Weekly Cycle

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Week 46 (Book 5): Enduring Through Vulnerable Times

SONG OF SONGS: 8. We have a little sister who has no breasts; what shall we do for our sister on the day she is spoken for?


TALMUD SHEVUOTH: Daf 46 - Oaths regarding Upaid Wages, Stolen Property, Injuries, etc.


Week 46 in the Jewish calendar is the last week of Av. It is also the week of the yahrzeit of the Rebbe’s father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson. In the verse of Shir HaShirim for this week, Hashem refers to the Jewish people as a  “little sister who has no breasts.” Rashi explains that its time for redemption has not yet arrived - a vulnerable situation, which makes us susceptible to attacks by others. This is similar to the Jewish experience in Av, and to the difficulties the Rebbe’s father endured. Eventually, our situation will improve and we will be redeemed.

Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the forty-sixth mentioned is Briah. The name Briah means “cut down, cropped.” (Jastrow) This week is also connected to Dan, whose name comes from the word Din, judgement. We are getting close to the end of the period of stern judgement, in which we have been cut down and humbled.

Daf Mem Vav (Folio 46) of Shvuot continues the discussion of oaths taken by a worker. Again, there’s discussion relating to someone enters someone else’s house without permission, as well as someone who was injured. The general theme seems to be still related to the tragic events that took place in Av. The Daf ends with a new discussion about people who are disqualified from taking oaths, such as those that have sworn falsely in the past. This appear to introduce the theme of Teshuvah and our need to change, which is the central theme of the month of Elul.

Chapter 46 of the Book of Jeremiah contains a similar theme to the above. The chapter speaks of the downfall of Egypt – how it will be cut down. Egypt also will be paid back for its sins, and the Jewish people, long susceptible to attacks by others, will no longer need to live in fear. Overall, there is a switch to focusing on the other nations and their faults. Rebbe Nachman teaches that each gentile nation is associated with a specific impurity (See Likutei Moharan Torah Kuf Alef, Lesson 101) As we approach Elul and begin working on correcting our ways, we focus on one source of impurity at a time:

22. Its voice shall go like [that of] the snake, for they will march with an army and will come against her with axes as if they were hewers of wood. 

23. They will cut down her forest, says the Lord, for they are innumerable, for they are more numerous than locusts and they are uncountable.  


24. The daughter of Egypt has been put to shame; she has been delivered into the hand[s] of the people of the north.  

25. The Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel has said: Lo I will visit upon Amon of No and upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt, and upon their gods and upon their kings, both upon Pharaoh and upon those who put their trust in him. 

26. And I will deliver them into the hand[s] of those who seek their lives and into the hand[s] of Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, and into the hand[s] of his servants-and after that it will be inhabited again as in the days of old, says the Lord.  

27. You fear not, O Jacob My servant, and be not dismayed, O Israel! for behold, I will redeem you from afar and your children from the land of their captivity, and Jacob shall return and be quiet and at ease, and there shall be none who disturb his rest.  


28. You fear not, My servant Jacob, says the Lord, for I am with you, for I will make a full end of all the nations where I have driven you, but of you I will not make a full end, but I will chastise you justly, and I will not completely destroy you.

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