Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Week 23 (From the Book): To Be Happy Even Without Knowing Why Things Are the Way They Are

The Leviathan is saying, "Give thanks to G-d for He is good, His kindness endures forever." (Psalms 136:1)

Rabbi Chanina the son of Dosa would say: One whose fear of sin takes precedence to his wisdom, his wisdom endures. But one whose wisdom takes precedence to his fear of sin, his wisdom does not endure.

He would also say: One whose deeds exceed his wisdom, his wisdom endures. But one whose wisdom exceeds his deeds, his wisdom does not endure.

He would also say: One who is pleasing to his fellow men, is pleasing to G-d. But one who is not pleasing to his fellow men, is not pleasing to G-d.

Gevurah shebeNetzach (discipline and judgment within the context of victory and endurance)

We now arrive at the twenty-third week, when the Leviathan in Perek Shirah gives thanks to the Lord, for He is good and His mercy is eternal. This week marks the seventh day of Adar, the birthday as well as the yahrzeit of Moses, Moshe Rabbeinu. Moses is from the tribe of Levi. It is also no coincidence that the first three Hebrew letters of the name “Leviathan” spell the word “Levi,” one of the tribes of this month. 

The Leviathan is clearly a reference to Moses himself. In general, fish represent tzadikim, and just as the Leviathan is the biggest of all fish, Moses is the greatest of all tzadikim.[1] (See Week Four, regarding the eagle, the biggest of all birds) A hidden reference to Moses being like a fish can also be found in the name of his main disciple, Yehoshua Bin Nun. Nun means fish in Aramaic. The Torah teaches us that a student is considered like a son.[2] The gematria of the letter Nun is fifty, and when Moses passed away he reached the fiftieth level of holiness. This is implied in the name of the place of his burial, Mount Nevoh, which can also be read as "Nun Boh" ("the Nun is in it").

The last letter of the Hebrew word for Leviathan (Leviatan) is Nun. If one exchanges the Lamed (which equals 30) and the Yud (which equals 10) for a Mem (40), the word Leviatan is transformed into Mavet (death) Nun. As mentioned above, Moshe Rabbeinu reached the fiftieth level of holiness upon his death, even though we say that Moshe Rabbeinu never truly died.  

The song of the Leviathan is well known, and repeated many times in Psalm 118. In Hebrew, it reads, “Hodu l’Hashem Ki Tov Ki l’Olam Chasdoh.” Ki Tov, which means “for [He] is good,” is exactly the Torah’s description for what Yocheved saw in her newborn son, Moses. She saw Ki Tov, that he was good. That is why one of Moses’ names is also Tuviah, from the word Tov. Rashi explains that at the time of Moses’ birth, his mother saw that the house became filled with light.[3] Our sages explain that this is also a reference to the light that will only be revealed in the end of creation.

The number twenty-three has the gematria of ziv, which means light, radiance. Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh explains that ziv, as opposed to or, refers to a light that shines far away from its source. The Leviathan is an animal that is mysterious and unknown. Its existence will only be fully revealed in the messianic era. Our current understanding of the Leviathan is negligible, equivalent to the brightness of a light coming from far away, like the ziv. We know through Psalm 104:26 and Midrashim, that G-d created the leviathan to "play" with it, but we certainly do not know exactly what that means. We also know that the Leviathan will be the food served to us in the final redemption, the end of creation.

Ziv is also a biblical name given to the month of Iyar. The Torah states that it was “in the month Ziv” that Solomon began to build the Temple.[4] The construction of the Second Temple also began in the month of Iyar. Furthermore, we know that it is during Iyar that we count the omer, and that the word Sefirat Ha’Omer comes from the word sapir, saphire. During Iyar we work on ourselves to become radiant like saphire. We make ourselves into proper vessels so that G-d can dwell within us.

As we enter the month of Adar and experience Moses’ birthday and passing, we also begin to work on our inner Temple. The Torah reading for this week is usually related to the construction of the Tabernacle, and we continue to collect the half-shekel, which historically was given towards the Temple’s upkeep.

In order to achieve balance in the world, Hashem had to allow the female to die. Despite this tragedy, the Leviathan still sings about G-d's kindness. The Leviathan knows perfectly well that all that Hashem does is for the good.

The Leviathan praises Hashem for His eternal kindness, and Moses also showed great kindness to the Jewish people, leading them out of Egypt in order to receive the Torah at Mount Sinai. Furthermore, as the largest of all fish and the one that has the closest relationship with G-d, the Leviathan is not content with praising Hashem by itself. It commands that others to do their part to praise G-d as well.

The last ma’amar reviewed and edited by the Rebbe, Ve’Atah Tetzaveh, was delivered during Adar, and it is about the relationship between Moses and the rest of the Jewish people. Tetzaveh means “to command,” but also to tie, unite – the same root as the word mitzvah. Tetzaveh is the one weekly portion of the Torah since the introduction of Moses, in which his name is not mentioned. This is said to be a hidden reference to Moses’ passing, on the 7th of Adar, since Tetzaveh is usually read around this time. The connection between Tetzaveh and Moses’ death is so strong that when there are two Adars, Moses’ yahrzeit is commemorated on the first Adar, because it will be then that Tetzaveh will be read. Usually, when there are two Adars, the “main” date is usually the one in the second Adar. It is worth noting that the Rebbe’s stroke was on Adar I, on the 27th day of that month. Two years later, on this exact day, 27th of Adar I, 5754, the Rebbe suffered another stroke, which ultimately led to his passing a few months later.

Less than two months prior to the Rebbe’s stroke, he gave an enigmatic talk in which he described how his late father-in-law, the Previous Rebbe, was not able to speak clearly in the last years of his life. At that time, even though it was now more than forty years after the Previous Rebbe’s passing, the Rebbe exclaimed that we all had to do our part, and take upon ourselves as a personal challenge to increase Torah study and Chassidic gatherings in order to compensate for the Previous Rebbe’s difficulty in communication, and to do so with happiness.[5] How unbelievable was it then that two months later the Rebbe would find himself in the same condition.

The Pirkei Avot teaching for this week comes from Rabbi Chanina the son of Dosa, who says that anyone whose fear of sin precedes his wisdom, his wisdom will endure, but all those whose wisdom precedes their fear of sin, their wisdom will not endure. This teaching is perfectly related to Moses, who showed fear of Hashem since his first interaction with Him at the burning bush.
Moreover, Rabbi Chanina also teaches that whoever is pleasing to mankind is pleasing to G-d, and whoever is not pleasing to mankind is not pleasing to G-d. This lesson also applies to Moses, whose acts were pleasing to the Jewish people and to Hashem.

Rabbi Chanina, similar to Moses himself, exemplifies a tzadik who is the foundation of the world. The Talmud teaches that every day a heavenly voice exclaims that, “the entire world is sustained in merit of Chanina my son, yet for Chanina my son, one measure of carobs is enough from Friday to Friday.”[6]

In this twenty-third week, the combination of sefirot results in gevurah shebenetzach: discipline and strength within determination and victory. As explained earlier, Moses represents the sefirah of netzach, and his death is connected with the attribute of gevurah. From the above teaching, we see that Rabbi Chanina himself also is very much connected to the gevurah shebenetzach.
The lesson in self-improvement we can extract from the Leviathan is that everything that G-d does is for good, and therefore we should fully trust in Him.

[1] Shnei Luchot HaBrit
[2] Rabbi Tzvi Aryeh Rosenfeld
[3] Exodus 2:2
[4] Kings I, 6:1
[5] From the Rebbe’s Sichos, 3rd of Shvat after Mincha prayers, available at:
[6] Brachot 17b

Eighth Set of 22 Days: Samech & Ayin, and the Stars

The 3rd of Adar begins the eighth set of 22 days of the Jewish calendar, which parallels the letters Samech and Ayin, as well as the Stars in Perek Shirah. This 22-day period falls completely within Adar and includes Purim.

Samech stands for "Somech Noflim," "[Hashem] supports the fallen." Its shape is a circle, and stands for the different highs and lows of life. This is very much the theme of Purim. Not only did Hashem support us when we had fallen, but also the story itself comes "full circle," with Mordechai and the Jews (who were down) brought up, and Haman (who was up) brought down. 

Ayin means "eye," as well as "well," "fountain," "spring." The eye is known as the "window to the soul," shedding light on a person's inner dimension. Similarly, a wellspring represents the revelation of the hidden, inner spiritual aspects of the earth, its deeper waters. (See Sixth Set of 22-days) This is also one of the themes of the month of Adar, revealing (Megilah) that which is hidden (Esther).  

Both above themes, a) relying only on G-d for support, whether in a high or a low, and b) revealing the hidden spirituality with everything, can be found in the song of the Stars: 

The Stars are saying, "You, only You, are God; You made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their hosts; the earth, and everything that is in it; the seas, and everything that is in them; and You preserve them all; and the host of heaven prostrate themselves to You." (Nehemiah 9:6)

Stars themselves also offer us a glimpse into the vastness of the universe. They grant us a better sense of our smallness and of G-d's greatness. The name Esther comes from the word for star. She is referred to in Psalm 22 as Ayelet HaShachar, the "Morning Star." The morning star is the very last one to shine before daybreak. Similarly, Esther is the last prophet(ess) before the coming of Mashiach and the final redemption.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Thursday, 27th of Shevat, 5777

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

2nd day of Week 22 and the 2nd day of the cycle of Netzach (Victory/Endurance), Gevurah shebeChesed shebeNetzach, Might/Discipline within Kindness within Victory/Endurance.

Alef-Bet/Psalms (Cycles of 22 days):

17th day of the 7th cycle. Peh within the cycle of Mem and Nun, Peh-Nun / Nun-Peh. (Sample words: פָּנִים (face, appearance), פֶּן (lest, otherwise); נִפָּה (to sift, to sieve), נֶפֶשׁ (soul, spirit ; person), נָפַח  (to blow, to exhale).

Psalm 145:

You open Your hand and satisfy every living thing [with] its desire.

פּוֹתֵחַ אֶת יָדֶךָ וּמַשְׂבִּיעַ לְכָל חַי רָצוֹן:

Psalm 119:

Cause Your countenance to shine upon Your servant and teach me Your statutes.

פָּנֶיךָ הָאֵר בְּעַבְדֶּךָ וְלַמְּדֵנִי אֶת חֻקֶּיךָ:

Hayom Yom:

My father writes in one of his maamarim: Early chassidim resolved in their souls to refrain from anything that is permissible (by Torah law) but for which they felt a desire and urge. This breaks the passion.

Three times during the year, all your males shall appear before the Master, the Lord.
שָׁל֥שׁ פְּעָמִ֖ים בַּשָּׁנָ֑ה יֵֽרָאֶה֙ כָּל־זְכ֣וּרְךָ֔ אֶל־פְּנֵ֖י הָֽאָדֹ֥ן | יְהֹוָֽה:

5. I hope in the Lord; my soul hopes, and I long for His word.
6. My soul yearns for the Lord more than those awaiting the morning wait for the morning.
1. A song of ascents, by David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell together.
2. Like the precious oil [placed] upon the head, flowing [in abundance] down the beard, the beard of Aaron which rests upon his garments.
3. Like the dew of Hermon which comes down upon the mountains of Zion, for there the Lord has commanded blessing, life unto eternity.

הוא כמשל אדם המתפלל בכוונה, ועומד לנגדו ערל רשע, ומשיח ומדבר עמו כדי לבלבלו
This is, to use an example, like a person who is praying with devotion, while facing him there stands a wicked heathen who chats and speaks to him in order to confuse him.

שזאת עצתו בודאי שלא להשיב לו מטוב ועד רע, ולעשות עצמו כחרש לא ישמע
Surely the best advice in this case would be to answer him neither good nor evil, but rather to act as though he were deaf, without hearing.

ולקיים מה שכתוב: אל תען כסיל כאולתו, פן תשוה לו גם אתה
and to comply with the verse, 1 “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you too become like him.”

Mishnah Torah:

The following rule applies when a person sells an animal to a colleague for slaughter, the purchaser slaughters it, and it is discovered to be trefah. If it can definitely be determined that it had been trefah when it was purchased,the purchaser should return the slaughtered animal, and the seller must return the money.

From this ruling, we can derive the following principles that apply when a seller sells an entity that possesses a blemish, and the purchaser makes another blemish before he discovers the first blemish. If the purchaser creates the blemish in the process of performing an act that would ordinarily be performed - e.g., one who slaughters an animal that is trefah - he is not liable. If, however, he deviates from ordinary practice and makes another blemish before he discovers the first blemish, he should return the article to its owner and reimburse him for the blemish that he made.

Daf Yomi
ההוא דאמר לחבריה מאי בעית בהאי ארעא א"ל מינך זבינתה והא שטרא§ The Gemara relates an incident where two people disputed the ownership of land. There was a certain person who said to another: What do you want with this land of mine? The possessor said to him: I purchased it from you, and this is the bill of sale.אמר ליה שטרא זייפא הוא גחין לחיש ליה לרבה אין שטרא זייפא הוא מיהו שטרא מעליא הוה לי ואירכס ואמינא אינקיט האי בידאי כל דהוThe first said to him in response: It is a forged bill of sale. The possessor leaned over and whispered to Rabba: Yes, it is a forged bill. But I had a proper bill of sale and it was lost, and I said to myself: I will hold this bill of sale in my possession, such as it is.
אמר רבה מה לו לשקר אי בעי אמר ליה שטרא מעליא הוא אמר ליה רב יוסף אמאי סמכת אהאי שטרא האי שטרא חספא בעלמא הואRabba said: Why would he lie and state this claim? If he wants to lie, he can say to him that it is a proper bill of sale, and he would have been deemed credible and awarded the field. Rav Yosef said to Rabba: In the final analysis,on what are you relying to award him the land? On this bill of sale? This admittedly forged bill is merely a worthless shard, and cannot be used in court as evidence.
ההוא דאמר לחבריה הב לי מאה זוזי דמסיקנא בך והא שטרא א"ל שטרא זייפא הוא גחין לחיש ליה לרבה אין שטרא זייפא מיהו שטרא מעליא הוה לי ואירכס ואמינא אינקיט האי בידאי כל דהוThe Gemara relates a similar incident: There was a certain person who said to another: Give me one hundred dinars that I am attempting to collect from you, and this is the promissory note that attests to the debt. The latter said to him in response: It is a forged promissory note. The first person leaned over and whispered to Rava: Yes, it is a forged promissory note. But I had a proper promissory note and it was lost, and I said to myself: I will hold this promissory note in my possession, such as it is.
אמר רבה מה לו לשקר אי בעי אמר ליה שטרא מעליא הוא א"ל רב יוסף אמאי קא סמכת אהאי שטרא האי שטרא חספא בעלמא הואRabba said: Why would he lie and state this claim? If he wants to lie, he can say to him that it is a proper promissory note, and he will be deemed credible and awarded the money. Rav Yosef said to Rabba: In the final analysis, on what are you relying to award him the money? On this promissory note? This document is merely a shard, and cannot be used in court as evidence.
אמר רב אידי בר אבין הלכתא כוותיה דרבה בארעא והלכתא כוותיה דרב יוסף בזוזי הלכתא כרבה בארעא דהיכא דקיימא ארעא תיקום והלכתא כוותיה דרב יוסף בזוזי דהיכא דקיימי זוזי לוקמי:The Gemara notes the final ruling in these two cases. Rav Idi bar Avin said: The halakha is in accordance with the opinion of Rabba with regard to land, and the possessor is awarded the land, and the halakha is in accordance with the opinion of Rav Yosef with regard to money, and the one demanding payment is not awarded the money. He explains: The halakha is in accordance with the opinion of Rabba with regard to land, as the court rules that the land should remain where it is, i.e., with the possessor. And the halakha is in accordance with the opinion of Rav Yosef with regard to money, as the court rules that the money should remain where it is, i.e., in the possession of the purported debtor.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wednesday, 26th of Shevat, 5777

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

1st day of Week 22 and the 1st day of the cycle of Netzach (Victory/Endurance), Chesed shebeChesed shebeNetzach, Kindness within Kindness within Victory/Endurance.

Alef-Bet/Psalms (Cycles of 22 days):

16th day of the 7th cycle. Ayin within the cycle of Mem and Nun, Ayin-Mem / Mem-Ayin. (Sample words: עַם (people), עִם (with) ; מְעַט (little, few), מָעָה (small coin, small change (in plural)).

Psalm 145:

Everyone's eyes look to You with hope, and You give them their food in its time.

עֵינֵי כֹל אֵלֶיךָ יְשַׂבֵּרוּ וְאַתָּה נוֹתֵן לָהֶם אֶת אָכְלָם בְּעִתּוֹ

Psalm 119:

Therefore, I loved Your commandments more than gold, even more than fine gold.

עַל כֵּן אָהַבְתִּי מִצְו‍ֹתֶיךָ מִזָּהָב וּמִפָּז:

Hayom Yom:

Ahava, affection, is the breath of life in the Avoda of Chassidus. It is the thread that binds chassidim to each other, that binds Rebbe to chassidim and chassidim to Rebbe. Ahava works in a direct way (initiated affection) and also in a reflective way (responding to the other's affection). It knows no barriers and transcends the limits of time and place.


You shall not curse a judge, neither shall you curse a prince among your people.
אֱלֹהִ֖ים לֹ֣א תְקַלֵּ֑ל וְנָשִׂ֥יא בְעַמְּךָ֖ לֹ֥א תָאֹֽר:

If you see your enemy's donkey lying under its burden would you refrain from helping him? You shall surely help along with him.
כִּֽי־תִרְאֶ֞ה חֲמ֣וֹר שׂנַֽאֲךָ֗ רֹבֵץ֙ תַּ֣חַת מַשָּׂא֔וֹ וְחָֽדַלְתָּ֖ מֵֽעֲזֹ֣ב ל֑וֹ עָזֹ֥ב תַּֽעֲזֹ֖ב עִמּֽוֹ:

97. O how I love Your Torah! All day it is my discussion.
127. Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, even fine gold.

אך אף על פי כן אל יפול לבו בקרבו להיות מזה עצב נבזה בשעת העבודה, שצריך להיות בשמחה רבה
Nevertheless, he must not be downhearted, nor feel dejected and despicable because of this occurence of extraneous thoughts during his service of G‑d, when he ought to be most joyous.

אלא אדרבה, יתחזק יותר ויוסיף אומץ בכל כחו בכוונת התפלה בחדוה ושמחה יתירה
On the contrary, he should draw fresh strength, and intensify his determination with all his power, to pray with concentration, with even greater joy and gladness,

Mishnah Torah:

המוכר לחבירו במדה במשקל או במניין וטעה בכל שהוא חוזר לעולם שאין הונייה אלא בדמים אבל בחשבון חוזר:
When a person sells an item to a colleague by measure, by weight or by number, and errs to the slightest degree, the colleague may seek redress at any time. The principles of ona'ah apply only with regard to an object's value. An error in calculation, by contrast, is always reason to seek redress.

Daf Yomi

טוען וחוזר וטוען או אין טוען וחוזר וטוען עולא אמר טוען וחוזר וטוען נהרדעי אמרי אינו טוען וחוזר וטועןThe Gemara asks: Can he state a claim and return and state a modified version of his claim, or can he not state a claim and return and state a modified version of his claim? Ulla said: He can state a claim and return and state a modified version of his claim. The Sages of Neharde’a say: He cannot state a claim and return and state a modified version of his claim.
ומודי עולא היכא דא"ל של אבותי ולא של אבותיך דאינו טוען וחוזר וטוען והיכא דהוה קאי בי דינא ולא טען ואתא מאבראי וטען אינו חוזר וטוען מאי טעמא טענתיה אגמריהThe Gemara clarifies their respective opinions: And Ulla concedes that in a case where he had initially said to him: The land belonged to my ancestors and did not belong to your ancestors, that he cannot state a claim and return and state a modified version of his claim, as Ulla allows the litigant only to reinterpret his initial claim, not to replace it with a contradictory claim.And Ulla also concedes that in a case where he was standing in court and did not state a particular claim, and he later came in from outside and back into the court and he stated that claim, that he cannot return and state thatclaim. What is the reason for this? It is because it is apparent that these claims of his were taught to him by someone after he left the court.
ומודו נהרדעי היכא דאמר ליה של אבותי שלקחוה מאבותיך דחוזר וטוען והיכא דאישתעי מילי אבראי ולא טען ואתא לבי דינא וטען דחוזר וטוען מאי טעמא עביד איניש דלא מגלי טענתיה אלא לבי דינאAnd the Sages of Neharde’a concede that in a case where the litigant who changed his claim said to the other litigant that when he had initially claimed: The land belonged to my ancestors, he had actually meant: It belonged to my ancestors, who purchased it from your ancestors, that he can state a claim and return and state a modified version of his claim, as this serves only to clarify, and not negate, his initial claim. And the Sages of Neharde’a also concede that in a case where he discussed the matter outside of the court anddid not state a particular claim, and then he came in to the court and statedthat claim, that he can return and state that claim. What is the reason for this? Because a person is apt not to reveal his claims except to the court.
אמר אמימר אנא נהרדעא אנא וסבירא לי דטוען וחוזר וטוען והלכתא טוען וחוזר וטוען:Ameimar said: I am from Neharde’a, but I nevertheless hold that a litigant can state a claim and return and state a modified version of his claim. The Gemara concludes: And the halakha is that a litigant can state a claim and return and state a modified version of his claim.


כל ספק נגעים. בתחלה טהור. עד שלא נזקק לטומאה. משנזקק לטומאה. ספיקו טמא. בשבעה דרכים בודקין את הזב. עד שלא נזקק לזיבה. במאכל ובמשתה. במשא ובקפיצה. ובחולי. ובמראה. ובהרהור. משנזקק זיבה אין בודקין אותו. אונסו. וספיקו ושכבת זרעו. טמאין. שרגלים לדבר. המכה את חבירו ואמדוהו למיתה. והקל ממה שהיה. לאחר מכאן הכביד ומת חייב. רבי נחמיה אומר פטור שרגלים לדבר:Initially, any doubt about negaim (diseased patches on skin, clothes, or houses that create impurity) is [ruled as] pure as long as it has not been declared impure. Once it is declared impure, doubts about it are [ruled as] impure. We investigate a zav (a male who has certain types of atypical genital discharges, which render him impure) about seven categories before he is declared as having discharge: about food, drink, lifting, jumping, sickness, visual stimuli, and thoughts. From the time he is declared as having discharge, we do not investigate him. His accidental [discharges], doubtful [discharges], and seminal discharges are [considered] impure because the matter has a leg on which to stand. One who hits his fellow and they estimate that he will die, and then he improves from what was: If after that it degrades and he dies, he [the one who struck] is liable. Rabbi Nechemia says, "He is exempt because the matter has a leg on which to stand".
נזיר היה שמואל כדברי רבי נהוראי. שנאמר (שמואל א' א, יא) ומורה לא יעלה על ראשו. נאמר בשמשון (שופטים יג) ומורה ונאמר בשמואל ומורה. מה מורה האמורה בשמשון נזיר. אף מורה האמורה בשמואל נזיר. אמר רבי יוסי והלא אין מורה אלא של בשר ודם. אמר לו רבי נהוראי. והלא כבר נאמר (שמואל א' טז, ב) ויאמר שמואל איך אלך ושמע שאול והרגני. שכבר היה עליו מורה של בשר ודם:"Shmuel was a nazir," according to the words of Rabbi Nehorai, "As it says, 'And a moreh (meaning "razor") will not come upon his head.' (1 Samuel 1:11) It says about Shimshon , "And a moreh," (Judges 13:5) and it says about Shmuel, "And a moreh" (1 Samuel 1:11). Just like moreh is said in regards to Shimshon - a nazir - so too moreh which is said in regards to Shmuel [means he was a] nazir." Rabbi Yose said, "But is it not [the case that] moreh (meaning "fear") only applies to [being] of humans?" Rabbi Nehorai responded to him, "But is it not already said, 'Then Shmuel said 'How can I go? Shaul will hear and kill me.' Therefore, he did have moreh of humans on him."

"Son of man, speak to the members of your people and say to them: When I bring armed attackers upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among themselves and appoint him for them as a lookout,בֶּן אָדָם דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי עַמְּךָ וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵיהֶם אֶרֶץ כִּי אָבִיא עָלֶיהָ חָרֶב וְלָקְחוּ עַם הָאָרֶץ אִישׁ אֶחָד מִקְצֵיהֶם וְנָתְנוּ אֹתוֹ לָהֶם לְצֹפֶה:And he sees the army coming upon the land, and he sounds the shofar and warns the people,וְרָאָה אֶת הַחֶרֶב בָּאָה עַל הָאָרֶץ וְתָקַע בַּשּׁוֹפָר וְהִזְהִיר אֶת הָעָם:(...) Now you, son of man, I have made you a lookout for the house of Israel, and you will hear a word from My mouth, and you shall warn them from Me.וְאַתָּה בֶן אָדָם צֹפֶה נְתַתִּיךָ לְבֵית יִשְׂרָאֵל וְשָׁמַעְתָּ מִפִּי דָּבָר וְהִזְהַרְתָּ אֹתָם מִמֶּנִּי:(...) And you, son of man, say to the members of your people: The righteousness of the righteous will not save him on the day of his transgression, and the wickedness of the wicked-he will not stumble upon it on the day of his repentance of his wickedness, and a righteous man cannot live with it on the day of his sinning.וְאַתָּה בֶן אָדָם אֱמֹר אֶל בְּנֵי עַמְּךָ צִדְקַת הַצַּדִּיק לֹא תַצִּילֶנּוּ בְּיוֹם פִּשְׁעוֹ וְרִשְׁעַת הָרָשָׁע לֹא יִכָּשֶׁל בָּהּ בְּיוֹם שׁוּבוֹ מֵרִשְׁעוֹ וְצַדִּיק לֹא יוּכַל לִחְיוֹת בָּהּ בְּיוֹם חֲטֹאתוֹ:(...) And you, son of man, the members of your people who talk about you beside the walls and in the entrances of the houses, and one talks to the other, one to his brother, saying, "Come now and listen to what the word is that is coming forth from before the Lord."וְאַתָּה בֶן אָדָם בְּנֵי עַמְּךָ הַנִּדְבָּרִים בְּךָ אֵצֶל הַקִּירוֹת וּבְפִתְחֵי הַבָּתִּים וְדִבֶּר חַד אֶת אַחַד אִישׁ אֶת אָחִיו לֵאמֹר בֹּאוּ נָא וְשִׁמְעוּ מָה הַדָּבָר הַיּוֹצֵא מֵאֵת יְהֹוָה:And they will come to you as a public gathering, and they will sit before you as My people, and they will hear your words but not fulfill them; instead they make them into jokes with their mouth; their heart goes after their gain.וְיָבוֹאוּ אֵלֶיךָ כִּמְבוֹא עָם וְיֵשְׁבוּ לְפָנֶיךָ עַמִּי וְשָׁמְעוּ אֶת דְּבָרֶיךָ וְאוֹתָם לֹא יַעֲשׂוּ כִּי עֲגָבִים בְּפִיהֶם הֵמָּה עֹשִׂים אַחֲרֵי בִצְעָם לִבָּם הֹלֵךְ:

Likutei Moharan
How was inquiry made? The [High] priest would stand facing the Ark. The person making inquiry was behind him, facing the [High] Priest's back. The inquirer would ask: "Should I go up [to war] or not?" He would not ask in a loud voice, nor would he merely think about the matter in his heart. Instead, [he would speak] in a low voice, like someone praying to himself. Immediately, the Holy Spirit will enclothe the [High] Priest. He will look at the breastplate and with the spirit of prophecy see "Go up" or "Do not go up" written in letters emerging from the breastplate toward his face. The [High] Priest would then answer [the inquirer], telling him: "Go up" or "Do not go up."

Two matters should not be asked about at once. If they are, one replies only to the first. Inquiry should not be made [of the Urim and Tumim] by an ordinary person, only by a king, the court, or one who the community at large requires. [This is derived from Numbers 27:21:] "Before Elazar the priest shall he stand... [he and all the children of Israel with him, and the entire congregation]." "He" refers to the king; "all the children of Israel" to the priest anointed to lead the people in war, or someone whom the people need to make inquiry for them; and "all the congregation" refers to the High Court.

The statements found in the words of the prophets that the priests would wear an ephod of linen does not mean that they were High Priests. For the High Priest's ephod was not of linen [alone]. For the Levites would also wear such a garment, for the prophet Samuel was a Levite, and [I Samuel 2:18] describes him as "a youth, girded with a linen ephod." Instead, this ephod was worn by the students of the prophets and those who were fit to have the Holy Spirit rest upon them to make it known that such a person reached a rung equivalent to that of the High Priest who speaks with the Holy Spirit via the medium of the ephod and the breastplate.

Shulchan Aruch

Orach Chayim

A mixture including hametz, on its account one transgresses the prohibition on seeing hametz (Exodus 13:7) and the prohibition on finding hametz (Exodus 12:19), e.g., brine, bread/milk preserve, beer, and the like. But something that is a mixture containing hametz but is not fit for consumption, one is permitted to keep on Pesah, e.g., the leather-worker's mixture that one put into it skins and flour, even if one put them together an hour before the time of destruction of hametz, it is permitted to keep it. But if one did not put the skins in but did put the flour in: three days before the time of destruction of hametz, one is permitted to keep it since it is lost and spoiled; within three days, one must destroy it. Similarly, eye salve, bandage, rag, or medicine that one has added hametz to, it is permitted to keep them over Pesah since they have lost the form of hametz.

Even HaEzer

How does a man divorce on a condition? It is not that he says: Write a get for my wife on this condition, or write and give it to her on this condition, and there is no need to say that he should not write in the get: On this condition so-and-so divorces so-and-so, rather how does he do it? He tells the scribe to write and the witnesses to sign, and they write a valid get without any condition at all. And afterwards he gives her the get and says to her: Behold this is your get or behold you are divorced from me on such and such condition, or he says to them or to an emissary: Give her this get on such and such condition.

Week 22 (Book 2): Adar, Eliezer son of Dodavahu, and "Minimized" Laughter

HAAZINU: For a fire blazed in My wrath, and burned to the lowest depths. It consumed the land and its produce, setting aflame the foundations of mountains. (Deuteronomy 32:22)

Positive light: For a fire blazed in My wrath [against Amalek], and burned since Shaul. It consumed [Amalek] the land and its produce, setting aflame the foundations of mountains.

HAFTORAH: For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from [the commandments of] my G-d. (II Samuel 22:22)

QUALITY TO ACQUIRE THE TORAH: Minimized Laughter (Miut Schok)

PROPHET: Eliezer son of Dodavahu

LEVITICAL CITY: Kedesh in Galillee (city of refuge)

Week Twenty-Two is the week of Rosh Chodesh Adar. This month is connected to the tribe of Naftali and the attribute of desire (ratzon). It is also the month of Purim. Haazinu’s verse for this week speaks of how G-d’s wrath burned and led to the destruction of the land and its surroundings.

A positive interpretation is that the wrath spoken of here is not against Israel, but rather against the “foolish nation” that attacks it: Amalek. The Hebrew word translated at first as “lowest depths” is Sheol, which can also be read as Shaul, the first king of Israel who failed to wipe out Amalek, and G-d’s anger against it continued since. In Adar, we read Parashat Zachor, in which we remember to destroy Amalek, and everything it represents. The Purim story itself is a contrast between Mordechai, a descendant of Shaul, and Haman, a descendant of Hagag, the King of the Amalekites. Ultimately, Mordechai defeats Haman, who is killed along with this sons.

The Haftarah’s verse also appears to point to this contrast between good and evil. The first half of the verse affirms good behavior, while the second rejects negative behavior. Interestingly, the part about good behavior, “I have kept the ways,” Shamarti Darchei, contains the letters of Mordechai. The second half, “have not wickedly” Veloh Rashati, is likely a reference to Haman who is called Haman HaRashah. Veloh Rashati is reminiscent of the name, “Vashti,” King Achashverosh’s evil wife, prior to Queen Esther.

The quality for this week is minimized laughter (miut schok). Laughter can lead a person to frivolity, and to ultimately being dragged in to the wrong circles. Laughter is certainly not bad per say – it can have mind expanding qualities, it is even a custom, based on the Talmud, to begin each lesson with a joke - nevertheless such laughter has to characterized by miut, smallness, humility. This is true of the month of Adar, when we are Marbim B'Simcha, we increase in joy, and true for Purim itself, when it is a mitzvah to get drunk and act in a way of schok; we just have to remember to do it with the right intentions.

This week’s prophet is Eliezer son of Dodavahu. His words to King Yehoshaphat incorporate the above idea of being careful in ones social interactions. King Yehoshaphat was righteous, but at one point he associated himself with King Ahab. The prophet rebuked King Yehoshaphat for his actions, and he was punished. The ships he had made with King Ahab were broken, and they were unable to sail them. This is the last event described in the Tanach prior to the King Yehoshaphat’s death.

The levitical city for this week is Kedesh, which is also a city of refuge. Its name comes from the Hebrew word Kadosh, which means “holy.” It is also related to the word Kiddush, which is the blessing over wine. It appears related to the drinking that takes place in Adar, which as superficially frivolous as it might seem, is in fact tremendously holy, in many ways even holier than Yom Kippur.

Week 22 (From the Book): To Complement Each Other in Happiness

The Sea Monsters[1] say: "Praise G-d from the land, the sea monsters and all the depths." (Psalms 148:7)

Rabbi Dusta'i the son of Rabbi Yannai would say in the name of Rabbi Meir: Anyone who forgets even a single word of this learning, the Torah considers it as if he had forfeited his life. As is stated, "Just be careful, and verily guard your soul, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen" (Deuteronomy 4:9). One might think that this applies also to one who [has forgotten because] his studies proved too difficult for him; but the verse goes on to tell us "and lest they be removed from your heart, throughout the days of your life." Hence, one does not forfeit his life unless he deliberately removes them from his heart.

Chesed shebeNetzach (kindness within the context of victory and endurance)

In the twenty-second week, in Perek Shirah, the Sea Monsters sing that the Lord is to be praised on earth as well as in the depths. (Psalm 148:7) This is the week of Rosh Chodesh Adar. The month of Adar corresponds to the zodiac sign of Pisces. Therefore, it is very much appropriate that the water creatures in Perek Shirah be the ones to sing during the four weeks of this month.

Adar is the month of Purim, and when it begins, we “increase in joy.” The depths mentioned in the song of the sea monsters refer to the deep and hidden miracles that Hashem performed for us during this month, especially on Purim.

The month of Adar is represented by the tribe of Naftali. Naftali, and Adar as a whole, is also connected to the quality of being an emissary, a sheliach. Jacob’s blessing of Naftali describes him as an ayalah shlucha (a gazelle that is sent-off). Naftali was sent as a messenger on various occasions. In Moses’s blessing at the end of the Torah, Naftali is described as seva ratzon, satisfied will. The attribute of ratzon, will, is part of the sefirah of keter, the highest of the sefirot, which literally means crown. Interestingly, Naftali is the only tribe described as a feminine animal, and its link to keter appears to be connected to the fact that the hero of this month is a woman who was sent on a mission to obtain the crown, Queen Esther.

Like Queen Esther, the tribe of Naftali is also a symbol of self-sacrifice and humility. Even though the tribe was known for its speed and alacrity,[2] its prince accepted to be the last ones to bring an offering during the inauguration of the Tabernacle.[3] Being a sheliach requires enormous nullification and submission to the one that sends him or her, as well as tremendous will power, ratzon, to see to it that the mission gets accomplished.

The sheliach qualities and self-nullification of Naftali also appears to be related to the phrase, “Ve‘anochi Tola’at ve lo Ish,” which means, “I am a worm and not a man.” Velo Ish, not a man, has the same numerical value as Sheliach. This phrase is taken from Psalm 22 (the same number as this week), which has in its open verse, the term “ayelet hashachar, the gazelle of the morning. As mentioned above, the gazelle is connected to Naftali. Our sages teach us that “ayelet hashachar” is also a reference to the planet Venus, the last “star” to appear in the sky before morning, and a reference to Queen Ester, the last prophet to appear before redemption.

Similarly, Adar is the last month of the Jewish calendar counting from Nissan. As mentioned above, the prince of Naftali was the last tribe to bring an offering at the inauguration of the Tabernacle, wrapping up the work done by the previous tribe, Asher, and that of the other tribes. That is the work of the sheliach and ours as well, to wrap up the work done by those before us, and bring Mashiach.    

Adar is the only month in the Jewish calendar that is often counted twice. Seven times every nineteen years, the Jewish calendar contains two Adar months: Adar I and Adar II. Adar II is represented by the tribe of Levi. As would be expected, there are strong parallels between Levi and Naftali. Like Naftali, which was known for its speed and alacrity, the Levites, especially the kohanim, were known for their alacrity and care in the performance of mitzvot. Furthermore, the Levites (and again, the kohanim in particular) served as emissaries for the entire Jewish people when performing their service in the Temple. As further explained in the weeks ahead, the Levites service was characterized by tremendous self-sacrifice. There is also another interesting link between the tribe of Levi and the sea animals we read about during this month. The animals in the sea did not perish during the Flood. Similarly, the tribe of Levi was never enslaved by the Egyptians.

As demonstrated by the above paragraph, Adar contains a very strong theme of duality. The zodiac sign of Pisces is also related to duality: its symbol is two fish facing opposite directions. Unlike other redemptions, the Purim story has not one, but two main heroes: Esther and Mordechai. It is also in the month of Adar that we fulfill the mitzvah of giving the half-shekel. The half-shekel was a contribution made to the Temple in order that sacrifices could be brought on behalf of the entire public. The mitzvah is still done during the month of Adar, although for now it plays more of a symbolic role. Each person’s giving a half-shekel, as opposed to a whole one, symbolizes the idea that no Jew is complete by him or herself. Each of us complements the other.

The number twenty-two represents the total number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Hashem used these letters to create the Torah and the world by combining them to each other. In this sense, each of the letters complements the other. Similarly, the Torah begins with the letter beit, representing the idea of duality and relationship, the relationship between Hashem and His creation.

Duality and relationship are also found in the song of the sea monsters. At first glance it appears strange that the sea monsters should be singing about praising Hashem on land as well as in the depths of the sea. However, the sea monsters understand that their song is not enough by itself. It must be complemented by the songs in the land as well.

The duality of the month of Adar is also one the contrast between “the hidden” and “the revealed.” The miracle of Purim was performed through “hidden” means, and despite the hand of G-d being more than apparent in the events that led to the Jewish redemption of this month, the actual name of G-d does not appear in the Purim story found in the Megillah. The name of the scroll we read, Megillat Esther, is further evidence of this duality. Megillah comes from the verb nigleh (revealed) and nistar (hidden). In the song of the sea monsters, the sea depths represent that which is hidden, while the land represents that which is revealed.

The song of the sea monsters is also reminiscent of the blessing Jacob gave to his two grandchildren, Ephraim and Menashe (here again, the number two appears): "You will multiply like fish in the face of the land [not the water].” Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh explains that the gematria of Naftali, which represents Adar, is equal to the gematria of Ephraim and Menashe.

This week, the lesson in Pirkei Avot comes from Rabbi Dusta’i the son of Yannai, who states that forgetting one’s study is comparable to committing a mortal sin. One of the main mitzvot of the month of Adar is remembering the evil done by Amalek and the Divine commandment to destroy it. If we do not remember to destroy evil, we put our own lives in danger.

The combination of sefirot for this week is chesed shebenetzach, kindness within victory. In the month of Adar, we increase in joy. This week marks the beginning of two months of victory and redemption - netzach - associated with Purim and Passover. We celebrate the kindness G-d showed us by being more joyful than usual. (This week would also represent the “eighth week,” of Shavuot and “Shivah Yemei Miluim” of the cycle of Tiferet)

The lesson in self-improvement we learn from the sea monsters is that it is not sufficient to praise G-d just by ourselves. We must also think of those who are distant, just as the sea monsters think of those on land.

[1] Rabbi Lazer Brody translates this animal as “giant sea creatures.”
[2] Rashi explains that the gazelle runs quickly, and that this is the meaning behind Jacob’s blessing to Naftali. (Genesis 49:21, Rashi; See also the Rebbe's sicha, chassidic discourse, for the 12th Day of Nissan, 5747, available at: Rashi also explains there that the men of Naftali dispatched towards the enemy with alacrity, zrizut. Zrizut is also the main characteristic of the Kohanim, of the tribe of Levi, which is also represented by the month of Adar, as further explained below.
[3] Ryzman, p. 109

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