Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Degel Machaneh Ephraim On Rosh Chodesh Nisan

(Picture by Uri Wagner)

Excerpt from Degel Machaneh Ephraim, Parshas Bo:

Why is the month of Nisan called the Chodesh ha-Aviv (the month of Spring)?

We can explain this by way of the verse in Mishlei 8:15 "Bi Melachim Yimlochu" - through Me kings shall rule. There are 12 mazalos (zodiac signs) which correspond to the 12 months. These in turn have 12 corresponding combinations of the spelling of the four letter name of Hashem (YH"VH) which rules over each month.

The zodiac constellations influence the decisions and actions of the kings and rulers that are decided by way of these letter combinations. This is alluded to in the first word in the verse in Mishlei , "Bi" that is spelled with a yud and bet and equals the number 12, corresponding to the number of letter combinations of the Divine four letter Name. This verse can then be read as: "Bi Melachim Yimlochu - through the 12 combinations of the Divine Name, kings shall rule."

Therefore the month of Aviv which is Nisan, is the head of the year. It is the Rosh haShana for kings. This is because the combination of the four letter Divine Name is in order on the month of Nisan (YH"VH). It is the "Av" (father) of all other possible combinations which are all "born" from that initial order.

I heard from my grandfather (the holy Baal Shem Tov) that he once said on Rosh Chodesh Nisan to the famous Maggid from Tortshin,

"Now at this moment we must pray, because the first of Nisan is the Rosh haShana for kings, and all the "sarim" (angelic leaders) are appointed as to how well they shall rule over the world, and just now they appointed angelic leaders which are not good and extremely detrimental to our cause, therefore now is the time to pray."


This is what I heard from his holy mouth.

-
Translation by Rabbi Tal Zwecker

10 Comments:

At March 20, 2007 at 11:08:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Talmid said...

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I heard from my grandfather (the holy Baal Shem Tov) that he once said on Rosh Chodesh Nisan to the famous Maggid from Tortshin,

"Now at this moment we must pray, because the first of Nisan is the Rosh haShana for kings, and all the "sarim" (angelic leaders) are appointed as to how well they shall rule over the world, and just now they appointed angelic leaders which are not good and extremely detrimental to our cause, therefore now is the time to pray."
--------------------------
I would say that we should all take at least a few minutes to pray for the same reasons. I don't have the same inside information like the holy Baal Shem Tov, but it would seem based on all the tzoros we have that there are "sarim" that are detrimental to us.

 
At March 20, 2007 at 3:11:00 PM EDT, Anonymous shoshana (bershad) said...

I wonder whether anyone reading this would care to comment about kabbalistic astrology.

Are there references to it in the Torah?

Any recommended readings (in English)?

 
At March 20, 2007 at 3:22:00 PM EDT, Anonymous shoshana (bershad) said...

To answer my own question (in part), I found an interesting discussion here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_views_of_astrology

But I would still like to hear what others say on this subject.

Is this aspect taken more seriously by Chassidim than by other branches of Judaism?

How is it related to faith in segulas?

 
At March 21, 2007 at 1:24:00 AM EDT, Blogger Neil Harris said...

While it's a bit too kabbalistic for me, this passage from the DME is very interesting. I had never thought about the connection between Aviv and "Av" (father). It sheds light on the fact that Rosh Chodesh Nisan was also the day of the inauguration of the Mishkan. Rosh Chodesh itself is also the first mitzvah given to B'nai Yisroel.

Alright, I loved this post b/c my Hebrew name is...Nisan! :)

 
At March 21, 2007 at 4:38:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Shoshana (Bershad): I am glad you answered your own question ;)

Neil: What struck me about this piece was the Baal Shem Tov's saying at the end. From the piece above you can see how the Degel had a unique way at looking at the parsha and breaking it down bit by bit to extract the hidden layers of meaning - some of which are even too deep for my simple mind to comprehend.

 
At March 21, 2007 at 6:53:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I GUESS THE BEIS AHRON(RAV AHRON KARLINER) HAS A SIMILAR SHTIKLE WHERE HE SAY AVIV IS THE AV OF YUD BEIS THE TWELVE MONTHS OF THE YEAR HENCE SPELLING AVIV

 
At March 21, 2007 at 8:53:00 PM EDT, Anonymous A Yid said...

Astrology (itztagninus) is definetely recognized in Yiddishkayt like a valid wisdom, the most open obvious of which is presented in Seyfer Yetziro. However its usage is viewed differently from goyim.

Astrology is legitimate for estimating personality and qualities of the character, however it is totally wrong to use it for predictions. And even the first - can't limit Klal Yisroel, as one has an obligation to overcome his own negative qualities turning them into good.

 
At March 21, 2007 at 9:07:00 PM EDT, Anonymous A Yid said...

Also, in connection to this quote from the Degel look in the introduction to "Maggid Dvorov leYakov" from the Mezhericher Maggid zy"o, written by his talmid Reb Shloyme Lutzker zy"o. You'll find it interesting.

 
At March 22, 2007 at 10:51:00 AM EDT, Anonymous shoshana (bershad) said...

A Yid: you always enlighten me! When you used the term "itztagninus," I googled it and found an interesting blog article: http://yediah.blogspot.com/2006/05/astrology-and-magic-ramban-and-rambam.html. I've also been reading about Sefer Yetzirah. I know little about kabbalah, and while I'm skeptical about medieval astrology, I'm trying to understand how modern-day Jews make it relevant to their lives.

 
At March 22, 2007 at 11:38:00 AM EDT, Anonymous A Yid said...

I saw the article, but I don't think the auuthor understood the Rambam correctly.

Anyway, itztagninus in acknowledged by Chaza"l, and no one can deny it. Astrology is much more ancient wisdom than medieval times. I once saw somewhere an article on this subject from Reb Arye Kaplan za"l. (But I don't remember now where I saw it). He said, that while there are not many today amongst chachomim who know itztagninus seriously, there are such individuals. But its usage as I said is limited for personality analysis. What it wrong, is to use it for predictions.

Also, while we say, that ein mazal leYisroel, meaning that Yidn are above the influence of mazoloys (or like Baal Shem Tov says, that the chiyus for Klal Yisroel comes from Ayin, which is our "mazal") - this is not at all this simple. It very much depends on the spiritual level. Even Yidn can fall under the influence of the mazoloys, if the fall in the spiritual level. What is stressed - that tfilo can help to overcome it, but it is wrong to dismiss the influence of mazoloys as altogether irrelevant.

Chasidus and Kabolo explain, that the chius (life force, existence) comes to the world through the number of levels. One of them are certain malochim (sorim), who are related to mazoloys (canstellations). If this is bypassed - than we say "eyn mazal leYisroel", however if we fall under this way of getting our existence - it can change.

 

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