) (cf. Zohar I:114a).

Our sages taught:

“Just as the seventh year is one year of release in seven, so is the world: one thousand years out of seven shall be fallow, as it is written: And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day [for the Lord of hosts has a day] (Is 2:11),

and it is further said:

A Psalm and song for the Shabbat day (Psalm 92:1); meaning the day that is altogether Shabbat — and [that day represents a millennia, as] it is written: For a thousand years in your sight are but as a yesterday when it is past (Psal 90:4)” (cf. Sanh 97a).

In the [messianic] millennium I will uproot from them the Evil Inclination and give them a heart of flesh, as it says: And I will take away the heart of stone from out of your flesh [meaning Armilus and Samael], and I will give you a heart of flesh (Ez 26:26)” (cf. Shemot Rabbah 41:7).

The Gematria of: “It shall be for you a Jubelee” (Lv 25:10) is 570, which equals “Wicked” (Rasha) and also “Impulse of Evil” (Yetzer Ra); because, spiritually, it speaks not only of material freedom, but also of spiritual freedom.

יובל הוא תהיה לכם = 570

רשע = יצר רע = 570

It shall be a Jubilee for you”. If we add the number of words to the phrase’s final value (in Hebrew it’s 4 words), the value becomes: 574. This is the same value with the phrase: “The Messiah ben Yosef” when we add also the number of words to its final value (in this case, haMashiakh ben Yosef = 571 + 3 words). Because he’s the one that fights and defeats the “Impulse of Evil”.

יובל הוא תהיה לכם + 4 = 574

המשיח בן יוסף + 3 = 574

What about the number 50? Number 50 is the numerical value of the Hebrew letter Nun. The Nun stands for two seemingly contradictory words: Deceit and Resprout/perpetual rulership.

  • Ona’ah—deceit (Zohar 3:180b). The deceit here is that the world seems to be controlled by the laws of nature alone, because God is, and always has been Invisible. This is the aspect of Amalek (who appeared to Israel before the giving of the Torah, to make them doubt of God’s existence).
  • Yanun – Resprout (or to be perpetual); this is Yinon (he will rule), one of Messiah’s names, who brings the world to a higher level of perception; For before the Sun exists, it’s God’s light that enlightens creation, and Yinon will allow everyone to see Divinity in every aspect of creation – thus defeating Amalek. For it’s written: “His name will endure forever, before the sun Yinon is his name, and all the gentiles will be blessed in him” (Psal 72:12).

So the number 50 represents the final gate of correction, the level of Messiah. In the counting of the Omer we count 49 days (Lv 23:15; Dt 16:9) and the 50th day in Israel is Shavuot, ie. Pentecost, the feast of the first fruits; also related to the day of the “Giving of the Torah”.  It’s a time of unity, in which all Jews must be gathered together as one man, and in which we recall the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. It’s the culmination of a period of 49 days of self-purification. It’s the time of marriage between the bride and the groom, with a marriage contract in between.  Thus this week’s parsha is called ‘beHar’ (which means: On the Mount; cf. Lv 25:1).

The letter Nun (which equals the number 50) in Aramaic means: ‘fish’, and just as the Fish’s natural environment is the water of the sea, Messiah’s natural environment is to reveal Godliness, as it’s written:

“The Earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of HaShem, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab 2:14).

Just as Amalek appeared before the giving of the Torah, the season preceding the day of Redemption is obscure and doubtful too. It’s in this difficult time that we have to keep counting, just as Abraham did, and be aware that our Redemption is near.

-Xus Casal-

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