Tuesday, June 10, 2008

499 from the Torah

In the Talmud Yerushalmi on Masechet Brachot, there is a long midrash regarding the distances between places, or their size: a walk of 50 years, a walk of 500 years.

ורבנן אמרין כשני אבות הראשונים (דברים יא) כימי השמים על הארץ וכשם שבין הארץ לרקיע מהלך חמש מאות שנה כך בין רקיע לרקיע מהלך חמש מאות שנה ועוביו מהלך חמש מאות שנה

And Rabbanan say like the years of the forefathers "Like the days of the heavens on the earth" (Devarim 11), and like it is between the earth to the heavens a walk of 500 years, thus it is between each of the heavens a walk of 500 years, and the thickness of (each) one is a walk of 500 years.

The verse used for this drash, the last of the 2nd paragraph of Kriat Shema, is:

למען ירבו ימיכם וימי בניכם על האדמה אשר נשבע ה' לאבתיכם לתת להם כימי השמים על הארץ

Such that your days will increase, and the days of your children, on the land which Hashem swore to your fathers to give to you, like the days of the heavens on the earth.

The drash is that the distance between the heavens and earth is the distance that it takes to walk the life span of the 3 forefathers.

  • Avraham - 175 years
  • Yitzhak - 180 years
  • Yaakov - 147 years

Total: 502 years

So we round off to 500 years, and the drash works out.

However, the Zohar Chadash (Sitrei Otiot, Shivah Yomin Ila'in) says that Avraham only achieved his level after 3 years of life, corresponding to Keter, Chochmah, and Binah. Therefore, it would seem to be proper to take 3 off of this 502, and arrive at 499.

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