I noticed that in Yermiyahu 31:21, it says .

עַד-מָתַי תִּתְחַמָּקִין, הַבַּת הַשּׁוֹבֵבָה: כִּי-בָרָא יְהוָה חֲדָשָׁה בָּאָרֶץ, נְקֵבָה תְּסוֹבֵב גָּבֶר.

"...and Gd will create a new thing in the land, the women will encircle the men" (This section is obviously talking about when the Jews will return to Israel)

In kohelet, as we all know, it says "nothing is new under the sun".

What is the traditional way of reconciling these two statements?

edit: I should clarify that I'm not so interested in what 'women chasing after men' means or how people interpret it. I'm more curious about the phrase 'a new thing will arise'... How is this possible if 'nothing is new'?

  • What do you mean by "badge"?
    – msh210
    Nov 22 '11 at 17:36
  • I can't remember if it was the Chafetz Chaim or not, but "ain tachash" was used to assur just about everything.
    – avi
    Nov 22 '11 at 17:37
  • 1
    @avi: you may be referring to the Chatam Sofer, who used to say "Chadash Assur min HaTorah" about any innovation. - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Menachem
    Nov 23 '11 at 19:04
  • Thank's menachem. Looks like it's based on a different "Chadash". removing that from the question.
    – avi
    Nov 24 '11 at 9:14

The key phrase there in Koheles is "under the sun." The Gemara (Shabbos 30b) explains that this means the natural world, as opposed to Torah which was created "before the sun." (Rashi to Eccles. 1:3 explains a little differently: תחת can also mean "instead," and "sun" symbolizes the light of Torah, so תחת השמש means "things done instead of Torah study.")

The era of Moshiach, then, doesn't have to be subject to the same constraints of "nothing new." If, as the Midrash (Vayikra Rabbah 13:3, paraphrasing Is. 51:4) states, at that time there will be "a new Torah" (i.e., new dimensions of Torah that were never revealed before), then by the same token there can be novelties in the natural order. (Consider Isaiah's prophecy about "the wolf living peacefully with the lamb," which according to many opinions - albeit not Rambam - means just that. For that matter, consider the resurrection of the dead, for which so far the only precedents have been Eliyahu's and Elisha's actions, and which certainly is not part of the natural order we know.)

R. Menachem Mendel Schneersohn (the "Tzemach Tzedek"), if I'm understanding him correctly, makes basically the same point in his Beurei HaZohar (in Kabbalistic terms). The order of things that we're used to is that malchus1 depends on what it receives from z"a,2 paralleling how the earth depends on the sun to produce vegetation; in Moshiach's times the earth (and its analogue malchus) will be "beyond the sun" of z"a and will not need to receive Divine beneficence through it. (In other places in Chassidus, too, it is explained that this is in fact not something new, but a revelation of something that was true all along: that the spiritual source of malchus/female is higher than that of z"a/male.)

  1. "Kingship," the lowest of the ten sefiros, which also represents femininity.

  2. Acronym for ze'er anpin ("small face"), the six sefiros from chessed ("kindness") through yesod ("foundation"), which also represent masculinity.

  • You should remove the bits about the Wolf/lamb and Resurrection of the dead. Neither of those things are 'new'. As you stated Elisha brought back the dead, and in Gan Eden the wolf was with the lamb. (also of interest is the lion which currently takes care of the gazells :) ) However, Yermiahu seems to be saying that this new thing will happen before Moshiach, as it is how we will know the time is near.
    – avi
    Nov 22 '11 at 15:17
  • I've edited the question now that I was able to look at the source more closely.
    – avi
    Nov 22 '11 at 15:21
  • 1
    @avi: after the sin of the Eitz Hadaas, Hashem says to Chava, "To your husband will be your desire" - which, as Rashi explains (based on Eruvin 100b), means that she has to wait for him to take the initiative in marital relations. If so, then indeed the situation of נקבה תסובב גבר has already existed too - during the brief period between Chava's creation and the sin!
    – Alex
    Nov 22 '11 at 15:22
  • Alex, so understand 'women encircle men' differently, because the prophet says directly that this will be a new creation.
    – avi
    Nov 22 '11 at 15:23
  • btw, does " (and its analogue malchus) will be "beyond the sun" of z"a and will not need to receive Divine beneficence through it. " Mean that the system of sephirot will be gone in the days of Moshiach?
    – avi
    Nov 22 '11 at 15:25

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