days of repentance: 3 Elul

28 Iyyar 5664

28 Iyyar 5679

3 Elul 5695

today was 3 Elul, 77th anniversary of the death of Rav Kook z”l, on whose gravestone are found the 3 dates recorded herein. surely 77 is a significant number upon which to reflect. 77 is the simple gematria for ‘mazal’ (“luck”if you will), and certainly starting Elul with good fortune in the cards isn’t all bad, right?  but we can do better if we think back to the 3rd haftarah of comfort, which we read/heard on Rosh Chodesh Elul just passed, and remember Proverbs 18:10:

“migdal-oz, shem haShem”

(a tower of strength is the Name of G’d)

the Name is a tower (gematria=77) of strength (gematria=77). and the haftarah teaches us that all the children will learn of G’d, ie, come to know the Name. and we will not need to fear the oppression of our wrongs in the past  or the devastation of falling back into bad ways, for it will not come near (Isaiah 54:14).  let’s expand the 77-77 further in Psalm 61:4:

“for you have been a refuge for me

a tower of strength in the face of the enemy

and back to our haftarah, in which we learn further (54:17) the power inherent in the Name:

“any weapon sharpened against you will not succeed;

any tongue that will rise against you in judgment

YOU will condemn”

“you will condemn” any accusing sharpened tongue” for that is the heritage of the servants of G’d; THAT is part and parcel their righteousness from G’d. the deeds of the baal t’shuvah will defeat the naysayers and the evil report and the cynical doubt and the tongue of any accuser. what you do now defends you from what you may have done in the past. now defeats then. NOW is “the heritage of those in awe of the Name” (Psalm 61:6). turn to haShem truly with full heart–real t’shuvah– and you gain the tools to defeat even your worst enemies, the great oppressors of your past. YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS, nonetheless:

azamra shimcha la’ad

(i will sing praise to Your Name forever)

t’shuvah is to open to  channeling of the tower of strength from G’d the Source to you yourself  and through you to the world. and starting tomorrow, we will not begin to examine practices of t’shuvah, the way of the soul warrior.

oh, hey, what about those dates on Rav Kook’s stone? isn’t it usually just birthdate and deathdate? well, they reflect his own emulation of the walk of Avraham avinu with haShem.  do we know much about Avraham’s birth and birthdate? nope. but we know that he was called by G’d to GO himself, for himself, to himself, leaving behind your birthplace,  your land , and your parents home. 3 leavings for Avraham avinu represented 3 ascents that are paralleled in Rav Kook’s life: the parental home represents the pull of the familiar and comfortable origin, which R’ Kook put behind him when he left europe and  ascended to the Land of Israel on 28 Iyyar 5664; your land represents peer pressure for the ways of galut, which R’ Kook put away when he ascended to Jerusalem to live while founding a new religious way that merged rich zionism (and association with the secular) with traditional teachings and practices on 28 Iyyar 5679; and last, but not least, your birthplace represents the pull of the place into which your soul is born–your body, which R’ Kook put behind him when he died and ascended to the wholly spiritual realm on 3 Elul 5695.

birthdate is past–aveirah in aver–but each ascent as you walk Torah is a moment of vividly living in a moment. not a record of history, but a piling of milestones. so it is for everyone doing t’shuvah…you ascend from strength to strength, leaving behind the pulls of what was, adding your own milestones to the walls of the Tower  of Strength.

so, what do you think?

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