Weekly Cycle

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Week 4 (Book 3): Being Secluded with G-d and Casting the Enemy Aside

Song of the Sea: The Lord is a Master of war; the Lord is His Name. Pharaoh's chariots and his army He cast into the sea,

Haftorah: I shall sing to the Lord, the G-d of Israel.
Lord, when You went forth out of Seir,

Talmud Sotah: Daf 3 – discussion of “Yichud.”


JOURNEYS IN THE DESERT: They journeyed from Etham and camped in Pi hahiroth, which faces Baal zephon; and they camped in front of Migdol.

The fourth week is that of the end of Sukkot, Hoshanah Rabbah, and Shmini Atzeret. The verses of the Song of the Sea are about how Hashem is a Master of war, and how He defeats Israel’s enemy. This is reminiscent of Week 4 in both Books 1 (the eagle) and 2. 

The Haftorah verses are also related to the enemy, as they refer to Seir, the dwelling place of Eisav.

Daf Dalet (Folio 4) of Sotah, discusses the concept of yichud, secluding oneself with someone else. Shmini Atzeret is known for the time in which Hashem secludes Himself with the Jewish people.

Keinan appears to be a variation in the name Kayin (Cain).[1] Keinan has the extra letter “Nun,” which in other places represents the 50th gate, the power of prayer and teshuvah (repentance). The entire line of Keinan seems to parallel the line of Cain. Keinan and his descendants appear to be a more “kosher” version of Cain and his line. Humanity ultimately follows the line of Keinan, casting Cain's line aside. Nevertheless, it is said that Noach’s wife was Na’amah, the sister of Yuval, Tuval-Cain, and Yaval, from the line of Cain. 

In the fourth week, the Jews journey from Etham to and camped in Pi hahiroth, which faces Baal zephon; and they camped in front of Migdol. The personal journey for this week is to internalize the concept of being “on the edge,” and now focus on being on the “mouth of rocks,” facing places where there is idolatry. It is our role to elevate the material world, and bring the whole world to worship the one God.

An important lesson we learn from Keinan in our approach to prayer and Divine service is understanding that serving G-d, like the study of Torah, is a kinyan (an acquisition - the root of both the names Keinan and Cain). In order to acquire something, you have to give of yourself, often of the fruit of your hard labor. Often, like the last days of Sukkot, Shmini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah, Divine service is literally a marathon. There is tremendous intensity and perhaps even exhaustion, but what you get is based on what you give. During the year, prayer and Divine service also may not come easy. That why it is so important to remember that it is called an Avodah, which literally means work.

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