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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Week 24 (Book 4): "When Wine Comes in Secrets Come Out"

STORY OF CHANNAH: 24. And she brought him with her when she had weaned him, with three bulls, and one ephah of meal, and an earthenware jug of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord, to Shiloh, and the child was young.    

QUALITY OF PIRKEI AVOT: The Torah's secrets are revealed to him    

Proverbs: Chapter 24

Week 24 is the week of Purim. The verse from the story of Channah depicts how she brought her son to the Mishkan (Tabernacle) in Shiloh. In Hebrew, the first word in the description of what she brings is Parim (bulls), spelled the same as Purim. Also mentioned in the verse is a jug of wine, which is also symbolic of Purim.

This week’s Pirkei Avot quality is that, “the Torah’s secrets are revealed to him.” The Talmud famously states, “Nichnas Yayin Yotzeh Sod,” when wine enters, secrets exit (are revealed). This is usually has a negative connotation. On Purim, however, this is indeed very positive. When one drinks, secrets of Torah are revealed to him.

Chapter 23 of the Book of Proverbs appears to be primarily about fighting evil, and very much brings to mind the dichotomy between “Blessed is Mordechai” and “Cursed is Haman.” One is supposed to drink on Purim until one does not know the difference between the two phrases.

1. Do not envy men of evil; do not desire to be with them;  
2. for their heart thinks of plunder, and their lips speak of wrongdoing.
15. Wicked man, do not lurk by the dwelling of a righteous man; do not plunder his resting place.
16. For a righteous man can fall seven times and rise, but the wicked shall stumble upon evil.       
17. When your enemy falls, do not rejoice, and when he stumbles, let your heart not exult,
24. He who says to a wicked man, "You are righteous"-peoples will curse him; nations will be wroth with him.   

The end of the chapter is also related to a practice that is usually bad during the year, but that on Purim gains a positive connotation: sleep during the day.

32. And I, myself, saw; I applied my heart; I saw and learned a lesson.      
33. Little sleep, little slumber, little clasping of the hands to lie down.
34. Then your poverty will come strolling and your wants like an armed man.

The above statement is very much reminiscent of the one in Pirkei Avot related to Purim and Week 24: “Rabbi Dosa the son of Hurkinas would say: Morning sleep, noontime wine, children's talk and sitting at the meeting places of the ignorant, drive a person from the world.”

As mentioned last week, this year there are two months of Adar, and yahrzeits are usually commemorated on the second one, unless the person passed away in the first Adar in a year that also had two. We will therefore, leave the descriptions for the next month, when we repeat weeks 22 through 25.  

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