Monday, December 31, 2018

From Midnight to Noon

Frank Sinatra famously sang that New York is a “city that never sleeps.” However, of all the sleepless nights, New Year’s Eve is Gotham’s most awake night, as tens of thousands often stand in frigid temperatures waiting for the ball atop a building in Times Square to descend. At the stroke of midnight, those in Times Square and everyone beyond, ring in the new year with embraces, songs, drinks and best wishes.

Midnight is the official demarcation point, as the day of the week, date of the month, and year change at that moment.

Midnight, also has various Jewish legal ramifications. There is also Jewish wisdom about Midday, or noon - midnight’s polar opposite, which is also the time of day many New Year’s eve revelers wake up. The famed super-commentary Rashi, notes three places where the phrase “the midst of the day” is employed in the Bible and how they are connected. First, Noah and his family entered the ark “in the middle of the day” (Genesis 7:13), in broad daylight. The people living at the time of Noah had sworn to physically block Noah and his family from entering the ark. God purposely resolved to instruct Noah and his family to enter the ark in the presence of everyone, to highlight the people’s inability to stop what God decreed.

Second, God liberated the Jews from Egyptian slavery in the “middle of the day” (Exodus 12:51). The Egyptians vowed to stop the Jews from leaving Egypt, even with axes and other weapons. God took the Israelites out in the middle of the day and dared anyone to try to stop Him. Finally, when describing Moses’ death (Deuteronomy 32:48), the term “in the middle of the day” is once again used. The Jewish people claimed that they would not allow Moses, the man who delivered them from Egypt, split the sea for them, provided the Manna and quail from heaven, hydrated the nation with water found in the desert, and gave the Torah to the Children of Israel, to die. Nevertheless, God summarily took back Moses’ soul in the middle of the day.


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