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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Week 15 (Book 5): Jerusalem and Motherhood

9. King Solomon made himself a palanquin of the trees of Lebanon.
10. Its pillars he made of silver, its couch of gold, its curtain of purple, its interior inlaid with love, from the daughters of Jerusalem.
11. Go out, O daughters of Zion, and gaze upon King Solomon, upon the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his nuptials and on the day of the joy of his heart.
TALMUD SHEVUOTH: Daf 15 - Adding to Jerusalem
Week 15 in the Jewish calendar is the week of the 10th of Teveth, which marks the Babylonian siege, which led to the destruction of the First Temple.
The section of Song of Songs for this week speaks of the Jewish people as a “mother,” and we are taught that “Solomon”in the Song of Songs is always a reference to G-d Himself. Rashi cites a Midrash explaining that G-d's calling the Jewish people His "mother" is the highest demonstration of his love. The positive and joyous image of the Jewish people as motherly stands in direct contrast to what took place during the siege of Jerusalem as reported by Jeremiah in the Book of Lamentations, Chapter 3:
9. Better off were the victims of the sword than the victims of hunger, for they ooze, pierced by the fruits of the field.
10. The hands of compassionate women boiled their own children; they have become their food in the destruction of the daughter of my people.
11. The Lord has spent His fury, He has poured out His fierce anger, and He has kindled a fire in Zion, which has consumed her foundations.
In the future, the 10th of Teveth will be a day of great joy. This section of Shir HaShirim appears relate to this future Messianic time, and is replete with references and descriptions of the Temple and the Tabernacle, as well as Jerusalem. It also makes reference to the giving of the Torah (the day of his nuptials) and the dedication of the Tabernacle (the day of the joy of his heart).
Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the fifteenth mentioned is Kehath. Kehath is the grandfather of Moshe and Aharon, as well as their uncle, the brother of their mother, Yocheved.[1]The Rebbe explains that Kehoth comes from the word, “to gather.” Kehath’stask regarding the Tabernacle was the highest of all the Levites – to carry the Holy Ark and its equipment. At the same time, Kohath’s camp was that of Korach, which saw tremendous destruction due to his actions.[2]The destruction seems parallel to the one related to this week, while the highest Temple tasks appear related to future times, when the Temple will be rebuilt and this day will be one of great joy.
Daf Tet Vav (Folio 15) of Shvuot speaks of the sanctification of the Klei Sharet (the instruments used in the Temple service) and the concept of “adding on” to Jerusalem or the Azarah (the entranceway of the Temple). The ritual of “adding on” involves singing and carrying loaves of bread. It stands in stark contrast to the events of the 10th of Teveth when Jerusalem was not “added to,” but rather restricted under siege. Instead of singing there was mourning, and instead of bread there was famine. Again, this seems to be related more to Messianic times, when this date will be one of feasting instead of fasting.
Chapter 15 of the Book of Jeremiah contains a similar theme to the above, although focusing on the negative aspects of this week, both related to the theme of motherhood and of Jerusalem. It also mentions the famine and distress that would come.
8. His widows are to Me more numerous than the sand of the seas; I have brought to them upon the mother a chosen one who will rob them at midday; I have cast upon her suddenly a city and terrors.
Rashi - upon a mother: Upon Jerusalem, which is a city (and a mother) in Israel.
9. She who bore seven has been cut off, her soul grieves, her sun sets when it is still day. She is ashamed and confounded. And her remnant I shall deliver to the sword before their enemies, says the Lord.
10. Woe is to me, my mother, that you bore me, a man of quarrel and a man of contention to the whole land.


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