By Robert Chazan
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Extra info for AJS Review 17, 1 (Spring, 1992)
33:4. 40 ELIEZER SEGAL struction, and the inexorable fatalism that determined Esau/Rome's role in that greatest of Jewish national (and, for the Zohar, cosmic) catastrophes. Countingthe 'Omer As our next example, let us look at the Zohar's treatment of another pentateuchal passage, this time the law in Leviticus 23:9-22 which prescribes the ritual of the 'omer. The biblical text, elaborated in rabbinic tradition, speaks of a complex structure of precepts and symbols: the harvesting of an 'omer of barley; its being brought and waved before the Lord by the priest "on the morrow of the sabbath" of Passover to the accompaniment of specified sacrifices; the permitting of the new grain-crop, which has hitherto been forbidden; the counting of seven weeks from the day of the bringing of the 'omer, and the offering of the two loaves of bread (shtei ha-lehem) made of leavened wheat-flour on the fiftieth day, along with the accompanying sacrifices.
Benjamin is weeping over a single destroyed sanctuary. This would fit nicely if the word for "neck" appeared there in the singular form. Unfortunately, though, it does not. The symmetry of the homily, and its exegetical logic, are hence marred. Commentators over the ages have tried their hands at solving the problem. Several have drawn the conclusion that underlying the midrashic interpretations was a biblical text which did actually switch from the plural to the singular form, thereby supplying the basis for the homily.
The gravity of his behavior would be magnified by the demonic status that typifies Esau in kabbalistic tradition; cf. Matt, Zohar, p. 274. 14. Referring to the various scriptural connections between necks and the towers of Jerusalem. For a survey of parallel materials, see Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews 5:309 (n. 264). 15. In the literature of medieval Jewish biblical exegesis, I am aware of only a single commentator to Genesis who addresses the question that the Zohar answers about the connection THE EXEGETICAL CRAFT OF THE ZOHAR 39 fashion, he has presented the reader with two alternative homilies, distributed in two different places in the Zohar.