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Monday, November 05, 2012

Chayei Sara, Breishis 24:67. Lamp, Bread, and Cloud; A Different Perspective on Taharas Hamishpacha

This post is very different than it was as it originally appeared, and it is now, I think, satisfactory.  Thank you, Reb Micha Berger, for your valuable contribution.  Sometimes, you go fishing, you catch something worth saving.

Section I
The Signs of the Mothers of Klal Yisrael

Breishis 24:67:
ויביאה יצחק האהלה שרה אמו ויקח את רבקה ותהי לו לאשה ויאהבה וינחם יצחק אחרי אמו
Yitchak brought (Rivka) to the tent of Sarah, his mother, and she became his wife, and he loved her. And Yitzchak was comforted for [the loss of] his mother.

ויביאה האהלה ונעשית דוגמת שרה אמו, כלומר והרי היא שרה אמו, שכל זמן ששרה קיימת היה נר דלוק מערב שבת לערב שבת, וברכה מצויה בעיסה, וענן קשור על האהל, ומשמתה פסקו, וכשבאת רבקה חזרו
to the tent of Sarah his motherHe brought her to the tent, and behold, she was Sarah his mother; i.e., she became the likeness of Sarah his mother, for as long as Sarah was alive, a candle burned from one Sabbath eve to the next, a blessing was found in the dough, and a cloud was attached to the tent. When she died, these things ceased, and when Rivka arrived, they resumed.

It's interesting to notice that between Sara's departure and Rivka's arrival, there was no ever-burning candle, there was no bracha in the dough, and there was no cloud of the Shechina.  So bishlema the cloud, that might refer to specifically the woman's tent, and if there was nobody home, there was no cloud.  But as far as the light and the dough, there certainly were lamps burning, and there certainly was bread made.  Why didn't the zechus of Avraham and Yitzchak bring bracha to the neiros and the Challah?  Apparently the presence of these Brachos in the Jewish home is associated davka with the Imahos.

Section II
Their Appearance in the Midbar and the Mishkan

Similarly, in the Midbar, there were three great signs of Hashem's love for Klal Yisrael, and those were the Amud HaEish, the Mahn, and the Amud HaAnan.  In the Mishkan, the Ner Maaravi burned miraculously until it was extinguished and re-lit; the Lechem Hapanim remained hot and fresh for a whole week (and see Yoma 39a- נשתלחה ברכה בעומר ובשתי הלחם ובלחם הפנים וכל כהן שמגיעו כזית יש אוכלו ושבע ויש אוכלו ומותיר); and there was a cloud of Hashra'as Hashechina over the Aron Kodesh.  The simanim of  Sarah and Rivka- the Lamp, the Bread, and the Cloud that the Imahos brought to the tents of the Avos- correspond to the Eish/Menora, the Mahn/Lechem, and the Anan in the Midbar and the Mishkan.  

Section III
The Same Markers Expressed as Mitzvos

Mishna Shabbos 2:6:
על שלש עבירות נשים מיתות בשעת לידתן עד שאינן זהירות בנדה בחלה ובהדלקת הנר
Three transgressions can be fatal for women: of Niddah, of Challah, and of Candle Lighting.

The three vital mitzvos of women, as the Mishna in Shabbos teaches, are Nidda, Challah, and lighting the Shabbos candles.  Rashi's Medrash that enumerates the elements of Kedusha that were manifest in the tents of the Imahos echoes the Mishna in Shabbos. 

(The Gemara, the Yerushalmi, and the Tanchuma related to this can be found at the end of the post.)

Section IV
What Does Niddah Have To Do With the Anan?

There is no need to explain the correspondence of the Amud Ha'Eish to the Neir, or of the Mahn to Lechem.  What is the connection of the Anan to the laws of Niddah?

The Gemara in Shabbos (31b) says כדדרש ההוא גלילאה עליה דרב חסדא אמר הקב"ה רביעית דם נתתי בכם על עסקי דם הזהרתי אתכם.  But the Abudraham (Friday Night), quoting the Gemara, adds a little kneitch.
דרש ההיא גלילאה עליה דרב חסדא אמר הקב"ה רביעית דם נתתי בכם פירוש הוא הדם הצלול שבלב שממנו משתית הלב וחיי האדם תלויין בו על עסקי הדם הזהרתי אתכם שלא תשמשו עד שתטהרו במעין ובור מקוה מים .
The Abudraham shows us that the focus here is not on the issurim and tumah of Niddah.  The focus is on the woman's responsibility to ensure that Tashmish Hamittah, both the emotional bonding and the procreative process, take place under conditions of pristine Taharah.  This Tahara is not only the absence of Tumah.  This is a creation of Kedusha through the vigilant and scrupulous elimination of Tumah.  (Compare to the philosophy of the פרושים וחברים who were makpid on אכילת חולין על טהרת הקודש)   Just as avoiding Lashon Hara is called a "Sahm Hachaim/elixir of life," not merely "an avoidance of poison," so too creating a state of absolute purity can bring about a positive kedusha.  This positive state of Taharas Hamishpacha is engendered by the woman.

The Anan of the Mibdar comprised seven clouds  (הולך לפנהם יומם. את  מוצא שבעה ענני כבוד היו - אלו הן.  וה׳ הולך לפניהם יומם בעמוד ענן הרי אחד.  ועננך עובר עליהם הרי שתים . ובעמוד ענן הרי שלשה  ובהאריך הענן  ארבע.  ובהעלות הענן חםשה. ואם לא יעלה הענן ששה . כי ענן ה׳ על המשכן שבעה. ארבע מארבע רוחות. ואחד מלמטה. ואחד מלמעלה. ואחד מהלך לפניהם. כל הנמוך מגביהו וכל הנבוה מנמיכו ושורף נחשים ועקרבים מכבד ומרבץ את הדרך לפניהם:  Tanchuma Beshalach 13:3).   One was the Amud that covered all the encampment, and another was the Anan that covered the Ohel Mo'ed.  Chazal tell us that the Hashra'as Hashechina in the Ohel Mo'ed was primarily above the Aron Hakodesh, and specifically between the Kruvim.  We know that the Kruvim represent the Ribono shel Olam and Klal Yisrael, and when the Hashra'as Hashechina was strong and loving, the Kruvim hugged each other (Yoma 54a-  אמר רב קטינא בשעה שהיו ישראל עולין לרגל מגללין להם את הפרוכת ומראין להם את הכרובים שהיו מעורים זה בזה ואומרים להן ראו חבתכם לפני המקום כחבת זכר ונקבה. ) It was this manifestation of Hashra'as Hashechina through the Anan that appeared over the tent of Sarah, and of Rivka, and over the home of every family that carries their spiritual heritage.  (see Sotah 17a, דריש ר"ע איש ואשה זכו שכינה ביניהן , and Rashi there, שכינה ביניהם. שהרי חלק את שמו ושיכנו ביניהן יו"ד באיש וה"י באשה. )

Section V
A Different Perspective On Hilchos Nidda

We tend to view the laws of Nidda as avoiding a negative.  Certainly this is true, to the extent that Nidda is an extremely serious issur, and the punishment for transgressing the issur of Nidda is Kareis, both for the man and for the woman.  

But I think this is a partial truth, and short-sighted.  Nobody would say that the primary focus of Shabbos is avoiding transgressing Hilchos Shabbos.  Obviously, the severity of the issur is a means of ensuring and guarding the kedusha of Mei'ein Olam Haba.  The same is true of Hilchos Niddah.

When a woman properly makes her hefsek tahara, and counts the seven days, and goes to the Mikva, the tevilla is like the tevilla of Geirus, in the sense that it does two entirely separate things.  It ends the previous state, and it creates a new state.  The Tevilla of Teshuva, too, is not just a matter of washing away the past, it is a means of creating a new future, a future imbued with Tahara and Kedusha.  The Tevillos of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur were not a means of removing Tumah, they were a part of the Avodas Hayom and created a necessary state of Kedusha.  

Taharas Niddah is a process of purification; but the purification is not merely purgative; it is not merely restorative;  it is transformative.  

Section VI
The Mussar Haskeil.

It seems that when we face the outside world, in the confrontational aspect of our lives, men are the teachers of Torah, the breadwinners, and the protectors.  Within the household, where the challenge is not so much a matter of confrontation and conflict, but instead one of creating a harmonious gestalt, women are given the stewardship of and responsibility for the spiritual aspects of light, sustenance, and purity.

But the more important lesson is that Zehirus in Hilchos Nidda should not be viewed as an unpleasant necessity.  The main concept of Hilchos Nidda is the opportunity to create a Matzav of Kedusha.

Meticulous care in upholding the laws of Niddah is not just a matter of returning to a baseline of non-tumah.  It brings about a heightened kedusha that elevates the entire household and everyone in it.  Zehirus in Hilchos Nidda is the equivalent of the Anan of Hashra'as Hashechina.

Section VII
Don't Use This for a Sheva Brachos.

Please do not use this for a Sheva Brachos, unless you have no seichel.  If you have no seichel, you could talk about niddah at a Sheva Brachos.  If you do have seichel, and you have to speak at a SB this week, you could say what Rav Yosef Ber said; that when Avraham said to Eliezer to find a shidduch, he said  וְלָקַחְתָּ אִשָּׁה לִבְנִי לְיִצְחָק.  But when Eliezer said this over to Rivka's family, he just said וְלָקַחְתָּ אִשָּׁה לִבְנִי:  Why didn't he finish the sentence verbatim with Yitzchak's name?  The answer is that everyone wants a meyuchas.  Everyone wants the son or the grandson of a Gadol or a Rosh Yeshiva.  But they get nervous when they hear that the boy himself is a talmid chacham that has the potential to become a kli kodesh and real Adam Gadol batorah himself.  Because, after all, they want their daughters to have a "normal life."  So he didn't say Yitzchak's name, because any inquiry about Yitzchak would reveal that he was an olah temimah, not a big chevramahn.  He just said that the boy is the son of Avraham. 

Section VIII
A Remark I Saw Elsewhere from great Unknown
Three aspects of an Adam [as in atem kru'im Adam]: kedusha, tahara, and hakaras hatov. All three were nifgam by the original chait, and the Isha is osekes in the tikun of all three ad hayom. These tikkunim reopen the tzinoros hashefa that are, since the chait, in a default state of sasum.

Sources and Notes

Gemara there, 31b-32a:
נדה מ"ט א"ר יצחק היא קלקלה בחדרי בטנה לפיכך תלקה בחדרי בטנה תינח נדה חלה והדלקת הנר מאי איכא למימר כדדרש ההוא גלילאה עליה דרב חסדא אמר הקב"ה רביעית דם נתתי בכם על עסקי דם הזהרתי אתכם ראשיתקראתי אתכם על עסקי ראשית הזהרתי אתכם נשמה שנתתי בכם קרויה נר על עסקי נר הזהרתי אתכם אם אתם מקיימים אותם מוטב ואם לאו הריני נוטל נשמתכם

Yerushalmi there:
על שאינן זהירות בנדה ובחלה ובהדלקת הנר  
  דם הראשון דמו של עולם.  דכתיב (בראשית ב) ואד יעלה מן הארץ וגרמה לו חוה מיתה לפיכך מסרו מצות נדה לאשה.  
ובחלה אדם הראשון חלה טהורה לעולם היה.  דכתיב (שם) וייצר ה' אלהים את האדם עפר מן האדמה.  ותייא כיי דמר רבי יוסי בר קצרתה כיון שהאשה מקשקשת עיסתה במים היא מגבהת חלתה.  וגרמה לו חוה מיתה.  לפיכך מסרו מצות חלה לאשה
ובהדלקת הנר.  אדם הראשון נרו של עולם היה שנאמר (משלי כ) נר אלהים נשמת אדם.  וגרמה לו חוה מיתה.  לפיכך מסרו מצות הנר לאשה  
תני רבי יוסי אומר ג' דיבקי מיתה הן ושלשתן נמסרו לאשה ואלו הן מצות נדה.  ומצות חלה.  ומצות הדלקה

Tanchuma Noach 1:
ילמדנו רבינו על כמה עבירות נשים מתות בשעת לדתן, כך שנו רבותינו על שלשה וכו' ושלשתן מן התורה, נדה דכתיב (ויקרא, טו ): "ואשה כי יזוב", חלה (במדבר, טו ): "ראשית עריסותיכם", הדלקת הנר דכתיב (ישעיה, נח ): "וקראת לשבת עונג" זו הדלקת הנר בשבת, וא"ת לישב בחשך אין זה עונג שאין יורדי גיהנם נדונין אלא בחשך שנאמר (איוב י, כב ): "אֶרֶץ עֵיפָתָה כְּמוֹ אֹפֶל
ומה ראו נשים להצטוות על שלש מצות האלו 
אמר הקב"ה אדה"ר תחלת בריותי היה ונצטווה על עץ הדעת וכתיב בחוה (בראשית, ג ): "ותרא האשה וגו' ותתן גם לאישה עמה ויאכל" וגרמה לו מיתה ושפכה את דמו, וכתיב בתורה (שם ט,) "שופך דם האדם באדם דמו ישפך" תשפוך דמה ותשמור נדתה כדי שיתכפר לה על דם האדם ששפכה 
חלה מנין היא טמאה חלתו של עולם דא"ר יוסי בן דוסמקא (נ"א קצרתא) כשם שהאשה מקשקשת עיסתה במים ואח"כ היא מגבהת חלתה כך עשה הקדוש ברוך הוא לאדם הראשון דכתיב (שם ג,) "ואד יעלה מן הארץ והשקה" ואחר כך "וייצר ה' אלהים את האדם עפר וגו'
הדלקת הנר מנין היא כבתה נרו של אדם דכתיב (משלי, ה ): "נר אלהים נשמת אדם" לפיכך תשמור הדלקת הר

In the Tanchuma and the Yerushalmi the focus of Tahara is on the Mahn.  But in our Medrash of Sara and Rivka, this extends to Dinei Niddah as well.


Micha Berger said...

על שלש עברות נשים מתות בשעת לדתן, על שאינן זהירות בנדה ובחלה ובהדלקת הנר.

If we come up with some derush to link niddah to the cloud, chalah and lamp line up blatantly.

Barzilai said...

I was afraid to solicit suggestions because the two are so unrelated, and it's so unlikely someone's going to come up with something good, and I was nervous about getting hare brained drush that I would have to say "Ah, very nice, but I'm not sure I understand exactly...."
Tznius and privacy? First of all, niddah is not a din of tznius. Second, the Anan had nothing to do with tznius in that sense.
One of the svaros of Niddah is to generate a sense of renewal, to prevent getting bored, and the Anan was like a Chuppa? Meh. Not absurd, but if it were a Medrash, I would shrug and say zol zain azei. From a contemporary, I would say it's good enough for a speech, but not very convincing.
Bedamayich Chayi, referring to shiva nekiim and the seven weeks leading to Matan Torah? That has nothing to do with the Anan.

Barzilai said...

I probably shouldn't have brought down the Yerushalmi and the Tanchuma. They just muddle the issue. All I needed was the association of the three elements by Sara/Rivka to the equivalents in the Midbar.

Barzilai said...

This is what I'm thinking now: The Gemara in Shabbos 31b says רביעית דם נתתי בכם על עסקי דם הזהרתי אתכם, and that's why zehirus in Niddah is vital. So we can say:

The din Nidda reflects the vital and the spiritual aspect of life;

Women are given the tafkid of nurturing that vital component.

Tuma is the obverse of Tahara; nidda is the obverse of the preciousness of that revi'is dam.

The Anan is the Hashra'as Hashechina; it is the communal equivalent of the revi'is dam in the individual.

∴ Nidda corresponds with the Anan.

Micha Berger said...

Or... the anan in the mishkan and bayis rishon appeared between the two keruvim when we were zokhin. At those times, the keruvim would be hugging. Thus we see the anan as a statement of divine chibah, making taharas hamishpachah a physical counterpart.

It's all derushy. If it weren't that the other two elements were so blatant, I would consider this a fishing expedition.

Barzilai said...

Here's a simpler one: The Abudraham on Friday night says, on our Gemara, דרש ההיא גלילאה עליה דרב חסדא אמר הקב"ה רביעית דם נתתי בכם פירוש הוא הדם הצלול שבלב שממנו משתית הלב וחיי האדם תלויין בו על עסקי הדם הזהרתי אתכם שלא תשמשו עד שתטהרו במעין ובור מקוה מים . So, obviously, the idea of Nidda is not the issur and the Tuma. It is the zehirus to make sure that tashmish will take place in conditions of Tahara Gemura. Maybe the Anan also represents Tahara, but I don't have any basis to say that.

Barzilai said...

Micha, I think I can combine

1. Ensuring that Tashmish/creation of man take place in conditions of absolute purity
2. Hashra'as Hashechina manifesting as the relationship between husband and wife

and make something presentable.

The tashmish/creation of man alternatives will have to be examined, because they're not exactly the same.

There's nothing wrong with fishing when you have, as you say, such strong indicators that something should be there.

Tal Benschar said...

If we come up with some derush to link niddah to the cloud, chalah and lamp line up blatantly.

Or... the anan in the mishkan and bayis rishon appeared between the two keruvim when we were zokhin. At those times, the keruvim would be hugging. Thus we see the anan as a statement of divine chibah, making taharas hamishpachah a physical counterpart.

I thought, more simply (although maybe equally derushy) that the anan is a sign of hashraas ha shechinah. (See Shemos 40:35, the cloud filling the Ohel Moed, and being "shochen" there.)

The gemara states that when a man and woman live together properly, they merit the shechina to rest between them. (Sotah 17a and Rashi there)

The anan above Sarah's tent was simply a sign of the shechinah that rested on Avraham and Sarah who live together as a proper Jewish couple.

Barzilai said...

Tal, I always am nervous that someone sees the post in an early stage and reads the comments as they come in, and they don't realize that the post has changed in the interim, which is the case here, more than usual.

So I don't know if you saw the current iteration, but whether yes or no, I'm going to put in that Gemara to make it more clear in the post.