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Table of Contents

Adam and Joseph

According to the first explanation, outlined in the most sophisticated writings of the Arizal, those of the Rashash10, there are special Kabalistic intentions for each day of the weeks preceding Rosh Hashanah.

God began the creation of the world on the twenty-fifth of Elul, two days after the twenty-third day of Elul, of whose character we are inquiring. God created Adam, the first man, on the sixth day of creation, which corresponds to the sefirah of yesod. Of all the figures in the Torah, the personality who is most related to Adam, is Joseph. This is apparent both in the revealed parts of the Torah (nigleh) and at the more esoteric levels (nistar).

In the wilderness, there were people who were impure and therefore unable to sacrifice the Passover sacrifice at its correct time. Since their impurity was the result of their exposure to a corpse, God instructed them to offer the Passover sacrifice on Pesach Sheni.11 The verse that describes their impurity uses the definition “temeim lenefesh adam”. This can be read as meaning “impure for the soul of a man,” which could be understood as referring to no-one in particular, to any corpse. Yet, in the Talmud, our sages explain that this particular expression refers to the coffin containing Joseph’s bones and they read the phrase as meaning “they were impure for the soul of Adam.” From here, we see that Joseph in particular is related to Adam.

In Kabbalah, the esoteric level of Torah, we find an allusion to a more profound connection between Adam and Joseph. This is by calculating the letters of Adam by the system of “mispar kidmi,” whereby each letter takes on a value equal to the sum of itself together with all letters that precede it in the alphabet. By this system, the alef of Adam is equal to 1, dalet is equal to 10 and mem is equal to 145. The sum of the letters of Adam according to this calculation, thus equal 156, which is the normative numerical equivalent (gematria) of Yosef.

Thus, we have both an explicit statement in the Talmud that relates Adam to Joseph and also a beautiful allusion from the Kabbalah of this connection between the two.

Rosh Hashanah

In the Rosh Hashanah prayers we say, “This is the day that begins Your actions”. This would seem to imply that God created the world on Rosh Hashanah, however, we have already stated that the world was actually created on the twenty-fifth of Elul. One explanation of this expression, found in the Talmud, is that “action,” actually means “rectification.” Since God created man on Rosh Hashanah, the sixth day of creation, and he is the one capable of rectifying, therefore Rosh Hashanah is the day that begins the stage of rectification.

However, just as man is capable of rectifying, he is also capable of failing. On the very day God created him, he sinned; moreover, pegam habrit is the cause of all sin, in one form or another. (In any sin, energy is “wasted” on the forbidden action, just as pegam habrit is wasting vital energy. We will elaborate on this idea later.)

When God approached Adam and asked him “Ayeka?” “Where are you?” He gave Adam the opportunity to correct his sin immediately by the power of repentance. Had Adam confessed his sin and truly repented, God would have forgiven him altogether and the rectification process would have been complete.

The sixth day is conducive to all that is related to yesod, both sinning (pegam habrit) and rectifying the sin (tikun habrit). Nonetheless, Adam did not take advantage of the opportunity to rectify his sin and instead of confessing, he passed the blame onto Eve.


10. The Rashash, Rabbi Shalom Sharabi.

11. Second Passover, celebrated a month later by people who had been ritually impure on the actual day of Passover and were therefore unable to sacrifice the paschal lamb.


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