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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

First Set of 22 Days: Alef & Bet, the Heavens and the Earth

First Cycle: Rosh Hashanah to First Days of Sukkot

Alef & Bet

The Heavens and the Earth

Pirkei Avot:

1. The world was created with ten utterances. What does this come to teach us? Certainly, it could have been created with a single utterance. However, this is in order to make the wicked accountable for destroying a world that was created with ten utterances, and to reward the righteous for sustaining a world that was created with ten utterances.

2. There were ten generations from Adam to Noah. This is to teach us the extent of Gd's tolerance; for all these generations angered Him, until He brought upon them the waters of the Flood.

There were ten generations from Noah to Abraham. This is to teach us the extent of Gd's tolerance; for all these generations angered Him, until Abraham came and reaped the reward for them all.


The 26th of Elul began the first set of 22 days of the Jewish calendar, which parallel the letters Alef and Beit, as well as the Heavens and the Earth in Perek Shirah. This cycle includes the days of Creation, as well as Rosh Hashanah itself, running until the middle of Sukkot.

The Talmud teaches that Alef Beit together stand for Aluf Binah (learn understanding). The current week of the year, Week 51, is the week of Binah).

Alef, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, stands for the Alufoh Shel Olam, the Master of the World, Hashem. Its shape is formed by two yuds and a vav. The yud above represents G-d and the yud below represents the yid, the Jew. The vav that connects the two is Emunah, faith.

Beit, the second letter, stands for Bayit, home. Midrash Tanchuma teaches that G-d created the world because He desired a dwelling place in the lower realms. Beit is also the first letter of the Torah, which begins with the a description of Creation: "Bereshit Barah Elokim Et HaShamayim Ve'Et Ha'Aretz," "In the beginning, G-d created Heaven and Earth. The Beit represents the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people, and the Torah itself serves as a link to bind the Jewish people to G-d.

Heaven and Earth refer back to the opening verse of the Torah, mentioned above. The verses themselves also hint to similar themes as above:

The Heavens are saying: "The heavens speak of G-d's glory, and the skies tell of His handiwork."

As mentioned in the very last set of the year, which overlaps with this one and also includes Rosh Hashanah, "Everything that G-d created in His world, He did not create but for His glory." (Pirkei Avot, 6:11) In the last set, the Grasses sing a verse that it almost identical to that of the Heavens: "May the glory of G-d endure forever, may G-d rejoice in His works." (Psalms 104:31)

The Earth is saying, "The earth and everything in it are G-d's; the inhabited area and all that dwell within it." (Psalms 24:1) And it is saying: "From the wings of the land we have heard song, glory to the righteous." (Isaiah 24:16)

The verse of the Earth speaks of the world as a dwelling place, and G-d's ownership over it, including its dwellers. The second verse appears to link G-d's glory to that of the Tzadik, the one that follows in G-d's ways and that of the Torah. As also mentioned in the last set of the year (which includes Rosh Hashanah), G-d Himself is righteous, and on Rosh Hashanah we pray to be judged as Tzadikim, and inscribed in the Book of Life.

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