THE KABBALAH OF TIME:
Kahane and Wainer explain that the calendar is the master key to unlock the hidden rationale behind the formal structure of ancient sacred texts, as well as to understand basic mystical concepts. When comprehended within the context of the Jewish calendar, these works reveal the spiritual energy of each week, serving as a practical guide for self-analysis and development.
OF SONGS: 13. You, who sit in the gardens the friends hearken to your voice;
let me hear [it].
SOULS THAT DESCENDED TO EGYPT: Joseph and Yetzer
MAKKOT: Daf 9 - 16
OF JEREMIAH: Chapter 51
Week 51 in
the Jewish calendar is the last week of Elul. The verse of Shir HaShirim for
this week speaks of the Jewish people sitting in the gardens, while G-d asks to
hear their voice. This again is connected to the idea of the King being in the
field. He is waiting for us to speak to Him.
that the gardens mentioned are those of strangers during exile and the friends
are the angels that hear the voice of the Jewish people in the synagogues. This
appears to be particularly connected with Rosh Hashanah. The voice that Hashem
hears may also be the voice of the Shofar, our desperate cry to reconnect to
seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the fifty-first added
here is Joseph, who is mentioned separately, along with his mother Rachel and
his brother Benjamin. Joseph is the Tzadik Yesod Olam, the foundation of the
world, from whom comes both the physical and spiritual sustenance for the rest
of the world. This quality is closely associated with Rosh Hashanah, the day in
which the sustenance for the entire rest of the year is decided. Tishrei is
also associated with the Tribe of Efraim.
This week is
also connected with Yetzer, son of Naftali. This name is a reference to the teshuvah
(repentance) we perform for the sins committed because of our Yetzer Harah, our
evil inclination. Yetzer also comes from the the world Yotzer, creator. It is
on Rosh Hashanah that we crown Hashem as King, the Creator of the Universe.
Dappim 9 through
16 of Makkot includes all of Chapter 2 (folios 9 through 13), which is all
about cities of refuge. Dapim 13 through 16 are part of Chapter 3, regarding
different laws related to lashes and whether or not they are given under
various circumstances. Elul is connected to both concepts – we seek refuge as
well as repentance and early atonement, so that we are ready for Rosh Hashanah,
the Day of Judgement.
of the Book of Jeremiah contains a similar theme to the above. The chapter
continues to speak of the judgment and the downfall of the greatest empire at
the time, Babylon. Just as Babylon was a “destroyer,” so it will be destroyed.
It seems related to the idea of vengeance associated with the cities of refuge,
yet Babylon will have no place to hide. It will be severely punished for its
20. You are for Me a
shatterer, yea weapons of war, and with you I would shatter nations, and with
you I would destroy kingdoms.
21. And with you I
would shatter a horse and his rider, and with you I would shatter a chariot and
22. And with you I
would shatter man and woman, and with you I would shatter elder and youth, and
with you I would shatter young man and virgin.
23. And with you I
would shatter a shepherd and his flock, and with you I would shatter a farmer
and his team, and with you I would shatter governors and officers.
24. And I will
recompense Babylon and all the inhabitants of [the land of] the Chaldeans for
all their evil that they committed in Zion before your eyes, says the
25. Behold I am
against you, O destroying mountain, says the Lord, who destroys all the earth,
and I will stretch out My hand upon you and roll you down from the rocks and
make you a burnt mountain.
49. As Babylon
[caused] the slain of Israel to fall, so in Babylon shall fall the slain of all
50. Fugitives from
the sword, go, do not stand still! Remember the Lord from the distant past, and
let Jerusalem enter your mind.
51. "We are
ashamed for we have heard reproach, embarrassment has covered our faces, for
strangers have come upon the sanctuaries of the house of the Lord."
“The hand of our god is exalted for we have
destroyed His house.”
behold days are coming, says the Lord, and I will visit retribution upon her
graven images and throughout her land the mortally wounded shall groan.
STORY OF CHANNAH: 23. And
he said to them: "Why do you do the likes of these things, for I hear evil
reports about you, from all these people.
PIRKEI AVOT QUALITIES BECOMING
TO THE RIGHTEOUS: old age
SONG OF SONGS: Chapter 7
TZADIKKIM: Rabbi Yisrael Meir HaKohen Kagan (The Chafetz Chaim, 24th of Elul) and Rabbi Shalom Rokeach (The Sar Shalom, First Belzer Rebbe, 27th of Elul)
Week 51 is the last week of Elul, ending just days prior to Rosh
Hashanah. The verse from the story of Channah speaks of how Eli spoke to his
sons about the evil reports against them. It is a call to repentance, very much
like the call Hashem makes to us prior to the coming new year.
The verse also speaks of what is often considered the worst
of all sins: Lashon HaRah, often translated as slander. Lashon HaRah is said to
“kill” three people, the one who speaks it, the one who listens, and the one of
whom the Lashon HaRah is spoken. King David writes in Chapter 34 of the Book of
13. Who is the man who desires life, who
loves days to see goodness?
14. Guard your tongue from evil and
your lips from speaking deceitfully.
15. Shun evil and do good, seek peace
and pursue it.
This is ultimately the advice that Eli is giving his sons in
order for them to attain life, just as we seek to be inscribed in the Book of
Life in the coming year.
This week’s Pirkei Avot quality that is “becoming to the
righteous and becoming to the world” is exactly this characteristic of long
life, Seivah, translated as old age, or ripe old age. Seivah also represents
the idea of wholeness, completion. In Chapter 5 of Pirkei Avot, it states that
someone who reaches the age of 70 reaches Seivah. Our sages comment that 70 is
considered a full life span, as stated in Psalm 90:10. (Marcus, p. 188) King
David himself passed away at 70, and is described to have reached Seivah Tovah,
good old age. (Chronicles I, Chapter 29, mentioned in Rav Ovadia Bartnura’s
Commentary to the Mishah). This quality of completion is quite appropriate for
this week, as we are about to complete the cycle of the Jewish year.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe quotes the Arizal in explaining that
achieving Seivah does not mean that our mission has likewise been accomplished.
We must continue to rise higher and higher:
The AriZal follows a different
text for that Mishnah: “At 60, one attains seivah(old age).” He does
not, however, interpret “old age,” as a negative quality, and offers a
non-literal interpretation of the verse: “Rise before a person who has reached
old age,” stating that “reaching old age” summons up the inner resources that
enable a person to rise and accomplish his purpose in life.
It is worth noting that the word Seivah, even though it is
connected to completion, also contains the letters of the word Shav, which
means to return, to do teshuvah, to repent. Even those that are fully righteous
must always be looking for ways to grow and accomplish more.
Chapter 7 of the Song of Songs begins by calling the Jewish
people by the name Shulamit. The root of this name is Shalom, peace, but also wholeness
and completion, just like the name Shlomoh, Solomon. It is a reference to a
completeness reached in our service of G-d. The chapter continues by describing
the perfection of each of the limbs and parts of the Jewish people’s “body.”
The chapter embodies the close, intimate relationship with G-d we experience
during this month, as well as the completion of the year, mentioned above. Interestingly,
the verse regarding Shulamit, despite the name’s meaning, also speaks of
returning, of doing teshuvah:
1. "Return, return, O Shulammite;
return, return, and let us gaze upon you." "What will you see for the
Shulammite, as in the dance of the two camps?
Also as mentioned above, despite feeling a sense of
completion and wholeness, we must continue to strive for even greater
accomplishments and an even greater sense of closeness.
This week contains the yahrzeits of two of our greatest
Torah sages, who very much embodied the ideas of long life and completeness: Rabbi
Yisrael Meir HaKohen Kagan (the Chafetz Chaim, 24th of Elul) and Rabbi Shalom
Rokeach (the Sar Shalom, First Belzer Rebbe, 27th of Elul).
Rabbi Israel Meir HaCohen Kagan is commonly known as the
"Chafetz Chaim," the name of his famous work on guarding one's
tongue. Born in Zhetel, Poland on February 6, 1838, he was taught untill age 10
by his parents and then moved to Vilna to further his Jewish studies. Refusing
the pulpit rabbinate, the Chafetz Chaim settled in Radin (Poland) and subsisted
on a small grocery store which his wife managed and he did the
"bookkeeping"-watching every penny to make sure that no one was
cheated. He spent his days learning Torah and disseminating his knowledge to
the common people.
As his reputation grew, students from all over Europe flocked
to him and by 1869 his house became known as the Radin Yeshiva. In addition to
his Yeshiva, the Chafetz Chaim was very active in Jewish causes. He traveled
extensively (even in his 90s!) to encourage the observance of Mitzvos amongst
Jews. One of the founders of Agudas Yisrael, the religious Jewish organizaion
of Europe and later the world, the Chafetz Chaim was very involved in Jewish
affairs and helped many yeshivos survive the financial problems of the interwar
period. Exemplifying the verses in Psalms 34:13-14, "Who is the man who
desires life...? Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking
deceit," the Chafetz Chaim passed away in 1933 at the ripe age of 95.
The Chafetz Chaim's greatest legacy is the 21 sefarim (holy
books) which he published. His first work, Sefer Chafetz Chaim (1873), is the
first attempt to to organize and clarify the laws regrding evil talk and
gossip. He later wrote other works, including Shmirat HaLashon, which
emphasized the importance of guarding one's tongue by quoting our Sages. The
Mishnah Brurah (1894-1907), his commentary on the Daily Laws of a Jew (his
first series in the Shulchan Aruch), is found in many Jewish homes and is
accepted universally to decide Halacha.
Firmly believing that he was living right before the time of
Moshiach and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, the Chafetz Chaim wrote a work
that stressed the learning of laws concerning sacrifices, the Holy Temple, and
related topics. He also published seforim to strengthen certain aspects of
Jewish life including kashrus, family purity, and Torah study.
Rabbi Shalom could trace his ancestry to the great gaon, Rabbi
Eliezer of Amsterdam, author of Ma'aseh Rokeach. Orphaned at a young age,
he was brought up by his uncle, Rabbi Yissachar Ber, the Rabbi of Skol, under
whose tutelage he studied Talmud and Halachah with great intensity. The fire of
his Chasidut was nurtured by his mentors, the Chozeh of Lublin, Rabbi
Yehoshua Heshel of Apta, the Maggid of Koznitz, and Rabbi Uri of
After his marriage he devoted 1000 days and nights to the
uninterrupted study of both the revealed and kabalistic Torah, emerging as a
recognized scholar of eminent stature. Young students and accomplished scholars
flocked to him in even larger numbers, to see and to learn; foremost among
these was the renowned Rabbi Shlomo Kluger of Brody. In Belz, Rabbi
Shalom blazed a new trail: the fusion of excellence in Torah scholarship with
the burning mystical zeal of Chasidism. Since the beginnings of the movement
the mitnagdim had accused chasidim of devoting too much time to joyous
celebrations in fellowship with their rebbes, at the expense of Torah study,
which is the bedrock of Judaism. By stressing the overriding importance of
in-depth Torah study, the Belzer Rebbe removed the stigma of superficiality
that had plagued Chasidism.
He did not commit any of his discourses to writing. They were
recorded from the memories of his followers, who collected and published them;
Rabbi Shalom of Belza Al HaTorah (Hebrew).
Rabbi Shalom of Belz, also called Sar Shalom, erected a
magnificent yeshivah and study hall in Belz that became the spiritual center
for tens of thousands of Belzer chasidim in Galicia. He was succeeded by his
illustrious son, Rabbi Yehoshua. In the 1940's, the Nazi persecutions all but
wiped out the splendor that was Belz. After the Holocaust, the disconsolate
scattered remnants of Belzer Chasidut - under the leadership of the surviving
scion of the Belz dynasty, the young Rabbi Yisachar Dov - miraculously restored
the former grandeur of Belz. Today the glorious new Belzer yeshivah building
graces the Jerusalem skyline, and Belzer centers of learning can be found in
every major city in America, Israel and Europe, teeming with thousands of eager
young students and mature scholars. Indeed, with the help of the Almighty, Belz
has risen from despair and is now carrying on the traditions of Torah and
Chassidut of the first Belzer Rebbe, the Sar Shalom.
This week also contains the yahrzeits of Rabbi Uri of
Sterlisk (the Saraph, 23rd of Elul), Rabbi Menachem Mendel Danziger (Alexanderer
Rebbe, 23rd of Elul), Rabbi Yechiel Michil of Zlotchov (the Maggid of Zlotchov,
25th of Elul), and Rabbi Shmuel Abba Zikelinsky of Zichlin (26th of Elul).
This Motzaei Shabat (Saturday night), the 26th of Elul, begins the first set of 22 days of the Jewish calendar, which parallel the letters Alef and Beit, as well as the Heavens and the Earth in Perek Shirah. This cycle includes the days of Creation, as well as Rosh Hashanah itself, running until the middle of Sukkot.
The Talmud teaches that Alef Beit together stand for Aluf Binah (learn understanding). The current week of the year, Week 51, is the week of Binah).
Alef, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, stands for the Alufoh Shel Olam, the Master of the World, Hashem. Its shape is formed by two yuds and a vav. The yud above represents G-d and the yud below represents the yid, the Jew. The vav that connects the two is Emunah, faith.
Beit, the second letter, stands for Bayit, home. Midrash Tanchuma teaches that G-d created the world because He desired a dwelling place in the lower realms. Beit is also the first letter of the Torah, which begins with the a description of Creation: "Bereshit Barah Elokim Et HaShamayim Ve'Et Ha'Aretz," "In the beginning, G-d created Heaven and Earth. The Beit represents the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people, and the Torah itself serves as a link to bind the Jewish people to G-d.
Heaven and Earth refer back to the opening verse of the Torah, mentioned above. The verses themselves also hint to similar themes as above:
The Heavens are saying: "The heavens speak of G-d's glory, and the skies tell of His handiwork."
As mentioned in the very last set of the year, which overlaps with this one and also includes Rosh Hashanah, "Everything that G-d created in His world, He did not create but for His glory." (Pirkei Avot, 6:11) In the last set, the Grasses sing a verse that it almost identical to that of the Heavens: "May the glory of G-d endure forever, may G-d rejoice in His works." (Psalms 104:31)
The Earth is saying, "The earth and everything in it are G-d's; the inhabited area and all that dwell within it." (Psalms 24:1) And it is saying: "From the wings of the land we have heard song, glory to the righteous." (Isaiah 24:16)
The verse of the Earth speaks of the world as a dwelling place, and G-d's ownership over it, including its dwellers. The second verse appears to link G-d's glory to that of the Tzadik, the one that follows in G-d's ways and that of the Torah. As also mentioned in the last set of the year (which includes Rosh Hashanah), G-d Himself is righteous, and on Rosh Hashanah we pray to be judged as Tzadikim, and inscribed in the Book of Life.
The priestly families related to these 22 days are Jehoiarib and Hezir. The guard of the family of Jehoiarib headed all of the priestly guards, just as Rosh Hashanah heads the year. The name means, G-d will fight, contend. Hezir appears to come from the word "Chazarah," which mean to return. In these days we crown G-d as our King and Creator of all things. Yet this crowning is defined primarily by our returning to Him (Teshuvah) and repairing our relationship.
BESHALACH: 13. Joshua
weakened Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.14. The Lord said to Moses, Inscribe this
[as] a memorial in the book, and recite it into Joshua's ears, that I will
surely obliterate the remembrance of Amalek from beneath the heavens
TANACH VERSES FOLLOWING
THE HAFTORAH: 14. And the Lord turned toward him and said, "Go, with this
your strength, and save Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent
you?" 15. And he said to Him, "Please O Lord, with what shall I save
Israel? Behold, my thousand is the poorest in Menasseh, and I am the youngest
in my father's household."
TALMUD NAZIR: UP TO DAF 44
GENERATIONS FROM ADAM TO
THE LAST KING OF JUDAH: Jehoiakim, also
known as Eliakim
THREE ADDITIONAL NATIONS: Kenizites
Week 51 also falls within the month of Elul. The Torah
section for this week describes how Joshua weakened Amalek, and how Moshe
is told to inscribe in the Torah and recite into Joshua’s ears that Hashem will surely
obliterate the remembrance of Amalek. Hashem’s statement and Moshe’s words to
Joshua are meant to encourage all those in doubt that Hashem will certainly
destroy Amalek and punish them for their impudence. As mentioned previously, Amalek has the same numerical value as safek, doubt. This is the time of the year in which we strengthen our faith in G-d and prepare to crown Him as our King.
The Tanach section for this week again shows Gideon’s doubts
and feeling of weakness. Like the section from the Torah, Hashem gives Gideon
strength and encouragement, while appealing to Gideon's logic and understanding. There
is also an interesting parallel between Gideon who is from Menasheh and Joshuah
who is from Efraim, both descendants of Joseph.
Dapim Kaf Gimmel through Mem Dalet (Folios 23 - 44) of Nazir
(which mostly cover chapters 4 – 6), describe cases in which others join in
someone’s vow, nullifying a wife’s vow, and other laws relating to women and
their vows or power to annul the vow of others. The tractate then discusses
vows made by mistake (such as vows made without known about the destruction of
the Temple), as well as other mistakes Nazirites might make, trespassing the
conditions of their vows. This parallels the second phase of Joseph’s life,
when he mistakenly grew his hair and made himself attractive to Potiphar’s
wife; it also parallels the further personal crisis Joseph endured, after being
falsely accused and imprisoned. Nullifying vows is one of the most important preparations for Rosh Hashanah.
Prior to Jehoiakim, his brother Jehoahaz reigned briefly for
three months. He displeased Pharaoh Necho, and was replaced with Jehoiakim, who
was renamed Eliakim. Eliakim was lax in his piety, and did not help the people
return to Hashem. Judah was engulfed by greater and greater corruption and
depravity. (See Book 1, how week 51’s Wiesel is related to these qualities. Chuldah
is also the prophetess that foretold of the destruction of Judah to King
Josiah). Eliakim angrily refused to listen to the prophets, and instead sought
to kill both Jeremiah and Baruch. He ultimately was forced to submit to
Babylonia (who had defeated Egypt) and pay heavy taxes. After three years, he
rebelled. The rebellion was quashed and he died in captivity. Jehoiakim failure to listen to the prophets was his greatest folly.
and Eliakim mean “G-d will establish.” The only difference in the two names is
the name of G-d used. The name “El,” in contrast to the name “Hashem,” is a
reference to the thirteen attributes of mercy and is particularly connected to
the month of Elul. (Alter Rebbe, Likkutei Torah, Re’eh) Throughout the month of
Elul, these attributes are constantly repeated during Selichot (prayers of
forgiveness and repentance said all month by Sefardi communities, and in the
week prior to Rosh Hashanah in Ashkenazi ones). Elul itself begins with the
letters of the name “El.”
The fifty-first week is related to conquering the Kenizites.
The root of their name is Zaken spelled backwards. As mentioned previously, Zaken,
translated as elder or sage, stands for “Zeh She Kanah Chochmah,” he who has
acquired wisdom. The Kenizim stand for that which is the complementary “mirror”
of Chochmah, namely Binah, understanding.
There are at least two very famous righteous leaders whose
name are related to these people: Caleb the Kenizite and his brother Othniel
ben Kenaz. Both are also known for their territorial conquests. Caleb, along
with Joshua, was the only spy who came back from the Land of Israel with a
positive report. Othniel ben Kenaz conquered Kiriat Sefer, and thereby merited
to marry Caleb’s daughter, Achsah. (Joshua 15:17) Both also embody the
attribute of Binah, a form of intellectual conquest.
Caleb used his understanding to deal with the other spies
with great cunning, thereby avoiding an even greater disaster. Caleb’s name contains
the word “Lev,” heart, which is closely connected to the attribute of Binah.
Othniel ben Kenaz was the first Judge of the Jewish people.
He was also the one to restore the Jewish laws that had been forgotten by
Joshua during the mourning period of Moshe. Othniel ben Kenaz used deductive
reasoning, the main attribute of Binah, to be able to decipher those laws.
 It seems interesting
that the words Achsah, Kenaz, and Sefer are phonetically quite similar to the
names for Ashkenazim and Sefardim.
HAAZINU: “Because you betrayed Me
in the midst of the children of Israel at the waters of Merivath Kadesh, [in]
the desert of Zin, [and] because you did not sanctify Me in the midst of the
children of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 32:51)
HAFTORAH: He gives great salvation
to His king, and He performs kindness to His anointed; to David and to his
seed, forevermore. (II Samuel 22:51)
PIRKEI AVOT QUALITY: Who Relates a
Statement in the Name of the One Who Said It
On week 51, week of selichot, in Haazinu, we
read about the reason why Moshe is sent by G-d to die on Mount Nebo: “Because
you betrayed Me… you did not sanctify Me in the midst of the children of
Israel.” Moshe’s death was a form of atonement for his past misdeed, however
minute. Moshe’s punishment serves as a reminder to us about just how careful we
need to be in being loyal to G-d and in sanctifying His name. This week is the
time to ask Hashem for forgiveness for our failures in these areas.
The Haftarah verse for this week is much
more positive in nature. It speaks of the great salvation and kindness that He
performs to His anointed one and their descendants forevermore. If we properly
repent and approach G-d correctly, He will show us kindness. The month of Elul
is about the King being in the field, and about “Ani Ledodi Vedodi
Li,” a reciprocal relationship of G-d’s love. When we show kindness
to G-d and serve him correctly as our king, G-d in turn shows us kindness and
shows salvation to the king he appointed for us.
The quality needed to acquire the Torah for this week
is “who relates a statement in the name of the one who said it.” During the
week of selichot, we are careful not to take credit for our actions and
the opportunity to do teshuvah. We pray in the merit of our patriarchs,
repeatedly mentioning the 13 attributes of mercy words spoken by G-d Himself,
and transmitted to us by Moses.
This week’s prophet is Chuldah. Incredibly, as
explained in Book 1, Chuldah, rat in Hebrew, is also the animal of week
51! Chuldah’s story contains many aspects of this quality, both regarding the
men that approach Chuldah in the name of Josiah the King, as well as Chuldah
herself. Both in Kings, Chapter 22, and Chronicles, Chapter 34. The story
repeats quite a few times that men (incidentally two of which are named Shaphan
(“rabbit) and Achbor (“mouse”)) asked Chuldah in the name of king. Chuldah
responds by speaking in the name of G-d.
Perhaps “beshem omroh,” which literally means saying
something in the name of the one who says it, means more than just
citing the source of the statement, but also means being true to the meaning of
the original message. Chuldah exemplifies this quality probably more than any
other prophet in the sense that King Josiah specifically sought out Chuldah
instead of Jeremiah because he thought that perhaps as a woman she would be
have more mercy than a man, and would be able to bring forth a more merciful
outcome. Chuldah, however, speaks as strongly as Jeremiah would have, inkeeping
with the quality of relating a statement “beshem omroh.” The sages even discuss
why Chuldah would prophesize publically at all being that Jeremiah was the main
prophet at the time – they explain that Jeremiah and Chuldah were actually relatives.
The levitical city of this week is Cheshbon, that
literally means accounting. It is during this time of year that we do
a Chesbon HaNefesh, a spiritual accounting and self-evaluation before
 This week would is also
related to Rivkah and to Rebbetzin Rivkah, wife of the Rebbe Maharash, mother
of the the Rebbe Rashab and grandmother of the Frierdeker Rebbe. Rebbetzin
Rivkah also appears to represent the abovementioned quality: “Surviving her
husband by 33 years, for many years she was the esteemed matriarch of Lubavitch,
and chasidim frequented her home to listen to her accounts of the early years
of Lubavitch. She is the source of many of the stories recorded in the talks,
letters and memoirs of her grandson, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak (the sixth
Friday, the 24th of Elul, begins an additional set,
containing 12 days, which parallels the Hebrew vowels, as well as "the
Grasses" in Perek Shirah. These twelve days include the first days of
creation, as well as those of Rosh Hashanah of the coming year, up to the 6th day of Tishrei.
As previously explained, the Grasses were not an
original part of Perek Shirah. They were added by Rabbi Yaakov Emden. The verse
was "found in an incorrect location" in some versions of Perek
Shirah, and therefore transferred to an appropriate location the end of the
Chapter 3, based on Talmud in Chullin 60a. (Slifkin, p. 199)
Similarly, it would not appear necessary to discuss
the Hebrew vowels. Nevertheless, the twelve vowels bring the total count of the
calendar to 364 days, which equals 52 weeks, the number of weeks in a solar
year. There are 52 animals in Chapters 4 - 6 of Perek Shirah, one for each week
of the year. (See Book I of the Kabbalah of Time)
The Hebrew vowels parallel the Kabbalistic sefirot.
They give additional sound to the letters, allowing for a much greater
diversity of sounds and words.
Similarly, the song of the Grasses is about diversity:
The Grasses are saying, "May the glory of G-d endure forever; may G-d
rejoice in His works." (Slifkin, p. 198)
As mentioned previously, this verse is derived from a
passage in the Tractate of Chullin (60a). This passage is closely linked with
Creation, which took place during these days:
glory of G-d endure forever; may G-d rejoice in His works," - this verse
was uttered by the angel of the world. At the time when the Holy One said
"according to its kind" to the trees, the grasses reasoned a
fortiori: "If the Holy One wants intermingling, then why did He say
'according to its kind' for the trees? And furthermore, if with trees, which do
not usually grow intermingled, the Holy One said, 'according to its kind,' then
how much more so does this apply to us!" Immediately each emerged
according to its kind. The angel of the world opened with, "May the glory
of G-d endure forever; may G-d rejoice in His works."
The song is sung at the time of creation, sung by the
"angel of the world" itself. The song is about G-d's glory, His Kavod.
Pirkei Avot concludes by stating that the entire world was created
solely for His glory:
G-d created in His world, He did not create but for His glory. As is stated (Isaiah 43:7):
"All that is called by My name and for My glory, I created it, formed it,
also I made it." And it says (Exodus 15:1):
"G-d shall reign forever and ever." (Chapter 6:11)
After mentioning the 24 families of Kohanim that
composed the year-round shifts, this count also would appear to be complete.
Yet it is worth also adding the name of the person at the head of every shift:
Zadok the Kohen Gadol.
In this world, Hashem’s glory is expressed perhaps most
clearly in the Kohen Gadol himself:
The [Kohen Gadol’s]
garments were to be “for honor and glory” (Shemot 28:2). The Kohen Gadol
wearing these garments would be a symbol to the people of the glory of God.
Wearing these, he would command the people’s respect, a respect for the office,
and a respect for Temple, and a respect for God.
Hashem’s glory was particularly revealed through truly
righteous Kohanim Gedolim, as was Zadok, who served in the times of King David. The name Zadok, from the word Tzedek (justice) also reflects God's perfect justice and (hopefully) our being judged as Tzadikim (righteous) and inscribed in the Book of Life.
The weasel is saying, "Let every soul praise
G-d, Halleluyah!" (Psalms 150:6)
Rabbi Yossi the son of Yehudah of Kfar HaBavli would
say: One who learns Torah from youngsters, whom is he comparable to? To
one who eats unripe grapes and drinks [unfermented] wine from the press. One
who learns Torah from the old, whom is he comparable to? To one who eats
ripened grapes and drinks aged wine.
Said Rabbi Meir: Look not at the vessel, but at what
it contains. There are new vessels that are filled with old wine, and old
vessels that do not even contain new wine.
fifty-first week, still in the month of Elul, it is the weasel (Chuldah)
who proclaims that all live beings should praise the Lord, Haleluyah!
(Psalm 150:6). This is a reference to the power of repentance in the month of Elul and
also to the messianic age when all beings, even the lowest, will openly praise Hashem.
Week 51 also includes the 25th of Elul, the day in which the world
was created (on Rosh Hashanah, man was created, See Week 52),
and is therefore connected with the concept that all living things should
praise G-d, the Creator and Master of the Universe.
also the name of one of the seven prophetesses mentioned in the Tanach.
She was the last to prophesy before the beginning of the Babylonian exile. Her
words related to the fall of the Davidic dynasty in the kingdom Judah. The
dynasty was extremely corrupt, and the prophecy of Chuldah is very powerful and
represents corruption and decay, both in nature and in civilization. Chuldah comes
from the word Chaled, which means decadent. Interestingly, the Talmud
states that the weasel is the only land animal that has no correspondent in the
sea. In the
first time that the world became corrupt, G-d brought upon the Flood. The
weasel, who cannot live in water and does not have any sea animal that
corresponds to it, reminds us of this unfortunate time in the history of
humanity and the world as a whole.
beautifully describes the redemption from this decaying state, as well as how
to achieve it. Whereas before, due to its decadence, the whole world was
destroyed as a single entity, the weasel urges us all to praise G-d together as
a single entity. In the song of the weasel, the word used for living being is neshamah,
which literally means breath, as well as soul. In this verse, the word is used
in the singular, even though it is referring to all beings. The explanation for
this is that the weasel understands that we are all ultimately a single soul, a
part of G-d.
above, neshamah also means breath. Breath itself represents life, as
well as the most basic connection we have with Hashem. Through our breath
we are connected to Hashem and the world constantly, in a way that is
beyond our comprehension. In Elul, we recognize this constant connection
with G-d. As also mentioned previously, we know that in Elul, "the
King is in the field," ready to hear our requests. Elul is also
a good time to go to the field or any other secluded place to breathe,
meditate, and talk to Hashem.
week, the lesson from Pirkei Avot comes from Rabbi Yossi the son of
Yehudah of Kfar HaBavli, who teaches that to learn Torah from the young is
like eating unripe grapes and drinking [unfermented] wine out of the press, but
to learn from older masters is like eating ripe grapes and drinking old wine.
Rabbi Meir adds to this statement, saying that one should not just look at the
vessel, but what is inside. There are new containers full of old wine and old
vessels that do not even contain new wine. (IV: 20) Rabbi Yossi compares the
Torah to wine, which affects us in ways that are beyond our intellect. Also,
with age, a person acquires knowledge and experiences that go beyond his or her
previous intellectual capacity.
comparison made by Rabbi Yossi is also related to the sefirah of binah,
the second intellectual sefirah. After the "light bulb moment"
at the time an idea is conceived, that idea then needs to be developed and
properly understood intellectually, just like the fermentation of wine. Rabbi
Yossi teaches us that it is not ideal to learn from those who have not had time
to properly process their Torah ideas, even though Rabbi Meir explains that this
is not necessarily related to the teacher’s physical age.
As in the
previous week, here too there is a way to understand Rabbi Yossi’s lesson in a
purely positive way. The word for young, ketanim, literally means small,
but can also be understood as humble, such as in the Shmuel HaKatan (the
Small), who teaches the Pirkei Avot lesson for week forty-nine. The
Hebrew word used for grapes, anavim, is phonetically practically the same
as the word humble in Hebrew, anav. The Hebrew word used for unripe is kehot,
which is also the name of Moses and Aaron’s grandfather, Kehot. Finally, the
term used for "out of the winepress” is migitoh, which, with a bit of
poetic license, can be read as a m’yegiatoh, which means “from one’s own
efforts.” Wine is a metaphor of the most mysterious secrets of the Torah. A
humble person teaches these secrets in a way in which the student deduces the
most hidden secrets of the Torah through his own efforts. This is much more
valuable than simply receiving all of one’s knowledge "on a silver
then read the above verse as follows: “One who learns Torah from humble ones is
like studying under Kehot, i.e., Moses and Aaron, and learning the deep secrets
of the Torah through one’s own efforts. This is closely connected to Elul and Rosh
Hashanah, when we humbly strive to correct our behavior and connect with G-d.
above, this week is connected to Shavuot and to the sefirah of binah.
A "gift" of self-improvement we receive from the weasel is that any
person, no matter their level, can connect directly to Hashem in a
simple and natural way, without the need for intermediaries, just like the very
act of breathing. We must also remember to realize that we are all one.
RabbiDanielKahane and Ann Helen Wainer have recently launched a new book, which promises to change the way scholars and laymen understand the Jewish calendar as well as the structure of central Jewish texts.
The book shows how the 52-day period spanning from Passover to Shavuot (Pentecost) is in fact a microcosm of the 52 weeks of the year. Additionally, it demonstrates how 52 rabbis and 52 animals listed in the sacred works Pirkei Avot (“Ethics of the Fathers”) and Perek Shirah (“Chapter of Song”) parallel the year’s weeks as well. Finally, the book explores the kabbalistic meaning behind the numbers and divine attributes (sefirot) related to each day from Passover to Shavuot known as the Counting of the Omer.
The Counting of the Omer has always been one of the key tools used by the Jewish People as a basis for spiritual development. The book expands its use to the entire year and shows amazing and eerie connections between how the weeks of the year and the days of the Omer parallel each other. “The basis for the entire book is one simple idea,” RabbiKahane says, “Just as the culmination of the Counting of the Omer, Lag Ba’Omer, falls on the 33rd dayof the Omer, so too the weekof Lag Ba’Omer falls on the 33rd week of the year.
“The book’s use as a weapon against sadness should also not be underestimated,” exclaims Ann Helen Wainer, “its uplifting ideas and its connectedness to the song and harmony of nature, as well as the wisdom and foresight of our ancestors, is a true gift.”