Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tilting the Scales In Our Favor

I was just learning through a bit of Rosh HaShana (working on Rif Yomi for that segment, for the future) and I came across an interesting derasha. There is a dispute between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel about what happens to intermediate people, who are neither whooly righteous nor wholly sinful, such that the scale is balanced. Bet Shammai brings Scriptural evidence that such people go to Gehinnom, where they cry out and are lifted up. Bet Hillel claims ... well, see for yourself. From Rosh Hashana 17a:
And Bet Hillel say: And the Abundant is Mercy {rav chesed} tilts it {of the intermediate people} towards mercy, and upon them David said {Tehillim 116}:
א אָהַבְתִּי, כִּי-יִשְׁמַע ה-- אֶת-קוֹלִי, תַּחֲנוּנָי. 1 I love that the LORD should hear my voice and my supplications.
and upon them is said {our Gemara: David said} the entire parasha {section}.
Tosafot and Maharsha give their explanations (see them inside), based on the continuation of the gemara: daloti veli yehoshia. I present my own interpretation:

א אָהַבְתִּי, כִּי-יִשְׁמַע יְהוָה-- אֶת-קוֹלִי, תַּחֲנוּנָי. 1 I love that the LORD should hear my voice and my supplications.
ב כִּי-הִטָּה אָזְנוֹ לִי; וּבְיָמַי אֶקְרָא. 2 Because He hath inclined His ear unto me, therefore will I call upon Him all my days.
ג אֲפָפוּנִי, חֶבְלֵי-מָוֶת--וּמְצָרֵי שְׁאוֹל מְצָאוּנִי; צָרָה וְיָגוֹן אֶמְצָא. 3 The cords of death compassed me, and the straits of the nether-world got hold upon me; I found trouble and sorrow.
ד וּבְשֵׁם-יְהוָה אֶקְרָא: אָנָּה יְהוָה, מַלְּטָה נַפְשִׁי. 4 But I called upon the name of the LORD: 'I beseech thee, O LORD, deliver my soul.'
Pasuk 3 and 4 are like bet shammai. {Update: Or rather, even like Bet Hillel but specifically for posh'ei yisrael begufan - read on in the gemara.} But I believe that the derasha for Bet Hillel is from pasuk 2.
כִּי-הִטָּה אָזְנוֹ לִי - Bet Shammai interprets אָזְנוֹ to be maaznayim - his scales. and הִטָּה to mean tilt. Thus God tilts his scales for me. This interpretation is obvious once it is pointed out.

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