Weekly Cycle

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Week 36 (Book 4): The Crown(s) of Torah

8He lifts the poor from the dust; From the dunghill, He raises the pauper, To seat them with princes, And a seat of honor He causes them to inherit, For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, And He placed the world upon them.       
And it says(4:9): "She shall give to your head a garland of grace, a crown of glory she shall grant you."
Ecclesiastes: Chapter 5
Tzadikim: Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem Tov and Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter of Ger 

Week 36 is the week of Shavuot and the Shivah Yemei Milu’im. In the verse from the story of Channah, she sings of how Hashem raises the downtrodden and sits them with princes. Hashem is the one that decides who deserves honor and nobility.

The quotation in Pirkei Avot regarding the greatness of the Torah for this week also speaks of honor and nobility (quite similar to last week), comparing the Torah to a garland and a crown. It was on Shavuot after all that the Jewish people were crowned with a double crown: one for saying Na’aseh (“we will do”) and one for Nishmah (“we will listen”).

Chapter 5 of Ecclesiastes, like Chapter 4, contrasts wealth and poverty. It also mentions cases in which a king will be subservient:

7. If you see oppression of the poor and deprivation of justice and righteousness in the province, wonder not about the matter, for the Highest over the high waits, and there are higher ones over them. 8. And the loftiness of the earth is in everything; even the king is subservient to the field.

This week includes the yahrzeit of the Baal Shem Tov (6th of Sivan) and Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter (the third Gerrer Rebbe, also on the 6th of Sivan).

From Ascent:

Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer (18 Elul 1698-6 Sivan 1760), the Baal Shem Tov ["master of the good Name"], a unique and seminal figure in Jewish history, revealed the Chassidic movement and his own identity as an exceptionally holy person, on his 36th birthday, 18 Elul 1734. He wrote no books, although many claim to contain his teachings. One available in English is the excellent annotated translation of Tzava'at Harivash, published by Kehos.

Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter (1866 - 6 Sivan 1948), the son of the Sfas Emmes, was the third Rebbe in the Gur dynasty. He was the spiritual leader of over 250,000 Chassidim in pre-WW II Poland. In 1940, he managed to escape with three of his sons to Israel (then Palestine), although the vast majority of his followers did not survive. He began to rebuild the Gerrer community in Jerusalem, but he died there during the siege of Jerusalem on Shavuos, 1948. He was known as the Imrei Emmes, after the title of his major book.

Other yahrzeits this week include Rabbi Yitzchak Issac son of Rabbi Yisachar Beirish of Ziditchov (9th of Sivan), Rabbi Moshe of Rozvadov (10th of Sivan), Rabbi Yehuda (Yidel) son of Rabbi Alter Yechezkel Horowitz of Dzhikov (11th of Sivan) and Rabbi Avraham son of Rabbi Noach Weinberg of Slonim (12th of Sivan)

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