Thursday, August 21, 2014
Week 47 (Book 4a): The Purpose of Wealth
Week 47 is the week of Rosh Chodesh Elul. Elul is the month of Teshuvah (repentance). The verse from the story of Channah speaks of how she would make a small robe for her son Shmuel, and bring it up to him every year during the holidays. Shmuel’s beautiful robe, which he would receive every year (See Rashi), symbolizes the idea of serving Hashem from a position of wealth. It also represents Shmuel’s continued growth, despite the potentially negative influence of Eli’s sons.
This week’s Pirkei Avot quality that is “becoming to the righteous and becoming to the world” is wealth (Osher). As noted above, the righteous use their wealth and materials to serve G-d.
Chapter 3 of the Song of Songs contains a similar theme. The last couple of verses speak of serving G-d out of wealth, a quality that very much defined King Solomon’s reign:
9. King Solomon made himself a palanquin of the trees of Lebanon.
10. Its pillars he made of silver, its couch of gold, its curtain of purple, its interior inlaid with love, from the daughters of Jerusalem.
11. Go out, O daughters of Zion, and gaze upon King Solomon, upon the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his nuptials and on the day of the joy of his heart.
The crown given to Solomon by his mother also is reminiscent of the above story, in which Chanah makes a robe for Shmuel. Rashi explains that both the crown and the palanquin are a reference to the Tent of Meeting (the Ohel Moed). Regarding the materials mentioned, Rashi comments as follows:
its couch of gold: His couch and His dwelling were on the Ark cover, which is gold.
its curtain of purple: Heb. מֶרְכָּבוֹ. This is the dividing curtain, which hangs and “rides” (רוֹכֵב) on poles from pillar to pillar.
its interior inlaid: arranged with a floor of love-the Ark with an Ark cover, cherubim, and Tablets.
This week contains the yahrzeits of two very prominent Chassidic rebbes, which established their courts in America after the war: Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum (the Satmar Rebbe, 26th of Av) and Rabbi Eliezer Zusia Portugal (the Skulener Rebbe, 29th of Av).
Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum [1888-26 Av 1979], miraculously escaped from Bergen-Belsen in 1944, after which he went to the Holy Land. In 1947 he moved to the USA, where he established himself as the Satmar Rebbe, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, doing extensive work in establishing Torah education networks. Famed as the leader of Hungarian Jewry and the largest Chassidic group in the world, and as the spiritual leader of the opposition to a secular-based Jewish government in Israel, he was also one of the greatest Torah scholars of his generation.
Rebbe Eliezer Zusia Portugal [1 Cheshvan, 1898 - 29 Av 1982], the Skulener Rebbe, immigrated to the USA in 1960, after imprisonment in Rumania and international efforts to secure his release. He is the author of Noam Eliezer and Kedushas Eliezer, and was a prominent follower of the Shtefaneshter Rebbe, but is best known for his superhuman efforts to rescue Jewish orphans and refugees in Eastern Europe before, during and after WWII and his continuing support of them, and his Chessed L'Avraham network of schools for children that continue until today. Those who merited to be in his presence were astonished by the length of his prayers and the beauty and intensity of the tunes that he composed, many of which have become internationally famous today.
This week also contains the yahrzeits of two prominent figures in the Ger dynasty: Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter (son of the Chidushei HaRim and father of the Sfas Emes, 27th of Av) and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Alter (son of the Sfas Emes, 29th of Av)
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