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Letters and Numbers of the Festivals

Decoding Jewish Holidays

Rabbi Raskin looks at the hidden meanings and numerical values (gematria) of the Hebrew letters relating to the Jewish holidays.

30:52
Letters and numbers of the festivals
The name of the Hebrew month Elul is spelled alef-lamed-vav-lamed. This corresponds to five different scriptural acronyms that represent five areas of special emphasis in Elul: 1) Torah study, 2) prayer, 3) acts of kindness, 4) repentance and 5) redemption.
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21:44
Understanding the mitzvah of teshuvah, more than just repentance, rather returning to G-d, explained on five levels.
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43:45
Letters and numbers of the festivals—Yom Kippur
In our prayers, the verse “Shema Yisrael” is followed by a verse that appears nowhere in the Torah. What is its origin? Why do we whisper it all year long, and why do we say it out loud on Yom Kippur?
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35:48
Letters and numbers of the festivals—Sukkot
The mystery of a missing letter vav in the verse that talks about shaking the lulav (Leviticus 23:40) and in the verse commanding us to dwell in the sukkah (23:42).
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18:21
Letters and numbers of Simchat Torah
Before the Torah was given, it existed as “black fire written upon white fire.” This is alluded to by the unusual term “eish-dat,” which is written as one word but read as two.
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38:28
The Day of Liberation for Chassidism
The nineteenth of Kislev marks the day the Alter Rebbe (the first Chabad Rebbe) was released from Czarist imprisonment and contains great significance in the dissemination of Chassidus (the inner teachings of the Torah).
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25:13
Letters and Numbers of the Festivals—Chanukah
The name Chanukah itself contains many hints to the deeper meaning of the festival.
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19:22
Letters and Numbers of the Festivals—Chanukah
The first letter of the word Chanukah is the eighth letter of the Hebrew alphabet "chet." What secrets are contained within the shape and numerical value of the letter "chet" that can teach us about the meaning of Chanukah?
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21:58
Playing dreidel (spinning top) is a popular Chanukah custom. Discover layers of meaning in this fun tradition.
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23:37
Letters and Numbers of the Festivals—Purim
What is the difference between Purim, which is celebrated on the 14th day of the month, and Passover and Sukkot which are celebrated on the 15th day of their respective months? The answer lies in the fact that the number fourteen in Hebrew is represented by the letters yud (10) and daled (4), which spell the word "yad" which means "hand."
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16:35
Letters and Numbers of the Festivals—Purim
The name Purim means "lotteries." The first letter of this word is the letter peh which also means "mouth." The entire story of Purim is really about the various "mouths" that spoke up at various times.
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18:02
The Passover Seder
The Four Cups of the Passover Seder as they correspond to the "four sons" (the wise one, the wicked one, the simple one, the one who does not know how to ask) as well as the four matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah.) Part 1 of this class addresses the first two cups.
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35:21
The Passover Seder
The Four Cups of the Passover Seder as they correspond to the "four sons" (the wise one, the wicked one, the simple one, the one who does not know how to ask) as well as the four matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah.) Part 2 of this class addresses the second two cups as well as the cup poured for Elijah the prophet.
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21:56
In the Passover haggadah, after we enumerate the ten plagues, we read what appears to be a simple mnemonic to remember the plagues. Discover the profound meaning embedded in this hidden code.
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30:00
The eighth day of Passover
On the final day of Passover (Acharon Shel Pesach), there is a custom to partake of a festive celebration known as Moshiach’s Seudah (the meal of Moshiach). What is the source and meaning of this custom, and what is its connection to the final redemption that will come about through Moshiach?
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17:01
Letters and Numbers of the Festivals
Each holiday has its special mitzvah that is unique to the respective festival (like shofar on Rosh Hashana, matzah on Passover etc.). Yet, it seems we don’t find in the Torah any particular mitzvah for Shavuot?!
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29:16
Lag BaOmer and R’ Shimon bar Yochai
We count the Omer in anticipation of the giving of the Torah on Shavuot. But on Lag BaOmer we celebrate the life of R’ Shimon bar Yochai, who revealed the esoteric dimension of Torah.
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45:23
The numbers and letters of destruction and renewal
The mystical secrets hinted at by the numbers in the dates associated with the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem—the 17th day of Tammuz, the 9th day of Av, and the three weeks or twenty-one days between them.
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35:09
Tisha B’Av and the Book of Eicha
In the book of Eicha – authored by Jeremiah the prophet – the letter Lamed in the verse “Let it not befall you...” is written small. This symbolizes Jeremiah's role, and by extension every Jew, to be a light unto the nations.
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27:44
The greatest holiday of the year
Connecting the dots between dancing in circles, a full moon, breaking the ax, and escaping death.
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