Parshas Ha'azinu

Deuteronomy 32:1-52


By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of mysticism in Hebrew Gematria is dedicated in the loving memory of Mrs. Ethel Sakash Belk, may she rest in peace.

The morning paper recently carried the following story by Denver Post Sports columnist Mark Chisel which began with the following quote of NBA Nuggets General Manager, Dan Issel from March 25, 1998:

"If I can't get this thing turned around in three years, then somebody else needs to do it."

Khisel went on to say, "It was far easier for Dan Issel to smile two unsuccessful NBA seasons and 92 Nuggets losses ago. Now, it's crunch time, and Issel has no choice but to deliver his own strong words, uttered the first day he took command of this franchise.... Entering his crucial third year with a longtime hoops laughingstock, Issel's status as coach and general manager is under scrutiny from new team owner Stan Kroenke.

The column concluded by stating, "...Issel can only blame the general manager in the mirror for a team unable to make any significant personnel upgrades after finishing with a 35-47 record last season."

Story of Watching Basketball As A Youth
Dear reader, this story takes me back many, many years to when Dan Issel was the center for the old ABA Rockets playing in the old Denver Coliseum. As youngsters, my brothers and some of the boys from our neighborhood and I would catch a bus on Route 13 headed downtown to watch the Rockets play. The fare back in those days was a dime. I don't remember how much it cost to watch a Rockets game then. I remember none of us could afford the price. When we arrived at the old Coliseum we would stand around in front of the entrance watching the ushers. We were looking for a dishonest usher who we could palm a buck to for game admission. That is how poor kids from our neighborhood attended basketball games back then.

Decades ago I stopped palming bucks to the ushers because it is wrong! Yet I have remained a loyal fan of the Rockets / Nuggets and of Dan Issel through the years.

This story about Dan Issel is significant because it portrays what the writer of the Denver Post column considers ownership. His concluding remarks were that Issel can only blame the general manager {HIMSELF} in front of the mirror... This is what our discussion is about. Our discussion is about ownership. We read in the parsha: "The Rock! - Perfect is His work, for all His ways are just; A G-d of faith without iniquity, Righteous and fair is He. Corruption is not His - the blemish is His children's a perverse and twisted generation." Deuteronomy 32:4,5

This is the Torah's way of saying, 'Look at the person standing in front of the mirror.' It is so convenient to blame others when the responsibility for the mistake is the person standing in front of the mirror. Countless times I have heard comments like, 'How could a G-d of love allow suffering in the world? How could G-d permit war, murder, death and other such tragedies? These questions are so common to human nature. They want Hashem to take the blame for human consequences. They want Hashem to shoulder responsibility for human error. They conveniently fail to acknowledge that human beings make choices that are wrong. I often wonder if everything in the world went right would G-d get the credit for that too? I think not!

Holy reader, how is it that we as human beings are so eager to neglect our responsibility and our ownership for our poor choices ... for our mistakes? Why is it that we blame the Creator when the fault is ours? The fact is there are consequences for our mistakes. Many of us choose to weasel out of our responsibility for making those choices. This is called "GOOD TIME OWNERSHIP." When something goes wrong we want to place the responsibility on someone else's shoulders. Some us will stand in front of the mirror and acknowledge our ownership. Others will pass the blame along to someone or something else ...

I hope the Nuggets do well this year but I truly believe Dan will stand in front of the mirror and accept ownership for his choices. His past record supports his proactive position!

Recently some 8th grade students visited our historic Park in Georgetown. One of the boys placed a roll of tissue paper in the commode along with other immature and irresponsible acts. Undoubtedly this student was playing what he thought to be a harmless joke on his friends. This resulted in all of the commodes in the men's room being out of order. Now this poor and tasteless joke was not funny to the custodial staff, nor to the plumber and all the people imposed upon as a result.

The staff, teachers, and parents were confronted about this problem. Can you imagine what their first comment was? How can you be so sure that it was one of our students that did this? Originally they attempted to shuck their responsibility until it was clear that one of their students was responsible. Their response was, 'I can't believe one of our students would do such a thing. Maybe it was one of the seniors {men in their 70's} from the bus tour.'

Eventually the students were confronted. Again, no one was willing to step forward and take ownership for this incident. Students began blaming each other for this problem. Why??

It is because most human beings are reactive. We are reactive to popularity, how others feel and react toward us. We are reactive to our physical environment, hot, cold, wind, rain and snow. We are reactive to our spiritual experience, a powerful message, a miracle or a supernatural experience. In other words we subconsciously place good sound judgment under the hazardous auto control of popularity, physical environment and spiritual experience.

First we do this in opposition to conscience. Because it is more important to be popular, we submerge and drown our conscience. If popularity requires stealing then we steal. If popularity requires lying then we lie. If popularity requires cover-up then we cover-up. If popularity requires looking the other way then we look the other way. To us it is more important to be popular... to be accepted than it is to follow what G-d gave us as a guide, OUR CONSCIENCE!

Seeking popularity is like a bright flashing neon sign of 'INSECURITY"!

In this instance our conscience is representative of our good inclination and popularity is representative of our bad inclination. So when we blame G-d for all the problems in our world we fail to acknowledge the fact that our conscience is submersed because we are insecure and cling to popularity instead of what is righteous, our conscience.

Second we do this in opposition to well thought out choice. The benefit / advantage of freedom is choice. We have the choice to submerge our conscience or to follow the dictates of our conscience. When we submerge our conscience we are placing our feelings on the hazards of auto control. Then our feelings are subject to the dictates of our physical environment instead of a well thought out choice. In other words we automatically feel bad because the weather is too hot or too cold or not just right as opposed to a conscious choice.

Third we do this in opposition to G-d's commandments. Hashem gave us the Torah as a spiritual road map to avert emotional highs and lows. Following the Torah in careful observance establishes consistency. It places boundaries upon tilted emotional messages. It prevents giving serious credence to miracles. It teaches us to view supernatural experiences in view of the Torah.

The point to this is people who are reactionists fail to take ownership for their misdeeds. Unfortunately on Yom Kippur they will attend the services and participate because it's the popular thing to do. Others will speak well of them because they are there. Approval is more important to them than the Torah's intention of Yom Kippur. Then there is the group of physical environmentalists, Yom Kippur could be very difficult for them if their physical environment is sub par. Finally there are those that will rate Yom Kippur on an emotional Richter scale.

While it is important to participate in Yom Kippur, it is so much more important to do it for the correct reasons. Yom Kippur is our last opportunity to accept ownership of our misdeeds and to repent before the gates of repentance close! Each of us must look at the person in the mirror and take ownership and responsibility and accept consequences for our misdeeds. Hashem will hold us accountable regardless of our reactionism!!

The reactionists blame Hashem for their problems... for the world they live in... for the difficulty of their environment... for their lack of popularity. They are affected by mood swings. They allow themselves to be affected instead of making clear, distinct choices. This is why the Gematria for Baw Nawv - Moo Mawm, meaning "It is His children's defect {fault}" is the same Gematria as Tzaw Dahk, {Tzedek} meaning " To Be Right, Correct, Just, Righteous and Innocent" which is exactly what G-d is! Both share the Gematrial of 194. One is Perfect without any fault. The other is without any desire to accept ownership of their fault.

From right to left:
Baw Nawv - Moo Mawm
194 =Mem= 40+ Mem= 40+ Vav= 6+ Mem= 40+ Vav= 6+ Yud= 10+ Nun= 50+ Bais= 2

Tzaw Dahk {Tzedek}
194 = Kuf = 100 + Dalet = 4 + Tzaddi = 90

I wish you the best of everything this year including physical health, mental health, stability, Torah study with great learning advancements, financial prosperity and may you be inscribed and sealed in the book of Life.!!

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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