Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Week 13 (Book 3): Shelah and Chanukah
On week 13, week of Chanukah, the verses of the Song of the Sea speak of praising G-d, Who performs wonders, and Whose miracles led to Jewish salvation. Praising G-d for his miracles is one of the key themes of Chanukah.
The Haftorah’s verses also describe the need to tell of G-d’s miracles, and the fact that the Jews were no longer being persecuted “between the places of drawing water,” a reference to the study of the Torah, which the Greeks were attacking.
Daf Yud Gimmel (Folio 13) of Sotah is primarily about the burial of Jacob and Joseph, although it also starts with a brief mention of how when Moshe was born, the room filled with light. Regarding Jacob’s burial, the Talmud highlights how the fight with Eisav was won, not by logical arguments, but through the lone supra-rational act of Chushim, son of Dan. As mentioned before, Dan connected to Teveth and Chanukah. As Eisav was making a baseless claim, and asking for proof for this and that, Chushim could not bear to see his grandfather’s burial delayed, went ahead and killed him. This is very similar to how the Chanukah revolt started. Matisyahu was asked to slaughter a pig on a pagan altar. Not only did he refuse, he killed the Jew and the Syrian representative that had demanded this.The Talmud’s description of Joseph’s burial is also appropriate, as Yosef HaTzadik himself represents Jewish strength in the face of Greek repression. (See Book 1, Week 11)
Shelah, Archpachshad’s son, has one of the names of Mashiach. Shelah is also the name of Judah’s son, which he did not want to marry to Tamar. Rabbi Yosef Jacobson explains the connection between Shelah and Chanukah:
The Truth Emerges
Rabbi Isaac Luryah wrote that "the judgment that began on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is completed some three months later, during the days of Chanukah." That's why it is at this period of time - three months after the intimate union between Judah and Tamar - that Judah (the metaphor for G-d) is "informed" regarding the spiritual status of Tamar (the Jewish people) and the verdict is issued that Tamar has no future.
"When Tamar was being taken out, she sent word to Judah, saying, 'I am pregnant by the man who is the owner of these articles. Identify, I beg you, these objects. Who is the owner of this seal, cord and staff?'"
During that fateful time, when the "prosecuting angels" have almost been successful in demonstrating to G-d that the Jewish people are a failed experiment, at that very moment, the Jew sends word to G-d, saying, "I am pregnant by the man who is the owner of these articles!" The information you received that I abandoned you, is a blatant lie! If I have gone astray here and there, it is merely a superficial, temporary phase. Gaze into the deeper layers of my identity and you will discover that I belong to You, that my intimacy is shared only with You, G-d. "I am pregnant from Judah and not from anybody else!" the Jew declares.
"Identify, I beg you, these objects. Who is the owner of this seal, cord and staff?" For during the festival of Chanukah - when the judgment of Rosh Hashanah is finalized -- the Jew kindles each night a wick, or a cord, soaked in oil, commemorating the event of the Jews discovering a sealed single cruse of oil after the Greeks had plundered the holy Temple in Jerusalem (9).
The Jew further points to the staff in his arm (10). In order to preserve his faith, he was forced time and time again - for 2000 years - to take the wandering staff in his arm, abandon his home, wealth and security, and seek out new territory where he could continue to live as a Jew.
"Identify, I beg you, these objects. Who is the owner of this seal, cord and staff?" the Jew asks G-d. "It is to this man that I am pregnant!" Our loyalty and commitment remain eternally to the owner of the "seal" and "cord" of the Chanukah flames; our deepest intimacy is reserved to the owner of the "staff" of Jewish wandering.
Who Is the Traitor?
"Judah immediately recognized the articles, and he said, "She is right; it is from me that she conceived. She did it because I did not give her to my son Shelah."
When G-d observes the burning flames of the Chanukah menorah, He immediately recognizes that indeed, His people have never left Him. True, the Jew does fall prey at times to the dominating external forces of a materialistic and immoral world, yet this enslavement is skin deep. Probe the layers of his or her soul and you will discover an infinite wellspring of spirituality and love.
"If the Jew has, in fact, gone astray here and there, it is my fault," G-d says, not his. "Because I did not give Tamar to my son Shelah."Shelah is the Biblical term used to describe Moshiach (11),the leader who will usher in the final redemption. G-d says that for two millennia I have kept the Jewish nation in a dark and horrific exile where they have been subjected to horrendous pain and savage suffering. Blood, tears and death have been their tragic fate for twenty centuries, as they prayed, each day and every moment, for world redemption. But redemption has not come.
How can I expect that a Jew never commit a sin? How can I expect that a Jew never try to cast his luck with the materialistic world about him that seems so appealing, when I held back for so long the light of Moshiach?
"It is I, G-d, who is guilty of treason," G-d says. Not the Jew. Tamar is an innocent, beautiful palm-tree, which still has only one heart to its Father in heaven.
In the thirteenth week, the Jews journey from Sinai desert and camp in Kivroth hataavah. The personal journey is to internalize the concept of receiving the Torat haChassidut, and now focus on the concept of burying one’s physical desires, through the concepts of Itkafiah and Itapcha, basic notions in Chassidic philosophy. (explained previously in the blog) Chanukah, as opposed to other holidays, is primarily a spiritual holiday. There is no commandment to make a holiday meal. It is a holiday to sing praise to G-d spiritually.
 http://www.kabbalahoftime.com/2013/11/explaining-chassidic-concepts-based-on.html; http://meaningfullife.com/oped/2008/06.27.08$KorachCOLON_42_Journeys_Part_3.php:“The Baal Shem Tov (citing Brit Menucha by the 14th century Kabbalist Rabbi Avraham ben Yitzchak of Grenada) interprets the “Graves of Craving” as a state of utter self-nullification through cleaving to G-d when one experiences the “death” of cravings, they become buried with no potential of reviving inappropriate desires.”
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