Weekly Cycle

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Week 49 (Book 3): Amon and Raising the Lowest of Sparks

BESHALACH: 9. So Moses said to Joshua, Pick men for us, and go out and fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of G-d in my hand. 10. Joshua did as Moses had told him, to fight against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur ascended to the top of the hill.
TANACH VERSES FOLLOWING THE HAFTORAH: 10. And I said to you, 'I am the Lord your G-d, you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.' But you have not obeyed me." 11. And the angel of the Lord came, and sat under the oak which was in Ophra, that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite; and his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress, to be enabled to flee from Midian.
TALMUD SOTAH: DAF 49 – the power of prayer and the times of Mashiach.

Week 49 is the third week of Elul. The Torah section for this week is related to the fight against Amalek, who represents the worst kind of kelipah, impurity. This fight was physically led by Joshua, but spiritually by Moshe’s prayer, with the aid of Aharon and Hur. Each of these figures represent a different aspect of the Jewish people. Moshe is Netzach, Aharon Hod, Joshua Yesod, and Hur, Miriam’s husband from the tribe of Judah, is Malchut. All of these characteristics had to work together in order to defeat Amalek. (See Book 1, on how the week 49, the culmination of the Omer count, represents the dissipation of kelipah)
The Tanach verses also speak of the fight against Canaanite nations and their ideology. The leader to fight against their oppression is also introduced here: Gideon. There are very strong parallels between Moshe and Gideon, both in their humility, and questioning their appointment. Gideon also has aspects of Malchut, because he is the only judge in which his son was also appointed a leader, just like a king. Gideon is from the tribe of Menashe son of Joseph, which is related to Yesod. Rashi explains that the prophet who came to speak to the nation was Pinchas, who was a kohen, who is connected to the sefirah of Hod.

Daf Mem Tet (Folio 49) of Sotah describes the power of prayer. The daf also describes the various spiritual declines since the destruction of the Temple. It depicts in great length how certain aspects of holiness and saintliness were lost after certain rabbis died. It also describes the problems of the generation of Mashiach. These problems will cause us to ultimately cry out to G-d and be saved. This is what we are meant to do in Elul as well, as a preparation for Rosh Hashanah.

King Amon, the son of Menasheh, is considered the most evil of all the kings of Judah. Unlike his father, he did not do teshuvah.  He “not only worshipped all his idols but also burned the Torah and committed incest with his own mother (Sanhedrin 103:6).”[1] Fortunately, his rule only lasted two years, because he was murdered in a conspiracy. Amon’s reign’s sinfulness is a precursor for the saintliness of his son Josiah’s reign, discussed next week. Therefore, we see that the above is also related to the theme of teshuvah of  the month of Elul.

The forty-ninth week is connected to conquering the Jebusites. Their name comes from Jebus, the city conquered by King David and made into Israel’s capital and the future home of the Beit HaMikdash, Jerusalem. Jebus appears related to the Hebrew word bushah, shame. Yerushalayim is a combination of the words “fear” (Yirah) and “peace” (Shalom).
The Jebusites are connected to the negative side of Malchut, which means kingship, and is connected with the power of speech. The negative side of Malchut therefore is evil speech, Lashon Harah. Lashon Harah represents the very opposite of the above qualities. Someone who speaks Lashon Harah is shameless and does not properly fear Heaven. It also causes quarelling and social ostracism, the exact opposite of peace.

King David witnessed the power of Lashon Harah in his interactions with King Saul. King Saul’s hatred for David arose from others speaking positively of David in front of him (this is known as Avak Lashon Harah). Also, Doeg’s Lashon Harah caused the annihilation of the entire priestly city of Nov. King Saul’s own soldiers were not successful against the Philistines due to their slander of David.[2] The best example of avoiding evil speech comes from David’s ancestor Tamar, who refrained from accusing Judah even though she’d be thrown in a fire and burned alive. From Tamar our sages learn that it is better to throw oneself in the fire than to shame someone in public (from the Hebrew word bushah).
The conquest of the seventh nation, the Jebussites, and the conquest of Jerusalem represents a final, crowning step in the conquest of the land, just as forty-nine is the final day of the counting of the omer.

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