Friday, February 14, 2014

Ki Sisa, Shemos 30:12. Charity, Palindromes, and Chiasms.

Ki Sisa...Vna’se’nu. The beginning of the Parsha describes one of the several obligations for individuals to donate money for the public good. In discussing the mitzvah of tzedakah, the Gemara (Shabbos 151b) brings the following story:
 אמר לה רבי חייא לדביתהו כי אתי עניא אקדימי ליה ריפתא כי היכי דלקדמו לבניך אמרה ליה מילט קא לייטת להו אמר לה קרא קא כתיב כי בגלל הדבר הזה ותנא דבי ר' ישמעאל גלגל הוא שחוזר בעולם 
R Chiya told his wife to give bread to the poor even before they ask, so that her descendants would be helped in a similar way when they are hungry, that they would be offered sustenance before they had to shame themselves by asking. She was taken aback by her husband's words, and asked if he was cursing her by saying that her descendants would be beggars! He answered that he was not cursing her, he was just being honest about the inevitable: poverty is an inexorable cycle, a גלגל החוזר בעולם . (See also Yevamos 63a about R’ Chiya and his wife.)

The Gaon, brought in Pninim MeShulchan HaGra uses this to as an explanation for the cantillation (trop) on the word ונתנו, which is kadma v’azla, literally, proceeding and receding. The point is that the mercy one shows others will redound to him and be shown to his descendants when they need mercy.

A less gloomy illustration of this idea is the Remez of the Baal Haturim here. The Baal Haturim notes that the word ונתנו is a palindrome. He explains that the palindromic form symbolizes the fact that tzedakah rebounds towards the giver-- tzedakah does not cost the benefactor anything, because Hashem will bestow grace and kindness upon him (Mishlei 19:17: מלוה ה' חונן דל וגמלו ישלם לו.  He has lent to Hashem, one who is gracious to the poor, and He (Hashem) will repay him.)

There is a wonderful vort from the Rama MiPano ( in Maamar Chikur Hadin 3:20 who calls it אחד מן הרמזים הנחמדי׳ בכפל מלת צדקה שהוא בא"ת ב"ש צדקה אחרת ) and the Shelah (in his Maseches Megilla Amud Hatzedaka, d’h “Yeish mefazeir venosaf”, not in his general tzedaka pieces) on the same topic. I'm saying over the Shelah, because that's where I saw it first, and because he speaks about this at greater length.  He begins by saying that he holds that you can’t test Hashem by giving monetary tithes-Maiser Ksafim- and expecting wealth, because that only is guaranteed with with tithes of wheat, Maiser Tevuah, and being meyasheiv the Tur that seems to hold not like that.  Then he brings the Gemara in Shabbos 151 that Reb Elazar Hakapar says that the word 'biglal' in “בגלל הדבר הזה” refer to poverty-aniyus, because poverty is a “גלגל החוזר בעולם”, and 'biglal' is related to 'galgal.'  He then explains that the words galgal hachozeir mean that “צדקה בא"ת ב"ש חוזר ג"כ לאותיות צדקה, זהו גלגל חוזר.” (Aht Bash is an exigetical formula that pairs and equates each letter with a letter at the opposite end of the alphabet, so Aleph is paired with Taph, Beis with Shin, etc., so Aht is Alpeh/Taph, Bash is Beis/shin, Gar Dak Hatz vahp, etc.) This means that the structure of the word ‘tzedaka’ shows its nature. The outside letters, tzadi and hey, are an Aht Bash pair, and the inside letters, daled and kuf are an Aht Bash pair: in the aht bash formula, tzadi equals hey, and daled equals kuf. So the letters of Tzedakah proceed toward the middle, and are repeated, in a different form but with the same essence, as in a mirror, on the other side, like the word ABBA-- It's a Palindrome! The word Tzedakah is an Aht Bash Palindrome! This is because tzedaka reflects back tzidkas Hashem on the giver, malveh Hashem chonen dal, aseir beshvil shetisasher (in this world or the next, according to the Shelah.)

This is not to say that one should give charity out of "selfish altruism." The Torah teaches us to deeply feel the needs of others and to react with kindness and mercy. The point is that the giving of charity benefits the benefactor no less than the beneficiary, both in an abstract and in a concrete manner.

NOTES AND ADDENDA

1. When I told this to my shiur in October 2005/end of ‘65, Reb Benny Singer pointed out that the three leaders of Klal Yisroel at one time all had palindrome names– Yishai, Dovid, and Nosson Hanovi. I’m sure it is just a coincidence, and no more significant than the names אסא or גוג or Yehoshua's father נון, or things like שמש, גג, סוס, לול, תות, and שיש, but it’s interesting.

Thank you, Rabbi Dr. Eli, for pointing out the passuk in Shmuel II:5:14 and Divrei Hayamim I:3:5 that says that one of Dovid Hamelech's sons was named Nassan as well-
ואלה שמות הילדים לו בירושלם:  שמוע ושובב ונתן ושלמה
and
ואלה נולדו לו בירושלים:  שמעא ושובב ונתן ושלמה ארבעה לבת שוע בת עמיאל
so the three consecutive generations were ישי,דוד, ונתן, all palindromes. Unfortunately, we don't know the names of Nassan's sons.  In light of these three consecutive generations, we probably can forget about it being a coincidence, though its significance remains obscure.

2. Here are some more Hebrew Palindromes, often attributed to the Ibn Ezra. Allegedly, the Ibn Ezra was asked whether whether pieces of bees that are in honey make it treif. He was mattir, because
פרשנו רעבתן שבדבש נתבער ונשרף
which means "we have explained that the consumer in honey (the bee) is consumed and incinerated." this is also a Magic Square- it is the same in four directions:
פ ר ש נ ו
ר ע ב ת ן
ש ב ד ב ש
נ ת ב ע ר
ו נ ש ר ף

Another palindrome:
דעו מאביכם כי לא בוש אבוש שוב אשוב אליכם כי בא מועד
and
?אבי אל חי שמך למה מלך משיח לא יבא

3. Here are two more Palindromes which are Magic Squares, both from Harav Dr. Avrohom Isenberg Shlitah of Chicago and his father, Harav Tzvi Hirsh zatzal, both Dikduk Gurus:

משה שמש השם

לבן בלב נבל


4. If you write out the vowels of the words, it would be nearly impossible to find a palindrome in Hebrew. This doesn't matter, though. It's a semiotic conceit, and it functions just fine in the written form, just as Gematria does not take vowels into consideration; even Reb Shimon that holds Yeish Eim LeMikra darshens Gematrios, though I can't think of any specifically at the moment.

5.  Besides palindromes, I mentioned At Bash א"ת ב"ש above.  I have nowhere better to put this, so here's a list of appearances of א"ת ב"ש that comes to mind.  If you know more, please let me know.

  • Tosfos in Menachos 43b on the sugya of מאה ברכות בכל יום brings a yesh mefarshim that the word מה in מה ה' אלוקיך שואל מעמך, equals one hundred if you make it an א"ת ב"ש, because Mem = Yud/10 and Hey = Tzadik/90.  This is also found in the Machzor Vitri, where he says ויש או' מה בגימטרי' מאה בא"ת ב"ש ה"ץ י"ם שים צ' במקום ה"ו'" במקום "מ'" הרי י"ץ ונמצא מה בגימטריא מאה .
  • The Tanchuma in Korach 16:12, and the Yalkut in הושע רמז תקלג:
כל תשא עון וקח טוב (הושע יד ג).רבי סימון אומר: כל תשא עוון וקח טוב. טוב בגימטרייה בא"ת ב"ש- נפש. אמרו ישראל: הרי חלבנו ממנו מנפשותינו. יהי רצון מלפניך שתהא כפרה עלינו, ונשלמה פרים שפתינו 
(Here, the word "Gematria" has nothing to do with numerical value, it just means using letters as code.)
  • Rashi to Bamidbar 7:20, based on Bamidbar Rabba, 13:15-16, that Ketores is Gematria 613 but only after you switch the Kuf to a Beis through  א"ת ב"ש.
  • The Zohar that says that the word מצוה is a remez to Hashem's name, because the מ and the צ become a י and a ה, and the last letters stay the same.
  • Yirmiahu Hanavi, for some reason, used at bash to refer to, respectively, Bavel and the Kasdim, with the names ששך and  לב קמי.
  • The Gemara in Shabbos 104a, has a lengthy drush that they heard from young children (אתו דרדקי האידנא לבי מדרשא ואמרו מילי דאפילו בימי יהושע בן נו"ן לא איתמר כוותייהו) on the letters of At Bash and other methods.

א"ת ב"ש אותי תעב אתאוה לו ב"ש בי לא חשק שמי יחול עליו ג"ר גופו טימא ארחם עליו ד"ק דלתותי נעל קרניו לא אגדע עד כאן מדת רשעים אבל מדת צדיקים א"ת ב"ש אם אתה בוש ג"ר ד"ק אם אתה עושה כן גור בדוק ה"ץ ו"ף חציצה הוי בינך לאף ז"ע ח"ס ט"ן ואין אתה מזדעזע מן השטן י"ם כ"ל אמר [שר של] גיהנם לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם לים כל אמר הקב"ה אח"ס בט"ע גי"ף אני חס עליהם מפני שבעטו בגי"ף דכ"ץ דכים הם כנים הם צדיקים הם הל"ק אין לך חלק בהן ומרז"ן ש"ת אמר גיהנם לפניו רבונו של עולם מרי זניני מזרעו של שת א"ל א"ל ב"ם ג"ן ד"ס להיכן אוליכן לגן הדס ה"ע ו"ף אמר גיהנם לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם עיף אנכי ז"ץ ח"ק הללו זרעו של יצחק ט"ר י"ש כ"ת טר יש לי כיתות כיתות של <עובדי כוכבים> {אומות העולם} שאני נותן לך:

  • The Daas Zkainim in Vayechi.  Thank you Reb Yitzchak Perlmutter.  The Daas Zkainim says that there is a remez in the word Vayomer that the messenger was Ephraim, because Vayomer is an anagram of Ephraim other than the Vov in Vayomer and the Phei in Ephraim, which are the same letter under At Bash.
 ויאמר ליוסף אז״ל זה אפרים ואומר הרב משה זכר לדבר כי אותיות ויאמר כאותיות אפרים בהתחלף וא״ו בפ״א דו׳יו מתחלפת בפ״א באלפא ביתא דא״ת ב״ש

  • Also from Reb Yitzchak; Rabbeinu Bechaya in Devarim 28:10 says that the Shin on the Shel Rosh, and the Shin that begins Shir Hashirim, is At Bash Gematria of the four letter name of Hashem.  This is also brought in the Beis Yosef in OC 32 from the R'I Iskandarani.  

  • I was asked to include this.  I don't think it belongs here, but I am your humble servant.
There is a famous calender use of At Bash, first noted in the Tur OC 428 (not counting day 7,) which connects the day of the week upon which the days of Pesach occur with the day of the week other holidays will occur during the forthcoming year (example, this year, the first day of Pesach will be on Monday, so Tisha Ba'av will be on a Monday as well) except for Purim which is of the previous month, not the following year, as follows:
Alef (1st day of Pesach) = Tav, Tishah B’Av
Beis (2nd day) = Shin, Shavu’os
Gimel (3rd day) = Reish, Rosh HaShanah (and first day of Sukkos and Shmini Atzeres)
Dalet (4th day) = Kof, K‘rias HaTorah (“Torah reading”, i.e. Simchas Torah outside of Eretz Yisrael)
Hay (5th day) = Tzaddi, Tzom (“Fast”, i.e. Yom Kippur and Tzom Gedaliah)
Vav (6th day) = Pay (the previous Purim)
Zayin (7th day) = Ayin, (Yom) Atzma’ut or the fifteenth of Av, when there was a yomtov for finishing the preparation of the wood for the Ma'arach in the Mikdash, called the Yomtov of עצי המערכה.

  • Chiastic structures.  The Chiastic Structure is a kind of  א"ת ב"ש in which words or concepts are organized in A,B,C...C,B,A pattern or ABBAABBA pattern.  The word comes from the Greek letter khi, or ches, which is shaped like an X.  This is used in many types of literature, and we find it in the Torah as well.  In spoken words, it can be effective and memorable, such as Kennedy's "Ask not what you country can do for you; ask, instead, what you can do for your country."  I came across one fellow who seems to have become infatuated with the form.) Whatever purpose it serves elsewhere is not the focus of this discussion.  In the Torah, it is clearly intended to highlight a mirroring of concepts and centrality of one focal idea.  I am indebted to Rabbi David Fohrman for discovering and disseminating those that follow.  Rabbi Fohrman's lectures are available at his website, alephbeta.org.  This one is from his drasha on Pekudei.

(A) Shemos 24:15-16  The Hashraas HaShechina represented by a cloud with fire inside resting on Har Sinai, and Moshe entering the cloud.
(B) 25 to 31:15 Command to build Mishkan.
(C) 31:15-17 Mitzva of Shabbos.
(X) 32-35  First Luchos and Eigel HaZahav and Second Luchos
(C) 35:2  Mitzva of Shabbos
(B) 35:3.... Description of Mishkan
(A) 40:33-34 The Hasraas HaShechina represented by a cloud resting on the Mishkan, and the pillar of Fire at night, and Moshe was not able to enter the Mishkan because of the Cloud.

Within the narrative of the Eigel, the X in the structure, you find an internal X.
32:31 we find, for the first time in the Torah, the word ויקהל, where the people gathered to demand from Aharon a replacement for Moshe Rabbeinu- the Eigel HaZahav.
35:1, after the kappara for the Eigel, the word ויקהל appears for the second time, where Moshe gathers the people and tells them to observe Shabbos.

Another example he gives is in Lech Lecha, where the Chiasm involves
(A) Avram falling on his face
     (B) Told he will be a father
         (C) Name change from Avram to Avraham
              (D) The word והפרתי
                  (E) Eternal covenant
                       (X) God/Land/God
                       (X) Covenant
                       (X) Circumcision/Covenant/Circumcision
                  (E) Eternal Covenant
             (D) The word הפר
         (C) Name change from Sarai to Sarah
     (B) Told Sara will be a mother
(A) Avraham falling on his face.

And finally, R Jesse Stone just printed a book that develops the chiastic structure formed by Yosef and Moshe Rabbeinu.  Stated most simply: Yosef started as a shepherd, became a prince, and brought Klal Yisrael to Mitzrayim. Moshe started as a prince, became a shepherd, and took Klal Yisrael out of Mitzrayim.  

13 comments:

  1. 1. ישי, דוד, נתן are also three consecutive generations
    2. A notable palindrome is the 248 words hesped on R. SR Hirsch (written by his son): http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=41648&st=&pgnum=5&hilite=

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    1. Thanks, Eli. I put Nassan, the son of David, into the post. Not the hesped, which I find bizarre.

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  2. On At Bash see the Daas Zekeinim to Bereishis 48:1 (VaYomer LiYosef). He cites the Midrash Tanchuma that it was Ephraim who spoke to Yosef. Daas Zekeinim then quotes a "Rav Moshe" that this is seen from the word VaYomer. The letters of VaYomer and Ephraim are the same except for the Vav of the former and the Peh of the latter. But those letters are interchangeable under At Bash.

    Edward Perelmuter

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  3. "Zayin (7th day) = Ayin, (Yom) Atzma’ut".

    I was only taught in yeshiva that Zayin = Ayin, for "eitzim" of 15 Av, as you mention. I don't think that we were ever "goress" a holiday known as Yom Ha'aztma'ut; I'm surprised you mention it here. Was it a holiday marked in the yeshivos you studied in?

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    1. No, because I didn't learn in Ponovezh, where the Ponovezher Rov didn't say tachanun. I learned in Telz and NIRC, and then spent some years in the Kollel at Yeshiva of Staten Island, and in none of those yeshivos was YHA marked in any way. I wish there were some way, some formal way, of designating a day of hakaras hatov to the Ribono shel Olam for opening Eretz Yisrael to his people and bringing about this kibutz galuyos, though. You're right, of course, the Yom Ha'aztma'ut thing is just a coincidence, (unless you don't believe in coincidences and think the Ribono shel Olam had something to do with it, and that the creation of the Medina was not just a trick to play on a ruined and demoralized nation that was half wiped out in the holocaust,) but it's an interesting coincidence.

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    2. Is this something you heard from your venerated Roshei Yeshiva; that we ought to mark the founding of Israel to show gratitude for the good things its brought about? From R Ruderman, R Weinberg, R Sorotzkin, R Gifter? Did they teach you that this is the proper thing to do? Or did they disregard the entire subject, personally and how they ran their yeshivos?

      It's fair to say that Gedolei Yisrael from across the spectrum held that the founding of Israel is against the Torah. If the Torah says not to do something, and, in violation of the Torah it is done, and good seemingly comes out of it, should we designate a day to thank Hashem for it? Didn't Hashem know of the good that can come out of it, and still He said not to do it?

      I'm curious what your view is on these matters...and if you can document that the Ponevezer Rav didn't say tachanun on Yom Haatzmaut, I'd be grateful.

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    3. Rav Gifter was not my Rosh Yeshiva. He was my uncle's younger chavrusa in Telshe in Lithuania and a dear friend of the family. Not as close as Reb Chaim Stein, but still. Out of hakaras hatov and respect for my uncle, after whom I'm named, He offered to correspond with me. I stupidly declined.

      I think it's fair to say that our spectrum of Roshei Yeshiva avoided public discussion of how we should understand the creation of Medinas Yisrael. That being the case, and without written evidence, Torah shebaal peh remains baal peh.

      But here's my understanding, for what it's worth. The Roshei Yeshiva you mentioned, and especially the Ponovezher Rov, thought that the creation of the State of Israel was a bracha from the Ribono shel Olam and serves a very important role in the fate of Klal Yisrael, although we cannot know that role, but that it is a chesed and has tremendous potential for good.

      Do I need to document that the Rov didn't say tachanun? Ask anyone that knew him. But I do want you to know that the Rov was a friend of my mother's family, (his daughter was one of my mother's closest friends. When everyone was running away from Kovneh because the Germans were coming, my mother met her on the bridge; she was running to her family, my mother was running to get on the train to leave town. My mother survived, she and her brothers and sisters and mother, except for her brother Avrohom, who wasn't home at the time, did not.) He used to stay at our house once a year, once he was there on Pesach. I remember that he asked not to be served on plates that had colored patterns on Pesach, because of a chashash of what the ingredients in the glaze might be. He spoke at my Bar Mitzva- about אדם כי ימות באהל on parshas Chukas. The way he put it was that his minhag in tefilla on Yom Ha'atzmaut was like Ben Gurion's- he doesn't say Hallel and he doesn't say tachanun.

      But go ahead and ask.

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  4. Another interesting application of At Bash:

    In the Haggadah shel Pesach Marbeh L'Saper (authored by R Yedidya, son of the Korban Nesanel), he explains that the piyut "Echad Mi Yodei'a" was originally said during the first 13 days of Nissan, until erev Pesach. The numbers counted in the piyut and what they correspond to are an At Bash:

    Briefly:

    Bais = 2 Nissan = Shin - day of the week Shavuos falls on.

    Gimmel = 3 Nissan = Reish -day of the week Rosh Hashana falls on.

    Daled = 4 Nissan = Kuf - day of the week 4 yomim tovim corresponding to the 4 Imhaos fall on: 2nd day Rosh Hashana, Erev Yom Kippur, 2nd day Sukkos, Simchas Torah.

    Hey = 5 Nissan = Tzaddi - day of the week Tzom Kippur falls on.

    Vav = 6 Nissan = Pey - day of the week Purim fell on.

    Zayin = 7 Nissan = Ayin - the day of the week Erev Pesach falls on.

    Ches = 8 Nissan = Samech - the day of the week the last day of Sefira (i.e. Erev Shavuos) falls on.

    Tes = 9 Nissan = Nun - the day of the week Haman was hung (“nitleh”), i.e. the 2nd day of Pesach, falls on.

    Yud = 10 Nissan = Mem - the day of the week 7th of Sivan falls on; Matan Torah according to an opinion.

    Kaf = Lamed : The day of 20 Nissan = the day of the week Lag b’omer falls on.

    He explains how its all connected to the things counted in the piyut.

    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=4971&st=&pgnum=90

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    1. Excellent. Thank you for the mareh makom. I have to get it into the post, soon bl'n.

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  5. Hello, Rabbi Eisenberg:

    The other day, I was learning the Rokeach's introduction to his peirush on the Torah. In the section entitled Shaar HaMevuar, he quotes R' Yehuda HaChassid that "Ikar HaTorah Nidreshes B'AtBash."

    Edward Perelmuter

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  6. Fascinating. There's so much that is hidden. Thanks.

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  7. Yes, and that includes the trop. See Rabbeinu Bechaya on the unusual double trop (Telisha Gedolah/Gershayim) in tomorrow's parasha (Bereishis 5:27)-"V'al Yehei Davar Zeh Kal B'Einecha SheKol HaTorah Kulah Remizos V'Inyanim Sichleem Neemareem B'Hashgacha Gemurah."

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