Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Three Keys

As I began to type this blog post, there was a tiny buzz on the main intercom. I ignored it.... because this time of the morning (the sun has just risen) the only people pressing buzzers are usually doing it by mistake. A few minutes later, another tiny buzz..... so I picked up the intercom and a little voice said "We forgot our key, we're locked out, can you let us in..." I let them in the main door... and returned to type up "The Three Keys". I'm sure there's some kind of message in that..... maybe our generation is "locked out" too.

Art: "Key" by Nikoletta Bati
"Engrave on it with signet-ring [type] engraving: "Holy to Hashem" פִּתּוּחֵי חֹתָם קֹדֶשׁ לַי־הֹוָ־ה 
[Tetzaveh 28:36]

In Maseches Ta'anis (2a) R' Yochanan states that there are three maftechos, three keys, in Hashem's possession that He never entrusts to others:

*the key to childbirth
*the key to rain
*and the key to resuscitating the dead.

The Gemara derived this from three verses:

*Hashem does not entrust the key to childbirth to a messenger, as the verse states: "G-d remembered Rachel; G-d hearkened to her and He opened (vayiftach) her womb" [Bereishis 30:22]

*Hashem does not entrust the key of rain to a messenger, as the verse states: "Hashem shall open for you His storehouse of goodness, the heavens, to provide rain for your Land in its time" [Devarim 28:12]

*And Hashem does not entrust the key of resuscitating the dead to a messenger, as the verse states: "Then you will know that I am Hashem, when I open your graves" [Yechezkel 37:13]

These three keys, remarked the Vilna Gaon, are alluded to in the verse: "Pituchei chosam kodesh laHashem" - פִּתּוּחֵי חֹתָם קֹדֶשׁ לַי־הֹוָ־ה -

The acronym of the word  חֹתָם (Ches, taf, mem) which means "seal" hints to the following words:

Ches - Chayah (a woman who has recently given birth)
Taf - Techiyas HaMeisim (the resuscitation of the dead)
Mem - Matar (rain)

The verse can therefore be read as follows:  "The keys of (pituchei) childbirth, resuscitation of the dead, and rain - ChoTaM - are designated for Hashem's use only ("kodesh laHashem").

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein

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