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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Twelve Stages of Pinchas ben Yair and the Twelve Months of the Year

For those familiar with the book Mesilat Yesharim, the Path of the Just, the twelve stages mentioned there, set forth by Pinchas ben Yair, appear to parallel the twelve months of the year:

TorahTishrei  - month filled with holidays and Torah related activity;

ZehirutCheshvan - month of the flood;  care not to sin so close after Tishrei;

ZrizutKislev - Zrizut, alacrity, is the quality that defines the Kohanim, the heroes of Chanukah and this month as a whole);

NekiutTeveth - The Ramchal, Rabbi Moshe Luzzato, explains that Nekiut means cleanliness from all sin, including those that we rationalize; Teveth is known for sins related to the tribe of Dan; Shimshon, from Dan, is an example of rationalization gone awry.

PrishutShvat - Ramchal explains Prishut means abstinence from pleasure, even those permitted, if they could eventually lead to sin; Shvat is related to pleasure of fruits, etc.;

TaharahAdar - Ramchal explains Taharah means purity in our desires and emotions; in Purim we get drunk and let our emotions and desire come out - hopefully they will be pure;

ChassidutNissan - Ramchal explains Chassidut, piety, means going above and beyond to serve Hashem in every way possible to the best of our ability; the best example of this would be cleaning on Pessach, where every effort is praiseworthy;

AnavahIyar - Ramchal explains anavah means humility before G-d and others; the problem of Iyar, month of counting of the omer, is that the students of Rabbi Akivah did not respect one another - they each thought too highly of themselves in comparison to their fellow students - this showed a lack of humility; on Lag Ba'Omer we celebrate Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who had this quality;

Yirat ChetSivan - Ramchal explains that Yirat Chet, fear of sin, in this context, means fear connected to the realization of Hashem's greatness and magnitude; as we realize this greatness we are literally ashamed of in any way going against G-d's desires; this was exemplified at the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai;

Kedushah – Tammuz - Ramchal explains that Kedushah means clinging to G-d at all times, and completely disconnecting from physicality; this is represented by Reuven, who was in a constant state of Teshuvah after the sin that took place regarding his father's bed;

Ruach haKodeshAv - Ruach haKodesh, is most associated with Mashiach, who is called Ruach Apeinu, the spirit of our nostrils, and who will be endowed with the spirit of G-d;

Tchiat haMetimElul - in Elul we repent for our sins and prepare ourselves to be given new life for the coming year. A sinful person is called "dead" even while alive, while a righteous person even after death is called "alive."

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