T'filat Chana

The ambiguous nature of Hebrew is the key.

Batya Medad,

Judaism לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Arutz 7

Before writing this, I had to check my Hebrew spelling, because the ambiguous nature of Hebrew writing is the key.

שְׂבֵעִים בַּלֶּחֶם נִשְׂכָּרוּ, וּרְעֵבִים חָדֵלּוּ, עַד-עֲקָרָה יָלְדָה שִׁבְעָה, וְרַבַּת בָּנִים אֻמְלָלָה

"They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry have ceased; while the barren
We tried to figure out how old Chana was when she finally had Samuel, and how she then managed seven children.
hath borne seven, she that had many children hath languished." (Samuel, Chapter 2:5)

Our sages say that Chana was barren for almost twenty years. They, and the Biblical text, also say that she only brought her beloved and much-prayed-for son Samuel to Eli, the High Priest, at Shiloh when he was weaned. He was probably five years old, since that's also the traditional gil chinuch, age of education.

At my neighborhood women's shiur, Torah class, on Shabbat we tried to figure out how old Chana was when she finally had Samuel, and how she then managed seven children.

My mind started going in a very different direction. The word "seven" in Hebrew is sheva. I didn't have the actual text in front of me, but after copying it I realized that I didn't need to ask my neighbor for spelling information.

Sheva, un-voweled, has a number of meanings besides "seven". It can be "an oath", "to swear", or if you use the letter shin as a sin, sove'a, it means "to be satiated", "satisfied". That same meaning for the root sheva is actually used in the beginning of the line quoted above.

We can now reinterpret the line to mean that "the barren mother is now satisfied." In other words, she has enough children, she no longer suffers, yearns for children.





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