Monday, January 16, 2006

ShOVaVYM!?!?

According to the Arizal, the great kabbalist Yitzchok Luria of Tsfat, this week is the start of the six week period of ShOVaVYM. ShOVaVYM is an acronym for the first six parshas in the book of Shemot: Shemot, Vaera, Bo, B'shalach, Yitro, Mishpatim.* Together, the first initials of these six Torah portions form the word "shovevim", or "mischievous ones", an allusion to Hashem's mischievous Jewish children who must rectify their ways.

The Arizal teaches that this is a period of repentance, as the next six Torah portions move from the theme of slavery to redemption, with slavery representing being bound by the weight of our sins, and the redemption and revelation at Sinai being a recommitment to the ways of the Torah.

The Arizal himself advocated holding regular fasts during this time, although this is no longer done. However, it might interest the S. Cruz chevre that some Breslov Chassidim refrain from eating any animal products from dawn to nightfall on Thursdays during this time, and some even refrain from eating animal products for 24-hours at a time.

While you may not want to fast or give up your glatt kosher burgers, now is a great time to spread a little extra tzeddake and crack open the Five Books of Moses, to see what Moses and the Exodus was all about.

*: If you are wondering why it is ShOVaVYM and not ShVaBaBaYM, I recommend taking Biblical Hebrew at UCSC to find out why!

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