Weekly Cycle

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Week 21 (Book 3): Isaac and Emunah

The Lord will reign to all eternity; When Pharaoh's horses came with his chariots and his horsemen into the sea,

(But) among the divisions of Reuben, (there were) great resolves of heart.
Why do you sit between the borders,

Talmud Sotah: Daf 21: Merit of Women


They journeyed from Mount Shepher and camped in Haradah.

Week 21 is the last week of the month of Shevat. This week marks the yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, the Rebbe’s wife, on the 22nd of Shevat. The verses of the Song of the Sea are first and foremost a declaration of faith, Emunah, one of the themes of this month. They also contain elements of nature: 1) Pharaoh and the horsemen (man); 2) the horses (animal); and 3) the sea (mineral/Domem).

The Haftorah’s verses point to Reuben’s doubts, and lack of resolve and Emunah. In general, this is a challenge that Reuben as an individual seemed to face. He knew he had to save Joseph, but lacked to emunah to do it outright. He later knew that he had to find a way to take Benjamin to Egypt, but again, his lack of resolve led to his failure to convince his father.

Daf Kaf Alef (Folio 21) of Sotah continues the discussion of how the merit of Torah and mitzvoth can protect from punishment. It also discusses how a woman can earn merit from Torah. This seems connected to the Rebbetzin’s yahrzeit.

Yitzchak is the second forefather of the Jewish people. Isaac's whole life, particularly his near sacrifice, was all about Emunah. His name comes from the word Tzchok, laughter. Yitzchak means “he will laugh,” which also points to faith in future events,  as well as pleasure (Ta’anug), related to the month of Shevat. 

In the twenty-first week, the Jews journey from Mount Shepher and camp in Haradah. Haradah means “trembling” and is related to the fear that the Jewish people experienced after the plague in the aftermath of Korach’s rebellion.[1] Haradah, trembling, is also connected to happiness and rejoicing, as in Psalm 2, “Vegilu b’Readah, rejoice in trembling. (See also Talmud, Brachot 30b, 31a: “Where there is gilah (rejoicing), there must be trembling.”) The personal journey is to internalize the concept of enjoyment and beauty of both natural and spiritual worlds/fruits, and now prepare for the trembling happiness of the month of Adar.

[1] http://meaningfullife.com/oped/2008/07.11.08$BalakCOLON_42_Journeys_Part_4.php

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