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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Week 12 (Book 5): Longing for G-d

17. Until the sun spreads, and the shadows flee, go around; liken yourself, my beloved, to a gazelle or to a fawn of the hinds, on distant mountains."
1. On my bed at night, I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him but I did not find him.
2. I will arise now and go about the city, in the market places and in the city squares. I will seek him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but I did not find him.

70 SOULS THAT DESCENDED TO EGYPT: Saul the son of the Canaanitess

TALMUD SHEVUOTH: Daf 12 – Hekdesh leftovers and the scapegoat of Azazel.


Week 12 in the Jewish calendar is the week of Yud Tes Kislev, which celebrates the release and redemption of the Alter Rebbe, and is known as the Rosh Hashanah of Chassidut. All Song of Song verses for this week are from the Jewish people’s perspective. The first verse speaks of the sun spreading. After his redemption, the Alter Rebbe spread Chassidut throughout the land: to distant mountains, in one’s bed at night (ie. in exile); in the city, the market place and the city squares. There was no place in which Chassidut could not penetrate.

Overall, the verses for this week speak of a deep longing for G-d. The Alter Rebbe was known for having a tremendous longing for Hashem, to such an extent that he had a respiratory problem related to it. (Likkutei Dibburim)

Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the twelfth mentioned is Saul the son of the Canaanitess. Rashi explains that this is actually the son of Dinah, who had been raped and taken captive by a Canaanite who intended to marry her. One of the main themes of Chanukah is the fight again intermarriage and assimilation. In the story of Dinah, Shimon and Levi act zealously (similar to the Maccabees) in order to save her.[1]

Daf Yud Beit (Folio 12) of Shevuoth discusses the idea of buying Hekdesh on condition that one can make use of what is left over, and discusses what to do with animals left over from sacrifices; it then discusses the atonement of the goat sent to Azazel, which atoned for anything for which the goat offered in the inner courtyard did not atone. Similar to the above, one of the innovations of Chassidut is that everything is holy and has a purpose. Every Jew is holy; even the animal soul can be made holy (which parallels the goat sent to Azazel).

Chapter 12 of the Book of Jeremiah contains a similar theme to the above. In this chapter, Hashem depicts tragedy after tragedy and rebukes the people for not following in His ways, yet all the while referring to the people as “My inheritance,” and “My soul’s beloved.” As mentioned previously, the Greeks wanted the Jews to abandon the belief that they had a portion in Hashem, that He was their inheritance; furthermore the Greeks could not understand or grasp the loving relationship that exists between Hashem and the Jewish people.

7. I have abandoned My House, I have forsaken My inheritance; I have delivered My soul's beloved into the hand of her enemies. 

8. My inheritance was to Me like a lion in the forest; she raised her voice against Me; therefore, I hated her. 

9. Is My inheritance to Me a speckled bird of prey? Are there birds of prey around her? Go, gather all the beasts of the field; come to eat.


14. So says the Lord: Concerning all My wicked neighbors who touch the inheritance that I have given My nation, Israel, to inherit, behold I uproot them from upon their land, and the house of Judah I will uproot from their midst.

15. And it shall come to pass, that after I uproot them, I will return and have pity on them, and I will restore them, each one to his inheritance and each one to his land. 

16. And it shall be, if they learn the ways of My people to swear by My name, "As the Lord lives," as they taught My people to swear by Baal, they shall be built up in the midst of My people.

The Midrash tells us that "darkness symbolizes Greece, which darkened the eyes of Israel with its decrees, ordering Israel to, 'Write on the horn of an ox that you have no inheritance in the G-d of Israel.'”[2]

[1] Nevertheless, it is important to note that, unlike the heroic acts of the Maccabees, the violent and somewhat deceitful actions of Shimon and Levi were not appropriate, and strongly condemned by Jacob. The Tribe of Levi ultimately learns how to use its zealotry for the good.

[2] Genesis Rabba 2:4

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