Weekly Cycle

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Week 46 (Book 3): Handling Crisis with Humility and not Anger

BESHALACH: 3. The people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and they said, Why have you brought us up from Egypt to make me and my children and my livestock die of thirst? 4. Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, What shall I do for this people? Just a little longer and they will stone me!  

TANACH VERSES FOLLOWING THE HAFTORAH: 4. And they encamped against them, and they destroyed the produce of the earth, until you come to Gaza. They would leave no sustenance in Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor donkey. 5. For they and their cattle came up, and their tents, and they came as numerous as locusts; both they and their camels without number, and they came into the land to destroy it.

TALMUD SOTAH: DAF 46 – Eglah Arufah and Elisha



Week 46 is the last week of the month of Av. The Torah section for this week continues the theme of complaints over the lack of water/sustenance, and the extreme and humbling crisis of confidence faced not just by the people but by Moshe himself. (Moshe is criticized for believing that the Jewish people could come to stone him).

The Tanach’s verses again speak of a similar crisis in confidence (and sustenance). Midian and Amalek would destroy the produce of the earth and “leave no sustenance in Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor donkey.” Both the Torah and Tanach verses are related to the suffering undergone in the month of Av, meant to bring us to humility and repentance.

Daf Mem Vav (Folio 46) of Sotah continues to speak of the Eglah Arufah, the qualifications of the calf itself, and the importance of escorting people out of a city. It focuses on Elisha, who, if he had been escorted out of a city, would not have incited bears into killing 42 youngsters. That city had a serious water problem and Elisha had just remedied its water. The miracle he performed rendered the watercarrying work of the boys useless. These youngsters then decided to insult Elisha, which caused the abovementioned harsh response. (Like Moshe, Elisha is criticized for not properly controlling his anger).

Ahaz, the son of Jotham, was a truly terrible king. Weak and extremely idolatrous, he did tremendous damage. Because of his weakness and subservience to other kings, the treasures of the Temple were looted. His rule in Judah was contemporary with Hoshea ben Elah and Pekah in Israel. Ahaz means to grasp, to hold. However, instead of holding strong to Hashem and rely on His mercy, he seemed to try to hold on to everyone and everything else.

The forty-sixth week is connected to conquering the Cana’anites.  The Cana’anites are connected to the negative side of the fourth sefirah, Netzach, which means victory. Their name comes from Cana’an, which at its root is the word Canah, from the verb to subdue. Cana’an is also the fourth son of Cham, who is cursed by Noah because of Cham’s disgraceful behavior, which made it impossible for Noah to have a fourth son himself.

Cham’s motivation for essentially castrating his father was that he did not want to share the world with any other progeny of Noah. He wanted to rule as much as he could and did not want competition. This is connected to the negative side of Netzach: angry, recalcitrant behavior, focusing always on winning and unwilling to see the other’s perspective. Even though the Cana’anites were given the opportunity to surrender, none of them did.

All seven nations inhabiting the Land are referred to as Cana’anites, so the fact that this group is specifically called after Cana’an seems to show that it somehow encompasses the qualities of all seven. Interestingly, Netzach also is said encompasses all the qualities of all the other Sefirot.

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