Sunday, August 31, 2014

Week 48 (Book 4b): Heber and To Be Connected

SONG OF SONGS: 10. I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers, then I was in his eyes as one who finds peace.
TALMUD SHEVUOTH: Daf 48 – New Moon

Week 48 in the Jewish calendar is the second week of Elul. The zodiac sign for this month is virgo. The verse of Shir HaShirim for this week continues to speak of the Jewish people as a young virgin/bride. She promises to stand strong against any who try to seduce her, and because of this she finds peace with her Husband.
Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the forty-eighth mentioned is Heber. Heber means friend, connection – perhaps a reference to the strong bond we have with G-d during this month, which stands for “Ani LeDodi veDodi Li,” “I am for my Beloved and my Beloved is for me.” Heber is also the name of the husband of another incredibly important Biblical female figure: Yael.
This week is also connected with Naftali. Of all the children of Jacob, it is only Naftali that is associated with a female animal because the prophetess Deborah comes from this tribe (Rashi). Naftali is described by Jacob as an Ayalah Shluchah (a swift gazelle, similar to the name Yael, which means “mountain goat”). Naftali also comes from the word for “sweetness,” also associated with the Divine closeness we experience during this month.
Daf Mem Cheit (Folio 48) of Shvuot discusses contradicting testimonies about the new moon and about whether money was given. It also discusses swearing of orphans, comparing it to that of a woman that swears in order to receive the rest of her ketubah that was already partially paid. Finally, the daf discusses overturning a final ruling and swearing about uncertain claims. Again, the theme Teshuvah and renewal (“New Moon,” overturning final rulings) is quite prevalent, as well as the female theme connected to Elul.
Chapter 48 of the Book of Jeremiah contains a similar theme to the above. The chapter speaks of the downfall of Moab. As mentioned last week, each gentile nation is associated with a specific impurity. (Likutei Moharan Torah Kuf Alef, Lesson 101)


The Desert in Words: Justice as a Communal Obligation and the Torah Portion of Shoftim

The Torah portion of Shoftim begins with a discussion of the appointment of judges. Below are a few of Rashi's comments on this subject:

18. You shall set up judges and law enforcement officials for yourself in all your cities that the Lord, your God, is giving you, for your tribes, and they shall judge the people [with] righteous judgment. 

Judges and law-enforcement officials: Heb. שֹׁפְטִים וְשֹׁטְרִים. שֹׁפְטִים are judges who decide the verdict, and שֹׁטְרִים are those who chastise the people in compliance with their order, (who strike and bind [not found in early editions]) with rods and straps, until he [the guilty party] accepts the judge’s verdict.

and they shall judge the people [with] righteous judgment: Appoint judges who are expert and righteous so that they will judge justly. — [from Sifrei]
19. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show favoritism, and you shall not take a bribe, for bribery blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts just words. 
You shall not pervert justice: [This is to be understood] according to its apparent meaning.  

you shall not show favoritism: Even during the statement of pleas [by the litigants]. This is an admonition addressed to the judge, that he should not be lenient with one litigant and harsh with the other, [e.g., ordering] one to stand [while allowing] the other to sit, because as soon as one notices that the judge is showing more respect toward his opponent, he cannot plead his case any longer [because he thinks that it will be of no use].

20. Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may live and possess the land the Lord, your God, is giving you. 

Justice, justice shall you pursue: Seek out a good court. (Sifrei; San. 32b) 

that you may live, and you possess [the land]: The appointment of fitting judges is sufficient merit to keep Israel alive and settled in their land. — [from Sifrei]

 It's very interesting to note that Rashi establishes obligations not only on those in the government in charge of appointing judges, not only on the judges themselves, but also on the law-enforcement officers as well as on the guilty parties. Last but not least, is the obligation of every litigant in seeking out a good court.

The pursuit of justice is truly a communal mitzvah, applicable to every single person and to the nation as a whole. It therefore comes as no surprise that the reward for appointing fitting judges is also a national one: "sufficient merit to keep Israel alive and settled in their land."

Friday, August 29, 2014

Week 48 (Book 4a): To Honor the Righteous

STORY OF CHANNAH: 20. And Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and he would say, "May the Lord grant you seed from this woman," because of the request which he had requested of the Lord, and they would go to his place.           
SONG OF SONGS: Chapter 4
TZADIKKIM: Rabbi Abraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook (first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, 3rd of Elul) and Rabbi David Zvi Shlomo Biederman (4th Lelover Rebbe, leader of Chassidic community in Jerusalem, 5th of Elul)

Week 48 is the second week of Elul. The verse from the story of Channah speaks of how Eli would bless Elkanah and Chanah with more children. The end of the verse states that “they (Elkanah and Chanah) would go to his (Eli’s) place.” This addition at first appears somewhat unnecessary. Yet, it serves to emphasize the extent to which Elkanah and Chanah would go in order to honor Eli, the Kohen Gadol and judge of the generation. Perhaps it was particular because of the honor shown to Eli that he was able to grant such a powerful blessing. Rashi comments that the inverse order found in Eli’s verses is also in order to emphasize Chanah’s righteousness:
because of the request which he had requested: for himself a son. And Eli would say to him, “May the Lord grant seed, etc.” May it be the Divine Will that all the children which you will have, will be from this righteous woman. This is (therefore) an inverted sentence.
This week’s Pirkei Avot quality that is “becoming to the righteous and becoming to the world” is honor. As noted above, honoring the righteous can serve as a direct link to G-d’s blessings. To honor the righteous is ultimately to honor G-d Himself.
Chapter 4 of the Song of Songs is completely about Hashem honoring the Jewish people. Every verse is one of praise for their attributes, their righteousness: “7. You are all fair, my beloved, and there is no blemish in you.”
This week contains the yahrzeits of two very prominent Jewish leaders in modern day Israel: Rabbi Abraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook (first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, 3rd of Elul) and Rabbi David Zvi Shlomo Biederman (4th Lelover Rebbe, leader of Chassidic community in Jerusalem, 5th of Elul)
From Orot:
Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook (5625/1865-5695/1935), served as the first Ashkenazic chief rabbi of Erets Israel. He was born in Grieva, a suburb of Dvinsk, Latvia, to Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Hakohen Kook and Perel Zlata Felman. The elder Kook’s intellectual roots were in the famed Volozhin Yeshiva, founded by the eminent disciple of the Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Hayyim of Volozhin. Abraham Isaac’s maternal grandfather Raphael, on the other hand, was a hasid of Rabbi Menahem Mendel Schneersohn of Lubavitch, author of Responsa Tsemah Tsedek. At an early age, Abraham Isaac imbibed both of these influences, which would later germinate in his thought, producing a unique fusion of the mitnagdic and hasidic traditions. Abraham Isaac studied in his youth with the rabbi of neighboring Dvinsk, Rabbi Reuven Halevi, author of Responsa Degel haRe’uveni. Later, he studied in Lutchin and Smorgon. The young genius was engaged to the daughter of one of the great rabbis of the generation, Rabbi Elijah David Rabinowitz-Te’omim of Ponevezh.
During the year preceding his marriage, Abraham Isaac studied in Volozhin, where he developed an intimate relationship with the rosh yeshivah or dean, Rabbi Naphtali Zevi Judah Berlin.
After serving as rabbi in the small town of Zoimel and later in the city of Boisk (Bauska), Latvia, in 1904 Rabbi Kook accepted the invitation of the port city of Jaffa, Erets Israel, to serve as its rabbi. In Erets Israel, Rabbi Kook, who was himself an interesting mixture of the old and the new, exerted a profound influence on both the Old and New Yishuv, as they were referred to in those days. His brilliance in all aspects of Torah attracted the finest minds among Jerusalem’s young pietists: Zevi Pesah Frank, Jacob Moses Harlap, Israel Porath, and others, who would become the leaders of the next generation. By the same token, Rav Kook had a unique gift for reaching out to the modern elements in Erets-Israeli society who were alienated from Jewish tradition. Thus, Rav Kook cemented relations with the halutsim, the pioneers in the outlying settlements. Especially in the new settlement of Rehovot was Rav Kook able to count many friends. His deep philosophical thoughts, as well as the poetic expression he gave to them, could not fail to impress the avant-garde writers of the day. Samuel Joseph Agnon, Joseph Brenner, et al supped at Rav Kook’s shalosh se’udot (third meal of the Sabbath). Rav Kook served as rabbi of Jaffa for a decade.
In 1914 Rav Kook traveled to Europe to attend the conference of Agudat Israel, a newly formed Orthodox movement, in order to impress upon the delegates the importance of Orthodox participation in the settlement of Erets Israel. Due to the outbreak of World War One the conference was cancelled, and Rav Kook found himself stranded on the European continent, unable to sail home. He spent the war years, first as a private citizen in St. Gallen, Switzerland in the home of an admirer Mr. Abraham Kimhi, and later in London as rabbi of the prestigious East End synagogue Mahzikei Hadat, founded by East European immigrants.
At war’s end Rav Kook returned to Erets Israel, becoming the Ashkenazic Rabbi of Jerusalem, and eventually Chief Rabbi of Erets Israel. It was during this final phase of his career that Rav Kook emerged as a world leader of Jewry. In 1924 he spent the better part of a year in the United States as part of a three-man rabbinic delegation sent to raise funds for the destitute yeshivot of Eastern Europe. About that time, Rav Kook established a yeshivah of his own in Jerusalem, known ever since as Merkaz Harav. The institutions Rav Kook established, namely the chief rabbinate and Yeshivat Merkaz Harav, continue to this day. Rav Kook’s teaching was preserved both orally by his disciples, and in the abundant writings he penned, some of which have yet to see the light of print. Rav Kook returned his soul to his Maker on 3 Ellul, 5695/1935, the exact day on which he had entered Jerusalem sixteen years earlier.
Rabbi David Zvi Shlomo Biederman (1844-5 Elul 1918) was one of the most respected rabbinical figures in old Jerusalem through World War I, and the leader of its Chassidic community. He was the official head of Kollel Warsaw, and in 1883 succeeded his father as Lelover Rebbe.
This week also contains the yahrzeits of Rabbi Chanoch Henoch Dov of Alesk (1st of Elul), Rabbi Eliezer Hager (the Damesek Eliezer of Vizhnitz, 2nd of Elul), Rabbi Moshe Aharon Pinto (5th of Elul), Rabbi Yomtov Lippman Heller (the Tosfot Yomtov, 6th of Elul), Rabbi Zalman Leib (Yekutiel Yehudah) Teitelbaum (the Sigheter Rav, author of Yetiv Lev, 6th of Elul), Chacham Eliyahu Chaim (son of Chacham Moshe and father of Chacham Yosef Chaim, the Ben Ish Chai, 7th of Elul).


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Psalm 150: Praising Hashem with All of the Vowels


To find the vowel connected to each Hallelu, just find the vowel comes immediately after word "Hallelu." If a vowel has already been used, find the next available vowel. The last three Hallelu's stand for the three Chatafs. (It might be worth noting that they repeat the word Tziltzeleh (which has three shvahs).

א. הַלְלוּיָהּ


 | הַלְלוּ אֵל בְּקָדְשׁוֹ


 הַלְלוּהוּ בִּרְקִיעַ עֻזּוֹ:


ב. הַלְלוּהוּ בִּגְבוּרֹתָיו


 הַלְלוּהוּ כְּרֹב גֻּדְלוֹ:


ג. הַלְלוּהוּ בְּתֵקַע שׁוֹפָר


 הַלְלוּהוּ בְּנֵבֶל וְכִנּוֹר:


ד. הַלְלוּהוּ בְתֹף וּמָחוֹל


 הַלְלוּהוּ בְּמִנִּים וְעֻגָב:


ה. הַלְלוּהוּ בְּצִלְצְלֵי שָׁמַע


 הַלְלוּהוּ בְּצִלְצְלֵי תְרוּעָה:


ו. כֹּל הַנְּשָׁמָה תְּהַלֵּל יָהּ הַלְלוּיָהּ:


Week 48 (Book 3): Manasseh and Asking Hashem to Forget

BESHALACH: 7. He named the place Massah [testing] and Meribah [quarreling] because of the quarrel of the children of Israel and because of their testing the Lord, saying, Is the Lord in our midst or not? 8. Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.  
TANACH VERSES FOLLOWING THE HAFTORAH: 8. that the Lord sent a prophet to the children of Israel, and he said to them, "Thus says the Lord, G-d of Israel; I brought you up from Egypt, and I brought you out of the house of bondage. 9. And I saved you from the hand of Egypt, and from the hand of all your oppressors; and I drove them out from before you, and I have given you their land.
TALMUD SOTAH: DAF 48 – Reforms of Yochanan Kohen Gadol

Week 48 is the second week of Elul, also including a day of Rosh Chodesh. Because of the people’s quarreling and testing of Hashem, doubting whether Hashem was in their midst, Amalek came and fought against them. (See Book 1, on how the scorpion in week 48 represents the coldness of Amalek) This ultimately brought them to cry out to G-d and battle against Amalek’s G-dlessness.
The Tanach verses for this week include G-d sending the people a prophet in response to their crying out to Him. Because the people in the times of Gideon cried for mercy, G-d responded with mercy and reassurance.
Daf Mem Chet (Folio 48) of Sotah describes the reforms made by Yochanan Kohen Gadol. The daf also describes a prohibition against singing after the destruction of the Temple, the loss of Ruach HaKodesh, and various spiritual declines since the Temple was destroyed and the Sanhedrin abolished. A general theme again the incredible need for teshuvah.
King Menasseh, the son of Hezekiah, was extremely evil and fell deeply into idolatry. Worse, he led the people of Judah to perform idolatry as well. However, after King Menasseh was taken captive a tortured, he did sincere teshuvah, and when he returned to the throne he acknowledged Hashem and tried to bring the people back. Menashe means to “forget.” In Elul, we ask Hashem to “forget” our inappropriate behavior throughout the year.
The forty-eighth week is connected to conquering the Chivites. Their name appears to come from the Aramaic word for snake: Chiviah. The Chivites are connected to the negative side of Yesod: being self-centered and overly concerned with one’s own pleasures. General, the perfecting of the sefirah of Yesod involves the control of one’s sexual impulses, exemplified by Yosef HaTzadik.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book of Lamentations, Chapter 5 Acrostic

Chapter 5 of Lamentations works as an acrostic if you take the three verses that begin with 'Al, עַל , and apply them as above for the letter Gimmel, Dalet and Samech (which is an exception). Furthermore, for the letter Tet, take the first letter of the second word in verse 13. Also, for those verses for which the first letter appears in more than one verse, use only one verse and take the second letter of the remaining verses.

7. Our fathers have sinned and are no more, and we have borne their iniquities.
ז. אֲבֹתֵינוּ חָטְאוּ וְאֵינָם וַאֲנַחְנוּ עֲו‍ֹנֹתֵיהֶם סָבָלְנוּ:

9. With our lives we bring our bread, because of the sword of the wilderness.
ט. בְּנַפְשֵׁנוּ נָבִיא לַחְמֵנוּ מִפְּנֵי חֶרֶב הַמִּדְבָּר:

5. We are pursued [with a yoke] on our necks; we toil but it does not remain with us.
ה. עַל צַוָּארֵנוּ נִרְדָּפְנוּ יָגַעְנוּ וְלֹא הוּנַּח לָנוּ:

17. For this our heart has become faint, for these things our eyes have grown dim.
יז. עַל זֶה הָיָה דָוֶה לִבֵּנוּ עַל אֵלֶּה חָשְׁכוּ עֵינֵינוּ:

21. Restore us to You, O Lord, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old.
כא. הֲשִׁיבֵנוּ יְהֹוָה | אֵלֶיךָ וְנָשׁוּבָה חַדֵּשׁ יָמֵינוּ כְּקֶדֶם:

10. Our skin is parched as by a furnace because of the heat of hunger.
י. עוֹרֵנוּ כְּתַנּוּר נִכְמָרוּ מִפְּנֵי זַלְעֲפוֹת רָעָב:

1. Recall, O Lord, what has befallen us; behold and see our disgrace.
א. זְכֹר יְהֹוָה מֶה הָיָה לָנוּ הַבִּיטָה וּרְאֵה אֶת חֶרְפָּתֵנוּ:

2. Our heritage has been turned over to strangers, our houses to aliens.
ב. נַחֲלָתֵנוּ נֶהֶפְכָה לְזָרִים בָּתֵּינוּ לְנָכְרִים:

13. Young men carried the millstones, [and] youths stumbled under [loads of] wood.
יג. בַּחוּרִים טְחוֹן נָשָׂאוּ וּנְעָרִים בָּעֵץ כָּשָׁלוּ:

3. We have become orphans and fatherless, our mothers are like widows.
ג. יְתוֹמִים הָיִינוּ וְאֵין אָב אִמֹּתֵינוּ כְּאַלְמָנוֹת:

22. For if You have utterly rejected us, You have [already] been exceedingly wroth against us.
כב. כִּי אִם מָאֹס מְאַסְתָּנוּ קָצַפְתָּ עָלֵינוּ עַד מְאֹד:

20. Why do You forget us forever, forsake us so long?
כ. לָמָּה לָנֶצַח תִּשְׁכָּחֵנוּ תַּעַזְבֵנוּ לְאֹרֶךְ יָמִים:

4. Our water we have drunk for payment; our wood needs must come by purchase.
ד. מֵימֵינוּ בְּכֶסֶף שָׁתִינוּ עֵצֵינוּ בִּמְחִיר יָבֹאוּ:

11. They have outraged women in Zion [and] maidens in the cities of Judah.
יא. נָשִׁים בְּצִיּוֹן עִנּוּ בְּתֻלֹת בְּעָרֵי יְהוּדָה:

18. For Mount Zion, which was desolate; foxes prowled over it.
יח. עַל הַר צִיּוֹן שֶׁשָּׁמֵם שׁוּעָלִים הִלְּכוּ בוֹ:

8. Slaves rule over us, [and] there is none to deliver [us] from their hand.
ח. עֲבָדִים מָשְׁלוּ בָנוּ פֹּרֵק אֵין מִיָּדָם:

16. The crown of our head has fallen, woe to us, for we have sinned.
טז. נָפְלָה עֲטֶרֶת רֹאשֵׁנוּ אוֹי נָא לָנוּ כִּי חָטָאנוּ:

6. We have stretched out our hands to Egypt [and to] Assyria to get enough food.
ו. מִצְרַיִם נָתַנּוּ יָד אַשּׁוּר לִשְׂבֹּעַ לָחֶם:

14. The elders have ceased from the [city] gate, the young men from their music.
יד. זְקֵנִים מִשַּׁעַר שָׁבָתוּ בַּחוּרִים מִנְּגִינָתָם:

12. Princes were hanged by their hands, elders were not shown respect.
יב. שָׂרִים בְּיָדָם נִתְלוּ פְּנֵי זְקֵנִים לֹא נֶהְדָּרוּ:

15. The joy of our heart has ceased, our dancing has turned into mourning.
טו. שָׁבַת מְשׂוֹשׂ לִבֵּנוּ נֶהְפַּךְ לְאֵבֶל מְחוֹלֵנוּ:

19. [But] You, O Lord, remain forever; Your throne endures throughout the generations.
יט. אַתָּה יְהֹוָה לְעוֹלָם תֵּשֵׁב כִּסְאֲךָ לְדוֹר וָדוֹר:

Nachum Acrostic


In the first half of the first chapter of Nachum, half an acrostic can be easily identified.  The second half requires changing verses around and also focusing on when letters are repeated at the beginning of the sentence.

א. מַשָּׂא נִינְוֵה סֵפֶר חֲזוֹן נַחוּם הָאֶלְקֹשִׁי:

1. The harsh prophecy concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.

ב. אֵל קַנּוֹא וְנֹקֵם יְהֹוָה נֹקֵם יְהֹוָה

2. The Lord is a jealous and vengeful God

וּבַעַל חֵמָה נֹקֵם יְהֹוָה לְצָרָיו וְנוֹטֵר הוּא לְאֹיְבָיו ג. יְהֹוָה אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם:

and is full of wrath; the Lord avenges Himself upon His adversaries, and He bears a grudge against His enemies.  3. The Lord is slow to anger

 וּגְדָל כֹּחַ וְנַקֵּה לֹא יְנַקֶּה יְהֹוָה בְּסוּפָה וּבִשְׂעָרָה

and great in power, but He will surely not acquit; the Lord-[His way] is with a tempest and with a storm and cloud is the dust of His feet.

 דַּרְכּוֹ וְעָנָן אֲבַק רַגְלָיו ד. גּוֹעֵר בַּיָּם וַיַּבְּשֵׁהוּ וְכָל:

His way; and cloud is the dust of His feet.  4. He rebukes the sea and dries it up, and He has dried up (and) all...

 הַנְּהָרוֹת הֶחֱרִיב אֻמְלַל בָּשָׁן וְכַרְמֶל וּפֶרַח לְבָנוֹן אֻמְלָל:

the rivers; Bashan and Carmel are cut off, and the blossoms of the Lebanon are cut off

 ה. הָרִים רָעֲשׁוּ מִמֶּנּוּ וְהַגְּבָעוֹת הִתְמֹגָגוּ

5. Mountains quaked because of him and the hills melted,

וַתִּשָּׂא הָאָרֶץ מִפָּנָיו וְתֵבֵל וְכָל יוֹשְׁבֵי בָהּ:

and the land raised up from before Him-and the inhabited earth and all who dwell thereon.

 ו. לִפְנֵי זַעְמוֹ מִי יַעֲמוֹד וּמִי יָקוּם בַּחֲרוֹן אַפּוֹ

6. Who can stand before His fury and who can rise amidst His wrath?

 חֲמָתוֹ נִתְּכָה כָאֵשׁ וְהַצֻּרִים נִתְּצוּ מִמֶּנּוּ:

His wrath has reached [the earth] like fire, and the rocks have been broken up by Him.

 ז. טוֹב יְהֹוָה לְמָעוֹז בְּיוֹם צָרָה וְיֹדֵעַ חֹסֵי בוֹ ח. וּבְשֶׁטֶף עֹבֵר כָּלָה:

7. The Lord is good-yea, a stronghold on a day of trouble- and is cognizant of those who trust in Him. 8. But, with an overrunning flood...

 יַעֲשֶׂה מְקוֹמָהּ וְאֹיְבָיו יְרַדֶּף חֹשֶׁךְ ט. מַה תְּחַשְּׁבוּן אֶל יְהֹוָה:

He shall make a full end of its place, and darkness shall pursue His enemies. 9. What do you think of the Lord?
 כָּלָה הוּא עֹשֶׂה לֹא תָקוּם פַּעֲמַיִם צָרָה :

He will make a full end; the trouble will not rise twice.

לֹא יִזָּרַע מִשִּׁמְךָ עוֹד

No more [offspring] of your name shall be sown;

מָלֵא יא. מִמֵּךְ יָצָא חֹשֵׁב עַל יְהֹוָה:

fully ripe. 11. From you has emanated one who plots evil against the Lord,

מֹטֵהוּ מֵעָלָיִךְ וּמוֹסְרֹתַיִךְ אֲנַתֵּק:

his yoke from you, and I will rend your bonds asunder.

  וְכֵן רַבִּים וְכֵן נָגוֹזּוּ:

-and likewise many-and likewise they have crossed

י. כִּי עַד סִירִים סְבֻכִים וּכְסָבְאָם סְבוּאִים אֻכְּלוּ כְּקַשׁ יָבֵשׁ

10. For, while the thorns are entangled and the drunkards are drinking, they are consumed like dry stubble,

וְעָבָר וְעִנִּתִךְ לֹא אֲעַנֵּךְ עוֹד יג. וְעַתָּה אֶשְׁבֹּר

and passed over, I will no longer afflict you. 13. And now I will break off...

פֶּסֶל וּמַסֵּכָה אָשִׂים

a graven image and a molten image; I will make

יד. וְצִוָּה עָלֶיךָ יְהֹוָה

14. And the Lord shall command concerning you;

קִבְרֶךָ כִּי קַלּוֹתָ:

your grave, for you have become worthless.

 רָעָה יֹעֵץ בְּלִיָּעַל יב. כֹּה | אָמַר יְהֹוָה:

 one who counsels wickedness. 12. So said the Lord:

אִם שְׁלֵמִים

Though they be at peace...

 מִבֵּית אֱלֹהֶיךָ אַכְרִית

from the house of your god I will cut off

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Table II (From the Book): Cycles of 50 Years (Jubilees), with Historical Events Taking Place Mostly in Years 31-34 and 51-52; Leadership of Chassidic Movement and Chabad

1. Chassidic Movement
Shabtai Tzvi disgrace, not long after Chimelnicky massacres.
Fellowship of Hidden Tzadikim
Turning Point
Birth of the Ba'al Shem Tov
Fellowship of Hidden Tzadikim
2. Chassidic and Lithuanian Systems
52/ 2
Birth of Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk, brother of Reb Zushya of Anipoli
(Birth of the Vilna Gaon)
Ba’al Shem Tov
Turning Point
Birth of the Alter Rebbe (Elul 1745) and Rav Chayim of Volozhin
Ba’al Shem Tov
3. Second Generation Chassidic Movement
Birth of Yaakov Yitzchak Rabinowicz, the “Yid haKodesh”
Magid of Mezeritch (1761 – 1772), Leadership Divided
Turning Point
Birth of the Ruzhiner Rebbe; Publication of the Tanya; Yud Tet Kislev
Alter Rebbe
4. Jewish
Pope forbids giving more rights to the Jews, and they lose the few rights they had received.
Mitteler Rebbe
Turning Point
Revolutions in Europe give Jews complete civil rights in many countries.
Tzemach Tzedek
(1827 – 1866)
5. Zionism
Birth of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook (Elul 1865)
Rebbe Maharash
(1866 – 1882[1])
Turning Point
Publication of "The Jewish State." WZO and Jewish Colonial Trust established
Rebbe Rashab
(1893 - 1920)
6. Israel’s Independence
World War I; Balfour Declaration. Beginning of British Mandate
Rebbe Rayatz
(1920 – 1950)
Turning Point
1947- 1949
War of Independence, Declaration of State, shortly after the Holocaust
The Rebbe
(1950 – 1994)
7. Modern Israel
Six Day War, Yom Yerushalayim
The Rebbe
(1950 – 1994)
Turning Point
Benjamin Netanyahu is prime minister after surprise victory. Three years later, he is defeated by a wide margin.
Brotherhood of Chassidim

[1] The Rebbe Maharash passed away at the young age of 48, when the Rebbe Rashab was only 21 years old. The Rebbe Rashab officially became Rebbe at the age of 32.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Week 47 (Book 5): Reviewing the Week of Rosh Chodesh Elul - Psalms 139-141; 105:42-44; 89:48


Chapter 139

1. For the Conductor, by David, a psalm. O Lord, You have probed me, and You know. 2. You know my sitting down and my standing up; You perceive my thought from afar. 3. You encircle my going about and my lying down; You are familiar with all my paths. 4. For there was not yet a word on my tongue-and behold, Lord, You knew it all. 5. You have besieged me front and back, You have laid Your hand upon me. 6. Knowledge [to escape You] is beyond me; it is exalted, I cannot know it. 7. Where can I go [to escape] Your spirit? And where can I flee from Your presence? 8. If I ascend to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the grave, behold, You are there. 9. Were I to take up wings as the dawn and dwell in the furthest part of the sea, 10. there, too, Your hand would guide me; Your right hand would hold me. 11. Were I to say, "Surely the darkness will shadow me," then the night would be as light around me. 12. Even the darkness obscures nothing from You; and the night shines like the day-the darkness is as light. 13. For You created my mind; You covered me in my mother's womb. 14. I will thank You, for I was formed in an awesome and wondrous way; unfathomable are Your works, though my soul perceives much. 15. My essence was not hidden from You even while I was born in concealment, formed in the depths of the earth. 16. Your eyes beheld my raw form; all [happenings] are inscribed in Your book, even those to be formed in future days-to Him they are the same. 17. How precious are Your thoughts to me, O G-d! How overwhelming, [even] their beginnings! 18. Were I to count them, they would outnumber the sand, even if I were to remain awake and always with You. 19. O that You would slay the wicked, O G-d, and men of blood [to whom I say], "Depart from me!” 20. They exalt You for wicked schemes, Your enemies raise [You] for falsehood. 21. Indeed, I hate those who hate You, Lord; I contend with those who rise up against You. 22. I hate them with the utmost hatred; I regard them as my own enemies. 23. Search me, Lord, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. 24. See if there is a vexing way in me, then lead me in the way of the world.

Chapter 140

1. For the Conductor, a psalm by David. 2. Rescue me from the evil man, protect me from the man of violence, 3. who devise evil schemes in their heart; every day they gather for wars. 4. They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; the spider's venom is forever under their lips. 5. Guard me, Lord, from the hands of the wicked, protect me from the man of violence-those who plot to cause my steps to slip. 6. Arrogant ones have hidden a snare for me, and ropes; they spread a net by my path, they set traps for me continually. 7. I said to the Lord, "You are my G-d!" Listen, O Lord, to the voice of my pleas. 8. G-d, my Lord, the strength of my deliverance, You sheltered my head on the day of armed battle. 9. Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked; fulfill not his scheme, make it unattainable forever. 10. As for the head of my besiegers, let the deceit of their own lips bury them. 11. Let burning coals fall upon them; let it cast them down into the fire, into deep pits, never to rise again. 12. Let not the slanderous man be established in the land; let the evil of the man of violence trap him until he is overthrown. 13. I know that the Lord will execute judgment for the poor, justice for the needy. 14. Indeed, the righteous will extol Your Name; the upright will dwell in Your presence.

Chapter 141

1. A psalm by David. O Lord, I have called You, hasten to me; listen to my voice when I call to You. 2. Let my prayer be set forth as incense before You, the raising of my hands as an afternoon offering. 3. O Lord, place a guard for my mouth, keep watch over the door of my lips. 4. Do not incline my heart to a bad thing-to perform deeds in wickedness, with men, doers of evil; let me not partake of their delicacies. 5. Let the righteous one strike me with kindness and let him rebuke me; like the finest oil, let my head not refuse it. For as long [as I live], my prayer is [to preserve me] from their harm. 6. For their judges have slipped because of their [hearts of] rock, though they heard my words and they were pleasant. 7. As one who chops and splinters [wood] on the ground, so have our bones been scattered to the mouth of the grave. 8. For to You, G-d, my Lord, are my eyes; in You I take shelter; do not pour out my soul. 9. Protect me from the hands of the snare they laid for me, and from the traps of the evildoers. 10. Let the wicked fall into their own nets together, until I pass over.

Tikkun HaKlali

Chapter 105

42. For He remembered His holy word with Abraham His servant.
43. And He took out His people with joy, His chosen ones with joyful singing.
44. And He gave them lands of nations, and they inherited the toil of kingdoms.

Psalm 89

48. I am mindful what my old age is; for what futility have You created all the sons of man?  

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Week 47 (Book 4b): Serach and the Month of Virgo

SONG OF SONGS: 9. If she be a wall, we will build upon her a silver turret, and if she be a door, we will enclose her with cedar boards.
TALMUD SHEVUOTH: Daf 47 – An Oath that Returns to Its Place

Week 47 in the Jewish calendar is the week of Rosh Chodesh Elul. Elul is the month of Teshuvah, in preparation for Rosh Hashanah. The zodiac sign associated with this month is Virgo.
The verse of Shir HaShirim for this week appears to be speaking about the Jewish people as a young girl, a virgin (a “little sister with no breasts” – see last week). Rashi shows how this week’s connection to Elul is even more clear, specifically about the need for Jewish people to maintain (or regain) its chastity:
If she be a wall: If she is strong in her faith and in her fear [of God], to be against them like a copper wall, that they should not enter her midst, meaning that she will not intermarry with them, and they will not come into her, and she will not be seduced by them.   
we will build upon her a silver turret: We will be to her as a fortified city and for a crown and for beauty, and we will build for her the Holy City and the chosen Temple.   
and if she be a door: which turns on its hinges, and when one knocks on it, it opens. She, too, if she opens for them so that they enter her and she [enters] them.   
we will enclose her with cedar boards: We will put into her door wooden boards which rot and which the worm gnaws and eats.
Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the forty-seventh mentioned is Serach, appropriately a woman, one of the very few mentioned in this counting. Stories of Serach abound, including that she was one of the few to know the secrets of redemption, therefore able to identify Moshe as the redeemer. She is best known for the Midrash that states that she was the one to tell Jacob about the news that Joseph was alive, and that she told it in such a way that Jacob was able to absorb the information without dying of shock. For this she was granted eternal life. Serach’s name appears related to Sarah’s, yet with a Chet instead of a Heh. In general, Chet is connected to the word Cheit, sin, yet also to the ability to repent and rectify the past. Chet’s numerical value is eight, which is related to that which is above nature, such as teshuvah (repentance) and the Messianic age.
This week is also connected with Chushim. Chushim means “senses,” which is particularly interesting since it said that he was deaf. Yet it was because of deafness that he was able to kill Esau. During Elul we work on correcting the sins we committed with each of our senses.
Daf Mem Zayin (Folio 47) of Shvuot continues the discussion of those disqualified from taking oaths. It also mentions orphans that cannot take an oath, and those people that are clearly lying. Interestingly, there is a discussion about an oath “returning to its place,” returning to Mt. Sinai. Although primarily related to Heavenly punishment for those that take advantage of the situation and steal, it also seems to be a reference to Teshuvah.
Chapter 47 of the Book of Jeremiah contains a similar theme to the above. The chapter speaks of people crying out, as well as the downfall of the Philistines. As mentioned last week, each gentile nation is associated with a specific impurity. (Likutei Moharan Torah Kuf Alef, Lesson 101)
1. That the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the Philistines before Pharaoh smote Gaza. 
2. So said the Lord: Behold water is coming up from the north, and it shall become a flooding stream and will inundate a land and the fullness thereof, a city and those who dwell therein, and the people shall cry out, and all the inhabitants of the land shall wail. 
3. From the sound of the stamping of the hoofs of his mighty ones, from the noise of his chariots, the stirring of his wheels; fathers did not turn to sons out of [the] feebleness of [their] hands, 
4. because of the day that is coming to plunder all the Philistines, to cut off from Tyre and Zidon every surviving helper, for the Lord plunders the Philistines, the remnant of the island of Caphtor. 
5. Baldness has come to Gaza, Ashkelon has become a waste, yea the remnant of their valley; how long will you tear your flesh?  
6. Ho! Sword of the Lord, how long will you not be silent'? Go into your sheath, rest and be silent.  
7. How shall you be silent when the Lord commanded it? To Ashkelon and to the sea coast, there He appointed it.


Friday, August 22, 2014

The Desert in Words: Destroying by Failing to Destroy and the Torah Portion of Re'eh

This week's Torah portion begins by Hashem laying out two paths before us: the path of blessing if we follow Hashem's commandments, and the opposite if we do not. The Torah then begins to enumerate some of those statutes, and contains a very puzzling statement:
1. These are the statutes and ordinances that you shall keep to perform in the land which the Lord God of your fathers gives you to possess all the days that you live on the earth.
2. You shall utterly destroy from all the places where the nations, that you shall possess, worshipped their gods, upon the lofty mountains and upon the hills, and under every lush tree.
3. And you shall tear down their altars, smash their monuments, burn their asherim with fire, cut down the graven images of their gods, and destroy their name from that place.
4. You shall not do so to the Lord, your God.
How could we possibly thinking of doing so to Hashem? Rashi picks up on this, and addresses it in a long comment:
RASHI - "You shall not do so [to the Lord your God]: to burn sacrifices to God in any place you choose, but rather at the place that He will choose. Another explanation is: “And you shall tear down their altars… and destroy their name… [but] do not do so [to the Lord your God]”; this is an admonition [addressed] to one who would erase the Name [of God from any writing] or remove a stone from the altar or from the courtyard (Mak. 22a). Rabbi Ishmael said: Would it enter your mind that the Israelites would tear down the altars [of God]? Rather, [the meaning of “You shall not do so” is that] you should not do like the deeds of the nations so that your sins would cause the sanctuary of [i.e., built by] your fathers to be destroyed. — [Sifrei]"
Obviously, no one of the Jewish people would intentionally try to destroy Hashem's altar or His name. However, what the Torah is trying to tell us is that by allowing the worship of other gods, one would be in fact hurting Hashem's presence in the world. The utter destruction mandated by the Torah here parallels the total destruction of Amalek. Failure to destroy Amalek has a similar impact on Hashem's name: “And he said, For there is a hand on the throne of the Eternal, [that there shall be] a war for the Lord against Amalek from generation to generation.” (Exodus 17:16)
RASHI - For there is a hand on the throne of the Eternal: The hand of the Holy One, blessed be He, was raised to swear by His throne, to have a war and [bear] hatred against Amalek for eternity. Now what is the meaning of כֵּס [as opposed to כִּסֵא and also [why is] the Divine Name divided in half? [I.e., why is the Name יָ-הּ used instead of י-ה-ו-ה ?] [The answer is that] the Holy One, blessed be He, swore that His Name will not be complete and His throne will not be complete until the name of Amalek is completely obliterated. And when his name is obliterated, the Divine Name will be complete, and the throne will be complete, as it is said: “The enemy has been destroyed; swords exist forever (לָנֶצַח)” (Ps. 9:7); this [who they are referring to] is Amalek, about whom it is written: “and kept their fury forever (נֶצַח)” (Amos 1:11). "And You have uprooted the cities-their remembrance is lost" (Ps. 9:7) [i.e., Amalek’s obliteration]. What does it say afterwards? “And the Lord (וַיהוה) shall sit forever” (Ps. 9:8); thus [after Amalek is obliterated] the Name is complete. "He has established His throne (כִּסְאוֹ) for judgment" (Ps. 9:8). Thus the throne is complete [i.e., thus the throne, here spelled with an “aleph,” is now complete]. — [from Midrash Tanchuma, end of Ki Theitzei]
Amalek affects not only Hashem's name, but also his throne. Perhaps that is also why this week's Torah portion complements the discussion of the need to destroy altars and images of alien gods with a discussion of the ultimate place of G-d's throne, Jerusalem:
5. But only to the place which the Lord your God shall choose from all your tribes, to set His Name there; you shall inquire after His dwelling and come there.
6. And there you shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and the separation by your hand, and your vows and your donations, and the firstborn of your cattle and of your sheep.
7. And there you shall eat before the Lord, your God, and you shall rejoice in all your endeavors you and your households, as the Lord, your God, has blessed you.
We find a similar parallel in Maimonides' ruling regarding who is Mashiach, the messiah (Laws of Kings and Wars 1:4):
If a king will arise from the House of David who diligently contemplates the Torah and observes its mitzvot as prescribed by the Written Law and the Oral Law as David, his ancestor, will compel all of Israel to walk in (the way of the Torah) and rectify the breaches in its observance, and fight the wars of God, we may, with assurance, consider him Mashiach.
If he succeeds in the above, builds the Temple in its place, and gathers the dispersed of Israel, he is definitely the Mashiach.
It is only after there is proper observance of Torah and the wars of G-d have been successfully fought, only can the Temple be built in its place. Then, as we say in the end of the Aleinu prayer, which concludes each of our daily services, "One that day, He will be One and His Name, One."

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