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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Week 15 (Book 2): The Prophet Iddo and the Importance of Scripture


HA'AZINU: 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. (Deuteronomy 32:15)

POSITIVE INTERPRETATION OF THE ABOVE VERSE: And Jeshurun became full of oil and kicked [away the enemy]; you grew full of oil, thick and rotund [in holiness]; [Israel] spread out [the knowledge of] the G-d Who made them, and made song with the lyre regarding the [Mighty] Rock of their salvation.

HAFTORAH: And He sent out arrows and He scattered them, lightning and He discomfited them. (II Samuel 22:15)

QUALITY TO ACQUIRE THE TORAH: Scripture (Mikrah)

PROPHET: Iddo

LEVITICAL CITY: Gibbethon

The fifteenth week of the year includes the Fast of the Tenth of Teveth. The verse in Haazinu refers to the Jews’ rebellion against G-d after so much that He had done for them. During the time of the tragedies related to the 10th of Teveth, the Jewish people “grew fat,” forsaking G-d and not properly valuing the Torah.

The verse in Haazinu can also take a more positive meaning. Interestingly, the Hebrew word for fat, shemen, used twice in this verse, is the same word in Hebrew for oil. Oil, of course, is related to the Chanukah miracle. The lights of Chanukah include Rosh Chodesh Teveth, and in this way shine through the entire month. This verse can therefore understood in a more positive light as, “Yeshurun became full of the miraculous oil from Chanukah.” Every year on Chanukah there is a mitzvah to publicize the miracles that took place during this time. Perhaps this is how the second part of this verse should be understood: “[Israel] spread out the word of the G-d Who made them.”  

This week’s Haftarah verse appears to be more in line with this more positive interpretation. The Haftarah contains the theme of spreading/scattering, as well as of light.

The quality for this week is scripture. As mentioned previously, the reason for the destruction of First Temple was related to not saying the blessing over the study of Torah, and not valuing sufficiently the holiness of scripture.

This week’s prophet, Iddo, is also connected to the written Torah.  The only reference to Iddo in Tanach is that he wrote down the events of Rehoboam as well as the genealogy of the kings of Israel, along with Shemaiah the Prophet. Iddo took the importance of scripture and of written records very seriously.

Iddo’s actions also appear related to a violation of the word of Hashem, such as occurred on the 10th of Teveth. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 89b) teaches us that Iddo is the prophet that violated his own word and was therefore mauled by a lion. How parallel this is to the 10th of Teveth, when the Jewish people failed to heed to the words of the prophets and scripture.


The levitical city for this week is Gibbethon. This city is also connected to tragedy. The Talmud states that the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva that died were “from Gibbethon to Antipatris.” Similar to the message of the month of Teveth (and the Tribe of Dan), from an additional five students, Rabbi Akiva was able to rebuild everything. 
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