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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Week 4 (Book 4a): Thinking of Others, Feeling Beloved, and the Rebbes of Chortkov and Ribnitz

STORY OF CHANNAH: 4 And it came to pass upon a day, when Elkanah sacrificed, that he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions;

PIRKEI AVOT: beloved,         

PROVERBS: Chapter 4

TZADIKIM: Rabbi David Moshe Friedman (the first Chortkover Rebbe, 21st of Tishrei) and Rabbi Chaim Zanvil Abramowitz  (the Ribnitzer Rebbe, 24th of Tishrei)

Week 4 is the week of the end of Sukkot, Hoshanah Rabbah, Shmini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah.  The verse from the story of Channah is about how Elkanah would give portions of his sacrifices to Peninah and her sons and daughters. This parallels the idea of how on Sukkot, sacrifices are brought on behalf of all the nations. This verse is a prelude to the next, which speaks of how, nevertheless, he would give a double portion to Hannah, just as Hashem nevertheless appoints a special day following Sukkot, in which the sacrifices relate only to the Jewish people. Shmini Atzeret is compared to the time after all the guests of a great party go home, and only His beloved companion remains.

The Pirkei Avot adjective associated to this week is exactly that: “beloved.” The adjective truly encapsulates the love and joy of this week.

Chapter 4 of the Book of Proverbs encompasses many of the basic ideas of feeling “beloved” and not abandoning the Torah when learning it for its own sake:

6. Do not [leave] her, and she will preserve you; love her and she will guard you.    
7. The beginning of wisdom [is to] acquire wisdom, and with all your possession acquire understanding.        
8. Search for her, and she will exalt you; she will honor you when you embrace her.     9. She will give your head a wreath of grace; she will transmit to you a crown of glory. 10. Hearken, my son, and take my words, and years of life will increase for you.

This week, on the 21st of Tishrei, Hoshanah Rabbah, it is the yahrzeit of Rabbi David Moshe Friedman, the Rebbe of Chortkov, son of the Rebbe Yisrael of Rizhin. Chortkov was known for its appeal to wealthy chassidim, and for serving Hashem through wealth, similar to the path of the Rizhiner himself. Bringing Hashem’s blessings into the physicality of this world is one of the themes of this Week as discussed in Book 3 and others.

Also (almost always) this week, is the yahrzeit of Rabbi Chaim Zanvil Abramowitz, the Ribnitzer Rebbe, on the 24th of Tishrei. The Ribnitzer was a disciple of Rabbi Avraham Matisyahu of Shtefanesht, grandson of the Rebbe Yisrael of Rhizhin. The Ribnitzer Rebbe was a well known tzadik and performer of miracles, whose life seemed to be completely above this physical plane. For approximately 60 years, he fasted from Sabbath to Sabbath, and his times for prayer seemed to be above the limitations of space and time.

It is fascinating to think that such contrasting lifestyles could both represent the way of Rizhin, but that is the case. The Rizhiner Rebbe was himself a descendant of Rabbi Avraham “the Angel,” and of his father the Maggid of Mezritch, both known for their spiritual, heavenly existence.

Other yahrzeits this week include Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Pollonoye (21st of Tishrei), Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Premishlan (21st of Tishrei), and (sometimes) Rabbi Levi of Berditchev (25th of Tishrei), Rabbi Moshe Sofer (25th of Tishrei) and Rabbi Asher son of Rabbi Aharon (HaGadol), the Stoliner Rebbe (26th of Tishrei).


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