Daf Yomi

For the week ending 13 August 2005 / 8 Av 5765

Shabbat 100 - 106

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • Carrying from water or from something on it
  • Throwing into a pit or at a wall, against the wind, in the ocean and from ships
  • Atonement ramifications for unfinished throwing
  • Forbidden labors connected with construction and agriculture
  • Right and wrong writing
  • The secret lessons of Hebrew alphabet
  • Forbidden labors connected with making clothes
  • Rending of garments as expression of mourning
  • The danger of anger
  • Eulogy for a Torah scholar
  • When destruction is considered creative
  • Trapping living creatures

Lessons of the Letters

  • Shabbat 104a

The letters of the alphabet of Lashon Hakodesh the holy tongue of Hebrew are no ordinary letters. Important lessons can be learned not only from the words they form but from the shape of each letter and its relation to the letter which follows it in the alphabet.

This was demonstrated by some scholars referred to in our gemara as "children" but identified in the Jerusalem Talmud as Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua of an earlier generation who provided fascinating interpretations regarding the names and shapes of all the letters. Following are some examples:

"Aleph" "Bet" the first letters (which, incidentally, serve as the source for the world "alphabet") stand for "Alef Binah" which is a command to learn the source of wisdom, the Torah, which is formed from all these letters. Then come "Gimmel" "Daled" which stand for the words "Gemol Dalim" assist the needy. But why does the foot of the Gimmel reach out towards the Daled? Because it is the caring character of the benefactor to pursue the opportunity to help the poor. And why does the roof of the Daled extend back to the Gimmel? To teach the poor man to have consideration for his benefactor and make it easy for him to reach him. And why does the Daled face away from the Gimmel? To teach the benefactor the importance of providing his assistance in a secret fashion to avoid embarrassing the recipient.

The reason such interpretations can be made, points out Maharsha, is that the letters of the Torah, in varying permutations, form the Divine Names and therefore have an innate sanctity and convey a hidden wisdom.

What the Sages Say

"One who in anger tears his clothes, smashes a vessel or tosses away his money should be viewed as if he is already an idol worshipper. For this is the strategy of the yetzer hara (evil inclination) today he urges one to do this, tomorrow something else until he finally succeeds in getting him to worship idols."
Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri

  • Shabbat 105b

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