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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Monday, July 09, 2007

Names and Numbers

Post-Parsha Point: Pinchas

A couple of observations on this past week's parshah of pinchas.

1) There are many differences between the tribal family names listed in this parshah (Num 28:5-50) and the names of their progenitors, the descendants of Jacob shown traveling to Egypt in parshas vayigash (Gen 46:9-24). There are names on the original list but not counted as families here, families listed here but not in vayigash, and names found in different variants on the two lists. The first and second issues are much discussed by the commentators and I'll leave them aside here. But in terms of the name discrepancies, it occurred to me that the individuals in question were, without exception, young children at the time they traveled to Egypt. By the time of our parshah, on the other hand, they have become the distant progenitors of major Israelite clans, revered ancestors from two and half centuries in the past.

Thus, it is very likely that the clan names recorded in our parshah simply became more formalized and proper over time, while their original monikers are recorded in parshas vayishlach. In fact, many of the names in vayishlach have the exact flavor of childish nicknames - e.g., Yov for Yashuv, Ehi for Ahiram, Mupim for Shefufam - just as today we have Avi, Yitz, and Rafie for Avraham, Yitzchak, and Raphael!

2) The latter part of the parshah lists the karbanos tzibur [communal sacrifices] brought for each occasion; daily, Sabbath, Rosh Chodesh and holidays. The most numerous karbanos are brought during the seven days of Sukkos, and it was while listening to that nearly-repetitious reading that something just jumped out at me.

The 7th day of Sukkos, Hoshanah Rabbah, is invested with extreme holiness and solemnity in custom and Kabbalistic lore, although no such importance seems to be implied by the Torah What I noticed is that if you count up all the karbanos tzibur brought that day, you find as follows: 7 bulls, 2 rams, 14 sheep, and 1 goat for the holiday, plus the 2 sheep brought as each day's offering, for a total of 26 in all. 26 - the gematria [numeric value] of the "Shem Havaya", God's ineffable, four-letter name. And in fact, Hoshanah Rabbah is the only day in the year that exactly 26 Karbanos are brought, no more, no less! No wonder it is given such prominence.


At 7/11/07, 10:42 AM, Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Very nice words and thoughts.


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