Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Week 37 (Book 2): Strength and Stability that Come From Humility



 HAAZINU: Then He will say, "Where is their deity, the rock in which they trusted, (Deuteronomy 32:37)

Positive light: Then He will say [to the enemies of the Jewish people]…

HAFTORAH: You have enlarged my step[s] beneath me; And my ankles have not slipped. (II Samuel 22:37)

QUALITY TO ACQUIRE THE TORAH: Keeps Far From Honor

PROPHET: Ezekiel

LEVITICAL CITY: Dimnah


The thirty-seventh week of the year is the third week of the month of Sivan. In Haazinu, the verse speaks of how G-d will ask the Jewish people where are the gods that they had trusted in the past. A positive reading of this verse is that it is not referring to the Jewish people, but to the other nations. This readimg is in line with the Haazinu verse for week thrity-one, which states that our “Rock” is not like theirs.
 
The Haftorah verse for this week also speaks of G-d’s support, like that of a stable rock. The verse also seems to parallel the verse of the elephant in Perek Shirah, which speaks of how the works of G-d are great (Gadol, big, like the elephant. Gimmel Dalet Lamed also have the numerical value of 37). 

The quality of this week is “keeps far from honor.” Pirkei Avot teaches that seeking honor is something that takes a person out of this world. Honor, or anything that feeds a person’s ego, is an enormous obstacle in the service of G-d. Haughtiness is diametrically opposed to holiness. Despite the great honor bestowed on the Jewish people at Mount Sinai, the experience was so awe inspiring, that is led to even greater humility. This quality is also the focus of the verses in Book 1, particularly those in Pirkei Avot, which speak about not handing down judgments unnecessarily, as one that does so is “a fool, wicked and arrogant.” Seeking honor is also what led to Korach’s downfall, which is also discussed there.
This week’s prophet is Ezekiel, who is very closely connected to the idea of keeping far from honor. G-d commands Ezekiel to do things that go so tremendously against what we would consider to be “kevod habriot” (honor and dignity”), it is difficult to fathom anyone being capable of doing them. Ezekiel is commanded to eat excrement! Yet, it is also Ezekiel that has the most exalted visions of G-d. In fact, the Haftorah reading for the first day of Shavuot is Ezekiel’s vision of the Heavenly Chariot, the opening lines of his book. Ezekiel was also a kohen, like Uriah and Jeremiah, the prophets of the previous two weeks.

The levitical city for this week is Dimnah. Dimnah literally means dunghill, again reflecting how one is to stay away from honor.[1]  .









[1] There are opinions that Dimnah is also the city of Rimmono, which means, “his pomegranate.” http://www.tevuot.org/aretz/4j.html
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