Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Week 36 (Book 2): Accepting the Truth


HAAZINU: When the Lord will judge His people, and will reconsider His servants, when He sees that the power is increasing, and none is controlled or strengthened. (Deuteronomy 32:36)

HAFTORAH: And You have given me the shield of Your salvation; And You have increased Your humility for me. (II Samuel 22:36)

QUALITY FOR ACQUIRING THE TORAH: Loves Reproof (Ohev Et Hatochachot)

PROPHET: Jeremiah

LEVITICAL CITY: Kartah

Week Thirty-Six is the week of Shavuot and Haazinu’s verse states that G-d will judge His people and relent once he sees the strength of the enemy increasing. Shavuot is not a day usually associated with judgment. However, in many ways it does have many aspects of judgment, like Rosh Hashanah. How a person’s studies will go during the year is largely determined on how they go on Shavuot. Just like we try not to sleep much on Rosh Hashanah, on Shavuot we stay up all night learning Torah. Furthermore, as much as Shavuot is a day of celebration, the unfortunate events that took place immediately following the giving of the Torah (ie. the sin of the golden calf), required Hashem's great mercy, as well as Moshe's begging on our behalf.

The Haftorah’s verse also appears to be a clear reference to Shavuot. At Mount Sinai, G-d lowered Himself (a sign of increased humility) in such a way that it was possible that He be revealed to the Jewish people.

The quality for this week is loves reproof (Ohev Et Hatochachot). Prior to Shavuot every year we read the Tochachah (the “reproof”) in the Torah Portion of Bechukotai. As explained in the previous paragraphs, this week is also connected to the events immediately following the giving of the Torah, which include much reproof. Furthermore, it is only by being open to reproof that one is able to learn and grow; it is an essential element in serving G-d, one of the main teachings of the Book of Proverbs:

Reprove not a scorner lest he hate you; reprove a wise man and he will love you.  Give a wise man, and he will become yet wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, and the knowledge of the holy ones is understanding.   (Chapter 9:8-10)

This week’s prophet is Jeremiah, whose prophecy is by far the one most associated with reproof. After all, it is Jeremiah that so strongly spoke about the destruction of the Temple, Jerusalem’s devastation and the Babylonian exile, and who witnessed these events during his lifetime. It was also Jeremiah who recorded the Book of Lamentations, depicting so vividly and emotionally G-d’s reproof. Jeremiah was on a level attained by very few prophets, and it is therefore also appropriate that he be the one associated with the week of Shavuot. Jeremiah’s message is also one that is extremely pertinent to Shavuot:

"Thus saith the L-rd: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might; let not the rich man glory in his riches. But let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the L-rd Who exercises mercy, justice, and righteousness on the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the L-rd."
The levitical city for this week is Kartah. Kartah (with an alef) means “city” in Aramaic. Perhaps the meaning here is that the giving of the Torah involves knowing the simple truth, even if such a truth is painful. The Jewish people come from Shem, whose name literally means “name.” This also points to the simple truth he represented. The ruins of Kartah, in the outskirts of Haifa, are an important (and beautiful) archeological site in Israel today.[1]

There is also an opinion that Kartah is Tavor, a city of the tribe of Issachar.[2] Mount Tabor was shared by the tribes of Issachar and Zevulun. It seems appropriate that Zevulun and Issachar would in this way “share” the levitical city for the week of Shavuot, a sign of brotherly love that was so essential to the giving of the Torah. It is also worth noting that the zodiac sign for the month of Sivan is gemini, twins. It is also worth noting that Mount Tabor thought itself worthy of being the mountain to receive the Torah, and was later the scene of miracles in the times of Devorah:

3. Hear, O kings, give ear, O princes; I, to the Lord I shall sing, I shall sing to the Lord, the G-d of Israel. 
אָנֹכִי אָנֹכִי: This word is repeated. I have heard an Aggadic interpretation: The Holy One did not rob (by withholding) the reward of Mount Tabor and Mount Carmel who arrived at the giving of the Torah, expecting it to be given upon them, and turned away in shame. The Holy One said to them, “I will pay you double fold. It was said at Sinai, (Ex. 20:2) ‘(אָנֹכִי) I am the Lord your G-d,’ at Tabor it will be said, ‘I… I…’ (אָנֹכִי אָנֹכִי). It was said at Sinai, ‘I am the Lord your G-d (ה׳ אֱלֹקֶי),’ at Carmel it will be said twice, (I Kings 18:39) ‘The Lord He is G-d, the Lord He is G-d (ה׳ הוּא הָאֱלֹקִים)’ in the days of Elijah.” (Rashi on Judges 5:3)






[2] http://www.tevuot.org/aretz/4j.html
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