Weekly Cycle

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Week 33 (Book 5): The Tzadik

8. This, your stature, is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like clusters [of dates].
9. I said: Let me climb up the palm tree, let me seize its boughs, and let your breasts be now like clusters of the vine and the fragrance of your countenance like [that of] apples.

70 SOULS THAT DESCENDED TO EGYPT: Dinah and Asenath daughter of Poti-phera Chief of On.

TALMUD SHEVUOTH; Daf 33 - Becoming exempt from liability because of the action of others


Week 33 in the Jewish calendar is the week of Lag Ba’Omer. We effectively enter into a new period in the counting of the omer, in which most people stop all signs of mourning. The verses of Shir HaShirim of this week also change focus. Rashi states: “Until this point, the nations praise Him. From here on are the words of the Shechinah to reveal Israel, who are among the nations.” Lag Ba’Omer is a day of tremendous revelation – the day of the Tzadik Yesod Olam, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. The verses include many references to the date-palm tree, the Tamar. The Tamar is the ultimate metaphor for the upright Tzadik Yesod Olam (the vav, which represents the sefirah of Yesod, is also upright). In Perek Shirah, the verse of the Tamar is, “Tzadik KaTamar Yifrach, K’Erez BaLevanon Yizgueh.” The verses also mention the vine, a reference to the hidden Torah, and a reference to the fragrance of apples, which is the fragrance of Gan Eden, (known to be like an apple orchard).
Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the thirty-third mentioned is Dinah, the last one directly descended from Leah. From this week on, we also start counting the descendants of Rachel, starting with Joseph’s family. The first one listed (other than Rachel, Joseph, and Binyamin, left for the end) is Joseph’s wife, Asenath daughter of Poti-phera Chief of On, which the Midrash teaches is in fact Dinah’s daughter.

The lesson of the Counting of the Omer and Lag Ba’Omer is all about love and respect for one another. Dinah is the ultimate example of this love. Leah foresaw that Dinah was originally going to be a boy. She prayed that she be turned into a girl, so that Rachel too could merit having to male children, founders of tribes of Israel.

Similarly, Asenath, daughter of Dinah (from Leah), and mother of Efraim and Menasheh (from Joseph son of Rachel) also represents this union and love.  Efraim and Menashe are the ultimate link between the two sides of the Jewish people; Rachel and Leah, Yehudah and Yosef. It is interesting that Jacob states that these two will be “like Reuven and Shimon” to him. (heard from my father-in-law, Raul Wainer)

Dinah endured so much suffering. Yet, she too is ultimately ultimately redeemed, marrying Shimon and having her daughter marry Joseph. Dinah means judgement, strictness. Yet, the “Hey” in the end of her name adds an element of mercy. Asenath is also related to harsh emotions: “And Dinah gave birth to a daughter and named her Asenat, saying, `To my woe did I bear her for Shechem the son of Chamor who had taken me by force to his house’” (Midrash Esther).[1] Her name also has a Heh added to it, since she is not called Bat Potiphar, but rather Bat Potipherah.

Daf Lamed Gimmel (Folio 33) of Shvuot continues to discuss cases in which people that are excluded from liability for a court oath, particularly when there are two pairs of witnesses. There is a long discussion regarding liability for fines, as well as a discussion regarding claiming on behalf of someone else, and that oaths only apply to monetary claims. Lag Ba'Omer is a day in which we celebrate how the merit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his son, Rabbi Elazar, spared the whole world of judgement. In Rabbi Shimon's days there was never a rainbow in the sky. The rainbow is a reminder to us of Hashem's oath never to destroy the world again - such a sign was unnecessary in the times of Rabbi Shimon. Interestingly, one of the main principles put forth in this daf involves an opinion by Rabbi Elazar son of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. The following daf also starts with words from Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.

Chapter 33 of the Book of Jeremiah contains a similar theme to the above. It speaks of joy after desolation, purification from sin. It also contains messianic themes connected to the House of David and the Kohanim (Lag Ba’Omer is Hod shebeHod), and even contains the idea of counting. Iyar is known as a month of healing, and Lag Ba’Omer known as a day of festivities, such as for weddings.

6. Behold, I will bring it healing and cure, and I will cure them, and I will reveal to them a greeting of peace and truth.
7. And I will return the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel, and build them up like at first.

8. And I will purify them of all their iniquity that they sinned against Me, and I will forgive all their iniquities that they sinned against Me and that they rebelled against Me.  

9. And it shall be to Me for a name of joy, for praise and for glory to all the nations of the earth who will hear all the good that I do for them and fear and tremble because of all the good and because of all the peace that I do for it.

10. So said the Lord: There shall again be heard in this place, concerning which you say, "It is desolate without man and without beast," in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate without a man and without an inhabitant and without a beast,  

11. the sound of mirth and the sound of joy, the voice of a bridegroom and the voice of a bride, the sound of those saying, "Thank the Lord of Hosts, for the Lord is good, for His loving-kindness endures forever," bringing a thanksgiving offering to the House of the Lord, for I will restore the captivity of the land as at first, said the Lord.  

12. So said the Lord of Hosts: There shall again be in this place that is waste without man or beast, and in all its cities a dwelling of shepherds resting [their] flocks. 

13. In the cities of the mountain, in the cities of the lowland, and in the cities of the Negev and in the land of Benjamin and in the environs of Jerusalem and in the cities of Judah, flocks shall again pass under the hands of one who counts them, said the Lord.

14. Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, and I will establish the good thing that I spoke concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 

15. In those days and in that time I will cause to grow for David a plant of righteousness, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 

16. In those days, Judah shall be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell securely and this is the name that He shall call it, the Lord is our righteousness. 

17. For so said the Lord: There shall not be cut off from David a man sitting on the throne of the house of Israel.  

18. And of the Levitic priests, there shall not be cut off from before Me a man offering up a burnt offering, or burning a meal-offering or performing a sacrifice for all time.


Following the division of three verses of Shir HaShirim per week:

[8. This, your stature, is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like clusters [of dates].
9. I said: Let me climb up the palm tree, let me seize its boughs, and let your breasts be now like clusters of the vine and the fragrance of your countenance like [that of] apples.
10. And your palate is like the best wine, that glides down smoothly to my beloved, making the lips of the sleeping speak."

Verse 10 speaks of revelation, like that of Lag Ba'omer:

The verses of Shir HaShirim of this week also focus on wine, which is a metaphor for the inner secrets of the Torah. Those secrets are what gave life to the Jewish people in difficult times when they were spiritually asleep, bringing them back to life, making their “lips speak.” This is very much related to Lag Ba’Omer and the inner secrets of the Kabbalah revealed by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, as discussed in the previous week. It also appears connected to the healing qualities of the month of Iyar.

[1] http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/jewess-press/impact-women-history/dinah%e2%80%99s-daughter-a-vital-link/2011/12/08/

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