Saturday, October 11, 2014

Week 4 (Book 2): Justice, Speech, Moses, Beit-Horon and Leaving the Sukkah.

HAAZINU: The deeds of the [Mighty] Rock are perfect, for all His ways are just[ice]; a faithful God, without injustice He is righteous and upright. (Deuteronomy 32:4)

HAFTARAH: With praise, I call to the Lord, for from my enemies I shall be saved. (II Samuel 22:4)

QUALITY TO ACQUIRE THE TORAH: Verbal enunciation

PROPHET: Moses

LEVITICAL CITY: Beth-Horon

Week Four includes the end of Sukkot, Hoshanah Rabbah, Shmini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah. Haazinu’s verse is about how G-d’s deeds are perfect, completely just. On Hoshanah Rabbah the judgment for the year is dispatched.

The Haftarah verse speaks of praising G-d and being saved from our enemies. During these days, we call to G-d in praise and dance. The verse is also reminiscent of the words of the eagle in Perek Shirah, which asks G-d to remember the other nations and punish the evildoers.

The quality for this week is verbal enunciation. During Hoshanah Rabbah there is a great emphasis on verbal enunciation. We say out loud all the prayers said during the Hoshanot of the previous days, bringing down the blessings of the coming year. On Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, we engage with the Torah in a way that is not just intellectual, but also physical. We elevate the Torah through dancing, with our bodies. Torah cannot remain only in the realm of thought. It has to be brought down into this world through speech. 

Moses, the prophet linked to this week, is certainly the one most connected to verbal enunciation. The utterance of words did not come easily to him, in great part because Moshe’s soul was so elevated, that it was difficult to bring down his lofty thoughts into speech. Similarly, on Sukkot and Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, we have to bring down our pure thoughts into action, and into the dancing itself.

The levitical city connected to the fourth week is Beth-Horon. Beth-Horon literally means a “hollow house.” During this week, on Shmini Atzeret, we reluctantly say goodbye to the Sukkah, leaving it hollow. However, we take the holiness of the Sukkah with us to inspire us for the rest of the year and to spread forth its holiness to the rest of the world.

Another important lesson we learn from this week's quality to acquire the Torah is the need for speaking to others about what we learn. If Torah is to be made real in our lives, it cannot be limited to the times of study. It has to be made part of our daily conversations. It has to be communicated to others. The Book of Proverbs states, "Ner Mitzvah, Torah Ohr." A mitzvah is a candle and the Torah is light. Light is not limited to space and time like the mitzvah. The light of Torah is to be carried with you wherever you go.  



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