Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Week 43 (Book 2): Destruction that Leads to Peace


HAAZINU: Sing out praise, O you nations, for His people! For He will avenge the blood of His servants, inflict revenge upon His adversaries, and appease His land [and] His people. (Deuteronomy 32:43)
HAFTORAH: Then I ground them as the dust of the earth, as the mud of the streets I did tread upon them, I did stamp them down. (II Samuel 22:43)
PIRKEI AVOT QUALITY: Places Him [in The Path of] Peace (Ma’amidoh Al Hashalom)
PROPHET: Haggai
LEVITICAL CITY: Jattir

The forty-third week of the year is that of Rosh Chodesh Av. Av is connected to the Tribe of Shimon, while  Rosh Chodesh  itself is the yahrzeit of Aharon the Kohen. It is the month of Tisha B’Av, which marks the destruction of the First and Second Temples, and also the day in which the Messiah is born.

In the verse of Haazinu, the theme of Divine retribution continues, although there is now a greater emphasis on praising the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. The Haftorah’s verse also continues the same theme, although here too there is a focus on the physical Land, and the mud of its streets.

The quality of this week is “places him [in the path of] peace” (ma’amidoh al hashalom). Aharon is very much associated with peace. Hillel states that we should all be students of Aharon, who “loves peace and pursue peace…” As explained in the previous week, the verb “ma’amidoh” is connected to raising students. This is hinted to in the lighting of the menorah, in the beginning of the Torah portion of Beha’alotchah, in which Aharon it told to “raise” the lights of the Menorah until they could stand on their own.

This week’s prophet is Haggai. His prophecy is very much connected to the theme of the destruction of the Temple, as well as its rebuilding. His words are also connected to peace:

1. In the seventh [month], on the twenty-first of the month, the word of the Lord came through Haggai the prophet, saying:

2. Say now to Zerubbabel the son of Shaltiel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak the High Priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying:          

3. Who among you is left, who saw this house in its former glory? And as you see it now, is it not as nothing in your eyes? 

4. And now, be strong, Zerubbabel, says the Lord; and be strong, Joshua the son of Jehozadak the High Priest; and be strong, all the people of the land, says the Lord. And (for I am with you, says the Lord of Hosts) do      

5. the thing that I set up with you when you left Egypt. And My spirit stands in your midst; fear not.           

6. For so said the Lord of Hosts: [There will rise] another one, and I will shake up the heaven and the earth and the sea and the dry land [for] a little while.           

7. And I will shake up all the nations, and they shall come [with] the precious things of all the nations. And I will fill this House with glory, said the Lord of Hosts.         

8. The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, says the Lord of Hosts.

9. The glory of this last House shall be greater than the first one, said the Lord of Hosts. And in this place I will grant peace, says the Lord of Hosts.

(Chapter 2:1-9)(emphasis added)      

 

The levitical city for this week is Jatir. Jatir, comes from the word Yeter, which means the remains, what is left over after destruction. The name is very appropriate for the month of Av. Yeter can also mean “an addition,” which is related to the word Yoter, which means “more.” In the future with the coming of the Mashiach, Av will be a month of added importance and celebration.
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