Weekly Cycle

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Week 14 (Book 3): Eber and Fighting Off Physical Desires

SONG OF THE SEA: With Your loving kindness You led the people You redeemed; You led [them] with Your might to Your holy abode.
HAFTORAH: there they will tell the righteous acts of the Lord, the righteous acts of restoring open cities in Israel.
JOURNEY IN THE DESERT: They journeyed from Kivroth haTaavah and camped in Hazeroth
On Week 14, also the week of Chanukah, the verses of the Song of the Sea speak of G-d’s redemption and might, leading the Jewish people to His holy abode. This again is a basic theme of Chanukah. This is also the week of Rosh Chodesh Teveth. Teveth is related to the power to multiply, particularly when things seem hopeless.
The Haftorah’s verses continue to describe the Chanukah mitzvah to tell of G-d’s miracles, Pirsumei Nissa. It also speaks of “restoring open cities in Israel,” very much like how the Temple was restored on Chanukah.
Daf Yud Dalet (Folio 14) of Sotah is primarily about the burial of Moshe. Moshe is buried across from (as a protection against) Baal Peor, which is related to promiscuity, intermarriage and idolatry. This is related to Chanukah, as fighting against these negative qualities was one of thr primary ibjextives of the Maccabees. On Daf 14, the tractate also begins a new chapter, returning to the subject of the Sotah ritual. It introduces the topic of the kind of offering that the Sotah brings, which is made of barley, animal food. The actions she is accused of are those of an animal, therefore the offering is also one of an animal. Again, there is a parallel here with Chanukah.
Eber, along with his great grandfather Shem, had established a yeshiva to study God’s laws already back in those days. The destruction of the Temple that took place in Teveth is connected to the fact that Torah study was not given the proper respect. Eber seems to be assisting Shem in the struggle against the values of Yaffeth and his grandson Yavan (Greece). Furthermore, it was by studying Torah in the Yeshiva of Eber that Yaakov prepared to face the deceit and the risk of assimilation in the house of Lavan.
In the fourteenth week, the Jews journey from Kivroth haTaavah and camp in Hazeroth. Hatzeroth is where Miriam slandered Moses, and some say it is also the place where Korach rebelled against him.[1] The personal journey is to use Chanukah to internalize the concept of burying one’s physical desires and focusing on the spiritual. We then turn to focusing on avoiding bad speech and rebellion against our leaders. Lashon Harah is equal to the sins of idolatry, sexual immorality, and murder. (BT Arachin 15b) The Talmud also suggests that it was because of these three things that the First Temple was destroyed. (Yoma 9a)[2]

[2] http://www.torah.org/learning/yomtov/3weeks/vol5no8.html

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