Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Day the Rebbe was Conceived

The Rebbe was born on 11 Nissan, 5662.

One Tisha B'Av in Israel, with nothing to do but study in an air-conditioned shul, I was reading the Midrash, Eicha Rabba:1. There it relates the story of a Jewish farmer plowing his field with a cow. The cow groaned and a passer-by Arab told the farmer to unharness the cow because the cow just "declared" that the Temple was destroyed (by the Romans), so a Jew's life was thus made worthless. A moment later the cow bellowed again. The Arab then cried out, "Jew, go back to work. Your cow just declared that your savior was born."

As a "Chabadnik" for some years by then and growing stronger, I wondered, naively perhaps, how could this story make sense. After all, if the Lubavitcher Rebbe was Moshiach, his date of birth did not match the date of Moshiach's birth, which was Tisha B'Av according to this Midrash.

Then with pen and paper I began to calculate the number of days from the 9th of Av until the 11th of Nissan. The year the Rebbe was born, 5662, was a Jewish leap year, meaning it had two months of Adar. My count of days came out to be 271.

My answer surprised me. That's how many days there are in a full-term, 9-month pregnancy. By the way, the Hebrew word for pregnancy is הריון, which has a gematria value of 271.

I was both amused and delighted that I got confirmation from the Midrash that the Rebbe is Moshiach, albeit the Midrash's account of his "birth" was, in fact, an account of the day of his conception.

There was a sticky point, however; The Hebrew verb for birth, ילד, is never used to mean conceive, as least not in conversational Hebrew. But, in fact, I do recall, over the years, although I forgot the sources, that this verb has been used to mean conceive, although rarely.

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