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Monday, April 27, 2015

Week 35 (Book 5): Feeling Hashem's Desire




SONG OF SONGS: 11. "I am my beloved's, and his desire is upon me.


70 SOULS THAT DESCENDED TO EGYPT: Ziphion and Ephraim


TALMUD SHEVUOTH: Daf 35 – the Holy Name of G-d


BOOK OF JEREMIAH: Chapter 35


Week 35 in the Jewish calendar is the week of Yom Yerushalayim and Rosh Chodesh Sivan. The verse of Shir HaShirim of this week speaks of the close connection between the Jewish people and G-d, and how He desires us. This desire was certainly felt strongly at the time immediately prior to the giving of the Torah, and also when we were able to re-conquer Jerusalem.


Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the thirty-fifth mentioned is Ziphion, son of Gad. This week is also connected with Ephraim, son of Joseph. Ziphion appears related to the verb Letzapot, to see into the distance, like the name of a mountain in Jerusalem, Har HaTzofim, one of the scenes of the greatest battles for Jerusalem in 1948 and 1967. Ephraim comes from the word to be fruitful and multiply – Israel’s size certainly multiplied after the Six Day War. Ephraim was the ancestor of Joshua, who conquered the Land of Israel for the first time. Ephraim, along with Menashe (previous week) were partners in a similar way as Issachar (connected to the month of Iyar) and Zevulun (Sivan). Of the two brothers, Ephraim is the most associated with spiritual pursuits and the acquisition of Torah, while Menashe was more concerned with running the affairs of the kingdom.


Daf Lamed Heh (Folio 35) of Shvuot discusses cases of exemptions, when oaths are not made, the wording of an oath, the holy names of G-d, and whether an oath must include Hashem’s name. The various names of Hashem mentioned appear related to the the revelation of Hashem and the giving of the Torah on Shavuot. The Torah itself comprises of one of Hashem’s names.


Chapter 35 of the Book of Jeremiah contains a similar theme to the above. It contains the story of Rechabites, sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab, children of Yitro. The story tells of how they faithfully obeyed their father’s commands, including the one not to drink wine. Yithro’s story (that of a convert) is very much related to the giving of the Torah. In fact, it is in Parashat Yitthro that we read about the giving of the Torah. It also shows the unity of the children, all obeying their father’s wishes in unison. They themselves were converts, just like on Shavuot, when the entire Jewish people were like converts.
 


5. And I placed before the sons of the house of the Rechabites goblets full of wine, and cups, and I said to them, "Drink wine."
 

6. And they said, "We will not drink wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us saying, "You shall not drink wine, you or your children forever.
 

7. And you shall not build a house, neither shall you sow nor shall you plant a vineyard, nor shall you have [any], but you shall dwell in tents all your days in order that you live many days on the face of the land where you dwell.
 

8. And we hearkened to the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, to all that he commanded us, not to drink wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, and our daughters.  
 

9. And not to build houses for our dwelling, and not to have a vineyard, a field, or seed.  
 

10. And we have dwelt in tents, and we have hearkened and done according to all that Jonadab our father has commanded us.


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3 verses per week:

14. The pots [of figs] have given forth [their] fragrance, and on our doorways are all manner of sweet fruits, both new and old, which I have hidden away for you, my beloved."

1. "O, that you were like my brother, who sucked my mother's breasts! I would find you outside, I would kiss you, and they would not despise me.


2. I would lead you, I would bring you to the house of my mother, who instructed me; I would give you to drink some spiced wine, of the juice of my pomegranate.  

Rosh Chodesh Sivan is zodiac sign of twins; "like me brother."
House of my mother, seems to be a reference to Jerusalem. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Week 36 (Book 5): Chag (Festival)



SONG OF SONGS: 12. Come, my beloved, let us go out to the field, let us lodge in the villages.


70 SOULS THAT DESCENDED TO EGYPT: Haggi and Bela


TALMUD SHEVUOTH: Daf 36 – a Gift


BOOK OF JEREMIAH: Chapter 36


Week 36 in the Jewish calendar is the week of Shavuot. The verse of Shir HaShirim of this week talks of going to the field, lodging in the villages. The field and the villages appear to be references to Eisav, who was a man of the field. Rashi comments that Kefarim (villages) should be read (Kofrim) disbelievers. At the time of the giving of the Torah, Hashem offered it to the other nations, including Yishmael and Eisav, but they rejected it.


Shavuot is also specifically connected to the field, because it is also known as Chag HaKatzir (the Harvest Festival) and Chag HaBikkurim (the Festival fo the First Fruits).

           

Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the thirty-sixth mentioned is Haggi. This week is also connected with Bela, son of Benjamin. Haggi appears to come from the the Chag, festival. Chagi means my festival, or Chag-Yud, the festival of G-d. The term Chag is used in the context of all festivals, but especially the ones that involve pilgrimage to Jerusalem, such as Shavuot, Pessach and Sukkot.


Bela means “swallowed up” – a reference to how Joseph disappeared from Benjamin when he was still a child. Benjamin’s naming his sons after Joseph is evidence of the brotherly love that existed (and still exists) among the Jewish people – a key component in our meriting to receive the Torah.

Daf Lamed Vav (Folio 36) of Shvuot continues to discuss the wording of an oath, and the holy names of G-d. It also begins a new chapter regarding the oath of a “pikadon,” a gift or deposit. Again, the use of the names of Hashem appear related to the the revelation of Hashem and the giving of the Torah on Shavuot. The Torah was also the quintessential gift, given to the Jewish people at Sinai.


Chapter 36 of the Book of Jeremiah contains a similar theme to the above. It depicts the writing of a scroll (which is in fact the Book of Lamentations), which Jeremiah spoke and Baruch ben Neriah wrote down. When the scroll reached the king of Judah and it was read to him, he destroyed it, throwing it into the fire. A second scroll was then written, with additional words. There’s really a very strong parallel here with the giving of the Torah.


4. And Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah, and Baruch wrote from Jeremiah's mouth all the words of the Lord that He had spoken to him, on a roll of a book. 


5. And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying: I am imprisoned; I cannot enter the House of the Lord.

   

6. And you shall come and read in the roll that you have written from my mouth, the words of the Lord, in the ears of the people in the House of the Lord on a fastday, and also in the ears of all of Judah who come from their cities, you shall read them.


(...)

  

23. And it came to pass, when Jehudi read three or four verses, he rent it with a scribe's razor, and cast [it] onto the fire which was on the brazier until the entire roll was consumed on the fire that was on the brazier. 


24. And the king and all his servants who heard all these words were neither frightened nor did they rend their garments. 


25. And also Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had entreated the king not to burn the roll, but he heeded them not.


(...)


32. And Jeremiah took another roll and gave it to Baruch the son of Neriah the scribe, and he wrote on it from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book that Jehoiakim the king of Judah burnt with fire, and there were yet added to them many words like those.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Week 37 (Book 5): First Fruits



SONG OF SONGS: 13. Let us arise early to the vineyards; let us see whether the vine has blossomed, the tiny grapes have developed, the pomegranates have lost their flowers; there I will give you my love.


70 SOULS THAT DESCENDED TO EGYPT: Shuni and Becher


TALMUD SHEVUOTH: Daf 36 – a Gift


BOOK OF JEREMIAH: Chapter 37


Week 37 in the Jewish calendar is the third week of Sivan, following Shavuot. The verse of Shir HaShirim of this week also describes going to the field and eating of its fruits, receiving G-d’s love. This week’s verse appears even more linked to Chag HaBikkurim, the festival fo the first fruits, collected from the field and brought as a sacrifice. Rashi explains that the description that the pomegranites lost their flowers is because they had become ripe. Rashi also connects each of the fruits mentioned with the knowledge and study of Torah (specifically the study of Mishna).

           

Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the thirty-seventh mentioned is Shuni. Shuni appears related to the verb, LeShanot, to “go over”/study the Torah.  This week is also connected with Becher, son of Benjamin. Becher is related to the word Bechor, firstborn, and also Bikkurim, the first fruits.


Daf Lamed Zayin (Folio 37) of Shvuot continues to discuss the oath of a “pikadon,” a gift or deposit. As mentioned above, the Torah is the quintessential gift, given to us at Sinai.


Chapter 37 of the Book of Jeremiah contains a similar theme to the above. It shows that the king of Judah is finally receptive to the prophet. It also includes the first signs of all of Jeremiah’s prophecies come to fruition and his vindication against the false prophets:


9. So said the Lord: Deceive not yourselves, saying, "The Chaldeans shall surely withdraw from us," for they shall not withdraw.  


(...)


17. And King Zedekiah sent and took him, and the king asked him secretly in his house, and he said, "Is there a word from the Lord?" And Jeremiah said, "There is." And he said, "You shall be given into the hand[s] of the king of Babylon."  


18. And Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, "What have I sinned against you and against your servants and against this people, that you have put me into the prison?  


19. And where are your prophets who prophesied to you, saying, 'The king of Babylon shall not come upon you or upon this land'?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Week 38 (Book 5): Unity and Captivity



SONG OF SONGS: 14. The pots [of figs] have given forth [their] fragrance, and on our doorways are all manner of sweet fruits, both new and old, which I have hidden away for you, my beloved."


70 SOULS THAT DESCENDED TO EGYPT: Ezbon and Ashbel


TALMUD SHEVUOTH: Daf 38 – Collective Oath


BOOK OF JEREMIAH: Chapter 38


Week 38 in the Jewish calendar is the last week of Sivan. The verse of Shir HaShirim of this week extends the connection with Chag HaBikkurim, also describing fruit, “new and old,” specifically dudayim of figs. Rashi comments that before there were two types of fruits, good and bad. However, "[n]ow, both of them have given forth their fragrance. They all seek Your countenance." Sivan is the ultimate in both Jewish unity and the Divine revelation that follows.


Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the thirty-eighth mentioned is Ezbon. Ezbon appears related to the word Etzbah, meaning finger. The finger is not a truly independent entity - it is a part of the hand, and must be united with it. This week is also connected with Ashbel, son of Benjamin. Ashbel means "taken captive." Again, Benjamin gave such a names as a sign of unity with his brother, mourning that Joseph had been sold as a slave.


Daf Lamed Cheit (Folio 38) of Shvuot continues to discuss the oath of a “pikadon,” a gift or deposit. This daf also begins a new chapter on “Shevuas HaDayanim,” the “oath of judges,” regarding partial admission, and discusses how to administer an oath. Most of the daf discusses the concept of a collective oath. As mentioned above, this week, and this month, are very much connected to the idea of collectivity.


Chapter 38 of the Book of Jeremiah contains a similar theme to the above. As in the previous week, the king of Judah shows receptivity to hearing the words of Jeremiah. He also promises not to punish him for them. The chapter includes references to collective reward and/or collective punishment, including for the women and children:


14. And King Zedekiah sent and took Jeremiah the prophet to him, to the third entrance, that was in the house of the Lord, and the king said to Jeremiah, "I ask you a word; do not conceal a word from me." 

15. And Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, "If I tell you, will you not put me to death? And if I advise you, you will not listen to me." 

16. And King Zedekiah swore to Jeremiah secretly, saying, "As the Lord lives who made for us this soul, I will neither put you to death nor will I deliver you into the hand[s] of these men who seek your life."  

17. And Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, "So said the Lord God of Hosts, the God of Israel; If you go out to the officers of the king of Babylon, your soul shall live, and this city shall not be burnt with fire, and you and your household shall live. 

18. But if you do not go out to the officers of the king of Babylon, this city shall be delivered into the hand[s] of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand[s]."  

19. And King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, "I fear the Jews who have defected to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hands and mock me."

20. And Jeremiah said, "They shall not deliver [you]; hearken now to the voice of the Lord, that I speak to you, and it shall be good for you, and your soul shall live.

21. But if you refuse to go out, this is the thing that the Lord has shown me.

22. Behold, all the women who remained in the house of the king of Judah shall be taken out to the officers of the king of Babylon, and they shall say, 'Your cohorts have enticed you and prevailed over you. Your feet have sunk into the mire; they have turned back.' 

23. And all your wives and your sons shall be brought out to the Chaldeans, and you shall not escape from their hand[s], for you shall be seized by the hand of the king of Babylon, and this city you shall burn with fire."


The very last verse of the chapter states that Jerusalem was conquered:
28. And Jeremiah stayed in the prison yard until the day that Jerusalem was taken, and he was [there] when Jerusalem was taken.

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