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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Week 46 (Book 2): Mordechai and the Quality of "Listens and Adds"



HAAZINU: And he said to them, "Set your hearts to all of the words which I bear witness for you this day, so that you may command your children to observe to do all the words of this Torah. (Deuteronomy 32:46)

HAFTORAH: The strangers will wilt, and become lame from their bondage. (II Samuel 22:46)

PIRKEI AVOT QUALITY: Listens and Adds (Shomeah Umosif);

PROPHET: Mordechai Bilshan

LEVITICAL CITY: ‘Ain

Week Forty-Six is the last week of the month of Av. It also includes the yahrzeit of the Rebbe’s father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson. Haazinu’s verse states that Moshe told the people to set their hearts to his words in order to command their children to observe the Torah. Again, the words of Haazinu appear related to hearing properly. Rashi notes that ”set your hearts,” is also a reference to the eyes and the ears (connected to the months of Tammuz and Av).

Rav Levi Yitzchak was the perfect example of someone that set the words of the Torah to heart, and commanded and trained his child, the Rebbe, with utmost perfection. This again is the reminiscent of the song of Perek Shirah for this week in Book 1, in which the prolific creeping creatures speak of children.

Another aspect of the creeping creatures, that of total nullification and humility, is reflected in the Haftorah verse. The verse speaks of the enemies wilting before King David. 
The quality for this week is “listens and adds” (shomeah umosif). We come back once again to the main rectification (tikkun) of the month of Av: the ability to listen properly and positively.

This week’s prophet is Mordechai.  Mordechai and the redemption of Purim also represent the idea of “listening and adding.” Mordechai listened to a conversation of those that wished to assassinate King Achashverosh and reported the conversation to Queen Esther. Thanks to him, the conspiracy was toppled. Mordechai’s words were added to the chronicles of the king and, later, when the future of the Jewish people hung in the balance, Achashverosh checked the chronicles and saw that was the one Mordechai had saved him, but that he had not been rewarded for his actions. This was the crucial turning point in the Megillah’s account. Esther’s role in recounting Mordechai’s words (as well as specifically attributing those words to Mordechai) is later mentioned as a quality that brings about the redemption.
Mordechai is the last known prophet of the 48 ones listed in the Talmud. Esther is the last female prophet. G-d willing, she will be discussed in week 52.
The Levitical City for this week is 'Ain. It means "spring" in Hebrew. Today, a famous place in Israel called "Ayin" is Ein Gedi, close to the Dead Sea, among many other springs throughout the Land. A spring is an indication of something much deeper, coming from deep below the ground. One must pay close attention (Ayin also means "eye," a window into the soul). 'Ayin also seems related to a similar word, Ayin spelled with the letter Alef, which means nothingness, representing nullification. Like the Prolific Creatures in Book 1, our salvation comes from humility, our sense of Ayin, as in the verse, "Essah Eynai el heHarim, M'Ayin Yavoh Ezri..." (Psalm 121) One possible translation is, "I turn my eyes (Ayin in plural) to the mountains, and my salvation [from Hashem, as explained in the following verse] comes from [my sense of] Ayin.

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