Weekly Cycle

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Week 35 (Book 3): To Be United and Not Divided

17. And the children of Israel did so: they gathered, both the one who gathered much and the one who gathered little. 18. And they measured [it] with an omer, and whoever gathered much did not have more, and whoever gathered little did not have less; each one according to his eating capacity, they gathered.  

She put forth her hand to the pin,
and her right hand to strike the weary;

Talmud Sotah: Daf 35 - Calev


JOURNEYS IN THE DESERT: They journeyed from Mount Hor and camped in Zalmonah.   

Week 35 is the week of Yom Yerushalayim and Rosh Chodesh Sivan. The Torah portion section for this week describes that “whoever gathered much did not have more, and whoever gathered little did not have less.” This idea is connected to how to achieve harmony – each one doing their share. The unity is a symbol of Sivan and is also a symbol of Yom Yerushalayim. (One of the connections to the Six Day War is perhaps the fact that the so much was accomplished in so little time. In six day’s time, Israel’s territory more than tripled – this seems related to the idea of “whoever gathered little did not have less” – when it comes to miracles, time and effort is not necessarily commensurate to the outcome.

The Haftorah verses speak of Yael’s brave and cunning actions. She struck Sissera at the right time. Similarly, one of the greatest miracles of the Six Day War was the fact that we struck our enemies bravely and effectively, at the right time.

Daf Lamed Heh (Folio 35) of Sotah continues the discussion of the spies, particularly Calev. It also discusses transporting the Aron and the rocks that were used for writing the Torah and as signs for future generations. The theme of the spies and Calev is very appropriate for Yom Yerushalayim, for Calev showed the kind of spirit needed to conquer the land, as was done in 1967. Part of the discussion of the Aron also relates to bringing the Aron to Jerusalem. The setting up of the rocks in order to write the Torah on them seems parallel to the encampment at Har Sinai.

Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, was king at the time the Jewish kingdom split into two. His name comes from Rehav (wide expansive) Am (nation). His counterpart is Jeroboam, who was crowned the king of the Kingdom of Israel. His name is also related to the nation (Am), and can be translated as one who “will increase” or “will fight for” the nation. Unfortunately, the division between the two kingdoms did nothing to increase the nation. How appropriate then that Rehoboam be the one to be connected to Week 35, when the nation was united (on Rosh Chodesh Sivan), and when the territories of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria were reunited under Jewish Sovereignty (Yom Yerushalayim).

Both Rehoboam and Jeroboam’s ways were sinful. In Rehoboam’s time, idol worship and adultery spread in the Kingdom of Judah. Jeroboam, in the Kingdom of Israel, caused even more idol worship to take place. He is cited in Pirkei Avot as the quintessential example of someone who sinned and caused others (including future kings) to sin as well. Jeroboam’s rebellion against Hashem was such that he even set up golden calves to be worshiped in an alternate temple to the one in Jerusalem. Our getting ready to accept the Torah must also involve banishing the “idols” and “adulterous” behaviors of our time, focusing completely on Hashem.

In the thirty-fifth week, the Jews journey from Mount Hor and camp in Zalmonah. Zalmonah comes from Zalmon, darkness. Rabbi Jacobson explains that this is connected to the verse in Psalms 68:15, “becoming whitened from the dark shadows of exile” (Targum Yonasan. Rokeach)[1] These words are reminiscent of the song of the deer in week 36 of Book 1, "And I shall sing of Your strength, I shall rejoice of Your kindness in the morning, for You were a refuge to me, and a hiding place on the day of my oppression." (Psalms 59:17) On Shavuot, we think of all the darkness we had to endure (such as during the counting of the omer) to get to this moment of light. The personal journey for this week is to internalize the concept of love and peace related to Aharon and the receiving of the Torah, and now focus on light we are about to receive after the darkness we endured.

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