Gematria Shorts for Ki Teitzei 5782

The first words of parashat Ki Teitzei are, “When you go out to war upon your enemies” (כִּי תֵצֵא לַמִּלְחָמָה עַל אֹיְבֶיךָ), whose value is 1430, which is also the value of “All” (הַכֹּל) times “Havayah” (הוי-ה), alluding to the sense of unifying with God’s oneness captured in Chasidic literature with the phrase, “All is Havayah, and Havayah is all” (הַכֹּל הוּא הוי-ה, הוי-ה הוּא הַכֹּל). We need to approach our war with our enemies—with the evil inclination within and without—with the consciousness that they too are serving God’s will and are earnestly praying that we be successful and win against them.

 

Parashat Ki Teitzei begins with the mitzvah of the beautiful woman captured in battle (eshet yefat to’ar). Its first few words are, “When you go out to war upon [over] your enemies.” The phrase, “upon [over] your enemies” (עַל אֹיְבֶיךָ) parallels the phrase in Psalms (27:6), “over my enemies” (עַל אֹיְבַי), which we recite daily from Rosh Chodesh Elul to Hoshanah Rabbah—a Psalms that explicitly speaks of the battle we wage, and are victorious in, against our evil inclination during this time of year. The value of the latter (עַל אֹיְבַי) is 123, the value of “war” (מִלְחָמָה). We can be victorious in our war against the evil inclination when we feel that we are “above,” all our enemies.

 

The value of “war” (מִלְחָמָה) is 123, which is also the value of “pleasure” (עֹנֶג) and “blemish” (נֶגַע), following the idiom (Sefer Yetzirah 2:4), “there is no good higher than pleasure and no evil lower than a blemish” (אֵין בְּטוֹבָה לְמַעְלָה מֵעֹנֶג וְאֵין בָּרָעָה לְמַטָּה מִנֶּגַע). This alludes to the idea that if the warrior is able to feel superior and in control of his evil inclination, even an eshet yefat to’ar can be a source of pleasure, but if he is burdened by feelings of inferiority, the hoped-for pleasure will become a source of a blemish for him.

 

The heart of Psalm 27 that we recite every day this time of year is, “In Your behalf, my heart says, ‘Seek my countenance’; it is Your countenance Havayah, that I seek.” (לְךָ אָמַר לִבִּי בַּקְּשׁוּ פָנָי אֶת פָּנֶיךָ י-הוה אֲבַקֵּשׁ). This verse has 29 letters. Its first, middle, and final letters spell layish (לַיִשׁ), one of the seven synonyms for lion in Hebrew. It is also a notarikon for “Not-Is” (לֹא יֵשׁ), the headspace we need to exercise throughout the Days of Awe. The lion is a symbol of awe, as the prophet says (Amos 3:8), “A lion has roared, who does not feel awe” (אַרְיֵה שָׁאָג מִי לֹא יִירָא). The initials of “lion” (אַרְיֵה) stand for the Days of Awe, “Elul, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Hoshanah Rabbah” (אֱלוּל רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה יוֹם כִּפּוּר הוֹשַׁעְנָא רַבָּה)

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