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What is the meaning of the Hebrew letters traditionally added after the name of a deceased person?
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Parashat Vayeira

by Rabbi Yitzchok Luria

Apples from the Orchard


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In the Heat of the Day

“And G-d appeared to him [Abraham] in the plains of Mam-Re, as he was sitting at the opening of the tent in the heat of the day.”

Sefer HaLikutim, parashat Vayeira
The initials of the words “and G-d appeared to him in the plains of” spell “Job” (Iyov). The initials of the words “G-d…in the plains of Mam-Re” spell the word for “levirate” (yavam). This alludes to the statement of our sages that Job was the offspring of a leviratic marriage. “And G-d appeared to him in the plains of”: vayeira eilav y-k-v-k be-eilonei. The initials of these words are vav-alef-yud-beit. Iyov: alef-yud-vav-beit. “G-d…in the plains of Mam-Re”: y-k-v-k be-eilonei mamrei. The initials of these words are yud-beitmem. Yavam: yud-beit-mem.

Now, G-d had previously told Abraham: “But you will come to your fathers in peace.” What sort of tiding was this? Rather, as our sages state, G-d hereby informed him that Terah, his father, who was then an idolater, would repent.

The expression “come to your fathers in peace” means that when the individual dies, his soul will repose in paradise with those of his forebears. Since Terah was an idolater, what sort of reassurance was G-d offering Abraham here? We must therefore conclude that G-d was telling Abraham that Terah would repent and that his soul would rest in paradise.

The words “in the heat of the day” allude to the statement of our sages that on that day G-d removed the sun from its sheath, this being the equivalent of Purgatory. Abraham at all times sought guests to host. Since this incident occurred shortly after his circumcision, G-d wished to let Abraham rest, so He made it extra hot so that people would refrain from traveling and no one would be on the road for Abraham to invite into his tent. The sun is envisioned as being encompassed by a sheath that protects the world from its rays. One aspect of the purification process of Purgatory is unbearable heat.

Abraham “was sitting at the opening of the tent,” referring to our sages’ statement that he sits at the entrance of Purgatory and keeps whoever is circumcised and sealed with the holy covenant and has not blemished it from entering. Abraham was the first Jew to be circumcised, and the covenant of circumcision is known to this day as “the covenant of Abraham.” Thus, whoever fulfills the commandment of being circumcised and guards the purity of his sexuality merits Abraham’s protection. Allegorically, this means that guarding sexual purity is sufficient merit to be spared the ordeal of Purgatory even if one has sinned in other ways that would have required that he undergo the purging process.

Now, this caused Terah be reincarnated. When he returned, he descended as a woman and married according to leviratic law.
I.e., this woman married the brother of her deceased, childless husband. In such a case, the first child of this union is considered the child of the deceased man. Although Terah repented of his sin of idolatry before he died, he evidently had to be reincarnated
in order to right his sexual sins. He descended as a woman, presumably to experience female consciousness and realize the seriousness of having “used” women. As a woman, she suffered being childless and losing her husband. She then had to marry the deceased husband’s brother. The key to the rectification of Terah’s sexual sins was the sexual purity and idealism of his son,
Abraham. The fact that Abraham reintroduced the idea of sexual integrity into the world allowed Terah’s soul to be set straight.


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Torah » The Bible » Five Books of Moses
Torah » The Bible

[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
First Jew, and first of our three Patriarchs. Born into a pagan society in Mesepotamia in 1812 BCE, he discovered monethieism on his own. He was told by G-d to journey to the Land of Canaan where he and his wife Sarah would give birth to the Jewish People.
Second of the three Jewish Patriarchs, son of Abraham and Sarah. Lived in Canaan (Israel); b. 1712 BCE, d. 1532 BCE.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.