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by Daneal Weiner
On a KABBALISTIC level (eye catcher!) the months of the year are divided up amongst Eisav and Yaakov. Meaning some months are better suited for peace and prosperity while other months can mean trouble, r’l. When Yaakov bought the birthright from Eisav and then married Leah, he also received some of Eisav’s months, even some of some of Eisav’s months. Tamuz is one of Eisav’s months. It is the month when the two tablets were broken due to the golden calf, when the siege began on Jerusalem which led to the destruction of our holy Temple and other such tragedies. Av, the month following Tamuz, was Eisav’s but was subsequently split in two. The first two weeks stayed in Eisav’s domain but half way through our ‘luck’ takes a turn.
The second half of Av is now in the domain of Yaakov. The 15th of Av, the day dominion changes hands, is a very special day. We even make some changes in our prayer services that intimate the 15th of Av has the status of a minor holiday. The first Shabbos after the 15th of Av we read Parshas Eikev. Eikev, the root word of the name Yaakov.
Time out. Let me fill you guys in on what’s going on. I am in charge of the High Holiday seating. You can imagine the time I haven’t got. I know one great quick Rav Wolfson vort and I wanted to at least share that with you and wish you a good year. But you know, I start writing and I think of something else I learned and I go to the library and scan a few books, track down a source, come across two or three more related topics and pretty soon, an hour has gone by, I've gotten two paragraphs typed and I’m on my way to an all nighter- which is the stupidest thing I can do right now because, like I said, I am in charge of the High Holiday seating. It’s seems like Torah but it’s yetser horah! Tomorrow I’ve got slichos, an attempt at one learning seder and 350 people to seat. So I am controlling myself. I have a short vort, you will love it, and I’ll say gut yor.
There is a verse in Eikev that is again popular this time of the year. Regarding the land of Israel it says (11:12), “The eyes of Hashem, your G-d, are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the year’s end.” It’s easy to see the popularity of the verse for Rosh Hashana because once it says Hashem’s eyes are always upon it, to say from the beginning of the year to the years end is superfluous. But we’re not going there. The word in the verse for beginning is raishis. Raishis is normally spelled with a letter aleph, like, for example, the first word of the Torah, b’Raishis- in the beginning. In Eikev, Raishis is spelled without the aleph. Rav Wolfson would like to know why?
There is a dispute in the Gemorah if Creation began with Tishrei or Nissan. There is a dispute between the Gemorah and the Zohar as to what were the 10 utterances by which Hashem created the world. The logical thing to do is to count the time it says, “And Hashem said…” The result is that these words appear only 9 times within the initial story of creation. Then there is a large narrative till finally, “And Hashem said it’s not good for man to be alone. I will create for him and helpmate.” The Gemorah says, no, the missing utterance is b’Reishis barah. Not the same structure but the idea is implied. The Zohar sticks with the original pattern and says “And Hashem said…I will create for him a helpmate” is the last utterance.
Within the recounting of creation there is word with a small letter hey (in verse 2:4) which draws attention to itself. Our Rabbi’s teaches us the message is that the world was created for Avraham. The Zohar says, Avraham main attribute was Chesed- kindness. Kindness is one of the pillars on which the world stands. No doubt Rashi knows that Zohar but on the word b’reishis Rashi says Hashem wanted to create the world from pure middas haDin- attribute of Judgment! Hashem then saw the world would not survive and he merged the din with rachamim- mercy. The Midrash on Brieshis says that Avraham said to Hashem, “If You want Din, You can not have a world. If You want a world, You can not have Din.” Can the man who is the personification of chesed not take issue with a plan to create a world through din?
Our calendar, about to tick away its 5,760th year, did not start the day of creation but from the day Adam was created. That day Adam was ‘born’ was the Aleph Tishrei- the first of Tishrei. On that same day Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge, brought evil and death to the world and was judged. The last letters of b’REISHIS are the same letters which spell A[leph] Tishrei- the first of Tishrei. Though we associate b’reishis with creation ex nihilo, never-the-less b’- on reishis- a[leph] Tishrei we read a story of a world destined for Din. That was the first Rosh Hashana. The first day of Din.
Our Sages say, “Woe to the one who is judged on Rosh Hashana.” We know the Tsaddikim- righteous are judged immediately on Rosh Hashana and don’t wait till Yom Kippur. There is no contradiction here because we also know the actions of the righteous are judged to a hair’s breadth. On their level the smallest infractions can bring upon them the gravest consequences. Rosh Hashana means middas haDin. The first man who strove to live his whole life IN middas haDin was Yitschak! Avraham is Chesed and Yitschak is Din. The Zohar on b’reishis says Yitschak was born to let the world know that there is Din! There is a Judge!
Hashem tested Avraham 10 times. The final test was the binding of Yitschak. Avraham told Hashem he can not have a world and Din. Hashem told Avraham to offer up Din, as an Olah offering- a sacrafice which is totally consumed by the fire. The Midrash says while on the alter Yitschak looked up and saw the Divine Presence and for that he became blind [in his later years.]
A Gemorah in Sanhedrin tells the terrible state to which Israel had fallen due to idolatry. The Rabbis entreated Hashem to remove the evil inclination for idolatry from the world. Hashem answered their prayers. Catching Hashem in giving mood they asked Him to remove the evil inclination for immorality from the world. They were allowed to subdue it and bound it for three days. They then sought a fresh egg for someone who was ill. There was not a fresh egg to be found in all of Israel. Adam introduced into the world a mixture of good and evil. When the evil inclination for illicit relations ceased to operate, the nature of all relations ceased to operate. The Rabbis asked for half of the inclination towards immorality to be vanquished. Hashem said, “No halfzies.” They Rabbis blinded it, thereby removing the desire for incest. They blinded it. And it was weakened.
Avraham bound Yitschak and Yitschak became blind. To totally vanquish Din Avraham couldn’t do but it was weakened. And on that very day of the binding and blinding of Yitschak, the day that the Zohar tells us was Rosh Hashana, Rivka was born. The future wife of Yitschak. Rivka is the tempering of Din. Rosh Hashana is two days long but unlike other holidays it is not called a two day holiday. It is called a yom arichta- one long day. It is not a day of pure Din followed by a second day, an attachment of Rachamim. It is one day of Din that has been merged with Rachamim. Rosh Hashana. When the husband and wife were destined to became one.
Parshas Eikev which was read first after the relief of the 15th of Av has the word reishis without the aleph. Eikev doesn’t say A[leph] Tishrei, meaning that single day which was intended to be the start of a world of pure Din. Reishis without an aleph can only spell Tishrei which points to every day. Every day is not just the first day. It is no longer a time of pure Din.
One opinion in the Gemorah says creation was in Nissan, the month when Yitschak was born. The other opinion says creation was in Tishrei, when Rivka was born. The Gemorah says the missing utteranis b’Reishis- on a[leph] Tishrei, a day of pure Din, as Hashem wanted the world to be. The Zohar saythe utterance is, “I will make him a help mate.” Tempered Din. When the husband and wife were destined to became one.
May all Israel find the tshuva in their hearts. May Hashem quickly send us His anointed one. Till then may Hashem bless you and seal you in the books of good life and prosperity.
Shabbat Shalom and a Shana Tova U’m’tuka.
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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