Titzaveh/Purim: For Crying Out Loud ~ Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein

When Esav found out that the blessing from his father Yitzchak had been given to Yaakov, Esav “cried out a great and bitter cry” (Genesis 27:34). The Midrash says that because Yaakov caused Esav to “cry out”, Yaakov’s descendants were later punished with the threat of annihilation (via Haman, a descendant of Esav), and Mordechai ended up having to “cry out” to G-d (Esther 4:1). In this way the Midrash links the fate of the Jewish People in the story of Purim to the story of Yaakov and Esav. However, this Midrash is somewhat problematic, because when looking at the Hebrew words used to convey Esav’s crying and Mordechai’s crying, one will notice that they are not the same. Esav’s crying is described as a tzaakah, while Mordechai’s, a zaakah.

What’s the difference between tzaakah and zaakah? (And don’t tell me the letter t!)

Rashi (to Iyov 6:17 and Sotah 36b), Nachmanides (to Iyov 40:17), the Zohar (Shemot 20a), and others, all explain that tzaakah and zaakah are wholly synonymous, and both words can be used interchangeably. They explain that both the letter ZAYIN in the beginning of the word zaakah, and the TZADIK in the beginning of the word tzaakah,yield similar phonemes, both articulated by the teeth. Therefore, these two letters can be used substituted for one another. Rabbi Shlomo Pappenheim of Breslau (1740-1814) likewise writes that there is no difference between the words tzaakah and zaakah.Although he notes that the word tzaakah is related to the word tzaar (“pain”)he concludes that both words denote an outward expression of one’s pain and suffering (similar to crying).

According to this approach the Midrash is entirely justified in connecting Esav’s cries to Mordechai’s, because the Bible practically uses the same word for both.

However, the late 12th century Asheknazic scholar Rabbi Elazar Rokeach of Worms writes that the words tzaakah and zaakah are not synonyms. He explains that the word zaakah implies crying out in the context of registering a complaint, while tzaakah does not. He further notes that zaakah implies multiple people crying, while tzaakah does not. In light of this understanding it is somewhat difficult to justify linking Esav’s crying out to Mordechai’s crying if the Bible uses two different words to express those two different occurrences.

Rabbi Yehuda Leib Shapira-Frankfurter (1743-1826), who was Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch’s great-uncle, writes that while the terms zaakah and tzaakah can be used to express somebody pleading with another human, the word shaavah applies only to one who pleads with G-d. Rabbi Pappenheim explains that the word shaavah is related to the word yeshuah (both have the root SHIN-VAV-AYIN), and connotes one who calls out with the expectation that it bring his salvation.

Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenburg (1785-1865) writes that all three words denote somebody who calls out with the expectation of bringing about his deliverance, but differ in one small detail. Those who engage in zaakah and tzaakah simply verbalize their suffering, but do not explicitly ask for help (like a poor man who cries, “I have not eaten in a long time”). By contrast, one who engages in shaavah makes his desire for help unmistakably clear (like a poor man who cries, “Please give me something to eat”). The Zohar also contends that tzaakah/zaakah is less explicit than shaavah, but explains that the former is the silent cry of pain, while the latter is an expression of prayer. According to one opinion in the Zohar, tzaakah/zaakah is a greater form of supplication because it denotes the crying out of the heart.

Psalms 107 tells of four people who ended up in dire circumstances, and they called out to G-d and were saved: the wayfarer lost in the desert, the incarcerated, the deathly ill and the sailor aboard a ship in the storm. In the first and last of these cases the word tzaakah denotes the sufferer’s crying out, while in the middle two cases the word zaakah appears.

Rabbi Emmanuel Chai Ricci (1688-1743) explains that the difference between tzaakah and zaakah is that the tz-consonant in the former is a longer sound than the the z-consonant in the latter. Accordingly, since the incarcerated and the deathly ill are confined to their respective places (the incarcerated to his jail cell and the ill to his deathbed), they use a shorter word than the other two, who have more options to escape their predicament.

The Midrash understands that these four fellows correspond to the four kingdoms which are to subjugate the Jewish People: Babylon, Persia/Media, Greece, and Rome. To explain this, the Midrash asserts that the first and last of the above kingdoms (Babylon and Rome) were more detrimental to the Jewish People than the middle two (probably because they both destroyed the Holy Temple and exiled the Jews from Jerusalem).

Rabbi Shlomo Aharon Wertheimer (1866-1935) deduces from this that the word tzaakah denotes a more intense form of crying out than zaakah does, as it indicates a more serious state of distress. Indeed, Malbim (to Psalms 107:6) writes that the Bibles uses tzaakah (as opposed to zaakah) in the cases of the lost wayfarer and the sailor because they are in greater danger than are the jailed person and the sick person (unlike Tosefot to Berachot 54b who write that the four people are listed in order of their danger).

Terumah/Rosh Chodesh Adar: The Beauty of Adar ~ Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein

This week ushers in the month of Adar in all its glory. Like all the months of the Jewish calendar, the name Adar is derived from the Babylonian calendar — its original name was Addaru. Based on the interchangeability of the Aramaic ALEPH with the Hebrew HEY, the name Adar seems to be correlated to the Hebrew word hadar. In this essay, we will explore the difference between the word hadar (“glory”) and its twin sister hod (“splendor”). In doing so we will also discover the connection alluded to by Kabbalists between the month of Adar and the tribe of Yosef.

An anonymous work entitled Sefer HaKushyot (from the 13th century school of Chassidei Ashkenaz) explains that Adar is called so because during that month the hadar of the trees manifests itself (because Adar heralds the coming of spring), or because that was the month in which the glory of the Jewish People — Moshe Rabbeinu — was born. What does hadar mean? Rabbi Shlomo of Urbino (a 16th century Italian scholar) in his work Ohel Moed (a lexicon of Hebrew synonyms) writes that hadar and adar are two of ten synonymous words that refer to the concept of beauty: yofihodhadaradar, na’eh (naaveh), zivziztzvishefer (shapir), and tov. (Interestingly, Ziv — which literally means “radiance” — is the original name of the month of Iyar, which, like Adar, is partially in the spring.)

The Vilna Gaon explains the difference between hod and hadar by way of an analogy to astronomy. He explains that hod denotes self-beauty, just as the sun’s light express the essence of the sun. Hadar, on the other hand, denotes reflected beauty, just as the moon’s light is not inherent to the moon, but only appears to come from the moon. The true source of moonlight is the sun. Rabbi Moshe Shapiro (1935-2017) adds that in Aramaic the word hadar means to “return back”, which is an apt description of the moon, which reflects sunlight. The moon takes what it receives from the sun and reflects back the same light. Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenburg (1785-1865) cites Rabbi Shmuel Dovid Luzzatto (1800-1865) who wrote that the word hadar (“glory” or “honor”) is related to the Aramaic word for “going backwards” because he who beholds something in its full glory is taken aback by its grandeur and reflexively recoils in awe.

The Vilna Gaon further explains that the term hadrat panim is the beauty of one’s facial ambiance and is visible to the naked eye. The term hod, on the other hand, refers to a person’s inner good (i.e. morality), which is reflected in one’s facial ambiance. Moshe Rabbeinu attained a spiritual level known as karnei hod (“rays of glory”) in which his inner goodness shone through in a very physical way (see Rashi to Ex. 34:34). As we will see below, Yehoshua remained with only hadar.

The Malbim explains that hadar refers to outward beauty. An etrog (citron) tree is called an eitz hadar (“beautiful tree”) because its fruits are outwardly beautiful. The word hod, on the other hand, refers to the concept of inner beauty. A person to whom the adjective hod is applied is somebody whose beauty lies in his character traits. He is humble, merciful, just, etc. Hod cannot be seen with the eye. It can only be beheld by the intellect. When Gd tells Moshe that his successor will be Yehoshua, He commands Moshe, “Give from your hod to him” (Num. 27:20). This does not refer to the exchange of any physical gift that Moshe possessed and should pass on to his protégé. Rather, it refers to the unseeable spiritual beauty which Moshe had, that he was to somehow transmit to his student. Rabbi Simcha Maimon explains that this is the meaning of the Talmudic adage “The face of Moshe is like the sun, and the face of Yehoshua is like the moon” (Bava Batra 75a): Yehoshua received his inner hod from Moshe in the same way that the moon receives its hod from the sun.

Hod makes up the root of the word hodaah (“admission” or “thanksgiving”). This is because the concept of hodaah is that one recognizes what he knows deep down to be true, and allows it to come to the forefront by verbally expressing it. In this again, we see that hod refers to that which lies underneath the surface.

The Midrash Sifrei (to Deut. 33:17) understands that the term hod refers specifically to the quality of kingship, possibly because a king assumes inherent powers. When Moshe prophetically blessed the Tribe of Yosef on his deathbed he said, “Like a firstborn ox, hadar is to him.” (Deut. 33:17). This means that the first leader of the post-Mosaic period will come from the Tribe of Yosef. Indeed, Yehoshua — Moshe’s successor — was a descendant of Yosef’s son Ephraim. In this passage, Moshe does not use the word hod,which implies the glory attached to the full sovereignty of kingship. Rather, he used the word hadar, which implies only the outer trappings of kingship, but not the full monty. For this reason, Moshe is called a king (Zevachim 102a), while Yehoshua — as important a leader as he was — is never explicitly called a king.

The Moshe-Yehoshua paradigm itself mirrors the Yaakov-Yosef model. Yaakov’s entire lifestory foreshadowed all the future events of Yosef’s life. In fact, Yosef is the quintessential descendant of Yaakov (see Genesis 37:2) and even looked exactly like him (see Rashi)! Yet, Yaakov is one of the three forefathers, while Yosef is merely a reflection of that potential. Yosef was hadar, but not hod. For this reason, the month of Adar is associated with the Tribe of Yosef, because in that month Moshe died and his successor Yehoshua took up the reins.

The Bible (I Chron. 29:25) tells that when King Solomon ascended the throne, G-d granted him Hod Malchut (“royal glory). However, when Daniel (Dan. 11:20) describes the glory of the future Hasmonean Kingdom, he uses a similar, but different, phrase: Hadar Malchut (“royal glory”). Why does the Bible use the word hadar when describing the Hasmonean Kingdom, and not the word hod like Solomon’s Kingdom? Based on the above, Rabbi Simcha Maimon explains that the term Hod Malchut refers to somebody to whom the kingship inherently belongs, so it is applied to King Solomon, an integral link in the chain of the Davidic Dynasty. The Hasmoneans, on other hand, did not inherently deserve the kingship. On the contrary, they were not of royal stock, but of priestly descent. Therefore, the Hasmoneans were not in essence kings; they only appeared to be kings on the outside. For this reason, Hasmonean kingship is described as Hadar Malchut, the word hadar representing something which is only true in practice, but not in essence.

The Bible in many places speaks of G-d possessing hod and hadar. Based on our definitions the Malbim explains that His hadar is manifest in the way He interacts with creation and reveals Himself in the world. However, G-d’s hod is something hidden which we cannot begin to understand because it speaks to something deeper than our ability to perceive. As Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888) puts it, G-d’s hadar is His role in the world, while His hod is His essence.

What is fascinating about this is that the Bible in several places (e.g., Psalms 104:1, Job 40:10, Proverbs 31:25) speaks of G-d as “wearing” hod and/or hadar. Similarly, the Midrash says that when the Jews were exiled from the Holy Land to Babylonia, they wore their clothes until they reached Adullam, whereupon the gentiles of that city came out and stripped the Jews of their clothing, leaving them naked and embarrassed. The Midrash finds a Scriptural allusion to this in the verse, “Gone from the Daughter of Zion is all her hadar” (Lamentations 1:6). The word hadar, in this context, is understood to mean “clothing”. These sources tell us that there is a fundamental connection between glory/honor and clothing, but for that, you will have to wait until next week’s article.

Purim: All in the Name of the King! ~ Tzvi Abrahams


טֶבַע: nature

מַטְבֵּעַ: coin

לִטְבּוֹעַ: to drown, sink

טַבַּעַת: ring

טֶבַע: Nature

If you have ever witnessed a total solar eclipse, you will no doubt be amazed at this spectacular act of nature, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself how the mechanics of it all comes about?

The remarkable answer is that while the moon is exactly 1/400ththe size of the sun, its distance from the earth is exactly 1/400ththe distance of the sun from the earth. Indeed a most unlikely coincidence, although real, this perfect fit of lunar and solar discs is more aptly engineered to be an optical illusion designed especially from the perspective of a human being, because it only works from the viewpoint of man standing on the earth’s surface. We, though, call it nature.1

הַטֶבַעandאֶ-לֹהִיםhave the same gematriaof eighty-six. The name of י-ה-ו-הrepresents the aspect of Hashem, Who transcends this world, whereas the nameאֶ-לֹהִיםrepresents the aspect of Hashem Whose powers control the order of the natural world. These two aspects of Hashem’s names are said in the Shema. When we read the Shema, we could understand it in the following way:

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל ה’אֶ-לֹהֵינוּ ה’אֶחָד — Listen all of you, people of Israel, 
ה’ — Hashem who transcends this world 
אֶ-לֹהֵינוּ — [is] the power that controls nature;
ה’אֶחָד — Hashemי-ה-ו-ה, who transcends the world, and אֶ-לֹהִים, the powers that control nature, are one.

Everything we see is Hashem, only that Hashem masks Himself within nature.

Rav Shimshon Pincus, in his seferon Purim, gives a wonderful analogy on how to perceive the world. When you go to the local store to buy some milk, along with the bag of milk that you end up buying are another 500 bags of milk. You can therefore look at the situation in one of two ways: Either Hashem has organized that there will be enough milk to fulfill the needs of many, including you, or Hashem has arranged one particular bag of milk especially for you but wishes to hide Himself, so He arranges that there will be another 500 bags. 

Purim is the day to overturn the way one looks at the world, נַהַפֹךְ הוּא, and see the true reality that Hashem loves you and has placed you in this world to play with Him within nature. The nature of the game is “hide-and-seek,” and your mission is to seek Him out.

When we dress up on Purim and put on masks, we somehow get in touch with the fact that Hashem too is wearing the mask of nature, and weמְגַלֶה/reveal (from the word megillah) to ourselves the truth that we are the stars in Hashem’s “all-star” show. Everything revolves around the Jewish People; all the eyes of the world are focused on us because we are Hashem’s stars, the leading role.

Gil Locks, in his book One, also gives a wonderful analogy. Hashem wants to share His goodness, so He invites everyone to a big feast. Everyone is sitting around the table wearing a mask, having a great time. At the end of the meal, Hashem, the baal habayis,tells us to take off our masks. When we all take off our masks, we realize we are all one.

מַטְבֵּעַ: Coin

The connection of טֶבַע/natureto מַטְבֵּעַis that just like a coin is imprinted with the king’s signature on the face of the coin, so too Hashem has imprinted his signature within nature. Either you see it or you don’t.

לִטְבּוֹעַ: To Drown, Sink

The imprint on a coin is נִטְבַּע/sunken into its surface. As we have said above, Hashem has sunken His impression within nature. There are places in the world, some more than others, where Hashem has sunken Himself into nature to the point where it is very hard to see Him. One of those places in the times of the Tanach was Egypt. Egypt is represented by the עֵגֶל/calf, which comes from the word מַעַגַל/circle.2The circle has no beginning and no end, and like the שָׁנָה/year, it just goes around and around without שִׁנוּי/change. The sun was one of the main gods in Egypt, representing the idea of an unchanging world, as it says in Koheles:אֵין כָּל חָדָשׁ תַּחַת הַשֶׁמֶשׁ/there is nothing new under the sun.3The letter ס/samech, which is in itself a circle, first appears in the Torah in connection with the Nile River: הוּא הַסֹּבֵב אֵת כָּל אֶרֶץ הַחֲוִילָה/which circles the land of Chavilah, known as Egypt.4The Nile, another Egyptian god, was worshipped for being the main source of water. Egypt, with all its gods, was a G-d-forsaken place,נִטְבַּע/sunken within the unchanging cycle we call טֶבַע/nature. It comes as no surprise that Pharaoh and his army wereנִטְבַּע/drowned in the Yam Suf, a fitting end to a people who worshippedטֶבַע/nature.

טַבַּעַת: Ring

Just like a ring is circular, so too nature is circular. The sun and the planets are round, whereas all that is square in the world is manmade. Have you ever seen a square pebble washed up on the beach?

Just like Hashem signs his name within nature, so too a ring can be used as a signet ring. Whoever the king chooses to give his ring to has the power to rule over everything, becoming מִשְׁנֶה לְמֶלֶךְ/second only to the king. There are three occasions in Tanach where the king gives over his ring: the first time is to Yosef, the second time is to Haman, and the last to Mordechai. When it is given to Yosef, the verse says the following:

וַיָּסַר פַּרְעֹה אֶת טַבַּעְתּוֹ מֵעַל יָדוֹ וַיִּתֵּן אֹתָהּ עַל יַד יוֹסֵף
And Pharaoh removed his ring from upon his hand and placed it on the hand of Yosef.5

When it is given to Haman, however, there is a change in the language:
וַיָּסַר הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶת טַבַּעְתּוֹ מֵעַל יָדוֹ וַיִּתְּנָהּ לְהָמָן
And the king removed his ring from upon his hand and gave it to Haman.6

The difference between the two verses is that the king placed the ring on the hand of Yosef, whereas with Haman, the ring was given to him and he placed it on himself. The difference, although subtle, is quite significant. Rashi, in his commentary to the verse regarding the giving of the ring to Yosef, says it was an אוֹת/sign of greatness. With regards to Haman, Rashi makes no comment to the ring being a sign of greatness. Since Haman had no inherent greatness, he had to put the ring on his own hand, whereas with Yosef, who exemplified greatness, the ring was placed on his hand by the king himself. A subtle difference, but really worlds apart.

When it comes to Mordechai, the verse says the following:
וַיָּסַר הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶת טַבַּעְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱבִיר מֵהָמָן וַיִּתְּנָהּ לְמָרְדֳּכָי
And the king removed his ring that he passed over to Haman and gave it to Mordechai.7

One may ask why, since Mordechai too exemplified greatness, the ring was not directly placed on his hand by the king as it was with Yosef. The reason is that previously it was not on the hand of the king, but it was merely transferred from the hand of Haman to the hand of Mordechai. 

There is an expression “how the mighty have fallen.” This was Haman. Someone who is not inherently great cannot sustain his position. Haman fell because he could not stand the fact that Mordechai the Jew would not bow down to him. Even though Haman was extremely wealthy, had great honor, and was second to the king, it was not enough. Instead of focusing on all the good that he had, he focused his attention on what he lacked. The same is true with Adam and Chava; the whole world was open to them, and yet they focused on their limitations. 

The Gemara in Megillahasks: where is Haman found in the Torah? Hamin Ha’Eitz, referring to the Tree of Knowledge of good and bad. There is one more place where Haman is explicitly mentioned in the Torah —where the Bnei Yisrael complain about the manna: וְעַתָּה נַפְשֵׁנוּ יְבֵשָׁה אֵין כֹּל בִּלְתִּי אֶל הַמָּן עֵינֵינוּ/and now our souls are parched, there is nothing but the manna.8Again, instead of focusing on all the good that Hashem had given them, they chose to focus on their lack.

This is the middahof Haman, the Amalek within us, who denies the workings of Hashem. The true reality is that all that we have right now is perfectly measured out for us by Hashem to facilitate all of our needs. However, the Amalek within us deceives us into thinking that we are nevertheless lacking something essential.

בָּרוּךְמָרְדְּכַי,אָרוּר הָמָן/ blessed is Mordechai, cursed is Haman. Both are given authority by the king, which is really Hashem. Sometimes the ring is in the hands of מָרְדְּכַי,and sometimes it is in the hands of הָמָן, but it is all in the name of the King. The ring on one hand is to get the Jewish People to do teshuvah, i.e., when we have lost Hashem to doubt and He sends עַמָלֵק, e.g., Hitler, to wake us up. On the other hand, when we are doing Hashem’s will, we are in the blessed safe hands of מָרְדְּכַי.

Not only did Hashem give the טַבַּעַת/the signet ring to Mordechai, Haman, and Yosef, He also gave it to each and every one of us. We are the children of אַבְרָהָם,יִצְחָק,וְיַעַקֹב;we all have the ability to achieve greatness and become second to the King. We are Hashem’s chosen nation, where we are obligated to choose to see beyond טֶבַע/nature, to see beyond the world of Egypt. Instead of leading an accursed life like Haman and focusing on our lackings, we can choose to focus on the good and lead a blessed life. 

We are no less than Hashem’s signatories in the world. Every time we go against our nature, we sign Hashem’s name in the world — “All in the name of the King.”

1See Sarah Shapiro, “The Moon over Mexico,” www.aish.com.

2See above, Parshas Pikudei.

3Koheles 1:9.

4See Ramban to Bereishis2:11.

5Bereishis 41:42.

6Esther 3:10.

7Ibid., 8:2.