Weekly Cycle

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Week 11 (Book 3): Shem and Being Truthful

SONG OF THE SEA: You blew with Your wind, the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the powerful waters.
HAFTARAH: (when the) forty thousand (went against) Israel? My heart is toward the lawgivers of Israel,
TALMUD SOTAH: Daf 11 - Miracles in exile
JOURNEYS IN THE DESERT: They journeyed from Alush and camped in Rephidim, but there there was no water for the people to drink.

On week eleven, week of Yud Kislev, the verses of the Song of the Sea speak of the wind, the sea, and powerful waters. The Hebrew word for wind is the same as the word for spirit and soul, Ruach. Spirituality, and the strength of the spirit, is also what differentiated the Jews from the Greeks in the times of Chanukah. Furthermore, the sea represents hidden wisdom, and water is also a reference to the Torah. (See Fourth Cycle of 22 days) This is connected to Chanukah, but also to Yud Kislev and Yud Tes Kislev.

The Haftorah’s verses speak of the miraculous way in which 40,000 officers of the enemy were defeated, and about the love for the wisemen of Israel. These are similar themes to Chanukah, regarding the miraculous nature of the miracle and the overwhelming number of the enemy, as well as how the inspiration for victory came from the wisemen, in the case of Chanukah, the Kohanim. Perhaps this is also related to the Alter Rebbe and the Mitteler Rebbe, both wisemen and lawgivers, personally saved on Yud Tes Kislev and Yud Kislev respectively.

Daf Yud Alef (Folio 11) of Sotah is primarily about Egyptian enslavement and persecution, and the brave actions of Miriam and Yocheved. It also describes the miraculous ways in which Jewish children were saved. We also celebrate similar miracles during Chanukah.

The 11th generation from Adam is Noah’s son, Shem. As already discussed previously, Shem’s name means “name,” and is connected to the idea of truth. Avraham and all the Jewish (and “Semitic”) people come from him. His brother Yafeth’s name means “beauty,” and Yavan, Greece, is his descendant. The Maccabean war with the Greeks and Greek culture is in actuality a fight between the descendants of Shem and Yafeth.

In the eleventh week, the Jews journey from Alush and camp in Rephidim, where there was no water for the people to drink. Rephidim comes from the word rafeh, weak, and is a reference of a lack of proper devotion to Torah study. The personal journey for this week involves internalizing the concept of using power in a positive, non-corrupt way, and overcoming the weakness that comes with the lack of “water.” This is the fight of Kislev, and also the fight of the Mitteler Rebbe. 

Another key lesson in the service of G-d that we learn from Shem is the need for proper self-reflection, and engaging with ourselves and the world with truth. This is a key aspect of serving G-d, going over our deeds for the day, the week, the month, and seeing what we can improve. This is known as Cheshbon HaNefesh, spiritual accounting, and is also an important part of the Jewish practice of meditation known as Hitbodedut.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Blog Archive


Quick Start: