By Rav Shmuel Brazil
Until today I remember as a young child listening to children’s rhymes and songs on one of those LP 78 vinyl records and I still recall how one of those songs made an everlasting effect on me. It went exactly like this “the king was in his counting house counting all his money” and then one could hear the deep voice of the king bellowing in machine gun repetition MONEY MONEY MONEY MONEY MONEY MONEY MONEY. I can still remember that at that age I thought that this part of the song was sort of cutesy. After all, I was not at the stage in life to yet realize what money was and for sure I could not comprehend the grand scale of a “counting house of money”. Nevertheless this mantra repetition of the word money was stuck in my mind. And today I view the repetition as if the king was declaring that the only important thing in his life was counting his money over and over again. Well, I guess if you have money there is nothing wrong with counting it since in lashon hakodesh money comes from the rootמונה which means to count. So I guess that money is one of those things that by definition humans naturally count. But the descriptive repetition on the word over and over again conveys yet another message and that is money is not merely a possession but rather it can become unfortunately an inseparable definition of who one is. This definition attribute of money is found in the Aramaic word מני which translates who is the identity. This is a sad commentary on those who see money as an ends that render a self identify who they are instead of viewing it as only a means and a vessel for loftier objectives. The fortune 500 should be called the unfortunate instead if their fortune serves them an identity.
Yaakov Avinu dreamed about a ladder standing on the ground yet reaching into the heavens. The Baal Haturim writes that the word .סולם is the same gematriah of ממון . True that money is an object derived from earthly metal however it can be nevertheless transformed into a high spirituality if utilized in a correct manner. The machatzis hashekel was demonstrated to Moshe Rabbeinu as a coin composed of heavenly fire which became part of the service of the Mishkan into which dwelled the Shechina of Hashem. Even a “coin” can serve Hashem like the “koihen” in the Bais Hamikdash. It’s not about the physical object of money per se but rather about the intentions and the place of heart given to it by the one who possesses it.
In this week’s parsha we have the command of loving Hashem with all our מאדך which means money. Here too we find the hinting of the possibility of man being identified with his money since the letters ofמאד are the identical letters of אדם . the gematria of מאדך is היכלwhich means the sanctuary of the Beis Hamikdash. Yes, money can create Hashem’s name to be sanctified and dwell within his people while on the other hand it can create a chillul Hashem and distance the kovid shamayim from amongst His holy nation.
Tisha B’av believe it or not has to do with kosher מאדך. The sefarim explain that the fight of the malach of Eisav with Yaakov Avinu at Yabok took place on Tisha B’av the day of the destruction of both Temples. This is hinted in the prohibition of eating the גיד הנשה.which characterizes these destructions. The gematria of גידis 17 hinting to the date of shiva asar in Tammuz, the yud of gid hints to asarah in Teves, the gimmel of gid hints to Tzom Gedaliya, and the prohibition of gid parallels the day of Tisha B’av in the connection that the 365 negative commandments parallel the 365 days of the year.
This being said let us look at the cause and timing of this battle. The passuk says ויותר יעקב לבדו Yaakov remained alone because he went back to retrieve his פכים קטנים which he left there. On this Rashi quotes the gemarrah Chulin 91 from here we see that tzadikim will use great effort to retrieve their money because it was acquired without an issur of stealing. It is kosher money lemehadrin min hamehadrin. Yaakov’s conduct and mesiras nefesh for these small seemingly insignificant vessels flamed the outrage of the Sar of Esav. In al Yaakov’s dealings with the slimy crooked con artist Lavan, Yaakov was completely honest and true to his middah of emes. This happened at יבק which stands for the letters of the kedushaקדוש ברוך ימלך . For in Yaakov going back for these vessels he demonstrated a business ethic of Kiddush shem shamayim. This middah, the angel of Esav wanted to eradicate from the Jewish nation and he came to attack Yaakov during this episode.
ויותר יעקב לבדו In this arena of excellent untarnished business ethics, Yaakov remains alone amongst the nations. Only Am Yisrael are commanded with such demanding business ethics of honesty that even a mistaken calculation of a goy in favor of the Yid should be returned. It was this heavenly attribute that Esav attempted specifically his malach to snuff out from Yaakov’s offspring. In truth the Sar of Esav was partially successful by injuring Yaakov in the kaf of the thigh. The Zohar says that this injury of the kaf symbolized that he affected the supporters of Torah and institutions. In what way? That some of them will support Torah with non kosher gelt. The plan was that if the institutions of Torah will be supported by non kosher gelt then the quality of Torah learned in these mosdos will be tainted somewhat and impure. Over time, the mesorah will be distorted and many Yiddishe kinder might just drop out or fall through the cracks because the pure Torah that should have been learned is not there to protect them as usual.
On the night of Tisha B’av we recite Aicha – lamentations for the destructions of our Bais Mikdash. Our היכל has been destroyed and has not yet been rebuilt because we failed and continue to have a shortcoming at מאדך which of the three לבבך נפשך מאדך corresponds to Yaakov Avinu .[the kodesh kadashim parallels the לב where the אבן שתיה is situated the source of the earth, Avraham, ומצאת את לבבו נאמן לפניך the היכל parallels מאד where the shulchan which symbolizes parnasah is fixed and the mizbaich hazahav which brings wealth, and the חצר where the mizbaich of karbanos stands parallels נפש which symbolizes blood כי הדם הוא הנפש Yitzchak who was brought upon the later at the Akeidah]
The word איכה share the same letters of איה כ which means where is the letter chof? Why have we not fixed up the injuredכף of Yaakov that was the jealousy of all the nations and especially that of Esav. That jealousy translates into righteousness in money issues. The passuk says הקול קול יעקב והידים ידי עשו Our Chazal darshan and say as long as the kol is by Yaakov, the hands of Esav will not be upon us. The mefarshim ask but in the passuk it seems to say just the opposite that even when the kol of Torah and tefillah is by Yaakov nevertheless the yadayim belongs to Esav? I once saw an answer to this question that the Chazal read the passuk as follows הקול קול יעקב והידים This means that if we have the kol of Torah and tefillah the way we are supposed to plus the yadayim of Yaakov which are emes, then Esav’s might and power cannot overcome us. However if we only have the learning and davening but in our business world we act with the hands of Esav, then he will have the power to chas veshalom cause us tremendous hardship. My Rebbi ztl used to speak about the Reichman’s of Toronto and say even the goy knew that his handshake on a deal was equal to a contract with lawyers. He was never late on a project even with a mere handshake alone. That is the high caliber of the hand of Yaakov. My Rebbi ztl told us that he once so affected as he watched an old Yerushalmi grocery merchant weigh fruit for a customer and before he put them on the scale he took a cloth and wiped it off from dust or any residue that might have remained there from a previous sale lest he might cheat the customer even from a fraction of the cost. This too is an example of the hand of Yaakov.
Sinas Chinan destroyed the Second Bayis so why can’t we extend our handshake to a Yid who appears to be unfamiliar and greet him a warm shalom aleichim when we see him. Make he feel comfortable and welcomed in a strange place. This endeavor as well is the hand of Yaakov.
The Moslems seem to be infiltrating and taking over the world slowly but surely. This is according to their scheduled announced universal plan and holy war. They were once world rulers and they tenaciously want to do it again. If our yadayim have the character of Yaakov then no yadayim of the goyim not even Yishmael can overpower us. True that the passuk says about Yishmael yado bakol [Beraishis 16,12] his hands are in everything and everybody. We are witnessing this development before our very own eyes. However, we can fight all of them off with the kol and yad of Yaakov.
It is very frightening to see that the letters סולם also spells MUSLAM. Yes they also have a קול of tefilla which is gematria סולם and Hashem listens as the name Yishmael suggests. They are climbing a ladder rising rung by rung to access control of the world once again. However the Yid has the added attribute of the yadayim of Yaakov as well. to counter act their קול. So why then are we witnessing presently their ascent to world domination? It is because they are climbing with the force and energy of the non glattממון of Klall Yisrael which has been making headlines recently and empowering them even more. For when Yaakov lets go of his Yiddishe hands he thereby strengthens the hands of Esav and Yishmael.
Now I realize that the children’s song of “The king was in his counting house counting all his money” is not only for youngsters but also for every adult Yid to bring its deep message to realization. Hashem, who is the king of all kings and the universe also loves to count and recount with tremendous excitement the monies of Klall Yisrael. He too repeats expressions one after another of the word money except with added adjectives: honest MONEY pure MONEY unselfish MONEY untainted MONEY undefiled MONEY righteous MONEY unquestionable MONEY Torah MONEY tzedakah MONEY chesed MONEY. These type of monies sanctify Hashem’s name and play the significant role of building the Haichal that was destroyed on Tisha B’av
Let us make a unified effort to get back our yadayim and take them away from Esav and Yishmael, so that this Tisha B’av will be the last one of mourning for it will be turned into a Moed where once again we will be oleh regel to the Haichal of the third Bais Hamikdash.