Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Week 2 (Book 2): Yom Kippur - Rain and Rescue, Isaac and Study, Gezer and Annulling Evil Decrees

HAAZINU: My lesson will drip like rain; my word will flow like dew; like storm winds on vegetation and like raindrops on grass. (Deuteronomy 32:2)
HAFTORAH: And he said, "The Lord is my rock and my fortress, and a rescuer to me. (II Samuel 22:2)
PIRKEI AVOT: [Constant] study
On Week 2, the week of Yom Kippur, Haazinu’s main theme is water, rain and dew. Like the previous verse, this is also reminiscent of the beginning of time, and specifically of the Flood. Water represents purity and also life (the two concepts are closely connected). Dew specifically is related to resurrection and it was with dew that G-d resurrect the Jewish people at the time of the giving of the Torah. The Torah itself is also called "dew."
The Haftarah verse for this week speaks of G-d as a rock, a fortress, and a rescuer. These also are concepts related to Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippurwe are delivered from our sins.
The quality for this week is [constant] study. As mentioned last week, Torah is acquired first and foremost, through determination. Furthermore, there has to be discipline in order to acquire the Torah.
Isaac best exemplifies determination and discipline. As previously explained, he is associated with the divine attribute of gevurah related to this week, as explained in Book 1. Isaac’s total dedication and self-sacrifice can be gleaned from the Akeidah (the "binding"/sacrifice of Isaac). There is one opinion in the Talmud that the Akeidah took place on Yom Kippur. Like Jews on Yom Kippur, Isaac lived a purely heavenly existence while still here on earth. The Zohar says that after the Akeidah, he spent three years in the Garden of Eden. Isaac is also called a "pure offering," and never left the Land of Israel during his life.
The levitical city connected to the second week of the year is Gezer. Gezer is strategically located, one of the most explored archeological sites in Israel today. It was a gift given by Pharaoh at the time of his daughter's marriage to King Solomon. Gezer has the same root as the Hebrew word “Gzerah,” decree. One of the major themes of Yom Kippur is that through our tefilah, teshuvah, and tzedakah (prayer, repentance and charity/justice), we annul evil decrees.
A key lesson related to this week's quality to acquire the Torah is the need for creating a fixed schedule of Torah study. This is in fact one of the lessons that will be asked of every Jew is asked when they reach the World to Come: "Did you fixed (set aside) times for Torah?" The Alter Rebbe further explains that theses times must be not only fixed in time, but "fixed in the soul." It must become an essential aspect of the day.

Week 2 (Book 3): Casting our Ego into Water, Seth and Soulmates, connecting to our Father and preparing for Sukkot.

SONG OF THE SEA: a horse and its rider He cast into the sea. The Eternal's strength and His vengeance were my salvation;
HAFTORAH: When breaches are made in Israel, when the people offer themselves willingly, bless the Lord.
TALMUD SOTAH: Daf 2 - How couples are matched and brought together
JOURNEYS IN THE DESERT: The children of Israel journeyed from Rameses and camped in Succoth.
The second week of the Jewish calendar is the week of Yom Kippur. The Song of the Sea’s verses are about Hashem casting “horse and rider” in the sea, and how Hashem is our strength and song, and the source of our salvation. This is the idea of Yom Kippur, we throw ourselves into the mikvah(here represented by the sea) and we are purified. As Rabbi Akiva states, Hashem Himself is our mikvah. He is our strength, song, and salvation – and we only fully realize this on Yom Kippur itself. (The theme of water and being rescued on Yom Kippur is found in Week 2 of Book 2 as well)
The verses of the Haftorahspeak of the “breaches made in Israel,” and interestingly enough "breaches" (phra'ot in Hebrew) has the same root as the word for “Pharaoh.” The verses speak of liberation from “Pharaoh,” who represents the idea of an oversized ego as well as of stubbornness. Once we recognize the damage of our ego, and nulify it by giving ourselves willingly to G-d, that is how to truly bless Hashem on Yom Kippur.
Daf Beit (Folio 2) of Sotah, which is in fact the first daf of the tractate, discusses how couples are predetermined at the time souls come down from Heaven. Two is about the concept of a mate. (See Book 1).
Seth served as a consolation to Adam and Eve for losing their son Abel. This theme ties in perfectly with the week of Yom Kippur, in which we do our best to undo past sins, or better yet transform our sins into merits.
In this second week, the Jews journey from Ramses and camped in Succoth. (“Ramses”means the G-d of the sun created him/it). The personal journey is to internalize the concept that Hashem is our Father and Creator, and now focus on the concept of Hashem as our protector. In the calendar year, after Yom Kippur, we literally prepare ourselves for Sukkot.
An important lesson we learn from Seth in our approach to prayer and Divine service is to truly understand that Hashem is the Source of all. Seth, Shet in Hebrew, means foundation and source, like the Even Shetiah, the Foundation Stone, from which the world was created. (This stone was located in the Holy of Holies, which would only be accessed once a year, on Yom Kippur) In prayer and Divine service, we do our utmost to bring down to earth G-d's blessings, bringing the spiritual down into the material.

Week 2 (Book 4a): Chen, Merit, Life and Death Choices, and the Magen Avraham

Week 2 is the week of Yom Kippur.  The verse from the story of Channah speaks of “two wives.” Both the number two as well as the concept of marriage and relationship is related to this week. (See Book 1, where the animal for this week is the hen, followed by the rooster for week 1). The name Peninah means “pearl,” which signifies inner beauty and purity. Channah comes from the word “chen,” which means grace as well as mercy. As Rebbe Nachman of Breslov explains, chen is a quintessential ingredient in prayer. The Talmud also teaches us that we learn how we are supposed to pray by Channah’s example. These concepts are all closely tied to Yom Kippur, when through prayer and fasting we reveal our inner sanctity and beauty, find grace in the eyes of Hashem and are cleansed from our past transgressions.

The Pirkei Avot section for this week explains that the existence of whole world is worthwhile for the Tzadik, the one that studies Torah for its own sake. Interestingly, the above verse in the Channah’s story tells of how Peninah had many children, and yet Channah did not have any. Peninah’s existence and that of all her children (and the whole world) was worthwhile because of Channah, even though Channah herself did not have any children. This is similar to the statement in the Talmud regarding Rabbi Chanina (whose name also comes from the word chen): “The whole world is nourished because of Chanina, and for Chanina, one amount of carob is enough from Sabbath eve to the next.” (Brachot 17b) (See Book 2, Week 48) Tishrei very much connected to the creation of the world, and to its continued existence once our sins are forgiven on Yom Kippur.

Chapter 2 of the Book of Proverbs contains a theme of Yom Kippur and the choice between righteousness/good (which leads to life) and sin/evil (which leads to death):

18. for her house sinks to death, and her paths [lead] to the dead;   
19. none who go to her return, neither do they achieve the ways of life                 
20. in order that you go in the way of the good, and you keep the ways of the righteous.  
21. For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain therein.      
22. But the wicked shall be cut off from the land, and the treacherous shall be uprooted therefrom.

This week, on the 8th of Tishrei, it is the yahrzeit of Rabbi Noach, the son of Rabbi Mordechai of Lechovitch. Rabbi Noach is an important link in the chain of various Chassidic dynasties, including Slonim, Kobrin, Koidenov, and Karlin. He taught that “a Jew who begins to question his emunah should have faith that he has faith! When he fails to feel the strength of that faith within, he should assure himself that the faith is there, but remains hidden and obscured.”[1] This is related to what was mentioned above above Yom Kippur.

A day later, on the 9th of Tishrei is the yahrzeit of Rabbi Avraham Aveli Gombiner, the Magen Avraham, one of the greatest halachik (Jewish law) authorities of all times. He was born in 1637 and was very weak and sickly as a child.[2] His writings also have a special connection to the spirit of Yom Kippur:

In paragraph 156 of Magen Avraham he writes, “It is a mitzvah for all men to love each Jew as himself, as it is written, ‘You shall love your fellow as yourself’ [Leviticus 19:18], and whoever hates a Jew in his heart transgresses a prohibition, for it is said, ‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart’ [v.17]. When someone sins against his fellow, he should not keep a grudge in silence, but he should say, ‘Why did you do this to me?’ and he should not speak to him harshly, to the point of shaming him, but reprimand him in private, calmly, and with soft language.”[3]
Other yahrzeits this week include Rabbi Elazar Nisan of Drobitich (1854), son of the Yismach Moshe and father of the Yetev Lev of the Satmar-Sighet dynasties (9th of Tishrei); Rabbi Akiva (10th of Tishrei); and (sometimes) Rabbi Yitzchak Tzarfati (father of Rashi); Rabbi Avraham the Malach (“the Angel,” son of the Magid of Mezeritch, 12th of Tishrei), Rabbi Shmuel Schneersohn (the Rebbe Maharash, 4th Rebbe of Lubavitch, 13th of Tishrei), andd Rabbi Akiva Eiger (also 13th of Tishrei)

Furthermore, there is a tradition that on the 7th of Tishrei is the yahrzeit of Zevulun, the son of Yaakov, our patriarch.

[1] NETIVOT SHALOM (Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein); The Burning Bush: Defining the Jewish Core
[3] Ibid.

Week 2 (Book 4b): Yom Kippur - Entering the Inner Chamber, Enoch, Remembering the Love of Our Youth

SONG OF SONGS: 4. Draw me, we will run after you; the king brought me to his chambers. We will rejoice and be glad in you. We will recall your love more fragrant than wine; they have loved you sincerely.
5. I am black but comely, O daughters of Jerusalem! Like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon.
6. Do not look upon me [disdainfully] because I am swarthy, for the sun has gazed upon me; my mother's sons were incensed against me; they made me a keeper of the vineyards; my own vineyard I did not keep.




Week 2 in the Jewish calendar is the week of Yom Kippur. In the Song of Songs, the Jewish people sing about how, after getting a glimpse of G-d drawing us near, we now run after Him. On Yom Kippur is also the only time of the year when the Kohen Gadol, the high priest enters the Temple’s inner chamber, the Holy of Holies. The Talmud states that Yom Kippur, along with Tu B’Av, is the happiest day of the year. That is a remarkable statement, given that it is a purely spiritual day, with know festivity or wine (See Rashi who explains that “wine” in the above verse is a reference to all physical festivities).

Furthermore, the Jewish people sing of how they have sinned, but are beautiful in their essence – they can still do teshuvah. Rashi again comes to explain the verse in this manner: “and if I am black as the tents of Kedar, which are blackened by the rain, for they are constantly spread out in the deserts, I am easily cleansed to be like the curtains of Solomon.” (Verse 5, Rashi) The Jewish people exclaim that the exile has caused them to be unable to properly keep the commandments.We were meant to be a light unto the nations, help them guard their moral principles, yet our own morals we have not been able to uphold.

Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the second mentioned is Reuven’s firstborn, Enoch. Enoch has the same name as one of the first descendants of Adam, who was so righteous that Hashem took him alive, and he became an angel. That is the idea of Yom Kippur, to be like angels.
The tractate of Shvuot begins with the statement of the Torah that describes certain elements in Jewish law that “are two that are [really] four.” This points to the duality related to Week 2. Daf Beit (Folio 2) also spends a significant portion, perhaps the majority of its content on the ritual sacrifices of Yom Kippur!

Chapter 2 of the Book of Jeremiah begins with the exact quote used by Rashi to describe how the Jewish people felt in the verses of the Song of Songs above:

2. Go and call out in the ears of Jerusalem, saying: so said the Lord: I remember to you the lovingkindness of your youth, the love of your nuptials, your following Me in the desert, in a land not sown.
3. Israel is holy to the Lord, the first of His grain; all who eat him shall be guilty, evil shall befall them, says the Lord. 
Rashi again, links the verse to Yom Kippur, and the themes explored above, such as the nuptial room, and return to G-d. Shavuot is a marriage, and Yom Kippur, a second one (when the second set of Tablets were given):

I remember to you: Were you to return to Me, I would desire to have mercy on you for I remember the loving kindness of your youth and the love of the nuptials of your wedding canopy, when I brought you into the wedding canopy, and this (כלולתיך) is an expression of bringing in. Your nuptials (Noces in O.F.). Now what was the loving kindness of your youth? Your following My messengers, Moses and Aaron, from an inhabited land to the desert without provisions for the way since you believed in Me.   

Week 2 (Book 5): Review of the Week of Yom Kippur - Psalms 4-6, 16:5-7, 89:3

Psalms 4 - 6

Chapter 4

1. For the Conductor, with instrumental music, a psalm by David. 2. Answer me when I call, O God [Who knows] my righteousness. You have relieved me in my distress; be gracious to me and hear my prayer. 3. Sons of men, how long will you turn my honor to shame, will you love vanity, and endlessly seek falsehood?4. Know that the Lord has set apart His devout one; the Lord will hear when I call to Him. 5. Tremble and do not sin; reflect in your hearts upon your beds, and be silent forever. 6. Offer sacrifices in righteousness, and trust in the Lord. 7. Many say: “Who will show us good?” Raise the light of Your countenance upon us, O Lord. 8. You put joy in my heart, greater than [their joy] when their grain and wine abound. 9. In peace and harmony I will lie down and sleep, for You, Lord, will make me dwell alone, in security.

Chapter 5

1. For the Conductor, on the nechilot,1 a psalm by David. 2. Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my thoughts. 3. Listen to the voice of my cry, my King and my God, for to You I pray. 4. Lord, hear my voice in the morning; in the morning I set [my prayers] before you and hope. 5. For You are not a God Who desires wickedness; evil does not abide with You. 6. The boastful cannot stand before Your eyes; You hate all evildoers. 7. You destroy the speakers of falsehood; the Lord despises the man of blood and deceit. 8. And I, through Your abundant kindness, come into Your house; I bow toward Your holy Sanctuary, in awe of You. 9. Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness, because of my watchful enemies; straighten Your path before me. 10. For there is no sincerity in their mouths, their heart is treacherous; their throat is an open grave, [though] their tongue flatters. 11. Find them guilty, O God, let them fall by their schemes; banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against You. 12. But all who trust in You will rejoice, they will sing joyously forever; You will shelter them, and those who love Your Name will exult in You. 13. For You, Lord, will bless the righteous one; You will envelop him with favor as with a shield.

Chapter 6

1. For the Conductor, with instrumental music for the eight-stringed harp, a psalm by David. 2. Lord, do not punish me in Your anger, nor chastise me in Your wrath. 3. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I languish away; heal me, O Lord, for my bones tremble in fear. 4. My soul is panic-stricken; and You, O Lord, how long [before You help]? 5. Relent, O Lord, deliver my soul; save me for the sake of Your kindness. 6. For there is no remembrance of You in death; who will praise You in the grave? 7. I am weary from sighing; each night I drench my bed, I melt my couch with my tears. 8. My eye has grown dim from vexation, worn out by all my oppressors. 9. Depart from me, all you evildoers, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping. 10. The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord accepts my prayer. 11. All my enemies will be shamed and utterly terrified; they will then repent and be shamed for a moment.

Tikkun HaKlali 
(Psalm 16)

5. The Lord is my allotted portion and my cup; You guide my destiny.
6. Portions have fallen to me in pleasant places; even the inheritance pleases me."
7. I will bless the Lord, Who counseled me; even at night my conscience instructs me.

Psalm 89

3. For I said, "Forever will it be built with kindness; as the heavens, with which You will establish Your faithfulness."   

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week 1 (Book 2): Rosh Hashanah - Creation and the Grave, Avraham & Sarah and Acquiring the Torah, Shechem and Acquiring a Head (DRAFT)

Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! And let the earth hear the words of my mouth! (Deuteronomy 32:1)

And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song, on the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul; (II Samuel 22:1)

“Torah is greater than priesthood and kingship, for kingship is acquired with 30 qualities, priesthood is acquired with 24, whereas the Torah is acquired with 48 ways.”

Avraham and Sarah

Shechem (also a city of refuge)

On the first week of the year, the week of Rosh Hashanah, the first verse of Haazinu speaks of the heavens and the earth. This is reminiscent of the creation of the world itself, the very first line of the Torah, which speaks of how G-d created Heaven and Earth.

The Haftarah opens with an introduction to David’s song, and the essential reason for why David is singing it – the fact that he was saved from all his enemies and specifically from the king at that time, Saul. On Rosh Hashanah we also celebrate the fact that we lived to see one more year and that (hopefully) we will be inscribed in the Book of Life  (Saul, “Shaul” in Hebrew, is spelled exactly the same as She’ol, which means grave, pit). We also celebrate how G-d is the one and only true King, Master of the Universe, King of kings.

The first quality needed to acquire the Torah is actually found in the introduction to the forty-eight qualities. It hints to well known statement from proverbs:The beginning of wisdom [is to] acquire wisdom, and with all your possession acquire understanding.” (Proverbs) Rashi explains this statement as follows: “At the beginning of your wisdom, learn from others and acquire for yourself the tradition from the mouth of the teacher, and afterwards with all your possession acquire understanding. Concentrate on it by yourself to understand the reasons, thereby deriving one thing from another.”

This first statement parallels the theme of Pirkei Avot found in Book 1, which is to acquire a rav (a master/teacher) The first step in acquiring wisdom is taking the initiative of seeking it out. We must embark on the path for acquiring wisdom just as we embark in the beginning of a new year.

The prophet(s) related to this first week are Avraham and Sarah. Avraham was the first to seek to acquire wisdom and knowledge of G-d. Avraham and Sarah mark the beginning of Judaism. Avraham and Sarah are both deeply connected to Rosh Hashanah, since the Midrash explains that the creation of the entire world was in the merit of Avraham (Eleh Toldot Shamayim V’Aretz B’hibaram – in the merit of Avraham)(find/check source). Furthermore, both Sarah’s birthday and her yahrzeit took place on Rosh Hashanah; it was also on Rosh Hashanah that G-d told Sarah that she would have a son. Finally, the Akeidah (the sacrifice of Isaac) took place on Rosh Hashanah.

In the first week of the year, the Levitical city is Shechem, which is also a city of refuge. Shechem in Hebrew literally means shoulder – the part of the body on which to attach the head (Rosh Hashanah means head of the year). Shechem was given by Yaakov to Yosef as a symbol of his distinction as the “first-born.” The word shechem is also used in the Tanach’s introduction to Shaul, and ultimately of why he was chosen to be king. The Book of Samuel states that “from the shoulders and upwards (MiShichmoh VaMa’alah) he was taller than [anyone else in] the nation.” Not only was Shaul made king, he also had the potential to be Mashiach Ben Yosef.

Shechem is the first place visited by Avraham, Yaakov, as well as Yehoshua when entering the Land of Israel. Even in modern times, the first settlement established in Judea and Samaria after the Six Day War was Elon Moreh, which is another biblical name for the city Shechem. Shechem is the gateway to the Land of Israel, very much in the way that the week of Rosh Hashanah is a gateway for the rest of the year.

An important lesson we learn from this week's quality to acquire the Torah is the need for desire, what in Hebrew we call Ratzon. Our sages teach us that "Ein Davar Omed Lifnei HaRatzon," nothing can stand in the way of desire. If our desire is pure and sincere, we are guaranteed to eventually succeed. Rebbe Nachman teaches that our Ratzon is in fact even more important than the actual outcome. 

Week 1 (Book 3): Moshe and Deborah, Judgement and Adam, Ramses and Being G-d's Firstborn

Week 1 - Adam: Being Connected to Hashem and All Mankind

SONG OF THE SEA: Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and they spoke, saying, I will sing to the Lord, for very exalted is He;

HAFTORAH: Now Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying.

SOTAH: 11. The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 12. Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: Should any man's wife go astray and deal treacherously with him … [The Kohen] shall make her drink the water, and it shall be that, if she had been defiled and was unfaithful to her husband, the curse bearing waters shall enter her to become bitter, and her belly will swell, and her thigh will rupture. The woman will be a curse among her people. 28. But if the woman had not become defiled and she is clean, she shall be exempted and bear seed. (Bamdibar, 6)


JOURNEYS IN THE DESERT: They journeyed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day following the Passover sacrifice, the children of Israel left triumphantly before the eyes of all the Egyptians.   And the Egyptians were busy burying because the Lord had struck down their firstborn and had wrought vengeance against their deities.  And the Egyptians were busy burying: occupied with their mourning. (Bamidbar, 33:1-48)

The first week of the Jewish calendar is the week of Rosh Hashanah.  The verses of the the Song of the Sea and Haftorah are about the leaders of the Jewish people at that time singing in unison. Rosh Hashanah is about connecting with the “head” of the people.

The verse which is the basis of Tractate Sotah is ultimately about judgment. The woman is judged through water.

Adam, the first man, represents all of mankind and is its spiritual and physical source. The same is true for Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah is also the day of the creation of Adam.

The first location the Jews find themselves in is Ramses. The personal journey during these days is to fully internalize the concept that we are Hashem’s firstborn, and focus on the concept that Hashem is the Creator. It is to liberate ourselves from Egypt, and of the idea that there can be any god other than Hashem. (“Ramses” means the god of the sun created him/it). 

An important lesson we learn from Adam in our approach to prayer and Divine service is to focus also on the big picture. To pray not just for ourselves, but for all of mankind, especially those that need the most Divine assistance at the time. It is not by chance that our prayers are all in the plural. We are all connected, in more ways than we think.

Week 1 (Book 4a): Elkanah and Rabbi Meir, Acquiring Wisdom and the Yenuka

STORY OF CHANNAH: 1 Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim, of the hill-country of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.
PIRKEI AVOT: Rabbi Meir states: Whoever studies Torah for Torah's sake alone, merits many things
PROVERBS: Chapter 1
TZADDIKIM: Rabbi Yisrael son of Rabbi Asher of Stolin known as the "Yenuka"
Week 1 is the week of Rosh Hashanah. Tishrei is represented by the Tribe of Ephraim. The verse from the story of Channahis about how Elkanah, the leader of the generation and a prophet in his own right, was from Ephraim.
The verse for this week starts by stating, “Ish Echad,” “one man” – the emphasis is on “one,” just like Rosh Hashanah the focus is on one. Ramathaim-Zophim means the heights that look into the future. Isn’t that what Rosh Hashanah is about?
The Pirkei Avot section for this week begins by stating the name of Rabbi Meir, and the topic of discussion for the remaining sections of the rest of the year: the concept of Torah Lishmah, studying Torah for its own sake, a very high level. Like Elkanah, Rabbi Meir was unique, head and shoulders above every one else in his generation. The statement, “merits many things,” appears almost superfluous. Some commentaries indicate that this refers to physical blessings aside from the spiritual ones listed below. That is the idea of Rosh Hashanah – in as much as it is a spiritual day, it is related to our physical achievements in this world.
Chapter 1 of the Book of Proverbs encompasses many of the basic ideas of learning Torah for its own sake, although the book speaks more in terms of wisdom, acquiring wisdom for its own sake, and for the sake of becoming closer to the Creator:
1. The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, [are];
2. To know wisdom and discipline, to comprehend words of understanding;
3. To receive the discipline of wisdom, righteousness, justice, and equity;
4. To give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth.
5. Let the wise man hear and increase learning. The understanding man shall acquire wise counsels
6. to understand an allegory and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles.
7. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.
This week, on the 2nd of Tishrei, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, it is the yahrzeit of Rabbi Yisroel. the Yenukah of Karlin. More than any other rebbe, the Yenukah represents how the idea of a rebbe is one that is higher than intellect. He became rebbe at the age of five years old.He was a tremendous gaon and tzadik, and his chassidim expressed both love and fear of him. As a few other tzadikim, like Shmuel and Shlomo HaMelech (both of which also came to prominence at a very young age), the Yenuka lived to the age of 52.
Although Karlin-Stolin is in Eastern Europe, the Yenuka is also known as the“Frankforter;” because there is where he passed away and was buried. He specifically asked to buried in the place of his passing, somehow foreseeing its importance. As it turned out, the Yenukah was buried extremely close to another tzadik who passed away on Rosh Hashanah (1st of Tishrei), Rabbi Amnon of Mainz, the author of the prayer uNetaneh Tokef. The following is a description of the events that led to this prayer:
One of the most emotional prayers of the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services is the Unetaneh Tokef, recited before the Kedusha of Musaf. Written by Rabbi Amnon of Mainz, Germany, about one thousand years ago, the prayer describes the Yomim Noraim, the High Holy Days, as a time of judgment, where people symbolically pass before Hashem. In the prayer, there is a listing of the possible fates that may befall people, but it also includes an emphasis on Hashem's attribute of forgiveness. To read text of prayer, click here. This is the story behind this stirring prayer:
Rabbi Amnon was famous for his righteousness. The bishop of Mainz heard of the rabbi and wanted to meet him.
Rabbi Amnon and the bishop spoke about religion. Deeply impressed by the rabbi's piety, the bishop was determined that such a good man become his friend and advisor. He also insisted that he leave the Jewish religion and convert to Christianity.
At first, the bishop gently argued with Rabbi Amnon, trying to show how his faith was superior to Judaism. Then the bishop tried to bribe Rabbi Amnon with promises of fame and money if he would convert to Catholicism. But Rabbi Amnon remained steadfast. He would never convert.
After a while, the bishop became frustrated and started yelling, "You are as stiff-necked as all your people! You can be sure that I will quickly end your stubbornness and make you do as I wish."
A few days after this initial meeting, the bishop summoned Rabbi Amnon to his palatial manor and confronted him directly. "Accept my faith," he threatened, "or you will definitely die!"
Rabbi Amnon replied, "Give me three days to think about the matter -- then I shall give you my answer."
"So be it," the bishop agreed.
Rabbi Amnon returned to his home. He put on sackcloth and ashes. He fasted and prayed, distraught at having given the impression that he even considered betraying Hashem. After the three days passed, Rabbi Amnon did not return to the palace. The bishop was furious. He ordered his guards to bring Rabbi Amnon to his palace.
The guards hurriedly seized Rabbi Amnon and brought him to the palace. The bishop confronted the rabbi, "Jew, how dare you disobey me? Why have you broken your promise to bring me your answer after three days?"
Rabbi Amnon looked up at the bishop. "In a moment of weakness I fell into sin and lied. I made a false promise and defied my faith. I sought the cowardly grace of three days in which to give you my answer. Instead, I should have said, 'Shema Yisroel HashemElohaynu Hashem Eh-chad' ('Hear, O Israel, Hashem is our God, Hashem is One'), and allowed myself to be killed."
The bishop was furious. "Your feet disobeyed me by not coming to the palace. For that, they shall be torn from your body."
"No," Reb Amnon replied. "My feet should not be torn, but rather my tongue for it betrayed Hashem."
"Your tongue has uttered the truth, and therefore will not be punished."
The furious bishop ordered Rabbi Amnon's feet to be chopped off, joint by joint. They did the same to his hands. After each amputation R'Amnon was asked if he would convert, and each time he refused. Then the bishop ordered that he be carried home, a maimed and mutilated cripple, together with his amputated parts. A few days later, on Rosh Hashana, Rabbi Amon requested that he be carried to the synagogue.
Once there, he asked to be taken to the Ark. Before the congregation recited Kedusha, Rabbi Amnon asked to be allowed to sanctify Hashem's name in the synagogue as he had in the bishop's palace. He recited Unetaneh Tokef and died just as he finished the last words of the prayer.
Three days later, Rabbi Amnon appeared in a dream to Reb Klonimus ben (the son of) Meshullam, a great Talmudic and Kabbalistic scholar in Mainz, and taught Reb Klonimus the text ofUnetaneh Tokef and asked him to send it to all the Jewish people to be recited in the Musaf service of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, just before Kedusha. Rabbi Amnon's wish was carried out and the prayer has become an integral part of the Rosh Hashanaand Yom Kippur services.[1]

Other yahrzeits this week include Rabbi Yitzchak-Meir of Kapichnitz (2nd of Tishrei), and (sometimes) Rabbi Yechiel Michil of Zlotchov (the Maggid of Zlotchov, 25th of Elul), Rabbi Shmuel Abba Zikelinsky of Zichlin (26th of Elul), Rabbi Shalom Rokeach (The Sar Shalom, First Belzer Rebbe, 27th of Elul), Rebbetzin Devorah Leah Schneerson (3rd of Tishrei) the Chayei Adam (4th of Tishrei), Rabbi Aryeh Leib of Shpola (the Shpoler Zeide, 6th of Tishrei) and Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson (the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s mother, 6th of Tishrei).


Week 1 (Book 4b): Song of Songs and Reuven, Oaths and Jeremiah

Week 1:

1. The Song of Songs, which is Solomon's.

2. "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love is better than wine.
3. Because of the fragrance of your goodly oils, your name is 'oil poured forth.' Therefore, the maidens loved you.


Shevuoth (Torah verses)

Book of Jeremiah: Chapter 1

Week 1 in the Jewish calendar is the week of Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah is literally the “head of the year,” a day that encompasses all days of the years.  The Song of Songs means the song that excels all songs – perhaps also the song that encompasses all songs; Rosh Hashana is the day that excels all days – it encompasses all days).

It is also known that every “Shlomoh” in Shir HaShirim is a reference to G-d. Solomon is the king; Rosh Hashanah is the day in which we make Hashem the King. Solomon also means “peace is his.” On Rosh Hashanah, we know that everything, including peace in our lives, is in the hands of Hashem. (Think of uNetaneh Tokef).

The second verse for this week makes reference to the closeness of the days of awe. (The verse “Search for him when He is close” is a reference to the days of awe.  The third verse, which speaks of “oil poured forth,” is a reference to how Hashem’s actions towards the Jewish people give forth a scent felt throughout the entire world, and that is why the “maidens” (the gentile nations) love Him as well. On Rosh Hashanah, all mankind is judged, not just the Jewish people, and the nations sense this to some extent. On Rosh Hashanah we recognize that He is King over the entire universe, including all of humanity. Wine and oil are signs of physical blessing received on Rosh Hashanah (See Book 1, Week 1, Chesed shebeChesed), and are also metaphors for knowledge, which is related to Rosh Hashanah (See Book 1, Week 52, Da’at).

Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the first one mentioned in Reuven, the firstborn. Jacob calls Reuven, “"Reuven, You are my first-born, my strength and the first of my vigor.” First, literally from the word, “Rosh,” head, like “Rosh Hashanah.

The tractate of Shvuot is based on various different verses in the Torah. Like the day of Rosh Hashanah and Shir HaShirim, Shevuah is an all-encompassing term.

Chapter 1 of the Book of Jeremiah also is all-encompassing as it describes the major theme of the entire book, the destruction that was about to befall Israel and Jerusalem. It also contains the idea of everything being included, and to some extent foretold from the very beginning, as Jeremiah is told that he had been chosen by Hashem while he was still in his mother’s woumb.

Week 1 (Book 5): Reviewing Week of Rosh Hashanah - Psalms 1-3, 16:1-4, 89:1-2


Chapter 1

1. Fortunate is the man that has not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor stood in the path of sinners, nor sat in the company of scoffers. 2. Rather, his desire is in the Torah of the Lord, and in His Torah he meditates day and night. 3. He shall be like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and whose leaf does not wither; and all that he does shall prosper. 4. Not so the wicked; rather, they are like the chaff that the wind drives away. 5. Therefore the wicked will not endure in judgement, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6. For the Lord minds the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Chapter 2

1. Why do nations gather, and peoples speak futility? 2. The kings of the earth rise up, and rulers conspire together, against the Lord and against His anointed: 3. “Let us sever their cords, and cast their ropes from upon us!” 4. He Who sits in heaven laughs, my Master mocks them. 5. Then He speaks to them in His anger, and terrifies them in His wrath: 6. “It is I Who have anointed My king, upon Zion, My holy mountain.” 7. I am obliged to declare: The Lord said to me, “You are my son, I have this day begotten you. 1 8. Ask of Me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, and the ends of the earth your possession. 9. Smash them with a rod of iron, shatter them like a potter’s vessel.” 10. Now be wise, you kings; be disciplined, you rulers of the earth. 11. Serve the Lord with awe, and rejoice with trembling. 12. Yearn for purity—lest He become angry and your path be doomed, if his anger flares for even a moment. Fortunate are all who put their trust in Him.

Chapter 3

1. A psalm by David, when he fled from Absalom his son. 2. Lord, how numerous are my oppressors; many rise up against me! 3. Many say of my soul, “There is no salvation for him from God—ever!” 4. But You, Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, the One Who raises my head. 5. With my voice I call to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain, Selah. 6. I lie down and sleep; I awake, for the Lord sustains me. 7. I do not fear the myriads of people that have aligned themselves all around me. 8. Arise, O Lord, deliver me, my God. For You struck all my enemies on the cheek, You smashed the teeth of the wicked. 9. Deliverance is the Lord’s; may Your blessing be upon Your people forever.

Tikkun Klali

Psalm 16:

1. A michtam, by David. Watch over me, O God, for I have put my trust in You. 2. You, [my soul,] have said to God, "You are my Master; You are not obligated to benefit me.” 3. For the sake of the holy ones who lie in the earth, and for the mighty-all my desires are fulfilled in their merit. 4. Those who hasten after other [gods], their sorrows shall increase; I will not offer their libations of blood, nor take their names upon my lips.


1. A maskil by Eitan the Ezrachite. 2. I will sing of the Lord's kindness forever; to all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth.

Week 52 (Book 2): Esther and Bringing Redemption to the World

HAAZINU: For from afar, you will see the land, but you will not come there, to the land I am giving the children of Israel. (Deuteronomy 32:52)

HAFTORAH: And these are the last words of David; the saying of David the son of Jesse, and the saying of the man raised on high, the anointed of the G-d of Jacob, And the sweet singer of Israel. (II Samuel 23:1)

PIRKEI AVOT QUALITY: Whoever relates a statement in the name of the one who said it brings redemption to the world, as it says (Esther 2:22): And Esther told the king in the name of Mordechai.

PROPHET: Esther[1]


Week fifty two, the last week of the year, is also the week of Rosh Hashanah. In the portion of Haazinu, Hashem tells Moshe that he will see the land he is giving to the children of Israel from afar, but that he will not enter it. (On Rosh Hashanah we envision the potential of the entire new year, before even “entering” it. We should look at it with Moshe’s eyes, elevating it.) Once we do enter the new year, then we leave the old one behind, and start completely a new, Hashem gives us a new lease on life.

The Haftarah for Haazinu has only 51 verses, which would then leave one missing for this week. However, the following verse in the Book of Samuel II appears to be quite appropriate as a summary and conclusion to the Haftarah, and to King David’s life as well (just as this week serves as both a summary and conclusion of the entire year): “And these are the last words of David; the saying of David the son of Jesse, and the saying of the man raised on high, the anointed of the G-d of Jacob, And the sweet singer of Israel.”

During this week, the quality needed to acquire the Torah is not only related to the previous week’s, relating a statement in the name of one who said it, but is also includes an additional quality of bringing redemption to the world. (On Rosh Hashanah, the fate of the world is determined)

The prophetess for this week is Esther, which is quite appropriate, given that Esther is specifically mentioned in Pirkei Avot’s description above, which shows how she exemplifies this quality. Esther is the last of the prophets, and she is also a queen. Her relationship to the king reflects our relationship with the King of the Universe. Our sages teach us that in the Megillah itself, whenever the word “king” is used by itself, it is actually a reference to G-d.

This week’s levitical city is Jazer. It was a land that was good for pasture, it was in the land of Jazer, as well as Gilad, that the tribes of Reuben and Gad chose as the land to settle on the other side of the Jordan river. Simlar to Moshe himself, these tribes do not settle in the Land of Israel proper. Instead, they choose to elevate the land outside of it, in this way expanding the Land’s borders.

Jazer was good for pasture; it was regarding this land that the Torah describes the discussion between these tribes and Moshe, at the very end of the Book of Numbers, at the end of their journey of forty years in the desert. That discussion involves the need to judge others favorably, and to set a good example, thereby making it easier for others to judge you in that light.[2] It is not always easy to do that, and perhaps that is a reason that land is called Jazer, which can also be read as “Yud” Ezer. Yud is a reference to Hashem. Ezer means “help.” In other words, “G-d will help.”

The Midrash states that the spies of Jazer had so much faith in Hashem and in Moshe’s prayers, that not only did they succesffuly spy the city, they went ahead and conquered it as well.

[1] This week would is also related to Sarah, and Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah, wife of the Fifth Lubbavitcher Rebbe, the Rebbe Rashab. Shterna means star, and Esther also means star, as does Ayelet haShachar.

Week 52 (Book 3): Crowning G-d as Our King

BESHALACH: 15. Then Moses built an altar, and he named it The Lord is my miracle.  16. 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.
TANACH VERSES FOLLOWING THE HAFTORAH: 16. And the Lord said to him, "Because I shall be with you, and you shall strike Midian as one man." 17. And he said to Him, "If I have now found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is You that speaks with me.

Week 52 is the week of Rosh Hashanah. The last verse in Beshalach describes how Moshe built an altar and named it “Hashem [is] my miracle.” It also mentions how Amalek is an impediment to Hashem’s throne, literally an obstacle to His Kingship, which must be fought against in every generation. Rosh Hashanah is about crowning Hashem as King, and therefore this description of the fight against Amalek is all the more significant. Again, Amalek represents doubt, and Rosh Hashanah is the time of the ultimate certainty in our faith in G-d; it is when we crown Him as our King.
The parallel Tanach section continues its connection to Amalek in that Hashem attempts to further allay Gideon’s doubts, even though Gideon’s lack of complete emunah is self-evident by his request that Hashem grant him a sign. Ultimately Hashem does grant Gideon a sign and his faith is restored. There is a parallel between altar Moshe built and the sign asked by Gideon. In reality, both are signs and testaments; one is meant for the future, testifying to a past miraculous battle, while the other is meant to confirm a recent past assurance, testifying to future miraculous battle that is still to take place. These are also two dimensions of Rosh Hashanah – one related to the year that passed, and the other to the year that is to come.
Dapim Mem Heh through Samech Vav (Folios 45 - 66) of Nazir (which mostly cover chapters 7 – 9), make comparisons between the Nazir and the Kohen Gadol and other rules regarding someone impure that is to enter the Temple; it also discusses rule in the case where there is doubt as to whether someone became unclean; it also discusses the Nazirite vows of women and slaves; the laws of the Metzorah, and whether Shmuel HaNavi was a Nazir. This parallels the third part of Joseph’s life, where he attains a position of power and stature, and is also responsible for the affairs of Egypt, in which essentially the entire population becomes his slaves. References to the Kohen Gadol and Shmuel HaNavi also appear related to Rosh Hashanah, given that Hashem answered Chanah’s prayers for a child on Rosh Hashanah, and that answer was conveyed by Eli the Kohen Gadol.
Like Jehoiakim, Mattaniah’s rule was preceded by a brief three-month rule by his nephew, Jehoahaz, also known as Jeconiah. Jerusalem was then besieged by Babylonia, who conquered the city and exiled all the nobles as well as most of the rest of the population, leaving only the very poorest behind. Jeconiah was also exiled, and Nebuchadnezzar appointed his uncle Mattaniah as a tributary, changing his name to Zedekiah. Zedekiah also did not show signs of repentance, and he too rebelled against the emperor. Zedekiah threw Jeremiah in prison; later Jeremiah was also thrown in a mudpit, and almost died before being saved by the king. Zedekiah refused to heed Jeremiah’s call to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar. The rebellion was again quashed, but this time Jerusalem was devastated and the Temple was destroyed. The king tried to flee but he was captured. His children were murdered in front of him and his eyes were put out. Similarly, on Rosh Hashanah, one cannot run away from one’s fate. One must be ready to face the King and be judged.
This also appears to be the significance behind the last king of Judah’s change in names. Mattaniah means, “G-d’s gift,” while Zedekiah means “G-d’s justice.” Rosh Hashanah is primarily about being judged by G-d for our deeds over the past year. (Eventhough Rosh Hashanah is also about Chesed and G-d giving us life and sustenance for the coming year. See Week 1, also of Rosh Hashanah).
The fifty-second week is related to conquering the Kadmonites. Their name is associated to the word “kadmon,” original primordial. This term is often used in Kabbalah as a reference to the beginning of Creation, and the primordial forces of existence. Adam Kadmon is a supernal Divine revelation that is connected to Keter (crown), the intellectual sefirah for this week, known also as Da’at, knowledge. Adam Kadmon is also a reference to Adam, the first man, created on Rosh Hashanah. The Nachash Kadmoni, the primordial snake, is connected to the essence of the Yetzer Harah, which will ultimately be destroyed with the coming of Mashiach. Only then will we be able to fully crown Hashem as our King (See also Book 1, Week 52).


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