Noach: Aspect Of The Divine ~ Tzvi Abrahams

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Parshas  נֹחַ

Aspect of the Divine

חֹל: to profane

חוּלִין: profane

חִלוֹנִי: secular

חֵיל: wall, soldier, valor, tremble

חוֹל: sand

חוֹלֶה: sick

חַלַל: hollow, חוֹל: weekday

חַס וְחָלִילָה: G-d forbid

חַלוֹן: window

הַתְחָלָה: beginning

חַל: to take effect

יִחוּל: hope, wish

חַלָה: challah

מָחוֹל: tamborine

חֹל: To Profane

וַיָּחֶל נֹחַ אִישׁ הָאֲדָמָה וַיִּטַּע כָּרֶם
And he defiled himself, Noach, man of the earth, and he planted a vineyard.

חוּליִן: Profane

The Midrash translates the words וַיָּחֶל נֹחַ to mean חוּלִין — that Noach profaned himself by planting a vineyard whose wine caused him to get drunk, וַיִּתְגַּל בְּתוֹךְ אָהֳלֹה/and he became exposed inside his tent. חוּלִין by definition is the opposite of קְדוּשָׁה/holiness.

חִלוֹנִי: Secular

Targum Yonasan mentions two types of חִלוֹנִי: one in relation to a נָכְרִי/goy, and one for a זָר/an estranged Jew. Even though both estranged Jew and non-Jew are similar in their outlook toward life, namely a life without kedushah, they are, however, inherently different. The חִילוֹנַאי Jew has a different spelling where, besides the aleph, there is more significantly a yud in between the ches and the lamed. The yud signifies the pintela Yid, the spark of Divine inside every Jew. No matter how far a Jew is estranged from his brothers, he still has a holy spark that separates him from a goy.

חֵיל: Wall, Soldier, Valor, Tremble

Similarly, when the letters ches and lamed contain a yud, the spark of the Divine, it represents strength, hence the words חַיָילִים/soldiers, אַנְשֵׁי חַיִל/men of valor, and trembling in the presence of such strength. 

בְּחֵילֵךְ שַׁלְוָה בְּאַרְמְנוֹתָיִךְ יְהִי שָׁלוֹם
There should be peace in your ramparts, tranquillity in your palace.

Here חֵיל is not just an ordinary wall, but a fortified wall, a wall that surrounds a palace, a place of importance. The wall surrounding the Beis HaMikdash is also known as the חֵיל — again, not just an ordinary wall, but a wall surrounding kedushah.

חוֹל: Sand

When there is no yud between the ches and the lamed, we are left with חֹל or חוֹל. When there is no spark of the Divine, there is no potential for life, hence there is no life on the beach — and for that matter, life is not a beach!

חוֹלֶה: Sick

A חוֹלֶה/sick person is to some extent lacking an aspect of life. מַחַלָה/sickness and מְחִילָה/forgiveness are connected in that through יִסוּרִין/the pain of sickness, the חוֹלֶה is drawn closer to Hashem and is forgiven for his sins, thereby regaining the aspect of yud, from מַחַלָה to מְחִילָה.

ג’ מוֹחָלִין לָהֶם עַל כָּל עַוֹנוֹתֵיהֶם, חוֹלֶה שֶׁנִתְרַפֶּא,חָתָן וּמֶלֶךְ
Three are forgiven for all their sins: a sick person who recovers, a chosson, and a king.

יִסוּרִין מִמְרַקִין כָּל עַוֹנוֹתָיו שֶׁל אָדָם
Yisurin/afflictions empty out all the sins of man.

חַלַל: Hollow, חוֹל: Weekday

In order for Hashem to create the world, He needed to remove Himself, so to speak, leaving behind a חַלַל/empty space in which we can exist. Our mission is to bring Hashem back into the חַלַל by filling it up with kedushah. חוֹל and hole sound very similar; we are trying to make the hole whole by making the hole holy! And the hollow becomes hallow.

Shabbos is the time when we separate, הַמַבְדִיל בֵּין קוֹדֶשׁ לְחוֹל. It is a very special time that Hashem has given us to help us tune into the kodesh.

Likewise, a dead body is called a חַלַל/a hollow. When Hashem breathed into us a נְשָׁמָה, he gave us life. All the time we have the aspect of the Divine, we are alive, but when we die, we become hollow and lifeless.

The musical instrument חַלִיל/tube or flute is naturally related to חַלַל because it is hollow.

חַס וְחָלִילָה: G-d Forbid

חָלִלָה לְּךָ מֵעֲשֹׂת כַּדָּבָר הַזֶּה לְהָמִית צַדִּיק עִם רָשָׁע
Chalilah for you, an action like this, to kill tzaddik with rasha.

When Avraham is challenging Hashem’s actions to destroy Sodom, the word חָלִילָה is used, which the commentaries explain to mean as lashon חוּלִין and also from חַלַל/a hollow act. Generally, it means that it should not come about. Often, the Gemara uses the expression חוֹזֶר וְחָלִילָה to denote something that repeats itself like a circle, so when we say חַס וְחָלִילָה, we mean to say that Hashem should not let the event come around. 

חַלוֹן: Window

הַחַלוֹן מָקוֹם חַלַל. מָקוֹם יְגִיעַ לוֹ הַשֶׁבֶר תְּחִילָה
The window is a חַלַל/hollow in the walls of the house. The first place a crack will reach is the window.

לַפֶּתַח חַטָּאת רֹבֵץ
Sin waits at the opening.

The yetzer hara is compared to a fly in that the fly has no power by itself to make an opening, but rather waits for a wound to open and attacks there. So too the yetzer hara sits at the door waiting for it to be opened. When we open a חַלוֹן/window of opportunity for the yetzer hara to enter, we indeed make ourselves חוּלִין/profane. We lose our connection, our aspect of divinity; our kedushah escapes and we become deflated as if we have a puncture — we are going nowhere. However, the reverse is also true. When we are inflated with kedushah we are uplifted, we feel light and invigorated, we become mobile; our holy ruach carries us — we are going places.

Perhaps חַלוֹם is related to חַלוֹן in that it is a window to the spiritual realm — as the Midrash says, dreams are one-sixtieth of prophecy.

הַתְחָלָה: Beginning

שֶׁכָּל הַתְחָלוֹת קָשׁוֹת
All beginnings are hard.

Rashi to the verse that says “And you should guard my bris” brings down the Mechilta that says all beginnings are hard. On Har Sinai, we entered into a covenant with Hashem to be an am segulah/treasured nation and an am kadosh/holy nation. When we are on the road to kedushah, on the road to filling up the חַלַל, then all הַתְחָלוֹת/beginnings are hard. The reverse is also true: when we are on the road in the opposite direction to a life of חוּלִין/profanity, then it is very easy. It is like blowing up a balloon — inflating it is hard, yet it is very easy to deflate it. The pasuk says: וַיָּחֶל נֹחַ אִישׁ הָאֲדָמָה, where the commentaries explain וַיָּחֶל to be lashon הַתְחָלָה, where Noach went quickly from being anאִישׁ צַדִּיק/righteous man to an אִישׁ הָאֲדָמָה/man of the earth.

In the beginning, we are compared to an empty vessel, and our purpose is to breathe in kedushah, Torah, and life. חִנוּךְ/educating children means הַתְחָלָה, where all beginnings are hard, where הַתְחָלָה is lashon חוֹל because in the beginning we are empty and we don’t know how things will turn out. Only at the end of a person’s life סוֹף דָבָר הַכָּל נִשְׁמַע/everything will be heard.

חַל: To Take Effect

The word חַל on its own is from הַתְחָלָה and is used to describe when a new thing or situation takes effect.

יִחוּל: Hope, Wish

וַיִּיָּחֶל עוֹד שִׁבְעַת יָמִים אֲחֵרִים וַיְשַׁלַּח אֶת הַיּוֹנָה
And Noach waited another seven days and he sent out the yonah.

Here the word יִחוּל also comes from הַתְחָלָה, where we are hoping and wishing for there to be a change for the better.

חַלָה: Challah

Challah that we eat on Shabbos is named after the חַלָה that is separated from the dough and comes from lashon הַתְחָלָה, because first, before we can eat it, we have to separate חַלָה. חַלָה also comes from lashon חוּלִין, because once we have separated the קוֹדֵשׁ, that which remains is חוּלִין/ordinary food that can now be eaten.

By separating ourselves, we go from being חוֹל to קוֹדֶשׁ. And especially by giving what is first to Hashem we become holy. The Midrash says that in the merit of three things the world was created: in the merit of challah, maasaros, and bikkurim. And what is the reason whyבְּרֵאשִׁית /in the beginning בָּרָא אֶ-לֹהִים/Hashem created? For there is no beginning except for חַלָה.

אָדָם חַלָתוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם
Adam is the challah of the world.

Hashem wants us to take challah, for by taking challah we fix up the original sin. Hashem separated Adam from the adamah, and so Adam is known as the “challah of the world.” Adam is separated for a higher purpose and in doing so elevates the earth. Like with any טֶבֶל/non-separated grain, once the terumah and maaser has been taken, it is מְתּוּקַן/fixed up and ready to eat — it is now elevated.

But since man ate from the Tree of Knowledge, he profaned himself, and as a result he and the adamah were cursed. Now man has to toil for a living, whereas before things just grew out of the ground naturally. Now man needs to do the groundwork, preparing the ground in order for it to produce. This is not a punishment but rather a tikkun; by working the land and being involved with all the processes that are necessary to make bread, man has the ability to fix up the sin through the giving of challah. By giving challah, we come to recognize that all comes from Hashem and that all the work we do to make our parnasah is not really our doing, but rather it all comes from Hashem. Through this recognition, we return to become the challah of the world.

אָדָם חַלָתוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם/man is the challah of the world and the only part of the world that has the free choice to give up its independence, independence of the adamah, and rise above the earthly constraints and attain an elevated status. Through our actions of giving back to Hashem, we fulfill the creation for which Hashem created the world, for the רֵאשִׁית — for challah, maasaros, and bikkurim.

מָחוֹל: Machol

וַתִּקַּח מִרְיָם הַנְּבִיאָה אֲחוֹת אַהֲרֹן אֶת הַתֹּף בְּיָדָהּ וַתֵּצֶאןָ כָל הַנָּשִׁים אַחֲרֶיהָ בְּתֻפִּים וּבִמְחֹלֹת
And Miriam the prophetess, sister of Aharon, took the drum in her hand, and all the women went out after her with drums and macholos.

When we blow into something like bubblegum or a balloon, it makes a חַלַל/hollow, which is generally round. מָחוֹל, loosely translated as a tamborine, is a round musical instrument whose sound generates in people the desire to dance. 

בְּנוֹת יִשׂרָאֵל יוֹצְאוֹת וְחוֹלוֹת בְּכְּרָמִים
Daughters of Yisrael, go out and dance in circles around the vineyard.

At the end of the Gemara in Taanis, when it talks about Tu B’Av, it says that the girls go out to the vineyard and dance around in circles. They dance in the space surrounding the vineyards known as the מְחוֹל הַכֶּרֶם.

The symbolism of the vineyard is not just happenstance. Rather, when regarding the time to be chosen as a wife, a girl is compared to a vine in that just like a vine is pure and cannot be crossbred, so too one should be blessed to find a woman who is pure and fruitful, like it says in Tehillim:  

אֶשְׁתְּךָ כְּגֶפֶן פֹּרִיָּה בְּיַרְכְּתֵי בֵיתֶךָ בָּנֶיךָ כִּשְׁתִלֵי זֵיתִים סָבִיב לְשֻׁלְחָנֶךָ
Your wife, like the vine, shall be fruitful in the inner chamber of your home. 

Here, unlike the generation of Noach — which was very much impure and into crossbreeding — and unlike Noach who profaned himself with the vine, the kesher/connection between man and wife is like a never-ending circle of life that bears the fruits that enable the world to fulfill its purpose of being fruitful and giving.

The aforementioned Gemara in Taanis concludes with the following: 

[bq]Says Rabi Eliezer, in the future HaKadosh Baruch Hu will make a מָחוֹל/circle for the tzaddikim and He will sit between them in Gan Eden, and each one of them will point his finger, as it says:

וְאָמַר בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא הִנֵּה אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ זֶה קִוִּינוּ לוֹ וְיוֹשִׁיעֵנוּ זֶה ה’ קִוִּינוּ לוֹ נָגִילָה וְנִשְׂמְחָה בִּישׁוּעָתוֹ
“And it will be said on that day, ‘Behold this is our G-d [in whom] we put our hope and He saved us, this is Hashem whom we put our hope in Him, we rejoice and we are happy in his salvation.’”

Jewish dancing is in circles; we dance around all together. What keeps us alive and moving is the recognition of who is at the center, symbolized by the pointing of fingers at Hashem, the aspect of the Divine that keeps the wheels turning.

Life Is Giving

וַיִּבְרָא אֱ-לֹהִים אֶת הָאָדָם בְּצַלְמוֹ בְּצֶלֶם אֱ-לֹהִים בָּרָא אֹתוֹ זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה בָּרָא אֹתָם
And Hashem created the man in His image, in the image of G-d He created him, male and female He created them.

What is בְּצֶלֶם אֱ-לֹהִים? If we look closely at the pasuk, we see that it says that Hashem created us male and female. Hashem created the world in order to give, and in order to give there needs to be both a giver and receiver, Hashem being the giver and we being the receivers. So in order to emulate G-d, in order to be in His image, we also have an aspect of giver and receiver, male and female, and in this way we are able to emulate Hashem by being givers. We are born takers, as it says כִּי יֵצֶר לֵב הָאָדָם רַע מִנְּעֻרָיו/because the nature of man is evil from his youth, and for this reason Hashem gave us the aspect of woman — עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדוֹ/our helpmate opposite us — in order to transform us from taker to giver, to be like Hashem, a צֶלֶם אֱ-לֹהִים. 

וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱ-לֹהִים אֶת נֹחַ וְאֶת בָּנָיו וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם פְּרוּ וּרְבוּ וּמִלְאוּ אֶת הָאָרֶץ
And G-d blessed Noach and his sons and He said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the land.”

Having children further helps us to be givers and be in the image of G-d, because the father/son relationship is one of unconditional giving. However, a male/male or female/female relationship bears no fruits, and like two plugs or two sockets, there is no connection, no flow of energy, no cycle, no bicycle, nothing goes around. חָלִילָה — it remains like a חַלַל/a dead relationship.

וּמִכָּל הָחַי מִכָּל בָּשָׂר שְׁנַיִם מִכֹּל תָּבִיא אֶל הַתֵּבָה לְהַחֲיֹת אִתָּךְ זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה יִהְיוּ
And from all the living, from all flesh, two from all you should bring to the ark to live with you, male and female they will be.

If Noach and his three sons had chosen to be gay, that would have been the end of mankind. For this reason Hashem said to Noach to bring male and female into the ark, because with two males or two females there is no proliferation; the relationship is doomed. The male/male relationship is a selfish relationship; there is no interest in having children, they are only interested in themselves. The world was created to פְּרוּ וּרְבוּ/ populate the earth, and this is the only way we can fill up the חַלַל and give it life, i.e., through giving. Only the male/female relationship brings Hashem’s masterplan to fruition.

וַיַּרְא אֱ-לֹהִים אֶת הָאָרֶץ וְהִנֵּה נִשְׁחָתָה כִּי הִשְׁחִית כָּל בָּשָׂר אֶת דַּרְכּוֹ עַל הָאָרֶץ
And G-d saw the earth and behold it was corrupted, because all flesh had corrupted its way on the earth.

Indeed this is the reason why Hashem brought the flood — in order to cleanse the world fromמִשְׁכַב זָכָר/homosexual relationship, where man not only corrupted himself but also corrupted his surroundings, causing the animals to lose their way. It says in the Midrash that the legalization of same-sex marriages with kesubos/marriage contracts, including contracts between man and animal, was the ultimate cause of the flood.

אֶת קַשְׁתִּי נָתַתִּי בֶּעָנָן וְהָיְתָה לְאוֹת בְּרִית בֵּינִי וּבֵין הָאָרֶץ
My bow that I have given in the clouds will be a sign of covenant between me and the earth.

The bow in the clouds, otherwise known as the rainbow, is a sign that Hashem is not happy with our behavior, but nevertheless he faces the bow away from us as a sign of peace that He will not fire His arrows at us to destroy us.

However, we are living in a generation that has broken the contract, where man, חָלִילָה, has come full circle, and again the courts are allowing marriage contracts between man and man. Not only that, but they have stolen the colors of the rainbow and used it as their emblem. Waving the rainbow flag in the eyes of the world is like firing arrows at Hashem with His own bow, or, even worse, it is supplying Him with arrows to fire back on us, chas v’chalilah.

1 Bereishis 9:20.

2 Devarim 17:15; Bei’ur Yonasan, found in the Oz V’Hadar edition on the Chumash.

3 Ibid., 25:5.

4 Tehillim 122:7.

5 Baal Haturim to Shemos 21:19.

6 Brachos 5a.

7 Bereishis 18:25.

8 Shemos Rabbah 26:2; Maharzu.

9 Bereishis 4:7.

10 Bereishis Rabbah 17:5.

11 Rashi to Shemos 19:5; Mechilta.

12 Midrash Koheles 12:14.

13 Bereishis 8:12.

14 Bereishis Rabbah 1:4.

15 Bereishis Rabbah 14:1.

16 Shemos 15:20.

17 Taanis 31a.

18 Ben Yehoyada to Taanis ibid.

19 Tehillim 128:3.

20 Yeshayah 25:9.

21 Bereishis 1:27.

22 Ibid., 8:21.

23 Ibid., 9:1.

24 Ibid., 6:19.

25 Ibid., 6:12.

26 Bereishis Rabbah 26:5; see also Rashi to Bereishis 6:2.

27 Bereishis 9:13.




Noach: Hark! Two Arks! ~ Reuven Chaim Klein

We are all familiar with two very different arks that are mentioned in the Bible: The Ark of Noah and the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of Noah was a large wooden boat which Noah constructed for housing his family during the floods of the Great Deluge (Gen. 6-9), while the Ark of the Covenant was a wooden box coated in gold in which the tablets of the Ten Commandments and a Torah Scroll were stored. While in English both of these somewhat dissimilar items are conveniently labelled “arks”, the discerning reader might notice that in Hebrew two different words are used. The Ark of Noah is called a teivah, and the Ark of the Covenant is called an aron. The two words clearly refer to types of storage implements, but since they are two different words they cannot mean the exact same thing. What then is the difference between the words teivah and aron,which can justify translating both words as “ark”, yet show that the two words actually bear different connotations?

In the Bible, the word teivah appears in two contexts: the Ark of Noah and the basket wherein the infant Moshe was placed before his mother left him on the Nile River (Ex. 2:3). The word aron is also used in two contexts in the Bible: the Ark of the Covenant and the coffin within which the body of the deceased Joseph was placed (Gen. 50:26). The usage of these terms in the Bible may help us determine the differences between them.

Based on the contexts in which these two words are invoked, we may argue that the difference between them is in where the arks are used. The word teivah is only used for a storage device kept afloat on the water, while the word aron refers to storage place that need not necessarily involve floating on water. So, it seems that the difference between the types of containers meant by teivah and the types meant by aron is that the former is only used for storing something atop a body of water, while the latter is not.

Alternatively, we may suppose that the distinction between these two forms of storing lies in what is being stored. In the Biblical examples the word teivah refers specifically to “storing” a live person, i.e. Noah and his family or the baby Moshe. Rabbi Aharon Marcus (1843-1916) points out that the word teivah is related to the word bayit (house) because they both contain the same letters. This implies that a teivah, in some ways, is like a person’s home. The word aron, on the other hand, refers to other types of storage — even storing inanimate articles like the Tablets or Joseph’s corpse.

All of this explains the difference between the words teivah and aron in the Biblical sense. However, when we include rabbinical usage of the words the matter becomes far more complicated. In Rabbinic Hebrew, we find the words teivah and aron used almost interchangeably. For example, one Mishna (Ta’anit 2:1) tells about how on communal days of fast the teivah would be taken outside to the city plaza in a show of public outcry, and another Mishnah (Megillah 3:1) rules that money received from selling a synagogue building can only be used for purchasing a teivah or something holier than a teivah. What does the Mishna mean when it refers to a teivah in these casesThe commentators discuss whether the Mishna refers to the Holy Ark of a synagogue which houses the Torah Scrolls, or to the table (known as bimah) upon which the Torah Scrolls are placed while being read. Either way, the word teivah in the language of the Mishna does not refer exclusively to something floating on the sea or housing a live person, which defeats the definition given above.

Likewise, the Talmud Yerushalmi (Shekalim 6:1) explains the structure of the Ark of the Covenant — which the Bible calls an aron. It explains that the Ark was actually made up of three teivahs (in this context, boxes), two golden and one wooden. The wooden box was placed inside one of the golden boxes and the other golden box was placed inside the wooden box so that all exposed surfaces were golden with the wood hidden underneath. Thus, this three-teivah structure made up what is known as the aron. This passage, as well, disproves our prior assumptions about the nature of the differences between the words teivah and aron.

Finally, modern Hebrew offers a clear delineation between the two terms (although historically its distinction may not be well-grounded), because in modern Hebrew the word teivah refers to a storage chest, and the word aron refers to a closet.




Noach: A New Beginning Delayed? ~ Yehoshua Steinberg

Noach English Summary

Abstract: In his Sefer Hashorashim, Radak assigns one verse in our Parashah to two different roots with two different meanings, and the verse is: And ויחל another seven days. (Genesis 8:9). Radak included this verse both in entry יחל (anticipation, hope), and also in the entry חול (resting upon). However, Rashi interpreted the word as waiting, and the Targum Yerushalmi rendered it as *beginning* (שרי in Aramaic). In this article we examine the depth of the word, i.e. how one root can bear such different interpretations. I hope ((מייחל that the effort was successful, that a peaceful Sabbath shall rest upon us (תחול) and a blessed beginning (תחילה) of the year should commence for us all.Blessed.Click the link for the full article! https://biblicalhebrewetymology.com/2018/10/15/noach-a-new-beginning-delayed-the-wonders-of-the-holy-tongue/

Posted by Jeremy Steinberg on Friday, 1 November 2019

Noach

Noach: A New Beginning Delayed?- The Wonders of the Holy Tongue

There are three verses in our Parasha containing similar words – all rendered by the Targumim with the Aramaic word שרי – “beginning”:

Gen. 8:1 – וַיָּחֶל another seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. 

Gen. 9:20 – And Noah וַיָּחֶל to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. 

Gen. 10:8 – And Kush fathered Nimrod; he הֵחֵל on earth to be a mighty one. 

Radak (Gen. 9:20) cites other scriptural examples of the word in the sense of beginning, and numerous others exist (e.g. Gen. 44:12, Deut. 16:9, Jud. 10:18, 16:22, 20:40, I Sam. 22:15, Jonah 3:4).

In contrast, Onkelus and Rashi interpret וַיָּחֶל in the first verse (8:1) to mean “he waited.” Rashi brings a proof-text from Job 29:21 (and many more could be cited with this import, e.g. Jud. 3:25, I Sam. 10:8, Ps. 147:11, Job 32:11).

Upon reflection though, these two interpretations are virtual opposites; “beginning” implies progressing, starting anew, whereas “waiting” and “delaying” signify sluggishness! 

An answer can be found in the closeness of two of the meanings of the related root יחל,waiting and anticipating. Indeed, these two meanings often overlap, and at times interpretation can go either way (e.g. Ez. 13:6 + Rashi, Ps. 42:6 + Rashi, Job 29:21 + Ralbag, Is. 51:5 + Malbim). The type of anticipation that יחל refers to would therefore be a passive one, i.e. trusting and waiting for Hashem’s salvation, to open a new path, a new beginning. 

In Jud. 13:5, the birth of Samson is foretold: “and he יחל to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” Here, all the commentators agree that the word simply means “he will begin.” Yet, the Talmud (Sota 10a) interprets this as a reference to the “cancellation” of the oath made to Avimelech by Abraham (Gen. 21:23) that the latter would live peacefully with the Philistines (the annulment being due to the Philistines ipso facto cancelling their part of the bargain by oppressing the Israelites).  Rashi (Sota ibid.) comments that יחל has the same import here as “he shall not יחל his word” (Num. 30:3) – meaning cancellation.

So, too, we find the word הוחל interpreted by many (e.g. Rashbam, Ibn Ezra) as referring to beginning, as in Gen. 4:26: then הוחל to call upon the Lord by name; whereas the Sages (Mid. Aggada [Buber] Gen. 4:26) interpret the word as cancellation. Instead of “beginning” to call out in the Name of Hashem, they “desisted” from this! 

One final example of disparate interpretations of the word is in Hosea 8:10: “Now will I gather them, and in a little while they will וַיָּחֵלּוּ  at the burden of a king and princes.” Radak explains this to mean “beginning”. But once again, the Talmud (BB 8a) explains this in the sense of “desisting” (as per Rashi’s commentary to the talmudic passage). 

We suggest the the opposite meanings of this word fit a pattern of דבר והיפוכו, “a thing and its opposite” found so often in the Holy Tongue. That is, a solitary action can bring about disparate and even opposite results. As cited above, the usual Targum of “beginning” is שרי, a term also meaning opening, untying or allowing. While these actions can be positive, they can also be negative. For example, untying a knot to be able to use the rope for a different purpose, means foregoing the purpose the knot has served until now. So, too, one who makes a hole in a wall in order to construct a window or door has indeed made a new opening, but in the meantime the once solid wall is now allowing in cold, rain, burglars, etc. 

We נוחילה pray that Hashem bring us good  התחלותbeginnings; that He cause יחולל the new year to bring us blessing and that He יחל cancel the evil designs our enemies wish upon us and the חילול desecration of His Name once and for all!

1  “שרי” הוא התרגום הרגיל  להתחלה, למשל: ת”א בר’ ו:א, מד:יב; במ’ כה:א; דב’ טז:ט. ת”י שופ’ כ:מ, ש”א כב:טו.

2  תרגוםירושלמי – וּשְׁרֵי לְמִימְנֵי.

3  תא – ושרי נח גבר פלח בארעא ונצב כרמא.

4  תא – הוּא שָׁרֵי לְמֶהֱוֵי גיבר בארעא.

5  ברט:כ – וַיָּחֶל נֹחַ אִישׁ הָאֲדָמָה; רדק– ויחל – תחלה, כמו: החל לבנות (ש”א יד), אחל תת פחדך (דב’ ב), החל להיות גבור (בר’ י).

6  ברמד:יב – וַיְחַפֵּשׂ בַּגָּדוֹל הֵחֵל וּבַקָּטֹן כִּלָּה.

7  דבטז:ט – שִׁבְעָה שָׁבֻעֹת תִּסְפָּר לָךְ מֵהָחֵל חֶרְמֵשׁ בַּקָּמָה. 

8  שופי:יח – אֲשֶׁר יָחֵל לְהִלָּחֵם בִּבְנֵי עַמּוֹן. 

9  שופטז:כב – וַיָּחֶל שְׂעַר רֹאשׁוֹ לְצַמֵּחַ. 

1שופכ:מ – וְהַמַּשְׂאֵת הֵחֵלָּה.

1שאכב:טו – הַיּוֹם הַחִלֹּתִי לִשְׁאָל לוֹ בֵאלֹהִים. 

1יונהג:ד – וַיָּחֶל יוֹנָה לָבוֹא.

1תא – ואוריך עוד שבעא יומין אחרנין. “אוריך” הוא התרגום הרגיל של  ישיבהוהמתנה, כמו: ברכב:ה – שְׁבוּ לָכֶם פֹּה; תא – אוריכו לכון הכא. ראה גם שמ’ כד:יד, במ’ ט:ח, ט:יט, כב:ח.

1רשי – ויחל – לשון המתנה, וכן: לי שמעו ויחלו (איוב כט:כא), והרבה יש במקרא. 

1שופג:כה – וַיָּחִילוּ עַד בּוֹשׁ; תי – וְאוֹרִיכוּ עַד סַגִי; מצצ – ויחילו – המתינו, כמו: ויחל עוד (בר’ ח). 

1שאי:ח – שִׁבְעַת יָמִים תּוֹחֵל עַד בּוֹאִי אֵלֶיךָ; תי – שַׁבְעָא יוֹמִין תּוֹרִיךְ עַד מֵיתֵי לְוָתָךְ; רשי – תוחל – תמתין.

1תהקמז:יא – אֶת הַמְיַחֲלִים לְחַסְדּוֹ; תרגוםית דמוריכין לטוביה.

1איובלב:יא – הֵן הוֹחַלְתִּי לְדִבְרֵיכֶם; רלבג – הוחלתי – המתנתי; תרגום – הא אוריכית לפתגמיכון.

19 According to Radak’s lexicographical system. 

2יחזיג:ו – וְיִחֲלוּ לְקַיֵּם דָּבָר; רשי – לשון תוחלת…, לשון אחר לשון המתנה. 

2תהמב:ו – הוֹחִילִי לֵאלֹהִים; רשי – הוחילי – המתיני וצפי. 

2איובכט:כא – שָׁמְעוּ וְיִחֵלּוּ;רלבג – ויחלו – וימתינו ויקוו. 

2ישענא:ה – וְאֶל זְרֹעִי יְיַחֵלוּן; מלבים – המיחל, מצפה על זמן מוגבל… ולכן מצאנוהו על המתנה: ויחל ז’ ימים (בר’ ח), שבעת ימים תוחיל (ש”א י:ח).

24  ומכאן גם לשון בקשה, כמו: שביח:יד – לֹא כֵן אֹחִילָה לְפָנֶיךָ; מצצ – אוחילה – אבקש, כמו: אחלי אדוני (מ”ב ה:ג). מאיג:ו – וַיְחַל אִישׁ הָאֱלֹהִים אֶת פְּנֵי ה’; תי – וְצַלִי נְבִיָא דַיָי קֳדָם יְיָ; מצצ – חל – ענין בקשה כמו ויחל משה (שמות לב). מלאכיא:ט – וְעַתָּה חַלּוּ נָא פְנֵי אֵל; מצצ – חלו – ענין תפלה כמו ויחל משה (שמ’ לב). ירכו:יט – וַיְחַל אֶת פְּנֵי ה’; תי – וְצַלֵי קָדָם יְיָ.

2שופטיםיג:ה – וְהוּא יָחֵל לְהוֹשִׁיעַ אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל; תי – הוא ישרי למפרק ית ישראל; מצצ – יחל – יתחיל. 

26  מהד’ שוטנשטיין בשם מהרש”א: שבועתו של אברהם אבינו לאבימלך, מלך פלשתים. והיא בוטלה משום שכוונת השבועה היתה שלא ימשול אחד על השני, תנאי שהופר ע”י הפלשתים פעם אחרי פעם, וגם בימי שמשון.

2ברד:כו – אָז הוּחַל לִקְרֹא בְּשֵׁם ה’; רשבם – אז הוחל לקרא בשם י”י – לשון התחלה שהתחיל להתפלל; אבע – אז הוחל – מבעלי הכפל מלשון ‘תחלה’.

2מדרשאגדה (בובר) בראשיתד:כו – ד”א הוחל. התבטל, כמו: לא יחל דברו (במ’ ל:ג), כתרגומו לא יבטל.

29  וכן הוא דעת רבינו יונה, שפירשו כלשון  חלילה – היינו מניעה וביטול: שעריתשובהשערג:ריב – רוח צפון תחולל גשם ופנים נזעמים לשון סתר (משלי כה:כג)… “תחולל” מלשון חלילה, וכן: לא יחל דברו (במ’ ל:ג) – לא יבטל. וכן: אז הוחל לקרא (בר’ ד:כו) – אז נמנע. וראה גם הכוה”ק לבר’ ד:כו. ועי’ חזקוני, הדר זקנים ומלבי”ם לבמ’ ל:ג.

3בבאבתראח. – ויחלו מעט… פסוק זה בלשון ארמית נאמר, אי תנו כולהו – עתה אקבצם, ואם מעט מהם – יחלו ממשא מלך ושרים; רשי – יחלו ממשא מלך ושרים יהיו בטלים מלשאת משא מלך ושרים, יחלו, כמו: לא יחל דברו (במדבר ל).