Monday, January 13, 2014

Week 19 (Book 4a): Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge


STORY OF CHANNAH: 19. And they arose early in the morning, and prostrated themselves before the Lord: and they returned and came to their house, to Ramah, and Elkanah knew Hannah, his wife, and the Lord remembered her.                   

QUALITY OF PIRKEI AVOT: understanding  

PROVERBS: Chapter 19

TZADDIKIM:  Rabbi David of Lelov and Rabbi Mordechai of Lechovitch

Week 19 is the week of Yud Shevat, the yahrzeit of the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn of Lubavitch. It is also the date in which the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, became rebbe a year later.

As mentioned in the previous week, Shevat is connected to the attribute of pleasure, Ta’anug, as well as faith, Emunah. The verse for this week mentions marital relations, which in this case represents both concepts. The verse mentions also how Hashem remembered Channah, and how her Emunah in Hashem was rewarded. In the Torah, marital relations is often referred to as knowledge, Da’at. Da’at is the connecting point between the male aspect of intellect, Chochmah (wisdom), and the female one, Binah (understanding). It is what allows Chochmah to impregnate Binah.

This week’s Pirkei Avot quality is that people enjoy understanding (Binah ) from those that study Torah for its own sake. In the verse above, Channah represents understanding, Binah.

Again, the entire Book of Proverbs is about enjoying understanding, from those that have it. Chapter 19 continues this theme. Two verses in this chapter specifically speak of understanding:

8. He who acquires sense loves his soul; he who guards understanding will eventually find good.  
(...)
25. Beat a scorner, and a simple man will gain cunning; reprove a man of understanding, and he will understand knowledge.

Besides from the Previous Rebbe, this week also contains the yahrzeit of two great Tzadikim of renowned Chassidic dynasties: Rabbi David Biederman of Lelov (7th of Shevat) and (sometimes) Rabbi Mordechai of Lechovitch (13th of Shevat).

Rabbi David Biederman of Lelov was one of the main disciples of the Seer of Lublin, and the founder of the Lelover Chassidic dynasty. He was known for his extraordinary ability to look at every Jew in the positive light. He was also the teacher of Rebbe Yitzhak of Vorka, who was also known for his tremendous Ahavat Yisrael.

Rabbi Mordechai of Lechovitch is one of the foremost figures in the Karlin dynasty, as well as other Chassidic lines as well, such as Koidanov and Slonim. There are many Chassidic stories about him, as well as many of his recorded Chassidic statements. He once gave the following blessing: “Don’t fool yourself, don’t fool G-d, and don’t fool people.”
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