Weekly Cycle

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Week 11 (Book 2): Ministering the Sages

HAAZINU: As an eagle awakens its nest, hovering over its fledglings, it spreads its wings, taking them and carrying them on its pinions. (Deuteronomy 32:11)

HAFTARAH: And He rode upon a cherub and did fly; He was seen upon the wings of the wind. (II Samuel 22:11)




The eleventh week of the year (usually) includes the birthday and yahrzeit of the Mitteler Rebbe on the ninth of Kislev, and always include the festival of his liberation on Yud Kislev, the tenth of Kislev. The verse in Haazinu refers to G-d using a metaphor of an eagle taking care of its young. One of the main themes of the Chanukah is Chinuch, education of the young. We see also the pains in which the Alter Rebbe went through in order to educate his son and successor, the Mitteler Rebbe. There is a Chassidic saying that Yud Kislev represents the birth of the Chassid, and that Yud Tes Kislev, on the following week, represents his circumcision. There is an intrinsic connection between these two dates, which speaks volumes of the bond between the first two Rebbes of Chabad.

Both the verse of Haazinu and that of the Haftorah are about wings and flying. They appear related to the above-nature quality of the holidays of this month, as well as the heavenly nature of each holiday’s protagonists.

The quality for this week is ministering the sages. This points to the corollary in the relationship between the first two Rebbes. Just as the Alter Rebbe was meticulous when it came to to the Mitteler Rebbe’s so too was the Mitteler Rebbe diligent in serving his father and continuing his work.

This week’s prophet is Gad. The Midrash teaches us that Gad also diligently served King David, always by his side along with the prophet Nathan. Gad helps King David during very important moments in his reign. He first tells him to Gad tells King David to return to the Land of Judah. (Samuel I, 22:5) He also tells him about the sin of the census, and about constructing an altar.

The levitical city for this week is Gebah, which also has many of the same themes related to Chanukah and Yud Kislev mentioned above. Gebah again brings to the fore one of the most important relationships between father and son, and one of the most miraculous events to happen to them. Samuel I, Chapters 13 and 14, tell of the miraculous story of one of Israel’s wars against the Philistines. The story feautres Shaul and Yonatan, as well as Yonatan's armor-bearer, who ministered to him. 

An important lesson we learn from this week’s quality for acquiring the Torah, is that a key aspect of learning Torah is actually interacting with someone that has already acquired it. There are many key things in Torah that simply cannot be learned from a book. Also, when we are in the presence of a sage, not only can we get our questions answered, but we realize that there are many more questions and issues that require clarification that we had not even begun thinking about.

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