Saturday, December 07, 2013

What will happen to the calendar if the Sanhedrin is re-instituted

As of 1910, Pesach was on April 24. Thirty days earlier, March 25, after the equinox, was Purim (14 Adar II). If the Sanhedrin had been re-instituted, that may have been the year that the leap year would have been postponed to the following year. This last occurred in 2005 and will occur again in 2024 (5784). Pesach that year will, according to the fixed calendar that we now use will be on 23 April, making Purim (13 Adar II) on 24 March. Since this is after the equinox, the Sanhedrin could declare that it will not be a leap year. This will pull Pesach back by thirty days (the size of the leap month) to 24 March and move everything else until the following Rosh Hashana.

The "earliest" late Pesach (as seen in the chart) is year 14 of the cycle. In 5790 (2030) Pesach will be 18 April, which is still within the allowable gap before the equinox. That Pesach will not be after April 21 until 15th of Nisan, 6664 = Tue, 22 April 2904. Thus we can theoretically use the current fixed calendar until then.

As of now, Rosh Hshana 5785 will be on 3 October 2020. Thirty days earlier would be on Tuesday, 3 September 2024. Both Cheshvan and Kislev will be 29 day months in 5784. Had we needed to (such as Rosh Hashanah occurring on Wednesday) we could have added the extra day to move it. I will assume for this post that we do not need to move it from Tuesday to Thursday (though it could have been done). Moving the date by thirty days, will change the day of the week by two days.

The following Chanukah, which is scheduled for 26 December, would then occur on Thursday December 26, would then be Tuesday November 26, while Thanksgiving would be on 21 November. With the calendar shift, the first day of Chanukah would be on November 25.

The next Pesach occurs on April 13, 2025 according to the current fixed calendar. The shift would move it to March 13, which is before the equinox. As a result, the Sanhedrin would probably declare 5785 as a leap year moving Pesach back to April 15. The following year would then be back according to the fixed schedule, except that the cycle would have moved. Similar results can be expected with the new calendar, except that the Sanhedrin would keep track.

Now lets examine the entire cycle for that year  (cycle 304). The first year of that cycle is 5776 which is 2015/2016.

Note that moving Rosh Hashannah by thirty days will cause the day of the week to change by two days. If Rosh Hashanah is on Tuesday, moving it back would cause it to occur on Sunday, which is not allowed. This would mean that it needs to be moved ahead to Monday or back to Shabbos by modifying the "extra" day that could be added in Chesvan or Kislev. Similarly, moving it ahead by thirty days would cause the problem to occur Rosh Hashanah is on Monday and would move ahead to Wednesday. For the following table, I will assume that the equinox on 21 March is the critical date. Thus, if Pesach occurs after 21 April, there would need to be a modification. Those years would shown as yes in the modification column. The following year would be left blank as it would probably need to become a leap year to account for the fact that Pesach would be "too early".

YearSecularCycleleap yearPesachModifyNext Rosh Hashanah
577620160yesSat, 23 April 2016yesMon, 3 October 2016
577720171noTue, 11 April 2017
Thu, 21 September 2017
577820182noSat, 31 March 2018noMon, 10 September 2018
577920193yesSat, 20 April 2019noMon, 30 September 2019
578020204noThu, 9 April 2020noSat, 19 September 2020
578120215noSun, 28 March 2021no7 September 2021
578220226yesSat, 16 April 2022no26 September 2022
578320237noThu, 6 April 2023noSat, 16 September 2023
578420248yesTue, 23 April 2024yesThu, 3 October 2024
578520259noSun, 13 April 2025
Tue, 23 September 2025
5786202610noThu, 2 April 2026noSat, 12 September 2026
5787202711yesThu, 22 April 2027yesSat, 2 October 2027
5788202812noTue, 11 April 2028
Thu, 21 September 2028
5789202913noSat, 31 March 2029noMon, 10 September 2029
5790203014yesThu, 18 April 2030noSat, 28 September 2030
5791203115noTue, 8 April 2031noThu, 18 September 2031
5792203216noSat, 27 March 2032noMon, 6 September 2032
5793203317yesThu, 14 April 2033noSat, 24 September 2033
5794203418noTue, 4 April 2034noThu, 14 September 2034
579520350yesTue, 24 April 2035noThu, 4 October 2035

The following tableshows what would happen if the Sanhedrin "skipped" a leap year that has Purim fall after the vernal equinox so that Pesach is after April 21. The following year would then be made a leap year so that Pesach would not fall "too early". In order to estimate the date of Pesach, it will be assumed that adding the thirty days just compensates for the thirty day subtraction, so that Pesach will occur on the same day as that shown on the fixed calenday, allowing for any Cheshvan Kislev modification. This will also account for Rosh Hashanah. Instead of calculating the following Rosh Hashannah according to the full set of rules, I will subtract the 30 days and adjust if necessary by modifying the preceding Cheshvan Kislev calculation so that it does not occur on Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday. I will otherwise assume that Cheshvan and Kislev appear as they would in the current fixed calendar. The modification value will be -1 either Chesvan or Kislev must be changed from 30 to 29 days, +1 if either is changed from 29 to 30 days, and 0 if it is left as set in the current fixed calendar. It will be left blank if Rosh Hashanah did not change from that in the current fixed calendar.

YearSecularCycleleap yearPesachModifyNext Rosh Hashanah
577620160noWed, 23 March 20160Sat, 3 September 2016
577720171yesTue, 11 April 2017
Thu, 21 September 2017
577820182noSat, 31 March 2018
Mon, 10 September 2018
577920193yesSat, 20 April 2019
Mon, 30 September 2019
578020204noThu, 9 April 2020
Sat, 19 September 2020
578120215noSun, 28 March 2021
7 September 2021
578220226yesSat, 16 April 2022
26 September 2022
578320237noThu, 6 April 2023
Sat, 16 September 2023
578420248noSat, 23 March 20240Tue, 3 September 2024
578520259yesSun, 13 April 2025
Tue, 23 September 2025
5786202610noThu, 2 April 2026
Sat, 12 September 2026
5787202711noMon, 22 March 20270Thu, 2 September 2027
5788202812yesTue, 11 April 2028
Thu, 21 September 2028
5789202913noSat, 31 March 2029
Mon, 10 September 2029
5790203014yesThu, 18 April 2030
Sat, 28 September 2030
5791203115noTue, 8 April 2031
Thu, 18 September 2031
5792203216noSat, 27 March 2032
Mon, 6 September 2032
5793203317yesThu, 14 April 2033
Sat, 24 September 2033
5794203418noTue, 4 April 2034
Thu, 14 September 2034

This becomes the new cycle. As can be seen several of the leap years would not require modification. It is possible that the Sanhedrin would not want to change the cycle until the date of Pesach moves farther from the equinox so that all the leap years of the cycle occur after the equinox. As I said earlier, we could use the current calendar until 6664 (2904). The "latest" leap year Pesach on 23 April is only 5 days away from the "earliest" leap year Pesach so that the determination based on "season" and the physical aspects of the year would be more significant than the astronomical calculation.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Why Thanksgiving will not be on Chanukah again

This year (5774) is the 17th year of the 19 year cycle. Since the leap month is not until Adar, Chanukah will be "early" in the solar year. The 19 year cycle will cause any particular Hebrew date to fall on the same secular date every 19 years. It can differ by one day based on the Solar leap year adding in February 29 every four years. This will also be affected by the fact that the secular leap year will be dropped in 2100. The first day of Chanukah (25 Kislev) appeared as followed in the current (303) cycle, using the 0 based count
year          cycle         date of 25 Kislev
5757             0            Fri.      6 Dec.
5758             1            Wed. 24 Dec.
5759             2            Mon. 14 Dec.
5760             3            Sat.    4 Dec.
5761             4            Fri.    22 Dec.
5762             5            Mon. 10 Dec.
5763             6            Sat.  30 Nov.  Thanksgiving was Thurs. Nov. 28
5764             7            Sat.  20 Dec.
5765             8            Wed.  8 Dec.
5766             9            Mon. 26 Dec.
5767            10           Sat.   16 Dec.
5768            11           Wed.   5 Dec.
5769            12           Mon.  22 Dec.
5770            13           Sat.   12 Dec.
5771            14           Thu     2 Dec.
5772            15           Wed. 21 Dec.
5773            16           Sun.    9 Dec.
5774            17           Thu.   28 Nov.     *THANKSGIVING*
5775            18           Wed.  17 Dec.
5776             0            Mon.    7 Dec.
Thus we see that in cycle years 6 and 17, the first day of Chanukah will be within a week of Thanksgiving as part of the regular cycle depending on when the fourth Thursday of November occurs. Note the way the cycle of year 17 continues. Thus in months with 5 Thursdays, (it would be 29 or 30 November), Thanksgiving is the week before (November 22 or 23).
5793 - Sun. 28 Nov
5812 - Wed. 29 Nov. - 2051 Thanksgiving is on November 23
5831 - Fri.    28 Nov. - 2070 the day after Thanksgiving
5850 - Mon.  28 Nov. - 2089
5869 - Thu.   29 Nov. - 2108 Thanksgiving is on November 22
5888 - Sun.  30 Nov. - 2127 Thanksgiving is November 28.
5907 - Mon. 28 Nov. - 2146 Thanksgiving is November 24
5926 - Fri.   29 Nov. - 2165 Thanksgiving is November 28
5945 - Mon. 29 Nov. 2184
5964 -  Thu. 1 Dec. 2203 Here is the next change because of the century adjustment
5983 - Sat. 30 November 2222 Thanksgiving is November 28.
As a result of the fact that 2100 is not a leap year, Thanksgiving can no longer match up with Chanukah. Since Passover must be in the spring, the calendar will skip a leap year once the Mashiach comes and the Sanhedrin reinstated. This will move the dates back so they will not keep getting later and "wrap around" as does the Moslem calendar. We cannot calculate the dates using the current fixed calendar past that time.

As of 1910, Pesach was on April 24. One month earlier, March 24, after the equinox, was Taanis Esther (13 Adar II). If the Sanhedrin had been re-instituted, that may have been the year that the leap year would have been postponed to the following year. This last occurred in 2005 and will occur again in 2024. If leap year would be postponed, then since Passover would be March 23 (in 2024), the following year would have Passover before the equinox (March 13) which would not be allowed. Thus, that year would be a leap year and Taanis Esther would be on March 13 and Passover would be the following month on April 13. Similarly, Chanukah following the "skipped" leap year would be November 26 instead of December 26, while the Chanukah following the "new" leap year would be approximately 20 days later or December 6. This would reset the 19 year cycle and we would have to recalculate the following years.

Of course for this to occur, the Mashiach would have come and we would no longer be in exile. As a result, Thanksgiving would no longer be immediately relevant.
Note that since 2100 was not a secular leap year, the first day of Chanukah is no longer Nov. 28 or 29 but begins appearing on November 29 or 30. This will also cause the prayer for rain in the Shmoneh Esrei to move from maariv December 4 or 5 (which started in 1900) to December 5 or 6. The change did not occur as we ended the last century because 2000 was a leap year since it is divisible by 400.
That is why 25 Kislev kept appearing on 28 November in the 1800's but on 27 November in the 1700's.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

R'Ei ma'aser is riches

כב. עַשֵּׂר תְּעַשֵּׂר אֵת כָּל תְּבוּאַת זַרְעֶךָ הַיֹּצֵא הַשָּׂדֶה שָׁנָה שָׁנָה
 22. You shall surely tithe all the seed crop that the field gives forth, year by year.
The commentators take the command "Aser Ta'aser" (you must tithe) and teach a lesson on the results of following the Torah. "Aser BishvilShetis'asher " (Tithe so that you become rich).
Tractate Taanit 9a
Rabbi Yochonon met a young son of Reish Lokeish and said to him “Read to me your verse (that you are studying)”.
“Aser t’aser – Tithe, you shall tithe (Deutoronomy 14)”
“What is the meaning of (the double terminology, it is redundant)?”
“ (Read it as follows:) ‘Aser beshvil shetisasher’ - Tithe so that you will become (ashir) rich.”
“From where do you know this?!”
“Try it out yourself and see.”

 In actuality this connects with the statement of Pirkei Avos (Ethics of the Fathers) chapter 4 mishna 1:

 איזהו עשיר? השמח בחלקו. שנאמר (תהלים קכח), יגיע כפיך כי תאכל אשריך וטוב לך. אשריך, בעולם הזה. וטוב לך, לעולם הבא.
 Who is rich? One who is satisfied with his lot. As is stated (Psalms 128:2): "If you eat of toil of your hands, fortunate are you, and good is to you"; "fortunate are you" in this world, "and good is to you" in the World to Come.
  This means that it is not necessarily that when one gives his tenth to charity he will become wealthy (though that can happen), but that one who regularly gives tzedakah learns to consider that whatever he has is a gift from Hashem.  He learns to become "happy with his lot" and to live as if whatever he has is a gift and is not "coming to him". Thus, he learns the lesson and truly "becomes rich".

In truth, if someone puts aside his ma'aser (tenth) either into a separate account or even in a separate ledger and ensures that it is given to tzedakah (charity is not a good translation) he will find that
somehow he will actually be able to live on the remaining ninety per cent and that somehow there is enough money. I can testify to this because that is what happened to me.

The blessing is not that you suddenly get more money, but that whatever you have is enough for your needs.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Korach and Bilam were alike

One of the characteristics of Bilam was that he was greedy and selfish. A similar characteristic shows up in Korach. The Medrash states that Korach invented stories designed to try to show Moshe Rabbeinu in a bad light and pretend that he had made up the halacha himself for his own and his relatives' and cronies' benefit. One of the stories that he made up involved a "poor" widow and her two daughters. This widow actually shows the characteristic of S'dom in that she cannot accept that anyone else would get any benefit from what is "hers".

The widow owned property and wanted to grow crops on it. Of course, since the Bnei Yisroel were still in the desert (and now condemned to remain traveling for thirty eight more years) this could not have been an actual event. The first "problem" was that she could not have her land plowed with an ox and a donkey together or sow different types of seeds (kilayim) in the same field. This indicates that she was actually quite wealth in that she had sufficient livestock to mix as well as sufficient land and seeds to be able to have the forbidden mixtures in the first place.

If the land had been owned by her late husband, it would have been inherited by her daughters and not her. The assumption seems to be that the daughters must have been minors and she was running the estate for them. In any case, these laws are actually logical agricultural procedures in any event. Plowing with an ox and a donkey actually does not till the ground properly and mistreats the animals as well.

Whe the time came for the harvest, she was required to give the tithe (tenth) to the Levites, the Terumah to the Kohen, and leave leket shickcha, and Peah for the poor in the community. She objected so strongly to this that she sold the fields and bought some lambs. Here we see the characteristic greed and selfishness of Bilam as expressed by Korach. She objected so strongly to having to give to the poor, that she (illegally) sold the fields owned by her daughters at a loss. After all fertile fields are worth a lot more than two lambs. Of course this ignores the law of Yovel and that the value of the field would be set by how long it would be until the next Yovel.

She did not even buy sheep of proven fertility as the next complaint is that she was upset that the first born were to be redeemed of offered as a sacrifice. THis means that the lambs had not yet given birth at all. She could not bear that someone else might have benefited from these lambs in the past. She also was upset that the first shearing was to be given to the Kohen even though everything else was hers.

She was so upset at having to share, that she had them slaughtered. At this point, Korach "forgets" that he is talking about something that could not have taken place until after the land of Canaan had been conquered. He now speaks of the halacha of meat slaughter in the desert. At that time, all meat that was slaughtered was treated like a korbon and the matnas kehunah (gifts for the priesthood) were taken from the animal. Had the story actually occurred after the conquest, then the widow could have eaten all the meat and prevented anyone else from enjoying it. Of course, this would have left her daughters destitute as she had sold all of their property for these lambs which she is now wasting on a single meal.

She is so upset that anyone else gets to share in "her" animals, that she declares them cherem which means that is goes to the mikdash and becomes the property of the kohanim.

Korach tries to get us to feel sympathy for her by sliding over the fact that she put herself into this situation because she was so greedy that she could not allow any one else to benefit from what is "hers". She cannot allow a poor person to get any of "her" property and will not even share with the true owners of the land, her daughters. This shows what Korach really felt and that this was his basic character.

This trait of "Ayin Rah" is a basic characteristic of Bilam. Even when a politician is trying to evoke sympathy in order to create a mood, he cannot avoid showing his true character.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Can a nonJew bring a sacrifice to the Bais Hamikdash

A nonJew is allowed to bring an Olah (a sacrifice that is completely burnt on the altar) as a free will offering in the same way that a Jew is allowed. The source for this is in Parshas Emor (22:18).

יח. דַּבֵּר אֶל אַהֲרֹן וְאֶל בָּנָיו וְאֶל כָּל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם אִישׁ אִישׁ מִבֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל וּמִן הַגֵּר בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר יַקְרִיב קָרְבָּנוֹ לְכָל נִדְרֵיהֶם וּלְכָל נִדְבוֹתָם אֲשֶׁר יַקְרִיבוּ לַיהֹוָה לְעֹלָה:

 18. Speak to Aaron and to his sons and to all the children of Israel and say to them: Any man whatsoever from the house of Israel or from the strangers among Israel who offers up his sacrifice for any of their vows or for any of their donations that they may offer up to the Lord as a burnt offering
 As seen above, most translations speak of "Any man among Bnei Yisrael". However, Rabbi Sorotzkin in אזנים לתורה (Insights in the Torah) as well as the Malbim sets it up as
A man, a man of Bnei Yisroel, or a convert among Israel ...
 The descendants of Adam and Noach are called "Ish" (a man).  This means that anyone using his free will to acknowledge that Hashem is the Creator of the Universe is allowed to dedicate himself to Hashem. This is the symbolism of the Korbon Olah (burnt sacrifice). A nonJew is allowed to believe that Hashem has created various Powers (capital P deliberate) to run the world as his emissaries. This is the concept of Shituf (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 156, in the Rama). A Jew who makes this mistake would not be allowed to bring a korban. An example of this is the case of Eliyahu Hanavi on Mount Carmel. He calls on the Jews to make a decision and worship either Baal or Hashem, but not both. This is because the Jews are required to understand that everything in the Universe was created by Hashem and nothing exists as a separate power.

There is even the analogy of the difference between members of an empire. Those who live in the Imperial City under the direct rule of the Emperor would not be allowed to serve any of his subordinates. Since Hashem has taken us to himself and given us the Torah at Har Sinai, we can no longer be allowed to make the mistake that the rest of the world does.

An interesting point is the way that this division into three categories of human beings is set up.

1. Those who realize that there is a G0d who rules over everything, but think that the lesser powers still deserve service.

2. A "born" Jew who is restricted to the worship of Hashem because of Yestzias Mitzrayim (the Exodus) and the revelation at Sinai. We have been taken into the service of Hashem and commanded to become a "nation of Priests".

3. A righteous convert (ger) who has become a "naturalized citizen" and has raised himself to the level of a servant of Hashem. This person has explicitly taken the oath to only serve Hashem and is considered as if he had been at Sinai and received the Torah.

This also explains why this concept only applies to the Olah which is completely consumed on the altar. A nonJew cannot partake of the sacrifices, because only those who have been accepted into the service of Hashaem are allowed to "eat at Hashem's table". This also explains why a Jew who has abandoned his status is not allowed to bring a sacrifice even though a nonJew who has the same erroneous belief is allowed to do so.

Another point in Parshas Emor is that a Jew is only allowed to eat of a korban if he is tahor (ritually pure). Since a nonJew cannot become ritually pure, then he would never be able to partake of the korban, which means that he can never bring any korban other than an Olah. On the other hand, a ger has become tahor by immersing in the mikvah when he became a Jew.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Why should Aharon wear gold in the first place?

Rabbi Sorotzkin in "Oznayim LaTorah" discusses the question of why the Kohen Gadol [high priest] should wear gold in the first place, since the gold is a "prosecutor" (reminding Hashem of the golden calf). He brings up two points in Acharei Mos when Rashi uses that as a reason why the Kohen Gadol enters the Kodesh Kadashim [Holy of Holies] with only the four linen garments of the regular priest.

1. Why is he not given four "additional" garments made of linen? For example, the tzitz, the gold plate on his forehead with the words "Kadosh Lashem" on it could have been a linen band with the words embroidered on it. Another example are the gold bells around the Meil [coat or tunic] which could have been made out of a different metal.

2. When he comes back out, he puts the golden garments back on. Shouldn't he leave them off since he is still attempting to atone for Bnei Yisroel? The gold is still a reminder of the Chait HaEgel [Sin of the calf].

He connects this with the actual purpose of the Kohen Gadol. When a person sees someone committing (or who has committed) a sin, he has a mitzvah to rebuke him (without causing emabarrasment. Thus, the purpose of the gold is to actually remind those who see it that they must atone for their sins. When the Kohen Gadol goes into the Kodesh Kodoshim on the other hand, he is there to defend the Bnei Yisroel. He gives the analogy of Rabbi Levi of Berditchev who would defend Bnei Yisroel in his prayers. However, he points out that someone who attempts to tell a rav that he should not rebuke someone for committing a sin is himself acting improperly.

When the Kohen Gadol goes in to the Kodesh Kodoshim, noone else is allowed to be present (not even the malachim [angels] who normally attend him). He is alone with Hashem as the representative of the people and is there to defend them. Not only is the gold improper there, but he is like a "regular" Kohen wearing only the four linen garments.

When he comes out, he is also the representative of Hashem as well as the defender of the people. He is attempting to arouse the people who see him to do teshuvah and to atone and resolve to behave properly in the future. For example, the words on the Tzitz are actually a reminder to the people on how they must behave as well as a why of keeping the Kohen Gadol reminded as to how he must control his thoughts. Similarly, the purpose of the other "extra" garments is to have an effect on those who see the Kohen Gadol.

Rabbi Sorotzkin also points out that the purpose of each individual part of the additional four garments of the Kohen Gadol are not required when he is alone with Hashem. Another example is that the sound of the bells is not required because the censor actually had a piece that would bang on it and make a sound the entire time that the kohen Gadol was in the Kadosh Kodoshim.

May we merit to actually be able to have the Avodah of Yom Kippur be carried out in full bimheirah beyameinu [speedily and in our day].

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Toldos implies a new era

The use of "Eilah Toldos", which is usually translated as "These are the generations" or "these are the products" is found only in sefer Breishis (except for one case in Sefer Bamidbar 3:1) and only at the nodal points of an era. Each time it appears, it marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. The initial statement "Eilah Toldos" gives the name of the "person" at the cusp of the node, points to what has triggered the new era and is followed by a summary of what will be the significance of that era up to its end.

The first use of the term is Breishis 2:4

ד. אֵלֶּה תוֹלְדוֹת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ בְּהִבָּרְאָם בְּיוֹם עֲשׂוֹת יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶרֶץ וְשָׁמָיִם
 4. These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, on the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven.
This is the end of the "era" of creation and the beginning of the "era" of existence.Before this everything came into existence with an explicit דיבור (statement) as specified in the seven "days" of creation. That "era" ended with the creation of שבת (Shabbos) which was the explicit command to the universe to stop creation and begin the process of "nature". This continues through the story of Adam and shows how humanity failed the test of the garden. The story of Cain and Abel is part of this story and the generations of Cain's line is considered part of it. That is because Cain and his line cannot be considered a new "era", but just follow along in nature. It is only with the birth of Adam's third son Seth that we can consider the era of Adam to begin. Cain and his line continue in parallel but do not create a significant era..

Bereishis 5:1 begins the next story arc of significance.

 א. זֶה סֵפֶר תּוֹלְדֹת אָדָם בְּיוֹם בְּרֹא אֱלֹהִים אָדָם בִּדְמוּת אֱלֹהִים עָשָׂה אֹתוֹ:
 1. This is the narrative of the generations of man; on the day that God created man, in the likeness of God He created him.
 After the era of creation, we come into the era of Nature as symbolized by Adam. This era continues with humanity attempting to live as a "natural being" and failing. It is here that we actually are given the history of humanity with the ages of each member of Adam's line at the birth of the eldest son in that line. We should notice that, while the names of Cain's line is given, none of the ages are given so that we cannot connect them to the actual history of the world. On the other hand, we are given the exact timeline of Seth's line so that we see how the history continues. Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch points out that each of the names given is actually significant of the characteristic of that generation. While Cain's line is actually monotonically decreasing in spiritual level, Seth's line will decline and then improve before declining again. Both lines end with "Lemech". Rav Hirsch says that the meaning of this is etymologicaslly unknown. However in Cain's line his father is "מתושאל (Mesushael) which implies "death seeking masses of people". Seth's Lemech on the other hand is fathered by מתושלח (Mesushalech) which implies that the masses were מתים (dead) and were abandoned (שלח).

The children of Cain's Lemech were Yaval, who is described as the father of business, trade, and merchandising. Yuval who was the father of art and esthetics.  he no longer produces, but his name is in the passive sense. An artitss in effect lives off the producers of society who support them because of the pleasure that they bring. Tuval Cain is the father of science and research. He is described as "sharpened everything which cuts copper and iron". He does not produce anything dirctly, but instead makes it possible for the other members of society to produce. His sister is Naamah, who the medrash says bacame the wife of Noach. She alone of the entire line merits saving by separating herself from the rest of her family.

The Lemech of Seth's line gave birth to Noach who the medrash says brought rest to the world and is the actual start of the next era. An interesting sidelight is that מתושלח, who dies seven days before the flood, outlives his son למך נט by 5 years. THus, every member of Seth's line who is specifically mentioned (except for Noach and his sons) has died before the flood begins.

Of course, the next era starts with Noach in Parshas Noach 6:9

ט. אֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת נֹחַ נֹחַ אִישׁ צַדִּיק תָּמִים הָיָה בְּדֹרֹתָיו אֶת הָאֱלֹהִים הִתְהַלֶּךְ נֹחַ:
 9. These are the generations of Noah, Noah was a righteous man he was perfect in his generations; Noah walked with God.

This "era" ends the existence of the natural world and returns the earth to the phase of creation. The existence of humanity is back to an explicit miracle with survival in the ark being possible only because the "laws of nature" have been suspended. It is obviously impossible under the laws of nature for a human being to build a vessel and be able to bring samples of every animal as well as a year's worth of food into it. It would also be impossible for many of the insects to survive the entire period of the flood and it would have been impossible to replenish the earth since all living things had been destroyed except for what was in the ark. In effect, the era of Noach is a recreation of the world.

Noach is a transitional figure. He brings humanity out of the original world, through the new creation and into the new world which must be rebuilt. Noach 10:1 gives us the next part.

א. וְאֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת בְּנֵי נֹחַ שֵׁם חָם וָיָפֶת וַיִּוָּלְדוּ לָהֶם בָּנִים אַחַר הַמַּבּוּל:
1. And these are the generations of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and sons were born to them after the Flood.
Here we have an improvement over Adam as all three sons prove capable of continuing humanity in their lines. They do fail in a respect and suffer the punishment of the dispersion. However, they are not destroyed. The descendants of Yaphet and Cham continue in the way that their nature provides and are no longer relevant to the story. However, Shem begins his own era and his lineage is treated in the similarly to that of Seth. See Difference between תולדות אדם and תולדות שם for a discussion of the difference between them. 

At this point the narrative narrows down to follow the lineage of Shem who continues following the way of G0d.
י. אֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת שֵׁם שֵׁם בֶּן מְאַת שָׁנָה וַיּוֹלֶד אֶת אַרְפַּכְשָׁד שְׁנָתַיִם אַחַר הַמַּבּוּל:
10. These are the generations of Shem: Shem was one hundred years old, and he begot Arpachshad, two years after the Flood.
Notice that Breishis 27:32 says that Noach gave birth to Shem Cham and Yaphet 100 years before the flood, but that Shem was 100 years old two years after the flood. Either the original pasuk means that Noach started having children then and Shem was the middle child, or time did not pass during the "era" of the flood.

Just as Noach and his children restarted humanity after the destruction of the flood, Shem and his children restarted spiritual humanity. This lineage continues to Terach who, just like Noach, has three sons. and who, just like Noach survives the punishment that is brought to the world in order to continue the line of spiritual humanity. It is Terach who is treated as the end of the transitional era represented by Shem. Humanity has survived, flourished, and replenished the earth. It is now time for the reversal of teh spiritual decline to occur. It is interesting that Avraham does not get referenced as the start of the era. Even though Terach is still part of the idol worshipping world, it is he who will be regarded as the end of the 2000 years of chaos and the start of the era symbolized by the existence of Avraham. Avraham himself is not regarded as a "separate" era and the term Toldos is not used with respect to him.

He has two sons, Yishmael and Yitzchak. They are regarded as two separate streams of humanity and will therefore be considered the branching point. That is why we have Lech Lecha 25:12 and Toldos 25:19.
יב. וְאֵלֶּה תֹּלְדֹת יִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן אַבְרָהָם אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה הָגָר הַמִּצְרִית שִׁפְחַת שָׂרָה לְאַבְרָהָם:
:12. Now these are the generations of Ishmael the son of Abraham, whom Hagar the Egyptian, the maidservant of Sarah, bore to Abraham.
 יט. וְאֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת יִצְחָק בֶּן אַבְרָהָם אַבְרָהָם הוֹלִיד אֶת יִצְחָק:
 19. And these are the generations of Isaac the son of Abraham; Abraham begot Isaac.
Each one starts a completely different line of history. Just as the Torah drops the sons of Noach to follow Shem, and the children of Shem to follow Terach, we now end the summary of Yishmael with the indication that his descendants have their own history and follow Yitzchak. Avraham was an individual. Yitzchak and Yishmael create families that will become nations. It is Yitzchak who is regarded as the true heir of Avraham and who we will follow.

Just as Noach was a transitional figure, Yitzchak too is a transitional figure who changes the spiritual heritage of Avraham from that of a unique human being and teacher into that of a family. He is the first person who is actually born into the spiritual era of humanit.His legacy again leads to a split that is shown by the use of Toldos referring to each of his sons, Yaakov and Eisav become the progenitors of their own nations and end the use of Toldos. Eisav, like Yishmael, branches off creating his own line and leaving the history that the Torah is teaching us. Yaakov will create the 12 shvatim which will become the nation of Yisrael. We see the reference to Eisav in Vayishlach 36:1 and the reference to Yaakov in Vayeishev 37:2

א. וְאֵלֶּה תֹּלְדוֹת עֵשָׂו הוּא אֱדוֹם:
 1. And these are the generations of Esau, that is, Edom.
 ב. אֵלֶּה | תֹּלְדוֹת יַעֲקֹב יוֹסֵף בֶּן שְׁבַע עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה הָיָה רֹעֶה אֶת אֶחָיו בַּצֹּאן וְהוּא נַעַר אֶת בְּנֵי בִלְהָה וְאֶת בְּנֵי זִלְפָּה נְשֵׁי אָבִיו וַיָּבֵא יוֹסֵף אֶת דִּבָּתָם רָעָה אֶל אֲבִיהֶם:
 2. These are the generations of Jacob: when Joseph was seventeen years old, being a shepherd, he was with his brothers with the flocks, and he was a lad, [and was] with the sons of Bilhah and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives; and Joseph brought evil tales about them to their father.
 From this point on we see the continuation of Bnai Yisroel and the "Toldos phrase" denoting the end of an era and the beginning of a new one no longer occurs. From now on our history is an uniterrupted lin from the descent into Egypt, the famine, the Exodus, the receiving of the Torah, the entry into canaan, the creation of the monarchy, the building and the destruction of the Temples, the exile, the trials and tribulations that have led to our day.

Had Hashem destroyed us at the Golden Calf and restarted the people with Moshe as he had threated, we would have had anothe "Toldos" moment. However, thanks to Moshe Rabbeinu, Hashem held back and allowed us to survive. Let us hope that we finally learn the lesson. This history is an unbroken line that will lead to the coming of the Moshiach, "speedily and in our day".

The final usage is in Bamidbar 3:1 and can actually be considered part of this analysis.
א. וְאֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת אַהֲרֹן וּמשֶׁה בְּיוֹם דִּבֶּר יְהוָֹה אֶת משֶׁה בְּהַר סִינָי:
 1. These are the descendants of Moses and Aaron on the day that the Lord spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai.
 This follows the full census of Bnai Yisrael and changes the nature of the people from a simple unity, with the bechorim (first born) being set aside to serve Hashem, to a nation with the priestly "caste" and the Levites consecrated from birth to serve Hashem. Rashi points out
 ואלה תולדת אהרן ומשה: ואינו מזכיר אלא בני אהרן. ונקראו תולדות משה, לפי שלמדן תורה. מלמד שכל המלמד את בן חבירו תורה, מעלה עליו הכתוב כאלו ילדו:
 These are the descendants of Moses and Aaron: Yet only the sons of Aaron are mentioned. However, they are considered descendants of Moses because he taught them Torah. This teaches us that whoever teaches Torah to the son of his fellow man, Scripture regards it as if he had begotten him - [Sanh. 19b]
 ביום דבר ה' את משה: נעשו אלו התולדות שלו, שלמדן מה שלמד מפי הגבורה:
 on the day that the Lord spoke to Moses: they became his descendants, because he taught them what he had learned from the Almighty.
The separation of the Levites follows and once this is done, the nation of Israel has been established. From now on we have an actual nation with everyone given a role to play and a responsibility. As Rabbi Sacks points oout in his drasha on Parshas Terumah, up until the building of the Mishkan, the Bnei Yisrael were passive and acted upon. It is with the Terumah and the building of the Mishkan that they had to stand up and take responsibility for themselves and act on their own. This is what makes a people and this is what enables them to continue.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Evidence that the dust of Goshen turned to Lice

Even though the Bnai Yisrael were not subject to any of the plagues, there is evidence that during the plague of lice, even the dust in Goshen was affected. Rabbi Sorotzkin in Oznayim LaTorah explains this in Vaeirah 8:13 based on Bereishis Rabbah, chapter 96. Yaakov Avinu asked that he not be buried in Egypt and insisted on being taken to Mearas Hamachpeilah to be buried with the other Patriarchs and with the Matriarchs. One of the reasons given is that the dust of Egypt was going to become infested with lice during the coming plague. It appears from the way it is presented, that the dust was infested by the lice so that the Egyptians could not run to Goshen for safety.

Mishnas Rabbi Eliezer (chapter 9) states that as a result of this plague, the Bnai Yisrael no longer had to make bricks, because there was no longer any clean earth to use as the raw material. Had the lice been kept out of Goshen, Pharoah would have just moved the brick making factories there.

Another reason is that Pharoah was able to use this as an excuse to refuse to believe that the Bnai Yisrael were not affected by the plague. He was able to insist that since the lice appeared in the area, everyone living there must have been affected.

Another point about this plague is that the Priests and Nobility were phobic about lice. They were the first group to shave on a regular basis. The priests, for example, shaved off all of their body hair. When the plague occurred, they paniced immediately.

Vaeirah - The original "Green Line"

Rabbi Sorotzkin in Oznayim Latorah (Insights in the Torah) Va'eirah (7:27) explains
27: But if you refuse to send [them] out, I will strike your entire border with frogs.
 The frogs established the borders of Egypt.and did not go one step over the border into a neigboring country (Shmos Rabbah chapter 10). This implies that in areas where there was a border dispute, the frogs actually established what the border should be. This forced the Egyptians to admit where they were wrong and forced them to withdraw from areas that they claimed improperly.

Rabbi Sorotzkin points out that the fact that the hagaddah shows each plague as consisting of four (or five) individual components actually explains why this is not stated in the first palgue (blood). The water turned to blood as it entered the boundary of Egypt, but was restricted to the Nile River. Thus, the rest of the borders were not delineated by that plague. The frogs were thus the first plague to show the borders of Egypt.