Parshas Pinchas
Numbers 25:10 - 30:1

Idealism In An Imperfect World ©

By Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

Gematria is a particular study of Jewish mysticism based on the numerical value of Hebrew letters in the Aleph Bais (Hebrew alphabet) as inscribed in the Torah. Jewish Gematria has many disciplines.

This study of mysticism in Hebrew Gematria is dedicated in the loving memory of Beau Gehrause, may he rest in peace.

Hashem identified Noach as Taw Meem, meaning perfect without blemish, living in a world that was about to be destroyed. Dovid Ha Melech identified the Torah as Ti Mee Maw, meaning perfect without blemish, having the power to transform lives, restore lives and make the simple wise. {Psalms 19:8}

In Parshas Chukas we learn of the parah adumah which defiles those who prepare it yet purifies those who are defiled. This is a long known paradox. {Numbers 19} However on the other hand how can one who is born of imperfect parents transcend such imperfections to be Taw Meem?

Idealistic Jews really believe that imperfection can breed perfection. This is why we have people who cling to the ideology that the world can be a better place even though for the most part it is not. What is so wrong in believing in the ideal of transformation? Many accept the possibility that criminals can be rehabilitated, that alcoholics or drug addicts can free themselves of addiction, that a severally abused child can actually stop the cycle of violence and be a profile parent, etc. So these are examples of people and situations coming from imperfection toward perfection which is what we see happening between Levi and his daughter Yocheved.

This is why the Torah teaches repentance, the concept that one who fails / one who sins can turn their life around through shuvah. In fact we go as far as identifying the process by which this remarkable transformation can be accomplished. We define shuvah as...

Acknowledging one’s failure / sin - facing one’s failing
Acknowledging a misdeed is a definite act of ownership! When we acknowledge that we have done wrong then we are entering the road to shuvah / repentance. THERE MUST BE AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT! How can one do shuvah if they have not come to grips with the fact that they have made a mistake? How can one determine not to repeat the same error if they have not clearly defined it as an error?

Turn away from this failing - don’t repeat it again
The next step of shuvah after clearly identifying our failing is for the offender to determine not to repeat the mistake...

Restitution for our failing is required
We must pay the fair price for our misdeed... The Torah requires fairness.

Now we are entering the area of idealism. Why can’t one just simply acknowledge their error privately and determine to change from that point on? Why is it necessary to exact restitution? Can’t a person change without doing the third step?

Holy reader, G-d exacts the price for our sins. One cannot damage another without paying restitution! This is the Torah concept of Meda Conegga Meda. This is the step of paying for our damages...

Now we know the story of Shimon and Levi who avenged the defiling and humiliation of their sister Deenah by killing every male in the city of Shechem. For this serious act they defended their actions saying to Yaakov their father, “Should he {Shechem} make our sister a harlot?” Genesis 34:31 We read that Yaakov was greatly troubled... And another most interesting point, we do NOT SEE Hashem applauding their actions as in the case of Pinchas where Hashem said, “Pinchas, the son of Elozor, the son of Aharon the Kohein, has turned my anger away from B’nei Yisroel by his vengeance for Me among them so that I did not destroy B’nei Yisroel in My vengeance. Therefore tell [him], that I give him My Covenant [of] peace. It shall be for him and his descendants after him a covenant of eternal Kehunah because he was zealous for his G-d and made atonement for B’nei Yisroel.” Numbers 25:11-13

Later the patriarch, Yaakov, identifies the actions of Shimon and Levi as ‘instruments of violence’ and in so doing according to Rashi he means “you usurped it {meaning this horrible craft of killing} from him {my brother Eisov’s}. Yaakov continues, “My soul will not enter their secret council, let my honor not be identified with {their} assembly.” Genesis 49:5,6 According to Rashi this is in reference to three particular events:

1) “My soul will not enter their secret...” “refers to the episode of Zimri. When the tribe of Shimon gathered to bring the Midianite woman before Moshe...”

2) “With {their} assembly...” refers to “[w]hen Korach, who is of Leivi’s tribe, will assemble the entire congregation against Moshe and Aharon.”

3) “Let my honor not be identified” {with these actions} “As it is said: Korach, son of Yitzhor, son of Kehos, son of Leivi.” “and does not mention ‘the son of Yaakov.’”

“For in their anger they killed a man, and through their willfulness they maimed an ox. Cursed be their anger for it is powerful, and their fury for it is cruel. I will disperse them throughout Yaakov and scatter them throughout [the land of] Yisroel.” Genesis 49:6,7

From this we can clearly see that Yaakov did not approve of many of Shimon and Levi’s actions. He cursed their anger!!

Yet, holy reader, in Levi we see a glimmer of hope. Levi came to Mitzriam when he was forty-three years old. He was four years older than Yoseif who was thirty-nine when Yaakov brought all his family to live in Mitzriam. When the brothers stood before their father, Yaakov, Levi was fifty and Yoseif was forty-six and Yocheved, daughter of Levi, was seventeen - the same age as Yoseif when he was sold by his brothers into slavery. The glimmer of hope for the tribe of Levi was a young adult when her grandfather Yaakov died.

Holy reader, the glimmer of hope was conceived as Kal Yisroel left the wonderful land of Canaan. That conception was a daughter born between the walls, Yocheved who married Amram, her nephew, who bore Aharon, Miriam and Moshe and who the Torah identifies as Yo Cheh Vehd Bahs Lay Vee, meaning Yocheved daughter of Levi. The Gematria for Yo Cheh Vehd Bahs Lay Vee and the Gematria for Taw Meem, meaning perfect without blemish, are both 490. So we see in Yocheved who came from imperfect seed,,, perfection!! The light of Yisroel, the hope of Levi!

From right to left:

Yo Cheh Vehd Bahs Lay Vee
Yo Cheh Vehd

42 = Dalet = 4 + Bais = 2 + Cuf = 20 + Vav = 6 + Yud =10

Bahs Lay Vee
448 = Yud = 10 + Vav = 6 + Lamid = 30 + Sav = 400 + Bais = 2

490 = 42 + 448

Taw Meem
490 = Mem = 40 + Yud = 10 + Mem = 40 + Sav = 400

Now, dear reader, THERE IS HOPE from the ashes of despair. A life can turn around. Children, grandchildren or even great grandchildren can be that new hope of Yisroel... Our world can be a wonderful place... it will be a wonderful place, all that we need are more daughters like Yocheved... a lady who lived the life of idealism that so many of us search after...

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk