Monday, December 22, 2014
Week 14 (Book 2): Solomon and Having a Settled Mind
On Week Fourteen, which is the continuation of Chanukah and also includes Rosh Chodesh Teveth, Haazinu’s verse speaks of various kosher animals (cattle, sheep, lambs, rams, and goats) and various products, such as fat, wheat, and wine, all of which were part of the Temple sacrifices. This appears to be related to the rededication of the Temple on Chanukah.
The Haftarah’s verse also appears to continue the theme of Chanukah. Thunder is related to light bursting through darkness, perhaps a reference to Chanukah’s miracle. Miracles in general, and the Chanukah miracle in particular, was an open revelation of G-d’s “voice.”
The quality for this week is calmness. The Hebrew word used is yishuv, which can also mean to to settle, to sit, and to dwell. These are all characteristics of Chanukah. The Temple is after all the dwelling place of G-d on Earth. The fight with the Greeks was about our being able to serve Him calmly and peacefully, in our land, the Land of Israel. Chanukahalso means “Chanu K”H” they rested on the 25th[of Kislev].
This week’s prophet, King Solomon, was known for his wisdom. He’s considered to be the wisest of all men. Chanukah is also connected to wisdom, Chochmah - Jewish Chochmah that countered the Chochmah of the Greeks. King Solomon was also the one who constructed and dedicated the First Temple, and his time was one of tremendous prosperity, corresponding to the “cream of cattle and the milk of sheep, the fat of lambs... the finest wine,” depicted in Haazinu.
Similarly, King Solomon, very much illustrates what is meant by yishuv. The First Temple was the place for the Divine presence to settle. Of all prophets, he is the one that is best known for calmness and serenity. Shalom, peace, is the very root of his name. His calmness is also displayed in the Tanach in in the way he would settle disputes.
This week’s levitical city is Elteke. Not very much is known about this city, other than that it was apportioned to the Tribe of Dan. Elteke appears to be quite famous for a war in which Sancherib defeated the Egyptians. After this conquest, Sancherib laid siege to Jerusalem. When all seemed lost, Isaiah told the king not to worry – his kingdom would be saved. Sure enough, the next day Sancherib’s troops were struck with a plague. This took place on Passover– the Jewish people and the angels in heaven were reciting Hallel that night, which is what we do during Chanukah. It is said that after this event, G-d wanted to make Chezekiah the Mashiach, but did not do so because he did not recite Hallel after this miracle.
The city’s name also bears significant resemblance to the name of another city in Israel, Tekoa. Both cities’ names’ roots contain the letters Tav and Kuf, which is not very common. Tekoa was a city in Israel known for its olive oil, which plays a prominent role in the Chanukah miracle. In fact, the oil of Tekoa was the only one chosen to be used in the Temple in Jerusalem. At the time of the rededication of the Temple, pure olive oil had to be taken from Tekoa as well. It took eight days for the pure oil to be produced – the number of days the small flask of the Kohen Gadol lasted, and also the number of days of the Chanukah miracle. Today, there is again a Jewish settlement (a yishuv) in Tekoa.
Olive oil also represents wisdom, a defining characteristic of the Chanukah holiday, as explained above:
In mystical thought, oil is symbolic of chochmah, the highest aspect of the intellect from which inspirational thought is derived. The Talmud mentions that in a certain area in Israel, Tekoa, where the use of olive oil had become common, chochmah had also become common. Just as chochmah is related to the highest level in the intellect, inspired thinking, it is also related to the fear of G-d as it is written in Psalms 111, "the beginning of chochmah is the fear of G-d."
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