Friday, October 25, 2013

Introduction - How to Read the Blog


"For everything there is a season and for every time there is a purpose under Heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

We spend much of our life in spiritual darkness. We often go about our lives with great uncertainty, without the benefit of sage advice or guidance. Yet somehow we just keep going, attaching ourselves to values that confuse our minds and our hearts, and ignoring the real needs and wants of our soul.

We become so busy with our own personal affairs and so distracted by the avalanche of superfluous information directed at us, that we blind ourselves to the signs all around, the lessons and warnings G-d presents to us at every moment. Certain instances, however, awaken us from this darkness. In those times, which are like lightning bolts of clarity, we realize that there is something greater, something beyond this physical plane and our worldly concerns.

The reality is that our soul needs to sing! Yet what are we to do if we do not know the melody and the lyrics of the song? The Ba’al Shem Tov, the founder of the Chassidic movement, explains that this is the feeling behind the shofar blast on Rosh Hashanah. The shofar is the most basic and primal expression of the soul, and it is with this cry that the Jewish people awaken spiritually at the start of every year.

This book’s objective is to bring us closer to our song - the song of the soul - and the Jewish calendar itself is its sheet music. In an effort to promote more harmony in our lives, we will study important Jewish figures, texts, values and techniques for spiritual enhancement that will make ourselves attuned to the energy of each week of the year. This book will give access to unknown tools, which allow for an open channel of dialogue with G-d. These teachings are not new. They are already found in the Torah itself. They are within everyone’s reach, close to the mouth and to the heart. (Deuteronomy 30:11; Tanya - Introduction)

Through continuous effort, an individual who is committed to change can obtain personal as well as collective transformation: in the family, the local community, the city, and beyond. As the prophet Isaiah exclaims, the Earth was not created to be chaos. (Chapter 45:18) We desperately need to live in a better world, and leave it more peaceful for future generations.


Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the Alter Rebbe, teaches that one should “live with the times.” (Hayom Yom, 2nd of Cheshvan, p. 101) By connecting Jewish lessons to fixed times in the Jewish calendar, the book is meant to serve as a tool for self-reflection and spiritual development.


This blog can be read from beginning to end all at once, but its main purpose is to be experienced during each week. Along with the meaning of every Jewish month and the important dates of the Jewish calendar, the idea is to connect with the spiritual energy of the week through the paradigms listed in each book. While doing so, one should try to absorb and internalize the teachings found in them, in order to improve one’s daily conduct.

The blog can also be experienced during each day of the actual omer count, from Passover until Shavuot (using one week for each day), given that the omer count is itself a microcosm of the whole year. The fifty-two weeks of the year are also reflected in the rituals and times connected to each day. 

The weeks of this book can even technically be applied on a yearly basis, with each week representing a different year. This may have both an individual application, with each week representing a year in a person’s life, but could even be applied to history as a whole, which would more or less parallel the cycles of Sabbatical and Jubilee years.

For the individual, the cycle would start at birth, and then restart at age 52. Examples of this would be King Solomon and Shmuel HaNavi, who both lived 52 years. This may also apply to more than one reincarnation. In the Passover Hagaddah, Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah states that he “was like a man of 70.” The Vilna Gaon teaches that Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah, who was only 18, knew that he was a reincarnation of Shmuel HaNavi, and so therefore, he saw himself as being 18 plus 52, which equals 70.

For those seeking a daily connection throughout the year, this can be done simply by subdividing each week, using a different sefirah for each day. In this way, a person would perform seven separate “omer counts.” The first day of the year is chesed shebechesed shebechesed (the first day of the first week of the first series of seven weeks), and Lag Ba'Omer will represent not only hod shebehod but, hod shebehod shebehod (the 5th day of the 5th week of the 5th series of seven weeks).

In order to succeed in this journey, the reader will benefit from one more ingredient: emunah. Emunah means faith in G-d. The Midrash states that the Sea of Reeds only split, allowing the Jewish people to cross, after Nachshon ben Aminadav threw himself into the water. At that time, we know that the Jewish People was completely cornered, seeing the Egyptian army approach on one side, and facing the deep waters of sea on the other. What was the way out?  The Jewish people hesitated, and somewhat panicked, despite the great number of Divine miracles they saw upon being freed from Egypt. At this moment, without having second thoughts and believing firmly that everything would work out for the best, Nachshon jumped into the sea. When the waters were already entering his nostrils, the Sea of Reeds split and all of the Jewish people followed him.  The Midrash explains that G-d wanted His people to act based on emunah.

Thus, it is through Nachshon’s example that we learn how to conduct our lives. Emunah is a process we develop (it is etymologically linked to the Hebrew word for craft, omanut), but to begin, a person needs a certain amount of faith, to just jump in like Nachshon. The obstacles in Nachshon’s way were removed because he was determined to bring G-d’s will into reality. After all, nothing is impossible or even difficult for the Eternal One, Who took His people out of the land of Egypt. G-d took His dear people out of slavery; He did not do so through an angel or a messenger, but did it Himself, through His strong hand and outstretched arm. For this reason, besides celebrating Passover annually, the Jewish people also remember its freedom from Egypt in its daily prayers, despite the fact that this liberation took place a few millennia ago.

Filled with emunah, one can march onward with ease in this beautiful spiritual journey. It is with this strong sense of faith, truth and hope that we present the tools for Jewish wisdom, understanding and knowledge contained in the pages to follow.


The Rebbe's well known commentary to the introductory words of Pirkei Avot (Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IV, p. 1175ff), are adapted and summarized below, from an excerpt of the book, "In the Path of our Fathers."  The words in brackets, red, and italics are added to explain the connection with the Five Books of Moses. The author also humbly shows how the books of “The Kabbalah of Time” attempt to reflect this same pattern.  


If the mishnah's purpose was merely to describe the chain of tradition, a more detailed list would have been appropriate.[4] By mentioning only these five individuals or groups, the mishnah alludes to five traits that are essential in developing a relationship with the Torah.

"Moshe" represents a unique fusion of humility and pride. Although he was "more humble than any man on the face of the earth,"[5] he served as a firm leader of the people, confidently telling them: "It is I who stood between you and G-d."[6]  [Bereishit, the Book of Genesis, is essentially about Derech Eretz, proper behavior, as in the statement, Derech Eretz Kadma LaTorah, “proper behavior” preceded the Torah. In Bereishit, the Torah first teaches us about how to properly behave by recounting the deeds of our forefathers. It is only in Shemot, the Book of Exodus, that we learn about the Torah itself and its commandments.  Book 1 in "The Kabbalah of Time” is also focused on proper behavior, which we learn even from animals. Interestingly, in the end of the Book of Genesis, various tribes are compared to animals, because certain good behaviors of each tribe have become instinctual, like that of an animal.]

"Yehoshua" represents the epitome of dedicated devotion - "a youth who never left the tent."[7] Such dedication is also necessary if one is to make the Torah a part of one's thinking processes. [As mentioned above, it is in Shemot, the Book of Exodus, that we acquire the Torah. Acquiring the Torah demands tremendous commitment, like that of Yehoshua. Acquiring the Torah is also the theme of Book 2 in the “Kabbalah of Time.”]

"The elders" represent the virtues of maturity and cultivated wisdom. The commitment of Yehoshua must be nurtured through disciplined study. [Disciplined study and cultivating wisdom parallels the main theme of Vayikrah, the Book of Leviticus, which is primarily about the services and sacrifices of the priests in the Tabernacle. Book 3 in "The Kabbalah of Time” is also about Divine service and prayer.]

"The prophets" represent a drive to make one's thinking processes reflect one's spiritual values. This is necessary to ensure that the knowledge of the elders remains more than human wisdom, and reflects the G-dly source of the Torah. [The Torah’s spiritual values are in clear display throughout Bamidbar, the Book of Numbers, particularly in the first part of it. Each member of the Jewish people is counted, and a particular focus is given to the Nasi, the leader of each tribe. Book 4a in "The Kabbalah of Time” is also about our spiritual values, realizing that we are spiritual in essence, and connecting to the Nasi.]

In regard to "the Men of the Great Assembly," our Sages explain the name was given because they "restored the original glory."[8]

Moshe referred to the Almighty as "the great, mighty and awesome G-d."[9]

Yirmeyahu said: "Gentiles are celebrating in His palace; where is His awesomeness?" And when he referred to G-d,[10] he did not use the term "awesome."

Daniel said: "Gentiles are subjugating His children; where is His might?" And he did not use the term "mighty."[11]

They [the Men of the Great Assembly] arose and said: "On the contrary, this is His might; that He overcomes His natural tendency, and shows patience to the wicked. And this is His awesomeness; for were it not for His awesomeness, one nation could not endure among the many."[12]

The Men of the Great Assembly were able to see G-dliness even in the darkness of exile. This is the last quality which the mishnah chose to emphasize as a prerequisite for our study of the Torah; regardless of the situation in which we find ourselves, we must appreciate G-d's intent. [The second half of Bamidbar also focuses on the tests and the darkness of exile. The tests of exile bring about tremendous tragedy; yet they also reveal our true nature, our Divine Essence. Book 4b in "The Kabbalah of Time” is also about being able to see G-dliness, particularly in exile.

In the above discourse, the Rebbe also mentions that “the Men of the Great Assembly” established guidelines, applicable to all, that ensured the continuation of the Judaism and the Jewish people throughout the long exile to come. Devarim, the Book of Deuteronomy, is also about setting general guidelines applicable to future generations that would find themselves in different circumstances, such as those living in the Land of Israel. Book 5 in “The Kabbalah of Time” is also about general guidelines, prayers applicable to all people in all situations, such as the Book of Psalms and Tikkun HaKlali (Rebbe Nachman’s General Remedy).

[Footnotes:]

  1. See the Rambam's Introduction to the Mishneh Torah, where he indeed provides a more detailed index.
  1. Bamidbar 12:2.
  1.  Devarim 5:5.
  1. Shmos 33:11.
  1. Yoma 69b.
  1. Devarim 10:17.
  1. Yirmeyahu 32:18.
  1. Daniel 9:4.
  1. Hence, in the daily prayers which they instituted we say "the great, mighty, and awesome G-d," as Moshe did.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Book 2 in a Nutshell

B"H


Haazinu / Haftorah
#
Qualities to Acquire Torah
Prophets
Levitical City
Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! And let the earth hear the words of my mouth!
And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song, on the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul;
1
 “Torah is greater than priesthood and kingship, for kingship is acquired with 30 qualities, priesthood is acquired with 24, whereas the Torah is acquired with 48 ways.”
Avraham and Sarah
Shechem (also a city of refuge)
My lesson will drip like rain; my word will flow like dew; like storm winds on vegetation and like raindrops on grass.
And he said, "The Lord is my rock and my fortress, and a rescuer to me.
2
[constant] study
Yitzchak
Gezer
When I call out the name of the Lord, ascribe greatness to our G-d.
G-d is my rock, under whom I take cover; My shield, and the horn of my salvation, my support, and my refuge; [He is] my savior Who saves me from violence.
3
attentive listening (Shmi’at haOzen)
Yaakov
Kibzaim
The deeds of the [Mighty] Rock are perfect, for all His ways are just[ice]; a faithful G-d, without injustice He is righteous and upright.
With praise, I call to the Lord, for from my enemies I shall be saved.
4
verbal enunciation
Moses
Beth-Horon
Destruction is not His; it is His children's defect you crooked and twisted generation.
For the pains of death have encompassed me; streams of scoundrels would affright me.
5
perception of the heart
(Binat Ha’Lev)
Aaron
Taanach
Is this how you repay the Lord, you disgraceful, unwise people?! Is He not your Father, your Master? He has made you and established you.
Bands of [those that shall inherit] the nether world have surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me
6
Awe (Eimah)
Joshua
Gath-Rimmon
Remember the days of old; reflect upon the years of [other] generations. Ask your father, and he will tell you; your elders, and they will inform you.
When I am in distress, I call upon the Lord, yes I call upon my G-d: and out of His abode He hears my voice, and my cry enters His ears.
7
Fear (Yirah)
Pinchas
Golan of Bashan (also a city of refuge)
When the Most High gave nations their lot, when He separated the sons of man, He set up the boundaries of peoples according to the number of the children of Israel.
Then the earth shook and quaked, the [very] foundations of heaven did tremble; and they were shaken when he was angered.
8
humility (anavah)
Elkanah and Chanah 
Be’eshterah (Ashtarot)
Because the Lord's portion is His people Jacob, the lot of His inheritance.
Smoke went up in His nostrils, and fire out of His mouth did devour; coals flamed forth from Him.
9
Joy (Simchah)
Eli
Future City of Refuge (half tribe of Menasheh on the other side of the Jordan River); for now, Jerusalem (half rests in the tribe   of Benjamin), in the future, Jerusalem will have its own territory.
He found them in a desert land, and in a desolate, howling wasteland. He encompassed them and bestowed understanding upon them; He protected them as the pupil of His eye.
And He bent the heavens and He came down; and thick darkness was under His feet.
10
Purity (Taharah)                          
Shmuel
Gibeon
As an eagle awakens its nest, hovering over its fledglings, it spreads its wings, taking them and carrying them on its pinions.
And He rode upon a cherub and did fly; He was seen upon the wings of the wind.
11
ministering the sages
Gad
Gebah (Giv’ah)
[So] the Lord guided them alone, and there was no alien deity with Him.
And He fixed darkness about Him as booths (lit. Sukkot); gathering of waters, thick clouds of the skies.
12
bonding of friends (dibuk chaverim)
Nathan
Anathoth
He made them ride upon the high places of the earth, that they would eat the produce of the field. He let them suck honey from a rock, and oil from the mighty part of the crag.

From the brightness before Him flamed forth coals of fire.
13
sharp discussion with students (pilpul hatalmidim)
David and Avigail
‘Almon
The cream of cattle and the milk of sheep, with the fat of lambs and rams of Bashan and he goats, with kidneys of wheat, and it [the congregation of   Israel] would drink the blood of grapes [which was] as the finest wine.
The Lord thundered from heaven; and the Most High gave forth His voice.
14
with calmness (yishuv)
Shlomo
Elteke
And Jeshurun became fat and rebelled; you grew fat, thick and rotund; [Israel] forsook the G-d Who made them, and spurned the [Mighty] Rock of their salvation. (Yeshurun became full of oil (from Chanukah);
And He sent out arrows and He scattered them, lightning and He discomfited them.
15
with [knowledge] of Mikrah (Scripture)
Iddo
Gibbethon
They provoked His zeal with alien worship; they made Him angry with abominations deeds. Positive Light: They were zealous for him against alien worship; they were angry for him against abominable deeds.
And the depths of the sea appeared; the foundations of the world were laid bare, by the rebuke of the Lord and the blast of the breath of His nostrils.
16
[knowledge] of Mishnah (Oral Torah).
Michaiah son of Imlah
Ajalon
They sacrificed to demons, which have no power, deities they did not know, new things that only recently came, which your forefathers did not fear.
Positive Light: They [the other nations] sacrificed to demons, which have no power, deities they did not know, new things that only recently came, which your forefathers did not fear.
He sent from on high [and] He took me; He drew me out of many waters.
17
with minimized business activity (miut schorah)
Obadiah
Gath-rimmon
You forgot the [Mighty] Rock Who bore you; you forgot the G-d Who delivered you.
Positive light: Rock [or Creator], they are your children; forget completely [our sins]; G-d delivers you.
He delivered me from my mighty enemy; from them that hated me; for they were too powerful for me.
18
minimized world activity (miut derech eretz)
Ahiah HaShiloni
Mishal
And the Lord saw this and became angry, provoked by His sons and daughters.

Positive light: And G-d saw, and became insulted with the anger against His sons and daughters.
They confronted me on the day of my calamity; but the Lord was a support to me.
19
minimized pleasure (miut ta’anug)
Jehu son of Chanani
Abdon
And He said, "I will hide My face from them. I will see what their end will be, for they are a generation of changes [reversals]; they are not [recognizable] as My children whom I have reared.
Positive light: And He said, “I will hide My face from [their sins]. I will see [focus] on how they will come be at their completion. They will be a generation transformed [by teshuvah]; they are my children! No! There is faith in them [or I have faith in them!]
And He brought me forth into a wide place; He delivered me because He took delight in me.
20
minimized sleep (miut sheinah)               
Azariah son of Oded
Helkath
They have provoked My jealousy with a non G-d, provoked My anger with their vanities. Thus, I will provoke their jealousy with a non people, provoke their anger with a foolish nation.
Positive light: They have been zealous for me against a non-G-d; have been angered for me against the vanities [of the nations]; Therefore, I will be zealous for them against a non-people; I will be angry for them against a foolish people.
The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; According to the cleanness of my hands He recompensed me.

21
minimized conversation (miut sichah)
Jahaziel the Levite
Rehob
For a fire blazed in My wrath, and burned to the lowest depths. It consumed the land and its produce, setting aflame the foundations of mountains.
Positive light: For a fire blazed in My wrath [against Amalek], and burned [Amalek completely, even those hidden] in the lowest depths, so that [my beloved the Jewish people (fem.)] will eat [from] the land, and will light [the menorah in Jerusalem, which] is at the foundations of mountains. (See Rashi)
For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from [the commandments of] my G-d.
22
minimized laughter (miut schok)
Eliezer son of Dodavahu
Kedesh in Galillee (city of refuge)
I will link evils upon them. I will use up My arrows on them.
I will gather the evil that was over them, and destroy completely my arrows (Amalek and all its derivatives, which I had used in the past against my people,).
For all His ordinances were before me; and [as for] His statutes, I did not depart from it.
24
with slowness to anger (erech apayim)
Hosea
Hamoth-dor
They will sprout hair from famine, attacked by demons, excised by Meriri. I will incite the teeth of livestock upon them, with the venom of creatures that slither in the dust.
Positive light: [On Purim, I will get rid of] hairs of famine [through gifts of] my bread [to the poor]; get rid of] demons and the excision of Meriri [through] sleep [to fulfill the mitzvah of adlo yadah and eating [livestock] as part of the Purim meal], and I will send to them [to give mishloach manot] with [the great mitzvah of] the venom of those that lie in the dust [drunkards, ie. wine].  Venom as wine is found in the verse in Chabakuk, Chapter 2, v. 15. “Woe to him who gives his friend to drink, who adds Your venom and also makes him drunk in order to gaze upon their nakedness.”
And I was single-hearted toward Him, and I kept myself from my iniquity.
25
with a good heart (lev tov)
Amos
Kartan
(short for Kiriatayim)
From outside, the sword will bereave, and terror from within; young men and maidens, suckling babes with venerable elders.
Positive light: [The Purim decree will be turned on its head, regarding Amalek…] From outside, the sword will bereave, and terror from within; young men and maidens, suckling babes with venerable elders.
And the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness; according to my cleanness before His eyes.
26
faith in the Sages (emunat chachamim)
Micah the Morashite
Jerusalem (for now, half rests in the tribe of Judah – in the future, Jerusalem will have its own territory - here)
I said that I would make an end of them, eradicate their remembrance from mankind.
Positive light: [Regarding Amalek, and regarding biur chametz,] I said that I would make an end of them, eradicate their remembrance from mankind.
With a kind one, You show Yourself kind. With an upright mighty man, You show Yourself upright.
27
acceptance of suffering (kabalat hayissurin)
Amoz
Hebron - Kiryat Arba (city of refuge)
Were it not that the enemy's wrath was heaped up, lest their adversaries distort; lest they claim, "Our hand was triumphant! The Lord did none of this!"
Positive light: [We must destroy the chametz,] otherwise the yetzer harah might be haughty and inflated, and the yetzer harah distort reality…
With a pure one, You show Yourself pure; But with a perverse one, You deal crookedly.
28
he who knows his place (hamakir et mekomo)
Eliyahu
Libnah (city of refuge)
For they are a nation devoid of counsel, and they have no understanding.
Positive light: For ridding oneself of this goy [the chametz] is itself counsel, and when they feel as nothing, there is understanding.
And the humble people You do deliver; But Your eyes are upon the haughty [in order] to humble them.
29
he who is happy with his lot (hasameach be’chelkoh)
Elisha
Eshtemoa
If they were wise, they would understand this; they would reflect upon their fate.
Positive light: It is my desire that they become wise and understand this, then they would live as in the end of days.
For You are my lamp, O' Lord; And the Lord does light my darkness.
30
he who makes a fence around his words
Jonah ben Amittai
Juttah
How can one [person] pursue a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their [Mighty] Rock has sold them out, and the Lord has given them over?
Positive light: How are the Jews able to be so victorious in the end of days! Hashem has given over the enemy!
For by You I run upon a troop; By my G-d I scale a wall.
31
he claims no credit for his achievements (einoh machazik tovah l’atzmo)
Isaiah
Beth-shemesh (city of Judah on the border)
For their rock is not like our [Mighty] Rock. Nevertheless, our enemies sit in judgment.
Positive light: The other nations will finally see that ours is the true G-d, and judge us favorably, giving to us the Land of Israel.
 [He is] the G-d Whose way is perfect; The word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield unto all them that trust (take refuge) in him.
32
loved (ahuv)
Joel
Kishion
For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the field of Gemorrah; their grapes are grapes of rosh, and they have bitter clusters.
Positive light: Because the wine [Torah wisdom] that the Jewish people obtained was from enduring the suffering/fermentation of Sodom, and the fields (concentration camps) of Gemorrah. Their humility comes from great suffering and bitterness.
For who is G-d, save the Lord? And who is a rock, save our G-d?
33
loves Hashem (ohev et haMakom)
Nahum
Dobrath
Their wine is the bitterness of serpents, and the bitterness of the ruthless cobras.
Positive light: Their deep Torah wisdom came from the bitter serpents [enemies/exiles], and their ability to be a head (and to have a deep mind), from dealing with ruthless cobras [enemies/exiles].
G-d is He who has fortified me with strength; and He looseth perfectly my path.
34
Loves people (Ohev et habriot)
Chabakuk
Jarmuth
Is it not stored up with Me, sealed up in My treasuries?
Positive light: I remember everything they went through, and their suffering for My sake, is something that I treasure.
He makes my feet like hinds; And sets me upon my high places.
35
loves the ways of righteousness (ohev et hatzedakot)
Zephaniah
‘Ein Gannim
Vengeance is poised with Me, and it will pay at the time their foot stumbles. For the appointed day of their reckoning is near, and what is destined for them hastens.
Positive light: Vengeance [on behalf of My people] is poised with Me…
He trains my hand for war, so that mine arms do bend a brass bow.
36
loves justice (ohev et hameisharim)
Uriah
Jokneam
When the Lord will judge His people, and will reconsider His servants, when He sees that the power is increasing, and none is controlled or strengthened.
Positive light: G-d will Judge his people (favorably), and will reconsider His servants, when we will have extended our hand, and we humbly understand that we are nothing, that there is no more that we can do… [then He will do His part.]
And You have given me the shield of Your salvation; And You have increased Your modesty for me.
37
Ohev et hatochachot (loves reproof)
Jeremiah
Kartah
Then He will say, "Where is their deity, the rock in which they trusted,
Positive light: Then He will say [to the enemies of the Jewish people]…
You have enlarged my step[s] beneath me; And my ankles have not slipped.
38
keeps far from honor
Ezekiel
Dimnah
who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their libations? Let them arise and help you! Let them be your shelter!
Positive light: Also referring to the nations...
I have pursued my enemies and have destroyed them; Never turning back until they were consumed.
39
does not act arrogantly with his knowledge (lo megis liboh betalmudoh)
Daniel (Shemaiah)
Nahalal
See now that it is I! I am the One, and there is no G-d like Me! I cause death and grant life. I strike, but I heal, and no one can rescue from My Hand!
And I have consumed them, and I have crushed them that they cannot rise; Yes, they are fallen under my feet.
40
does not take pleasure in handing down [halachic] decisions (einoh sameach b’hora’ah)
Baruch
Betzer, City of Refuge
For I raise up My hand to heaven, and say, 'As I live forever.
For You have girded me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those that rose up against me.
41
bears the burden with his friends (noseh b’ol im chaveroh)
Neriah
Jahaz (or Yahatz, or Yahatzah)
When I sharpen the blade of My sword, and My hand grasps judgment, I will bring vengeance upon My adversaries and repay those who hate Me.
And of my enemies You have given me the back of their necks; them that hate me, that I may cut them off.
judges him favorably (machrioh lechaf zechut)
Seraiah
Kedemoth
I will intoxicate My arrows with blood, and My sword will consume flesh, from the blood of the slain and the captives, from the first breach of the enemy.'
They looked about, but there was no one to save them; [Even] to the Lord, but He answered them not.
42
places him [in the path of] truth (ma’amidoh al haemet)
Mehsiah
Mephaath
(from the verb yafah, to shine forth)
Sing out praise, O you nations, for His people! For He will avenge the blood of His servants, inflict revenge upon His adversaries, and appease His land [and] His people.
Then I ground them as the dust of the earth, as the mud of the streets I did tread upon them, I did stamp them down.
43
places him [in the path of] peace (ma’amidoh al haShalom)
Haggai
Jattir (to have extra, to excel)
And Moses came and spoke all the words of this song into the ears of the people he and Hoshea the son of Nun.
And You have allowed me to escape from the contenders amongst my people; You shall keep me as head of nations; a people whom I have not known serve me.
44
he deliberates in his study (mityashev liboh betalmudoh)
Zechariah
Holon
And Moses finished speaking all these words to all Israel.
Strangers lie to me; as soon as their ears hear, they   obey me.
45
asks and responds (shoel umeshiv)
Malachi
Debir – Debir means Temple!;
And he said to them, "Set your hearts to all of the words which I bear witness for you this day, so that you may command your children to observe to do all the words of this Torah.
The strangers will wilt, and become lame from their bondage.
46
listens and adds (shomeah umosif);
Mordechai Bilshan
‘Ain; ayin means eye, fountain.
For it is not an empty thing for you, for it is your   life, and through this thing, you will lengthen your days upon the land to which you are crossing over the Jordan, to possess it."
The Lord lives, and blessed be my Rock; And exalted be the G-d, [who is] my rock of salvation.
47
learns in order to teach (lomed al menat lilmod)
Unknown /Oded (Mashiach ben Yosef)
Future City of Refuge
And the Lord spoke to Moses on that very day, saying,
The G-d who takes vengeance for me; And brings down peoples under me.
48
learns in order to practice (lomed al menat la’asot);
Unknown / Chanani (Mashiach ben David)
Future City of Refuge
Go up this Mount Avarim [to] Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is facing Jericho, and see the Land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel as a possession,
And that brings me forth from my enemies; And above those that rise against me, You have lifted me; from the violent man You deliver me.
49
increases the wisdom of his teacher (machkim et rabboh)
Miriam (Rachel); Rebbetzin Menucha Rachel, grand-daughter of the Alter Rebbe.
Rammoth in Gilead (city of refuge)
And die on the mountain upon which you are climbing and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people.
Therefore I will give thanks to You, O' Lord, among the nations, and to your name I will sing praises.
50
who properly undestands what he learns (Kavanah)
Devorah (Leah)
(Devorah Leah, who gave additional life to the Alter Rebbe, sacrificing her own)
Mahanaim
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.
He gives great salvation to His king, and He performs kindness to His anointed; to David and to his seed, forevermore.
51
who relates a statement in the name of the one who said it.
Chuldah (Rivkah); Rebbetzin Rivkah
Heshbon
For from afar, you will see the land, but you will not come there, to the land I am giving the children of Israel.
 (repeated from last week). He gives great salvation to His king, and He performs kindness to His anointed; to David and to his seed, forevermore.
52
Whoever relates a statement in the name of the one who said it brings redemption to the world, as it says (Esther 2:22): And Esther told the king in the name of Mordechai.
Esther (Sarah); Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah, wife of the Fifth Lubbavitcher Rebbe, the Rebbe Rashab. Shterna means star, and Esther also means star, as does Ayelet haShachar.
Jazer


ויחן דניאל גוב


Introduction to Book 2:  The Acquisition of the Torah

It is with great trepidation and excitement, that we set forth the second book in the series “Kabbalah of Time.” The first book introduced the reader to a way of “living with the times” that  allowed for integrating within oneself the Torah’s teachings regarding proper outlook and behavior. The goal of book one was that each one of us could be in touch with our song, the universal song of the soul.

There is a well known rabinnic aphorism that “proper behavior preceded the Torah” (Derech Eretz Kadma LaTorah).[1] Rabbi Elchanan Adler, Rosh Yeshivah at RIETS, further explains the idea of Derech Eretz by citing the same Talmudic passage used in book one of this series:

R. Yochanan said: Had the Torah not been given, we would have learned to be modest from cats, to avoid theft from ants, to avoid promiscuity from doves, and derech eretz from roosters. (Eruvin 100b)
Rabbi Adler also cites the Alter of Slobodka, who further explains the meaning of the statement “Derech Eretz Kadma LaTorah:

[U]pon reflection we will see that character traits and attributes are an introduction to the Torah and the primary foundation of the essence of a person, without which a person is not worthy at all of Torah … This is the intent of the Rabbis: Derech eretz preceded Torah by twenty six generations, for all of the good character traits and attributes are included in derech eretz; they were ingrained in human nature and for them there is no need for the giving of the Torah. The giving of the Torah came to build on these [traits and attributes] and to command him to continue to rise heavenward to ever higher levels transcending those which are in the realm of derech eretz. (Or HaTzafun Vol. 1 pg. 173, 175)[2]
The above, therefore, is the intent of this second book: to properly receive the Torah and rise heavenwards, building on the concepts of derech eretz we learned in the book one. While book one focused on proper outlook and behavior, book two’s focus is on the acquisition of the Torah. When we acquire the Torah, not only do we become better and more refined people, but we also free ourselves from all the things that usually enslave us, including our own evil inclinations, “For you will not find a freer person than one who is involved in the study of Torah. And all those who study Torah are uplifted (Pirkei Avot, Chapter 6:2)

The 48 Qualities to Acquire the Torah

While there are fourty-nine days in the counting of the omerPirkei Avot lists 48 ways in which the Torah is acquired. Many commentaries link these two numbers, and many Jew have even made it their custom to study one of the forty-eight qualities during each day of  the omer count.

In fact, the qualities to acquire Torah set forth in Pirkei Avot are a “summary” of the Torah itself. Pirkei Avot (Chapter 6:6) states that "Torah is greater than priesthood and kingship, for kingship is acquired with thirty qualities, priesthood is acquired with twenty-four, whereas the Torah is acquired with forty-eight ways.”[3] Just as with kingship and priesthood, these forty-eight qualities are not just means to an end, but rather represent essential aspects of the Torah itself.

In the Gaon of Vilna’s commentary on the Book of Proverbs, he states that “Eshet Chayil” (the woman of valor) is a reference to the Torah. He explains that Chayil (valor) has the numerical value of forty-eight, paralleling the forty-eight attributes necessary to acquire the Torah.

As in Book 1, we find that these qualities also parallel the weeks of the year. Pirkei Avot states that there are forty-eight qualities, but in fact there are fifty-two listed. The very first quality is implied in the introduction to this section, the desire and and the decision to acquire the Torah, as we see from the Book of Proverbs: “The beginning of wisdom [is to] acquire wisdom, and with all your possession acquire understanding.” When counting the 48 remaining qualities, one finds that there are actually 51. Therefore, together with the first quality found in the opening statement, there are 52 qualities in total.

The 48 Prophets

Just as there are forty-eight qualities to acquire the Torah, there are also forty-eight prophets found in the written Torah, the Tanach. These prophets are listed by Rashi in his commentary to the Talmudic tractate of Megillah (14a). It was through these prophets that the Torah was received and transmitted. Furthermore, all of these prophets refined themselves to such an extent that they are a “summary” of the values that the Torah represents.

The prophets also parallel the qualities needed to acquire the Torah, as well as the weeks of the year.[4] There are forty-eight male prophets, yet there are also an additional seven female prophets. This would bring the total number of prophet to fifty-five. However, of the seven female prophets, three of them were married to the male prophets above. If one counts the married male and female prophets together as single units, that leaves us with a total of fity-two prophets.

The 48 Levitical Cities

In Deuteronomy, the description of the six cities of refuge come immediately following the words, “And this is the Torah that Moses placed before the Jewish people.” (Deuteronomy 4:44) The Torah therefore seems to imply that the concept of the city of refuge somehow encompasses the entire Torah. The Talmud explains that all forty-eight cities designated to the Levites were cities of refuge, although the six cities listed had certain additional qualities.[5]

There are forty-eight Levitical Cities, in addition to Jerusalem, because the Temple itself was also considered a refuge. In addition, there are three more cities of refuge to be established in the future, once Israel’s borders are expanded. Thus, we see that these cities total fifty-two, one for each week of the year.[6]
It is well known that each of the twelve Jewish months is related to one of the Tribes of Israel. It is quite fascinating to note that each tribe was given four levitical cities within its borders, paralleling the four weeks of each Jewish month.[7] The Levites themselves are not given any property of their own other than those related to these cities.

Haazinu and the 48 Sabbath Torah Readings that Precede It

The Torah portion of Haazinu is often read on Shabat Shuvah, the Sabbath between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It is said that this Sabbath encompasses all the Sabbaths of the entire previous year, and can serve to correct any mistakes made during them. is said to contain the entire Torah. There are usually forty-eight Torah readings performed on the Sabbath: a regular Jewish year has 50½ weeks, and at least two Sabbaths have Torah readings related to the festivals that occur during those days (Sukkot and Passover). During these roughly forty-eight Sabbaths, a total of fifity-two Torah portions read before we arrive to Haazinu.[8] The Torah portion following Haazinu, Vezot HaBracha, is not read on the Sabbath, but rather during the holiday of Simchat Torah 

Our sages have taught that the portion of Haazinu encompasses the entire Torah. Nachmanides goes further and states that Haazinu contains everything that happens and everything that will ever happen in the history of the world.[9] Furthermore, Haazinu has 52 verses, one for each of the Torah portions that preceded it, starting from the very first one, Bereshit. The connection between these verses and the Torah portions is quite strong. (See Appendix 1) These fifty-two verses also parallel the weeks of the year.

Furthermore, each verse of the Haftarah for Haazinu, the song sung by King David before his passing, in II Samuel, Chapter 22, also parallel the weeks of the year.[10] David’s song contains 51 verses, and it appears that the verse following the 51st verse, the first in Chapter 23, is connected to David’s song as well. The Haftarah also offers important insight into Haazinu. King David appears to have made his song in such a way that it would parallel Haazinu, both in form but also in substance.

The end of book one attempted to show how certain apparently negative teachings in Pirkei Avot could be interpreted in a positive light. This concept of interpreting statements positively is even more important when it comes to understanding Haazinu. There are various parts of the text that appear to be very harsh, but that can be read as incredibly positive. After all, Haazinu is a summary of the entire Torah, and the Torah is the greatest expression of G-d’s love for his people and vice-versa. The greatest blessings are often disguised in what appear to be curses. The following passage from Hayom Yom, illustrates this idea:

The Alter Rebbe himself was the regular Torah-reader. Once he was away from Lyozna on the Shabbat of parsha Tavo, and the Mitteler Rebbe, then not yet Bar Mitzva, heard the Torah-reading from another. His anguish at the curses in the tochacha (section of admonition) caused him so much heartache, that on Yom Kippur1 the Alter Rebbe doubted whether his son would be able to fast. When they asked the Mitteler Rebbe - "Don't you hear this parsha every year?" - he replied, "When Father reads, one hears no curses."[11]
It is our prayer, that when you, dear reader, engage in this second adventure, that you also “hear no curses.” Instead may the prophets and prophecies below open your mind and heart to what is certainly the greatest and longest love affair ever to exist: the love between G-d and His people. The Zohar states: "Israel, the Torah and the Holy One Blessed Be He are One.[12] May you too fall in love with this Eshet Chayil, and may it free you and uplift you to new heights.




[2] Ibid.
[4]  The Talmud (Megillah 14a) says that there had been twice as many prophets as the number of people who left Egypt (2,600,000), but only those whose messages were for future generations were recorded. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/The_List_of_Prophets.html
[5] http://vbm-torah.org/archive/salt-bemidbar/43-12masei.htm  The article also cites Rambam, Hilkhot Rotzei’ach 8:10.)
[6] It is interesting to note that just as the Levitical cities were 52 in total, consisting of 48 cities, in addition to Jerusalem, the capital, and three future cities, so too the United States has historically consisted of 52 entities, 48 states, the capital, and mainly 3 territories – Alaska, Hawai, and Puerto Rico.
[7] Each Jewish month is related to a constellation/zodiac sign, and the position of the levitical cities within each tribe appear to roughly parallel the shape of that constellation.
[8] In the Torah there are 54 parshiot, but Vezot HaBrachah is never read on Shabat, and Haazinu is a summary of all of the previous parshiot. From a different angle, we can see that of the 54 portions, there are a total of 6 times in which two portions are read together, leaving a total of 48 sections. The six double portions are: Vayakhel – Pekudei; Tazria – Metzora; Acharei Mot – Kedoshim; Behar – Bechukotai; Mattot – Masei; Nitzavim – Vayeilech.
Outside of Israel, sometimes Chukat - Balak are also read together, which is due to the additional day of holidays instituted by the rabbis. http://individual.utoronto.ca/kalendis/hebrew/parshah.htm
[9] http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/137092/jewish/Reish-Evil.htm
[10][10] The first verse of the following Chapter is still very much related to the song, and can be counted as the 52nd verse. Weeks 1 and 52 both represent Rosh Hashanah. In fact, the first seven verses of Chapter 23 in II Samuel comprise of King David’s last song, and seem to parallel the 7 verses of the Rooster on Rosh Hashanah. There also appears to be a parallel with the opening and closing verses of Vezot HaBrachah, the words said by Moshe right before his passing.
[12] http://www.inner.org/monothei/mono3.htm



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