Sunday, February 26, 2012

Invisible Signs From Heaven?

The Gemara teaches that the end of the planting season is when the Pleiades, a star cluster located in the constellation Taurus and referred to as Kimah by Chazal, is at its peak at approximately 3pm. 3pm is chosen as the time because this is when the field workers pack up for the evening and begin to go home. (Bava Metziya 106b; based on Rashi's commentary) This is defined as being in the beginning of Adar by Rashi. A basic question one can ask is, "Is the Gemara alluding to something else by giving this obscure description as opposed to just saying that the end of the season is at the beginning of Adar?"

Also, prior to offering a different explanation to this passage, Tosefos ask many questions on this approach. One of the questions is that at 3pm the stars are not visible (it is the middle of the day) and the Tosefos assume that the passage was giving a sign that is noticeable. Why would the Gemara describe the season's end with something that is not visible?

To give a possible answer to these questions, let us analyze some other important ideas that are associated with Adar. Moshe Rabbeinu was born on 7 Adar. The Seder HaDoros informs us that he was born at approximately 9am in the morning. The question is, is there any significance to 9am on 7 Adar?

There are a few places in the sky that are considered to influence events on earth. Whatever celestial item is rising from the east is considered to be exerting influence as it can be seen as rising to power (see Rosh Hashana 11b and Ibn Ezra's Sefer HaTa'amim). Its peak, when it has risen to the highest point it attains, is seen as its influence shining with the most possible strength.

The Pleaides are associated with rain (Berachos 58b) and they are assumed to have benevolent associations (see Yalkut Shimoni Bereishis 366). At the end of the planting season, it is the rains that the farmer is focused on. The rains associated with Pleiades are seen as the tool for growth.

Moshe Rabbeinu, the vehicle through which Klal Yisrael was able to grow through the Exodus and receiving of the Torah, was born at the moment when Pleiades was rising. 7 Adar at 9am corresponds to a moment when this cluster will be positioned on the eastern horizon. 9am (really a quarter of the day since we are talking about shaos zemaniyos) is also the time when one can no longer recite Shema and fulfill his daily obligation. This is because people are considered to have risen and started their day at this point in time.

In other words, Moshe Rabbeinu's birth marked a time that was strongly associated with the time for the growth to begin. It was the hour of the day associated with getting started after slumber and it is marked by the Pleiades, the stars of growth, starting their influence in the world as they rise from the east. The end of Moshe Rabbeinu's birthday, meaning when people are finished being productive at 3pm, would be marked with Pleiades being at their peak. Almost as if to show that the entire day of Moshe Rabbeinu's birth marks the rise and complete exertion of power of growth by the Pleiades. This was a display that Klal Yisrael were about to grow through its newly born leader.

Why would a sign be given that is not noticeable? It is well known that the Purim miracle happened without supernatural events. It demonstrated Hashem's complete control while still utilizing the forces of nature. This is often expressed through the mazal of the month of Purim, Dagim or Pisces, which is depicted as fish which are famous for being hidden from sight as they live beneath the water. Moshe Rabbeinu's birth marked the beginning of the growth of Klal Yisrael, but they were not at a point where the overt miracles were going to be expressed. They were in a time period still able to be expressed as an "Adar" type time. It would be another 80 until Moshe Rabbeinu would lead them out of Egypt.

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