Weekly Cycle

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Week 32 (Book 2): Nahum and Light that Comes from Darkness

HAAZINU: For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the field of Gemorrah; their grapes are grapes of rosh, and they have bitter clusters. (Deuteronomy 32:32)

Positive light: Because the wine [Torah wisdom] that the Jewish people obtained was from enduring the suffering/fermentation of Sodom, and the fields (concentration camps) of Gemorrah. Their humility comes from great suffering and bitterness. (II Samuel 22:32)

HAFTORAH: 32. For who is G-d, save the Lord? And who is a rock, save our G-d?




Week Thirty-Two is the second week of Iyar. Haazinu’s verse discusses how the actions of the Jewish people paralleled those of Sodom and Gemorrah and how they were therefore deserving of great punishment. However, the verse could just as easily be read as to be referring to the enemies of the Jewish people, following the verse immediately prior to this one.

Similarly, a possible reading is to understand the verse to be referring to the victory the Jewish people obtained, which came from enduring the suffering/fermentation of Sodom, and the fields (concentration camps) of Gemorrah. Their strength comes from the great suffering and bitterness they encountered. Rashi mentions that the second part of the verse (as well as the next verse) are related to the suffering the Jews endured.

The Haftorah focuses on the positive note, mentioned in Haazinu’s previous verse. The verse speaks of how Hashem is in the only G-d, and that he is the only Tzur (Rock). As mentioned in Book 1, this week is deeply connected to the previous one, the week of Yom Ha’Atzma’ut, as well as the one before that, the week of Yom HaShoah

The quality for this week is again one of the the characteristics of someone who studies Torah for its own sake, to love G-d (ohev et HaMakom). Why is this word for G-d chosen here? Perhaps it is exactly because this week is connected to the Land of Israel, and it is in this place that we experience G-d in the fullest possible way, just as Yaakov experienced G-d at Beit-El.[1]

This week’s prophet is Nahum. Nahum’s message is also very much about how after great suffering, G-d has redeemed the Jewish people and the Land. We therefore show G-d appreciation, and love:

1. Behold on the mountains the feet of a herald announcing peace. O Judah, keep your feasts, pay your vows-for the wicked one shall no longer continue to pass through you; he has been completely cut off.

2. The scatterer who came up before you is besieged by a siege. Watch the way! Strengthen your loins! Fortify your power mightily.

3. For the Lord has restored the pride of Jacob as the pride of Israel, for the emptiers have emptied them out and destroyed their branches. (Chapter 2)

The levitical city for this week is Dobrath, which means the gathering a flock together.[2] This is a perfect description for the week that celebrates the gathering of the flock of the People of Israel back to its Land. What makes it even more appropriate is that Dobrath is the name of a well known kibbutz established in 1946, in the face of much struggle and Arab opposition.

[1] Makom also expresses a certain experiential communion with G-d, as explained by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik. http://www.midreshetmoriah.com/torah/view.asp?id=682

[2] The explanation of the meaning of Dobrath is taken from the kibbutz’s own website: http://www.dovrat.org/Site/pages/inPage.asp?catID=6

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