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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Week 7 (Book 5): Love and the Temple

2. "As a rose among the thorns, so is my beloved among the daughters."
3. "As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the sons; in his shade I delighted and sat, and his fruit was sweet to my palate.                                          
4. He brought me to the banquet hall, and his attraction to me [was symbolic of his] love.        
Week 7 in the Jewish calendar is the third week of Cheshvan, and (almost always) includes Rachel Immeinu’s yahrzeit, on the 11th of the month. The Song of Songs verses for this week include a verse by G-d to the People of Israel, followed by two verses from Israel to G-d.
The first verse is a characteristic of Rachel, who, like her mother and sister, was like a rose plucked from among the thorns of the house of Lavan and Bethuel. The Zohar begins by comparing Israel to a Thirteen-Petaled Rose based on this very verse, and explains that Israel is surrounded by thirteen petals of Rachami, mercy. Rachel was also known for her Rachamim, and the Rachamim that Jacob showed towards her. In all three verses for this week, the love expressed so strongly between G-d and Israel was also expressed in the love of Jacob and Rachel.
As previously explained, Cheshvan is very muched connected to the Third Temple, and Rashi explains that the banquet hall mentioned in the third verse is a reference to the tent of meeting.
Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the seventh mentioned is Jemuel. Jemuel may mean “Yamoh-el” – his sea is G-d. This appears to be appropriate for Cheshvan, the month of the Flood. Yam (Mutzak) is also the name of washbasin which Solomon built for the First Temple. Perhaps this is another interpretation of the name.
Daf Zayin (Folio 7) of Shvuot discusses primarily the transgression of eating a holy sacrifice while impure, comparing it with entering the Temple when impure. The daf also discusses the atonement of the goat offering, whose blood was sacrificed in the Holy of Holies. There seems to be a connection here to the Temple, and its power in cleansing away sin. The Talmud concludes, however, a sacrifice cannot be brought to pardon an intentional sin.
Chapter 7 of the Book of Jeremiah contains a similar theme to the above. The chapter is about the importance of the Temple and G-d’s mercy. However, the prophet warns against committing willful sins and thinking that everything will be fine because of the Temple.
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying:
Stand in the gate of the house of the Lord, and proclaim there this word, and say; Hearken to the word of the Lord, all Judah who come into these gates to prostrate yourselves before the Lord. 
So said the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel; Improve your ways and your deeds, I will allow you to dwell in this place.
Do not rely on false words, saying: The Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord are they.

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