Good Gracious, You’re Pregnant!

October 9th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 7 comments

“Just five more minutes,” “One more chapter,” “I guess I can stay a little longer.” The temptation to stretch out an enjoyable activity just a little bit more is one to which we can all relate.

After a month of reveling in God’s closeness, culminating with the Festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles), the Jewish people felt the same way. In response, God granted them an extra holy day, Simhat Torah, that begins as Sukkot ebbs away (starting this year Wednesday night, Oct. 11). Literally translated as “The Joy of the Torah,” it is on this day that we conclude and begin anew the annual cycle of reading the Five Books of Moses.

That makes this week a particularly apt time to highlight the idea that the first time in Genesis that a specific letter is used to start a word, that word provides a key to the inner meaning of that initial letter.

Consider the first usage of the word good in Scripture.

And God saw the light, that it was good
(Genesis 1:4)

In Hebrew, the word for good is TOV.  Its initial letter TET is the ninth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, giving it a numerical value of nine. Since TOV is the first word in the Bible to start with a TET, the letter itself is linked to good. Elsewhere, ancient Jewish wisdom also links the number nine to pregnancy giving us the following equation.

TET = 9 = TOV = good = pregnancy

ט
TET

There is another place in the Torah where ancient Jewish wisdom focuses, not on the presence of the letter TET, but its absence. The thirteen verses containing the second appearance of the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:6-18) contain at least one instance of every single letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Amazingly, the thirteen verses containing the first appearance of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-14) reveal one stunningly conspicuous exception.

The letter TET is completely absent from the first commandments!

Anything good endures forever, and Moses was destined to cast down and shatter the first two tablets of the Ten Commandments.  Had they contained the letter TET, representing the concept of good, they could not have been destroyed.  The thirteen verses comprising the second appearance of the Ten Commandments do contain the letter TET, because these tablets last forever.

What is going on?

The existence of the Ten Commandments and what they represent defines  a Biblical perspective of goodness. What good means to an ardent Islamic fanatic in Iraq is quite different from what good means to, say, a faithful Christian farmer and family man in Fresno. In reality, good comprises four categories of action.

  • Improving our relationship with God.
  • Advancing the interests of our families.
  • Advancing our financial interests.
  • Serving the interests of our friends and fellow citizens.

Time and energy invested in these four activities is good, carrying lasting impact, and is thus never wasted.

Pregnancy, and subsequent devotion to children, serves all four of these categories, making it in some ways the ultimate good. Through this medium we can

  • Become a partner in creation with God.
  • Promote family.
  • Have a worthwhile reason for gaining wealth.
  • Bless  society by increasing the number of well-raised and productive human beings.

In order to avoid a single wasted hour or a single wasted joule of our energy we need to strive to ensure that each waking hour is devoted to serving God, our families, our financial interests and God’s other children.

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7 comments

Alan Spitz says:

What word is different in Deuteronomy 5 that has the letter Tet?

Susan Lapin says:

The word “neTuyah” which means ‘outstretched.’

Brian Tucker says:

What can I add too what you have written? I wish I could get the rest of my chrtstian friends to listen to your programs and read your thought tools. So many of them declare the Old Testament to be dead. We are no longer under the law. To which I can only ask, So why is it part of our bible. How can we adhere to God’s word if don’t understand what it is really telling us. Keep up the good work.

Brian

OldSouth says:

And of course, to combine all these goals into one activity would be an ideal. Would love you to expand on the ideas presented in this essay. Most helpful, thank you.

LJ says:

Thank you Rabbi Daniel Lapin for once again giving us this useful insight into the Scriptures (a.k.a. The Good Book). I’ve had discussions with people who have some amount of confusion, including many Christians, with certain Biblical ideas. The true beauty behind it all is that humans are created with a spiritual plan.

I have great respect for practical applications involving science, including both social and physical sciences.

Economists say that the three most important physical needs for human survival are food, shelter and clothing, and they tend to leave out of their discussions the spiritual needs of humans.

The Bible established that God is the creator of every detail, seen and unseen, in the universe. Humans are born either male or female with spiritual and physical needs. Cooperation with one’s fellow humans satisfies these needs. God gave people many spiritually creative gifts – such as writing, mathematics, science, medicine, music, charity, agriculture, manufacturing, etc. – that they can use and share to benefit mankind.

I appreciated how you have clarified, distilled and connected the excellent reason we must nurture our spiritual lives by first serving our Creator, and then serving ourselves and families productively, so that our fellow man benefits too.

Also, I hope that my input will bless your readers just as I am blessed by theirs.

Andrew says:

Rabbi Lapin, this would be my favourite thought tool yet. (and I’ve been reading every one you have written since book 1 which I think was 2007). Without over make it overly complicated, you have given advice that anyone and everyone should heed.

Peter B. says:

My Rabbi –

The sun has just set on October 11th as I write this and I’m sending up a prayer of thanksgiving as well as a request for His blessing on all of our Jewish brothers and sisters everywhere on this extra holy day of Simhat Torah.

Earlier this evening I watched our nation’s president speaking to a group comprised primarily of over-the-road truckers in Harrisburg PA as Mr. Trump outlined his proposed revision to the American tax code. In essence, his proposal will provide the average American family with an additional $4,000 per year. Marriage is rewarded with doubling the standard deduction to $24,000 per couple, and having children rewards a family even more.

This proposed tax code revision cannot help but address all four categories of the Biblical definition of what comprises good.

#1 – As we build wealth and more quickly grow independent of government, we’ll find new freedom and resources with which to serve God.
#2 – The $4,000 per family (on average) annual pay raise will serve to advance the interests of our families rather than those same dollars advancing the interests of government (as, unfortunately, they are doing today).
#3 – This proposed tax plan will allow businesses to expand, adding jobs, creating vast new wealth, and advancing the financial interests of men, women, and children, young and old, from sea to shining sea.
#4 – The resulting increase in GDP (already 150% of the high water mark of the past 8 years) will cause the colossal locomotive that is the U.S. economy to accelerate in its ability to pull our friends and neighbors (e.g. the UK, Poland, former eastern block nations and all free market economies) into newfound wealth, prosperity, and the associated liberty that these naturally entail.

The left, meanwhile, will do everything in its power to prevent this tax proposal from becoming law. I think its fair to say that evil is hardly too strong a word to use in describing them.

Speaking of an expose of good vs. evil, I’m waiting in eager anticipation for your new and revised edition of America’s Real War. As Gotham city’s Police Commissioner Gordon used say about the Caped Crusader, “I don’t know who he is behind that mask, but I know when we need him — and we need him now!”

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