Monday, July 3, 2017

Week 40 (From the Book): To Fight for Truth



The wolf is saying, "For every matter of iniquity, for the ox, the donkey, the lamb, the garment, for every lost item which he says, 'This is it,' the matter of both of them shall come before the judge; he who the judge finds guilty shall pay double to the other." (Exodus 22:8)

Rabbi Eliezer the son of Yaakov would say: He who fulfills one mitzvah, acquires for himself one angel-advocate; he who commits one transgression, acquires against himself one angel-accuser. Repentance and good deeds are as a shield against retribution.

Hod shebeYesod (glory and gratefulness within the context of foundation and firmness)

In week forty, still in the beginning of the month of Tammuz, the wolf sings in Perek Shirah that for every matter of crime - upon the ox, donkey, sheep, clothes or any lost time for which there is a dispute - the cause of both parties shall come before the judge, and the one whom the judge finds guilty shall pay double to the other.” (Exodus 22:8)

The song of the wolf has a very strong connection with Reuven. As explained in the previous week, Reuven had lost the double portion that was his right as a firstborn because of a mistake he made by moving the bed of one of Jacob's concubines. On another occasion, when Jacob refused to let his children take Benjamin to Egypt, Reuven said that if he personally did not bring Benjamin back, he would be willing to give up his two sons. This would amount to a double loss.

The wolf is the symbol of the tribe of Benjamin, who in turn, is also closely connected to the song of the wolf. After arriving in Egypt, Benjamin is accused of theft by the viceroy (Joseph).

Of all of Jacob’s children, Benjamin is also the one most connected with the Land of Israel, because he was the only one who was born there.

The wolf’s song also contains a very interesting parallel with the conquest of the Land of Israel. Rashi’s first comment in the Torah explains why the Torah begins with the creation of the world and not with the first mitzvah, of blessing the new moon, which was given at the time of our departure from Egypt. Rashi explains that when the nations of the world accuse us of being “thieves," claiming that we are "stealing" the land, we will respond saying that the world and all that is in it belongs to G-d, and that it is He who determines what land to give to whom.

Forty is related to the intensification of firmness and stability of the number four. The number forty is also deeply related to the concept of internalizing G-d’s eternal truth: the Torah. Forty is the number of days and nights that Moses spent in Mount Sinai to receive the Torah. Forty is also the number of years the Jews wandered in the desert, the number of days and nights of the Flood, and the number of seah (unit of measurement) of water required for a kosher mikvah.

In Pirkei Avot, the age of forty is associated with understanding – it takes forty years to truly understand his master’s teaching. Moreover, pregnancy is forty weeks long (the time in which an angel teaches the fetus the entire Torah). Finally, the spies spent forty days scouting the Land of Israel (from Rosh Chodesh Tammuz to Tisha B’Av, including this very week).

In Perek Shirah, the wolf sings of the verdict for a person who steals. It is known that the Flood only began after people began to steal. The Flood also served as a mikvah to purify the world.
This week, the lesson in Pirkei Avot is found in the words of Rabbi Eliezer the son of Yaakov, who teaches that he who does a mitzvah acquires for himself a defender, and he who commits one transgression, acquires for himself an accuser. Repentance and good deeds are like a shield against retribution (punishment). (IV: 11) Pirkei Avot’s lesson is closely linked to thievery, a transgression that brings about an accuser. At the same time, it is also linked to the month of Tammuz and the tikkun of sight. It is important to look favorably upon the other and upon their possessions. Often jealousy is what leads to theft. We should also look favorably upon people, in order to serve as good defenders. We also see here the theme of teshuvah, closely connected with the tribe of Reuven.


The combination of sefirot results in hod shebeyesod, glory and gratefulness within the context of foundation and firmness. This week we should be thankful, dedicated, and grounded in our moral ways. The lesson in self-improvement we learn from the wolf is that we cannot give in to corruption. We must stand strong in order that justice and truth prevail over falsehood.
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