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Monday, May 19, 2014

Eyn Yaakov: Rosh Hashanah 11, 19th of Iyar, 5774

From Ein Yaakov: The Ethical and Inspirational Teachings of the Talmud 

IN WHAT MONTH WAS THE WORLD CREATED? (End of 10b) 

We learned in a Baraita: R. Eliezer says: In Tishri the world was created; in Tishri the Patriarchs [Abraham and Jacob] were born; on Pesach Isaac was born; on Rosh Hashanah Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah were remembered [by God, and they became pregnant]; on Rosh Hashanah, Joseph was released from prison; on Rosh Hashanah [six months before the redemption] the slavery of our ancestors in Egypt ended; in Nisan they were delivered; and in Tishri they will be redeemed at the ultimate redemption. 

R. Yehoshua says: In Nisan the world was created; in Nisan the Patriarchs were born; in Nisan the Patriarchs died; on Pesach Isaac was born ; on Rosh Hashanah Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah were remembered [by God, and became pregnant]; on Rosh Hashanah Joseph was released from prison; on Rosh Hashanah the slavery of our ancestors in Egypt ended; and in Nisan they will be redeemed at the ultimate redemption. 

[The Gemara seeks to derive these statements from scriptural verses:] We learned in a Baraita: R. Eliezer says: From where do we know that the world was created in Tishri? Because it says, “God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation; seed-bearing plants, fruit-bearing trees yielding fruit, each after its kind” (Genesis 1: 11). In what month does the earth produce grass and the trees are full of fruit? You must say that this is Tishri. 

[Another proof that the world was created in Tishri is the fact that the vegetation needed rain,] and Tishri is the rainy season, so the rain came down, and the plants began to sprout. For it says, “A mist ascended from the earth and watered the whole surface of the soil” (ibid. 2: 11).

R. Yehoshua says: From where do we know that the world was created in Nisan ? Because it says, “The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after its kind, and trees [that are about to] yield fruit” (ibid. 2: 12). In what month is the earth full of grass and the trees are beginning to produce fruit? You must say that this is Nisan. That time is the period when cattle, wild animals, and birds mate, as it says, “The rams have mounted the sheep” (Psalms 65: 14). 4 

[The Gemara asks:] And how does [R. Eliezer] explain the phrase, “trees that are about to yield fruit” [( 1: 12), which happens in Nisan]? 

[The Gemara answers : According to R. Eliezer] this denotes a blessing for future generations, [that the trees will continue to produce fruit forever ]. 

[The Gemara asks:] And what does R. Yehoshua do with the phrase, “fruit-bearing trees,” [( 1: 11) implying that the trees are full of fruit, which happens in Tishri]? 

[The Gemara answers :] He explains it in accordance with the following saying by R. Yehoshua b. Levi: All creatures of creation were brought into being full-grown, [and the trees were full of fruit], they gave their consent to being created, and they were created with their pattern, for it says, “Thus the heaven and the earth were finished and all their array [ tzeva’am]” (Genesis 2: 1). Don’t read tzeva’am, but tzivyonam, “their pattern.” [But ever since Creation, trees have begun to form fruit in Nisan.]


WHEN WERE THE PATRIARCHS BORN? 

R. Eliezer said: How do we know that the Patriarchs were born in Tishri? For it says, “They gathered before King Solomon— every man of Israel— for the festival of Sukkot, in the month of Etanim, which is the seventh month . 

[Why is the seventh month— Tishri—called the month of Etanim ?] It is the month in which the etanim, the strong ones of the earth [i.e., the Patriarchs], were born. 

[The Gemara asks:] And how do you know that etan means strong? Because it says, “Strong [etan] is your dwelling” (Numbers 24: 21). It also says, “Listen, you mountains [harim), [and harim is cognate to horim, “Patriarchs”] to the grievance of God, and you strong rocks [etanim] the foundations of the earth!” (Micah 6: 2). Furthermore it says [proving that the Patriarchs are called “mountains”]“The voice of my Beloved! There He comes leaping over mountains , bounding over hills” (Song of Songs 2: 8). He leaps over mountains [harim] [to bring the redemption earlier] in the merit of the Patriarchs [horim], He bounds over hills, in the merit of the Matriarchs. R. Yehoshua says: How do we know that the Patriarchs were born in Nisan? For it says, “In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Children of Israel’s exodus from the land of Egypt, in the fourth year, in the month of Ziv”— that is Nisan, the month in which the splendid ones [zivtanei] of the world were born. 

[The Gemara asks:] But how will [R. Yehoshua who says the Patriarchs were born in Nisan] explain the phrase “month of Etanim” [“ of the strong ones,” which signifies that the Patriarchs were born in Tishri]? 

[The Gemara answers:] It is is called Month of Etanim because it is “strong in mitzvot” [the shofar, Yom Kippur, sukkah, and lulav]. And what does R. Eliezer [who holds that the Patriarchs were born in Tishri] make of the phrase “in the month of Ziv” [which indicates that they were born in Nisan]? He will say that it is called Ziv, “splendor,” because it is the month in which the trees are colorfully blooming. For Rav Yehudah has said: If you go for a walk in the month of Nisan and you see trees in bloom, you should say, “Blessed is He who has not left His universe lacking anything, and He created in it good creatures and good trees, to cause mankind pleasure with them.” 

[The Gemara observes:] He who holds that the Patriarchs were born in Nisan holds that they died in Nisan, and he who holds that they were born in Tishri holds that they died in Tishri. For it says, [Moses said,] “I am a hundred and twenty years old today” (Deuteronomy 31: 2). [The word “today” seems to be superfluous in this context. Then why was it included in the text?] Moses implied that, “Today, this very day, my days and years have reached completion.” This teaches that the Holy One, blessed be He, fills the years of the righteous from day to day and from month to month , as it says, “ I shall fill the number of your days” (Exodus 23: 26). 


PROOF THAT ISAAC WAS BORN ON PESACH 

[The Gemara asks:] How do we know that Isaac was born on Pesach? Because it says, [The angel said to Abraham,] 5 I will return to you at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son” (Genesis 18: 14). Now let’s analyze. What Yom Tov was it when the angel said this? Shall I say that it was Pesach, and he referred to Shavuot [which is fifty days later]? Could Sarah give birth fifty days after conception? Shall I say then that it was Shavuot, and the angel referred to Tishri [which is five months later]? The question remains; could she bear a child after a five-month pregnancy? The only alternative is that the angel predicted it on Sukkot, and he was referring to Pesach [which is six months later]. All the same, could she bear a child in six months? 

[The Gemara counters:] We learned in a Baraita that that particular year was a leap year [so that the interval between Sukkot and Pesach was seven months]. 

[But the Gemara rejects this explanation:] If we subtract the days of uncleanness, [for Sarah became niddah 6 on that day 7 ], there is even less than seven months? Mar Zutra answered: Even the one who maintains that a woman who gives birth after nine months does not give birth before the ninth month is complete, admits that if she gives birth after seven months she can give birth before the seventh month is complete. For it says, “And it happened with the passage of the [tekufot] period of days” (1 Samuel 1: 20); the minimum of tekufot are two and the minimum of days is two. [A tekufah is three months, hence Hannah gave birth after six months and two days.]  


THEY WERE REMEMBERED ON ROSH HASHANAH 

We learned: On Rosh Hashanah Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah were remembered by God, [and they became pregnant ]. How do we know this? R. Elazar said: We derive it from two places where pekidah, and two places where zechirah [both meaning “remembering”], are mentioned. It says regarding Rachel, “God remembered [vayizkor] Rachel” (Genesis 30: 32), and it says concerning Hannah, “God remembered her [ vayizkerah]” (1 Samuel 1: 19). Now we also find the word zechirah in connection with Rosh Hashanah, as it says, “a remembrance [zichron] with shofar blasts” (Leviticus 23: 24). [Thus we can make an equation: Just as this zechirah takes place on Rosh Hashanah, so too the zechirah of Rachel and Hannah occurred on Rosh Hashanah.] In the same vein, we compare the pekidah of Hannah to the pekidah of Sarah. The pekidah of Hannah is, “For God had remembered [pakad] Hannah ” (1 Samuel 2: 21); the pekidah of Sarah is, “God remembered [pakad] Sarah as He had said” (Genesis 21: 1). 

[In summary: Hannah, Rachel, and Rosh Hashanah all have zechirah in common, which proves that they were remembered on Rosh Hashanah. Both Hannah and Sarah have pekidah in common, so that we can say that Sarah, like Hannah, was remembered on Rosh Hashanah.] 


JOSEPH WAS RELEASED ON ROSH HASHANAH

We learned: On Rosh Hashanah Joseph was released from prison. How do we know this? Because it says, “Blow the shofar at the moon’s renewal , at the time appointed for our festive day. Because it is a decree for Israel, a judgment day for the God of Jacob. (11b) He appointed it as a testimony for Joseph when he went out over the land of Egypt [after his release]” (Psalms 81: 4–6).


THE FUTURE REDEMPTION 

We learned: On Rosh Hashanah, [six months before the redemption,] the slavery of our ancestors in Egypt ended. [How do we know this?] It says, “I shall take you out from under the burdens [sivlot] of Egypt” (Exodus 6: 6), and it says elsewhwere, “I removed his [Joseph’s] shoulder from the burden [seivel] [when he was released from prison on Rosh Hashanah]” (Psalms 81: 7). [Hence, just as Joseph’s seivel ended on Rosh Hashanah, so did our ancestors’ sivlot end on Rosh Hashanah.] We learned: “In Nisan our ancestors were redeemed,” as the Torah relates [in the story of the Exodus]. “In Tishri they will be delivered at the ultimate redemption.” This is derived by an analogy of the word shofar found in two places. It says in one place [with reference to Rosh Hashanah] “Blow the shofar at the moon’s renewal” (ibid. 4), and elsewhere [concerning the ultimate redemption] it says, “On that day a great shofar will be blown” (Isaiah 27: 13). [Thus the redemption will occur on Rosh Hashanah, in Tishri.] We learned : R. Yehoshua said: In Nisan our ancestors were delivered, and in Nisan they will be delivered at the ultimate redemption. How do we know this? The Torah calls the night of Pesach, “A night of watching for God to take them out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12 :42). This means that the night of Pesach is a night that has been set aside and guarded [for the ultimate redemption to occur] from the six days of Creation. And what does R. Eliezer [who holds that the ultimate redemption will be in Tishri] say to this? [He says “a night of watching” means] the night of Pesach is a night during which the Jewish people are guarded against evil spirits.

Finkel, Avraham Yaakov (1999-10-01). Ein Yaakov: The Ethical and Inspirational Teachings of the Talmud (p. 242). Jason Aronson, Inc.. Kindle Edition. 

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