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.
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Week 5 (Book 3): the Field and the Flood
SONG OF THE SEA: and the elite of his
officers sank in the Red Sea. The depths covered them; they descended into the
depths like a stone.
HAFTORAH: when You marched out of the
field of Edom, the earth trembled, the heavens also dripped;
TALMUD SOTAH: Daf 5: Themes –
haughtiness and adultery.
GENERATIONS FROM ADAM TO THE LAST
KING OF JUDAH: Mahalel
JOURNEYS IN THE DESERT FROM EGYPT TO
THE HOLY LAND: They journeyed from Penei hahiroth (“face of rocks”) and crossed
in the midst of the sea to the desert. They walked for three days in the desert
of Etham and camped in Marah.
The fifth week is that of Rosh
Chodesh Cheshvan. Cheshvan is associated with the Tribe of Menashe. As
explained in Book 1, “Menashe, the firstborn son of Joseph, assisted his father
in managing the entire Egyptian empire at the time. In Cheshvan, we bring all
the holiness that we acquired in Tishrei, and use it in our day-to-day
spiritual and physical endeavors to elevate the world.” The Song of the Sea
speaks of marching (or stepping) out of the “field of Edom.” While early in
life our forefather Jacob was known for being an “Ish Tam Yoshev Ohalim” (a
wholesome/straightforward that dwelled in the tents [of study]), his brother
Eisav is described as a man of the field (Ish HaSadeh), involved in the affairs
of the world. While Efraim, who is connected to Tishrei could be described more
in line with Jacob’s original description - in fact, he studied under Jacob
during his childhood - Menashe’s role is in the “field” that at one point
belonged solely to the realms of Eisav.
Cheshvan is also the month of the
Flood, and the verses of the Song of the Sea for this week are also about how
the Egyptian officers sank into the Sea of Reeds and how the “depths covered
them.” This event has clear parallels with the Flood, when the entire world was
covered by the world’s depths. The Haftorah also draws similar parallels, as it
states that “the heavens dripped.”
Daf Heh (Folio 5) of Sotah, discusses
the concept of haughtiness and adultery, two of the main contributors to the
events that led to the Flood. Adultery and immoral sexual behavior in general
is specifically described in the Torah as a reason for the Flood:
At the core of the disease of "civilization" in the
time of Noah were sexual immorality and violent robbery, both flagrant affronts
to the dignity of man, ADAM, created in the image of G-d. "And the land
was corrupted and the land was filled with violent robbery. All flesh corrupted
his path on the land" (Genesis 6:11-12). The Midrash teaches that the
latter sin was that of the spilling of seed -- sexual immorality. When man
abuses his sexual urge for self-gratification alone rather than elevating it to
breed future generations who will glorify G-d, the entire earth is corrupted.
The violation of the proper boundaries of personal moral conduct leads to a
mentality in which everything is permitted, including violent robbery -- HAMAS.
Noah himself also showed a certain
amount of lack of humility in not praying for other people and only focusing on
himself and his family. We see later in the Torah that Avraham and Moshe did
not act in this way.
Mahalalel seems to be a “kosher”
version of Mehijael, son of Chanoch, son of Cain. Mahalalel contains the root “Halel”
which means “praise,” While Mehijael could be related to Chai – life, but also
“Chol,” profane. On Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan we elevate Chol in Hallel, connecting
the spirituality of Tishrei (Hallel was said every day of Sukkot), with the
month of Cheshvan, which for now lacks any holy days.
The difference in the names also
points to an overall difference between the letters Hay and Chet in Judaism.
Mehijael is spelled with a Chet while Mahalalel is with a Hay. The Hay is a Chet
with an opening. Chet is related to sin, while Hey is related to malchut and to
teshuvah. The Hay’s opening is for the repentant person, the Ba’al Teshuvah, to
be able to re-enter his relationship with Hashem: “The word teshuvah can be
read as tashuv-hey - returning, restoring the Hay.....for when man sins he
causes the letter hey to be removed from the Divine Name.”
In Cheshvan, we go beyond our boundaries in order to help the entire
world do teshuvah.
In the fifth week, the Jews journey
from Penei HaHiroth (“face of rocks”) and cross in the midst of the sea to the
desert. They walk for three days in the desert of Etham and camp in Marah. The
journey for this week is about internalizing the struggle of facing the rocks
of the material world we are to elevate - notice the change from Pi (“mouth”)
to Pnei (“face,” as well as Pnim, inside). We prepare ourselves to face the
bitter world we are meant to sweeten. Cheshvan is known as Mar Cheshvan, bitter
Cheshvan, because it has no holidays (yet). This is also exemplified in the
fact that we are going from the sea to the desert.
Rabbi Shimon Jacobson describes this
journey as follows:
The final stage of human maturation – as we move from our
teenage years into full adulthood – is completely crossing over from the pure,
inner world of “water” into the dry, arid world of the desert. Indeed, Moses
had to coerce the Jews to away from the Red Sea out into the Shur Desert, where
they traveled three days without finding water (Exodus 15:22). They didn’t want
to leave the insulated “cocoon” of the Red Sea only to be thrown into a harsh
and hostile desert, one that leads us into a state of bitterness (Marah). Yet,
leave we must. This is the purpose of our existence: To transform the
wilderness into a Divine sea (Ohr HaTorah Massei p. 1383).
Because of their bitter waters “the place was called Marah”
(marah in Hebrew means bitter). When the Jewish people came to Marah and could
not drink the bitter water there, they began to complain. “What shall we
drink?” they demanded. When Moses cried out to G-d, He showed him a certain
tree. Moses threw it into the water, and the water became drinkable. It was
there that G-d taught them survival techniques and methods, and there He tested
them. He said, “If you obey G-d and do what is upright in His eyes, carefully
heeding all His commandments and keeping all His decrees, then I will not
strike you with any of the sicknesses that I brought on Egypt. I am G-d who
The journey to Marah refers to the stage in our lives when we
encounter a bitter experience – loss, disappointment, pain, sorrow or illness.
We then have two choices: Either we will complain, become bitter and
overwhelmed with anguish and grief, or we will learn to rise to the occasion
and discover the deeper powerful light and sweetness that lays embedded within
the dark and bitter.
Therein also lays the power of healing: The ability to
sweeten the bitter and to uproot infection in its source.
An important lesson we learn from
Mahalalel in our approach to prayer and Divine service is understanding that at
the most essential level, prayer is about Hallel veHoda'ah, praise and
thanksgiving. The mitzvah of prayer is to "serve Him with all your
hearts." It is about getting excited, it is about singing to Him, even
dancing to Him if possible. One cannot let oneself get bogged down in routine,
in simply reading the words of a book, because there is a good chance one is
not fulfilling anything at all. The intention has to be there, and the
intention has to involve "knowing before Whom you stand," and doing
so with joy.