Thursday, August 24, 2017

Sixteenth Set of 22 Days: Tzadik Sofit, Other Sheaves and Vegetables of the Field (the Priestly Family of Immer)

The 2nd of Elul began the sixteenth set of 22 days of the Jewish calendar. It is the last 22-day cycle of the year, which parallels the end-letter Tzadik (Tzadik Sofit), as well as the "Other Sheaves" and the Vegetables of the Field in Perek Shirah. It runs through the 23rd of Elul.

As mentioned previously, "Tzadik" means "righteous." The shape of the normal Tzadik is bent, while that of the end-letter Tzadik is straight and goes further down the page than the regular resting place of other letters. Elul is the month of Teshuvah, and the Tzadik Sofit represents the Ba'al Teshuvah.  It represents someone who went far below in order to then climb back up. Moshe, "bent" in humility, is the quintessential Tzadik. The Tzadik Sofit, the "end Tzadik," is a reference to Mashiach. Mashiach will elevate even the lowest of realms. When Mashiach comes, even Tzadikim will do Teshuvah.

Rabbi Munk explains the significance of the fact that the Tzadi Sofit is also found in the word for land, Eretz, which our sages teach is a reference to the World to Come, Olam HaBah.

"Kol yisrael yesh lahem chelek b'olam haba, sh'nemar, "v'amech kulam tzadikim, l'olam yirshu ha'aretz; netzer matai, ma'aseh yadai l'hitpaer." (transl: "Every member of Israel has a portion in the world-to-come, as it states (in Isaiah 60:21), "Your people are all righteous, they shall inherit the land forever; they are the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, so that I may be glorified.").

Any Jew - even one whose sins have caused him to forfeit his share in the World to Come - can regain his loss if he repents. Through repentance, any Jew can attain the rank of Tzadik and be worthy of a share in Eretz, the World to Come (Rambam, Hil. Teshuvah 3:14). (Rabbi Munk, p. 193)

The Tzadik's connection to land goes further. Land is constant, humble, ready to receive rain. The same is true for the righteous, as well as for all of us who engage in Teshuvah during the month of Elul.  

A similar theme can be found regarding the elements in Perek Shirah:

The Other Sheaves are saying, "The meadows are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with grain; they shout for joy, they also sing" (Psalms 65:14)

The Vegetables of the Field are saying, "You water its furrows abundantly; You settle its ridges; you make it soft with showers; You bless its growth" (Psalms 65:11)

Both songs are from the same Psalm. Their central theme is visualizing ourselves in the way we are meant to be: Tzadikim, like a land clothed with flock and grain,  singing and shouting with joy. It also about making ourselves ready to receive water (a reference to Torah), making furrows and ridges, making ourselves soft with rain, and growing.

 The Temple guard for these 22 days is connected to the priestly family of Immer. This name is connected to the verb Le'emor, "to speak." As opposed to Lehagid and Ledaber, Le'emor implies a softer kind of speech. (See also

Continuing the theme of the previous 22 days, this is month in which we go out to the field to speak to Hashem in personal prayer. It is also a month in which "the King is in the field," and is available to speak with us in a softer manner than on Rosh Hashanah (the Day of Judgement) through Yom Kippur, known as the "Yamim Nora'im," the Days of Awe.

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