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Friday, September 11, 2015

Rosh Hashana 5776

After blowing shofar on Rosh Hashana, there is a tradition to declare the birthday of the world; or perhaps conception day of the world, depending on how you translate “הרת.” Either way, it makes it sound like Rosh Hashana is the anniversary of some part of God creating this world. This gives a nice sense to the day when we all start anew in judgment. This is codified below in the Darkei Moshe.


דרכי משה הקצר אורח חיים סימן תקצב
Abridged Darkhei Moshe, Orech Chayyim, Siman 592
Moshe Isserles, 16th Century Poland
And the Maharil wrote, “And say every time they blow [shofar], ‘Today is the conception day [birthday?] of the world.’”
וכתב מהרי"ל (מוסף ראש השנה סי' ה עמ' רחצ) ואומר כל פעם שתוקעין היום הרת עולם


The Talmud records a similar practice which it says follows Rebbi Eliezer who said the world was created in the month of Tishrei.
תלמוד בבלי מסכת ראש השנה דף כז עמוד א
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Rosh Hashana, 27a
אמר רב שמואל בר יצחק: כמאן מצלינן האידנא זה היום תחלת מעשיך זכרון ליום ראשון, כמאן - כרבי אליעזר, דאמר: בתשרי נברא העולם.
Said Rav Shmuel son of Yitzchak, “According to whom do we pray these days, ‘This is the day of the beginning of Your works, a memorial to the first day’? Like whom? Like Rebbi Eliezer, that he said, ‘In Tishrei’ the world was created.”


This is stated even more powerfully in the midrash below. It tells us about the end of the sixth day of creation when God took deliberate steps in creating Adam and commanding him not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. Adam, on the same day, disobeys God, stands in judgment, and is pardoned. It is for that reason that God enacts Rosh Hashana as a day of pardon for us.  
ויקרא רבה (מרגליות) פרשת אמור פרשה כט
Vayikra Rabbah, Parashat Emor, Parasha 29
“In the seventh month on the first of them month,” (Leviticus 23:24). “Forever Hashem your word stands in the Heavens,” (Psalms 119:89).
בחדש השביעי באחד לחדש (ויקרא כג, כד). לעולם י"י דברך נצב בשמים (תהלים קיט, פט).
It was taught in the name of Rebbi Liezer: On the twenty-fifth of Elul the world was created. It was brought in the name of Rav Cahana in the name of Rebbi Eliezer that taught during the [shofar] blowing of Rav, “This is the day, the beginning of Your works, a memorial to the first day. ‘For that is a statute for Israel, a judgment of the God of Jacob,’ (Psalms 81:5). And about the nation-states on it it is said, ‘Which to sword and which for peace; which for famine and which for satisfaction.’ And on it  He focuses on the people and remembers them for life or death.”
תני בש' ר' ליעזר בעשרים וחמשה באלול נברא העולם. אתיא דרב כהדא דר' אליעזר דתאני בתקיעתא דרב זה היום תחלת מעשיך זכרון ליום ראשון, כי חק לישראל הוא משפט לאלהי יעקב (תהלים פא, ה). ועל המדינות בו יאמר איזו לחרב ואיזו לשלום, איזו לרעב ואיזו לשובע, ובריות בו יפקד ולהזכירם לחיים ולמות.
You find that the first man was created on the first of Tishrei.
את מוצא באחד בתשרי נברא אדם הראשון.
The first hour the thought was conceived.
שעה ראשונה עלה במחשבה,
The second He consulted with the ministering angels.
שנייה נמלך במלאכי השרת,
The third He formed the dirt.
שלישית גיבלו,
The fourth He sewed the parts.
רביעית ריקמו,
The fifth He gave him form.
חמישית עשאו גולם,
The sixth He blew breath into him.
ששית נפח בו נשמה,
The seventh He stood him on his feet.
שביעית העמידו על רגליו,
The eight He brought him into the Garden of Eden.
שמינית הכניסו לגן עדן,
The ninth He commanded him.
תשיעית צוהו,
The tenth he transgressed on His commandments.
עשירית עבר על ציויו,
The eleventh He judged him.
אחת עשרה דנו,
The twelfth He gave him a pardon.
שתים עשרה נתן לו דימיס.
The Holy One, blessed be He said to Adam, “Behold you are a sign to your children. Just as you came before Me in judgment and I gave you a pardon, so too your children come before Me in judgment and I give them a pardon.”
אמ' לו הקב"ה אדם הרי את סימן לבניך, מה אתה נכנסת לפני בדין ונתתי לך דימיס אף בניך נכנסין לפני בדין ואני נותן להם דימיס.
When? On Rosh Hashanah, in the seventh month, of the first of the month.
אימתי? בראש השנה, בחדש השביעי באחד לחדש.


Part of the problem, however, is that the text above is dealing with why Rosh Hashana occurs in what is Biblically called the seventh month. Why is it not first? It also turns out that the creation of the world in Tishrei is a Talmudically debated point. Rebbi Yehoshua thinks it was created in Nissan which is the first month in the Torah and the month when Israel become a people.
תלמוד בבלי מסכת ראש השנה דף י עמוד ב - דף יא עמוד א
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Rosh Hashana 10b-11a
It was taught: Rebbi Eliezer says, “In Tishrei the world was created; in the Tishrei the forefathers were born; in Tishrei the forefathers died; on Pesach Isaac was born; on Rosh Hashana Sarah, Rachel and Channah were remembered; on Rosh Hashana Joseph left jail; on Rosh Hashana labor was ceased for our forefathers in Egypt; in Nissan they were redeemed; in Tishrei in the future to come will be redemption.”
תניא, רבי אליעזר אומר: בתשרי נברא העולם, בתשרי נולדו אבות, בתשרי מתו אבות, בפסח נולד יצחק, בראש השנה נפקדה שרה רחל וחנה, בראש השנה יצא יוסף מבית האסורין, בראש השנה בטלה עבודה מאבותינו במצרים, בניסן נגאלו, בתשרי עתידין ליגאל.
Rebbi Yehoshua says, “In Nissan the world was created; in Nissan the forefathers were born; in Nissan the forefathers died; on Pesach Isaac was born; on Rosh Hashana Sarah, Rachel, and Channah were remembered; on Rosh Hashana Joseph left jail; on Rosh Hashana labor was ceased for our forefathers in Egypt; in Nissan we were redeemed; in Nissan in the future to come will be redemption.”
רבי יהושע אומר: בניסן נברא העולם, בניסן נולדו אבות, בניסן מתו אבות, בפסח נולד יצחק, בראש השנה נפקדה שרה רחל וחנה, בראש השנה יצא יוסף מבית האסורין, בראש השנה בטלה עבודה מאבותינו במצרים, בניסן נגאלו, בניסן עתידין ליגאל. תניא,
Rebbi Eliezer says, “From where is it that in Tishrei the world was created? As it says, ‘Then God said, ‘The land will sprout grass; herbage that gives seeds, fruit trees,’’ (Genesis 1:11). Which is the month in which the earth brings forth grass and trees are filled with fruit? One would say, ‘This is Tishrei.’ And this same time frame was of autumn rain, and rain came down and caused growth, as it says, ‘Then a mist came up from the earth,’ (Genesis 2:6).”
רבי אליעזר אומר: מנין שבתשרי נברא העולם - שנאמר "ויאמר אלהים תדשא הארץ דשא עשב מזריע זרע עץ פרי" (בראשית א:יא). איזהו חדש שהארץ מוציאה דשאים ואילן מלא פירות - הוי אומר זה תשרי, ואותו הפרק זמן רביעה היתה, וירדו גשמים וצימחו, שנאמר ואד יעלה מן הארץ (בראשית ב:ו).
Rebbi Yehoshua says, “From where is it that in Nissan the world was created? As it says, ‘Then the earth brought forth grass; herbage that gives seeds… and trees making fruit,’ (Genesis 1:12). Which is the month in which the earth is filled with grass and the trees bring forth fruit? One would say, ‘This is Nissan.’ And this same time frame is that in which cattle, beasts, and birds couple together, as it says, ‘The pastures wear sheep, and the valleys are wrapped in wild grasses,’ (Psalms 65:14).”
רבי יהושע אומר: מנין שבניסן נברא העולם - שנאמר ותוצא הארץ דשא עשב מזריע זרע... ועץ עשה פרי (בראשית א:יב). איזהו חדש שהארץ מליאה דשאים ואילן מוציא פירות - הוי אומר זה ניסן, ואותו הפרק זמן בהמה וחיה ועוף שמזדווגין זה אצל זה, שנאמר לבשו כרים הצאן ועמקים יעטפו בר' (תהילים סה:יד).
Subtly, I think the derivations of Nissan versus Tishrei as the creation month is based on an inconsistency between God commanding the creation of trees of fruit and having fruit making trees be created [עץ פרי versus עץ עושה פרי]. One reads the first as a time when trees already have fruit and the other reads the latter as the time when trees are beginning to make fruit.


The Maharsha explains that we have a holiday of judgment on the date of creation because creation was filled with compassion and that compassion was used to forgive Adam’s sin.  Nissan, however, is just the opposite time. It is a time of punishment which was necessary to strike the Egyptians and free the children of Israel.
מהרש"א חידושי אגדות מסכת ראש השנה דף י עמוד ב
Maharsha, Novellae on Narrative, Rosh Hashana, 10b
Shmuel Eliezer Eidels
In Tishrei the world was created. Resulting for us from these words is that because of this Rosh Hashana was established on the first of Tishrei since the world was created on it. That is, Adam [was created on it]. On it it Adam went into judgment because he sinned. And the first man repented. And the Holy One, blessed be He, with the compassion with which He created the world, forgave him.
בתשרי נברא העולם כו'. יצא לנו מאלו דברים כי לכך נקבע ראש השנה באחד בתשרי לפי שהעולם נברא בו דהיינו האדם ובו בא האדם לדין על שחטא ושב אדם הראשון והקב"ה ברחמים שברא העולם מחל לו
Therefore, on that day the forefathers Abraham and Jacob were created based on the attribute of kindness and compassion. And this is a sign for their children to come along with them in compassion on this day. But Isaac who is the attribute of judgment was created on Pesach, for on it the attribute of judgment ruled over the Egyptians through the striking of the first born. And Israel were saved on it through the attribute of judgment which weighed upon the Egyptians.
וע"כ בו ביום נבראו אבות אברהם ויעקב ע"ש מדת חסד ורחמים והוא סימן לבניהם לבא עמהם ברחמים בדין ביום הזה אבל יצחק שהוא מדת הדין נברא בפסח שבו היה שולט מה"ד על המצריים במכת בכורות וישראל נגאלו בו ע"י מ"ה הקשה על המצריים:


So far it would seem like this debate must fall out on the side of Rebbi Eliezer saying the world was created in Tishrei. However, the Talmud tells us that for counting the cycles of the world we actually follow Rebbi Yehoshua. The Rashi below makes this more clear.
תלמוד בבלי מסכת ראש השנה דף יב עמוד א
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Rosh Hashana, 12a
Our Rabbis taught: The Sages of Israel count from the Flood like Rebbi Eliezer and the cycles like Rebbi Yehoshua. The sages of the nations of the world count even the flood like Rebbi Yehoshua.
תנו רבנן: חכמי ישראל מונין למבול כרבי אליעזר ולתקופה כרבי יהושע. חכמי אומות העולם מונין אף למבול כרבי יהושע.


רש"י מסכת ראש השנה דף יב עמוד א
Rashi on Tractate Rosh Hashana 12a
The Sages of Israel count from the Flood like Rebbi Eliezer - They count the years of Noah, the creation of the world, and the years of the generations like Rebbi Eliezer; they count from Tishrei the beginning of the years. But not because they think that in Tishrei the world was created. Rather, that Tishrei is the new year for years, but in Nissan was created, as is taught.
חכמי ישראל מונין למבול כרבי אליעזר - מונין שנות נח ובריאת עולם ושנות הדורות כרבי אליעזר, מונין מתשרי תחלת השנים, ולא משום דסבירא להו בתשרי נברא העולם, אלא דתשרי ראש השנה לשנים, ובניסן נברא העולם כדקתני.


So far, while there are compelling traditions to say that Rosh Hashana coincides with the creation of the world, and our prayers even play this out, the “halakha” seems to not agree. How do we reconcile this? Rabbeinu Tam suggests a way.
תוספות מסכת ראש השנה דף כז עמוד א
Tosafot, Tractate Rosh Hashana 27a
Says Rabbeinu Tam that these and those are the words of a living God. And there is to say that in Tishrei it was conceived in thought to create, but it was not created until Nissan.
אומר ר"ת דאלו ואלו דברי אלהים חיים ואיכא למימר דבתשרי עלה במחשבה לבראות ולא נברא עד ניסן


Rabbienu Tam removes the debate entirely (though there are a few difficulties). The world was created on both! One was the conception of the world - Tishrei - and the next the actual creation - Nissan. While this does not work so well with the midrash about forgiving Adam in Tishrei, it does fit our prayers well where we say that on Rosh Hashana the world was הרה, which possibly more means “conceived” than “born” or “created.” Also, per the Maharsha, this means the world was conceived in compassion and created in judgment. This might give us a period from Rosh Hashana until Pesach to be forgiven and improve all the way until the yearly time of judgment comes back around.


חכמת שלמה אורח חיים תקצב
Chokhmat Sh’lomo, Orech Chayyim, 592
Shlomo Kluger, 18th and 19th Centuries Poland
But it seems the intention is that we hold the end in action but first in thought. For here repentance preceded the creation of the world, and that is that it was not fit to be created if, God forbid, repentance were not to be effective.
אך נראה הכוונה דהנה קיי"ל סוף מעשה במחשבה תחילה. והנה תשובה קדמה לבריאת עולם והיינו דלא היה כדאי להבראות אם ח"ו לא היה מועיל תשובה.
Only as a result that the concept of repentance preceded, for this the world was created. And here is the ripe time for repentance which is Tishrei. Therefore one says, “Today the world was created/conceived.” For it is considered as if now it were created. For if not for this day that repentance is effective, it would not have been created.
רק מחמת שקדם מחשבת התשובה לכך נברא העולם. והנה זמן המוכן לתשובה הוא תשרי. ולכך אמר היום הרת עולם דנחשב כאילו עתה נברא. דלולא יום זה דמהני תשובה לא היה נברא.



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