Sunday, August 17, 2014
Week 46 (Book 4a): Serving G-d with Strength
Week 46 is the last week of the month of Av. The verse speaks of Shmuel’s service of Hashem as a child, girded with a linen ephod. “Girding” is a term that is particularly indicative of strength, and the linen ephod is a sign of his holiness and spiritual growth.
This week’s Pirkei Avot quality that benefits the righteous and the world is exactly that: strength. Again, not just any kind of strength, but strength associated with staying firm in the service of G-d, in order to serve Him in the best way possible.
The very beginning of Chapter 2 of the Songs of Songs also speaks of strength, but specifically relating to the ability to stay strong in the face of attacks, continuing to serve Hashem with beauty and holiness:
1. "I am a rose of Sharon, a rose of the valleys."
Rashi - a rose of the valleys: This is prettier than the rose of the mountains because it is always moist, since the sun has no strength there.
2. "As a rose among the thorns, so is my beloved among the daughters."
Rashi - As a rose among the thorns: which pierce it, but it remains constant in its beauty and its redness, so is my beloved among the daughters. They entice her to pursue them to stray like them after strange gods, but she remains firm in her faith.
This week contains the yahrzeits of Rabbi Levi Yitzhak Schneerson (father of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, 20th of Av) and Rabbi Aharon of Belz (Fourth Rebbe of Belz, 21st of Av).
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson [1878-20 Av 1944], father of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, was considered by the Rebbe Reshab to be one of his three greatest chassidim. An outstanding scholar and a leading Kabbalist of his generation, he was the Chief Rabbi of the major Ukrainian city Yekaterinoslav (today called Dniepropetrovsk) until his arrest and exile. His extensive writings while in exile crammed into the margins of his books, were rescued, smuggled out, brought to his son, and are currently being published in a multi-volume set called “Toldot Levi Yitzchak.”
Rabbi Aharon of Belz [1900 - 21 Av 1957], the fourth rebbe in the Belz dynasty, was considered one of the purest holy men of his generation. In 1944 he miraculously escaped from the Nazis and moved to Israel, where after a brief time in Jerusalem he set up his court in Tel Aviv. The current Belzer Rebbe, who has established a huge center in Jerusalem, is his nephew.
Other yahrzeits this week include Rabbi Yaakov Culi (author of the Meam Loez,19th of Av) and Rabbi Meir Hagadol of Premishlan (22nd of Av).
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