Monday, September 22, 2014

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.
TALMUD NAZIR: UP TO DAF 66
GENERATIONS FROM ADAM TO THE LAST KING OF JUDAH: Mattaniah also known as Zedekiah
THREE ADDITIONAL NATIONS: Kadmonites

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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