Saturday, November 22, 2014

Week 10 (Book 4b): Connecting to Holiness

SONG OF SONGS:
11. For behold, the winter has passed; the rain is over and gone.  
12. The blossoms have appeared in the land, the time of singing has arrived, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.   
13. The fig tree has put forth its green figs, and the vines with their tiny grapes have given forth their fragrance; arise, my beloved, my fair one, and come away.
                       
70 SOULS THAT DESCENDED TO EGYPT: Jachin

TALMUD SHEVUOTH: Daf 10 - Holiness

BOOK OF JEREMIAH: Chapter 10

Week 10 in the Jewish calendar is more definitively related to Kislev, sometimes including Rosh Chodesh Kislev. The Song of Songs verses for this week are still all from the perspective of the Jewish people. The theme of the verses is also G-d’s salvation, from spiritual “winter,” to spiritual “spring.” Rashi draws a greater parallel between the exile of Egypt and the Passover redemption – the redemption of Chanukah has many parallels with that initial redemption as well.

The opening verse states that the rain has passed (Cheshvan again being related to the Flood). The second verse describes how it is now the time of pure devoted singing (like that of the turtledove) associated with the singing and praise of the pure Kohanim, and the Maccabees. The third verse is associated with a certain cleansing and defeat of those that wished to assimilate, associated with “darkness” (one of the names of the exile of Greece). Rashi states:

Another explanation: “The fig tree has put forth its green figs” -These are the transgressors of Israel, who perished during the three days of darkness.   

and the vines with their tiny grapes gave forth their fragrance: Those who remained of them repented and were accepted. So it is interpreted in Pesikta (Rabbathi 15:11, 12; Pesikta d’Rav Kahana, p. 50).

Figs and grapes are two fruits for which the Land of Israel is praised. After our salvation and the defeat of the Greeks, life and in the Land of Israel started to return to normal.

Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the tenth mentioned is Jachin. Jachin means “to establish,” or “to prepare,” a verb which is actually part of our prayer for the restoration of Jerusalem.

This idea is expressed in our daily prayers. In the [blessing] of rebuilding of Yerushalayim, we petition God "return and dwell in Yerushalayim" and then we add "ve'chise David meheira le'tocha tachin" - “and install within it soon the throne of David”. Though there is a separate beracha which pertains to the reestablishment of the kingdom of David, we mention it alongside the return of God in the petition to rebuild Jerusalem. The Mikdash and the throne of David mutually make up the ideal Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a city united by worship of God and governance of Am Yisrael.[1]

Jachin was also the name of one of the pillars of Solomon’s Temple. The other pillar’s name was Boaz.[2]

Daf Yud (Folio 10) of Shvuot continues to discuss the atonement of the goat offered during festivals, as well as Rosh Chodesh and Yom Kippur. The daf also includes a discussion of whether the holiness of certain items of the Temple can vanish. These discussions are all connected to Kislev as already discussed above.

Chapter 10 of the Book of Jeremiah contains a similar theme to the above. It continues to draw a distinction between the idolatrous ways of the nations and Israel’s portion in G-d. It also describes G-d’s vengeance for the desecration of His Temple:

16. Not like these is Jacob's portion, for He is the One Who formed everything, and Israel is the tribe of His inheritance; the Lord of Hosts is His name."

(…)

25. Pour out Your wrath upon the nations that do not know You and upon the families that have not called in Your name, for they have devoured Jacob and consumed him and destroyed him, and have wasted his dwelling.

These last verses of this chapter are also quite famous, verses we state during the reading  of the Passover Hagaddah.





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