E-mail: rabbisimon@kesher.org
Brief info

Rabbi Rashi Simon, MA, is Founding Director of Kesher/The Learning Connection and Rav of the Kesher Kehillah. Born in the Midwest of the USA, he studied in yeshivot in Israel, New York, and Milwaukee, USA.

His ordination is from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate (inter alia). Rashi’s general education is from Purdue University and Touro College (USA), where he earned a BA in Psychology and an MA in Jewish History.Arriving in London in 1989, Rabbi Simon founded the Jewish Learning Exchange (JLE), before forming Kesher in 1997 as a cutting-edge outreach organisation. With the acquisition of their present building, Kesher expanded into a kehillah (synagogue community) in 2004.

Rashi’s urbane, witty, and insightful style, together with his mildly Anglicised American accent, make him a popular and memorable Torah educator. In addition to guiding and inspiring others he makes time for his own Torah study and development. As well as exploring the Torah, Rabbi Simon enjoys exercise, hiking and travel — activities which he loves to do with his wife, Ruthie and their five kids, if only he had more time in which to do it!

Questions & Answers
this week

Questions and Answers

Ask the Rabbi: Easy as א-ב-ג?
Dear Rabbi Simon,
I hope you fasted well yesterday.
Thank you for the insights into the Kinnot, making them easier to understand.
In the afternoon, I was listening to a shiur on Eichah on Torahanytime.  As an aside, the speaker mentioned that the 1st perek of Eichah is the source for the order of the alef bet as we know it.  Other chapters also follow the alef bet chronology but with ayin en peh interchanged.
He quoted Rabbi Shimon Schwab as his source.
Although he did not elaborate on this, surely Sefer Tehillim predates Megillat Eichah by centuries.  Several psalms are written in the alef bet order (e.g.
psalm 119).
Can you please clarify?
Thank you & best wishes.
PhilippeHi Philippe
TY for your sophisticated Q.
I have also heard that the question of the sequence of samekh and 'ayin is subject to dispute. It seems that there are indications that in Paleo-Hebrew the order is reversed from what we know. It is alleged that chapters 2, 3 and 4 of Eichah (chapter 5 is not alphabetical) reflect the original order. Of course, as you say, ch 1 conforms to the order with which we are family.
You are right that Tehillim predates Eichah, however a critic can claim that the order was redacted to bring it in line with the accepted/preferred sequence. This is particularly true for ch. 119, where each of the 8 vv per letter are their own group, and each set of 8 vv. can easily be repositioned. The question is in Ps. 34 or 145, if the internal logic of the passage sheds light on the correct sequence. In Ps. 34, some claim that the v. starting with the letter peh makes more sense to follow the verse starting with samekh (due to the common appearance of the word ra'). I am not convinced that this argument is compelling.
I will stick with the mesorah, that 'ayin belongs before peh. Best to look before speaking.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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