May 24, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

A Straight Answer to a Roundabout Question

I would like to propose a straightforward suggestion to the question Mitchell First raised regarding the origin of the word עגל and how it relates to AGOL and EGEL (“The Root for ‘Round’: Ayin-Gimel-Lamed,” May 12, 2022). Some might think this answer is circuitous or circumlocutious. The connection between AGOL and EGLA, as Rashi suggests when Yoseph sent AGLOT to Yaakov, is a play on words. The last concept they learned together was EGLA  ARUFA, the calf offered when an unknown corpse is found between two cities and the murderer is unknown. The calf is brought as atonement, because the stranger should have been accompanied out of the city to ensure that no harm came to him. Yosef was communicating, in a roundabout way, cryptically, that unlike the corpse, he, Yosef, was still alive.

Rav Yinon Kalazan shared a simple but obvious connection that a גל, GAL, is a wave, a semicircle. A GALGAL, גלגל, a circle or a wheel, is simply two adjacent GALs. A GAL AVANIM, a mound (or wave of rocks), is cited several times as a demarcation of boundaries or a commemoration or monument to something that occurred at that place. Honi HAMiagel drew a circle around himself when there was a drought. He beseeched God to send rain and said he would not step out of the circle until there was rain. First God sent light rain. “Not what I wanted,” said Honi. Then God sent heavy rain. “Not what I wanted,” said Honi to God. He wanted just the right amount of rain to water the fields and sustain those in his generation. He had to go through several permutations and requests until he got what he wanted. He was direct in what he asked for, but he had to go about it in a roundabout way.

Moshe Roth, OD
West Orange
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