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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Week 41 (Book 5): G-d's Right and Left "Hands"

SONG OF SONGS: 3. His left hand would be under my head, and his right hand would embrace me.


TALMUD SHEVUOTH: Daf 41 – Repayment of Loans


Week 41 in the Jewish calendar is the week of Yud Beit/Yud Gimmel Tammuz, as well as the 17th of Tammuz. The verse of Shir HaShirim of this week is one that if often quoted in the Tanya and under Chassidic and Kabbalistic sources. At the same that Hashem’s left hand (representing gevurah, discipline) is under our heads he is also embracing us with His right hand (Chesed, kindness). Hashem supported us through our exiles and difficulties; he also supported the Sixth Lubbavitcher Rebbe under the difficult times he faced.

Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the forty-first mentioned is Areli. This name contains the same letters as Ariel, the Lion of G-d, one of the names of the Temple. This week is also connected to Ehi, son of Benjamin, whose name means “my brother” (Achi), a reference to how Joseph was Benjamin’s brother. Brotherly love is what will bring about the rebuilding of the Temple.

Daf Mem Alef (Folio 41) of Shvuot continues to discuss the repayment of loans, and whether that must be done in front of witnesses. The daf also discusses the diference between an oath that is d’rabbanan and one that is d’oraisa, and how a d’rabbanan oath can be reversed, although payment is extracted through other means. This is also related to the 17th of Tammuz, in which payment is extracted for our “spiritual” debts.

Chapter 41 of the Book of Jeremiah contains a similar theme to the above. The chapter describes the murder of Gedaliah (for which we also fast until this day, like the 17th of Tammuz) and the internal divisions within the Jewish people (reminiscent of earlier divisions), which caused continued suffering.

2. And Ishmael the son of Nethaniah and the ten men who were with him arose and smote Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, with the sword, and he slew him, whom the king of Babylon had appointed in the land, 

3. and all the Jews who were with him, with Gedaliah in Mizpah, and the Chaldeans who were found there, the men of war, Ishmael smote.  

4. And it came about on the second day of [his] slaying Gedaliah-and no one knew 

5. that men came from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, eighty men, with shaven beards and rent garments and having cut themselves, with a meal-offering and frankincense in their hand[s], to bring to the house of the Lord. 

6. And Ishmael the son of Nethaniah came out toward them from Mizpah, walking and weeping, and it came about when he met them, that he said to them, "Come to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam."

7. And it came to pass when they came into the midst of the city, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah slew them into the pit, he and the men who were with him. 

8. And ten men were found among them, and they said to Ishmael, "Do not slay us, for we have stores in the field; wheat and barley and oil and honey." And he refrained and did not slay them among their brothers.

9. Now the pit into which Ishmael had cast all the corpses of the men whom he had slain because of Gedaliah-that was [the one] that King Asa had made because of Baasa, king of Israel. That one Ishmael the son of Nethaniah filled with corpses.

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