Audio Special: Dr. Ezra W Zuckerman Sivan

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

by Joel Rich


This course covers two main themes based on a forthcoming book by Ezra Zuckerman Sivan: 1) the Torah as heralding the invention of the seven-day week, and secondarily 2) the social scientific question of how and why the seven-day week was invented

The Invention of the Seven-Day Week, Part 1 of 5

The seven-day week is a social convention (other than for Jews) which only emerges in Roman times and has no natural cycle. In maaseh breishit the description of creation week seems more of a poetic, metaphysical description of HKBH, and shabbat never appears as a noun (this seems not a source for seven-day week with a day off.  Plus, why then wasn’t it seen in ancient general society?)

The Invention of the Seven-Day Week, Part 2 of 5

Maan is the first reference to a week (6 days it came, not on the seventh {Shabbat as a noun}). There’s an important tie between key aspects of Bereshit and Yetziat Mitzraim with implication for the remaining of a seven-day week.

The Invention of the Seven-Day Week, Part 3 of 5

Shabbat was the climax of the exodus. HKBH revealed to Yosef cycles of seven but HKBH also gave us the message that he was in control (not man) and that he is both the provider and tester (trainer).

The Invention of the Seven-Day Week, Part 4 of 5

Why did Shabbat and the mkoshesh both involve capital punishment? The maan and mkoshesh were designed to teach us to avoid the tragedy of the commons.

The Invention of the Seven-Day Week, Part 5 of 5

HKBH intervened in history to give us the gift of a seven-day week with the concept of Shabbat – all the elements that would need to be overcome in establishing a new social convention (e.g. free riders, cost of transition, need for group cooperation) were dealt with in the process. Perhaps the fact that the seven -ay week/Shabbat was accepted is “proof” of the divine.

About Joel Rich

Joel Rich is a frequent wannabee cyberspace lecturer on various Torah topics. A Yerushalmi formerly temporarily living in West Orange, NJ, his former employer and the Social Security administration support his Torah listening habits. He is a recovering consulting actuary.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

The latest weekly digest is also available by clicking here.

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter