Weekly Cycle

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Week 51 (Book 5): Speaking to the King

SONG OF SONGS: 13. You, who sit in the gardens the friends hearken to your voice; let me hear [it].

Week 51 in the Jewish calendar is the last week of Elul. The verse of Shir HaShirim for this week speaks of the Jewish people sitting in the gardens, while G-d asks to hear their voice. This again is connected to the idea of the King being in the field. He is waiting for us to speak to Him.

Rashi explains that the gardens mentioned are those of strangers during exile and the friends are the angels that hear the voice of the Jewish people in the synagogues. This appears to be particularly connected with Rosh Hashanah. The voice that Hashem hears may also be the voice of the Shofar, our desperate cry to reconnect to G-d.

Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the fifty-first added here is Joseph, who is mentioned separately, along with his mother Rachel and his brother Benjamin. Joseph is the Tzadik Yesod Olam, the foundation of the world, from whom comes both the physical and spiritual sustenance for the rest of the world. This quality is closely associated with Rosh Hashanah, the day in which the sustenance for the entire rest of the year is decided. Tishrei is also associated with the Tribe of Efraim.

This week is also connected with Yetzer, son of Naftali. This name is a reference to the teshuvah (repentance) we perform for the sins committed because of our Yetzer Harah, our evil inclination. Yetzer also comes from the the world Yotzer, creator. It is on Rosh Hashanah that we crown Hashem as King, the Creator of the Universe.

Dappim 9 through 16 of Makkot includes all of Chapter 2 (folios 9 through 13), which is all about cities of refuge. Dapim 13 through 16 are part of Chapter 3, regarding different laws related to lashes and whether or not they are given under various circumstances. Elul is connected to both concepts – we seek refuge as well as repentance and early atonement, so that we are ready for Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgement.

Chapter 51 of the Book of Jeremiah contains a similar theme to the above. The chapter continues to speak of the judgment and the downfall of the greatest empire at the time, Babylon. Just as Babylon was a “destroyer,” so it will be destroyed. It seems related to the idea of vengeance associated with the cities of refuge, yet Babylon will have no place to hide. It will be severely punished for its murders.

20. You are for Me a shatterer, yea weapons of war, and with you I would shatter nations, and with you I would destroy kingdoms.

21. And with you I would shatter a horse and his rider, and with you I would shatter a chariot and its rider. 

22. And with you I would shatter man and woman, and with you I would shatter elder and youth, and with you I would shatter young man and virgin. 

23. And with you I would shatter a shepherd and his flock, and with you I would shatter a farmer and his team, and with you I would shatter governors and officers. 

24. And I will recompense Babylon and all the inhabitants of [the land of] the Chaldeans for all their evil that they committed in Zion before your eyes, says the Lord. 

25. Behold I am against you, O destroying mountain, says the Lord, who destroys all the earth, and I will stretch out My hand upon you and roll you down from the rocks and make you a burnt mountain.


49. As Babylon [caused] the slain of Israel to fall, so in Babylon shall fall the slain of all the land. 

50. Fugitives from the sword, go, do not stand still! Remember the Lord from the distant past, and let Jerusalem enter your mind.

51. "We are ashamed for we have heard reproach, embarrassment has covered our faces, for strangers have come upon the sanctuaries of the house of the Lord."  

 “The hand of our god is exalted for we have destroyed His house.”   

52. Therefore, behold days are coming, says the Lord, and I will visit retribution upon her graven images and throughout her land the mortally wounded shall groan.  

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