Weekly Cycle

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Week 39 (Book 2): Baruch and Not Being Happy in Handing Down Decrees

HAAZINU: See now that it is I! I am the One, and there is no G-d like Me! I cause death and grant life. I strike, but I heal, and no one can rescue from My Hand! (Deuteronomy 32:39)

HAFTORAH: And I have consumed them, and I have crushed them that they cannot rise; Yes, they are fallen under my feet. (II Samuel 22:39)

QUALITY TO ACQUIRE THE TORAH: Does Not Take Pleasure in Handing Down [Halachic] Decisions (Einoh Sameach B’hora’ah)


LEVITICAL CITY: Betzer, City of Refuge

The thirty-ninth week of the year is that of Rosh Chodesh Tammuz as well as Gimmel Tammuz, the date of the Rebbe’s passing and also the beginning of the liberation of the Sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe. Tammuz is marked by the the fast of the 17th of Tammuz, when the walls of Jerusalem were breached. This month is represented by the tribe of Reuven, Jacob’s firstborn.
In the verse of Haazinu, G-d exclaims that He is the One true G-d. He causes death, but he also grants life. He strikes but He also heals. This verse perfectly represents the month of Tammuz, which before the times of Mashiach is associated with death and suffering, but which afterwards will be associated with life and healing.
The Haftorah verse for this week seems related to the very last words in Haazinu, which state that “no one can rescue from My Hand.” During this month, in the past we have been crushed and consumed, but in the future, the enemies of the Jews will fall under their feet.

The quality of this week is “does not take pleasure in handing down [halachic] decisions.” This is related to the idea of not using the Torah for one’s own honor. A more literal translation of the phrase, is that the person “is not happy” in making rulings. Tammuz has certainly been a month in which the Jewish people have not been happy in the past, as we have been handed down difficult decrees during this time. Yet, we must realize that it is also in our power to reverse these decrees, through Teshuvah, repentance. 
This week’s prophet is Baruch, the scribe of Jeremiah. Baruch was given the task of reading Jeremiah’s dire prophecies to the people; a task he certainly was not happy performing and in which he did not take pleasure. Nevertheless, he handed down the decrees, in accordance to his master’s will. Interestingly, all four prophets of the month of Tammuz are related to Baruch. After Baruch, the following prophet is his father, then his brother, and then finally his grandfather.

The levitical city for this week is Betzer, which is also a city of refuge. Betzer means fortification, a very appropriate name for this week, since it was in Tammuz that the fortifications of Jerusalem were breached. It is also worth noting that all cities for this week are connected to Moab, and Jeremiah’s prophecy against this nation in Chapter 48 of his book. Moab represents the kelipah of broad powers (both physical and intellectual), and the fear of losing them.[1] This is parallel to Reuven himself.

[1] http://www.openyeshiva.com/texts/Beshalach_5767.pdf

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