Friday, May 30, 2014

Week 35 (Book 4b): Feeling Hashem's Desire



SONG OF SONGS: 11. "I am my beloved's, and his desire is upon me.
 
70 SOULS THAT DESCENDED TO EGYPT: Ziphion and Ephraim
 
TALMUD SHEVUOTH: Daf 35 – the Holy Name of G-d
 
BOOK OF JEREMIAH: Chapter 35

 Week 35 in the Jewish calendar is the week of Yom Yerushalayim and Rosh Chodesh Sivan. The verse of Shir HaShirim of this week speaks of the close connection between the Jewish people and G-d, and how He desires us. This desire was certainly felt strongly at the time immediately prior to the giving of the Torah, and also when we were able to re-conquer Jerusalem.

Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the thirty-fifth mentioned is Ziphion, son of Gad. This week is also connected with Ephraim, son of Joseph. Ziphion appears related to the verb Letzapot, to see into the distance, like the name of a mountain in Jerusalem, Har HaTzofim, one of the scenes of the greatest battles for Jerusalem in 1948 and 1967. Ephraim comes from the word to be fruitful and multiply – Israel’s size certainly multiplied after the Six Day War. Ephraim was the ancestor of Joshua, who conquered the Land of Israel for the first time. Ephraim, along with Menashe (previous week) were partners in a similar way as Issachar (connected to the month of Iyar) and Zevulun (Sivan). Of the two brothers, Ephraim is the most associated with spiritual pursuits and the acquisition of Torah, while Menashe was more concerned with running the affairs of the kingdom.

Daf Lamed Heh (Folio 35) of Shvuot discusses cases of exemptions, when oaths are not made, the wording of an oath, the holy names of G-d, and whether an oath must include Hashem’s name. The various names of Hashem mentioned appear related to the the revelation of Hashem and the giving of the Torah on Shavuot. The Torah itself comprises of one of Hashem’s names.

Chapter 35 of the Book of Jeremiah contains a similar theme to the above. It contains the story of Rechabites, sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab, children of Yitro. The story tells of how they faithfully obeyed their father’s commands, including the one not to drink wine. Yithro’s story (that of a convert) is very much related to the giving of the Torah. In fact, it is in Parashat Yitthro that we read about the giving of the Torah. It also shows the unity of the children, all obeying their father’s wishes in unison. They themselves were converts, just like on Shavuot, when the entire Jewish people were like converts.
 

5. And I placed before the sons of the house of the Rechabites goblets full of wine, and cups, and I said to them, "Drink wine."
 

6. And they said, "We will not drink wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us saying, "You shall not drink wine, you or your children forever.
 

7. And you shall not build a house, neither shall you sow nor shall you plant a vineyard, nor shall you have [any], but you shall dwell in tents all your days in order that you live many days on the face of the land where you dwell.
 

8. And we hearkened to the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, to all that he commanded us, not to drink wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, and our daughters.  
 

9. And not to build houses for our dwelling, and not to have a vineyard, a field, or seed.  
 

10. And we have dwelt in tents, and we have hearkened and done according to all that Jonadab our father has commanded us.
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