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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Week 28 (Book 2): Elisha and Being Happy with One's Lot


For they are a nation devoid of counsel, and they have no understanding. (Deuteronomy 32:28)

Positive light: Once this people (Amalek) is no more, there is counsel, and when they are nothing, there is understanding.

And the humble people You do deliver; But Your eyes are upon the haughty [in order] to humble them. (II Samuel 22:28)

He Who Is Happy With His Lot (HaSameach Be’Chelkoh)

Elisha

Eshtemoa

Week Twenty-Eight is the week of the first day of Passover. Haazinu’s verse for this week discusses a people who is devoid of counsel and lacks understanding. A completely different take on this verse is that once Amalek is destroyed (Ovad, from the same verb as Arami Oved Avi) there is counsel, and when they are nothing, there is understanding. Amalek represents arrogance, and its destruction (burning the Chametz, our inflated ego) is the source of wisdom (Chochmah in Hebrew, which stands for Koach Mah, the strength of being "what," nothing). Yet another take is that when the Jewish people makes itself like nothing there is counsel and understanding. The Haftorah is also in line with this interpretation, speaking once more of the importance of humility and ridding oneself of haughtiness.

The quality for this week is once more one of the basic characteristics of humility: being happy with one’s lot in life.

This week’s prophet is Elisha, the disciple and successor of Eliyahu. Elisha showed happiness with his lot when he accepted to be Eliyahu’s disciple. Elisha also later receives a very special portion indeed: twice the spirit of Eliyahu. One of the greatest examples of being happy with one’s lot comes from the story involving Elisha and the Shunamite woman. Elisha inquires as to whether she needs anything so that he can repay the great hospitality that she and her husband provided him. Her response? “I dwell among my people.” She did not request anything, even though she did not have any children at the time. (II Kings 4:13)


The levitical city for this week is Eshtemoa. The meaning of its name appears to be “making oneself heard.” This seems related to the Passover Seder and the importance of speaking abundantly of the miracle of Passover.
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