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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Week 42 (Book 4a): The Importance of Giving (not Taking By Force)




STORY OF CHANNAH: 14. And he would thrust into the fire-pot, or into the pot, or into the cauldron, or into the pan, everything which the fork would pick up, the priest would take therewith; so would they do to all Israel who came there in Shiloh.

PIRKEI AVOT ON G-D’S ACQUISITIONS: one acquisition is Abraham... Abraham, as it is written (Genesis 14:19), "And he blessed him, and said: Blessed be Abram to G-d Most High, acquirer of heavens and earth."

ECCLESIASTES: Chapter 11

TZADIKKIM: Rabbi Avraham Mattisyahu Fridman of Shtefanesht (21st of Tammuz), Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin (22nd of Tammuz), and Rabbi Moshe Kordevero (23rd of Tammuz).  

Week 42 is the last week of Tammuz, part of the three weeks of mourning for the destruction of the Temple. The verse from the story of Channah speaks of how the sons of Eli would take for themselves a disproportionate part of the sacrifice of each Jewish person. This behavior is antithetical to the Torah, which is primarily about love and about giving. The main reason the Second Temple was destroyed was because of Sinat Chinam, gratuitous hatred, caused by acts like these.

The quotation from Pirkei Avot is about how Abraham is one of G-d’s acquisitions. Abraham’s entire essence was about giving and love. The quotation that accompanies the above statement in Pirkei Avot comes immediately before Abraham gives ten percent of all he has to Malchitzedek, a priest (lit. Kohen). Abraham gave to the priest out of his own will, in contrast to the the sons of Eli, who forcefully took for themselves even more than what they were entitled.

Chapter 11 of Ecclesiastes begins with the same concept: the importance of giviing:

1. Send forth your bread upon the surface of the water, for after many days you will find it.

2. Give a portion to seven and even to eight, for you do not know what evil will be on the earth.

Rashi comments:

Send forth your bread upon the surface of the water: Do goodness and kindness to a person about whom your heart tells you that you will never see him again, like a person who casts his food upon the surface of the water.

for after many days you will find it: Days will yet come, and you will receive your recompense. Note what is said about Jethro (Exod. 2:20): “Call him that he should eat bread,” and he thought that he (Moses) was an Egyptian and that he would never see him again. What was his end? He became his son- in-law and reigned over Israel and brought him under the wings of the Shechinah, and his sons and grandsons merited to sit in the Chamber of Hewn Stone.

Give a portion to seven and even to eight: If you have shared your food and your drink with seven who need kindness, share further with eight who come after them, and do not say, “Enough.”

for you do not know what evil will be: Perhaps days will yet come and you will need them all. Then you will be saved from the evil by this charity, and if not now, when?

This week contains the yahrzeits of three important figures in Chassidism and Kabbalah: Rabbi Avraham Mattisyahu Fridman of Shtefanesht (21st of Tammuz), Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin (22nd of Tammuz), and Rabbi Moshe Kordevero (23rd  of Tammuz).

From Ascent:

Rabbi Avraham Mattisyahu Fridman of Shtefanesht [1848 - 21 Tamuz 1933], in Romania, was the grandson of the holy Rabbi Yisroel of Rhzhin. He succeeded his father, Rabbi Menachem Nochum, to be the second Rebbe in the dynasty, in 1869. While famed for his miraculous powers and having thousands of followers and admirers, he was also considered one of the true hidden tzadikim of his generation. In 1969 his remains -- which witnesses alive today testify were still as whole and fresh as the day he died! -- were exhumed and transferred from Romania to Nachlas Yitzchok in Tel Aviv, where his grave is still a holy site of prayer for thousands of Jews.

R. Shlomo of Karlin [1738-22 Tammuz 1792], was also a student of the Maggid, as well as of Reb Aharon the Great of Karlin, whom he succeeded in 1772. Most of the Chassidic leaders of the next generation in the Lithuanian region were his disciples. He died Kiddush HaShem, stabbed by a Cossack while in the midst of theAmida prayer.
Rabbi Moshe Kordevero (1522-23 Tammuz 1570), known by the anacronym of his name: Ramak, was considered the head of the Tsfat Kabbalists until his death shortly after the arrival of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria. Author of many major works of Kabbalah, including Pardes Rimonim ("Orchard of Pomegranates"), in which he systematized all kabbalistic knowledge that had been revealed until then.
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