Weekly Cycle

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Week 26 (Book 3): Connecting to the "Head"

TORAH PORTION OF BESHALACH: And He said, If you hearken to the voice of the Lord, your G-d, and you do what is proper in His eyes, and you listen closely to His commandments and observe all His statutes, all the sicknesses that I have visited upon Egypt I will not visit upon you, for I, the Lord, heal you. They came to Elim, and there were twelve water fountains and seventy palms, and they encamped there by the water.

The kings came and fought;
then fought the kings of Canaan

TALMUD SOTAH: Daf 26: Sotah, unusual situations in a which a woman must drink.


JOURNEYS IN THE DESERT: They journeyed from Mithkah and camped in Hashmonah.

Week 26 is the week of Rosh Chodesh Nissan, which is the “head of the month” that is the “head of all months.” This is the month of Nissan, which is the king of all the months, just as Judah (the tribe of this month) was the king, the leader of all the tribes. 

The twelve water fountains represent the the tribes and the seventy palms represents the seventy elders (Rashi) and perhaps also the seventy general souls that descended to Egypt and the seventy nations. A true leader, the "head of the people," must be connected to all of them. The Haftorah’s verses for this week specifically focus on kings. 

Nissan is also a month of miracles and a month redemption.  The verses of Beshalach also focus on this theme, which is in fact the theme of the entire second half of the year, and Parashat HaMan: faith in Hashem and the exodus from Egypt. The portion speaks about how if we do our part, Hashem will do this. It also speaks of Hashem as our Healer. 

Daf Kaf Vav (Folio 26) of Sotah discusses again a few cases of women that do not drink, but now focuses more on cases of women that must drink. Overall, the theme of the daf are cases that are not only unusual, but that often involves an unusually low spiritual level. It also discusses cases of people that are possible social outcasts, such as the Mamzer, etc. Converts are also mentioned.Yet, among all the above, there is a ray of hope:

Rather, the verse [“She will be vindicated, and bear seed"] teaches that if she used to give birth in pain - she will give birth easily; if she used to bear daughters - she will bear sons; if she used to bear short babies - she will bear tall ones; if she bore babies with a dark complexion - she will bear babies with a light complexion.
This is the story of Judah and Mashiach. From from a Lot’s daughter’s illicit with her father (Moab, a Mamzer), from Judah’s elicit relationship with Tamar (over which she faced the death penalty but then was vindicated), and later from the persistent efforts of a convert (Ruth, who was also vindicated for her actions), comes King David and Mashiach

Ram, son of Hezron, is the father of Aminadav (father of Nachshon and Elisheva, Aharon’s wife); Ram is also Calev’s brother, who is Miriam’s husband. Ram is therefore closely connected to Moshe and the exodus from Egypt. Ram’s name also suggest a connection to the exodus. Ram means mighty, exalted, and when the Jews left Egypt they left with a “Yad Ramah,” and exalted hand/arm. The theme of G-d’s arm/hand in the exodus repeats itself many times in Beshalach. (As an interesting side note, “Ram,” in English, happens to be the Perek Shirah animal for this week, and Nissan is connected to the Zodiac sign of Aries. See Book 1)

In the twenty-sixth week, the Jews journey from Mithkah and camp in Chashmonah. Mithkah somes from the word matok, which also literally means sweet. Chashmonah is connected with the Chashmonaim and the story of Chanukah. The week of Chashmonah is the inauguration of the Mishkan, just like Chanukah is the inauguration of the Second Temple. (Some note that the journey to Chashmonah is the 25th location journeyed to, just as Chanukah is on the 25th of Kislev, and Chanukah itself stands from Chanu-Kah, “they rested on the 25th.”

Rabbi Simon Jacobson explains that the word Chashmonah means ambassador, and may also be connected to leadership. The Chashmonaim themselves became kings. During the first days of Nissan, the Nasi, the leader and representative of each tribe, brought sacrifices for the inauguration of the Mishkan. The personal journey is to internalize the concept of sweetening any bitterness we may experience, and now focus on rededicating ourselves, leading, being connected to our leaders, and starting anew in this second half of the year. 

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