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Monday, May 14, 2018

Hatam Sofer's Ketz Redux

The Hatam Sofer's Approach

The Hatam Sofer famously declared the Ketz to be 5570 (1810).  I mentioned this Hatam Sofer a couple times on this blog. This was based on the verse we recently read in Parashat Behar1:
מח  אַחֲרֵי נִמְכַּר, גְּאֻלָּה תִּהְיֶה-לּוֹ:  אֶחָד מֵאֶחָיו, יִגְאָלֶנּוּ.48 after that he is sold he may be redeemed; one of his brethren may redeem him;
The Hatam Sofer got his reasoning from fact that Rashi elsewhere says that whenever the Torah says אחר, it means "soon afterwards" (סמוך) whereas the word אחרי means "later afterwards" (מופלג).  This idea is actually under dispute in the Midrash with some opinions saying the opposite, but Rashi seems to agree with this opinion.

So here, the Torah says אחרי נמכר - i.e., the letters that come "later after" the letters נ-מ-כ-ר.  Assuming "soon afterwards" would mean the following letter, "later afterwards" would mean 2 letters later.  We therefore must take 2 letters after the נ, which is ע, then 2 letters after the מ, which is ס, then 2 letters after the כ, which is מ, and finally 2 letters after the ר, which is ת.  Take the gematria of ע-ס-מ-ת and you get 570.  This is why the Hatam Sofer chose 5570 as the year of the Ketz.

Sadly, 208 years later, due to our numerous sins, we are still waiting for Mashiah.

A New Approach

But, perhaps, the Hatam Sofer was correct after all - just in a different way.

Perhaps, we can say that מופלג doesn't just mean "later afterwards", but it means "much later afterwards".  That is, as later afterwards as possible.  (The Hatam Sofer may have also meant it to be so, but he was limited by the fact that after the ר can be no more than 2 letters later - namely, the ת.)  Perhaps, we should also include the final letters and their large gematria properties into the equation.

If we do so, we can go as far as the largest letter of the word - namely the ר - can go.  Since the ץ is the last final letter, the ץ will be considered the letter that is "much later after" the ר, or 7 letters later.  It comes out, then, that we move each letter by 7 letters.  7 letters after the נ is ש, then 7 letters after the מ is ר, then 7 letters after the כ is צ, and finally, 7 letters after the ר is ץ.  Since the gematria of the ץ is 900, the letters ש-ר-צ-ץ have the gematria of 1490.

Next we need to add the gematria of the words of the verse: תהיה לו, which equals 456.

Finally, the last part of the verse says אחד מאחיו יגאלנו.  The מ from מאחיו can denote that the rest of the word is a denominator while the previous word is the numerator.  So, אחד is 1.  The word אחיו has the gematria of 25.  אחד מאחיו is therefore 1/25th.  The word יגאלנו has a gematria of 100.  Altogether, the phrase אחד מאחיו יגאלנו means 1/25th of 100, which equals 4.

We now can start our calculation.  We start at the year of the Hurban - 3828 - since the verse is talking about a מכירה (sale), which alludes to the Hurban (see Yeshaya 52:3 חִנָּם נִמְכַּרְתֶּם).  We add the 1490 years of אחרי נמכר.  The word גאלה is needed for itself - to tell us that there will be a Geula.  Then, we add the 456 years of תהיה לו.  Finally, we add the 4 years of אחד מאחיו יגאלנו.  This brings us to this year - 5778.

PhraseNumber of Years
to Add
Running Total
(Hurban Year)38283828
אחרי נמכר14905318
תהיה לו4565774
אחד מאחיו יגאלנו45778

May we merit this year to see the Complete and Final Redemption, speedily in our days, Amen.

1) This verse, the previous verse, and the following verse are used by numerous sources in addition to the Hatam Sofer to refer to exile and the Final Redemption.  Among others, these include: