Weekly Cycle

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Week 51 (Book 2): Chuldah and Relating a Statement in the Name of the One Who Said It

HAAZINU: “Because you betrayed Me in the midst of the children of Israel at the waters of Merivath Kadesh, [in] the desert of Zin, [and] because you did not sanctify Me in the midst of the children of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 32:51)

HAFTORAH: He gives great salvation to His king, and He performs kindness to His anointed; to David and to his seed, forevermore. (II Samuel 22:51)

PIRKEI AVOT QUALITY: Who Relates a Statement in the Name of the One Who Said It

PROPHET: Chuldah[1]

LEVITICAL CITY: Cheshbon                                

On week 51, week of selichot, in Haazinu, we read about the reason why Moshe is sent by G-d to die on Mount Nebo: “Because you betrayed Me… you did not sanctify Me in the midst of the children of Israel.” Moshe’s death was a form of atonement for his past misdeed, however minute. Moshe’s punishment serves as a reminder to us about just how careful we need to be in being loyal to G-d and in sanctifying His name. This week is the time to ask Hashem for forgiveness for our failures in these areas.

The Haftarah verse for this week is much more positive in nature. It speaks of the great salvation and kindness that He performs to His anointed one and their descendants forevermore. If we properly repent and approach G-d correctly, He will show us kindness. The month of Elul is about the King being in the field, and about “Ani Ledodi Vedodi Li,”  a reciprocal relationship of G-d’s love. When we show kindness to G-d and serve him correctly as our king, G-d in turn shows us kindness and shows salvation to the king he appointed for us.

The quality needed to acquire the Torah for this week is “who relates a statement in the name of the one who said it.” During the week of selichot, we are careful not to take credit for our actions and the opportunity to do teshuvah. We pray in the merit of our patriarchs, repeatedly mentioning the 13 attributes of mercy words spoken by G-d Himself, and transmitted to us by Moses.

This week’s prophet is Chuldah. Incredibly, as explained in Book 1, Chuldah, rat in Hebrew, is also the animal of week 51! Chuldah’s story contains many aspects of this quality, both regarding the men that approach Chuldah in the name of Josiah the King, as well as Chuldah herself. Both in Kings, Chapter 22, and Chronicles, Chapter 34. The story repeats quite a few times that men (incidentally two of which are named Shaphan (“rabbit) and Achbor (“mouse”)) asked Chuldah in the name of king. Chuldah responds by speaking in the name of G-d.

Perhaps “beshem omroh,” which literally means saying something in the name of the one who says it, means more than just citing the source of the statement, but also means being true to the meaning of the original message. Chuldah exemplifies this quality probably more than any other prophet in the sense that King Josiah specifically sought out Chuldah instead of Jeremiah because he thought that perhaps as a woman she would be have more mercy than a man, and would be able to bring forth a more merciful outcome. Chuldah, however, speaks as strongly as Jeremiah would have, inkeeping with the quality of relating a statement “beshem omroh.” The sages even discuss why Chuldah would prophesize publically at all being that Jeremiah was the main prophet at the time – they explain that Jeremiah and Chuldah were actually relatives.

The levitical city of this week is Cheshbon, that literally means accounting. It is during this time of year that we do a Chesbon HaNefesh, a spiritual accounting and self-evaluation before Rosh Hashanah.

[1] This week would is also related to Rivkah and to Rebbetzin Rivkah, wife of the Rebbe Maharash, mother of the the Rebbe Rashab and grandmother of the Frierdeker Rebbe. Rebbetzin Rivkah also appears to represent the abovementioned quality: “Surviving her husband by 33 years, for many years she was the esteemed matriarch of Lubavitch, and chasidim frequented her home to listen to her accounts of the early years of Lubavitch. She is the source of many of the stories recorded in the talks, letters and memoirs of her grandson, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak (the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe).”


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