70’s versus 80’s

Every year has a number. This New Year we are entering the Jewish year 5780. Not only are we going to grow by one year, we are also entering into a new decade. We will be making the transition from the decade of the 70’s into the 80’s.

Based on Chassidic teachings, there is a significant difference between the number 80 and the number 70:

70 is a multiple of 7. Seven represents the pinnacle of spiritual growth, just as the Shabbos, the seventh day of the week is its spiritual climax. In the words of the Midrash: “All sevens are beloved.”

When we take the number seven and multiply it by 10, it suggests that we are accessing the full power of the number seven, for each of the seven consists of 10, which correspond to the 10 Sefiros-Divine emanations and our 10 soul faculties. 

The number 80, by contrast, represents the full complement and expression of the number eight, the number that connotes transcendence. This is why we have a Bris-circumcision on the eighth day. When we enter into a covenant with G‑d, it is not based on a quid-pro-quo relationship. It is an indiscriminate, unconditional bond between G‑d and us; a bond that transcends logic and societal conventions.

Although we pray, hope for and anticipate Moshiach every day (and we hope that Moshiach will take us out of Galus even before the onset of the 80’s), nevertheless as we stand on the threshold of the 80’s we can already bask in its light and bring ourselves to an elevated level of Redemption.

Indeed, one of the characteristics of the Messianic Age is a harp to be played in the Bais Hamikdash which will consist of eight strands, as opposed to King David’s harp, which had only seven.


Different Names for Redemption

In addition to the unique status of entering into the transcendent 80’s, the Hebrew number for this New Year is תש"פ which forms the acronym: תהא שנת פדת -T’hei shnas pedus-It will be a year of Redemption.”

What is the significance of the word pedus? What is its particular meaning and connotation, and how does it differ from the word Geulah, the most commonly used word for Redemption?

The first time the word pedus appears in the Torah is in the context of the fourth plague that struck Egypt prior to the Exodus—the plague of Arov-a mixture of wild animals. G‑d instructs Moses to tell Pharaoh in His name: “I will make a distinction-pedus between My people and your people…”

From this we can derive that the term pedus reflects the aspect of Redemption that is separated and beyond the norm.

Geulah shares the same letters as Golah-exile, with the letter aleph inserted in it to underscore that Geulah is not radically separated from Galus [Golah and Galus are synonyms]. The word and concept of Geulah is formed by “merely” inserting the letter Aleph into Golah; inserting G‑d’s singularity into exile.

Pedus, by contrast, represents the radically and revolutionarily dynamic of Redemption.



The Two Dates for Rosh Hashanah

These two models for Redemption are not mutually exclusive.

We already have this paradoxical paradigm in the Holiday of Rosh Hashanah.

Rosh Hashanah translates as the “Head of the Year,” the anniversary of Creation (the creation of Adam and Eve, to be precise). The Alter Rebbe in his classic work, the Tanya, states that every Rosh Hashanah a dynamic, new and unprecedented G‑dly light enters into the world.

Yet, in the Torah, this Holiday is described as taking place on “the first day of the seventh month.”

Is Rosh Hashanah the beginning of a new year or the continuation of the past year?

Obviously, both are true. From one perspective Rosh Hashanah is a continuum. The six months that precede it prepare us for the renewal that will occur on Rosh Hashanah,

Similarly, with respect to the ultimate Redemption:

On the one hand, the Final Redemption will be one of pedus, a revolutionarily new one, separated from Galus mindset; lifting us off the ground and catapulting us into a new and higher consciousness.

On the other hand, to be receptive to the new Geulah dynamic (more precisely: the Pedus dynamic), we must prepare ourselves by opening our hearts to receive Redemption; inserting the Aleph into Golah.


The Advantages of Waiting

While we would have wished for the Final Redemption to have taken place in bygone years, there is positive aspect to it having been delayed until the eve of the year of Pedus.

The more time that elapses before Moshiach liberates us from Galus, the more Mitzvos we can accumulate, the more the world is refined (although we cannot yet see the effects with our eyes of flesh).

If Moshiach had ushered in the Final Redemption in the “70’s,” it would certainly have been a glorious event. It would have been a complete Geulah; one that is associated with the cherished and beloved ideal represented by the number 70, as explained above.

However, now that we are crossing into the transcendent dynamic of the “80’s”, the age of Pedus, not just Geulah, we will enjoy a far more sublime form of Redemption.



Enough is Enough!

At this point, someone might be tempted to argue that, by our logic, we should want Moshiach to delay even further. After all, haven’t we said that the longer we wait the better and more sublime the Redemption will be?

The response to this “argument” has been supplied by a Rosh Hashanah anecdote:

A Jewish peasant came to shul on Rosh Hashanah for the first time. He could not pray and became impatient with the lengthy prayers.  To make things worse he was famished.

He looked around and saw some of the congregants crying. They had just recited a very powerful, heartfelt and rending prayer that was a tear jerker. However, in his simplicity he surmised that they were crying because they too were hungry. So he joined the chorus of criers.

When the congregation came to a more upbeat part of the service he noticed that they ceased crying and were even singing the words with a cheery melody. 

In his peasant mindset he concluded that the reason they were in a better mood was because they must have realized that the longer the food stews the better tasting it will be. So he too stopped crying in anticipation of a delectable, mouth-watering meal following the service.

However, a few minutes later the congregation recited another very sad passage and resumed crying.

Now he was truly baffled. Why were the crying again? Didn’t they realize that the longer it takes before they eat the better tasting the food will be?

He racked his brains until he came up with a brilliant conclusion. The people were crying because they realized that, granted, the longer they would wait the better the food will be, but who can wait any longer when they were starving…

It is true, the longer we tarry in Galus, the more sublime the Redemption will be. But we don’t have the strength to endure this Galus, with all of it suffering any longer. We therefore cry out, “We want Moshiach now!”

We want to enter this New Year of Pedus, with the Final Redemption. We want to hear the sound of Shofar sounded by Moshiach himself in our newly built Bais Hamikdash!