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Seven Months, Seven Shepherds

Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 7/9/2019

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Seven Months, Seven Shepherds

The Arizal tells us that the seven months from Nissan to Tishrei correspond to the seven shepherds- Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, Aharon, Yosef, and Dovid.


1) Nissan corresponds to Avraham since he personifies the trait of Chessed as it says חסד לאברהם.[1] Likewise, Nissan symbolizes Chessed- זכרתי לך חסד נעוריך; I recall for you the kindness of your youth.[2] Nissan is the time Hashem showered us with Chessed as He took us out of Mitzrayim, gave the well of Miriam[3] as well as the מן in addition to the ענני הכבוד; clouds of glory.


2) The month of Iyar matches up with Yitzchak. The entire month of Iyar has Sefira contained within[4] it- a time when we refine ourselves. This aligns with the attribute of Yitzchak- דין; discipline. 


3) Sivan parallels Yaakov since he symbolizes Torah as he is called איש תם ישב אהלים;[5] abiding in tents of Torah. Shavuos- the Yom Tov of Torah- occurs in the month of Sivan.


4) Tamuz corresponds to Moshe since this is when he descended from heaven with the first Luchos.[6]


5) The month of Av parallels Aharon. The Churban transpired in Av and the Avoda of Aharon- the Kohen Gadol- takes place in the Beis Hamikdash. Furthermore, the Yartzheit of Aharon is in this month.[7]


6) Elul- the time we attempt to purify ourselves- lines up with Yosef. This accords with Yosef as he is the one who exemplifies purity since he overcame the test with the wife of Potifar in the area of circumcision.[8] It, therefore, comes as no surprise that the first letters of ומל...את לבבך ואת לבב;[9] ...circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring… spell אלול. Additionally, the seven days of the week correspond to the seven shepherds. Consequently, Yosef- the sixth Shepard- matches up with Friday, the 6th day. Friday is the day of preparation for Shabbos as inמי שטרח בערב שבת יאכל בשבת;[10] whoever toiled on Friday will eat on Shabbos and והיה ביום הששי והכינו את אשר יביאו; [11]it shall be on the sixth day when they prepare what they bring. This is akin to Elul- the sixth month- which is a preparation for Tishrei- the seventh month.[12]


7) Tishrei is connected with Dovid Hamelech as he represents Malchus.[13] Rosh Hashana takes place in Tishrei where we say Pesukim that speak of Hashem’s Kingship (מלכיות)-עליכם  כדי שתמליכוני; in order to accept Hashem’s sovereignty.[14] Furthermore, in Tishrei we sayהמלך הקדוש  and המלך המשפט.   
R’ Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. R’ Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

[1] Micha 7:20

[2] Yirmiya 2:2

[3] Parenthetically, the Zera Shimshon (Bamidbar 20) tells us that before Miriam died the well began to diminish and dry up just like the Neshama of a person 30 days before he dies it begins to depart… Incidentally, the author of Zera Shimshon- R’ Shimshon Chaim Nachmani- studied under the father-in-law of the Ramchal and was referred to by the Chida as a “Chasida Kadisha,” a holy chassid. He was a Rabbi of four large communities throughout Italy and at the end of his life in the city Reggio Emilia, before passing away in 1779. R’ Shimshon Chaim’s only child- a son- died at a young age. Realizing that he wouldn’t be leaving a child to inherit him, he instead left a legacy of Torah thoughts- Sefer Zera Shimshon on the Torah. So, because he had no continuity, he wrote the Sefer and called it, Zera Shimshon- the Seed of Shimshon. It was published one year before he died. R’ Shimshon Chaim emphasized that after his Neshama leaves this world, people should continue to learn from his Sefarim. He made a promise: Anyone who takes upon himself to learn from his writings, he promises children, praise, health, Parnasa, wealth, honor. In the Sefer’s Introduction, it says: “Please study my sefer. Reward is great for those who do kindness graciously, and you shall have much peace from Heaven. Your eyes shall see children and children’s children, like olive shoots around your table. Your homes will be full of all the good. Wealth and honor will not cease from your descendants…” For more than 200 years, the Sefer Zera Shimshon was all but forgotten. Only a few copies remained on bookshelves or in dusty sefarim store basements. In 2007, R’ Nachman Seltzer- a bestselling author- met a friend after shul who related the following story. A middle-aged man, diagnosed with a dangerous illness, the doctors were grim… The sick man had gone into his local sefarim store for something and the owner, hearing about the illness, gave him a piece of advice. Learn the Zera Shimshon. The owner told him about the author’s promise of great blessing to anyone learning his sefer. He opened the dusty volume and showed his sick friend the words in writing. In the end the man recovered completely. It was an obvious miracle and the family attributed his recovery to the fact that he had learned the Sefer Zera Shimshon. After the story was written up by R’ Seltzer and then published, people contacted him from Europe and America wanting to know how they could buy the sefer. Within a few years, Sefer Zera Shimshon was available in a new and readable format, weekly Parsha sheets of Zera Shimshon’s Torah were published and a website featuring the Torah and stories of the segula was created. The stories multiplied: children born, illnesses cured, shidduchim made, Parnassa secured… R’ Seltzer wrote a follow-up article, detailing many of the Brachos that had poured down on people learning Zera Shimshon. One prominent Rosh Yeshiva began giving a regular shiur in Zera Shimshon, for the zechus of four young couples all waiting to be blessed with children. By the end of the year, all four of them were holding their newborns!

[4] In contrast to Nissan and Sivan where Sefira is only in part of the month.

[5] Breishis 25:27

[6] Taanis 26, 28b

[7] Bamidbar 33:38. See Haamik Davar there.

[8] Breishis 39. The Gemara (Eruvin 21b) remarks הדודאים נתנו ריח; the violets emit a fragrance (Shir Hashirim 7:14) refers to בחורי ישראל; young men of Israel that have not tasted sin (Tahara). The word הדודאים is the plural of דודי. This hints to the month of Elul where there are two דודיs as it says אני לדודי ודודי לי (Shir Hashirim 6:3) where its initials spell אלול. Is it any wonder that the Mazel of Elul is בתולה?!

[9] Devarim 30:6. See Baal Haturim there.

[10] Avoda Zara 3a

[11] Shemos 16:5

[12] מי שטרח בערב שבת יאכל בשבת is also understood as if one takes advantage of Elul (referred to by Erev Shabbos as that is the sixth day, corresponding to the sixth month- Elul) then he will be judged with good and blessing in Tishrei- יאכל בשבת (as Shabbos, the seventh day, refers to Tishrei, the seventh month).

[13] See Rosh Hashana 25a

[14] Rosh Hashana 16a, 34b

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