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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Week 2 (Book 5): 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.   

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