What is a day?
In a previous post dealing with the Midrash that deals with Eisav selling "1 day" to Yaakov Avinu, I took the assumption that 1 day is 1000 years, as that is mentioned by the commentaries on the page.
Others left interesting comments in the comments section there, ע"ש.
Another alternative explanation, which I have no source or Mesora for (and please let me know if it's Emet or even Sheker - I won't be insulted), is the following:
We know that שית אלפין שנין הוי עלמא - the world is 6000 years in its existence. We also know that there are 176 verses in תהלים קיט (Psalm 119 - also known as תמניא אפי). I contend that each verse of this chapter corresponds to 1 "day". (What's the significance of 176 days? I don't know. Perhaps, something to do with פלג עדן. Or perhaps not. I don't know.)
Note that the statement of the תורה that talks about the sale of the first-born rights to Yaakov Avinu is מכרה כיום, with a כף הדמיון, which means that the sale is approximately a day (as in כחצות הלילה) - not exactly a day.
If you divide 6000/176, you get 34.090909, or 34 and one-eleventh - pretty close to 34. Yaakov Avinu was away from Eisav right after the ברכות were given - for 34 years: 14 years learning in Yeshivat Eiver, 14 years working for his wives, and 6 years working for the sheep. This is the "1 day" that was sold to him - 34 years of שלוה without Eisav around. These 34 years encompass the entire Parshat Vayeitzei.
A possible remez to this idea that the תמניא אפי alludes to the 6000 years of history can be found in the fact that we have a סימן for the 8 times in the chapter the word עדותיך has its vav pronounced. The סימן is "דמה בן פרץ" - standing for the starting letters of the 8 verses where this is true. This could be a hint to the fact that throughout history, we've been waiting and hoping for "Ben Peretz" - i.e., the Mashiah. (I saw this explanation for דמה בן פרץ somewhere, possibly the Hatam Sofer.)
Some interesting outgrowths of this idea:
- The gemara says that a Talmid Hacham needs שמינית שבשמינית (eighth of an eighth) of ga'ava. The simple explanation is that 1/64th of ga'ava is acceptable. However, there are 2 somewhat well-known alternative explanations. The first is that it refers to the eighth verse of the eighth perasha of the Torah, namely: קָטֹנְתִּי מִכֹּל הַחֲסָדִים, וּמִכָּל-הָאֱמֶת, אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתָ, אֶת-עַבְדֶּךָ. The second is the eighth verse of the eighth set of verses in the תמניא אפי, namely: חַסְדְּךָ יְהוָה, מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ; חֻקֶּיךָ לַמְּדֵנִי, the 64th verse of the chapter. If you take 34 1/11 * (64 - 1), you get 2147. So, from the year 2147 until the year 2181 are the 64th "day". This is exactly the same period in which Yaakov Avinu got the blessings from his father (2171), which started the period of "כל החסדים" that he said "קטנתי" on. This could also be why the verse first states חסדך ה' מלאה הארץ - referring to the kindness of the blessings, which is about מטל השמים ומשמני הארץ. Then, Yaakov went to the Yeshiva of Eiver - thus, חקיך למדני.
- The gemara says that the letter ת symbolizes אמת. In the תמניא אפי, the letter ת starts out with the verse תִּקְרַב רִנָּתִי לְפָנֶיךָ יְהוָה; כִּדְבָרְךָ הֲבִינֵנִי, which is very apropos since it can possibly be translated as "Let my rejoicing approach before You, Hashem". Why is this significant? This verse is the 169th verse of the chapter. 34 1/11 * (169 - 1) = 5727, the year of the six-day war. The next verse תָּבוֹא תְּחִנָּתִי לְפָנֶיךָ; כְּאִמְרָתְךָ, הַצִּילֵנִי is more of a supplication, and asking Hashem for salvation. This is because 34 1/11 * (170 - 1) = 5761, the year of September 11th. The אמת started at the six-day war, but had soon disappeared afterwards during this period of עקבתא דמשיחא, as it says "והאמת תהא נעדרת". Let us hope that the הצלה will arrive soon, as Hashem had said.