Vayikra (Leviticus) Chapter 25
1 The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai: 2 Speak to the Israelite people and say to them:
When you enter the land that I assign to you, the land shall observe a sabbath of the Lord. 3 Six years you may sow your field and six years you may prune your vineyard and gather in the yield. 4 But in the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath of complete rest, a sabbath of the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. 5 You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your untrimmed vines; it shall be a year of complete rest for the land. 6 But you may eat whatever the land during its sabbath will produce — you, your male and female slaves, the hired and bound laborers who live with you, 7 and your cattle and the beasts in your land may eat all its yield.
(1) If Judaism had sports jerseys, the number “7” would be on all of them. 7 days of the week (we rest on the 7th day), 7 species of native fruits in Israel, 7 blessings under the huppah . . . the list goes on. This week’s parasha talks about the agricultural sabbatical year (the 7th year of a 7 year cycle of planting where the Torah implores us to allow our fields to rest. Sound gardening, from what I understand).
It is amazing what you can find on the internet late at night just by typing the number 7 into Google. There are some interesting findings of the renown mathematician Ivan Panin. A Christian, Ivan was an avid student of the bible, and knew biblical Hebrew fluently. Also a mathematician, he began experimenting with the numerical values of the Hebrew alphabet, replacing the letters of the Torah with their corresponding numbers. In the first verse alone Ivan discovered patterns of the number 7. The first verse of Torah contains 7 words and 28 letters – a multiple of 7. “Bereisheet barah Elohim et ha-shamayim ve-et ha-aretz…” The only verb in that sentence is “barah” – “created”. Its numerical value is 203 – a multiple of 7 (7×29), and the combined numeric value of the three nouns in the verse, “Elohim (God), ha-shamayim (Heaven), and ha-Aretz (Earth) is 777 (7×111). Creation, God, Heaven and Earth.
Many devout people attempt to use this kind of numerology (gematria) to justify their belief in the Divinity of the Torah. I just think its kind of cool. For me, the Divinity of the Torah is it’s continued use as the central text of our faith in every Jewish community on the planet, but that’s for another post.
(2) Now here’s a thought: why don’t parents get a sabbatical? Clearly, taking a year off every seven years, while a nice fantasy, is not realistic. But I was thinking that metaphorically, our children are our garden, and they could use a break from us every once in a while, in addition to us needing to recharge. Theoretically Shabbat is a day of rest for everybody. *Ahem*. Not. So what if every seven weeks we made a special date with our spouses, or an overnight at a hotel? Or perhaps in July or Tishrei (the 7th month of the Gregorian and Jewish calendars, respectively), each parent made a special effort to give the other one a weekend off? Or even a week off? Just sayin’.
(3) Lag B’omer upsherin of my nephew Chanina. I won’t be at the hair-cutting itself, but I will cry, buckets, when I see him. He is so freaking beautiful:
Look at that hair. You should see him when it’s dry (the second picture is after a bath). My brother calls it “Yidfro”. Upsherin is a wonderful custom, and also has agricultural association. Perhaps yet another post :-)