Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Holiday Splash

With Purim just a few days away, I'm working on my 5767 PPP [Purim Parody Post] (see here and here for last year's). Meanwhile, here's a holiday-related dvar torah in a similar vein to the one I posted earlier this week on the connection between the mishkan furniture and our five senses. Unlike that idea, this one isn't original - I first saw a version of it on the mail.jewish email list several years ago.

First, some background: The laws of tumah [ritual impurity] state that food items can become tameh [impure] only after they have once become wet. The mishnah defines seven different liquids, known as machshirin, which qualify to make food items susceptible to tumah:
  1. Mayim = water
  2. Tal = dew
  3. Yayyin = wine
  4. Shemen = oil
  5. Devash = honey
  6. Chalav = milk
  7. Dam = blood
It is interesting that each of these seven machshirin closely relates to one of the seven major Jewish holidays, which are Pesach, Shavuos, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkos/Shmini Atzeres, Chanukah, and Purim. The correspondence is as follows

1) Pesach relates to dew. Dew is the blessing for the Spring season, which Pesach initiates. We therefore begin asking for dew in our prayers on the first day of Pesach with a special service called simply "tal".

2) Shavous relates to milk, as per the longstanding custom of eating dairy products on that holiday.

3) Rosh Hashanah relates to honey, which is customarily eaten on that holiday as a symbol of our hopes for a sweet new year.

4) Yom Kippur relates to blood. When the Temple stood, the centerpiece of the day was the Avodah, the special Yom Kippur service which involved sprinkling sacrificial blood in the holiest areas of the sanctuary, done only this day. In addition, fasting, according to chazal, represents diminution of our own blood as a form of sacrifice.

5) Sukkos/Shmini Atzeres relates to water. When the Temple stood, a special, very joyous water drawing ceremony was held on Sukkos. We are told that the world is judged on Sukkos for the coming year's rain, and we begin asking for it in our prayers on Shmini Atzeres with a special service called simply "geshem", rain.

6) Chanukah relates to oil - the oil of the miracle, the oil of the menorah.

7) Finally, Purim relates to wine - duh!

Pretty neat, no?


At 2/27/07, 8:07 PM, Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Wow once again you did it, amazing stuff.

At 3/1/07, 1:21 AM, Blogger Tova said...

Very nice vort!


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