7/30/2006

ציון במשפט תפדה, ושביה בצדקה

The verse which forms the title of this post, the final one in the first chapter of Isaiah and of Haftarat Chazon, is well-known and very resonant. Loosely translated, it means “Zion will be redeemed through justice, and her returnees through righteousness”. I just learned over Shabbat that the original Jewish fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau or ZBT took its letters from the acrostic formed by the first three words of the verse, which emphasizes their commitment to social justice, and the fact that it originated as a Zionist movement.

This verse is also the locus of one of my grandfather’s favorite gematriyot. He was a great fan of word and number games, including gematriyot, acrostics, and riddles. This one in particular, which my Zaidy probably told me during my visit on Erev Shabbat Chazon is particularly fascinating.

Most readers will probably imagine that I’m not the biggest gematriya fan. The reasons for this are too numerous to start listing. Even I, however, cannot help but being impressed by this gematriya. It is truly impressive. I must have recalculated it 15 times in my life to make sure it’s really correct, and, by golly, it is. The size of the numbers and the way that it fits with a basic understanding of the difference between Torat Eretz Yisrael and Torat Bavel is simply astounding. Here it is:

ציון במשפט תפדה = 1076 = תלמוד ירושלמי
ושביה בצדקה = 524 = תלמוד בבלי
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