Friday, January 24, 2014

Week 21 (Book 4a): Malchut (Kingship)


STORY OF CHANNAH: 21. And the man, Elkanah and his entire household, went up to slaughter to the Lord, the sacrifice of the days and his vow.

QUALITY OF PIRKEI AVOT: The Torah grants him sovereignty (kingship)     

PROVERBS:  Chapter 21

TZADDIKIM: Rav Menachem Mendel of Kotzk (22nd of Shevat) and Rav Yehoshua Rokeach (23rd of Shevat)

Week 21 is the last week of  Shevat, and includes the yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, the wife of the Rebbe. The verse from the story of Channah describes Elkanah’s annual pilgrimage to the Tabernacle. The term “household,” Beitoh, in the Torah, is usually a reference to someone’s wife. This verse comes to preface the fact that Channah chooses to stay behind to nurse Shmuel, and bring him to the Tabernacle, to live there, only once he is weaned.  

This week’s Pirkei Avot quality is that the Torah grants kingship, Malchut. Malchut, as previously explained, is a feminine sefirah (Divine attribute). (See Book 1, Week 21) Malchut receives its energy from the other sefirot. Here, too, the verse states that the Torah gives (Notenet) kingship. It is up to us to know how to receive it. In the above verse, Elkanah ascends to the Tabernacle as an act of gratitude.

Chapter 21 of the Book of Proverbs begins by speaking about kingship, and also contains reference to the central role of a wife (in this case, for the bad):

1. A king's heart is like rivulets of water in the Lord's hand; wherever He wishes, He turns it. (…)
9. It is better to sit on the corner of a roof than with a quarrelsome wife and the house of a friend. (…)
19. It is better to dwell in a desert land than [with] a quarrelsome and vexatious wife.

Besides Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka’s yahrzeit (22nd of Shevat), this week also contains the yahrzeits of Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Kotzk (also the 22nd of Shevat) and Rebbe Yehoshua Rokeach (the Second Rebbe of Belz, son of the Sar Shalom, 23rd of Shevat).

Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Kotzk was known for his immense Torah knowledge, already achieved at a very young age, and for his uncompromising pursuit of truth. His often sharp and penetrating sayings cut through people’s ego and fantasies. Among his students were the first two leaders of the dynasty of of Ger, the largest Chassidic group in all of Poland.

The 22nd of Shevat is also the yahrzeit of one of the Kotzker’s closest disciples, Rabbi Yehuda Leib (Leibel) Eiger of Lublin, grandson of Rabbi Akiva Eiger. The 21st of Shevat is the yahrzeit of another disciple of the Kotzker, R. Yechiel Meir Lifschitz of Gostynin (Der Tilim Yid).

Rebbe Yehoshua Rokeach expanded the Belz dynasty begun by his father into the largest in Galicia. He was known for his vigorous battle against the Haskalah, the Jewish secularist “enlightenment” movement. Rav Yehoshua was a tremendous Torah scholar, who was also known for common sense in his leadership. He inspired his followers to study Torah with great devotion, and set up programs for newly married men to continue to study in Yeshiva.

Other yahrzeits this week include (sometimes) Rav David HaLevi Segal (author of the “Taz, the Turei Zahav, 26th of Shevat) and Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Elazar Leiner (the "Tiferes Yosef," Radziner Rebbe, 26th of Shevat)


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