Weekly Cycle

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Fifteenth Set of 22 Days: Peh Sofit, Sheaves of Barley and Sheaves of Wheat

Fifteenth Set of 22 Days: from 10th of Av to Rosh Chodesh Elul

Peh Sofit

Sheaves of Barley and Sheaves of Wheat

7. Great is Torah, for it gives life to its observers in this world, and in the World To Come. As is stated (Proverbs 4:22): "For they are life to he who finds them, and a healing to all his flesh." And it says (ibid. 3:8): "It shall be health to your navel, and marrow to your bones." And it says (3:18): "She is a tree of life for those who hold fast to her, and happy are those who support her." And it says (1:9): "For they shall be a garland of grace for your head, and necklaces about your neck." And it says(4:9): "She shall give to your head a garland of grace, a crown of glory she shall grant you." And it says (9:11): "With me, your days shall be increased, and years of life shall be added to you." And it says (3:16): "Long days in her right hand; in her left, wealth and honor." And it says (3:2): "For long days, years of life and peace, they shall add to you."
8. Rabbi Shimon the son of Judah would say in the name of Rabbi Shimon the son of Yochai: Beauty, strength, wealth, honor, wisdom, sageness, old age and children are becoming to the righteous and becoming to the world. As is stated (Proverbs 16:31): "Old age is a crown of beauty, to be found in the ways of righteousness." And it says (ibid. 20:29): "The beauty of youths is their strength, and the glory of sages is their age." And it says (ibid., 17:6): "The crown of sages are their grandchildren, and the beauty of children their fathers." And it says (Isaiah 24:23): "And the moon shall be abashed and the sun shamed, for the L-rd of hosts has reigned in Zion, and before his elders is glory."
Rabbi Shimon the son of Menasia would say: these seven qualities enumerated by the sages for the righteous were all realized in Rabbi [Judah HaNassi] and his sons.

On the 10th of Av began the fifteenth set of 22 days of the Jewish calendar, which parallels the end-letter Peh (Peh Sofit), as well as the Sheaves of Wheat and the Sheaves of Barley in Perek Shirah. This 22-day period runs from the day immediately following the Three Weeks of mourning until Rosh Chodesh Elul.

As mentioned previously, the Peh stands for "mouth," and its shape is that of a mouth as well. The final Peh symbolizes a mouth that is wide open. 

This period, after the difficulties and humbling experiences endured over the last three weeks and particularly beginning with the month of Elul (in which "the King is in the field"), is one in which we must open our mouths wide in prayer and personal supplications to G-d. It is also a time in which we seek to communicate better with one another (Av as a whole is a month connected to the spiritual rectification "tikkun" of our sense of hearing, listening to one another).

Furthermore, the Peh is formed by a combination of the Kaf and a Yud. The Yud stands for Godliness, and therefore the Peh symbolizes the revelation of Godliness. The more open lines of communication described above lead inevitably to a greater revelation of Godliness in ourselves as well.

This cycle includes Tu B'Av, which is known to be the happiest and most romantic day on the Jewish calendar. It was at this time that the Tribes of Israel were once again allowed to intermarry among themselves. To celebrate this day, young Jewish women would dress in white, form a circle, and present themselves before the single men of the community that were in search of a bride. The Talmud teaches that each woman would speak of different qualities that they thought might make a good impression on a potential groom.[1] This is related to the tikkun of the sense of hearing connected to this month, and also the revelation of our positive qualities and the G-dliness within us.

As in previous weeks, there also appears to be a parallel between the relationship of the regular Peh with the final Peh and that of Moshe and Mashiach. Moshe was very much connected to the mouth. The Torah states that he had "uncircumcised lips," in that he would stammer. Mashiach will be someone known for his Torah and his speech. The word Mashiach is spelled the same as Mesiach, one who speaks, converses. He will teach the world how to properly converse with G-d. Similar to the final Nun, the long downward "leg" of the final Peh appears to represent Mashiach's ability to infuse even the lowliest of realms with the revelation of G-dliness.

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

The Sheaves of Wheat are saying, "A song of ascents: Out of the depths have I cried to you, O God." (Psalms 130:1)

The Sheaves of Barley are saying, "A prayer of the pauper, when he swoons, and pours out his speech before God." (Psalms 102:1)

Both songs above contain within them a sense of desolation, difficulty, and great humility. Both songs also emphasize the sense of speech - crying out to God and pouring out one's speech before Him. Both sheaves of wheat and barley contain in them a potential to become food, but they nonetheless require much growth and "processing."

The sense of humility described above also appears to parallel the humble outlook of the animals for weeks 45 and 46 (Book 1), the creeping creatures and the prolific creeping creatures. 

[1] Talmud, Taanit 31a

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