Knowledge is Connecting

By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)

 


In this study I would like to develop an understanding of, daat, that is knowledge, in the Torah sense. daat leads to bina, understanding, which leads to chakmah, wisdom.

 

The first time we see knowledge is in:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 2:9 And out of the ground made HaShem God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good (beneficial) and evil.

 

This fruit, when eaten, connected Adam with tov, beneficial, and ra - evil. In the same way, the Torah talks about sexual intercourse as knowledge:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 4:1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from HaShem.

 

When Adam knew his wife, he knew her intimately. So intimately that Eve bore Adam sons named Cain and Abel. This gives us our first clue as to what knowledge is. Knowledge is connection. When Adam knew Eve, they connected sexually and bore the fruit of the womb, Cain and Abel.

 

In the same way, when we have knowledge of any subject, we connect with that knowledge. To connect with a matter is to change theoretical information into a connection that pierces to our neshama, our soul.

 

The human body gives testimony to the fact that knowledge equals connection. The Sages understood that every organ in the center of our body is used for connection, for knowledge. For example, the backbone, in the center of our body, connects our lower body’s motor functions to our brain, in our higher body. In the same way, our mouth, which is in the center of our body, is used for connecting, for knowledge. The Sages say that when one organ is used for multiple functions, then those functions are all related. The mouth is used for talking, eating, and kissing.

 

How are these related?

 

Talking

 

Talking is when our soul communicates with another soul. Talking is the only way that our soul can communicate with the world.

 

Eating

 

If we fail to eat for a few days, we begin to feel faint because our soul is beginning to separate from our body. If we continue our fast, we will die. The soul will completely separate from our body. So, eating connects our soul to our body.

 

In the same way, the korbanot, the sacrifices, are said to be HaShem’s food in that they connect man with HaShem.[1]

 

Kissing

 

Kissing is where two souls join in intimacy.[2]

 

In the same way, all of the organs in the center of our bodies are used for daat, for connecting. It is also noteworthy that whenever we achieve daat, connection, we always bear fruit. We saw that Adam and Eve bore fruit from their connection.

 

We can see, for example, that a belly button, in the center of the body, connects a baby with its mother. This connection yields a baby who grows.

 

This is what daat, knowledge, is. Daat is connection.

 

In Mishlei (Proverbs) 1:4, we see daat:

 

Mishlei (Proverbs) 1:1-4 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.

 

The mashal of King Shlomo, will bring daat, knowledge or connection, to a young man. The connection is not only to HaShem, but to His people, Israel. This connection is essential to the administration of justice.

 

We must connect rather than collect facts. We must connect, we must have an intimate relationship with HaShem and with our people if we are to be wise and just.

 

The following rabbinic interpretation from a Midrash[3] on the verse from Shemot (Exodus) 31:18 simultaneously defines and performs what the Oral Torah is about, using a daring parable:[4]

 

Another explanation of, "And he gave to Moses, when he finished talking with him upon Mount Sinai, two tablets of Testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God"[5] … It is written "For God gives wisdom \chakhma\. Out of His mouth comes knowledge [da'at] and discernment [tevunah]".[6]

 

Wisdom is great, but greater still is knowledge and discernment.  So God gives wisdom. But to him whom He loves, "out of His own mouth" comes knowledge and discernment. ...

 

R. Yitzhak and R. Levi discussed this verse. One said: "It can be compared to a rich man who had a son. The son came home from school and found a platter of food in front of his father. His father took a piece and gave it to him ... but the son said: 'I only want the piece which is in your mouth.' Ihe father gave it to him from his own mouth, because he was so beloved.

 

... Another explanation of "For God gives wisdom": You find that when Israel stood ready to receive the Torah on Mount Sinai, they wanted to hear the Ten Commandments from God's own mouth. R. Pinhas ben Hama, the priest, said: "Two things did Israel ask of God— to see His likeness and to hear from His own mouth the Decalogue, as it says, 'Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth'."[7]

 

Eating and kissing—giving from the "mouth"—also signify deep love and intimacy, and a teaching that is not external, not just spoken with the lips or read on a page, but coming from even further "inside the mouth," "spirit to spirit," "breath to breath," inner soul to inner soul. R. Hayyim of Volozhin interprets this midrashic parable in kabbalistic terms, relating it to the larger metaphysical question of how God connects to the world. Is the world found "inside" God? In other words, is God the world's "place," (niakom)—and the world "swallowed inside God" and connected to His essence? Or is the world "outside" God, and wc grasp only the point at which God contracts Himself to connect to the world? The son in the parable wants a Torah connected to the "root" of things, not an external one— he wants an inner relation to God. This, in part, is the difference between speech, which externalizes thought and comes from the lips—an external part of the face—as opposed to what comes from a deeper level "inside the mouth," the "kiss" of mouth to mouth, breath to breath." So in Oral Torah, teacher and student are also lovers of the Torah, as intimate with it as are husband and wife—and through Torah, lovers of each other and God. Their task, like that of husband and wife, is to "create generations," to give birth, to generate more Torah, more love, and the redemption of the world that flows from its study and practice. Some kabbalistic and Hasidic sources even discuss the intimate relation of student and teacher in terms of "soul impregnation" (ibbur).

 

* * *

 

The Sages equated the written Torah to the discipline of the Father, and the Oral Torah to the law of your Mother:

 

Mishlei (Proverbs) 1:8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

 

If this is so, which it is, where does Mashiach come in? Mashiach represents oral and written Torah. Mashiach is The Word of HaShem. What do we call this harmonious combination? Torah calls it YOUR CHAKMAH, “YOUR WISDOM”:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4:6 Keep therefore and do [them]; for this [is] your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation [is] a wise and understanding people.

 

So, Mashiach, the embodiment of the Word of HaShem, the written and the oral Torah, IS our chakmah, our wisdom.

 

So, when we lack chakmah, wisdom, it is because we do not seem to be able to apply the Torah to our circumstances. This should be apparent from the above Torah verse. This daat, knowledge, as a relationship with HaShem and His Mashiach is spoken about in:

 

Yochanan (John) 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Yeshua Mashiach, whom thou hast sent.

 

We can see, therefore, that daat, knowledge, is not as the Greeks say. It is not just knowing facts, it is as the Hebrew mind understands. It is an intimate connection.

 

A person that prays has entered Gan Eden since HaShem created humanity as praying beings. Praying is how we achieve daat, knowledge or connection with HaShem. Praying is an action that allows us to establish intimacy, to establish daat, with the Creator of the Universe. Prayer is the means to marital intimacy with HaShem!

 

From daat, knowledge, we gain understanding. Understanding is given proportionate to Torah daat, Torah knowledge. Midda kneged midda, measure for measure. In this way understanding is synonymous to discernment. Now the word discernment, in Greek, is diakrino from which root you get such words, in English, as criticism, a pulling apart and differentiating and distinguishing between what is Tov, beneficial, and what is Ra, going nowhere.

 

Now please note, not all that is good is Tov, beneficial, and not all that is Tov, beneficial, is good. For example, an amputation of a leg may be beneficial but not good. So Tov does not mean good but beneficial. As the song says:

 

Henay ma tov umanayim shevet achim gam yachad.

Behold how TOV it is for brethren to dwell together.

 

Not good but beneficial, despite the fights and squabbles. So in order to be tov, there must be of necessity some evil. For as our Hakhamim say in the Talmud: If it would not be for the Yetzer Ha-Ra, the evil inclination, man would not build a home, and be industrious, and make new discoveries, etc. etc. Women would not spend millions of dollars on beauty products and thousands of people would be out of a job. So, a certain measure of evil is indispensable and necessary and even tov! And making the ra serve the tov and not the other way around.

 

So now we have dealt with daat = Knowledge. Then we found out what was Binah = Understanding, and now we need to get Chochmah, wisdom. How do we get there after having had attained to Binah, understanding? We must apply the daat and the Bina. This is what Hakham Shaul, Paul, meant when he said:

 

Romans 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

 

This is what Hakham Shaul meant when he said:

 

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the “renewing of your mind”, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

 

Renewing the mind comes to daat = knowledge.

 

So this is a step by step thing and measure by measure. Wisdom, commensurate to understanding, commensurate to knowledge of Torah.

 

This process was illustrated in our lesson with the forty days that Moshe spent on the mountain, the forty days Mashiach spent in the wilderness, and the forty days that King Shlomo spent praying for Chakmah, wisdom.

 

Forty is a Midrashic term which indicates a change of state. For example, after forty weeks in the womb, a baby is born. His state changes from one of comfort and inaction, to one of new birth, action, and discomfort.

 

Moshe, Shlomo, and Mashiach all fasted for forty days while gaining daat - Knowledge and Bina – Understanding.

 

At forty years of age, a Kohen finishes his apprenticeship and becomes a professional, so to speak.

 

So, what happens after Mashiach finishes the forty days? What happened after Moshe finished the forty days on Sinai? They starting acting as Rabbanim - Hachamim. They become professional.

 

In Vayikra – Leviticus

 

The midrash on Song of Songs makes much of the fact that Vayikra (Leviticus) is the central book of the Torah. It is “centered” in the Torah.

 

The ו “vav”[8] in the word “gachon”, belly, must be raised because it is the middle letter of the Torah. It is one of the eleven majuscules[9] in the Torah.

 

מב  כּל הוֹלֵךְ עַל-גָּחון וְכל הוֹלֵךְ עַל-אַרְבַּע, עַד כָּל-מַרְבֵּה רַגְלַיִם, לְכָל-הַשֶּׁרֶץ, הַשֹּׁרֵץעַל-הָאָרֶץ--לֹא תֹאכְלוּם, כִּי-שֶׁקֶץ הֵם.

 

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 11:42 Whatsoever goeth upon the belly, and whatsoever goeth upon [all] four, or whatsoever hath more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth, them ye shall not eat; for they [are] an abomination.

 

Note that the subject of this pasuk is to “not eat”. As we spoke earlier, eating is a form of connecting.

 

Rashi tells us a bit about this word “gachon”:

 

that goes on its belly: This is the snake (Torat Kohanim[10] 11:163). The word גָּחוֹן denotes “bending low” [and it is used to describe the snake] because it moves while bent, a prostrated posture, prostrated on its belly.

 

Rashi says that the reptile referred to is the nachash, the type of creature which enticed Adam and Chava to eat from the forbidden fruit. In Medrashic literature this creature is often equated with the evil inclination, which is also the Satan and the Angel of Death.

 

Why is this creature given the distinction of being placed in the exact center of the Torah?

 

The following thoughts came to mind.

 

First, there have been (non-Jewish) beliefs which viewed evil as being something outside HaShem’s direct sphere of influence or management. Judaism, on the other hand, views evil as being one of the many tools that HaShem uses to manage His world. Evil is the servant of HaShem and this is reflected by positioning this servant in the exact center of the Torah.

 

Second, Chazal[11] teach that a person can not escape evil by merely avoiding physicality. We must deal with evil, not run away from it.

 

HaShem gave us a powerful weapon against the powers of evil. This weapon is also a shield and an antidote. It is the Torah, itself.

 

Sukkah 52b The school of R. Ishmael taught, If this repulsive wretch[12] meets thee, drag him to the Beth Hamidrash. If he is of stone, he will dissolve, if of iron he will shiver into fragments. ‘If he is of stone he will dissolve’,for it is written, Ho, every one that thirsteth come ye to the water[13] and it is written, The waters wear the stones.[14] ‘If he is of iron, he will shiver into fragments’, for it is written, Is not my word like as fire? Saith the Lord, and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?[15]

 

Perhaps this advice for mankind is reflected here, where we find the nachash completely surrounded by the Torah.

 

Halfway

 

Now Vayikra 11:42 is the halfway point of the letters in the entire Torah. Interestingly, the vav[16] is enlarged in Torah scrolls due to its significance.

 

If you look into the Sefer Torah, the actual scroll of the Torah written by a scribe, you will see that this middle vav stands out from all the other letters and words because it is written larger than the other letters. Its elongated form is not due to a scribal embellishment. Rather, the Torah scroll must have this elongated vav in order for it to be halachically kosher to read in the synagogue. It is an intrinsic component in the Torah’s cosmic blueprint. 

 

Now, from this supernal daat emanates the entirety of the Torah. 

 

Connecting

 

The sixth letter of the alef-beit is the vav. The vav is shaped like a hook (ו). A hook is something that holds two things together. This property of the letter vav, in its Hebrew usage, is referred to as the vav of connection. It is normally translated as “and” which is used to hook words together. The form of the vav can also represent a chute which connects a higher level to a lower level.

 

The first vav in the Torah occurs in Bereshit (Genesis) 1:1:

 

 

The placement of the vav suggests two of its essential connective powers:

 

1. By joining heaven and earth (הארץ ואת השמים) it implies the connection between spiritual and earthly matters.

 

2. Since it occurs as the 22nd letter in the Torah attached to the sixth word, (et - את), it alludes to the creative connection between all of the letters. Vav is therefore the connecting force of G-d, the divine “hook” that binds together heaven and earth.

 

Vav is also how we write the number six. Six represents con­nection, exemplified by the angels in Yeshayahu’s vision, whose six wings enabled them to soar to unite and connect with HaShem:

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 6:1-3 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2  Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3  And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is HaShem of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

 

Six also represents the six orders of the Mishna. Through learning Torah, one connects with HaShem.

 

Back to the middle

 

Commenting on a verse in Shir ha-Shirim celebrating the beloved’s belly as being like “a heap of wheat,” the midrash notes that the belly is in the center of the body, “just as Torat kohanim is in the middle, with two books before it and two after it”

 

Midrash Rabbah - The Song of Songs VII:7 THY BELLY IS LIKE A HEAP OF WHEAT.This refers to the book of Leviticus. Just as the belly is in the middle between the heart above and the legs below, so the book of Leviticus has two books before it and two after it.

 

According to our midrash, the belly, of Vayikra 11:42, also speaks of the connection or midpoint of the “belly”. Thus we see that our pasuk is really focused on connecting.

 

And indeed, from an halakhic perspective, this book is the central and richest one in the entire Torah. Through the mitzvot, one might say, we hear HaShem’s voice calling to us. So, that vav is the belly button of the Torah, literally!

 

If we want to connect to the Torah, then we need to connect with Vayikra (Leviticus) 11:42. In this verse we can connect with Mashiach and with HaShem. This is the place of connection.

 

The Talmud goes on to tell us about several “middles”:

 

Kiddushin 30a The early [scholars] were called soferim because they used to count all the letters of the Torah. Thus, they said, the waw in gahon[17] marks half the letters of the Torah; darosh darash,[18] half the words; we-hithggalah,[19] half the verses. The boar out of the wood [mi-ya’ar] doth ravage it:[20] the ‘ayin of ya’ar marks half of the Psalms.[21] But he, being full of compassion, forgiveth their iniquity,[22] half of the verses.

 

One of the minor tractates of the Talmud, Soferim 9:2, also speaks about this special vav.

 

As an aside, gachon is a peculiar word which uniquely suggests the middle of the body. Gachon is only used twice in all of the Torah. Once, here in Leviticus, and yet only one other time aside from that, and that’s in:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 3:14 And HaShem God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly (gachon) shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15  And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

 

So far we have Rashi telling us that the serpent, in Vayikra 11:42, is like the nachash of Bereshit 3. Now nachash - נחש (gematria of 358) and Mashiach - משיח (gematria of 358) share the same gematria. Thus we are at the ultimate connection point of the Torah speaking about a significant connection point, the belly, and looking at a nachash that equals Mashiach, while speaking against connecting, by eating. I feel that there is much more to this then what meets the eye.

 

Mashiach comes to rectify what the original snake caused. The original snake caused us to enter exile, and Mashiach will come to take us out of exile for good.

 

Half the Words

 

The soferim determined that the words “darosh darash”, “investigated thoroughly” (Vayikra 10:16), are the middle words of the Torah. The context of this phrase is the inauguration ceremony of the mishkan (tabernacle), and the deaths of Nadav and Avihu, two of Aharon’s sons.

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 10:16-17 And Moses diligently sought the goat of the sin offering[23], and, behold, it was burnt: and he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron which were left alive, saying, 17  Wherefore have ye not eaten the sin offering in the holy place, seeing it is most holy, and God hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before HaShem?

 

Half the Pesukim[24]

 

The soferim determined as well that the verse that begins “And he shall shave himself” (Vayikra 13:33), which relates to the laws of tzara’at, is the halfway point of all the pesukim in the Torah. 

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 13:33 He shall shave himself, but the scall shall he not shave; and the priest shall shut up him that hath the scall seven days more:

 

In The Psalms

 

The soferim also calculated the midway points in the book of Tehillim. The ayin (ע)of the word ya’ar, in the verse “The boar of the field ravages it. . .” (80:14), is the middle letter of Tehillim:

יד  יְכַרְסְמֶנָּה חֲזִיר מִיָּעַר;    וְזִיז שָׂדַי יִרְעֶנָּה.

 

Tehillim (Psalms) 80:14 The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it.

 

Rashi comments on this special ayin:

 

from the forest: Heb. מיער – miyaar (meaning: out of the wood). The “ayin” is suspended (as though it were written with an “aleph”). If Israel is worthy, the enemies are like the beasts of the river, which have no strength to climb out upon the dry land; but when retribution is decreed upon them, he (sic) grows strong as the beast of the forest, which destroys and kills. The boar of the forest is Esau, as is written (Dan. 7:7): “It devoured and broke in pieces and the rest it trampled with its feet.” And it (the swine) has some signs of purity. Esau, too, has the merit of his fathers.

 

And finally, “And He is Merciful. . .” (78:38), a verse that is familiar to us due to its use as an introduction to the arvit (evening) prayer, is the middle verse of Tehillim.

 

Tehillim (Psalms) 78:38 And He is merciful, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.

 

* * *

 

To attempt to understand the meaning of the middle vav, in the Torah, it is instructive to look at other items which are centered.

 

Midrash Rabbah - Genesis LXXIX:7 AND HE BOUGHT THE PARCEL OF GROUND, etc. (XXXIII, 19). R. Judan b. R. Simon said: This is one of the three places regarding which the nations of the world cannot taunt Israel and say, ‘ Ye have stolen them.’ These are they: The cave of Machpelah, the [site of the] Temple, and the sepulchre of Joseph. The cave of Machpelah: And Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver (Gen. XXIII, 16). The Temple: So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold  (I Chron. XXI, 25). And Joseph’s sepulchre: AND HE BOUGHT THE PARCEL OF GROUND.

 

Just as Hebron and Shechem are centered (east to west), so also is Jerusalem. Additionally, Jerusalem is in the center (north to south and east to west) of Israel. Jerusalem is the navel, as we read in the Midrash:

 

Midrash Tanchuma, Qedoshim “As the navel is set in the centre of the human body, so is the land of Israel the navel of the world... situated in the centre of the world, and Jerusalem in the centre of the land of Israel, and the sanctuary in the centre of Jerusalem, and the holy place in the centre of the sanctuary, and the ark in the centre of the holy place, and the foundation stone before the holy place, because from it the world was founded.”[25]

 

A similar understanding is given by the Book of Jubilees:

 

“And he (Noah) knew that the Garden of Eden is the holy of holies and the Lord’s dwelling place, and Mount Sinai the center of the desert, and Mount Zion the center of the navel of the earth: these three were created as holy places facing each other.”[26]

 

 

Meam Loez, on Leviticus 11:42 makes the following comment:

 

וי״ו דגחון חצי התורה באותיות והוי״ו רבתי

 

The vav of Gachon is the middle letter of the Torah according to the Rabbis.

 


 

 

In The Land

In The Body

In The Torah

 

Shechem

(Yosef’s tomb)

Mid-brain

Word - Vayikra 10:16

The Midrash connects both Jerusalem and the middle letter of the Torah with the belly.

Jerusalem

(Temple)

Belly

Letter - Vayikra 11:42

 

Hebron

(Machpelah)

Womb

Pasuk - Vayikra 13:33

 


 

* * *

 

The Mishkan was – in the center of the camp of the Bne Israel.

 

We read the Torah from the bima – in the center of the Esnoga.

 

The Tree of Life was - in the center of Gan Eden.[27]

 

The luchot (tablets of the testimony) were in the ark – in the center of the Holy of Holies.

 

The human body is divided into three parts as evidenced by our clothing. The center of the area covered by the shirt is the heart. The center of the portion covered by the pants is the womb. The center of the head is the mid-brain, the controller of the body.

 

The energy source is always in the center.

 

* * *

 

 

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End of Ab and Tebet

 

(89) Leviticus 11:1-47 = 60v.

   Isaiah 40:16-18, 21-26, 31

   Isaiah 46:1-6, 8-13

Psalm 78:9-16

Should be Psalm 80

Matthew 13: 36-43

1 Peter 4:7-11

 

* * *

 

This study was written by

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:

 

Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian

4544 Highline Drive SE

Olympia, WA 98501

 

Internet address:  gkilli@aol.com

Web page:  http://www.betemunah.org/

 

(360) 918-2905

 

Return to The WATCHMAN home page

Send comments to Greg Killian at his email address: gkilli@aol.com

 


 



[1] Chazal (the sages) compare HaShem's relationship with us to the relationship a father has with his son. In their mind, HaShem spoke directly to us at Har Sinai in order to nurture us and build and an intimate relationship. In Shemot Rabbah XLI:3, they connect our sedra and the giving of the Torah to a pasuk (verse) from Mishle (Proverbs); "For the Lord gives wisdom; out of His mouth comes knowledge and discernment" (Prov. II, 6). Their imagination takes them to the word "mouth" and the connotations of giving a gift from the mouth. The first connotation they have is that of feeding a child. The midrash says, "It can be compared to a king's son, who, on returning from school, found a dish of food in front of his father. When the father offered him a piece, the son said, 'I would rather have some of that which you yourself are now eating.' The father complied, on account of his great love for him, giving him from his own mouth." Of course chazal is not talking about food, but the Torah. The king refers to HaShem; the son to bne Israel, and the food refers to the Torah. The Torah was given directly from the mouth of HaShem to us, in a nurturing and parental way. It is interesting to note the gender assumptions in this Midrash. While the Rabbis represent HaShem in this parable as male (a king), they ascribe Him typically female nurturing qualities through the use of the "mother bird" connotation.

[2] Another explanation of “For the Lord gives wisdom”: You find that when Israel stood ready to receive the Torah on Mount Sinai, they wanted to hear the Ten Commandments from God's own mouth. R. Phinchas b. Hama, the priest, said: Two things did Israel ask of God--to see His likeness and to hear from His own mouth the Ten Commandments, as it says, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth” (Song of Songs. I, 2).  R. Pinchas b. Hama, the priest, said: “Does then one comply with the request of a fool?”  The Holy One, blessed be He, clearly foresaw, however, that after forty days Israel would make the Golden Calf. He said “Unless I now comply with their request, they will later say: ‘All we asked of Moses was that God should show us His likeness and that He should speak with us.”  In order, therefore, not to give them the excuse of saying, “Because we did not hear the Commandments from God's own mouth, or see His likeness, did we make this god,” God thought to Himself: “I will reveal Myself to them and also speak with them mouth to mouth.”

[3] Midrash Exodus Rabbah 41:3

[4] This section was excerpted and edited from Make Yourself a Teacher: Rabbinic Tales of Mentors and Disciples,  By Susan A. Handelman

[5] Shemot (Exodus) 31:18

[6] Mislei (Proverbs) 2:6

[7] Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs) 1:2

[8] Now, here is one of those enigmatic Torah synchronicities that, in spite of it bordering on the incredulous, it is indeed a fact. When you spell out the name of the letter vav in Hebrew it is written vav-vav (or vav-aleph-vav), pronounced “vav” – the name of the letter. When you spell out the letter in its original form it is written “wou -wou” (or wou-aleph-wou) and pronounced “wow”. The original pronunciation of the letter “vav” is “wow”. Aleph, beth, gimel, daleth, heh, wow … . What will we find in the middle of the Torah? Where will we be when we journey to the center of the universe? These are questions that we can investigate for a lifetime because the descriptions and ramifications are so awesome and mind-boggling that all we can begin to say is “Wow”! 

[9] This is the scribal term for a large Hebrew letter.

[10] “The Teaching of the Priests,” the old Rabbinic name for Leviticus

[11] Our Sages

[12] The Evil Inclination.

[13] Isaiah 55:1; sc. the Torah.

[14] Job 14:19.

[15] Jer. 23:29. [This can also be rendered: ‘like the hammer which the (granite) rock (against which it is struck) breaketh; the Evil Inclination being compared to an iron hammer and the Beth Hamidrash to a granite rock, v. Tosaf.].

[16] Masechet Sofrim 9:2 refers to this letter Vav as being “zaquf” (זָקוּף) - erect, straight, vertical, steep or upright. Bi’urey Sofrim interprets this to mean it’s an enlarged Vav, but not so much that it could be mistaken for a Nun Sofit.

[17] Whatsoever goeth upon the belly (iujd) — Leviticus 11:42.

[18] Leviticus 10:16: And Moses diligently enquired after — darosh darash — the goat of the sin-offering.

[19] Leviticus 13:33: we-hithggalah, then he shall be shaven. [In M.T. the words ‘he placed on him’ (Lev. VIII, 8) is given as the middle verse.]

[20] Psalm 80:14.

[21] It is not stated whether letters or words are meant: S. Strashun observes that he counted the words, and found that the first half exceeds the second by nearly 2,000; hence the reference is to letters, and there is such a reading too.

[22] Psalm 78:38.

[23] Of Rosh Chodesh – The New Moon.

[24] Pesukim is the plural of pasuk, which is often translated as “verse”. Thus “pesukim” means “verses”.

[25] Midrash Tanchuma, Qedoshim. See also Midrash Tanhuma to Ezekial 38:12, homilizing on the phrase the nations...that dwell in the middle of the earth.

[26] The Book Of Jubilees, Trans. R. H. Charles, revised Ch. Rabin in H. D. F. Sparks (ed.), The Apocryphal Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), p. 38.

[27] Bereshit 2:9