Friday, October 2, 2015

Karbanos of Sukkos: Mathematical trick or Torah insight??

Rabbi Shlomo Pollack

The Yalkut ילקוט שמעוני relates to us, how a particular Amora - ר' ברכיה - counted up the cows- The פרי החג - to arrive at the correct 70 number....

It would seem we are being introduced to a mathematical method to count up consecutive numbers, commonly referred to as "The Gauss Trick". Indeed that is the explanation given by the זית רענן (commentary on the page).

Could it be, that we are actually be given an insight into the Karbanos themselves??....

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  1. I appreciate the insight, but it's ultimately unsatisfying, b/c it doesn't really go anywhere. We know from the pasuk that the numbers decline. And we know from our seichel that they could have been divided into groups of 10 per day. What does R' Berechiah add by saying that the earlier days are essentially borrowing from the later ones, as R' Pollack maintains? Nothing, really.

  2. Are you implying that you understood that point before listening to this Shiur?!...

    That is very impressive.

    I hope I'm not alone, in not figuring it out on my own.....

    BTW, the Zeis Ranon probably didn't either. If he did, he would almost certainly not explained this passage as a "global" lesson. He would have explained it the way it was explained in the Shiur.

  3. I never worked through the details, and for that I am grateful to R' Pollack, but I understood that without the reason given to specifically decrease each day, the alternative would be for all the days to be equal. I don't see what he sees R' Berechiah as adding by saying that the earlier days "borrow" from the later ones. But I definitely enjoyed and gained from the way he slowly walked through the steps.

  4. It is a nice pshat. Perhaps it explains three things: (1) that anyone looking at the sequence could easily tell that there are 70 korbonos corresponding to the 70 nations; (ii) that there are actually double declining numbers, first, the numbers are reduced each day, plus the the number of korbonos "borrowed" from the later days is reduced each day in the order 3, 2 and 1; and (3) why couldn't there have been a different sequence of korbonos, e.g., 16 on the first day and a larger reduction in the later days, to show that only the minimal amount was "borrowed" from a succeeding day to average out to 10 each day. By the way, the loshon "V'Chen" may represent the 70 korbonos because the gematria of Chen is 70 (Chuf is 20 and Nun is 50). Good Yom Tov!


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