The Tur presents a fascinating correlation between each day of Pesach and the other holidays during the year. Based on the mystical cipher system known as א"ת ב"ש—Atbash, where the first letter of the alef-bet (aleph) is replaced by the last letter (tav), the second letter (bet) by the second-to-last letter (shin), and so on, he points out how the exact day of the week each subsequent day of Pesach falls out on will correspond to the same day some of the other holidays will occur.


א"ת—the alef referring to the first day of Pesach, is the same day of the week תשעה באב, will take place that year. ב"ש—the bet indicating the second day of Pesach, will also be the day of the week Shavuos initiates. Day ג will be the same as the first day of ראש השנה; ד paired with the day celebrating קריאת התורה—Simchas Torah, when we read the conclusion and beginning of Torah; ה parallels צום— 'Fast' of Yom Kippur; ו, the sixth day of Pesach is the same day of the week as the prior פורים.

The Tur adds an additional pairing, noting that Purim and Lag B'Omer also fall out on the same day of the week, offering the following mnemonic, פלג חי—the first word a combination of פורים ל"ג בעומר, and חי which equals 18, emphasizing the eighteenth day in the month Iyar, the calendar date of Lag B'Omer. 

The late Yerushalmi sage, Rav Shlomo Fisher, suggests this is no mere coincidence. There is a strand that threads through this alignment of Purim to the sixth day of Pesach, Lag B'Omer, and the 18th of Iyar.

On the sixth day after the Exodus, the Jews were poised with the enemy swiftly approaching behind them, and just the wide sea before them. They were petrified, cynically asking Moshe if there was a shortage of graves in Egypt, that they were brought here to die. They were told not to fear. The cloud that had led them till now had repositioned behind them and they were left with their own choice whether to march forward into the raging sea.  

This was the very first test of their bitachontrust in G-d.

The Chasam Sofer posits, based on Midrashim, that the Manna fell first three days after the Matzah they had taken out of Egypt ran out on the 15th of Iyar. On the 16th they complained. On the 17th they were told the Manna would fall the next day on the 18th of Iyar.

Once again, their trust in G-d was greatly challenged.

On the 50th day from the Exodus they experienced the revelation at Mount Sinai declaring their allegiance with the famous words of נעשה ונשמע—We will do, and we will obey!

Moshe ascends the mountain for forty days to receive the Torah, to return on the 17th of Tammuz. The people miscalculate thinking Moshe is late, they become restless. Lacking patience, they assume the worst, and misguidedly devise a golden calf. Moshe descends and discovers they folly, smashes the Tablets, returns to the mountain, appeals to G-d for forty days, achieving forgiveness for his people, remaining another forty days on high, returning with the Second Tablets on Yom Kippur and effecting a full atonement.

Once again, the Children of Israel exhibited a lack of trust, since one who loves does lose patience that quickly, remaining confident their loved one will not fail them.

The Midrash says that before the sin of the Golden Calf, we would have been able to devote ourselves entirely to the pursuit of Torah without distraction with G-d providing all our needs. After the sin we would have to prove our love and regain trust again. We would face challenges, pain, and toil remaining loyal to our mission with all our heart, soul, and possessions.

Our initial commitment of 'we will do, and we will obey' was when we were promised that G-d would take care of all our personal needs. Now that the gameplan changed it would take until the story of Purim, where we first wavered in our allegiance participating in the feast of Achashveirosh, resisting the guidance of the Mordechai to be unbending in our devotion to G-d and the Torah without rationalizations despite the political realities.

It was only after we experienced a second revelation, though one concealed within nature unlike the first one at Sinai, that we reiterated willingly and lovingly—without a 'mountain over our head'— "We will do, and we will obey!"

With Purim we began anew with a fresh commitment to remain loyal, through thick and thin, in our adherence to G-d's Torah, with complete trust that He will never fail us.

But in the post 'Sin of the Golden Calf' world, we would still be challenged in determining the path that would best express our love and devotion to G-d.

Would we slough off involvement in a material world, devoting ourselves to the study of Torah in poverty and deprivation? Or would we negotiate with the reality of our earthly existence in embracing a physical world and its needs but define them through the prism of Torah?

Originally the great Tanna, Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai, promoted the former approach, enduring twelve years of isolation, suffering, and lack, escaping the dangerous outside world by entering into his cave.

Upon exiting after that prolonged period and observing people engaged in commerce he reacted in disgust, bewildered how anyone could immerse oneself in anything other than Torah.

After being instructed to return to his cave for an additional year, he exits once again, observing an elderly man carrying two myrtle twigs right before Shabbos, lovingly explaining how these represent the two themes of Shabbos, Zachor V'Shamor—Remember and Preserve the Shabbos, infusing the physical world with holiness. Rebbi Shimon remarks how touching it is to see this man beautifully cherishing his relationship with G-d even as he embraces the realities of this temporal world.

Rebbi Shimon is transformed. With this new understanding he begins to comprehend the depths of every man's profound worth that can finds its expression in the most subtlest of ways, each one in their own personal struggle, seeking to allow their soul to enlighten this world in this uncharted 'Oral Law' that is now up to everyone to discover.

As we approach Lag B'Omer this year our eyes are focused on Eretz Yisroel.

There is a great divide among our own ranks even amid a war where our enemies seek to eradicate us all indiscriminately. The secular versus the religious. The Charedim versus the Dati Leumi.

There is the Charedi world whose love and dedication to Torah promotes isolation from material pursuits and absolute devotion to Torah study shunning comfort and financial success, to grow in Torah.

There is though, a segment of the religious population whose love for G-d, His Torah and land, that advances the study and devotion to Torah and mitzvos, yet believes one must engage in a profession, enlist in the army—not at the expense of our values but on the contrary to sanctify the Name of G-d by infusing these involvements with tremendous sacrifice, faith, and mesiras nefesh.

And there are many others whose souls are thirsting for definition, willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for our land and our people, that no doubt would arouse admiration in the eyes of the holy Tanna, Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai, as only he can properly appreciate the depths of these holy neshamos.

The Holy Reb Aharon of Karlin was fond of saying that just as Hashem is for all, so too, in G-d's image, is the Rashbi 'for all'!

Perhaps the Tur's choice of the sentiment פלג חי to connote this Pesach-Purim-Lag B'Omer connection, was meant to intimate that despite what may appear as a frustrating פלג—divide, it is truly an indication of how much we are indeed חי—alive!

May the merit of the great Rashbi ward off the measure of דין—judgment, as he did in his lifetime, in bringing us all to 'see the light' restoring our trust of one another, and bring us to greater levels of bitachon in—and love for—Hashem.


צבי יהודה טייכמאן