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Monday, July 7, 2014

Week 40 (Book 3): Returning to Ourselves


BESHALACH: 27. It came about that on the seventh day, [some] of the people went out to gather [manna], but they did not find [any]. 28. The Lord said to Moses, How long will you refuse to observe My commandments and My teachings? 

HAFTORAH: The wisest of her princesses answer her, she too returns answers to herself.

TALMUD SOTAH: Daf 40 – The Temple, Thansksgiving and Humility

GENERATIONS FROM ADAM TO THE LAST KING OF JUDAH: Ahaziah

JOURNEYS IN THE DESERT: They journeyed from Dibon gad and camped in Almon diblathaimah.

Week 40 is the second week of Tammuz. The Torah portion section for this week describes the stubbornness of the Jewish people: “How long will you refuse to observe My commandments and My teachings?” As the Rebbe would often repeat, the reason for our suffering is, “Mipnei Chata’eynu Galinu Me’Artzeinu,” “because of our sins, we were exiled from our Land.” The moment we stop sinning and reverse course, we will be immediately redeemed.

The Haftorah verses speak of the “wisest of her princesses” that answer her, and that she too returns and answers. The “wisest of princesses” is the Neshamah, the soul. The Neshamah is called a princess because it is the daughter of the King, Hashem. Despairing over the exile, the soul awakens and brings us to return, to teshuvah. It is in Tammuz that we must realize that it is time to return to ourselves, our true selves: our Neshamah.

Daf Mem (Folio 40) of Sotah continues to relate certain laws of Birkat Kohanim, as well as the public’s prayer of thanks, and the laws of the Kohen Gadol reading the Torah on Yom Kippur. The daf also includes a story about R. Avahu and R. Aba regarding their humility. Again this week we see the connection to the Temple, as well as to ways in which to restore it: humility and thanks.

Ahaziah, the son Jehoram, reigns for a very short time, and continues the evil ways of his father, under the terrible influence of his mother. His counterpart in Israel is Jehoram, with whom he sought a close alliance on behest of his mother. Both Ahaziah and Jehoram are killed by Jehu, who is anointed by the Prophet Elisha to be king. The death of both kings shows that without repentance there is no hope for salvation. (Ahaziah is apparently named after his maternal uncle, the son of Ahab. His name means “one who holds to G-d.” Unfortunately, he himself held fast to idolatry instead).


In the fortieth week, the Jews journey from Dibon gad and camp in Almon diblathaimah. Almon diblathaimah means hidden sweetness. Almon comes from He’elem, concealment. (See Book 2, Week 40) Diblathaimah is related to sweetness, specifically deveilah, pressed cake figs (Figs are related to this time of the year, See Book 6). Therefore, Almon Diblathaimah appears to represent a dichotomy, very much like Tammuz itself: it may be a place of death and mourning. However, through teshuvah, the month’s concealed sweetness is revealed. The personal journey for this week is to internalize the concept of the good tidings that come from repentance, and now focus on the concealed sweetness that is now revealed from it.
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