Monday, June 26, 2017

Aleph-Bet of Family

Your four ALPHA relatives to whom you are closest in your primary/formative years all start with ALEPH א:


Of course, just as primary is G-d, א-ל, Who also starts with ALEPH. (Tehllim 22:11 “מבטן אמי א-לי אתה”)
Of course, your Alpha sense of self, your אני, is heavily influenced by your relationship with these five alphas.

Then there are your BETA relatives (who start with BET ב)


They are secondary. Like the בי"ת of בראשית ברא, you “created” them.

Then there are נו"ן descendants who perpetuate your scion. (ינון שמו)


(נו"ן often reflects perpetuation, as per a recent comment made by David Kolinsky. And נון in Aramaic means fish, which often symbolize propagation. וידגו לרוב בקרב הארץ)

To break it down beyond the Aleph & Bet:

Father, אב, is the progenitor. אב is fertility, greenness, fruitfulness. Your conception was thanks to his desire (אבה) to plant his seed. (אב from אבה -- David Kolinsky)

Mother, אם, is the source of life, like מים. The מקור from which you emerged. אם means ever present (as אם with אל"ף חרוקה means “if” the condition is present, and עם means to be “with,” ever present. מים is ubiquitous liquid – David Kolinsky) and a mother is ever present with her child.

בי"ת and מ"ם are both אותיות בומ"פ, from the lips, שפתיים. Lips are the opening of the mouth, the very first organs of speech (from the outside looking in). אד-ני שפתי תפתח ופי יגיד תהלתיך. The lips of the gift of speech come from your mother & father. In your earliest infancy, you carefully studied their lips when they spoke. You nursed from your Mom with your lips. It is appropriate that their prominent names are pronounced from your lips.

In particular, בי"ת (as in בא, & also metathesis of אב) means to enter into, while מ"ם means to be from her. Your אבא comes and goes in your life, but your אמא is a constant. She’s where you’re from.  You waited for your Dad to come home, but your Mom was always with (עם) you (or you were always with her).

To elaborate a bit on the lip-letter idea above:

The maternal אם has nasal bilabial מ"ם, even more natural and organic than the non-nasal בי"ת of אב. That’s because your relationship with your אמא is natural and inherent. You are part of her from your earliest sentient state, plus she was your sole source of nourishment even after you left her womb. The sound “mmm” in English reflects something instinctively delicious or nourishing. As you sucked with your lips, your nose remained open for you to breathe. So bilabial nasal מ"ם reflects the unique mom/nursling symbiotic relationship. And even after you were weaned, מים with two mems remain your source of life, and the source of everything yummy & nourishing. (“מים מצמיחים כל מיני תענוג”, Tanya ch 1).

Your אבא, on the other hand, was a bit detached from you. He was not your food or your lifeline. He was very much an outsider while your mom carried & later nursed you. So he gets a nasal-obstructed בי"ת. He is certainly responsible for your entry (בא) into this world, even if in a detached way. Furthermore, you heard his voice regularly as you developed inside your Mom’s womb for nine months. Even afterwards, as you grew, you hopefully learned how important it is to listen to his voice (and mom’s voice too). So he at least gets a voiced bilabial בי"ת, and not a voiceless bilabial פ"א.

One last thought on the maternal מ"ם and paternal בי"ת: “Mm” is the sound you make when your mouth is still shut, as long as your nostrils are open, and can be synchronized with your exhaling, while “Bb” is a sound you can make only once you open your mouth. Perhaps this is symbolic to the notion that your quintessential soul (נשמה שנפחת בי) identifies with your iMMa. ויפח באפיו נשמת חיים.[1] Your aBBa does not pertain to your nostrils or your breathing, your innermost נשמה, but only the “outer” aspects of your identity symbolized by your open mouth.

Brother is אח because the single-letter root חי"ת means settled and at ease, like נחת (– Rabbi Jeremy Steinberg). The biliteral אח also reflects a sense of unity of two disparate individuals who share common ancestry and fraternity. לאחות means to evenly mend a torn fabric. You hopefully feel more at ease with your brother and sister than anyone else.

The בי"ת of your בן and בת reflect the בי"ת of your own fatherhood, the product of your own becoming an אב. The fruit of your desire.

In particular, בן is a builder (בנה), building your progeny and patrilineal dynasty. Boys are future builders, as the זכר “builds” and cultivates ("בעל") the נקבה, who in turn becomes built (pregnant) and houses (בית) the fetus.

That’s why בת is a בית of sorts, and the daughter will someday make a house of her own (ויעש להן בתים) by bearing children.

The נו"ן of בן indicates perpetuation (ינון שמו), to perpetuate one’s patrilineal name and “build” an edifice of future progeny. The תי"ו of בת is a demarcation and a chamber (תא) that creates space for a home and hosts its dweller.

On the other hand, the תי"ו indicates a demarcation of the limits & end of property. Your בת may have borne your name and tribal/familial affiliation, but her offspring did not (at least not in ancient times, and not according to contemporary halacha either). So she represented an end of sorts.

But that is not a bad thing! In fact, her being a בת makes her uniquely capable of creating a בית, a home, what happens when the בת houses the inner יו"ד, the Divine, the symbol of the ever-present and the future. (יו"ד conjugates future-tense verbs and also הווה תמיד, as in ככה יעשה איוב כל הימים).

In a previous post, we theorized that biliteral בת (and בט) might mean nullification and cessation, or negation of self (בטול). Can בת, the name of female offspring of humanity, be symbolic of a woman’s sacrifice and selflessness in making her home? Her entire identity becomes one with her child, and her own body becomes his earliest life source. Indeed, she is his cradle and incubator, nutrition, hydration and jacuzzi, all in one. She is her fetus’ entire world.

She becomes a walking house for her young, a new life. This awesome role becomes her entire existence.

In that sense, perhaps your בת captures the essence of who you are, a human being created to house the Divine, the Source of all Life. Your non-essential aspects, like your patrilineal family name or tribal affiliation, are not passed on through the בת, but the essence of your humanity is. It is this essence that is expressed only in your own home, where you feel comfortable just to be you, where no one cares about your surname or station in life. וַיַּעֲשֵׂהוּ כְּתַבְנִית אִישׁ כְּתִפְאֶרֶת אָדָם לָשֶׁבֶת בָּיִת (Isaiah 44:13), translated in Targum Yonasan: “וְעָבֵיד לֵיהּ כִּדְמוּת גְבַר כְּתוּשְׁבְּחַת אִתְּתָא לְמֵיתַּב בְּבֵיתָא”. Fascinating how “איש” is interpreted to mean man, and “אדם” (the quintessential name of humankind – see Malbim) is interpreted to mean woman.

So in a sense, the בן might be a builder, but he is just a means to an end. The בת is the בית herself, the ends for which the world was created: to house the Divine. The בית domicile is a domain exclusive to the בת, the place where the בת was always dominant, in ancient civilization perhaps in a more practical sense, and nowadays in a spiritual sense. "ביתו זו אשתו". Also, דביתא means “wife” in Aramaic,  which seems to translate to “of the house.”

The נו"ן of perpetuation in בן is reflected in the first letters of נכד and נין (just as the בי"ת of אב is reflected in the first letters of בן and בת), but perhaps the תי"ו of בת reflects an end and sense of ultimate purpose, (as opposed to a נו"ן which serves as line from one point to the next, from above to below or from former to latter).

This might be why our Sages taught that the Torah was offered/given first to women. כה תאמר לבית יעקב ותגד לבני ישראל. The “house of Jacob” (בית יעקב) is interpreted to mean women, while the “sons of Israel” (בני ישראל) means men. The בַּיִת is the end product, the purpose, and hence it prioritized before the builders בֹּנִים.

Just as בת might be etymologically related to בט of בטול, negation or transparency, perhaps the word בית is as well. A בית relates to בטול as well, since a home is completely בטל to, or in total consonance with, and transparent to, the dweller. Its entire existence enables the dweller to be “himself” and genuinely consistent with his innermost identity. As such, the “home” doesn’t conceal the dweller, but allows him to be fully revealed within its sacred space.

Our sages taught that G-d created the Cosmos because He desired a “home,” as it were.  Tanya states: מודעת זאת מאמר רז"ל, שתכלית בריאת עולם הזה הוא שנתאוה הקב"ה להיות לו דירה בתחתונים.[3] The ultimate purpose of Creation, is because the Holy One blessed be He desired a home for Himself in this lowest realm.

Perhaps the idea of the world being a “home” to house the Divine is hinted to in the biliteral root בת in the word בית, as though its entire existence is to feel like naught or בטל , totally transparent, in the presence of its Divine Dweller Who will someday become fully revealed in His “house.” כתפארת אדם לשבת בית. As the Prophets state concerning the Era of Moshiach, וראו כל בשר יחדיו כי פי ה' דיבר, and [4]"כי עין בעין יראו וגו'", לא יהיה לך עוד השמש לאור יומם וגו' כי ה' יהיה לך לאור עולם וגו"[5]

Perhaps the בי"ת of בית is reflected in the בי"ת of your בן and your בת. Indeed, although your Alpha relatives are primary in your formative years, and your interactions with them at that developmental time was most influential to who you are today, you eventually move away from these relatives to create a home of your own. על כן יעזב איש את אביו ואת אמו, ודבק באשתו והיו לבשר אחד. Note that בשר is with a בי"ת, indicating that your spouse is indeed “other”, separate and distinct from you, and yet together you create one organism, בשר אחד, one child, בן or בת. Indeed, it is in how you treat your “others”, your Beta offspring, that reflects your purpose in this world, the extent of the affect you have on the World of otherness. And it is from this בי"ת (duality or otherness) that one finally feels at home. And effectively, your Creator then feels at home.

There is an Aramaic word בת that’s used just once in TaNaCh, in Daniel 6:19: “אֱדַיִן אֲזַל מַלְכָּא לְהֵיכְלֵהּ וּבָת טְוָת”. “Then the king went to his palace and retired while fasting.” The word "ובת" means he “spent the night”, like לן in Hebrew.[6] It’s also used throughout the Talmud with a similar meaning. In Daniel, it specifically means he spent the night in his own palace. It means “retiring for the night” in one’s own home in numerous places in the Talmud as well[7] (as opposed to certain exceptions in Gemara where it means to “lodge” anywhere, even in an open field[8], or as in “מיא דביתו”, Aramaic for “מים שלנו”.[9]) Perhaps the idea of בת lodging (especially in one’s own home) overnight relates to making somewhere your home בית, at least for this night.[10]

And now perhaps we have yet another hint in the word שבת, Shabbat, since in Mishnaic Hebrew, שבת can also mean spending the Sabbath somewhere, which necessitates settling (שב as a biliteral) down and spending the night too.[11] On Shabbat, we are required to “feel at home” exactly where we are.[12] Perhaps when the Torah says that “G-d rested,” “וישבות אלקים ביום השביעי”, it connotes that He “felt at home” in His world, and therefore ceased His creative labors.

Perhaps Shabbat is a dual-function. The world finally feels at home with G-d because it embraces its core, its inherent “non-existence” (בטול – see previous post) and total transparency before its infinite Creator, “כולא קמי' כלא חשיב”. Consequently, the Creator “feels at home” (כביכול) in His world, thus fulfilling the purpose of Creation, “that the Holy One blessed be He, desired a dwelling place in this lowest realm.”[13]

For the past few generations, we have heard about the so-called “generation gap,” the impassible and ever-widening divide between parents and their children in modern times. Of course, this is indicated in the בי"ת, the “other” and secondary nature of בנים ובנות, children, your Beta relatives. It is no wonder that their choices often feel foreign or “other” to you, especially after they’ve left the nest.

You may recall the words of the famous Shabbos hymn, “השומר שבת הבן עם בת לא-ל ירצו כמנחה על מחבת” – “One who observes the Shabbat, (with) the son with the daughter, to G-d it will be pleasing like a peace-offering.” Perhaps the message is, if you observe Shabbat with your family, if G-d feels at home (בית) in your home, your relationship with your son and your daughter (הבן עם הבת) will indeed be pleasing, to all of you and to G-d, like a מנחה offering (which implies being at ease, מנוחה).

שבת also contains “שב”, returning. By keeping Shabbat, we keep “retuning” to feeling at home, no matter how diverse or splintered our work weeks had been.

To conclude today’s discussion of Biblical Hebrew names for close family members, the biggest take-home message is: keep Shabbos! And remember that more than you can ever keep Shabbat, Shabbat will keep you, and will keep your home intact!

Indeed, observance of Shabbat is a vital and integral way to make your home בית a safe-haven where you, your spouse (דביתהו) and your children (בן & בת) all truly feel at home, at home with themselves and at home with HaShem.

In the merit of strengthening our Shabbat observance, may HaShem send us Elijah the Prophet, who “will return the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents.”
וְהֵשִׁיב לֵב אָבוֹת עַל בָּנִים וְלֵב בָּנִים עַל אֲבוֹתָם[14]
May it be speedily in our days!

[1] It should be pointed out that אף nostril is also א primary and פ bilabial. Perhaps that’s a nod to the life-force that comes from HaShem, embodied and symbolized by your breathing, ויפח באפיו נשמת חיים, as פ"א רפויה can sound like the sound of exhaling (or inhaling). Hence all three partners in your existence are hinted to as a bilabial consonant following the primary אל"ף: 1) your אב, 2) your אם, 3) your Creator, felt every time you breathe through your nostrils, אף.
[2] Always appears with possessive pronoun, like דביתהו, “his wife,” which would presumably translate as “of his house.”
[3] Tanya chapter 36, quoting from Tanchuma Naso 16.
[4] ישעיהו נב ח
[5] ישעיהו ס יט
[6] פרש"י ומצו"צ שם
[7] פסחים קז,א, תענית כד,ב, ועוד
[8] ברכות ס,ב
[9] “Water that was kept in a vessel overnight. Pesachim 42a. Also “מבית לי' למת” postponing a burial and keeping corpse overnight, Sanhedrin 47a, as well as בת דינא in Sanhedrin 95a, “the verdict was procrastinated” or kept overnight.
[10] It means being at ease, retiring, but not sleeping per se. Note that in Daniel, the verse clearly mentions that וְשִׁנְתֵּהּ נַדַּת עֲלוֹהִי, sleep eluded him.
[11] See ילקוט שמעוני רמז רטז. See also פאה ח:ז
[12] As it says, “ועשית כל מלאכתך”, and Rashi comments: “כאילו כל מלאכתך עשויה
[13] Note that “lowest” or “bottom-most” is בטי in Aramaic, and “last” is בתר. See previous post.
[14] Malachi 3:24

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Etymology of Shabbat?


In a nutshell, I'm proposing that "שבת" is a combination of שב and בת,
"sit/refrain" and "desolate/void," i.e. to cease. And on a deeper level,
perhaps it's a combination of "return" and "nothingness,"
as in a "return to total transparency" to our infinite Creator.
Please note: the ideas expressed here are totally non-authoritative,
and are mostly based on my own subjective understanding of
Kabbalistic & Chassidic thought (although I do try to back it up
with some Biblical Hebrew & Aramaic examples). As such, I'm
not sure whether it has any bearings on actual etymology!

What is the etymology of the word שבת?

It's easy to identify the שב biliteral, but what about the תי"ו?
Can it be that בת is also a meaningful root that forms its second syllable?

Let’s consider the possibility that "Shab-bat" might actually be a combination of two sub-roots, שב and בת:

שבת = sit שב + nil בת = cease

שב “to sit” mean to desist or refrain from doing something, and בת to cancel, null or void. And hence שבת = total cessation.

שב also connotes the sense of simply staying put, i.e. not venturing forth for travel or for any new "progress” or productivity.[1]

In a kabbalistic sense, perhaps שב return is the more dominant idea, as in a return to the state of primordial שבת that preceded בריאת העולם, a return to ביטול העולמות, a sense of non-existence.
שב + בת = שבת, a return to total transparency.

Why does בת mean nil? And how does that relate to ceasing activity or resting?

Here are possible the words that come to mind. I’ll elaborate below:
  • ·        בת
  • ·        בתה
  • ·        בתל
  • ·        בתר
  • ·        בתק
  • ·        בטל
  • ·        בטח
  • ·        חבט
  • ·        בעט
  • ·        שבט
  • ·        בטש (Aramaic, and all the rest are too)
  • ·        בתש
  • ·        בוטיתא & בטיטא
  • ·        בוטי
  • ·        אמבטי
  • ·        בתרא
  • ·        בתוא, בתא
And maybe as homiletic metathesis of בט:
  • ·        טב
  • ·        טבל
  • ·        טבע

בת means desolate, as in  ואשיתהו בתה לא יזמר ולא יעדר “I will make it a desolation; it shall neither be pruned nor hoed.”[2] Also in בנחלי הבתות, “desolate valleys.”[3]

בת desolate implies negation. It negates cultivation, pruning, hoeing, or any work or settlement.

In Rabbinic Hebrew, it seems that בתה mean an end, utter destruction, to be laid waste, i.e. total negation.[4]

By the same token, does בתל (as in בתולה) imply a negation of penetration, as בתולת אדמה is negation of cultivation?[5] [15a]

Does בת in בתר (i.e. cut off or cut up) imply causing the piece to cease? Or to negate its original wholesome state?

What aboutבת  in בתק (as in וּבִתְּקוּךְ בְּחַרְבוֹתָם in יחזקאל טז:מ)? Seems to imply splitting open or stabbing, and either way, negating the victim’s bodily integrity/vitality.

Could this be linked with בט in בטל, cessation, negation? The only place this word is used in Biblical Hebrew is in Koheles, where it indicates a cessation of work.[6] Numerous instances where בטל appears in Aramaic in the Book of Ezra, all indicating a halt or cessation to labor.

In Mishnaic Hebrew, בטל can mean to annul, void, disown, set aside or cancel (בטל רצונך מפני רצונו), idle, vain (not purposeful or productive), to neglect (not performing one’s duty, as in ביטול תורה), which all point to negation. 

But the negation of בטל isn’t always negative. There’s also a positive connotation. As in עשרה בטלנים who are totally & selflessly devoted to Torah study or עבודת הכלל.

Could בטח indicate a negation of worry or vulnerability, hence, to trust, to be safe or assured?

חבט means to beat, and so does בטש in Aramaic. Then there’s בעט, to kick out/at.[7] They all contain the signature בט. A שבט can mean a stick or BaT, which is typically used to BeaT someone.[8] And שבט contains the same letters as בטש.[9]

And let’s not forget that a walking staff (also שבט) has also been used to beat things (like the Nile River or rocks)[10] and people too, as Moshe’s staff beat Pharaoh and the Egyptians to submission.

Beating and abuse can be viewed as an active form of negating someone or something. When a person is beaten, his dignity is negated.[11] Beating can often negate victim’s morale or resolve.[12]

(Speaking of בטש, the זהר states אמר רב מתיבתא בגן עדן: אעא דלא סליק ביה נהורא, מבטשין ליה כו׳, גופא דלא סליק ביה נהורא דנשמתא, מבטשין ליה כו׳, and this is interpreted in לקוטי אמרים תניא as an instruction to negate one’s ego through humbling contemplation, to have a לב נשבר ורוח נשברה, not a broken body from physical self-mortification as the word might suggest.)

בתש means to urge persistently in Aramaic. Perhaps this is a way of negating or wearing down someone's resistance to do something.

בוטיתא (& בטיטא) means ruins in Aramaic. בוטי also means poor or broken. In Bereishis Rabbo and elsewhere, בטי and אמבטי can mean the BoTtom or depth.[13]
And perhaps this relates to Aramaic "בתר" or "בתרא", i.e. last.

Also worthwhile to point out that בתוא in Aramaic refers to untillable cuts in a valley or field, i.e. the waste parts.

טב, perhaps a metathesis of בט, and means to dip  (as in טבל), and perhaps טבע (sink) can imply to sink to the BoTtom.[14] Something negated is pushed to the bottom of the totem pole, so to say (like in ואתה תרד מטה מטה).

It is also worthwhile to point out that the Baal Shem Tov is attributed to have taught that טבילה (immersion in mikveh) is metathesis of ביטול, self-abnegation or humility in Chassidic parlance.[15]

On the other hand, there is a בט root which clearly means to pronounce (as explained in Yerios Shlomo):
  • הבט (gaze) means to discern the recognizable shape or distinctions of something
  • ·בטא and בטה mean to articulate/pronounce and familiarize something to someone else
  • ·בטן is a belly that is protrusive and pronounced.

Could this be an example of דבר והיפוכו? Pronounced in הבט, בטא, בטה, בטן, but negated in בטל, חבט, etc? Prominence vs. total transparency?

Speaking of בת & בט in the sense of negation, perhaps it’s worthwhile to mention other בי"ת biliterals, particularly בי"ת + fricative biliterals, that also imply a form of negation or debasement. (I’ve mentioned them in a previous post, but here they are again briefly):
  • ·        בס  trample
  • ·        בש  shame
  • ·        בז  despise/despoil
  • ·        בץ mud?

Since bilabial  בומ"פletters are related, let’s include other bilabial + fricative (or dental) biliterals:

  • ·        פט of פטיש hammer (which relates to פצ too: וכפטיש יפוצץ סלע)
  • ·        פס piece/cease. אפס = zero, total negation
  • ·        פץ disperse/peel off/break/shatter/crush
  • ·        פז disperse/dance wildly in demeaning, humiliating manner
  • ·        פת piece/break into pieces[15a]
  • ·        מז shriveled by hunger?
  • ·        מס melt or dissolve[16]
  • ·        מצ chaff (worthless), sucked out
  • ·        מט, stumble or falter.
  • ·        מת death:

בת and מת certainly seem to share a common theme. Death is undoubtedly the ultimate form of negation or cessation. It’s worth pointing out that חסידות interprets “death” in numerous places as a metaphor for utter self-abnegation.

The Mishna states: “בן מאה כאלו מת ועבר ובטל מן העולם”, “A hundred-year-old is as one who has died and passed away and has been negated from the world.”[17] This is widely interpreted as a lofty virtue of selflessness (ביטול עצמי or התבטלות עצמית מוחלטת) and absence of evil inclination.

A similar idea is expressed by Rashi in chumash[18]:
אע"פ שלא מצינו במקרא שייחד הקב"ה שמו על הצדיקים בחייהם לכתוב אלהי פלוני משום שנאמר הן בקדושיו לא יאמין כאן ייחד שמו על יצחק לפי שכהו עיניו וכלוא בבית והרי הוא כמת ויצר הרע פסק ממנו
It’s as if Yitzchak had died and his evil inclination had departed from him. This was not a "bad" thing. To the contrary, because of this, he was deserving to be associated with the very name of the Creator ("אלוקי יצחק") like his late father Avraham, even though he was still very much alive in a biological sense.

שבת is associated with התבטלות to the Creator. The world’s existence is not taken for granted: cessation from mundane and creative labors on שבת remind us of חידוש העולמות, that G-d created (and is creating) the world anew ex nihilo, יש מאין, something from NOTHING. As such, the natural state of the world is NOTHING, as its “somethingness” is artificially induced and impelled (“created”) and מחודש, a miraculous novelty. שבת (return to בת, nil) reminds us of the world’s inherent nothingness before G-d, כולא קמי' כלא חשיב. All is like naught before Him. אין עוד מלבדו. There is truly NOTHING beside for Him, not even something secondary (like something called עוד, an tag-along appendage).אין עוד period. And אפס זולתו. There is ZERO except for Him. There is NONE else.

Perhaps this is why שבת is such a crucial and fundamental tenet of Torah thought, for which its desecration incurs the most serious form of death sentence in the Bible, on par with the most egregious of misdeeds like polytheistic worship. Perhaps this is because without the realization of שבת, without experiencing & acknowledging the ביטול of this world, i.e. without observing a cessation from creating & contributing to the world’s superficial “somethingness,” then one’s existence becomes truly for naught. Consequently, wanton desecration of שבת results in מָוֶת, as in מחלליה מות יומת, total negation of self, or at least כרת, being negated from one’s people, ונכרתה הנפש ההיא מקרב עמיה. (Of course, nowadays, this is all in a spiritual sense. And when Moshiach comes, it is just theoretical, since resting on Shabbos will then become intuitive and human nature.)

The ultimate state of being is achieving a sense of non-being, ביטול, or הבטלות עצמית מוחלטת.

תכלית הידיעה שלא נדעך. The ultimate knowing is the knowledge that we can’t know You.

When saying שמע, we proclaim that the entire world is nullified before ה' אחד. All four directions (symbolized by letter דל"ת, & above and below, symbolized by letter חי"ת) are בטלים ומבוטלים to אל"ף, the אלופו של עולם. Furthermore, אל"ף can be a symbol of negation too, as if it is stating that all six directions are naught before אחד האמת, the oneness of the infinite Creator.

This is notion is epitomized by שבת, the ultimate state of being for a Jew. מי כעמך ישראל גוי אחד בארץ. A nation who proclaims the Oneness of G-d here on earth.

This is why we are called שומרי שבת, "the guardians of Shabbos (as in the liturgical text: "ישמחו במלכותך שומרי שבת") but not necessarily "שומרי" any other mitzva in particular! Because שמירת שבת is the hallmark of the essence of the soul. The Alter Rebbe writes in the Tanya the reason the soul is likened to a flame (as in נר ה' נשמת אדם) is because unlike everything else in this world, a flame gravitates upwards, almost as if endeavoring to leave its wick (פתיל, perhaps related to בת too) and its worldly entrapments, effectively losing its identity and very existence. So too, the G-dly soul longs to become subsumed and “nothing” within its Divine source. This phenomenon is called כלות הנפש, the soul’s longing to expire.

In Sanherdin, the gemara says שית אלפי שנין הוי עלמא, the world as we know it exists for six millennia, corresponding the six days of creation. כי אלך שנים בעיניך כיום אתמול. So what happens on the seventh millennium? The gemara says: “חד חרוב” – the seventh is a single millennium of “desolation” (like “בת” above, ביטול ושממון). 

Chassidus interprets this to mean not that the world is destroyed or literally desolate or devoid of life, but rather the world achieves a state of utter ביטול במציאות, complete sense of nothingness before G-d. This is the hallmark of the era immediately following תחיית המתים, resurrection of the dead. As mentioned above, the dead had experienced a state of total self-abnegation, and consequently bring that awareness to humanity with their return upon rising from their graves.

This idea can also be connected with the gemara’s perplexing statement (נדה סא,ב) "The mitzvos will become void in the future era (i.e. after the resurrection).” “מצוות בטלות לעתיד לבוא”, and most codifiers rule that this is indeed the halacha. Conversely, the eternal relevance of Torah and its precepts are a tenet of Jewish faith. So how are these two conflicting ideas reconciled? The key word here is בטלות, “nullified” or void. It doesn’t say that we will not observe mitzvos. It merely says that they will be nullified. One way to understand this is that mankind will achieve a state of ביטול to such an extent that we will no longer need to be commanded to perform G-d’s will, but will do so instinctively and inherently. Not that free will gets suspended, but that our free will perfectly coalesces and aligns with G-d’s will.

Another example of this idea is evident in our sages’ perplexing statement “כל המועדים עתידים ליבטל לעת"ל…” “All festivals are destined to become nullified in the future era…” Of course, the Torah and its precepts are forever, including the observance of Pesach, for example. Instead, the key here is ליבטל, to become nullified. Not that Pesach stops getting observed, but that its observance and celebration becomes “like naught”, כשרגא בטיהרא, like a small candle in the midday sun. The sublime and exultant joy of the ultimate Redemption that Israel (and all humankind) will experience on a daily basis will kind of drown out the joy of Pesach, or make it seem insignificant or “nullified,” even if its observance will be kept meticulously and joyfully too. Likewise, חד חרוב doesn’t mean Armageddon or physical destruction, but spiritual ביטול, a semblance of which we experience every week by observing שבת

That’s why the ultimate Redemption is called "יום שכולו שבת", a Day that is forever Shabbos and menucha for eternal life.

May it be speedily in our days.

Good Shabbos! Or as they say in Israel, ShaBAT Shalom.

Looking forward to hearing your comments or reBuTTaLs ;)

PS: how might this idea relate to בת, daughter? And בית, house? And Aramaic verb בת, lodge? Stay tuned to next post!

[1] Shemos 16:29 “Let every man sit in his place. Let no man leave his place on the seventh day.” “שבו איש תחתיו אל ייצא איש ממקומו ביום השביעי
[2] Isaiah 5:6
[3] Ibid 7:19
[4]  See Bereishis Rabba 31:5, on Bereishis 6:13: …"קץ כל בשר בא לפני" הגיע זמנם להקצץ הגיע זמנן לעשות בתה
[5] See Tosefta Sh’viis 3:8: "...שלש בתולות הן בתולת אדם בתולת אדמה בתולת אילן בתולת אדם כל שלא נבעלה מימיה בתולת אדמה כל שלא נעבדה מימיה רבן שמעון בן גמליאל אומר כל שאין בה חרס בתולת אילן כל שלא נקצצה מימיה"
See also Rambam Laws of Beis Habechira 1:14: “ומהיכן היו מביאין אבני מזבח:  מן בתולת הקרקע חופרין עד שמגיעין למקום הניכר שאינו מקום עבודה ובניין ומוציאין ממנו האבנים
[6] Koheles 12:3  וּבָטְלוּ הַטֹּחֲנוֹת כִּי מִעֵטוּ – “…the grinders cease since they have become few.” According to Rashi, the “grinders” refers to teeth. The text is referring to a person’s decline in his old age.
[7] See Edenics E-book entry BEAT
[8] As in “וכי יכה איש את עבדו...בשבט” in Shemos 21:20.
[9] בטש is a metathesis of שבט, as per Prof. Mozeson in E-book ibid.
[10] As in וַיַּךְ אֶת הַסֶּלַע בְּמַטֵּהוּ פַּעֲמָיִם in Bamidbar 20:11.
[11] Devorim 25:3: “פן יוסיף להכותו על אלה מכה רבה ונקלה אחיך לעיניך
[12] See Rambam Laws of Divorce, end of chapter 2: “כופין אותו עד שיאמר רוצה אני” and explanation there.
[13] See Bereishis Rabbo 68:8.
[14] See Edenics E-book entry DIVE.
[15] Perhaps this can be connected to the concept of posthumous “immersion” in the ‘River of Fire’” (טבילה בנהר די נור) in Zohar.
[15a]  In particular, the similarity of בתל and פתל should be considered. Both imply a seal that proves that something hasn't been opened, penetrated or cultivated, etc. Rashi in Bamidbar 19:15 writes פתיל לשון מחובר בלשון בעברי [ס"א בלשון ערבי] וכן נפתולי אלקים נפתלתי נתחברתי עם אחותי. The ראב"ע writes that it means two פתילים (i.e. threads? Or seals?). Either way, perhaps the “connection” (חיבור) of the פתיל is in order to negate the possibility of being opened or tampered with, rendering it off-limits to an outsider, just as the דם בתולים is for the בתולה. Perhaps there’s a connection with תל (as in והיתה תל עולם לא יבנה עוד, Devarim 13:17), i.e. ruins that cannot be built or cultivated, i.e. off-limits.  ראב"ע translates תל as steep, as in הר גבוה ותלול in Ychezkel 17:22, which Metzudos translates as tall (mountain peaks). Perhaps there’s a connotation of tall and therefore inaccessible, unpassable and off-limits?
[16] Plus, there are several other מ"ם biliterals that imply a fluid-like state of negation, i.e. melt, dissolve, or blot out. מג, מק, מח that I’ll address in another post. מ"ם is emblematic of water, מים, and hence the watery forms of breaking down. Furthermore, מת means death or dying, liquidation in the biological sense. And death only applies to something that was once alive, which was only possible with H2O, מים.
[17] Avos, end of chapter 2.
[18] On Bereishis 28:13, from Midrash Tanchuma.