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.


  1. I'm wondering if you have heard something on this. If Issac never left eretz yisrael, and he was in gan edan for 3 years does that mean on some level that gan edan is in eretz yisrael?

    1. That's really a great question. Perhaps the answer is that in order to enter Gan Eden it is not necessary to leave Eretz Yisrael. There are opinions that the Maharat HaMachpelah is one of its entrances. http://www.koshertorah.com/PDF/eden.pdf

      Certainly Eretz Yisrael has a level of Gan Eden, and may in fact be higher. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach quotes Rav Kook who asks a very simple yet profound question: Shabat necessarily brings upon a spiritual elevation. Had Adam and Eve not sinned on Erev Shabat, where would they go to reach an elevation higher than Gan Eden. The answer? They would go to Yerushalayim!

    2. I went back and checked the source on this last statement. Reb Shlomo Carlebach says that Yerushalayim Shel Ma'alah is above Gan Eden, while Yerushalayim Shel Matah is below it. This does not contradict anything said above. Hopefully it just clarifies it a little.

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