Dvar Torah Parshat Shemini 5771 2011

In the Talmud we find a statement that tells us that the letter Vav in the phrase HOLECH AL GACHON, “…creeps on its belly…” (Lev. 11,42) marks half of the letters of the Torah and the words DAROSH DARASH, “…inquired insistently…” (Lev. 10,16) mark the midpoint of the words in the Torah. (Ked. 30a) These words appear in this week’s Sidra.

If one counts the letters and counts the words he will find that they are off by approximately 5000 letters and 1000 words. The Talmud later says that we are not thoroughly versed in the exact letters. Hence we can assume that these discrepancies are due to the fact that we do not have the exact text. This is a very difficult statement to accept.

There is another explanation given to this dilemma. In the Torah there are 17 letters that are written either larger or smaller than the other letters, or defective (cut in half). The letter Vav mentioned above is number 9 among these letters; hence it is the middle letter.

There are also 77 double words in the Torah (such as Avraham, Avraham). The words DAROSH DARASH mentioned above are the 39th set, which makes them the middle ones.

When we find a difficulty in the Talmud we should not assume immediately it is a mistake. We should assume that there is an explanation and should seek one.

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