Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Second Set of 22 Days: Gimmel & Dalet, Eden & Gehennom (Purgatory)

Thursday, the 18th of Tishrei, begins the second set of 22 days of the Jewish calendar, which parallel the letters Gimmel and Dalet, as well as the Garden of Eden and Gehennom (Purgatory).

Gimmel and Dalet have an interesting relationship. Together, they stand for the idea of "Gommel Dalim," helping the poor. "Dal" means poor in Hebrew. It is a well known idea tht Gimmel is shaped in such a way that represents its running toward the "Dal," the letter Dalet.

The Garden of Eden and Gehennom have a similar kind of relationship on a spiritual plane. Gehennom is often translated as "hell," but hell and eternal damnation are not really a Jewish ideas. Judaism believes that a soul usually must undergo some form of cleansing before entering Heaven, and this cleansing takes place in Gehennom.

To some extent, the Garden of Eden represents spiritual richness, while Gehennom represents spiritual lacking. This is reflected in the verses that these elements sing:

  • The Garden of Eden is saying, "Arouse yourself, O north [wind], and come, O south! Blow upon my garden, let its spices flow out; let my Beloved come to His garden and eat of its precious fruit." (Song of Songs 4:16)
  • Gehinnom is saying: "For He has satisfied the longing soul, and has filled the hungry soul with good." (Psalms 107:9)
These two elements also appear to clearly represent what is about to take place in the next 22 days. We'll still be in the midst of the holiday season, fully cleansed and joyous after Yom Kippur and fully engaged in the mitzvot of Sukkah and Lulav, which are very much linked to the Garden of Eden. The "mitzvah fruit" of these days, the Etrog, is said to have the smell of the Garden of Eden. We also shake the Lulav north and south (as well as in the other directions, East, West, up and down), as in the song above.

Following the holiday and Tishrei, we enter Cheshvan, which is called "Mar Cheshvan," "Bitter" Cheshvan, because it lacks any holidays (for now). We therefore use all our spiritual resources acquired in Tishrei to "enrich" the month of Cheshvan, infusing this month and the physical world as a whole with spirituality. 




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