The Book of Daniel is considered part of the Ketuvim - The Writings. It is not a book of prophecy nor is Daniel considered a Prophet. Although he did live at the same time and place as Ezekiel, Zecariah and some other Prophets.
In our class on Psychic Abilites we discuss that the Prophet is actually on a lower limit than the Talmid Chacham - The Wise Person. So Daniel was writing this book using this higher level yet he is not a Prophet. The material in this book is written sometimes in Hebrew and sometimes in Aramaic. We will discuss this when we reach the transition in the Book itself. Also know that this Book starts out in Hebrew.
The Book of Daniel is under rated in today's world. The Book of Daniel is actually speaking to us about our time and place. It is a very important part of the Mashiach Prophecy. To truly understand what Daniel says we must place it within its time and place in the process we call history.
The Book of Daniel begins prior to the destruction of the Temple. Nebuchanezzar was the general of the Babylonian Armies. He came to Jerusalem, conquered Jerusalem, put into place a puppet government (Remember the Fast of Gedaliah?). This government was a tool used as a means of control of conquered territory. Another means of control was to take young people of the Noble Classes, of the conquered territory back to Babylonia where they were educated and integrated within the Babylonian government. Can you appreciate what happens to a young teenager separated from his home and family raised within a different culture? This is an excellent method to bring your enemy to become your friend. It is a technique that will teach the Palestinian Children to not Hate. Yet it can not be used today. Why not? Because it is coercive. The same effect comes from immersing children into a culture through Television and modern means of technology. The question that must be answered: Is this coercive?
In the Prophet Ezekiel we read that the time of Prophecy is coming to an end. Ezekiel and Daniel are contemporaries. Daniel is of course younger, without the complete training of a Prophet. We must realize also that the People were inundated with a consciousness that Prophecy only can happen in the Land of Israel. Ezekiel is the only recorded Prophet who Prophesized outside of Israel. Can you imagine a culture where people were used to going to a Prophet for advice on their personal decisions? Remember there were an estimated 1,000,000 people over a 400 year period who were trained in the skills of the Prophet. This same training begins today with the study of the Sefer Yetzirah similar to our 40 classes on this book. Now all of these people did not receive prophecies. They could not tell people what would happen to them personally. People did not know what to do. Thus the Creator gave a glimpse of what was to be in the Prophecy of Ezekiel in the Vision of the Chariot as well as other Prophecies in the Book of Ezekiel.
Prophecy actually continued in the Land of Israel until the rebuilding of the Second Temple. An additional 70 years. Yet the people in exile did not have access to this. This is an important shift in the History of the World. It is a time that shifts the Children of Israel into the consciousness of exile as well as the physicality of exile. Even today we are in exile. We have been inundated with the consciousness of exile. we have no real understanding of what it means to live with the energy of the Creator being in our lives constantly, which is what is available to people who live in the Land of Israel. Yet even today the majority of Israeli citizens and even religious Israelis do not have this consciousness of living with HaShem constantly. We live in a similar time in which the consciousness of the world is changing from exile to redemption. Just as in the time that the Book of Daniel is being written in the reverse process.
One of my teachers expresses this time of transition as HaShem shifted from Plan A to Plan B. Plan A was to be the Jewish World living in the Land, continually studying Torah and raising their consciousness to become closer to the Creator. The people did not allow that to happen. They as we today were busy with the physical mundane actions of everyday life. The raising of food stuffs, the raising of children, yet these mundane acts can be invigorated with Kedushah by Man's consciousness. That did not happen. So God started and shifted to Plan B, the plan of exile. In this plan the other Nations would impact the Children of Israel to force them to grow to be a Light unto the Nations. Guess what happened? It worked partially. Now in this return to redemption it will work the whole way.
What is meant by working partially? The world is now almost 70% connected to the concept of One HaShem. (Many churches, many religions, all around the concept of One HaShem.) That is the partial level. Now we will come full circle where the Nation of Israel will be a Light unto the Nations and a Nation of Priests. Are you ready? I think not and that is why the study of the Book of Daniel is so important.
Just as the physical world was changing to a physical exile there is a spiritual change as well. Ezekiel and Daniel knew each other according to the Talmud. They communicated. Ezekiel proved his Prophecy by revealing the workings of the Merkavah - The Chariot. Ezekiel heard from HaShem "I am HaShem and i want you to tell the people... Daniel was not trained this way. He did not experience things the same way. Ezekiel saw Angels as he describes them in the Book of Ezekiel. Daniel saw Angels as Men, He experienced them in a very different way. Daniel experienced dreams and not visions which Ezekiel did. Yet the Talmid Chacham is higher. Let us find out what this means over the course of these classes.
To understand the difference between the Baal Ruach HaKodesh (Master of Divine Spirit) and a Prophet we need to understand the dimensional realities described in the language of Kabbalah. A Prophet perceives the level of Yetzirah. The Baal Ruach HaKodesh perceives the level of Asiyah. Clearly a lower level, yet many of these people can rise to the level of Talmid Chacham. They do this through the mechanism of the Language of Branches and how to interpret the higher level from observation of the lower level. The Prophet has no ability to do this. It is only the Talmid Chacham who is able to. Come and let's study Daniel together and see if we can begin to make these connections.
Before we start i want you to see the commentary from the Azamra website. Do not compare the two. The Azamra commentary is meant for a cursory reading - two chapters a day of the Prophets and Writings except for Psalms. This is covered in one year. Here is the beginning commentary from Chapter 1 of Daniel by Azamra.org.
There could be few better introductions to the book of Daniel than the opening words of R. Avraham Ibn Ezra's commentary thereon: "This is the book of the man greatly beloved, in which the most glorious of things are spoken, with prophecies some of which have already come about and others that are still destined to come about. Each thing is expressed with brevity in mysteries and riddles, while its secrets reside with the angels above - secrets that stand upon all the foundational elements - and its commentators have not succeeded in penetrating its secret. Each one explains as far as his hand reaches, but the feet of all of them are unsteady when it comes to the time of the destined end."
The rabbis said: "If all the wise men of the nations of the world were on one side of the scale and Daniel on the other, he would outweigh them all" (Yoma 77a). Daniel himself was considered not a PROPHET (NAVEE) but a wise and saintly SAGE (HACHAM), yet he saw what even the prophets did not see" (Sanhedrin 93b; see Daniel 10:7).
From the point of view of historical narrative, the book of Daniel takes up the story of the exile of Judah in Babylon from time of the first phase of the exile, which took place under King Yeho-yakim, as told in II Kings ch 24. This was eighteen years before the destruction of the Temple and, together with the exile of Yeho-yakim's son Yeho-yachin a year later, brought to Babylon the very flower of the Judean population, including all those righteous Judeans who heeded the message of the prophets of the time and accepted the decree of exile with resignation instead of trying to fight it.
Nebuchadnezzar was a ruthless but highly complex and very deep world ruler who was determined to use the minds and intellects of the very cream of the captive Judeans to serve his needs in governing and expanding his empire. "Because you did not serve HaShem your God. you shall serve your enemies" (Deut. 28:47). "If you had been worthy, you would have been called My servants, but now that you have not been worthy, you are servants of Nebuchadnezzar and his companions" (Yalkut Shimoni).
Nebuchadnezzar ordered his chief minister to choose an elite of good-looking, super-intelligent and wise Judean children who would be well fed and specially educated for service in his court. One of the requirements was that "they must have the ability to stand in the palace of the king" (v 4). The Talmud picturesquely explains this to mean that they would have to be able to control themselves so as not to laugh, chat or fall asleep during lengthy court sessions as well as holding themselves in if they felt the need to relieve themselves (Rashi ad loc., Sanhedrin 93b).
There are 12 Chapters to the Book of Daniel - one for each month, Tribe, Astrological Sign, and the elemental letters. We will be looking at Chapter One who is connected to the Dalet. The Doorway. To Where?
Chapter 1 begins with the 266,440 word in the Tanach and ends with the 266,744 word. Therefore Chapter 1 has 304 words. One word in Hebrew that has this same gematria is Keder which translates as skull or brainpan. Chapter 1 begins with the 1,034,877 letter and ends with the 1,036,169. There are 1292 letters in Chapter 1. A translation of the word that is this number would be "to strengthen Unity".
why do i give you these numbers and then explain the numbers. What has this to do with anything at all? The answer is how else can you begin to realize the unity of all things and the true statement that there is no separation among people when you are unable to appreciate the unity of the Tanach - the blueprint of creation - which means the blue print for your life!.
I will read Chapter 1 of Daniel, while i hope that you will begin to come prepared to future classes or i will continue to use your time to read the translation. it is up to you.
Verse 1 and 2: Why did Nebuchanezzar take vessels from the Holy Temple and bring them to the house of his God? Because the mind set of men in those times was when a nation defeated another nation it was because the God of that Nation defeated the other Nation. Who cares? Remember people were higher spiritually in those days. They understood the spiritual systems better than we. They knew that when they won in the physical was due to them winning in the spiritual. With this in mind lets learn some of the spiritual laws.
In the Torah HaShem refers to entities called Eloheim Achrainim or "Other Gods". Who are these entities? They are Angelic Messengers or Chieftains of the Nation. They have a job to distribute the energy from the creator to the people of the nation they represent. When they lose a war spiritually the Angelic Chief dies but there is no disappearance in spirituality so they are thrown into the River Dinur which is a River of Fire. This Fire cleanses them and it is as if they died and are reborn. They now are serving as a subordinate to the other Angel Chief. They receive their sustenance through the winning Angelic Chief. What do we care? When Jews are in exile they receive their sustenance through the Angelic Chief of the physical nation that they reside instead of directly from HaShem.
Nebuchanezzar was saying, "My God is stronger than your God." He was demonstrating what he thought was a winning situation that he had destroyed HaShem Chas V'Shalom. Of course HaShem does not get destroyed he just plays at not being available to us. If we do not understand this then we can not deal properly with the spiritual system and we start to "worship" Other Gods just like the generation of Enosh (child of Seth).
Verse 3 and 4: Why take the young men? We mentioned the reason for political control. You train people in your way and then send them back to become leaders of their people but they are not from the people even though it appears as if they are from the people. It is a technique that works to this day. The leaders of the modern state of Israel appear to be Jewish but lack the education and culture of their religion. They were raised with a religion of Zionism. This also works with respect to the bureaucrats who work in middle and lower management of the United Nations. Where do they come from? 80% are Palestinian refugees raised on hate. What do you think will happen? It is not recognized of course yet. What will happen when it is realized?
Another understanding of the word Chaldean in the Torah is it represents both the Nation and the science of Astrology. Daniel and the other children were taught this science from a young age. In Torah we are taught to study this science but not to use it as the other nations use it. We use it for different purposes. This is what Abraham taught us who came from the Nation of the Chaldees.
Verse 5 through 17: King Nebuchanezzar gives the children a scholarship. He takes care of them with food and shelter and education. Not out of the goodness of his heart but out of an planned agenda of control. He wants to make people who look and feel and have the criteria of being Jewish actually Chaldean. They are given Names to make them Chaldean. It is our practice to do this even today. We give our children a Hebrew Name along with our English Name. Is this a good practice? I will let you decide. Just remember each name brings to the surface aspects of your soul and your correction. Do you need any more correction?
If you want to change consciousness change diet! We are what we eat as it has been explained time and again. Here is the Azamra comments about this issue.
Daniel was determined not to defile and sully himself with the royal food that was provided for these privileged Judean captive children, exemplifying the very first rule of Jewish spiritual survival in exile: METICULOUS OBSERVANCE OF THE LAWS OF KASHRUS (spiritual purity of food). Daniel and his companions understood that the food we ingest nourishes not only our physical bodies but fuels and influences our very minds and souls. They knew that ingesting the royal food, whose ingredients and methods of preparation went contrary to Torah law, would corrupt their subtlest spiritual sensitivities and indeed their entire outlook on everything, destroying their Jewish purity. With a courage comparable to that of Joseph in his years of captivity in Egypt, they secured the agreement of the king's catering officer to test them out on a diet of vegetables and water for ten days in what must have been one of the first macrobiotic experiments in history. They had astounding success, proving healthier than all the other children who did eat the king's food.
When Daniel and his companions were finally taken before Nebuchadnezzar, they brought about a great sanctification of the Name of God even in exile, showing that it was precisely the Torah-observant Jewish captives who outweighed all the sages, wizards and diviners of the Babylonian empire.
If it happened to Daniel and the 3 others why does it not happen to our children now? It actually does. A Kosher diet if it is Kosher will built a healthier human being. Unfortunately we do not know what is truly Kosher today. We argue over Hechsher which are paid by the producer and restaurant instead of the community paying for the Hechsher. This sets up a system that is bound to bring greed into the picture. Why do we stand for it? Even the new Hechsher to make sure the employees are treated properly is still being paid by the employers instead of the community. What an opportunity we had and lost. No i did not do anything then but i do need to do Teshuvah now in order to assist the change that needs to take place.
Rambam states that Kosher aspect relates not just to the food but the way you eat. We learn in Kabbalah the consciousness of the people who prepare the food infects the food. Have you ever eaten in a restaurant that you like but had a bad meal. Maybe it was the fact that the people in front of you who sat at the table were arguing and that argument infected your food when it was placed on the Table.
Daniel request for Kosher food was an act of rebellion. Yet it was not seen that way. Here is a miracle and it is not being presented to you unless you are looking for it. What do you learn from this for your own life? We do not need to eat physical things. Daniel according to the Midrash was knowledgeable about how to take energy from food at the spiritual level. That is the Blessings before and after eating. Learn this lesson well.
I would like to discuss anti-Semitism here. I am going to relate to you the root source of anti-Semitism as expressed by one of my teachers. When someone receives sustenance from an Angelic Chief that truly does not belong to that Chief or that Nation the Chief does not like it and feels resentment. He has his orders from HaShem yet he can carry those orders out with happiness or with upset. When Jewish people are living in exile they take from the Angel of that nation. The Angel feels resentment and his food to his nation represents that resentment and that is the spiritual cause of anti-Semitism which has no true cause because it is coming from the Angel Chief's Resentment.
Do you think this is true? Or does it not go deep enough?
In my opinion this is a demonstration of how people can stop searching for the deepest truth. who is the cause of this Angel's resentment? It is the Jews who forced Hashem to send us to exile. That is the cause. We are the cause. While you are hearing a reasonable spiritual cause, it is still pointing at someone else and not accepting our responsibility. This is how deep and wily is Satan.
Verse 18 to 20: Daniel and the Others are tested and are rewarded by being put to work by King Nebuchanezzar as a Chaldee. They excelled all of the other students both foreign and Chaldee alike. Is this truly a reward or is it part of God's plan? Remember Joseph told his brothers that he came to Egypt not because they sold him into slavery but because it was part of God's Plan. What is God's plan? What is being written here in these verses that we can learn about God's Plan?
Why does it tell us that Daniel and the Others are 10 times better than the other students? To hint to us that Daniel could see into the other frames of reference which we call Sefirot. Daniel could see all the way to Keter of the Olam Asiya. This is the level of the watchers as we will come to find out.
Verse 21 is subject to debate and discussion. Does it mean that Daniel died? Does it mean that Daniel no longer served as a Chaldee in the Kings House? What does it mean?
Here is the Azamra.org commentary on verse 21
The closing verse of our present chapter (v 21) which tells us that Daniel remained in a position of influence until "the first year of King Koresh (=Cyrus)", is open to a variety of interpretations (see Rashi ad loc.) Some rabbis held that Daniel retained his influence only until the reign of Koresh I, who ruled before Ahashverosh, while others held that he remained until the reign of Koresh II (=Darius II) who ruled after Ahashverosh (Megillah 15a).
Verse 21 has a word Ayin Dalet which is usually translated as "until" but can also be translated as witness. When we read the word as witness the verse becomes the following:
Daniel was a witness --- to the first year of King Koresh. This would indicate that he was part of the Purim events as well. Koresh has the meaning in Hebrew of congealment or frozen. This would imply that Daniel was a witness to the freezing of the concept of time which is a Kabbalistic concept to long to discuss.
There are a lot of codes and messages concealed in this book. Next week we will start to speak about Chapter two and the beginning of the dreams. I hope you are beginning to see how important it is for us to study this Book and all of the Prophets.
Although the dream of Nebuchadnezzar is dated in our text as having taken place in "the second year of the reign (MALCHUS, kingship) of Nebuchadnezzar." (v 1), Rashi (ad loc.) points out that this cannot be taken literally since Daniel was not yet in Bablyon. What the text means is that this was in the second year after the destruction of the Temple , for then Nebuchadnezzar attained the height of temporal, unholy MALCHUS when he displayed his brazen arrogance in entering into the Sanctuary of the King of the Universe.
After his dream, "his spirit was troubled", VATITH-PA'EM RUHO. Nebuchadnezzar's dream is compared to Pharaoh's dream of the seven cows and seven ears of corn, except that in Pharaoh's case, it says VATI-PA'EM RUHO (Gen. 41:8), whereas in the case of Nebuchadnezzar the grammatical form of the Hebrew verb is the "doubled" HITPA'EL - VATI TH -PA'EM implying double trouble, because on waking up, Pharaoh forgot the interpretation but did remember the dream, whereas Nebuchadnezzar forgot both the interpretation AND THE DREAM ITSELF.
chanoch adds: A modern person says how can the astrologers know a dream Nebuchadnezzar forgot?
Metzudas David on verse 2 explains that the HARTOUMIM that Nebuchadnezzar summoned to tell him what he had dreamed and what it meant were experts in natural sciences and psychological explanations of dreams while the ASHAPHIM were medical doctors who understood how bodily changes are reflected in the pulse, urine etc. The MECHASHPHIM were astrologers who used the positions of planets etc. in interpreting various phenomena including dreams, while the KASDIM were experts in the constellations and could understand a person's destiny by knowing the hour at which he was born. Rashi (on Daniel 1:20) says the HARTOUMIM used to use human bones for divination.
In response to Nebuchadnezzar's outlandish demand to be told the very dream that he himself had forgotten, the KASDIM, who had the reputation for being the most deeply immersed in the occult arts as well as the cruellest, switched into speaking Aramaic - the lingua franca of Mesopotamia and Syria - so that everyone present should be able to understand and see how ridiculous the king's demand was in order to shame him into backtracking. Much of the rest of the book of Daniel is written in the same courtly Aramaic, with its very stately cadences and a style somewhat more ornate than the classic chiseled simplicity of biblical Hebrew.
The KASDIM explained to the king that he was asking for something far too weighty "and there is no one else (AHARAN) who can tell the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh" (v 11). The Midrash states that (by reading the letter HET of AHARAN as a HEH) the KASDIM were saying that "there is no AHARON" - i.e. the only person who could have told the king his dream would have been AHARON the High Priest - i.e. the High Priest of the destroyed Temple in Jerusalem, who could have consulted the URIM VE-THUMIM. Nebuchadnezzar was enraged because those same KASDIM had advised him to destroy the Temple , and this is why he now ordered them all to be killed (Rashi on v 11).
The decree extended to all the wise men in Babylon , including Daniel and his companions Hananiyah, Misha'el and Azariah, but through the power of their sanctity and prayer and Daniel's exalted holiness, God revealed the secret of the dream to him. Like Joseph when he explained to Pharaoh the meaning of his dream, Daniel emphasized to Nebuchadnezzar that God alone had the power to reveal the dream and its meaning to him - as if Daniel himself were a mere channel (v 27): Daniel's whole purpose was to SANCTIFY THE NAME OF GOD.
With the collapse of the Davidic kingdom of holiness as a temporal world power, the MALCHUS had fallen to the KELIPOS ("husks"), of which - after Pharaoh king of Egypt - Nebuchadnezzar was the golden HEAD. Thus in the second year after the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar in his dream envisaged HIMSELF and all that would come after him until the end of time as the unholy MALCHUS worked its way through to the end of its internal logic, leading eventually to its own destruction by the MALCHUS of MASHIACH (the stone that smashes the statue).
chanoch adds: In another location we loearned how the physical world changes power. It is through the destruction of the Angelic Minister. This is why the temporal power switched from Pharoah to Nebuchadnezzar.
We are blessed to have very great rabbinic commentators on the book of Daniel. Besides Rashi and Metzudas David, the standard classical commentators, we also have the outstanding commentary of RABENU SA'ADIA GAON (892-942, Egypt and Israel ) and that of R. Avraham IBN EZRA, both of which provide crucial insights into the meaning of the imagery in Daniel's visions.
All the commentators are agreed that the golden head of the statue is Nebuchadnezzar while the silver chest and arms are the empires of Medea and Persia that followed (as we will read later on in Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah and also in Esther). All are agreed that the bronze belly and thighs allude to the Greek empire that started with the conquests of Alexander of Macedon. R. Sa'adia Gaon states that some commentators identified the iron legs exclusively with Aram (= Edom , Rome ), but he takes issue with this as it leaves no room for the empire of Ishmael. He himself endorses the view that the fourth kingdom is divided between Aram (iron) and Ishmael (clay). As to their being "iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men": this signifies that Jewish seed will be mixed in with these peoples as will the seed of many other peoples living with them - except that they will not be truly attached to one another just as iron and clay don't hold together.
[We can see aspects of this end-of-time prediction in today's kind-of alliance between Britain-U.S.A. and Saudi Arabia etc. The degree of intermingling of Jewish seed in many nations can be gauged from today's rates of intermarriage and assimilation.]
chanoch adds: Azamra - Rabbi Avraham said it and i had the same thought before i read it.
All the commentators are agreed that the stone that smashes the statue (v 34-5) - which Daniel explains as the MALCHUS that will never ever be destroyed - is the MALCHUS of Melech HaMashiach that we are awaiting soon in our times.
On hearing Daniel tell him his dream and its meaning, both of which Nebuchadnezzar knew but had forgotten, the king fell down to worship him like a god - but Daniel refused to be treated as a god and did not accept the king's gifts, because Daniel knew that God exacts retribution not only from idol worshippers but also from the gods they worship (Bereishis Rabbah 96).
chanoch adds: Do you agree that a righteous man like Daniel would be concerned with his personal chaos?
Having heard Daniel's interpretation of his dream - that the empires of the nations would be destroyed while the kingdom of Israel would endure - Nebuchadnezzar was determined to make Israel stumble and find a way to destroy them, and this was why he immediately built his golden idol (R. Sa'adiah Gaon). ARI explains that the idol was SIXTY CUBITS HIGH corresponding to the six main Sefiros of Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferes-Netzach-Hod-Yesod, each of which is composed of all ten Sefiros (6 x 10=60). Nebuchadnezzar sought to turn the Kindness of Zeir Anpin into severe Judgment (Sefer HaLikutim, Daniel).
It is said that he chose to erect his idol in the Valley of Doura (v 1) because this was where Adam's buttocks were formed. R. Saadia Gaon states that the Valley was full of the bones of Israelite exiles from the tribe of Ephraim who had been slain by the KASDIM, and the king wanted to frighten all his subjects into submission. In revenge for Nebuchadnezzar's brazen arrogance, God commanded Ezekiel to bring the dry bones back to life in this same Valley of Doura (Sanhedrin 92b).
It seems as if Nebuchadnezzar wanted to establish a new world religion, which would explain why he brought together such an huge array of officials and representatives of so many different lands (v 2). For the jubilant inauguration of his idol he assembled an enormous symphony orchestra: the list of the many different kinds of instruments includes many that had formerly been played in the Temple in Jerusalem .
The Chaldean slanderers who denounced Daniel's three companions, Hananiya (Shadrakh), Misha'el (Meishakh) and Azaria (Abad-nego), to Nebuchadnezzar were jealous of the fact that at Daniel's request they had been appointed to supervise all the royal ministers (Daniel 2:49).
When Nebuchadnezzar threatened the three with burning in his furnace and arrogantly asked them, "Which god will save you from my hands?" (v 15), they replied without hesitation that the God they served had the power to save them, and that even if He did not - for they did not rely on their own merits or on miracles - they would still not worship Nebuchadnezzar's idol. In other words they were ready to sacrifice themselves even without being saved.
In the words of the Midrash, the three companions told Nebuchadnezzar: "When it comes to all the various taxes you impose on us you are king, but if you are telling us to worship idols, you and a dog are just the same and you are no king" (Yalkut Shimoni). It was this that enraged the king (v 19) causing him to have the furnace stoked sevenfold. The fourth figure that Nebuchadnezzar saw walking unscathed through the fire was the angel Gabriel, "who was following after the three companions like a student after his teacher, to teach you that the Tzaddikim are greater than the ministering angels! When Nebuchadnezzar saw the angel Gabriel, he immediately recognized him and all his limbs quaked and trembled. He said, This is the angel I saw in Sennacherib's war, and he appeared like a river of fire that burned up his entire camp" (Yalkut Shimoni).
Nebuchadnezzar's recognition of the saving power of HaShem was a great SANCTIFICATION OF HIS NAME during the very exile of Israel - and as we see from vv 31ff, Nebuchadnezzar wrote a letter to all the people's of his empire praising the supreme God. A number of the beautiful Aramaic phrases from this letter are woven into the Shabbos table song KAH RIBON found in most Siddurs and collections of Shabbos Zemiros.
In order to interpret yet another of his mysterious and terrifying dreams, Nebuchadnezzar felt obliged to turn again to Daniel, ".because I know that the spirit of the Holy God is with you and no secret is withheld from you" (v 6).
The essential moral of the dream is that man's pride - a trait associated with human MALCHUS, kingship, government, power - is an affront to God, Who brings down and humbles the mighty in order to teach them that everything they have is only His gift.
Nebuchadnezzar had ascended to the greatest heights as a conqueror and ruler of a world empire. He had built up Babylon as an enormous metropolis whose magnificent buildings were the very wonder of the world. But he said in his heart, "My power and the strength of my hand has made for me all this might" (Deut. 8:17). He had to learn the same lesson that we all have to learn: that no matter what we may have achieved, whether materially or spiritually, there is no place for vanity and arrogance because everything we have has been given to us by God not because of our own intrinsic worth or merit but only through His kindness and compassion.
The great tree in Nebuchadnezzar's dream with its beautiful branches and abundant fruit providing food for all, shade for all the animals and branches for all the birds, was none other than the king himself, who is the PARNASS - provider of livelihood and sustenance for all. Thus MALCHUS is called the PARNASS, source of PARNASSAH.
It was Rabbi Nachman of Breslov who revealed that the angel that came to cut down Nebuchadnezzar's mighty MALCHUS and teach him the lesson of his life was a manifestation of the soul and spirit of RASHBI - Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, author of the outstanding kabbalistic treasure, the holy Zohar. In verse 10, "a watcher and a holy one came down from heaven", the initial letters of the Hebrew words, E-ER V-KADEESH M-IN SH-EMAYA NA-HEES, are an anagram of the name Shim'on (Preface to Likutey Moharan Part I).
To teach Nebuchadnezzar his lesson and humble his arrogant heart, he was to be literally cast down from his kingship and transformed into a beast living wild with the animals eating grass and moistened with dew. Stripped of his human intellect and sensibilities, he would have the heart of a beast for seven years.
The decree against Nebuchadnezzar is reminiscent of the similar decree against his counterpart on the side of holiness, King Solomon, who was tricked by Ashmodai ("Asmodeus") king of the demons into giving him his protective ring, after which the demon king banished Solomon from his kingdom forcing him to wander for years until he was restored (Targum and Rashi on Ecclesiastes 1:12; Sanhedrin 20b).
King Solomon recorded the moral of what he learned about the world during his period of humiliating banishment in the last work of his life, Ecclesiastes. Daniel spelled out the essential lesson that Nebuchadnezzar was to learn from his banishment here in our chapter, v 22: "You will be driven from men and your dwelling will be with the beasts of the field. until you know that the Supreme God rules over the kingdom of men and that He gives it to whoever He pleases".
Ordinary citizens like ourselves should also learn from this that it is God who has appointed all of the world leaders of today, and He alone decides whom to raise up and whom to bring down. Instead of complaining about our "leaders" we should ask what we can do to improve things in the realm where we have influence: the spiritual realm.
Each one should also take to heart the existential message of this chapter to all men - for there comes a time when each one of us must meet our end, and the body goes back to the earth from which it came and the soul returns to her Maker.
Having interpreted Nebuchadnezzar's dream, Daniel advised him to redeem his sins with charity. The rabbis taught that Daniel was punished for advising the wicked Nebuchadnezzar how to save himself, because "Charity elevates a People (= Israel ), but the kindness of the nations is a sin" (Proverbs 14:34). "All the kindness that the idolatrous nations perform is accounted to them as a sin because they do it only in order for their power to endure" (Bava Basra 10b). Some say Daniel's penalty was to be thrown into the lions den, while others say that Daniel is identical with Hathakh (Esther 4:6 & 9) who was killed by Haman (Bava Basra 4a).
chanoch adds: As i was reading this commentary and the Book of Daniel it occurred to me that Donald Trump is a reincarnation of Nebuchanezzer. Also Jared Kushner is a reincarnatioin of Daniel. If one thinks about the life experience of all 4 people it will seem that they have similar life experiences. Only a full life experience comparison will verify this idea.
According to the dating system of Midrash Seder Olam, Nebuchadnezzar had come to power in Babylon in 3319 (-441 B.C.E.) and ruled for 45 years until his death in 3364 (396 B.C.E.). He was succeeded by his son Eveel Merodakh, who ruled for 23 years, after which Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar's second son (Rashi on v 1), ruled for two years until 3389 (371 B.C.E.) It was in that year that Darius king of Medea fought against Belshazzar, killed him and captured Babylon , as recorded in the closing verse of our present chapter (v 30). Thus Babylon ruled for a total of 70 years.
Rashi (on verse 1) says, "We find in Josephus that Belshazzar fought against Darius the Mede and Cyrus (Darius' son-in-law) by day and conquered them in battle, and in the evening he made his great feast, and it was during the meal that his enemies returned and fought against the city and conquered it."
Nebuchadnezzar may have learned God's lesson, but he failed to teach it to his son Belshazzar, who at the height of his drunken jubilation over his imagined victory ordered the gold and silver vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had looted from the Holy Temple in Jerusalem to be brought out for use in his idolatrous feast.
The mysterious message of doom that appeared on the walls of Belshazzar's palace at the height of the banquet was inscribed by the fingers of a frightening human-looking hologram of a hand. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 21b-22a) brings a variety of opinions about why neither the king nor any of the Chaldean sages, wizards, astrologers, necromancers or other diviners could decipher the writing. One is that the script in which the Torah scroll was written changed in the days of Ezra (which were now beginning with the demise of Babylon ) and no-one knew the new script. Other opinions hold that in any case the message was written in the ATBASH cipher (where Aleph is replaced with Tav, Beit with Shin, etc.).
It would appear that since the death of Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel had been relegated to a position of lesser influence, but now while everybody panicked, the Queen (Mother?) suddenly remembered the divinely-gifted grace-crowned Daniel, who was summoned to foretell the imminent first stage in the collapse of Nebuchadnezzar's dream-image of gold, silver, copper, iron and clay as he had originally interpreted it (Chapter 2) - the fall of the golden head, Babylon.
Daniel rejected the gifts of purple robes, gold chains and rule over one third of the empire that Belshazzar offered him in return for deciphering the message. Daniel did everything not for gain but only LI-SHMOH, in order to sanctify the Name of God. Despite the fact that in speaking to Belshazzar he knew he was addressing another world autocrat no less arrogant and ruthless than his father, Daniel did not shrink from delivering his message of reproof and doom. After reminding Belshazzar of the forgotten lesson learned by Nebuchadnezzar, he says, "You his son Belshazzar. have not humbled your heart." (v 22). "You took the Temple vessels and used them to praise gods of silver and gold, copper, iron, wood and stone that do not see or hear or know anything, but you gave no honor to God, in Whose hands are your soul and all your ways" (v 23).
Each generation has to learn the same lesson again. The days of Babylonian supremacy had been numbered and were now complete. Belshazzar had been weighed in the scales and found wanting, and the Babylonian empire therefore broke in pieces as the ascendant star of Medea rose over the world.
Darius the Mede conquered Babylon in 3389 (371 B.C.E.) and thus the center of power moved northeast across from Babylon to the Medean capital of Ahmatha (present-day Hamadan in western Iran approximately midway between the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf ). Darius ruled for only one year before he was killed, after which the center of power moved again, this time to neighboring Persia, with its capital in Persopolis (near present-day Shiraz in south west Iran).
Our text (v 1) notes that Darius was sixty-two when he took power, from which we may learn that he was born in the same year that Nebuchadnezzar took King Yeho-yachin of Judah into exile in Babylon: thus at the very moment that Nebuchadnezzar was building his empire, God had already prepared its nemesis! (Rashi ad loc.)
chanoch adds: always know the cure is created by HaShem prior to the disease. This is true for illness s well as historical events.
Darius was another world emperor, although apparently somewhat mellower than the cruel, ruthless tyrants who preceded him. Our present chapter gives us something of a feel for the extensive governmental apparatus of satraps and presidents that was necessary to rule over this patchwork empire consisting of peoples of so many different cultures and languages.
Daniel, who had foretold the downfall of Belshazzar's Babylon at the hands of Darius and who immediately became the latter's favorite advisor, was appointed to supervise the entire apparatus, being placed above all the satraps and their presidents - which caused intense jealousy on their part. It is a sign of the balance of power that prevailed in Darius' regime that the satraps and presidents were not only capable of getting their own legislation passed (vv 8-10) but could even force the king to keep to their laws against his will (v 16).
Having failed to find anything incriminating in Daniel's personal conduct, these prototypical anti-Semites decided to catch him out on religious grounds by instituting a new personality-cult religion based on emperor worship that predated Roman emperor worship and Christianity by about four hundred years. The satraps and presidents of Medea legislated a new political correctness that forbade anybody to pray to any other god except the emperor.
Quite unfazed, Daniel continued the life of prayer that he had always followed both in his childhood in Jerusalem and ever since he went into exile. Three times a day he would face in the direction of the place of the Temple in Jerusalem , kneeling down to bless, pray and give thanks to God through open windows (v 12). This text is one of the main biblical sources of the laws of prayer (Berachos 31a) including the law that a synagogue should have windows (preferably twelve).
chanoch adds: In my opinion, today it should have 13 repreenting the 13 gates of Prayer. One for each of the twelve Tribes method of prayer and the 13th for the method revealede by the Ari HaKadosh.
After Daniel was caught praying to the true God and thereby contravening the new law of Persia and Medea that gave the emperor a monopoly on receiving worship, even King Darius was unable to rescue his wise and beloved favorite from being thrown into the lions' den. Beside himself with worry, Darius could not bring himself to eat or sleep and rose with the first light of morning full of foreboding - only to find that Daniel was alive and well, sitting among the peaceful, entranced lions, whose mouths had been closed by God's angel (v 23).
This miracle was another tremendous SANCTIFICATION OF GOD'S NAME that lives on in a story that has been told and retold from generation to generation. The righteous were redeemed while the wicked slanderers who tried to denounce Daniel got their just deserts and suffered the very penalty they tried to inflict on him, being torn to pieces by the lions.
Compare Rabbi Nachman's story of Kaptzin Pasha at http://www.azamra.org/Essential/kaptzin.htm
It is a sign of the enlightened atmosphere that prevailed thereafter under Darius (as under Cyrus of Persia, who followed him) that Darius wrote to all the provinces of his empire telling everyone to revere the God of Daniel, Who "delivers and rescues and works signs and wonders in heaven and in earth." (v 28).
"There is no before and after in the Torah". The dreams of Daniel recounted in the present chapter are dated to "the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon " (v 1) which was prior to his overthrow by Darius the Mede who was the central character in the previous chapter.
chanoch adds: In the mind of HaShem there is no before or after only cause and effect. This is why the sages teach there is no before or after in the Torah. They could say there is no time in the Torah yet this would not be as well understood by students of Kabbalah. It also allows us to realize the spiritual rule to reveal one and conceal two. Do you know what is the second item concealed by this revealment.
Daniel is not considered as one of the prophets, yet his dreams and visions reach to the most sublime heights of the universe. The present vision beginning with the four winds churning up the great sea (=Binah, the Sea of Wisdom comprising the 50 - YaM - Gates of Understanding) encompasses the entire sweep of world history from the ascendancy of Babylon until the end of time and the rule of Melekh Ha-Mashiah.
chanoch adds: This teaches that Ruch HaKodesh reaches to a higher level than even Prophecy.
A single stone lion is all that remains today in the ruins of ancient Babylon in Iraq to testify to the lost glory of that fallen empire. Many similar carved images of all kinds of fearsome beasts must have adorned the Babylonian capital in its heyday, and these would have helped make the imagery in Daniel's account of his dream of monsters even more real and graphic in the minds of those who heard them in his time and afterwards.
Rashi on verse 4 brings proof texts from Jeremiah 4:7 and 48:40 associating the first monster - the lion with eagle's wings - with the empire of Babylon itself, which in the time of Belshazzar was just about to have its wings clipped and get cut down to size.
The second monster, in the form of a bear, is associated with Persia - then in the ascendant - since "the Persians eat and drink like a bear and are wrapped in a thick coat of flesh like a bear" (Rashi on v 5). The three ribs in its mouth correspond to the three kings of Persia , Cyrus, Ahashverosh and Darius the Persian (Rashi).
The leopard (v 6) is associated with Greece , and its four wings correspond to the four kingdoms into which the Greek empire split after the death of Alexander of Macedon. The Greeks were compared to a leopard because they imposed a succession of evil decrees against the Jews that were like a leopard's spots, each one strange and different from the others (Rashi).
Daniel's vision of the fourth monster came in a separate dream on its own (v 7) because it was more powerful than the three that preceded it (Rashi ad loc.). Rashi and R. Saadia Gaon agree that the fourth monster alludes to Aram (=Edom, Rome) and that its ten horns correspond to the ten emperors up until Vespasian, in whose time the Second Temple was destroyed. Where these two commentators differ is on the identification of the little horn that came up among the others, which had "eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth speaking great things" (v 8). Rashi identifies this with the ranting Titus, who entered the Temple Sanctuary in Jerusalem with a harlot before desecrating and destroying it. Rashi does not mention the empire of Ishmael (which is less than surprising when we consider that he was living in eleventh century France-Germany in what was part of the well-entrenched " Holy Roman Empire "). On the other hand, R. Saadiah Gaon - who lived a century earlier in Egypt and Israel and could witness the rise of Islam from close at hand - identifies the eleventh horn with Ishmael. In R. Saadiah's commentary on Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the statue of gold, silver, bronze, iron and clay (Daniel 2:40ff), he discusses in detail the complex interrelationship between Aram and Ishmael and their respective spheres of influence (see also Ibn Ezra on Daniel 2:39). Rambam (Letters) identifies the "mouth speaking great things" with the founder of Islam.
chanoch adds: Mohammed the founder of the Moslem religion was illiterate and spoke the KOran to a Jewish Scribe
"As I looked, thrones were placed and the Ancient of Days sat." (v 9). The depiction of the heavenly court sitting in judgment over the world is the source of many kabbalistic teachings about God's providence, including the name given in the Zohar to the divine PARTZUF ("persona") of Arich Anpin, ATIK YOMIN ("the Ancient of Days"). His "garb like white snow" and "the hair of His head like clean wool" (ibid.) allude to the attributes of loving kindness and compassion that characterize the Partzuf of Arich Anpin.
One by one the successive monsters were cast aside, until the fourth was destroyed and burned up by fire. Their lives were prolonged only "for a season and a time" (v 12) until "one like a son of man came with the clouds of heaven and came to the Ancient of Days." (v13). All the commentators agree that the "son of man" is Mashiah (note that he is NOT called the "son of God"), who will receive "dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and tongues should serve him - an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and a kingdom that shall not be destroyed" (v 14).
"I came to one of them that stood by" (v 16): it was to an "angel" (=intelligent celestial being) that Daniel turned for an explanation of the vision. The angel told Daniel that in the end the kingdom will be inherited by KADISHEY ELYON, the "holy ones of the Most High" (v 18) - these are the restored, rectified saints - Tzadikim and Tzedakot of Israel .
As to when this will happen, our text is of course famously cryptic. Speaking to Daniel 2,300 years ago, the angel revealed that the eleventh horn would inflict many painful decrees and chastisements upon Israel "for a season and seasons and half a season" (v 25). Anyone who wants to speculate on how long this may be is welcome to do so, but those who believe with simple faith will take on trust the words of R. Saadia Gaon (ad loc.): "All the sages and commentators, including those with genuine Torah knowledge, have found no way to unlock and understand this calculation, and no one knows the secret except God, as it is written, 'For the day of vengeance is in my heart' (Isaiah 63:4). If the heart has not revealed it to the mouth, how would the mouth reveal it to a mere angel? We simply have to wait and hope until He will have mercy on his people and His city. Amen."
The text now reverts from Aramaic to Hebrew for the remainder of the book of Daniel. Chapters 2-7, which were in Aramaic, the lingua franca of the Babylonian and Persian Empires, speak of Daniel's interactions with their rulers and the profound universal lessons they had to learn about how God deals with man "measure for measure". In the coming chapters the lessons are directed more specifically to Israel yearning for the rebuilding of Jerusalem , and they contain a deep PNIMIUS (interiority) that Hebrew is uniquely fit to express.
Daniel records the graphic external images of his visions, and then tells how angels come to him to interpret and explain them, thereby bringing him to the level of BINAH. We in turn must rely on R. Saadia Gaon, Rashi and the other great commentators who have come down to us to explain Daniel's visions.
The vision in our present chapter is dated to the third year of Belshazzar, the last king of Babylon . His empire was on the verge of collapse, and we find Daniel in Shushan, which is located in what is now western Iran between Hamadan and Shiraz : it had been the capital of Eilam and now became the main center of the Persian empire .
This vision is the second in a series (v 1) the first of which was in the previous chapter (7). The imagery of these visions is in each case different, but the NIMSHAL - the object of the comparison - is the ultimately one: the great sweep of history until the "end of days".
In his vision, Daniel saw himself standing by OOVAL OOLOI, which some render as the River OOLOI, although R. Saadia says there is no river in Shushan and that this was the mighty gate of the city. OOLOI would then be related to the word EIL, "mighty one" - and this in turn is related to the word AYIL, a "ram", one of the creatures Daniel saw, representing the rising star of Persia . [One might add that the Hebrew word OOLAY means "perhaps" - i.e. PERHAPS our interpretations are hopefully not too wide of the mark.]
The classical commentators agree that the larger and smaller horns of the ram (v 3) allude respectively to Persia , the greater power, and Medea, the lesser power. Thus under Queen Esther's Ahashverosh , Persia extended "from India to Africa ", while Darius the Mede ruled for only one year before giving over the kingship to his son-in-law, Cyrus of Persia (father of Esther's Ahashverosh).
chanoch adds: in my opinion the name sther's father is incorrect. Achashverosh was a merchant who bought his kingship to marry Vashti. Thus it is Vashti's father.
The goat alludes to Greece . The horn signifies Alexander of Macedon, who defeated Darius of Persia, who was Esther's son. Yet Alexander died at the very height of his power, and his kingdom split into four (v 8).
"And out of one of them came a little horn that became exceedingly great" (v 9). Rashi interprets this horn as alluding to Titus, and he takes the phrase in verse 10 - "And it grew great, even to the host of heaven." - to refer to his destruction of the Second Temple . On the other hand, R. Saadia Gaon sees this horn as an allusion to the empire of Ishmael (Islam) which took the land of beauty (v 9, =Israel) from the Romans.
"And for an appointed time it was flagrantly set against the daily sacrifice, and it cast down the truth to the ground." (v 12). Rashi (ad loc.) says this means that idolatry would be established in Jerusalem instead of the daily Temple offerings.
It is when the focus of the vision moves to Jerusalem, the heart of the world (BINAH), that Daniel hears a celestial conversation between the angels asking "How long shall be the vision. to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot" (v 13). As to the calculation of how long this will be as given in verse 14, Rashi (ad loc.) comments: "The seer was commanded to close up and seal the matter, and even to him it was revealed in a language that is closed up and sealed, and we shall wait in hope for the fulfillment of the promise of our King, even if one 'end' after another passes by."
The angel Gabriel is sent to explain the vision to Daniel - yet the explanation itself is so beyond him that he falls into a slumber until the angel touches him and brings him to his feet (v 18). Gabriel teaches "what will be in the latter end of the indignation, for it is at the end of a long time" (v 19). Rashi explains the "king of fierce countenance" mentioned in v 23 as referring to Titus, who destroyed the Second Temple , but R. Saadia Gaon explains this as a reference to the kingship of Ishmael. (R. Saadia also gives an alternative explanation relating the entire vision primarily to the struggle between Persia and Greece .)
We should remember that at the time of Daniel's vision the destruction of the Second Temple was over 450 years in the future and it was no mean feat to foretell how it would come about. At the same time, the vision is multi-layered, and just as history goes around in cycles, so the imagery can allude to multiple levels all at once.
Very soon after his vision in the previous chapter, Daniel "pondered in the books the number of the years." (v 2). This was in the first (and only) year of the reign of Darius son of Ahashverosh the Mede. (This was NOT the Ahashverosh of Megillas Esther.). Little more than a year after conquering Babylon , Darius the Mede gave over the kingship to his son-in-law Cyrus of Persia, who was the father of Esther's Ahashverosh.
Daniel had watched the fall of Babylon knowing that it had been prophesied by Jeremiah (29:10), who had foretold that at the completion of seventy years of Babylonian power, God would redeem Israel . At first Daniel thought that the building of the (second) Temple and complete redemption would come about seventy years from the time that Babylon had first subjected Israel to her dominion, which was when Nebuchadnezzar conquered King Yehoyakim eighteen years prior to destruction of the First Temple . It was only from the words of the angel at the end of this chapter that Daniel understood that the new Temple would not be built until seventy years after the actual destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians in the reign of King Tzidkiyahu.
Daniel's response to the seemingly interminable exile was to PRAY. The Tzaddik repents for all Israel , and in his most eloquent prayer for redemption Daniel speaks in the first person plural, putting fitting words of repentance and supplication into the mouths of all of us. Many phrases and indeed entire passages (vv 15-20) are incorporated into the TAHANUN supplication as recited on Mondays and Thursdays as well as into many other penitential SELICHOS.
Daniel begins his prayer with the confession of sin (vv 5ff) expressing our deep shame and contrition over the misdemeanors that have led to our national exile. The prayer is designed to guide us to internalize the bitter lesson and moral of the destruction of the Temple and the exile, which came about exactly as the Torah had warned (v 13).
Daniel appeals to God's compassion, arousing the memory of the redemption from Egypt (v 15) as he begs God to turn His anger from Jerusalem .
With hindsight we know that the Second Temple was built in due course, but Daniel was praying eighteen years beforehand at a time when the satraps and governors of Babylon and Persia were no doubt gloating over the exile of the troublesome Jews and drumming in the message that they would never be restored.
Through Daniel's profound faith and earnest prayer he was "greatly beloved" (v 23) in God's eyes, and was worthy of ascending to the level of BINAH (v 22), for the angel Gabriel came swooping down from the heavens to further elucidate the meaning of the visions in the previous chapters and enlighten him as to when the Temple would be rebuilt. Rashi (vv 25ff) explains that the cryptic message of the angel alludes to the building of the Second Temple and its subsequent destruction by Titus, and how in the end he will be accursed and lost when the power of his empire is swept away by Mashiah in the war of Gog and Magog. Although the place of the Temple is occupied by a center of idolatry, this will endure only until the decreed day of its destruction with the coming of Mashiah.
The vision in our present chapter is dated to the third year of Koresh (Cyrus) king of Persia (v 1). Cyrus was given the kingship by his father-in-law Darius the Mede in the year 3390 (-370 B.C.E.) and ruled for only three years. Initially he permitted the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, but soon afterwards the work was suspended owing to the denunciations against the Jews by their enemies, as we will read in detail in the book of Ezra, which we shall God willing be studying after Daniel.
chanoch added: This comment nregardingn thenBook of Ezra does not apply to our classes. Please advise which Book you would like to study next - Zechariah - Job - Isaiah - Another Book of the Prophets
Rashi (on verse 2) explains that Daniel's period of mourning and abstention lasted for THREE SABBATICAL CYCLES, i.e. 21 years, from the time Darius the Mede conquered Babylon (which was when Daniel tried to calculate when the restoration would take place, see ch 9 v 2) until the second year of the reign of Darius the Persian, the son of Esther, under whom the Second Temple was completed.
To abstain from fine bread, meat, wine and anointment for all this time in mourning over the desolation of Jerusalem was an extraordinary feat, and in the merit of his undertaking to do so Daniel was granted the extraordinary vision of the end of time in this and the ensuing chapters. Just as his vision in ch 8 v 2 was by the River OOLOI, so the present vision was at the River Tigris, and similarly Ezekiel's vision of the Chariot was at the River Kvar – these are spiritual rivers flowing with the light of divine revelation.
chanoch adds: Are these rivers related to the 4 rivers that come from Eden - Heaven?
Daniel now saw "the man dressed in linen", whom he describes in truly spectacular terms (vv 5-6). Only Daniel saw this apparition, but "the men who were with me did not see the vision, but great trembling fell upon them" (v 7). According to our sages, Daniel's companions were the prophets Haggai, Zecharia and Malachi (Megillah 3a; Rashi on v 7). Prophets had their own methods of rising to the level where they were worthy to have the voice of God speak through them (see Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, "Meditation & the Bible"), but even these prophets were unable to see what Daniel, the righteous sage, now saw.
chanoch adds and teaches: The gates of prophecy are closed. One reason is that the 32 Gates of Wisdom are open nto us to achieve.
Ibn Ezra on v 5 points out that Daniel's ability to stand in the face of the revelation of an angel exceeded that of Gideon and Samson's parents, Manoah and his wife (Judges 6:22-3 and 13:22). This indicates that YERIDAS HADOROS (the spiritual decline that occurs from generation to generation) is not necessarily irreversible by Tzaddikim on the highest of levels. Similarly, in recent generations Rabbi Nachman mentioned his having received visits from the guardian angels of nations like Greece (=Russia?) and France (see Tzaddik -- Chayey Moharan -- #489).
The "man dressed in linen" whom Daniel saw had also been seen by the prophet Ezekiel prior to the destruction of the First Temple (Ezekiel 9:2; 10:11). The sages identified him with the angel Gabriel (see Yoma 77a) as does Rashi (on ch 11 v 1). Eichah Rabbasi states that the "man dressed in linen" serves three functions: (1) Executioner of HARUGEY MALCHUS, those to be killed on the decree of the King; (2) High Priest – for he wears linen, like the High Priest on Yom Kippur; (3) Heavenly scribe.
As the "man dressed in linen" tells Daniel (v 12), it was in the merit of his having undertaken to fast on behalf of Israel and Jerusalem that his prayers were heard and Gabriel was turned into the defender of Israel.
The "man dressed in linen" opens a chink in the heavy veil that covers over the proceedings before the Heavenly Court, where the guardian angels of the various nations advance their pleas and counter-pleas. The "man dressed in linen" tells Daniel that "the guardian angel of Persia has been standing against me for 21 days [of heavenly time]" (v 13). Rashi explains (ad loc.): "He has been fighting with me in heaven asking for an extension for the empire of Persia in order to keep Israel subject". The "man dressed in linen" has been resisting this, and has now come to enable to Daniel to understand what will happen to his people "in the end of days" (v 14). This vision of the future, which begins in the next chapter, covers the entire period of the Second Temple including its destruction and thereafter up until the final redemption.
chanoch adds: There is a teaching that the man dressed in Linen is Gavriel supported by Michael. This is judgment with Mercy or Justice.
"As for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to confirm and strengthen HIM" (v 1). It is the "man dressed in linen", the angel Gabriel, who is speaking in this entire chapter, and as explained by Rashi (ad loc.) he stood up to strengthen the angel Michael – Israel's guardian angel – against the pleas by the guardian angel of Persia before the Heavenly Court to intensify Israel's burden of exile.
"And now I will tell you the truth" (v 2): this is the beginning of a very long, involved and detailed prophecy which according to Ibn Ezra (on v 3) covers the entire history of the world from the time of Daniel until the destruction of the Second Temple (vv 5-31) and from then on until the final redemption (vv 32-40).
Verse 2 speaks about the empire of Persia. The "fourth king" mentioned here is Darius the Persian, son of Ahashverosh and Esther, who mobilized his entire empire to fight against Greece and was defeated.
Verse 3 refers to Alexander of Macedon, and verse 4 speaks of how his empire spit into four kingdoms.
From that time on the two dominant players on the world scene were the kings of the south and the north. Metzudas David on v 5 identifies the king of the south with Egypt and the king of the north with Greece/Rome. Students of world history may see certain parallels between the back-and-forth conflicts between these two as foretold in this chapter and world conflicts in more recent times. In some respects the wars between the colonialist empires and their subject nations (the "Third World") and between the West vs. Islam are conflicts between the kings of the north and the south!
Caught somewhere in the middle of the conflicts described in this chapter are Israel, who by the time of the Second Temple period were split into the righteous faithful and the wicked sinners. Rashi and R. Saadia Gaon both interpret v 14 as a reference to the way the "renegades of your people" – the sinners – repeatedly conspired and intrigued with Rome and Egypt, trying to play off the one against the other. The phrase BNAY PORITZAY AMECHA ("renegades of your people") is often cited as an allusion to THAT MAN (Yimach SHemo OOzichro).
chanoch adds: Do i need to explain who is that man?
Verse 20 is explained by Rashi as an allusion to the Hasmoneans (the heroes of Chanukah), who overthrew the Greek oppressors. Thereafter, however, the Hasmonean king Hyrkanus conspired with Rome to overthrow his brother Aristobulus, which led to the downfall of the Hasmonean dynasty and ever-increasing intervention by Rome until eventually they became the occupying power and destroyed the Temple. Rome is specifically alluded to in v 21 (see Rashi and Metzudas David).
Verse 31 alludes to the destruction of the Second Temple. Verse 32 speaks of the collaboration between the Jewish renegades and the Romans while the righteous Jews continued in the path of the Torah. Despite the efforts of the latter to teach the people God's ways, verse 33 speaks about their terrible suffering in the tribulations of the long exile after the destruction of the Temple.
Verses 36ff allude to the spectacular successes of Rome and the kings who inherited her mantle, whose policy was to show outward respect to the religious traditions of the people they governed in order to keep control of them (see Rashi on v 39).
The closing verses of the chapter allude to the bitter wars prior to the final redemption of Israel, may it come speedily in our times!
Our present chapter, which concludes the book of Daniel, completes the prophecy that he received from "the man dressed in linen" about the future history of the world until the end of days. This prophecy was granted to Daniel in the merit of his mourning and self-affliction over the desolation of Jerusalem . The prophecy began in the previous chapter with the foretelling of the tangled history of the period of the Second Temple up until its destruction (Daniel 11:2-31), after which it continues with its highly allusive foretelling of the end of days (Daniel 11:32-45; 12:1-13).
chanoch adds: Our Sages have instituted an alternative to fasting which includes mourning and self affliction - this is the ritual of tikune chatzot - correction of midnight. This is highly recommended to do. If includes 3 steps on most days. They are 1. sitting on the floor and crying over the lack of the Temple and the lack of space within our own heart for the Shechinah - called by the name Tikun Rachel. 2. Rising from the floor to Praise HaShem and request Mashiach to manifest - called by the Name Tikun Leah. 3 Zohar study. This ritual may be done at any time as long as the time is consistent daily. It is not done on Shabbat.
"And at that time Michael shall stand" (v 1). Rashi (ad loc.) says that Israel 's guardian angel will "stand" in the sense of being stopped in his tracks and silent like one struck dumb when he will see how the Holy One blessed be He will ponder how He can destroy the great armies of Gog and Magog for the sake of small Israel . It will be "a time of trouble such as there never was." (v 1). The rabbis said there will be trouble for the Torah scholars because of their enemies and accusers, and trouble for the whole people because of decree after decree and waves of robbers one after the other (Kesubos 112b).
The good news is that "your people shall be delivered" (v 1) - "the kingdom of Gog will be destroyed and Israel shall be saved" (Rashi ibid.). [Instead of worrying of present-day Persia will harm Israel , we should repent with all our hearts and trust in God.]
"And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake." (v 2). This refers to the resurrection of the dead (Rashi ad loc.) - as well, of course, to the tremendous spiritual awakening and the widespread return to the Torah that we witness in our time among Israelite souls that in some cases have been buried in exile and cultural alienation for centuries. This itself is the revival of the dead!
"And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness (ZOHAR) of the firmament." (v 3). This verse is darshened at length in the Zohar, which takes its name from here. The rabbis of the Talmud state that the category of "the wise" includes every DAYAN ("judge") who judges truthfully as well as those who go around collecting charity, while "they who turn many to righteousness" are those who teach Torah to little children (Bava Basra 8b).
Just like the angels whom Daniel heard asking the "man dressed in linen" - "How long shall it be to the wondrous end?" (v 6) - we too are more than curious to know the answer. The "man dressed in linen" replied most cryptically, "It shall be for a time, times and a half" (v 7). Daniel himself did not understand this answer (v 8), so we should not be surprised that we cannot either. As Rashi says on verse 10, "Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white" - many will try to give a clear explanation of these calculations; "and they will be tried" - it will be a trial to many to understand them; "and the wicked shall do wickedly" - the wicked will miscalculate, and having stumbled they will say there will be no further redemption, "and they will not understand". However, "the wise shall understand" - at the time when the end arrives. (Rashi on v 10). For "in the end they will be granted the wisdom to understand the allusions" (Metzudas David on v 9).
In the words of R. Saadia Gaon (on v 7): "When the generations have descended very low, then all these troubles will come to an end, but we do not know until when they will go on since the angel himself told Daniel that the matters are sealed and closed up, and we certainly do not have the power to understand the secret of these calculations of days and years."
"Happy is the man who waits." (v 12).
chanoch adds: Happy is the person who waits with joy and certainty that Mashiach will manifest today yet is not disappointed when the person does not see the Mashiach manifest
chanoch adds: The period "time, times, and a half" have been described as seven years or a Shimitah period - 50 years as a Jubilee period - 70 years - 3500 years or the year 5948 - and many other time periods and estimates. To remind you we are in the year 5779.
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