Weekly Cycle

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Week 19 (Book 3): Terah and Nature


SONG OF THE SEA: until this nation that You have acquired crosses over. You shall bring them and plant them on the mount of Your heritage,

HAFTARAH: out of Machir came down officers,
and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the scribe.

TALMUD SOTAH: Daf 19  Drinking the Sotah water.


JOURNEYS IN THE DESERT: They journeyed from Rissah and camped in Kehelathah.

Week 19 is the week of Yud Shevat. The verses of the Song of the Sea speak of Hashem acquiring His nation, planting them on the “mount of Your heritage.” The reference to “acquisition” and “inheritance” are reminiscent of themes of Yud Shevat, the Previous Rebbe’s yahrzeit, as well as the day in which the Rebbe took over the leadership of the Chabad movement a year later. The verses also contain references to two of the four elements: the plant kingdom (ie. “and plant them”) and the mineral kingdom (ie. the mountain).

The Haftorah’s verses mention officers/lawgivers of Machir, from the tribe of Menashe, and scribes from Zebulun. Even those in high government positions came down to engage in battle. That is the message of Yud Shevat and the Maamar studied that day, “Bati L’Gani,” where we are told to “spend all the treasures,” using everything at our disposal. Even lofty Chassidic texts available only to a select few in manuscript form (“by the pen of the scribe”) were now printed and available to all. The Rebbe’s decision to become rebbe also represents a decision to “come down” and join “the wars of Hashem” in a most dedicated way.

Daf Yud Tet (Folio 19) of Sotah is about her drinking the water and waving the mincha offering. There is a discussion of when a woman can be forced to drink, and it is related to whether the name of G-d has already been erased. Here also there is a discussion of how different elements in nature interact. It also seems somewhat parallel to how much the Chassidim urged the Rebbe to accept the position – he could not be forced into it.

Terah, son of Nahor, is the father of Avraham. Terah moved from Ur Kasdim to Charan, on his way to the Land of Canaan, even though he never made it. (Terah – “delay” delayed in making it to the Land of Canaan. It also means “to breathe,” and comes from the word re’ach, smell). This appears to be a continuation of his father’s name Nahor, which means sneezing/snorting – breathing and smelling are very much related to pleasure, and to nature, qualities related to the month of Shevat.

In the nineteenth week, the Jews journey from Rissah and camp in Kehelathah. Kehelathah means “gathering.” It is also the place of Korach’s rebellion – on Yud Shevat, the emphasis is on the exact opposite, a gathering in order to accept a new leader, one who was completely devoted to the previous leader. The personal journey is to internalize the concept of being broken in order to receive the Torah, and now focus gathering with others and commitment to the leader.

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