Saturday, September 29, 2012

Motzai Shabbos/Erev Sukkos

 The Torah says about Yosef's pit that it was empty. Chazal note that the Torah says both that it was empty and that it didn't have water in it.  They infer that it did not have water but it did have snakes and scorpions in it. I had heard years ago that this can be applied to Torah, which is compared to water.  If one is empty of Torah then other things fill the void.

Today I heard a proof for this.  The Baal HaTurim notes that the word reik-emptyis used twice in the Torah.  The second time is was into today's parsha, He'ezinu (my beloved father's Bar Mitzvah parshah).  It says that the Torah is not (should not) be an empty thing for us, using the word reik. The connection could be that there can be no void where Torah is supposed to be in our lives. If we don't lead a life of Torah then we lead a life of something else that comes in and takes the available space.

The Baal HaTurim - long before the literary style that seems so modern became de rigueur in some circles - was a master at connecting same phrases used in different contexts. Another example that comes to mind is "Vayeilech ish mibeit..."  This formulation is used at the start of Shmot and the start of Rut.  The connection? The very beginnings of geulah. (When I told this to someone today he then shared the Malbim's observation that the phrasing of Rut';s giving birth is unique in Tanach,  This is discussed and once possibility is that it relates to the singular nature of Dovid HaMelech.

The discussion was started by a Dvar Torah about the phrase b'etzem hayom hazeh - a phrase in today's parshah, He'ezinu - used in the Torah at the time of a divine watershed event that is difficult to have belief in.

Today was my Hebrew birthday.  It was Shabbos.  It was a Shabbos that I feel a little bad for, a Shabbos that got overshadowed by Sukkos starting on Sunday night...

I've been thinking about A Good Man Is Hard To Find (a short story by Flannery O'Connor - available to read for free, online, here). What I come away with at the end of that story is that there is a chance to experience reality fully, at least sometimes, in life. G-d's grace is available but we don't - and maybe can't - feel it fully all the time.

The Yamim Noraim are a time when we feel G-d's presence strongly.  The peak of this time is Sukkos, the time of joy, of true and real experiencing of life in G-d's world.  We'd be mighty fine men and women if we remembered as often as possible that we are blessed to live in G-d's world, which He has graciously given to us (veha'aretz natan livnei adam). This is a major message of Sukkos.


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