Weekly Cycle

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Week 31 (Book 3): Obed and Working Hard

BESHALACH: 9. And Moses said to Aaron, Say to the entire community of the children of Israel, Draw near before the Lord, for He has heard your complaints.  10. And it came to pass when Aaron spoke to the entire community of the children of Israel, that they turned toward the desert, and behold! the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.  

HAFTORAH: by reason of the prancings, the prancings of their mighty ones. 'Curse you Meroz,' said the messenger of the Lord, 'curse you bitterly (you) inhabitants thereof,'

TALMUD SOTAH: Daf 31 - Job, serving G-d out of fear and out of love.


JOURNEYS IN THE DESERT: They journeyed from Jotbathah and camped in Abronah.

Week 31 is the week of Rosh Chodesh Iyar, Yom HaZikaron, and Yom Ha’Atzmaut. Iyar is about healing, “Ani Hashem Rofecha.” This month is represented by the tribe of Issachar. The Torah portion section for this week speaks of how the entire community of Israel drew near and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. This is reminiscent of the song of the horse in Book 1, which states that our eyes are like that of a servant to his Master, until he shows us mercy. Hashem saw everything we went through. He heard our complaints and brought us back to our Land.

The Haftorah verses for this week contain references to the horse, which, as mentioned above, is the animal of this week in Book 1. It also contains a curse against Meroz and its inhabitants, who failed to help the Jewish people in their war effort.

Daf Lamed Alef (Folio 31) of Sotah discusses serving G-d out of love and out of fear, as well as the number of witnesses that are needed to testify of a Sotah’s seclusion. Serving G-d out of love and fear again is reminiscent of the song of the horse in Book 1. The War of Independence certainly contained aspects of serving out of fear that were not present before. The war had an aspect of Ein Brera (there’s no other way out) related also to the destruction that took place during the Holocaust. The daf also specifically mentions Iyov, Job, who suffered so much in his lifetime, yet also served out of love, and ultimately saw his fortunes reversed for the better once again and his family, health and wealth reestablished.
Obed, the son of Boaz, was the father of Yishai. Obed means worker. It is also related to the word eved, servant, which again, is extremely reminiscent of the song of the horse in Book 1. Obed could also be reference to the Jewish army and the pioneering, hardworking generation of the time of Israel's independence.
In the thirty-first week, the Jews journey from Jotbathah and camp in Abronah. Abronah is a river crossing, a ford. Arguably the most important river-crossing in history was the crossing of the Jordan in order to conquer the Land of Israel. Another important crossing was that of the Jabok river, when Yaakov faced Eisav. The very name "Hebrew" comes from the word for crossing. Abraham was known has ha’Ivri. Crossing the river therefore also represents establishing, or re-establishing our identity and strength in our own eyes, and in the eyes of others.  The personal journey for this week is to internalize the concept of attaining the peace and tranquility that come with complete faith and in living in our homeland, and now focus on re-establishing our identity in connection with the land, in the famous phrase of the pioneers, "livnot v’lehibanot," to build and to be built.

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