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Parshas Vayikra - A Lesson from Pi

By R' Shaya Gross, z'l

Posted on 03/14/19

Parshas HaShavua Divrei Torah sponsored by
Dr. Shapsy Tajerstein, DPM - Podiatry Care.
(410) 788-6633

[Ed. Note] Out of the respect and recognition of the impact made by longtime BJL friend and contributor, Reb Shaya Gross, z’l, we will maintain a living memoriam to Shaya through the sweet words and thoughtful insights of  his Divrei Torah. BJL readers will remember his weekly column on the Parsha and on various Torah ideas and concepts. These meaningful words will help us remember this special young man who will be sorely missed and for those who did not merit to know him, this will be the most appropriate way for them to become familiar with who he was.


Being that today is Pi day, I thought it would be appropriate to share a Torah perspective on Pi that is extremely relevant to Purim.

The Gemara in Eiruvin tells us that the circumference of a circle is three times the diameter. Tosafos tells us it is not exact, as we know  Pi is 3.14159... The  Gemara brings a proof from  a Pasuk concerning Shlomo Hamelech where it states he made a pool 10 amos across and the kav [line] around it was 30 amos. Hence, we see it is a three to one ratio.
Why did the Gemara bring a proof for a simple mathematical equation? Furthermore, why did the Gemara and Pasuk round if off? The Vilna Gaon answers thaf the "Kree" -how we read the word- for the line is KAV which is gematriya 106, but it is spelled Kavei which is Gematriya 111. If you divide 111 by 106 you get 1.04716 which is the exact same number as the difference between real Pi and what chazal rounded it out too. Hence, the Gemara brought the proof from the Pasuk to say we are rounding it off as that is how it is read, i.e. how we perceive it, but in reality it is really 1.04716 times more!

What does this have to do with Purim?
Albert Einstein wrote that Pi is one of the most fundamental numbers in Mathematics. We see this clearly as Hashem’s name Shakai, which Chazal say means the world was expanding in CIRCLES infinity until Hashem said ‘enough’, is gematriya 314! Why is a circle so significant?

A circle represents the world of hope. In a circle, when you think you are coming to the end of the line, it starts all over again. This represents that as stark as things may be, there is always hope that things can change and become much better. Hope is above the world of intellect. At times intellect tells us that it is all over, but the circle represent the hope that everything can change even if rationally there is no way to for it to happen.
The signet ring that Achashverosh gave Haman represent this circle and the world of hope. Haman was receiving the ability to afflict Klal Yisroel in the world beyond intellect. Normally, even evil has boundaries and is governed by rules. Haman and the evil forces received the ability to afflict without any boundaries; truly an extremely dangerous time. But after Klal Yisroel did Teshuva, Mordechai received the signet ring from Haman, and now Klal Yisroel had access to that special world of hope. Access to a world where even if intellect tells us we are stuck on our lowly level, we can strive and reach much higher levels.
The signet ring, a circle, is represented by the letter Mem. If you add the letter Mem to Mordechai’s name you get of course 314!
Perhaps this is the understanding of the statement of chazal that our requests on Purim are answered in the affirmative much more, as we now have access to the world of the signet ring/circle!

As we near Purim, let us prepare for this once in year opportunity to tap into the world of hope and reach levels in our Avodas Hashem that we never thought were possible. May we all reach greater height, and may all of our Tefilos on on this extremely potent day be answered Litovah.