Sunday, 20 March 2016

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Gematria, another attestation that Torah can be interpreted only through Hebrew, Jewish eyes


Two nights ago, I attended a lecture that left me with a burning desire to want to pursue a subject I know very little about. It evoked in me the strong sensation that has been sweltering in me and reaffirmed yet again that Jewish Scriptures can be interpreted only by Jewish sages, only through the experiences of Am Yisrael and only in Hebrew. It further helped disperse any aspiration and any attempts by non-Jews to try to define and dictate to us, Jews, the meaning of Jewish concepts and beliefs through their erroneous vision, clouded by their alien creeds and foreign tongues.

The lecture discussed the week’s Torah portion and the upcoming Holiday of Purim. It was presented by Rabbi, Avraham Ha’Cohen. Rabbi Ha’Cohen employed his skill and expertise in a field called Gematria as he was addressing these issues and presenting them from a different perspective, one that was new to many of those present, all of whom were Jews. It left many of us with open mouths and in awe. I can only imagine how lost non-Jews might have felt in the presence of such an authority on the subject.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term “Gematria,” here is a brief outline of it.

Gematria, also known as Jewish numerology, is unique only to Hebrew. Its underlying principle is that each letter has a numerical equivalent. Conferring with Kabbalah, if two words or phrases share the same number, they are considered to possess some significant connection. According to David Komer of Ohr Hatorah, “Gematria reveals a deeper set of correspondences as seen in the literal text and points to an entire mathematical structure underlying the Torah. Similar to how physics and chemistry rest on a mathematical foundation, so too, deeper dimensions of Torah are revealed though gematria.” No other language possesses this kind of inner meaning that forms the fibers of its universe and creates one world where every piece of the puzzle adds another dimension to its understanding and insight. It is unique to Hebrew only.
Komer further notes that “The Hebrew letters are explained to be the building blocks of creation. Similar to how a physicist or chemist would describe the world as consisting of atoms, particles, molecules and elements, the Jewish tradition describes this same function to the Hebrew letters. Although the language of science and Torah are different they are both describing the same reality.”
It is not only Kabbalah that employs Gematria. The Talmud and Rashi also use this technique of learning, on occasion, in order to point out a cogent idea. Gematria has been used as well by a wide range of commentators throughout the ages. In as much as Kabbalah seeks to make known the oneness of God and the interconnectedness of all reality, Gematria assumes a major role in revealing this through the Torah text.

I am aware that an example to what I have presented above is begging to be given. Out of utter veneration for the profound essence of the subject which holds a universe on its own and out of the desire to uphold its sacredness, however, I will not endeavor it. My lack of learnedness in the field will do it horrific injustice

Now, how many non-Jewish sages have dealt with the subject of Gematria and in the effective manner that Jewish ones have? How many of them can claim to have attained the knowledge required to even try their hand at it? Few, if any.

Why, one may ask? Because Gematria is as foreign to them as Hellenism is to Judaism. Only a Jew can and knows how to use that tool effectively. Why? Because it is designed only for Hebrew the language of Am Yisrael, the language that is inseparable from our tradition, from our civilization, not better, not worse than others but merely a unique civilization. It is the tool employed only by  the language it was created for and can most accurately describe the distinctive soul of our Jewish nation and the brickwork of who we are.