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Ta'anis 7

TA'ANIS 6 & 7 - dedicated by Dovid and Zahava Rubner of Petach Tikva l'Iluy Nishmas his late mother, Mrs. Seren Rubner. May Hashem grant all of her offspring with joy, fulfillment, and all that they need!


The Gemara quotes a verse which compares Torah to water (Yeshayah 55:1). The Gemara explains that Torah is compared to water, because just like water naturally flows from a high place to a low place, the Torah goes away from those who are "high" (conceited) and remains with those who are humble. The BEN YEHOYADA (in SEFER BENAYAHU) shows how this concept is alluded to in the order of the Hebrew alphabet. The word for the letter "Mem" can be spelled Mem-Yud-Mem, which also spells the word "Mayim," water. Hence, the letter Mem alludes to water.

The letter that precedes Mem is Lamed. The Lamed is the tallest of all of the letters of the alphabet. The letters that follow Mem are Nun and Samech. When spelled out in full, the word "Nun" is spelled Nun-Vav-Nun, and the word "Samech" is spelled "Samech-Mem-Chaf. The "hidden" (Nistar) letters of those words (meaning the letters of its written name that are not seen when the alphabetical letter alone is written) are Vav-Nun (of the word "Nun") and Mem-Chaf (of the word "Samech"). Together, these four letters spell the word "Namuch," which is the word the Gemara uses to refer to the humble person to whom Torah flows like water.

Thus, the order of the letters in the alphabet show how water ("Mem") leaves a high place (it turns away from the "Lamed") and proceeds towards the lowly, humble place -- the place which is "Namuch (which is alluded to in the letters Nun-Samech which follow it in the Alef-Beit)!"

We can add to the Ben Yehoyada's insights that the attribute of height is alluded to in the letter Lamed very differently than the attribute of lowliness is alluded to in the letters Nun and Samech. The Lamed's height is apparent even at first glance, for the very shape of the letter is taller than the rest. In contrast, the lowliness of the Nun and Samech is apparent only in the letters which are *hidden* in the words "Nun" and "Samech." Moreover, their attribute of "Namuch" is split between two letters.

These differences allude to fact that the tall Lamed represents the haughty person, who tries to be conspicuous and prominent, just like the letter Lamed. Its height is reflected in a single letter, signifying that the haughty person views himself as unique and above everyone else, and he prefers to do things by himself. (This is the reason the Gemara spoke so sternly about the scholars who "learn by themselves"). In contrast, the person who is "Namuch" is modest, and he always tries to remain hidden from view (Nistar). Furthermore, the word Namuch is split into two letters because the humble person does not seek to do things by himself but prefers to work together with others ("Two Talmidei Chachamim who sharpen each other...").

The Gemara in Chagigah 15b explains that the evil Do'ag and Achitofel asked four hundred question on the subject of "a tower flying in the air." According to one explanation of Rashi, this means that they expounded on the upper portion of the letter "Lamed," which looks like a tower rising over the other letters of the Alef Beis. Perhaps the Gemara is hinting that their downfall came about through their arrogant behavior -- they identified with the tall Lamed (rather than with the lowly Mem or Nun-Samech). (M. Kornfeld)


AGADAH: The Gemara says that a day on which rain falls is like the day that the heavens and earth were created. Even salvation comes on a day of rain. What makes a rainy day so special? (See Insights to 2a)

Perhaps the Gemara is referring to the rain that came immediately after Creation, as mentioned in Bereishis (2:6). Rashi on the Torah (Bereishis 2:5) explains that even after the world was created, including the trees and vegetation, the trees and grasses had not yet appeared on the surface of the earth; they were underneath the surface waiting to grow. When Adam ha'Rishon was created, he saw that the world needed rain and he prayed for rain and the rain came down. At that point, all growing things sprouted and the Creation of the world was completed. Thus, the final touch of Creation was the coming of the rain which brought about the sprouting of the plants from the earth. Since rain materialized the Creation (which had been only potential until that point), it is considered as great as the Creation.

The second statement of the Gemara, that salvation (Yeshu'ah) comes on a day of rain, may be explained in a similar manner. "Salvation" might refer to the final Redemption of Techiyas ha'Mesim, as in the verse, "Let the earth open and salvation grow from it." (Techiyas ha'Mesim grows from the earth, see Insights to Daf 6:1:c. ) Even when it is time for Techiyas ha'Mesim, the Techiyah does not actually occur until Hashem brings down rain, which then causes the resurrection to begin. Therefore, the rainfall of Techiyas ha'Mesim, since it materializes the Techiyah, is as great as the Techiyah itself. (M. Kornfeld)

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