Sunday, September 30, 2012

The 5773rd Verse of the Torah

According to multiple sources, the 5773rd verse of the Torah is from Parshat Ha'azinu (Devarim 32:21):
  הֵם קִנְאוּנִי בְלֹא-אֵל,   כִּעֲסוּנִי בְּהַבְלֵיהֶם;    וַאֲנִי אַקְנִיאֵם בְּלֹא-עָם,   בְּגוֹי נָבָל אַכְעִיסֵם.
They have roused Me to jealousy with a no-god; they have provoked Me with their vanities; and I will rouse them to jealousy with a no-people; I will provoke them with a vile nation.
It is often thought that this verse that mentions a "no-people" refers to the Palestinians. And it still could.

The Ramban says that it refers to Bavel and Edom, and the uncensored Ba'al Haturim adds further credence to this via gematrias.

Yevamot 63b (words|daf|translation) has more explanations, but notice the last one:
(דברים לב) בגוי נבל אכעיסם אמר רב חנן בר רבא אמר רב זו אשה רעה וכתובתה מרובה רבי אליעזר אומר אלו הצדוקים וכן הוא אומר (תהילים יד) אמר נבל בלבו אין אלהים וגו' במתניתא תנא אלו אנשי ברבריא ואנשי מרטנאי שמהלכין ערומים בשוק שאין לך משוקץ ומתועב לפני המקום יותר ממי שמהלך בשוק ערום רבי יוחנן אמר אלו חברים
I will provoke them with a vile32  nation.33  R. Hanan b. Raba stated in the name of Rab: This refers to a bad wife the amount of whose kethubah25  is large.34  R. Eliezer stated: This refers to the Sadducees;35  for so it is said, The fool32  has said in his heart: 'There is no God' etc.36  In a Baraitha it was taught: This refers to the people of Barbaria37  and the people of Mauretania38  who go naked in the streets; for there is nothing more objectionable and abominable to the Omnipresent than the man who goes naked in the streets. R. Johanan said: This refers to the Parsees.39
And Rashi there explains who the חברים (Parsees) were:
אלו פרסיים רשעים ומבזין ואינם מכירים כבודם של ישראל
These are the wicked Persians, who despise and do not recognize the honor of Israel.
(See, however, Tosafot Gittin 17a ד"ה הא, who disagrees with Rashi.)

I'd like to offer an explanation along the lines of Rashi's explanation of Ribbi Yohanan and using the methods of the Ba'al Haturim. The gematrias of לא-עם and גוי נבל ("no-people" and "vile nation") together is 242. The gematria of אחמדינז'אד וח'אמנאי ("Ahmedinejad and Khamenei" using Wikipedia's spellings) is 241. Add the Kollel to get 242.

Iran's leadership has made itself into a vile nation, but it happened בלא עם - without the will of the people.

Iran is the vehicle through which Hashem is sending us a message.

Are we listening?

Additional Notes:

1) עמלק + the Kollel = 241 = אחמדינז'אד וח'אמנאי
2) The gemara goes on to describe Ribbi Yohanan falling when told of the Parsees entering Bavel, but when told that they accept bribes, he recovered and was able to sit down again. The current leadership of Iran, however, doesn't seem to be persuaded by monetary concerns, as sanctions have done nothing.  We possibly should be as concerned as Ribbi Yohanan's initial reaction.
3) According to Jastrow, who says "Mauretania" means Britannia, some of the recent behavior of the royals starts to make sense now.


At Mon Oct 01, 04:03:00 PM 2012, Blogger Neshama said...

A nice article:
And one glance at the photo in this article creates the view that America is one great big beautiful and most impressive Golus. Those immense towers, so many people ....
I guess living in Jerusalem brings one down to earth.

At Thu Oct 04, 10:27:00 AM 2012, Blogger joshwaxman said...

specific Persians, not any random Persians. חברים, who were a *specific* group of wicked persians. "The followers of an expanded Zoroastrian ritual who, under the guidance of the Magians, in the reign of Ardashir I (226-241), severely oppressed the adherents of other creeds."

Neither the gemara, nor Rashi, means Persians in general.

At Thu Oct 04, 10:38:00 AM 2012, Blogger yaak said...

Au contraire. We see from the first 2 Rashis in Gittin 17a that it does mean Persians in general. And it's clear that's how Tosafot understand Rashi there.

I will admit though that Tosafot have a pretty convincing argument against this.

At Thu Oct 04, 01:38:00 PM 2012, Blogger joshwaxman said...

good point.


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