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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why 51 Words in the Petek?

Saba's Yahrzeit always falls during or around the week of Parshas Vayera. As mentioned in this Parsha, during Lot's family's escape from Sodom, the angels exhorted them to flee to the mountains. Lot's reaction was that since there were more righteous people there then he was, he was afraid that he would die not being worthy like they were. Instead, he suggested that he should escape to a city called Tzoar. Rashi explains that since Sodom had its fill of sins by the time it was 52 years old and got destroyed, and that Tzoar was only 51 years old, he felt that at least for a year, Lot would have a chance to live in this town since the residence there were hardly any better than the people of Sodom, and so he felt he would be judged to be more righteous than the rest of the clan, and hence be worthy of being saved again should another catastrophe strike.

Rashi learns this out from the words - Imolto Noh Shohmoh - "Please let me escape there". The word Noh is the Gematria of 51, and hence, Lot is saying that since Tzoar is one year younger than Sodom, he would have a chance to live there for at least a year before its sins get filled up to be slated for destruction.

Of course, Lot did not want to improve his behavior to be worthy like the righteous, even though he previously spent time with his uncle Avrohom Ovinu, from whom he did learn the trait of hospitality, but that was the extent of that in terms of his morality, but was far wanting in terms of behaving sexually, which led to his affair with his daughters, and though he knew one of his daughters slept with him overnight in his drunken state, he did nothing to prevent the same thing from happening the following night from his other daughter.

In any case, we see the concept here the concept of escaping in terms of the number 51. Even Lot believed that Hashem punishes misdeeds, and didn't just brush off the punishment of Sodom as a coincidental thing; he just wasn't motivated to move up spiritually beyond his trait of hospitality. But where Lot messed up, while in fact escaping from reality of his spiritual situation rather than to his spiritual situation, and just wanted to escape to a place for a "quick fix", is where Saba's Petek comes in. Its 51 words are what give encouragement for one to improve in their Avodas Hashem, mentioning the wording of Avodah three times! Also, as "the villager" has mentioned before, the number 51 is a multiple of the number 17 - as in the 17th of Tamuz and the Yiddishe word Biz comprised of the letters Beis, Yud, Zayin, as can also be read in Hebrew as B'Yud Zayin - on the 17th.

The Petek is the message of the ultimate escape from sins, not like L'Havdil confessing one's sins to the priest and then continuing his/her good ol' life, but making a sincere change for the better. And just like the wording of Avodah is mentioned three times in the Petek, so too, three times the word of Tov is the total Gematria of 51=17*3. Hence, making a change for the good in one's Avodah is the ultimate escape from sinning, and at times, escaping punishment for sins, if Teshuva is done from love.

For more details about Lot in relationship to what I wrote here, and mention of the Petek, check my blogspot - (#51).

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