Yosef, Yishmael, and Esav
Recently, in the daf (Sanhedrin 12) we were offered a look into the concept of Moshiach ben Yosef, which is discussed in the Maharsha. The gemara itself speaks of a ‘news brief’ that was given to Rava. Due to the sensitive nature of the briefing, it was said to him in a code that could only be deciphered by a serious talmid chacham. Literally, the code looked like this:
A pair came from Rekes, and was grabbed by an eagle. They had things in their hands made in Luz. In the merit of Mercy and their own merit, they left in peace. Furthermore, the loaded thighs of Nachshon wanted to set an appointee, but the known Edomi would not permit. But those who gather gathered and set this appointee in the month of the death of Aharon Hacohen.
Hard to crack?
Rashi cracks it like this:
A pair of Torah scholars came from Rekes, and was grabbed by an eagle, that is, Persian soldiers. They had things in their hands made in Luz – Techeles [which it seems was forbidden to be producing]. In the merit of Mercy and their own merit, they left in peace, and were able to escape. In another event, the loaded thighs of Nachshon – this refers to the Nasi, who was like a descendant of Nachshon, the first Nasi – wanted to “set an appointee” – this refers to the fact that he wanted to add a second Adar to the year, but the Roman government would not permit this to be done. The sages were able to gather together privately, at a very early time, in the month of Av, when Aharon died, to determine that they would indeed add a month.
When we get to the Maharsha, things start to get very interesting.
First, he asks some questions.
Why was it necessary to send this information in code form? What is the idea that they had Techeles which was made in Luz? What is the language of “in the merit of Mercy?” What is the concept that the Romans did not let them add the month? What is the significance of the fact that they gathered in the month of Av?
He begins by explaining that the Yishmaelite princes numbered twelve, as the Torah states at the end of Chayei Sarah. Nevertheless, the princes of the Jewish people are on a higher level than them. This is because the Yishmaelite princes do not have proper lineage on the side of Avraham, rather, a lineage that derives from their mother’s side, and she was a maidservant. This is why it says “שנים עשר נשיאים לאמותם” – this refers to the side of their mother. The Jewish princes, however, have proper lineage from their father’s side, as the verse says “למשפחותם לבית אבותם” – each to their family, to their fathers’ house. Therefore, the firstborn rights come through the lineage of the father. This entitles them to thirteen princes. This is a result of the firstborn rights of Yosef, who was split into two tribes with two princes. This is the secret of the עיבור (the added month in a leap year), where the Jewish people enumerate twelve months, corresponding to the twelve tribes, and another leap month, which corresponds to the tribe of Yosef which was split into two tribes. This corresponds to the two months of Adar, whose Zodiac sign is the fish, like the bracha of Yosef “ידגו לרב” – and proliferate like fish.
This is why we find that our sages said that the offspring of Esav is solely given over to the offspring of Yosef, as the verse says [in Ovadiah], “[And the house of Yakov will be fire, and the house of Yosef will be a flame.] The house of Esav will be [like straw, and will be lit and consumed].” By Esav selling the first born rights to Yakov, and by Yakov taking the brachos, he was given the right to rule over his brother Esav. Yakov gave this ability to Yosef, as the passuk says, “And I have given you one more portion [over your brothers].” This is explicitly stated in chapter יש נוחלין. Therefore, even Yishmael, who has twelve princes לאמותם, and in their wars conquer Esav, they will nevetheless not completely finish Esav off. In the future, the offspring of Yosef and his Moshiach will become great, and Esav will be vanquished through him. This is because the people of Israel will be on a more exalted level than Yishmael, as they will have thirteen princes as a result of Yosef who was split into two tribes. This is the secret of the עיבור (the added month in a leap year), as we mentioned earlier, such that there are thirteen months on the calendar of the people of Israel, which is greater than the solar calendar of Esav, which only consists of twelve months. [It’s interesting to note that Yishmael also has a lunar calendar, but without the leap month. -ag]
Based on this, the message was that ‘a pair came…’ This is because the people of Israel are compared to a pair of doves that only need their respective mate. This was said because of the two ruling powers, Edom and Yishmael. Yishmael is compared to an eagle because of the great power of its rulership, and because just as an eagle is an impure, carnivorous bird, so too, Yishmael has an aspect of impurity from his mother’s side. We also find that the gemara in החובל refers to Yishmael as an impure bird.
It then states that the pair came ‘from Rekes.’ This is reference to the city of Teveria (Tiberias), and it was referred to as Rekes because of the people there who were empty there [rek = empty]. That was where the secret of the leap month was [as it would seem that the great court which decided on it was there at the time].
Then it says that they were caught by an eagle. This is referring to the fact that most of the Jewish people in exile are under the domain of Yishmael. It then says ‘they had things made in Luz.’ Luz is the city where the angel of death has no power, as it states in the gemara in Sotah. This represents the concept of the עיבור that is an eternal and unending power that will be used in the future to destroy the progeny of Esav and the power of the ס”מ (Satan). This is what the gemara means when it points out that Techeles was made in Luz, because the blue of the Techeles is reminiscent of the sea, which is reminiscent of the sky, which is reminiscent of the Throne of Hashem’s Glory. The throne will be complete at that time. This is what is meant when it says ‘in the merit of Mercy,’ that the name of Hashem’s mercy will then be complete, as we find that our sages say that Hashem’s name and throne will not be complete until that time. In this merit, the Jewish people will leave the hands of Yishmael in peace [as is hinted in the code].
“The loaded thighs of Nachshon” also refers to the secret of the עיבור, as it refers to the princes and kings, as well as Moshiach the king, who are descended from him. “They wanted to set an appointee” refers to the extra month of the עיבור, which hints to the offspring of Yosef which was split into two tribes like the two Adars whose Zodiac sign is represented by fish – plural [meaning, more than one fish]. And being that Esav and his power [which stems from the forces of evil] will fall at his hand, the ‘known Edomi did not allow.’ This is reference to the Roman rulership and the powers of the ס”מ (Satan).
“Those who would gather gathered,” however, in the areas under the rulership of Yishmael to set the ‘appointee’ [i.e. the leap month], and this was necessary to be done in a hidden and secretive manner so that Esav and the powers of the ס”מ would not realize. Therefore they did this in the month that Aharon Hacohen passed away [i.e. Av], to prevent Esav from realizing that they were gathering to add a month to the year. This subterfuge would be accomplished because it was the month that Esav and the forces of evil had succeeded in destroying the Temple.
Based on this, the gemara had said earlier, in regards to the secret of the leap month (עיבור), that a month was added when the young birds were still small, the sheep were still thin, and the spring had not yet arrived. The young birds are reference to כנסת ישראל [lit. t
he gathered of Israel, but actually refers to a deep kabbalistic concept], who are compared to a dove. The fact that they were young refers to the concept that they have no strength. [Perhaps this refers to the fact that the Jewish people are compared to the moon, with no light of its own. -ag] The sheep also refer to the people of Israel who are compared to a שה פזורה (spread out sheep). These sheep are thin, like the Jewish people who are in a weakened state in exile. The time of spring refers to the beginning of the sprouting and development of the redemption, which has still not arrived. For this reason it was necessary to add on a month of thirty days – this refers to the secret of the leap month, which corresponds to the offspring of Yosef who will destroy the offspring of Esav. Then the Throne of Hashem’s Glory, and His name [of Mercy] will be complete, may it be speedily in our days, amen.
End quote of the Maharsha.
There is a lot to think about here, and I’d like to give you some food for thought. It is clear that this secret code is not just something that occurred in the times of Rava, rather, it is actually a blueprint for the future advent of Moshiach ben Yosef. Read over the Maharsha, and see what the ramifications of that might be.
It is also extremely interesting that the secret adding of the month is occurring in the month of Av. As the Maharsha said, this is done to fool Esav and the forces of evil. It could be that since the future redemption is rooted in that month, it therefore makes a lot of sense that Av will be a month of great celebration after Moshiach has come. I would like to again point out that the month of Av this year is an extremely significant point in time, as it represents 12:30 on Friday afternoon in cosmic time, as we discussed in an earlier post. It is clear from the Maharsha that Av is an essential month in Moshiach ben Yosef process.
One final thought that just occurred to me, is that the meaning of the name of Yosef is ‘to add on.’ Interestingly, it can also mean ‘to take away.’ This is what Rochel herself said when she named him – “Hashem has taken away my embarrassment.” Then she said “Hashem should add on another son.” This dual connotation, which is clearly paradoxical, is also contained in the concept of the עיבור, the added month. This month sometimes appears, and is sometimes taken away, but in truth, it is the concept of the בכורה, which is the higher dimension of spirituality, being brought down into this world. Just like the Aron Hakodesh, which both existed in this world, and at the same time took up no space, Yosef and the עיבור month have this characteristic as well. In fact, the extra month itself is what allows the lunar and solar calendars to stay in sync. This corresponds to the concept of Yosef, who connects the spiritual and physical worlds, which are also represented by the lunar and solar calendars, respectively.
Thanks. I would love to hear more. send me an email. On the very last thought, in Kol Hator, he brings down that the gematria of the word נופלת is the same as משיח בן יוסף, whose job is to be the precursor to Dovid.
The reference to the month of Av is also probably an allusion the Yehuda (mazal of Av is a lion) and therefore in this context, Moshiach Ben David.
Also – the concept of ibur hachodesh is an aspect of returning the light of the moon to the light of the sun. Esav follows the sun and Yismael follows only the moon – in there calendars there is no unity between the two. By having a leap year – extra month – aspect of Yosef, it is an aspect of filling the lack of the moon, which counters the approach of Esav, the sun. Esav/sun kneged Yosef and the Moon is kneged bais David – The job of Moshiach ben Yosef is to build the vessel and prepare way for Moshiach ben David.
Aharon HaKohen is another hint to this – the annenei hakovod were in his merit – which is represented by sukkos – which is Sukkos David hanofels – the aspect of the fallen moon which needs to be uplifted.
See my posts 57 thru 62.