Developing Our SIXTH Sense
By Rabbi Pinchas Winston
The Rock! Perfect is His work, for all his paths are justice; a G-d
of faith without with sin, righteous and fair He is. (Devarim 32:4)
After that earth-stopping attack on the United States of America, in
which so many innocent people were ruthlessly and brutally murdered
by terrorists who have absolutely no value for human life, the above
posuk is more difficult to read. I say "earth-stopping" because it
is startling how in such a short time the perpetrators of this
grossly evil attack were able to paralyze and humble the mightiest
nation on earth, and send shock waves around the entire civilized
world. Talking about hitting an "Achilles' heel!"
To make matters even more difficult, the attack was one big black
miracle. According to all accounts, if the attack should have been
"successful" at all, it should only have been in a limited way. Too
many things could have and should have gone wrong. Too many things
went RIGHT for the terrorists, which were WRONG for civilization.
For the U.S. government, the implication may be that it was an
"inside job," meaning that the conspirators had contacts in key
places that helped them to carry out their affront against humanity.
However, for a believing Jew, an "inside job" has a different
connotation: they had help from Heaven. G-d had a role in all of
this, and even though He always does, in this case, His hand was so
It always feels very uncomfortable saying such a thing. G-d helps
terrorists?! G-d forbid!
G-d does NOT help evil to perform evil, NEVER! Then what do we mean,
and where was the justice, if there was any at all, in any attack
against seemingly innocent people?
The answer is that success or failure is not measured from Heaven's
point of view, by short-term gains or losses, as we often measure
success and failure. When it comes to Heaven, our idea of the end of
something is often, no usually, only the beginning of something else,
something BIGGER, the effect of which we may not notice for some time
In other words, the attack on the Twin Towers in New York and the
Pentagon in Washington was not only an effect, but a cause as well,
and knowing that changes everything. For, though it may be very
difficult to find a reason in the PAST for what just happened, it may
be easier to find a reason in the FUTURE for the event in question.
Hard as that may seem to be to grasp at this time, it was even harder
to imagine the events of two weeks ago happening - even five minutes
before they occurred.
All events of history must be viewed in the context of the goal of
history - the purpose of creation. Like a person who needs to travel
from Point A to Point B, his decision about when to travel and how to
travel will depend upon where he is going, and by when he has to
arrive at his destination, and how. History works the same way.
What happened two weeks ago happened when it did and how it did
because history is not stationary, as people would like to believe,
but in motion and on the road to a certain destination to arrive by a
certain time. What happened is leading to something very big and
very important, and I say "leading" as opposed to the past tense
"led," because it is not over yet, and won't be for some time to come.
Unable to fully understand the events of two weeks ago, how it
happened and why it happened because they were so out of the context
of everyday life as we have become accustomed to it, there will be a
great longing and effort on the part of millions to return to
"normal." There will be a desire to emotionally deny what happened,
though intellectually we will be unable to, and when that happens,
people will just stop asking questions and let time heal their wounds.
While that is a healthy approach to some things in life, this time it
is not. What happened in New York and Washington two weeks ago
represents a paradigm shift. The world changed then and it cannot go
back to the way things once were, and to try to go back is to live
with an illusion, a VERY dangerous illusion.
All explanations and excuses aside, the King is coming, and I don't
just mean this Rosh Hashanah. Two weeks ago G-d stepped directly
into history, and I don't think He plans to leave again.
The Rock! -- perfect is His work, for all His paths are justice...
We are about to find out just how true this really is.
Remember the days of the world, understand the years of generation
after generation. (Devarim 32:7)
It is not a coincidence that this posuk follows the previous ones.
It is both a lesson and a warning. If people were truly shocked by
the fact that such a calamity COULD occur in the heart of the United
States of America and to two of its most prominent symbols - the
World TRADE Center and the Pentagon, the symbol of American financial
prowess and the symbol of American military might - then they are not
students of history.
This week's parshah commands us to BE students of history. It
changes your whole perspective of the present and the future when you
are aware of the past. You can't believe how blind and naive we
become when we ignore history, and do not know it in detail.
I found it particularly interesting that even the president of the
United States came to view this attack on the American public as one
that stepped up the war between the forces of good and the forces of
evil, the side of light against the side of darkness. He is 100%
correct, though he might be quite mistaken about exactly what that
What I mean is brought out in this week's parshah, and Rashi's
explanation of the above posuk:
REMEMBER THE DAYS OF THE WORLD: What the earlier generations did and
how they angered Him. UNDERSTAND THE YEARS OF GENERATION AFTER
GENERATION: The Generation of Enosh, and how G-d brought the
Mediterranean waters upon them, and the Generation of the Flood and
how they were washed away. (Rashi)
And, why should we do that:
UNDERSTAND THE YEARS OF GENERATION AFTER GENERATION: To recognize
for the FUTURE that you have the ability to do better for yourselves,
to inherit the Days of Moshiach and the World-to-Come. (Ibid.)
In other words, the Torah is explaining that, in order to live safely
in G-d's creation, one must constantly distinguish between causes and
effects. Was the terrorist attack a cause or an effect? I'm sure
there were many people in Enosh's time, and the time of the Great
Flood who were shocked by what was happening to them, just as we have
been by the "punishments" of our days.
To many of us, what happened in the States was a cause, and not an
effect. After all, what could possibly have been so wrong with
American society for G-d to allow that kind of thing to happen in the
first place? G-d doesn't help evil be successful, He just doesn't
interfere with it when the merit to do so doesn't exist on behalf of
the potential victims. I'm not talking about individuals; I'm
talking about society as a whole.
It says in Tehillim:
Praise G-d, all peoples; praise Him, all the nations! (Tehillim 117:1)
Someone once asked the Vilna Gaon why King David wrote this posuk?
What praise can the nations of the world offer to G-d that the Jewish
people cannot? He answered: Only they will know how many times they
had wanted to inflict suffering on the Jewish people, but were
prevented from doing so by G-d!
I strongly disagree with Bin Laden and his partners-in-crime. We
have not been exposed to such brutality because of crimes against
Allah and the Islamic people. We have simply tasted what it means
when it says, "Those who forget are doomed to repeat."
Enosh's generation was guilty of idol worship, even though, in the
beginning, they may have meant well. Idol worship means placing your
trust in false gods, be they made of stone or metal, be they made of
green paper, be they men of flesh-and-blood. What was the source of
our perception of American invincibility? Money and military might.
"It could never happen in America! They're too... well... too
big... and too smart... and too rich... and too
well-equipped..." So was the generation of Enosh, in their own
way in their own time.
The Generation of the Flood was guilty of a different violation of
creation. As Rashi points out at the beginning of Parashas Noach,
the people of Noach's time knew no boundaries when it came to
enjoying the physical world. "To each his own" and "do as you
please" correctly described the theme of that sorry period of mankind.
To many in the Western world, that is the meaning of "America, land
of the free..." that is, free to do as you please, no matter how
offensive your actions might be to the Master of the Universe.
"In G-d we trust" on American money, I am sure, has been the source
of much of America's success. However, when this remains only to be
lip service to the Creator of the world, then it ceases to impress
the Power Above. And, when Jews learn to mimic this way of the
non-Jews, to the point that they feel safer and more secure in a
society built on these values, then they add insult to injury, even
if they are Torah-observant.
As I write this very essay, the nations are forming into a coalition
that could easily evolve into Gog and Magog. They don't have to know
it, and they don't have to even get together, IN THE BEGINNING, to go
to war against the Jewish people. They only have to be willing to go
to war, and that they are... that they are.
If you think that I am just waving my finger at the Americans and
saying, "You see! You had it coming to you!" and that I am gleeful
that "justice" has been done, you are VERY wrong. An awful lot of
good people suffered, and are still suffering as a result of the
horrific attack. Furthermore, I have heard stories of heroism even
by Torah standards that I cannot, personally, imagine performing in
similar circumstances. I do not find it difficult at all, two weeks
later, to still cry for the people who were unfortunate to have been
involved one way or another in what happened.
Something terrible has happened, something that my mind still has
difficulty understanding and my heart still has trouble accepting.
On the other hand, we have this week's parshah, and others like it.
The Torah was given to help us draw conclusions about the past, so
that we can improve in the present, and protect our future.
We would be wise to return to the classroom of history, and start
learning in earnest. Now, at this late and unstable time of history,
it is not only a mitzvah, but the basis of the security of the Jewish
people, present and future.
As part of an effort to read Biblical and historical significance
into the events of the last two weeks, some people turned to
Nostradamus and came up with a prediction that was never written by
him. Some people even felt poetic license to alter an already false
quote to make it "fit" the events a little tighter.
What a waste of time. All they had to do was open a Tanach and read,
among other prophets, Yeshayahu and Daniel (Chapter 8). Yeshayahu
The prophecy that Yeshayahu son of Amotz saw, concerning Judah and
Jerusalem: It will happen in the end of days... Its land became
full of silver and gold with no end to its treasuries; its land
became full of horses with no end to its chariots. Then its land
became full of false gods; each one of them bows to his own
handiwork, to what his fingers have made. Humankind will have bowed
and man will have humbled himself; yet, You will not forgive them.
Humankind's haughty eyes will be brought low and men's arrogance will
be humbled; and G-d alone will be exalted on that day. For G-d,
Master of Legions, has a day against every proud and arrogant person
and against every exalted person -- and he will be brought low; and
against all the lofty mountains, and against all the exalted hills;
and against every TALL TOWER and against every FORTIFIED WALL . . .
(Yeshayahu 2:1, 7-15)
The Zohar is also laced with passages, many quite obscure but clearly
about the "End-of-Days" and Yemos HaMoshiach. After the attack on
the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, this section of Zohar
immediately began making the rounds. I wonder who remembers or finds
Says the Zohar HaKodesh.
I will show you, but not for now, for these things will only come to
be at that time, some after time and some in the Days of King
Moshiach. "A star has gone forth from Ya'akov ..." (Bamidbar 24:17).
This teaches us that in the future, The Holy One, Blessed is He, will
build Jerusalem and one star will spark within seventy pillars of
fire and seventy sparks will receive light from it in the middle of
the sky. The other seventy stars will be swallowed within it. It will
give off light and blaze for seventy days. At the end of the sixth
day it will become visible at the beginning of the twenty-fifth day
of the sixth month. It will be gathered in at the end of seventy
complete days and be visible in the city of Rome, and on that day,
three great walls will fall and great hall will fall, and the power
of that city will die. Then this star will become visible in the
world, and it will instigate a great war from all four sides ... When
Moshiach becomes revealed the people of the world will be suffering
trouble after trouble, and the enemies of the Jewish people will be
prevailing. Then the spirit of Moshiach will be aroused and the evil
Edom will be destroyed and the Land of Seir will be burned with fire
... (Zohar, Balak, 212b)
Nothing 100% conclusive, but certainly interesting in light of what
did happen. One could see an allusion to the Twin Towers and the
Pentagon without looking too hard. However, what is also interesting
is the emphasis on the "sixth" - the sixth day of the week (Friday)
in the sixth month (Elul).
The only problem, of course, is history itself: the hijackings and
attacks took place on a Tuesday, the third day of the week, and not
the sixth day. And besides, as the "Nitzutzei Oros" points out, the
twenty-fifth day of Elul - the first day of creation - never occurs
on a Friday.
However, it DID take place in the sixth month of the Jewish year
(months are counted from Nissan and not Tishrei), in Elul, in the
SIXTH millennium, Yosef HaTzaddik's millennium. According to the
Talmud, one of Yosef's prime roles in Egypt was to collect all the
money into one single location: Egypt (Pesachim 119a). And,
interestingly enough, that money has relevance to the end of history
Rami Chama son of Chanina said: Three treasures Yosef hid in Egypt.
One was revealed to Korach, one was revealed to Antoninus son of
Asviros, and one is hidden away for the righteous in the
Time-to-Come. (Pesachim 119a)
As well, the number six has added meaning, and that is that it
alludes to the sixth day of Sivan in the future when the Jewish
people would accept Torah at Mt. Sinai in the year 2448/1313 BCE.
Says the Talmud:
And it was evening and it was morning, the sixth day (ha-shishi).
(Bereishis 1:31) - the letter "heh" (preceding the word "shishi") is
extra... to say that (G-d) made a condition with them (all of
creation): If the Jewish people accept the Five (represented by the
letter "heh") Books of the Torah, then you can remain stable; if not,
then you will resort back to 'null' and 'void'. (Shabbos 88a)
The reference is to the second verse of creation:
The earth was null (tohu) and void (vohu), and there was darkness
upon the face of the deep, and the spirit of G-d hovered above the
water. (Bereishis 1:2)
In other words, the only reason why G-d saw fit to end the chaos of
the first day of creation was for the sake of a people which would
one day accept and live by Torah. So important was this to the
Creator that He built His world upon this condition, and built this
condition into His world. It is a "law" of creation.
Far fetched as it may seem at first, what happened in New York and
Washington was a function of the original null and void of primordial
creation, in a major way. All chaos anywhere in creation is a
function of the original "tohu" that the Five Books of Moshe are
meant to vanquish. In light of this, can we call it purely
coincidental and incidental that the Pentagon has five sides, or that
the Twin Towers looked like two big Hebrew "vavs," the letter which
represents the number SIX?
And by the way, the Vilna Gaon's version of the Zohar says that the
twenty-fifth day should read, "twenty-third day," which, this year
was the Tuesday of infamy. The Vilna Gaon also wrote:
The time for this revelation is not known, though, it is known that
it cannot be in the fifth millennium... It can only be in the
SIXTH millennium... What this means is that there is one year
during which redemption can come, and that is the year after the
Sh'mittah year, for that is when the Chesed is revealed in the
"mouth" of Yesod, and that is when Moshiach comes... (Safra
d'Tzniusa, Chapter 1)
Forget the Kabbalistic jargon for the moment. The point is that
finding Biblical significance for the events of history, especially
when they shake the very foundations upon which we have built our
lives is not only possible, but necessary. For, what we are finding
out and will continue to find out is the opposite of what we have
come to believe, and that is, not only is the past not only the past,
it is the present as well.
For, you can change your clothes and even become more advanced. But
G-d will always be G-d, man will always be man, and the purpose of
creation will never change, ignore it as we might.
Changes That Last Forever, Installment 1
I have been asked on many occasions regarding the book I wrote years
ago called, "Changes That Last Forever." It was a small pocket-size
book meant to act as companion on Yom Kippur to help a sincere
individual making positive and lasting changes, but in truth, it is
relevant all year round.
However, it is presently out of print, though I noticed that Feldheim
Publishers has been selling some remaining copies through Amazon.com.
Since I have no plans at present time to re-print the book, I have
decided instead to serialize here, and present sections on a weekly
basis, edited and updated somewhat. It's the right time of year to
start, for, judgment will continue until the end of Chanukah, G-d
"There I stood again, the same pose, the same words, the same sense
of remorse. It was also the same sin I claimed against myself last
year on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and the year before that, and
each year back as far as I can recall. It's getting to the point
where I feel silly asking for forgiveness, knowing full well that
next Yom Kippur I'll probably experience another deja vu. When will
I ever change?"
For many people, these words hit home, and some of the tears shed on
Yom Kippur, and at other times of the year, are tears of frustration.
"How could I make the same mistake again when I promised myself I wouldn't?"
The answer to this question is not as simple as it may appear to be,
especially when considering the Talmud's explanation for sin:
No person sins unless a spirit of insanity enters them. (Sotah 3a)
Who in their right mind would want to do the wrong thing, asks the
Talmud, and answers, no one. You have to be out of your mind to turn
against G-d! Well, if that is the case, asks the Maharsha, a
sixteenth century Talmudic commentator, then why are we held
responsible for our sins? Why do we even require a Yom Kippur, if
according to the Torah, a mentally unfit person is not punishable for
However, there IS a Yom Kippur, and we ARE held accountable for our
sins, at least the ones we could have avoided. In many cases, we
have to atone for the accidental ones as well! If so, then what does
the Talmud mean by its statement, and how does it apply to daily life?
The answer to this question, it turns out, leads not only to an
understanding of the nature of sin, but to a profound understanding
of mankind in general, and the unique and wonderful purpose for which
we were created.
CHAPTER ONE: The Issue If Image
The first chapters of the Torah describe the beginning of existence.
Briefly, the opening verses take the reader from a state of absolute
nothingness, to a world in chaos, to a neatly designed paradise that
was to be the back-drop for the history of mankind.
For whom is this accounting of creation? Even Rashi, the great Torah
commentator (1040-1105 CE), questioned the need for the creation
The Torah could have begun from [the verse], "This month will be to
you" (Exodus 12:2), because it was the first commandment...
(Rashi, Bereishis 1:1)
As Rashi implied by his question, the Torah is a book about morality,
whose sole purpose is to teach mankind, and specifically the Jewish
people, about proper conduct as per the Creator's version of it.
Shouldn't every piece of information, especially the opening verses
of the Torah reflect this?
Nevertheless, Rashi had an answer to his query: the Torah wished to
proclaim G-d the owner of creation, and therefore taught us that He
was its Maker. This answer differs from one given by the earlier
With ten utterances was the world created. What does the Torah teach
us? Couldn't the world have been made with a single utterance?
Rather, it is to pay the evil who destroy a world that was made with
ten utterances, and to reward the righteous who uphold a world made
with ten utterances. (Pirkei Avos 5:1)
Both answers, however, speak little of the intrinsic value of the
words themselves, which can be better appreciated in light of another
Later, the Torah states that man was created b'tzelem Elokim, that
is, "in the image of G-d" (Bereishis 1:26). However, the Torah
itself does not clearly spell out what this means, and hence, one is
left with the question, what does it mean to be created in the
"image" of G-d?
For evolutionists, this is an exceedingly difficult question to ask,
let alone answer:
No single, essential difference separates human beings from other
animals - but that hasn't stopped the phrasemakers from trying to
find one. They have described humans as the animals who make tools,
or reason, or use fire, or laugh, or any one of a dozen other
appealing over-simplifications. Here's one more description for the
list, as good as any other: Humans are the animals who wonder,
intensely and endlessly, about their origin (TIME, March 14, 1994,
How Man Began, p. 41).
Perhaps this is precisely the reason for the opening verses of the
Torah, and the entire creation story (and up until the commandment to
sanctify the moon, to which Rashi referred). The Torah knew that as
man traveled far from the Garden of Eden, and grew less clear about
the purpose of creation, he would also become less clear about what
Thus, the story of creation is more than a step-by-step account of
existence. It is a revelation of G-d, at least the aspect of G-d
called Elokim, in which we are made in His image. Therefore, if we
can understand something about Elokim, we can understand something
about ourselves, being b'tzelem Elokim.
Thus, in the first verses of the Torah is everything we need to know
about our potential and our purpose in the grand scheme of things.
It remains only for the individual to look into and analyze the
words, and the thoughts behind them. They are:
VERSE 1: In the beginning, Elokim created the heaven and earth.
VERSE 2: The earth was null and void, with darkness upon the face of
the deep; the spirit of Elokim hovered over the water surface.
VERSE 3: Elokim said, "Let there be light!" and there was light.
VERSE 4: Elokim saw that the light was good, and Elokim separated
between the light and the dark.
In the above account, it is Elokim who methodically transformed the
"natural" chaos of creation into an "unnatural" ordered reality; it
is Elokim who brought light to a dark world, the light for which
creation was conceived and realized:
Elokim saw that the light was good, and Elokim separated between the
light and the dark. (Bereishis 1:3)
For, whenever something is called "good," essentially what is being
said is, it fits into his or her understanding of what life is about.
For example, "That was a good purchase," means that since life is for
pleasure, and the purchase increases pleasure, it is purposeful and
Whatever that light is, the most important thing is that we too are
able to create it, when we fulfill the purpose of creation - not
necessarily exactly in the same way G-d did and does, but in our own
significant way. For, like for Elokim Himself in whose image we were
cast, being able to do so is a matter of bringing order to chaos.
The initial verses of creation teach us more than the essential fact
that G-d is the Creator and Owner of creation. They also teach us
about who we are, and what we are capable of achieving as beings made
in the image of G-d. Success means bringing order to chaos, which
results in a revelation of the supernal light of creation.
Part Two, Next Week, G-d willing.
Have a great Shabbos,