5760/Tower of Babel
Each week a different portion (parashah/parshah) of the Pentateuch (first 5 books of the Bible) is read in Jewish synagogues. They either complete reading the entire Pentateuch within a one year or three year cycle. Weekly portions have different names (i.e. Ki Saitzai). Plural of parshah is parshios. (There is no uniformity in the transliteration of Jewish words.)
The readings from the book of Deuteronomy are said "to correspond to what will happen in each one hundred years of the sixth millennium--ten [portions] corresponding to ten periods of one hundred years."
The seventh of these 10 portions from Deuteronomy corresponds to the years 5600-5700 of the Jewish calendar and 1840-1940 of our calendar and is called Ki Tavo. The portion read is Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8. This portion ended "in the middle of WWII and includes curses for straying from the Torah, describing in explicit detail what can be construed as a Holocaust."
This year the eighth portion is read on the Sabbath right before Rosh Hashanah 5760. It corresponds to the years 5700-5800 on the Jewish calendar and 1940-2040 on our calendar and is called Nizzavim/Va-Yelekh. Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30 is read.
"Parashas Nitzavim begins with a mood of Final Redemption, moving from a discussion of Divine wrath and punishment for Jewish disobedience, and the wonderment that will result from the extent of this wrath, to talk of a renewed covenant with G-d, national repentance, and the final ingathering of the exiles from the four corners of the earth. We have seen all aspects of this, if only in part, in our day.
"This parshah ends with encouraging words of the availability of Torah (certainly enhanced by the Internet today), which also acts as a warning for those who would try to make Torah appear a 'closed book' and inaccessible. We are reminded, at the end, that to forsake Torah is to forsake free-will, the purpose of life in This World in the first place.
"Parashas Vayailech begins the final phase of the transference of leadership from Moshe [Moses] to Yehoshua [Joshua], and therefore, it is also the beginning of the entry into Eretz Yisroel [land of Israel]. It is also at this time that Moshe Rabbeinu finished writing the Torah for the nation, and all the generations to come, and left us all with this final warning:
"'I know that after I die you will become corrupt and turn away from the path that I have told you to follow. In the end of days you will be beset with evil, since you will have done evil in G-d's eyes, angering Him with the work of your hands.' (Devarim [Deuteronomy] 31:29)
"However, just as the parshios in Sefer Devarim mirror the Sixth Millennium, so, too, do the verses of the entire Torah echo history since the beginning of man's existence. For example,
"Let all your elders and officers gather together before me [Moshe] that I may speak these words in their ears ... (Devarim 31:28)
"is the 5,750th verse in the entire Torah (there are 5,845 verses in the entire five books), which might not be significant if not for the fact that there is a tradition that each verse corresponds to one year of history (at least until the year 5845). If so, then each verse, potentially, can shed light on its corresponding year.
"For example, the 5,698th posuk (from Parashas Ki Savo) reads as follows:
"G-d was angered and brought upon you all the curses that are written here. (Devarim 29:26)
"It 'happens' to be, that, when the Hebrew year '5698' is written out in Hebrew letters (as we are accustomed to do), it spells the Hebrew word, 'tirtzach' (tav, reish, tzaddik, ches), which means, 'you will murder.' For those who do not recognize the year 5698, it corresponded to the Western year, 1938--the year of the infamous 'Kristallnacht Pogrom' in Germany, and pretty much the official beginning of Hitler's 'Final Solution' to what he saw was the 'Jewish problem.' The connection to the above verse, many feel, is self-evident.
"Going further in the Torah, and therefore in time, we arrive at the 5,750th verse, quoted first above. In the Torah, Moshe is commanding this gathering of the leaders to teach them the 'song' (found next in Parashas HaAzinu), created to act as constant reminder and warning to the Jewish people of how to avoid Divine wrath; this is why it begins with an overview of mankind's dismal start.
"For this reason, many want to say that the 5,750th verse is one that alludes to potential redemption in the year 5750, and there are other predictions and sources to that effect. Clearly, historically, the year 5750/1990 was a watershed year in Jewish and world history, one in which Jews were finally allowed to emigrate from Russia. The Persian Gulf War also began that year, and ended the following year on Purim, after the Israeli population was 'saved' from Iraq's scud missiles quite miraculously.
"Before leaving this idea for now, it is also an interesting occurrence that the two parshios, which are considered one parshah, together have seventy verses. As is pointed out so many places, the gematria of Gog u'Magog, the name of the final war that leads to the Final Redemption, is also 70. Another allusion to redemption?"
The material quoted above was from an explanation of Parashah Nitzavim-Vayailech/Rosh Hashanah from Rabbi Pinchas Winston (Perceptions email list at http://www.torah.org, firstname.lastname@example.org) that was sent out a couple of weeks ago. The following is also from Rabbi Winston and is from Parashah Ha'Azinu and it was sent out today.
"When the Most High divided up the sons of man, and gave them each their inheritance, He made many distinct peoples, corresponding to the number of the Children of Israel. (Devarim 32:8)
"In Parashas Ki Seitzei, we spoke about the concept mentioned by the Vilna Gaon that each parshah from the fifth book of the Torah, Sefer Devarim corresponds to one hundred years in the Sixth Millennium. Therefore, one could, theoretically, find allusions to events of a century in its corresponding parshah.
"We also spoke about a different system of comparison, in which one verse from the Torah corresponds to a year of history from the time of creation onward (eg. Bereishis 1:1, year, etc.). This, too, allows one to look for spiritual 'roots' for historical events in the corresponding verse for that time. At the very least, such correlations create wonderment for the observer, and is just more evidence of Ben Bag Bag's statement:
"'Turn over in it [Torah], turn over in it, for everything is in it [Torah] ...' (Pirkei Avos 5:26)
"So, based upon this, we spoke about the 5,750th verse in the Torah (Parashas Vayailech), and how it could easily be an allusion to the events that occurred in the Jewish year, 5750 (1990). This is especially so since, according to tradition, 5750 represented a turning of a spiritual corner. For, just as we divide up the Jewish day into four parts, so, too, do we divide up the millennium into four parts, because one millennium is equal to one day of creation (six days, six millennia).
"Hence, just as the sixth day of the week is called 'Erev Shabbos,' [Eve of the Sabbath] so, too, is the Sixth Millennium called the 'Erev Shabbos' of history. And, just as the last quarter of Friday has special halachic and philosophical status because of its close proximity to Shabbos, so, too, does the last quarter of the Sixth Millennium--from 5750 until 6,000--have special philosophical status, being in such close proximity to the year 6,000, and the 'Shabbos' of history.
"So, here we are in the new year of 5760, thank G-d. There are several sources that speak about this year, and what may be in store for the Jewish people and the world in general. The truth is, even without these sources, a spiritually-sensitive person can't help but wonder what is coming up, given the historical significance of the year 2000 to so many groups, the historical change of weather, and the unusual amount and scope of 'natural' events and disasters that seem to keep occurring around the world.
"And, being in the year 5760, I thought it would be interesting to look at the 5,760th verse in the Torah, to see what it said and how it might relate to this year, for interest's sake alone (or, so I told myself). So I counted the verses from the 5,760th one:
"Verse five thousand, seven hundred and fifty one ... verse 5000, 700 and 52 ...
"... And what I 'discovered' sent chills up and down my spine.
"Now, at the risk of causing many to say, 'Oh no, not again! Doesn't this guy know that Y2K is a thing of the past? Is he still harping on this issue? I think I'll change the channel ...' I have the following to say.
"Just about everyone knows of the Tower of Bavel (Babel). In the year 1996 from creation, four years before the year 2000, humankind embarked upon a bold new project: the first sky-scraper in the history of the world, if you will.
"... 5000 ... 700... and 53 ... 5000 ... 700 ... and 54 ...
"According to the Midrash, there were three reasons why the people of that time invested their life's energy into this venture. The first reason was to do battle with G-d, and to 'confine' him to Heaven, so that man could rule the earth. How naive, right?
"The second reason for building the tower, says the Midrash, was to create a cosmopolitan center, a place around which mankind could rally and unite. They wanted to create a 'New World Order,' an era of international brotherhood. How noble, right?
"The third reason for the tower, explains the Midrash, was to avoid future floods. You see, this group did not view the Flood as an act of Divine retribution, for living spiritually-destructive lives. Rather, this group of heretics wanted to believe that the Flood was just the result of a defect in creation, a leaky faucet, so-to-speak. According to this philosophy, every 1,656 years, Heaven leaks ... in a major way, and the tower, they hoped would 'plug' that leak once-and-for-all, and save the world from future disasters.
"At that time, all the earth spoke one language, and was united in speech ... (Bereishis [Genesis] 11:1)
"--the Torah begins. Their strength? They all spoke one language. Their 'achilles heel'? They all spoke one language.
"... Verse 5000 ... 700 ... and 55 ...
"... As they journeyed from the east, they found a valley in the land of Shinar, and settled there. Then, each man said to his neighbor, 'Let's make bricks and burn them thoroughly.' They had brick for stone, and they used slime as mortar. Then they said, 'Let's build a city, with a tower whose top will reach into Heaven. We'll make ourselves famous [to prevent ourselves] from being scattered over the face of the earth.' (Bereishis 11:2-4)
"Three intentions--three levels of destruction. According to the Midrash, upset with Mankind's ambitions once again, G-d completely destroyed one-third of the tower and He left one-third partially submerged and partially visible. The final third of the tower was allowed to remain entirely, for a reason. In fact, says the Midrash, the remaining third was so high that if one were to stand on the top and look down, even the tallest tree would appear like a butterfly from that point of view!
"... 5000 ... 700 ... and 56 ... Verse 5000 ... 700 ... and 57 ...
"Now that's high! In fact, it is so high that the American troops who fought against Iraq in 1990 should have stumbled over it on their way in and on their way out. At the very least, it should be a major tourist attraction to this very day! 'So, why don't I know about this tower?' you may be asking yourself.
"The answer is, the explanation of Rabbi Nissan Alpert. Rav Alpert explained the Midrash as follows: G-d dealt with the three different philosophies in three different ways.
"The first philosophy, explains Rav Alpert, was the one about going to war against G-d, and it was completely eliminated. After all, when was the last time anyone was reckless enough to challenge G-d at anything? (True, the Titanic did fly a banner that read: A ship that even G-d can't sink! However, they didn't mean to actually challenge G-d ...)
"No, today people don't go to war against G-d, they go to war (and murder innocent people) in the NAME of G-d. 'Here,' they say, 'I'm going to murder these innocent people on your behalf G-d, so don't take it personally.' You have to admit, it is a more sophisticated approach than the one the people of the tower used.
"The second philosophy, of creating a new world order? Says Rav Alpert, that one comes-and-goes. There are times when man becomes inspired and ambitious enough to try to unify the world around one central point and philosophy, and then there are times when every nation just goes off on its own. That philosophy remains partly 'submerged,' partly 'visible' throughout the history of the world.
"However, said Rav Alpert, the philosophy of minimizing the hand of G-d in daily life to make life appear random? That, said Rav Alpert (and society concurs), is alive, well, and standing tall. In fact, if you 'look' at the world and history through this philosophy's 'eyes,' then even the biggest miracle seems like a mere 'butterfly' from that vantage point! Disasters? Divine Retribution? Nope--just a leaky 'faucet' ... Here, we can fix that ...
"But we don't want to fix ourselves ...
"Verse ... 5000 ... 700 ... and 58 ...
"Now, I am not a computer expert, and my opinion about Y2K, from a technical standpoint, is amateurish at best. Maybe the fear about a domino-effect computer-chip problem is a lot of hype (one Y2K-worried site also supports the right to own fire arms ... Hmmmmm). On the other hand, maybe the picture is not as rosy as the government makes it seem. (Can they really fix EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE in time? Besides, presidents and governments do lie, you know, when they deem it in the public's best interest to do so.)
"However, from a Torah, philosophical outlook, I am impressed by the phenomenon, and somewhat equipped to ask, 'I wonder what the message is in all of this?'
"After all, the banks (read: depositors and investors) alone will have spent over three billion dollars to solve the problem of two zeroes--that's right, two zeroes. How humbling. And who knows how much the governments (read: taxpayers) will have spent in the end?! Whatever the truth about Y2K may be, it certainly has become a major focus in the eyes of twentieth century man as we put the wrapper on this Western millennium.
"'It is from G-d, that which is wondrous in our eyes.' (Tehillim 118:23)
"Verse 5000 ... 700 ... and 59 ...
"And, then, I reached the 5,760th verse ... in this week's parshah of all places ... in the first week of the new year. You know, the posuk (verse) that corresponds to the 5,760th year from creation, which, in turn, corresponds to the 2,000 year according to the Western calendar. The verse reads:
"... When the Most High divided up the sons of man, and gave them each their inheritance, He made many distinct peoples, corresponding to the number of the Children of Israel. (Devarim 32:8)
"'When the Most High divided up the sons of man ... That is, when He dispersed the generation of the Dispersion ...' (Rashi)
"That is, the generation of the Tower of Bavel--the 5,760th posuk is talking about the generation that built the Tower of Bavel, whose greatest technological asset was a single language, and whose drive was to control 'nature' and to minimize Divine Providence, and whose technological asset turned out to be their spiritual disadvantage.
"What a coincidence, no?
"I guess it depends upon which of the three philosophies one uses to build his or her 'tower.' THAT, is a matter of free-choice. And THAT, is why G-d left the final third of the tower standing until this very day.
"Oh, and, incidentally, the 5,761st verse?
"However, G-d has His own people-Ya'akov is His inheritance."