Sunday, July 13, 2014
Week 41 (Book 4a): Not Corrupting G-d's World
Week 41 includes the seventeenth of Tammuz as well as the Chassidic holiday of Yud Beit/Yud Gimmel Tammuz. The story of Chanah’s verse for this week describes how the sons of Eli established a law in which any person bringing a sacrifice had to give an additional portion to them, even more than what was designated by Torah law. (See Rashi) Their actions were a Hillul Hashem, a desecration of G-d’s name, which denigrated the Mishkan in the eyes of the people. The seventeenth of Tammuz is, in great part, related to the corruption of the Jewish people at the time, particularly the Temple’s priests, which led to its downfall.
This week’s Pirkei Avot acquisition is the heavens and the earth. The verses related to it mention the Temple, as well as its limitations as the house of G-d. What is particularly relevant about this verse, as related to the above account, is that since everything is G-d’s (and the Temple is G-d’s house), how dare the sons of Eli take anything more for themselves of what clearly belongs to G-d, the Master and Owner of all of heaven and earth.
Chapter 10 of Kohelet contains a passage referring to the centrality of heaven and earth, and one should not abuse their contents and using them in an improper way:
16. Woe to you, O land whose king is a lad, and your princes eat in the morning.
17. Fortunate are you, O land, whose king is the son of nobles, and your princes eat at the proper time, in might and not in drinking.
18. Through laziness the rafter sinks, and with idleness of the hands the house leaks.
19. On joyous occasions, a feast is made, and wine gladdens the living, and money answers everything.
20. Even in your thought, you shall not curse a king, nor in your bedrooms shall you curse a wealthy man, for the bird of the heaven shall carry the voice, and the winged creature will tell the matter.
Rashi: the bird of the heaven: the soul, which is placed within you, which will ultimately fly up to the heaven.
This week contains the yahrzeits of Rebbe Tzvi-Hirsh Eichenstein (first rebbe of Zhidachov, 11th of Tammuz) and Rabbi Chaim Ibn Atar (the Ohr HaChaim, 15th of Tammuz).
Rebbe Tzvi-Hirsh Eichenstein [1785 - 11 Tammuz 1831], founder of the Zhidachov dynasty, was a prominent disciple of the Seer of Lublin. He championed the position that the practice of Chasidism had to be firmly based on the study of the Kabbala of the holy Ari of Safed. He wrote and published numerous commentaries on Kabbala, including Ateret Tzvi on the Zohar, and several on the weekly readings. The Malbimwas a student of his. He was succeeded by three nephew-disciples, including Yitzhak-Isaac of Zhidachov and Yitzhak-Isaac-Yehuda-Yechiel of Komarno.
Rabbi Chaim (ben Moshe) Ibn Atar (1696 - 15 Tammuz 1743) is best known as the author of one of the most important and popular commentaries on the Torah: the Ohr HaChaim. He established a major yeshiva in Israel, after moving there from Morocco. Chassidic tradition is that the main reason the Baal Shem Tov twice tried so hard (and failed) to get to the Holy Land was that he said if he could join the Ohr HaChaim there, together they could bring Moshiach. His burial site outside the Old City of Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, is considered a propitious place to pray.
Other yahrzeits this week include Rabbi Elazar of Reishe (15th of Tammuz), Rabbi Avrohom Yehoshua Heschel of Kopischnitz (16th of Tammuz), and Rabbi Shmuel Yaacov Weinberg (17th of Tammuz).
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