Beit Midrash

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To dedicate this lesson

Periodic Sightings


Rabbi Berel Wein

One who sees the Great Sea recites the blessing … when he sees it periodically. How long a break constitutes periodically? Rami bar Abba says in the name of Rabbi Yitzchak: thirty days.

Ein Ayah: The reason for the time period of thirty days is that we learn wisdom from the heavenly bodies, as the pasuk says: "Lift up your eyes to the heavens and see who created these" (Yeshaya 40:26). Of all the heavenly bodies, the one that is closest and most linked to our own planet of Earth is the Moon. That is why the Jewish people count the passage of time based on the orbit of the Moon. The Moon’s creation also has special significance for the needs of our planet. Part of its effect has to do with the fact that the amount of time of the Moon’s orbit is connected to renewed feelings, which makes it appropriate to recite a new beracha based on it.
For this reason, also, new Moons are a time of atonement for Israel, as it is a time when a new spirit takes the place of an old spirit. At that time, it is possible to create a ‘new heart’ in matters of wisdom and fear of Hashem.

The Effects of Environment on a Person
(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:165)

Gemara: What is [the significance of the name] Chidekel (the Tigris River)? It represents that its water is chad (crisp) and kal (light). What is [the significance of the name] Prat (the Euphrates River)? It represents that its water is ever increasing. Rava said: that which the people of Mechoza are sharp is due to the fact that they drink from the water of the Tigris.

Ein Ayah: Quality and quantity are two special characteristics. The Tigris excels in the quality of its water and the Euphrates in the quantity of its water (see also Shabbat 65b).
A river’s water has an impact on the local environment. The better the water’s quality, the better the vegetation that grows there and the animals that live there will be. As a result, the people who live in the region and are nourished by the above will acquire special attributes affecting their physical constitution. Even a person’s spiritual makeup, which is connected to the status of his body and its health, will be positively impacted. This teaches us generally how important it is to learn how to improve our physical well-being, as it impacts our spiritual well-being.
The people of Mechoza were known for their sharpness, which, in the intellectual realm, corresponds to the element of quality, in which the waters of the Tigris excelled. This is in contrast to the ability to amass knowledge, which corresponds to the element of quantity. This should teach a person in general that Hashem created everything in a measured-out manner.
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