Miriam and the White Space (after Menachot 29b)

Compilation of the Evolving Tale

(1)

You might know the story of Moses and God exploring the future of Torah study, with God “sitting and making crowns for the letters [of the Torah]” and then showing Moses the 2nd Century CE classroom of Akiva ben Joseph. It is unlikely, however, that you know the story of Miriam and God exploring the future of Torah study, with God “sitting and creating intricate white spaces swirling atop the letters [of the Torah].”

In the first tale, which comes down to us in the Babylonian Talmud, God tells Moses that a future teacher will expound “mounds upon mounds of laws” from the letters’ crowns. Moses is upset when, seated in the back of Akiva’s classroom, he cannot follow the reasoning. But Moses is comforted when Akiva tells his students, “This is a law given unto Moses at Sinai.” (Menachot 29b)

Crown_on_Mitzraim
In the second tale, coming down to us through a more circuitous route, God shows Miriam a 21st Century CE internet forum where Jews of many different practices are preparing to perform the mitzvah of counting the omer.

(2)

As we learned yesterday, Miriam the Prophetess and God are exploring the future of Torah study, with God “sitting and creating intricate white spaces swirling atop the letters [of the Torah].” So far, we know that God is introducing Miriam to a 21st Century CE forum where Jews of many different practices are preparing to perform the mitzvah of counting the omer.

Miriamscreen
Miriam’s initial attraction to the peaceful openness of a blue screen turns to wonder, then confusion as an overwhelming mix of images, words, and sounds appears in front of her. She is momentarily paralyzed.

“It’s because of this…” God begins to explain.

“I was there,” Miriam interrupts. “I remember. But what is this?”

“Ah,” replies God….

(3)

“It’s because of this…” God had started to explain to Miriam the Prophetess, who was paralyzed by myriad images, words, and sounds of Torah appearing suddenly before her.

“I was there,” Miriam had interrupted. “I remember. But what is this?

“Ah,” replies God. “By a mighty hand, I brought these internet users out of Egypt, out of a house of bondage. But, as you know, getting out — on the heels of such devastation and with such hurried final preparations — left the People disoriented. Over time, many Jews developed practices to turn those first steps out of Egypt into a path to true freedom.”

Miriam tentatively begins to explore Open Siddur and Ritual Well.

Still distressed by the quantity and confusion of words, Miriam begins to grumble something about “what this means to them,” and soon finds herself singing along with Nina Simone: “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free!”



(4)

When we last saw her, Miriam the Prophetess had been grumbling over the sheer quantity of e-input available concerning the omer. She’d been wondering, “What does all this mean to them?”

No matter what some might think,” Miriam finds herself thinking, with a defensiveness that surprises her, “I was, in fact, redeemed….We emerged from the sea on dry land. Faced with the desperate narrowness behind us and the vastness ahead, I took timbrel and danced. All the women followed [Exodus 15:20]. I was there.”

“But see here,” Miriam says to God. “These matrices of attributes and meditations and ‘counting reminder’ blogs… Words and words and words and words, piling up like silt blocking a stream! Where are those beautiful, swirling openings — the ones You framed so carefully with the lines of black ink some call ‘crowns’?”

Through her confusion and frustration, Miriam begins to formulate a theory: “If all this means freedom to them, their bars and chains must differ from the ones I’ve known. Perhaps this Torah will never be clear from where I am used to standing.”

I wish I could be like a bird in the sky
How sweet it would be if I found I could fly
Well I’d soar to the sun and look down at the sea
And I’d sing cos I know how it feels to be free
see Nina Simone, Day 3

The song gives Miriam a new vantage point. She experiences an unfettered exhilaration, a glimpse of new, whiter space. Without directional signs or landmarks, though, she becomes unsure of which way to go….

(5)

God has been showing Miriam the prophetess some 21st Century CE internet Torah. She has just reached a new vantage point, feeling unfettered, for better and worse.

Feeling the need for some direction, Miriam finds her aversion to too many words abating. She asks, “What are the testimonies, the laws, and the statutes…” God is on the verge of a response. Even in this mid-exploration state, however, Miriam is aware that Shabbat is approaching. She may be unfettered in many ways, but she recognizes the landmarks of Jewish time. She sets aside her qualms and questions, even her wishing. Instead, she settles into Shabbat rest.

(6-8)

…God and Miriam have been enjoying Shabbat. Following Shabbat, Miriam knows, there is but one day to prepare for the closing festival day(s) of Passover. Her exploration of Torah, with its precious white space surrounded by black ink, will resume in earnest soon….

(9)

Freedom and Position
Miriam stumbles upon a few words from Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik on Pesach, Sefirot ha-Omer and Shavu’ot by David Shapiro (Jerusalem: Urim, 2005):

…in counting you start with single positions and thereby create an entity. You count, for instance, from one to ten; at “ten” you have an entity consisting of the ten you have just counted. It is now a unit. Thus, in _sefiras ha-omer_ you count up to “seven” in single positions, in single days. But when you reach seven days what do you say? “_She-heim shavu’a echad ba-omer._” “They comprise a week.” It’s a new entity.

We are interested in both: in each count separately and in the new entity that emerges….

Miriam is drawn to the concept of counting to mark both a single position and a unit of time/travel. She is, after all, both firmly (for lack of a better word) adrift/unsure in the freedom she is newly experiencing, and no less firm in awareness of the journey that brought her, and her fellow travelers in Torah, to this point.

She was there, Miriam tells God, she remembers the Exodus and what transpired afterward; but here she is back in the desert’s uncertainty. She is both thoroughly within the white space, knowing how much is yet to unfold, and keenly aware of the black ink, the millenia of finely wrought delineations creating the space/time she occupies.

The position at Day 8 encompasses eight individual days of experience but also a whole week and one day; Miriam is both unfettered, pushed aloft by a desire for unfilled space, and aware of the series of experiences, including the filled spaces, that brought her there.

Silt and Stream
What looked like so much silt now seems an integral part of the stream, too.

A watery verse from psalms comes to mind…
פָּקַדְתָּ הָאָרֶץ וַתְּשֹׁקְקֶהָ,
Thou hast remembered the earth, and watered her,
רַבַּת תַּעְשְׁרֶנָּה–פֶּלֶג אֱלֹהִים, מָלֵא מָיִם;
greatly enriching her, with the river of God that is full of water…
– Psalms 65:10 (“Old JPS” translation, from mechon-mamre)

Miriam notices something curious about the letters “פלג [pei lamed gimmel]“…

(10)

Miriam notices that “פלג [pei lamed gimmel],” often translated as “division,” is translated here as “river.” She’s mulls river as division and division by river: river as border, lands on opposite banks joined by water; banks containing water, river defining banks. River carving out divisions; carvings become part of the river.

She is reminded of Peleg — “for in his day, the earth was divided” (Gen. 10:25) — son of Eber, descendant of Noah through Shem, and ancestor of Abraham and Sarah. Peleg is, in fact, the midpoint of the generations of division, spreading out from the one language of post-Flood Babel (Gen. 11) toward Lech Lecha [Go, for (or to) yourself] (Gen. 12). {After Noah: Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg; Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, Abraham.}

Miriam sees “mounds and mounds” of Torah, drawn from the white space between one crown of one letter. But she pauses, momentarily, to notice that she has somehow landed on ten: Ten generations surrounding Peleg, and ten days out from bondage (another bit of Torah on ten days beyond Egypt).

(11)

Miriam has not forgotten “a river of God that is full of water” (Psalms 65:10) or any of the other elements in her on-going Torah-omer-travels. And she knows the whole firmament thing is bound to lead in some strange directions. But, Shabbat is going out. At this time traditionally focused on the sadness of separation and hopes for the future, she is once again pondering the predicament of the waters below and the waters above.

Water, Miriam knows, has often been equated with Torah. And so she wonders if “a [peleg] of God that is full of water” might be understood, however whimsically, as “a division of God that is full of Torah.” How often do Jews allow Torah to divide them? More widely speaking, how often do “divisions of God” originate in reading the same sacred texts? But if the river, i.e., the space between banks, is truly filled with water/Torah…

…Miriam hears voices singing 20th Century words, from our teacher Leila Gal Berner: “Miriam dance with us in order to increase the song of the world. Miriam dance with us in order to repair the world….”

(12)

Eager to begin the week with a few words that focus on repair, Miriam is cheered by some recent words of Ruth Calderon, a founder of Alma: Home for Hebrew Culture in Tel Aviv, speaking upon entering Israel’s Knesset.

Miriam continues to ponder the peleg (whether division, channel, or river) of Psalms 65:10 being “full of water.” She stumbles upon some reflections on a similar phrase and wonders if/how the images are related…

(13)

Miriam the prophetess is reflecting on divisions: division of the waters above from the waters below (Genesis 1:6-8), division as a central theme in Genesis, division among people, division in scholarship, division as the foundation of cognition… She recalls Rabbi Meir, student of Rabbi Akiva, teaching: “Schism is lamentable, even when it makes the world habitable. It is written: ‘God made the expanse, and it separated the waters’ [Gen. 1:6-8] — and since division of the waters is written of there, ‘it was good’ was not written there.” (Genesis Rabbah 4:7, quoted in Heschel’s Heavenly Torah). And she considers the story of Ben Zoma, one of the four who entered Pardes, who does not survive contemplating the separation.

(14)

Miriam the prophetess has been considering the story of ben Zoma, lost permanently in thought, “gazing between the upper and lower waters.” She finds that the 20th Century teacher Abraham Joshua Heschel discusses ben Zoma and separated waters at some length. Heschel also relates a teaching of ben Azzai, another of the four who entered Pardes:

Simeon ben Azzai noted this contradiction: It is written, “God made two great lights” (Gen. 1:16), and it is also written, “the greater light to dominate the day and the lesser light to dominate the night” (ibid)! The moon [protests and is ordered by God: “Go and diminish yourself”…] God said to her: “Go [knowing that] Israel will calculate their days and years according to you.” …Her feelings were still not assuaged. Said the Holy and Blessed One: “Make atonement for Me, for My having diminished the moon.”
— Heschel, Heavenly Torah, p.121-22

Heshchel relates another element in the water story Miriam recalled earlier:

…Said the waters: We shall not descend! Thus did they brazenly confront their Creator….What did the Holy and Blessed One do? God extended His little finger, and they tore into two parts, and God took half of them down against their will. Thus it is written: ‘God said let there be an expanse (raki’a)’ Genesis 1:6) — do not read ‘expanse’ (raki’a), but ‘tear'(keri’a).
— Heschel, Heavenly Torah, quoting Otzar Midrashim

He then concludes that entering Pardes was an effort to understand “the problem of evil”:

Four entered the Pardes: Rabbi Akiva, Ben Azzai, Ben Zoma, and Elisha ben Abuyah. It seems to me that not only Ben Azzai, but Ben Zoma and Rabbi Akiva as well, struggled with this problem concerning sin and effect in the work of creation. [Elisha ben Abuyah’s case is discussed separately.]…

The common element in all these legends is this: the idea that the sin of the first human being was not the first of the sins; prior to his sin, some of the forces of nature had already been corrupted. It would seem that the problem of evil should not be forced entirely into the human realm alone. There is a defect in the work of creation.
— Heschel, Heavenly Torah, pp.125-125


Miriam finds a lot of new images — including the word play of raki’a/expanse and keri’a/tear — to wrap into her understanding….

(15)

Miriam has been considering silt and stream as intertwining parts of one “river of God full of water” (Psalms 65:10). From this view, divisions — including the division of upper and lower waters and creation of the firmament between them (Genesis 1:6ff) — are both necessary to the created universe and “defects” within it.

The Hebrew keri’a is an anagram of raki’a. This passage [from the medieval Midrash Konen] makes obvious analogies between God’s creation and human birth. Both involve waters breaking, both involve pain and a tear. The tear in the waters was necessary to create space in which life could develop, and the tear of birth is necessary for the baby to begin an independent life. Keri’a is the rite for the dead, when Jewish law requires the tearing of clothing. The message then is twofold: the tear of death is just the continuation of the tear of birth. Both are necessary for life to continue, and we are powerless to change that. The other message is that God is as much bound by these truths as we are. God also could not create without a day of division and tearing, and thus we and God are both in need of comfort and strength in the wake of the cruelties of nature.
–note to p. 124 of Heschel’s Heavenly Torah, from editor/trans. Gordon Tucker

Heschel, Miriam learns, considers this realization part of a “doctrine…of lament and woe…that contains great comfort”…

(16)

In mid-Torah exploration, Miriam ponders the firmament/tear between the upper and lower waters and learns about what Abraham Joshua Heschel calls “a doctrine of lament and woe…that contains great comfort.”

“This doctrine, which originated in the school of Rabbi Akiva,” Miriam learns from Heschel, “established a connection between heavenly and worldly afflictions. The Holy and Blessed One is a partner in the suffering of His creatures; He is involved in the lot of His people, wounded by their sufferings and redeemed by their liberation” (Heavenly Torah, p.120). The related tale of protest by the moon at Creation, concludes with God in need of atonement:

On seeing that [the moon] would not be consoled the Holy One, blessed be He, said: ‘Bring an atonement for Me for making the moon smaller’. This is what was meant by R. Simeon b. Lakish when he declared: Why is it that the he-goat offered on the new moon is distinguished in that there is written concerning it unto the Lord? Because the Holy One, blessed be He, said: Let this he-goat be an atonement for Me for making the moon smaller.
— Babylonian Talmud, Chullin 60b

NOTE: This teaching of Simeon ben Azzai turns on the he-goat of Numbers 28:15 being designated, unlike other offerings, as “la-YHVH.” This can be translated as “to God” or, as in this midrash: “for God.”


Through this teaching that God needs atonement for the diminishing of the moon — and that Israel will have to provide it — Ben Azzai shifts the relationship of God and Israel: Now the suffering and salvation of God and the people are intimately entwined.

“Certainly, this doctrine was no song of joy,” Miriams learns from Heschel. “But then the times were not made for song….”

(17)


Miriam is exploring, with Heschel’s Heavenly Torah, Rabbi Akiva’s doctrine of God and Israel in need of co-salvation. One school of ancient rabbinical thought, Heschel explains, considers God as much in need of Atonement as the people, God in exile along with the people, God suffering alongside humanity:

The true nature of this standpoint cannot in truth be grasped by a person who can calmly look in from the outside.** The Rabbis in the generation we are considering experienced things that others have not seen: the sacking of Jerusalem, the humiliation of the House of Israel, and the profanation of the Holy Name in the sight of the whole worlds. Stormy eras [like Heschel’s own era of the Holocaust] filled with human agony also harbor troubling thoughts; even the pillars of heaven shudder…. If there is mercy, there surely is no power; and if there is power, there surely is no mercy!

**The Hebrew rendered here by “calmly look in from the outside” is distinctive, and Heschel uses it for a definite reason: The Sage Ben Zoma was one of the four who were said to have entered the Pardes, that is, to have delved into esoteric doctrines. In describing the ill fate that befell him the Talmud tells us that he “looked in” and was stricken. The Hebrew word used here is the same distinctive one as is used there. Moreover, the Talmud goes on to quote a senior colleague of Ben Zoma as evaluating his behavior after the Pardes incident as being “outside”–a word again echoed exactly in Heschel’s sentence here….
— G. Tucker, editorial note

— Heavenly Torah, p. 118

Further elaborating on the idea of “outside/looking in,” Heschel alludes to the “wicked son” of the Passover Haggadah: “One who asks: ‘Why is this exile come upon us?’ (should be answered with) ‘Upon us and not upon Him?’ One who removes God from the community has denied the very essence of faith.” (p.120)

Miriam has already learned about ben Zoma, stuck contemplating the division of waters, and ben Azzai, teaching that God needs atonement for the diminishing the moon. These are two who “looked in.” But, according to Heschel, they are not the only ones who “dared to look”…

(18)

Is it not, ultimately, praise to say of God “He was chained in fetters” rather than to blaspheme in the manner of Elisha ben Abuyah and say: “Where is the good coming to this child? Where is the longevity coming to this child?”

The story alluded to here is briefly as follows: Elisha ben Abuyah saw a boy obey his father’s command that he climb a tree and take the eggs from a nest after sending the mother bird away, in accordance with the law in Deuteronomy 22:6-7. That law and rule of honoring one’s father carry explicit promises of long life. When the child fell from the tree and died, Elisha ben Abuyah uttered this statement of despair of divine justice and mercy….
— note by G. Tucker, editor

— Heschel, Heavenly Torah, p.119

Ben Azzai and ben Zoma “gazed,” or “looked in,” while Elisha ben Abuyah (AKA “Acher” [“another”]) responded to his Pardes experience with apostasy:

The Rabbis taught: Four entered the Garden [Pardes], namely Ben Azzai, Ben Zoma, Acher and R. Akiva. R. Akiva said to them: “When you arrive at the stones of pure marble, do not say, ‘Water! Water!’ For it is said: ‘He that speaks untruths shall not stand before My eyes’ [Psalms 101:7]”. Ben Azzai gazed and died. Regarding him the verse states, ‘Precious in the eyes of the LORD is the death of His pious ones’ [Psalms 116:15]. Ben Zoma gazed and was harmed. Regarding him the verse states, ‘Did you find honey? Eat as only much as you need, lest you be overfilled and vomit it’ (Proverbs 25:16). Acher cut down the plantings. R. Akiva entered in peace and left in peace.
–Babylonia Talmud, Chagigah 14b

This passage goes on to explain that Acher’s “cutting the plantings” involves conclusions he draws from esoteric Pardes visions.

The Chagigah tale puts Acher in the same category as the two “who looked” into esoteric matters with such dire consequences.

“On matters between human beings and God, human beings have standing,” Heschel argues. “On matters that do not affect human beings–‘what business have you with these heavenly secrets?'”

But the bird’s nest story suggests that “looking in” on matters of human suffering can also be hazardous. Heschel deliberately echoes the language of the Pardes story in discussing problems of theodicy: “They dared to look, and in doing so, found that the pains of the nation were indeed paralleled by the pains of the Creator. Thus, instead of bearing their own afflictions, the people began instead to share in the afflictions of Heaven” — p.35, Heavenly Torah.

Heschel also echoes the language of another Talmudic story in discussing theodicy, the “crowns” of Menachot 29b, which also launched Miriam’s explorations here…. <

(19)

Miriam the prophetess learns, through Heschel’s Heavenly Torah, that Rabbi Akiva “extols [literally: “affixes crowns to”] God’s attribute of compassion in that God participates in Israel’s anguish and identifies with His creatures.”

Miriam’s brother is told by God that elaborate crowns on the Torah’s letters were there, because “Rabbi Akiva will expound ‘mounds upon mounds of laws’ from the letters’ crowns.” Moses, viewing Akiva’s 2nd Century teaching, is initially frustrated when he cannot follow Akiva’s reasoning. Moses is comforted to hear the rabbi tell his students: “This is a law given unto Moses at Sinai.” [Menachot 29b]

Miriam, faced with the quantity of 21st Century e-Torah, is initially concerned that the dynamic quality of the Torah’s white space is at risk. She gains some comfort from a comment to Fabrangen’s omer blog:

The testimonies, laws and statutes are the essence of Netsach S’b’Hesed. Our values and principles within Hesed, the urge to be compassionate, do good, and better the world. The core is the principle of helping others. Who needs my help; who can I assist today. (posted by Jay McCrensky)

Miriam is further comforted by Heschel’s identification of Akiva’s teachings about mercy with the crowns in her brother’s story:

Superficially there would appear to be some similarity between the idea that the Holy and Blessed One needs atonement [ben Azzai’s teaching about the moon’s diminishment] and the idea that Israel’s salvation is also God’s Salvation [Akiva’s]. Actually, however, the two concepts are far apart. Rabbi Akiva is extolling [literally: “affixing crowns to”] God’s attribute of compassion…Ben Azzai is questioning God’s attribute of justice.

Given the suffering in the world, Rabbi Akiva sought to emphasize God’s empathy, to “affix esoteric crowns” to the attribute of mercy. Ben Azzai saw the negative side and attributed some of the suffering to a “transgression on God’s part.” Heschel apparently sees this as an unnecessary and dangerous extension of the doctrine. Perhaps…he sees it as a reason why Ben Azzai, like Elisha ben Abuyah, did not leave the Pardes in peace.
–G. Tucker, Heavenly Torah, note, p.123

–Heschel, Heavenly Torah, p.122


Perhaps Akiva did teach “mounds and mounds of laws” from the crowns, and perhaps 21st Century Torah teaching is suffering from information-overload. If Akiva’s guiding principle is emphasizing God’s compassion, as Heschel argues in Heavenly Torah, and if the core principle in the testimonies, laws, and statutes is helping others, as McCrensky argues in his comment…

(20)

Miriam the prophetess has learned that Rabbi Akiva’s teachings — the ones her brother was told would explain the crowns God affixed atop the Torah’s letters — emphasize God’s compassion, even in the face of apparent injustice/defects in creation. As the third week of the omer comes to a close, Miriam comes to see how the white space, rimmed by the crowns but infinitely deep, generates those teachings.
Crown_on_Mitzraim

Days and Weeks, Silt and Stream
Contemplating freedom — and how generations have tried to incorporate the experience of it, and of bondage, into post-Exodus lives — Miriam reached a new, unfettered vantage point. Learning to count both days and weeks, she realized how thoroughly within the white space she is, knowing how much is yet to unfold, and how keenly aware of the black ink, the millenia of finely wrought delineations creating the space/time she occupies. The “mounds and mounds of laws,” that her brother’d been told were to be understood over the years, were transformed in her vision from silt blocking a stream to an integral part of its flow.


פָּקַדְתָּ הָאָרֶץ וַתְּשֹׁקְקֶהָ,
Thou hast remembered the earth, and watered her,
רַבַּת תַּעְשְׁרֶנָּה–פֶּלֶג אֱלֹהִים, מָלֵא מָיִם;
greatly enriching her, with the river of God that is full of water…

– Psalms 65:10 (“Old JPS” translation, from mechon-mamre)


Gathered Waters
Miriam — whose life with Israel was limned by water: from the time she watched her baby brother rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter (Exodus 2:4) to the day she died and the congregation found no water (Numbers 20:1-2) — is drawn to the imagery of God as Mikveh Yisrael [hope and gathering of waters].

She has learned that the image of waters gathered and divided is at the heart of some of the deepest worries of ancient rabbis (see days 13-19): how every act of gathering, even those of the Creator, includes some element of division; how our very existence is predicated on surrendering perfection and, therefore, how Creation embodies defects in need of repair; how the division of waters suggest that God is, not unlike humans, incapable of creating without grief and is in need of salvation along with us. She has learned how treacherous is the inquiry into matters of division, how fine a line Jews have walked for thousands of years between expansion of perspective and insanity, between understanding and accusation, between empathy and rage.

Miriam had been worried that those “mounds and mounds of laws” her brother was told Rabbi Akiva would expound on the crowns of Torah letters were muddying the surrounding white space. She is deeply concerned about the ways that Torah seems to divide as well as enrich. So she is heartened by recent calls for employing divisions to unify. And she is heartened by the idea that Akiva (and Heschel after him) “affixes crowns to” God’s empathy, insisting at the most dreadful turns of history that it is better to assume God’s hands are tied than that God is cruel; better to assume that God needs us to act for our own and God’s salvation than that all is lost.

Through centuries of exploration, gatherings of waters were recognized as painful divisions, while those divisions were interpreted as gatherings full of hope…

“the river [peleg, division] of God that is full of water.”
“O Hope of Israel! [Mikveh yisrael]…
The Fount of living waters [m’kor mayim chayyim]”
“Through scholarly envy and healthy competition, the Torah will be magnified and glorified.”
— Psalms 65:10; Jeremiah 17:13; Calderon’s speech

El Mei Ha-Y’shua

Miriam and God have been exploring the future of Torah study, with God “sitting and creating intricate white spaces swirling atop the letters [of the Torah].” The white space around the crowns, Miriam sees, is the dynamic space where God and humans unite in the effort to make God’s compassion manifest in the world.

Earlier (day 11) Miriam heard voices singing 20th Century words of yearning:
“Miriam dance with us in order to increase the song of the world.
Miriam dance with us in order to repair the world….”

Now, Miriam focuses in on the final line:
Bimheirah v’yameinu hi t’vi’einu el mei ha-y’shuah
Soon she will bring us to the waters of redemption.
–“Miriam ha-Navia” Leila Gal Berner

With the many counting the days between freedom and Sinai, she wonders, “are we there yet?”





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NOTES:
The child at the seder “who does not know how to ask” is told: “It is because of this, that the Lord did for me when I went free from Egypt.” (Ex. 13:8)
BACK


The “simple child” at the seder asks “What is this?” (Ex. 13:14) and is told: “By a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of a house of bondage.”
BACK


The “wicked son” (“evil child”), one of four traditional questioners at the Passover seder, asks “what does this mean to you?” (Ex. 12:26) and is severely criticized for separating from the community: “…had you been there, you would not have been redeemed.”
BACK


The “wise child” at the seder asks: “What are the testimonies, the laws, and the statutes that the Lord our God has commanded us?” (Deut 6:20).
The Mishna says: “You must tell this child some of the laws of Pesach….It is forbidden to eat anything after the Passover meal.” (Pesachim X)
back
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COMMENT:
The testimonies, laws and statutes are the essence of Netsach S’b’Hesed. Our values and principles within Hesed, the urge to be compassionate, do good, and better the world. The core is the principle of helping others. Who needs my help; who can I assist today. (posted by Jay McCrensky)

Here’s one chart and explanation of counting based on seven attributes in seven combinations, with “persistence” in “compassion” associated with the fourth day of the omer.

1 Response to Miriam and the White Space (after Menachot 29b)

  1. Pingback: We counted 19 | Virginia Avniel Spatz

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