The gemara in Mesechta B’rochos (57) says that if one sees “Chanina, Chananyah or Yochanan” in his dreams, one should expect miracles upon miracles to be performed for him. That’s because these words are spelled with two “Nuns” which stands for “nisei nissim,” meaning very great miracles.
The gemarah says that Nisan was the month in which Hashem took us out from Mitzrayim and this will be the month of our final redemption in which Hashem will show us even far greater miracles than He had done in Mitzrayim. May we merit to see them soon in our days. While the letter “Nun” seems to stand for nissim, which means miracles, we find that it is also the most rejected letter in the entire Alef Bais, since Dovid Ha’melech refused to use it in his prayer of Ashrei. This is the first letter in a posuk that says “nofal v’lo tosf kum..” which means that we will chas v’shalom fall and not be able to stand up. Dovid wanted no part in such a catastrophic prediction and therefore left out the Nun from Ashrei.
Yet one finds this strange indeed. Certainly Dovid could have come up with plenty of pesukim which start with a nun and have good things to say about Klal Yisroel. Why discriminate against this letter because of this one posuk in which it is the leading letter? Besides, a letter is in itself neutral and not bad or good. It’s only when it’s put together in a sentence with other words that it can say something good or bad. So why is the Nun being picked on and discriminated against? What about all the rest of the letters in the sentence? And what about all the times it is used to begin a good sentence?
A look into the Torah will show that the Nun is a strange letter indeed. According to Rashi, we actually have a reversed Nun written in the Torah at the end of Parshas Lech L’cho in the word “Choron.” Also in the Sedra of B’haaloscha we have reverse Nuns written between one bad episode and another. Why is it that the Nun is the letter chosen to be reversed and not a different letter? We also find these same strange reversed or upside down Nuns in Te’hillim (107). What does it signify? Why this particular letter and no other?
It may very well be that the Nun reminds us of the terrible Nochosh – the snake – that caused man’s terrible downfall. Even now, thousands of years later we still suffer death on account of the evil snake. In fact anytime something bad happens, it is all because we listened to the snake who stands for the Yetzer Horah. It is he that constantly convinces man to sin and gets us into all our troubles.
The reversing of this letter, says Rashi, symbolizes the reversing of Hashem’s anger. Only through doing teshuvah can we reverse Hashem’s anger at us. Only by not listening to the Nochosh can we put an end to the horrid tragedies happening in our midst. This is why it is the letter Nun that is reversed between one tragedy and another.
Unfortunately we have no prophet in our midst that can pinpoint the reason for the terrible catastrophes we unfortunately see happening both here and in Eretz Yisroel. All we know is that the Nochosh is all around us. He is still enticing us to eat from the forbidden fruit. While in Gan Eden there was only one forbidden tree and just one snake, nowadays there are thousands of forbidden sites with thousands of snakes beckoning us to take just a quick peek at the forbidden.
A snake is a very strange creature who is always shedding its skin and camouflaging himself so that we can’t recognize him. That’s exactly what Amolek tried pulling on the Yidden when they traveled through the desert. They dressed up like the K’na’ani so that the Jews would not be able to identify them. Sometimes he dresses up like a policeman so that he can fool us. He’s just like his grandfather Esav who was a master at deception. It was “ki tzayid b’fiv.” He was a master con artist. He always played the Tzadik with his religious sounding questions. In fact, from the moment he was born, he was already covered with hair. There is no better way than hair to hide one’s true identity. Just imagine what a long flowing white beard and a big hairy Shtriemel would do for Eisav’s public image. He’d certainly be able to con plenty of people as the many false messiahs have done in later years.
The Nochosh is always masquerading in a different uniform and has unfortunately defrauded billions of people with his clever deception. We’ve all fallen for him at one time or another.
Scientists have found that a snake can detect us before we can even see him. That’s because he can detect the infrared heat coming from a person’s body. He hides between the rocks and strikes at us when we least expect him. We are totally unprepared. This is why the Torah in reference to Amolek says “asher korcho ba’derech”. Amolek comes at us like a snake – suddenly, without us being ready or aware of his attack. We must never be off guard and always watch out for him at our every step.
Pharaoh stood for the largest of all snakes called the “Tanin.” That’s because he used his poisonous tongue to defy Hashem and also to deceive the Jews into working for him . At first he paid them an excellent salary and only over time did he enslave them. This is the meaning of “B’ferach.” He also falsely claimed that “li y’ori, v’ani osisini.” (Yecheskel 293) – The Nile is mine for I made it. Since the Nile river would rise toward him as he approached it, he would claim that he too possessed godly powers. The name Pharoh actually spells “peh ra” meaning a bad mouth. Every con-artist uses his mouth to entice people by promising them great riches for a small investment, but better watch out! Listen to him and you’ll soon lose everything. And so it is with the Nochosh. Listen to him and we may not only lose this world but also our share in the World to Come.
The snake’s great power as well as its downfall was his power of speech. This is something we must always be careful with. There is no excuse for careless words. Loshon Ho’rah and motzei shem rah can cause the greatest of tragedies, so we’d better be very careful with every word we say!
Pesach is the time we use our mouths to tell the story of G-d’s great miracles. The word Pesach can be broken into the two words “peh soch” which means the mouth speaks. It also stands for both mercy and Passover. It was only because of Hashem’s great mercy that he passed over our homes. Let’s pray that now too, He have mercy on us and pass over our homes as well. One of the greatest tragedies in life is the birth of a Nefel – a child born dead. He wasn’t even given a chance to live on this world and he’s taken away. The word “Nofal” and “Nefel” have the very same letters. In order to outwit the Nochosh we will need Hashem’s constant great kindness. That’s why we find a large Nun in the word “Notzer chesed…” If not for Hashem’s help we’d never be able to resist his enticements. We must constantly pray to Hashem that He have mercy and help us. If Hashem sees that we really mean it, then He will surely come to our aid. “Just open up your heart like the little opening of a needle and I’ll open it to the size of the door that leads one into the Holy Bais Ha’mikdosh,” Hashem pleads with us. If we truly want great miracles to happen this Nissan, then let’s reverse the Nun and serve Hashem with both our hearts – with our Yetzer Tov and our Yetzer Horah. Let’s use our enthusiasm and love for worldly pleasures, to love learning Torah and doing mitzvos instead. Only by reversing the Nun will we merit “nisei nissim” the greatest of miracles. May we witness them soon in our time!