Pesach: Seventh Day

Exodus 13:17 - 15:26, Maftir Numbers 28:15 -25

Pesach: Eighth Day

Deuteronomy 15:19 - 16:17, Maftir Numbers 28:15 -25

Taking Shortcuts ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of mysticism in Hebrew Gematria is dedicated in loving memory to Lynda Elliott, may she rest in peace.

A Shabbos Shortcut...
Years ago our youngest son Yoel and I were walking home from shul. We decided to take a shortcut. Normally we walked along a very busy street for nearly two miles. We were tired of taking the same route week in and week out so we thought we would try something a little different. We began our walk down a beautiful neighborhood street with upper middle class homes. It was quiet. It was enjoyable. We were having a great time. Now between the shul and our home was this huge freeway. The only way across that freeway was a bridge on the busy street. However we knew of another bridge several blocks away. That bridge was built but never used. It was abandoned. We thought we would try crossing there this time. As we got closer to the freeway the nice houses ended. The street dead ended. We went around the dead end into an open field. Eventually we reached the freeway. As it turned out our normal bridge is closer to where we were than the abandoned bridge. We were leaning against this chain-link fence about thirty feet up from the freeway. The fence ran parallel to the freeway. As we were leaning against the fence my expensive felt homburg blew off my head and tumbled down that steep embankment onto the edge of the freeway. I was beside myself. What was I to do? Well, I did the wrong thing. Yoel and I hopped over the fence and slid down the embankment. Thank G-d my hat was fine and we were not hurt.

As we looked around we realized we were not going to be able to climb that steep embankment. We did not want to cross the freeway, that would be dangerous. We stood there in wonder. Eventually we realized our only option was to cross this freeway. I held Yoel’s hand. We waited for a good time, then we ran across half of the freeway to the median. We waited there until we could cross, then we ran to the other side. We were so happy to get across. The embankment on this side was easier to climb.

As we reached the top of the embankment we realized that the fence on this side was much different from the fence on the other side. This fence was at least eight feet high. It was a wooden fence. What were we going to do? Yoel climbed up on my back for a boost to the top. While getting that boost, guess what happened? My hat was knocked off. It tumbled and rolled all the way back down to the freeway. Yoel was standing on top of the eight foot fence as I went to retrieve my hat. I was out of energy. I reached down grabbed my hat and thought what a fool I was: “It is Shabbos! I can’t begin to count how many Halachas I have broken and I am still stuck.” How would I climb that eight foot fence? Yoel walked along the fence and I walked along the side of the freeway. Eventually we found a low area in the fence with a brace. I was able to climb over. Eventually we arrived home. Naomi was worried sick. We were about an hour and a half late. That we pretty much stayed with the old faithful path we had traveled hundreds of times.

Dear reader, Yoel and I learned a most important lesson that Shabbos that has stayed with us. There are no shortcuts in Judaism!! To be a good observant Jew one must follow the established paths day in and day out! This brings us to the discussion for the seventh day of Pesach. In Exodus 13:17 the Torah states that “...G-d did not lead [B’nei Yisroel] by the path of the Philistines even though it was the shortest route.” Why? Because if B’nei Yisroel encountered war they might change their minds and return to Mitzriam. Why? Because there were some tall fences, difficult freeways and steep embankments to deal with so to speak...

Chassidim, have you ever wondered why the Torah states, “...G-d said ‘[B’nei Yisroel] might change their minds..’”? Exodus 13:17 Seeing as G-d knows all, why does the Torah say, “‘[B’nei Yisroel] might change their minds..’”? G-d would definitely know what they would do. There was no question in G-d’s mind about what B’nei Yisroel would do. Yet the Torah states, “‘the people might change their minds..’” This tells us something. G-d did not want to say exactly what we would have done. Yet the inference is clear. We would have returned to Mitzriam, G-d forbid!

The Gematria for Pehn - Yee Naw Chaym - Haw Awm {the people might change their minds} is 353 which also is the Gematria for Chah Mee Shaw {five as in five books of Moshe}. Mystically this points to the fact that until B’nei Yisroel received, learned and understood the Torah they would return to Mitzriam. It is the Torah that teaches us what G-d desires for us. It is the Torah which directs our path. It is the Torah which protects us. Since B’nei Yisroel did not have a full revelation of Torah it was better not to take shortcuts. Yet even after the fact G-d was sensitive to B’nei Yisroel by not saying that they would definitely return to Mitzriam.

- Yee Naw Chaym - Haw Awm {the people might change their minds}
353 = Mem 40 Ayin 70 Hey 5 - Mem 40 Ches 8 Nun 50 Yud 10 - Nun 50 Pey 80

Chah Mee Shaw {five as in five books of Moshe}
353 = Hey 5 Shin 300 Mem 40 Chess 8

Mystically this teaches us the power, strength and protection one receives from receiving, learning and understanding Torah. This also teaches us not to always call a spade a spade. Sometimes wisdom is required to not injure or offend others unnecessarily. Also Jews who are returning to Torah should stay with the well defined path that offers protection from potential problems.

Wishing you the best!

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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