Thursday, September 4, 2014

Week 49 (Book 4a): G-d's Wisdom


STORY OF CHANNAH: 21. For the Lord remembered Hannah, and she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the lad Samuel grew up with the Lord.
PIRKEI AVOT QUALITIES BECOMING TO THE RIGHTEOUS: Wisdom,  
SONG OF SONGS: Chapter 5
TZADIKKIM: Rabbi Tzadok HaKohen Rabinowitz of Lublin (9th of Elul), Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa (12th of Elul), and Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Bagdad (the Ben Ish Chai, 13th of Elul)

Week 49 is the third week of Elul. The verse from the story of Channah speaks of how she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. It also mentions how Shmuel grew. Conception is generally associated with Chochmah, wisdom, while the development of the fetus is associated with Binah. Chochmah is also associated with male characteristics, while Binah with female ones. Chochmah is potential that needs to be developed, just like Shmuel himself was a sharp and wise at a very young age, but still needed to grow and develop.
This week’s Pirkei Avot quality that is “becoming to the righteous and becoming to the world” is wisdom. Wisdom is only truly good when it is developed “with the Lord,” as is the case with the righteous in general, and Shmuel in particular. As stated in Proverbs, “the beginning of wisdom is fear of G-d.”
Chapter 5 of the Song of Songs, particularly the last section, is primarily about Hashem’s wisdom. Rashi shows how the metaphors used are all depicting the beauty of the Torah and its wisdom:
[10] My beloved is white: to whiten my iniquities. Clear and white; when He appeared at Sinai, He appeared as an old man, teaching instructions, and so, when He sits in judgment (Dan. 7:9): “His garment was like white snow, and the hair of His head was like clean wool.”
and ruddy: to exact retribution upon His enemies, as it is stated (Isa. 63.2): “Why is Your clothing red?”
surrounded by myriads: Many armies encompass Him.
[11] His head is as the finest gold: The beginning of His words shone like finest gold, and so Scripture says (Ps. 119: 130): “The commencement of Your words enlightens.” The commencement of, “I am the Lord your God” showed them first that He has the right of sovereignty over them, and He then issued His decrees upon them.
his locks are curled: Heb. קְוֻצוֹתָיו תַּלְתַּלִים. Upon every point (קוֹץ וָקוֹץ) [of the letters of the Sepher Torah] were heaps of heaps (תִּלֵי תִּלִים) of halachoth.
black as a raven: because it was written before Him in black fire on white fire. Another explanation: His locks were curled when He appeared on the sea, appearing like a young man mightily waging war.
[12] His eyes are like doves beside rivulets of water: Like doves, whose eyes look toward their dovecotes, so are His eyes on the synagogues and study halls, for there are the sources of Torah, which is compared to water.
bathing in milk: When they look into the judgment, they clarify the law in its true light, to justify the just, to give him what he deserves, and to condemn the guilty, to repay his [evil] way upon his head.
fitly set: on the fullness of the world. They wander over the entire earth, gazing upon good and evil. Another explanation: Torah scholars, whom the Holy One, blessed be He, makes as eyes to illuminate the world, just as the eyes illuminate for man; like doves that wander from dovecote to dovecote to seek their food, so do they go from the study hall of one sage to the study hall of another sage, to seek the explanations of the Torah.
by rivulets of water: in the study halls, which are the sources of the water of Torah.
bathing in milk: Since he calls them eyes, and the eye (עַיִן) is a feminine noun, bathing (רוֹחֲצוֹת) is in the feminine conjugation. They cleanse themselves with the milk of Torah and whiten (clarify) its mysteries and enigmas.
fitly set: They resolve the matters appropriately. Another explanation: His eyes עֵינָיו, [like] עִנְיָנָיו His topics. The sections of the Torah, the halachoth, and the Mishnayoth are like doves which are comely in their walk beside the rivulets of water, [i.e.,] in the study halls; bathing in milk, made clear as milk, as I have explained.
[13] His jaws: the commandments of Mount Sinai, for He showed them a friendly and smiling countenance.
his lips are like roses: the commandments (lit. statements) that He spoke in the Tent of Meeting, which are for appeasement and for atonement and for a pleasant fragrance: the law of the sin offering, the guilt offering, the meal offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offering.
[14] His hands: the Tablets, which He gave with His right hand, which are the work of His hands.
wheels of gold: These are the commandments, about which it is said (Ps. 19:11): “They are to be desired more than gold, yea more than much fine gold.” Said Rabbi Joshua the son of Nehemiah: They were made miraculously. They were of sapphire, yet they could be rolled (Song Rabbah, Tanch. Ki Thissa 26). Another explanation: because they bring about (lit. roll) much good to the world.
set with chrysolite: He included the 613 commandments in the Decalogue.
his abdomen is [as] a block of ivory: This is the Priestly Code (Leviticus), placed in the center of the Five Books of the Pentateuch, like the intestines, which are set in the middle of the body.
[as] a block of ivory, overlaid with sapphires: It appears as smooth as a block of ivory, and is set with many details [derived from] similar wordings, general principles, and inferences from minor to major.
[15] founded upon sockets of fine gold: Said Rabbi Eleazar Hakkappar: This pillar has a capitol above and a base below. Said Rabbi Samuel the son of Gadda: The sections of the Torah have a capitol above and a base below, and they are juxtaposed before them and after them, e.g., the sections of the Sabbatical year and the Jubilee year, [are juxtaposed to] (Lev. 25:14): “And if you transact a sale,” to teach you how severe the dust (i.e., a minor infraction) of the Sabbatical Year is, as appears in Tractates Bava Metzia and Arachin (30b). Also, like (Num. 27: 16): “May the Lord… appoint a man over the congregation,” and (ibid. 29:2): “Command… My sacrifice, My bread.” Before you command Me about My children, command them about Me (Sifrei Num. 27:23), and similarly, many [such instances]. Therefore, it is stated: “His legs are [as] pillars of marble, founded, etc.”
his appearance is like the Lebanon: One who reflects and ponders over His words finds in them blossoms and sprouts, like a forest which blooms. So are the words of Torah-whoever meditates over them constantly finds new explanations in them.
chosen: Heb. בָּחוּר, chosen as the cedars, which are chosen for building and for strength and height.
[16] His palate is sweet: His words are pleasant, e.g. (Lev. 19:28): “And you shall not make a wound in your flesh for one who has died… I am the Lord,” faithful to pay reward. Is there a palate sweeter than this? Do not wound yourselves, and you will receive reward. (Ezek. 33:19): “And when a wicked man repents of his wickedness and performs justice and righteousness, he shall live because of them.” Iniquities are accounted to him as merits. Is there a palate sweeter than this?
This week contains the yahrzeits of three prominent Jewish thinkers: Rabbi Tzadok HaKohen Rabinowitz of Lublin (9th of Elul), Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa (12th of Elul), and Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Bagdad (the Ben Ish Chai, 13th of Elul).
From Revach.net:
One of the great lights of Chasidic thought and arguably its most prolific author, was not born a Chasid. Rav Tzadok HaKohen was born to his father Rav Yaakov the Av Bais Din of Kreisberg in Lithuania. His grandfather Rav Zalman Mireles was the Rov of the three prestigious communites of Altuna-Hamburg-Wansbeck in Germany and was the son-in-law of the Chacham Tzvi.

Rav Tzadok was a child prodigy. He said about himself that when he was one year old, he would make a bracha on his mother's milk. At age two he davened from a siddur. By age three and a half he was learning Gemara with Tosfos. Before his Bar Mitzva he was already writing Shailos U'Tshuvos. He delivered four drashos at his Bar Mitzva which were printed in the Sefer Meishiv Tzedek. He was a rising star in the Litvishe world.

The turning point came after his first marriage came to a premature end, but his wife wouldn't accept a divorce. He wandered among the Gedolim to secure a Heter Mei'a to enable him to remarry. During this difficult period he met with the Shoel U'Maishiv (Rav Yosef Shaul Nathanson of Lublin), Rav Tzvi Hirsh Chayos, Rav Shlomo Kluger and others. He also met with great Chasidic Rebbes including Rav Shalom of Belz, the Divrei Chaim, the Chidushei HaRim, Rav Meir Premishaln and others. When he met Rav Mordechai Yosef Leiner, the Izhbetzer Rebbe and former talmid of the Kotzker Rebbe before breaking away, he found in him a soulmate. The Litvishe Rav Tzadok became his ardent Chasid. At the end, his first wife accepted the Get and he did not need a Heter Mei'a. He then remarried and moved to Lublin.

Under Rav Mordechai Yosef, Rav Tzadok learned together with another Litvak turned Chasid (and broke his father's heart in the process), Rav Leibele Eiger the grandson of Rebbi Akiva Eiger and son of Rav Shlomo Eiger. After the petira of Rav Mordechai Yosef in 1854, Rav Tzadok refused to take his mantle of his Rebbe and lead the Chassidim. Instead he pushed Rav Leibele Eiger to become the Rebbe. In the ensuing 33 years until Rav Leibele's petira he learned in solitude composing his multitude of seforim. In 1887 after Rav Leibele's petira, he again refused to lead the Chasidim and pushed for Rav Avrohom Eiger to lead the flock. This time however the Chasidim refused to give in and he ultimately became the Rebbe of Lublin.

He very much wanted to emigrate to Eretz Yisroel but his Chasidim would not hear of it. Rav Tzadok was Niftar on 9 Elul, 5660/1900. Although he did not leave behind any sons, he left the world with his vast writings which have made a profound impact on Jewish thinking moving forward. His seforim include, Pri Tzadik (Chumash), Divrei Sofrim, Otzar HaMelech (Rambam), Yisroel Kedoshim, Tzidkas HaTzadik, Taanas Hashovim, Kuntras Divrei Chalomos, and many others. Yehi Zichro Baruch.
From Ascent.org:
Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa (1765 - 12 Elul 1827) spent many years as a business man and a pharmacist. He was a beloved disciple of "the Seer" and of "The Holy Yid" whom he succeeded. Known as "a rebbe of rebbes," his major disciples included the Kotsker and the first Rebbes of Ger and Alexander.
Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Bagdad, the Ben Ish Hai (27 Av 1834 - 13 Elul 1909), is one of the most important Sephardic Jewish sages in the last two centuries. At the age of 25, he succeeded to his father's rabbinical position and continued in it for 50 years. In 1869 he visited the Holy Land and was offered the position of Rishon LeZion (Sephardic Chief Rabbi), but he did not accept. A great scholar and Kabbalist and highly regarded as a pure and holy man, is rulings are adhered to still today by many Sephardim world-wide. He published many important books on Jewish law, Midrash, Kabbalah and Ethics.
This week also contains the yahrzeits of various tzadikim from the Rizhin/Sadiger dynasty: Rabbi Moshe Yehudah Leib of Pashkan (10th of Elul), Rabbi Shalom Yosef Friedman of Friedman of Sadigora (11th of Elul), and Rabbi Avraham Yaakov Friedman of Sadigora (11th of Elul).
In addition, this week contains the yahrzeits of Rabbi Moshe Elyakim Briah Hopstein (The Be’er Moshe, Second Rebbe of Kozhnitz), Rabbi Yaakov Yisroel Twerski of Cherkas (13th of Elul) and Rabbi Avraham Yissachar Behr HaKohen Rabinowitz of Radomsk (13th of Elul).
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