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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Week 23 (Book 5): When Hashem and our Leaders Are Hidden


SONG OF SONGS:
6. I opened for my beloved, but my beloved had hidden and was gone; my soul went out when he spoke; I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he did not answer me.
7. The watchmen who patrol the city found me; they smote me and wounded me; the watchmen of the walls took my jewelry off me.
8. "I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, what will you tell him? That I am lovesick."

SOULS THAT DESCENDED TO EGYPT: Hamul

TALMUD SHEVUOTH: DAF 23 – Oaths  on Drinks

BOOK OF JEREMIAH: Chapter 23

Week 23 in the Jewish calendar is the week of the seventh of Adar, the yahrzeit and birthday of Moshe RabbeinuThe verses of Shir HaShirim of this week speak of looking for Hashem and not finding Him, calling out to Hashem and not getting a response. The verses also speak of being “smitten” and wounded. These may all be references to the loss of Moshe. The verse about Hashem being “hidden” and “gone,” and our calling out to Hashem and not receiving a response is also related to the idea of Hester Panim (when Hashem's face is hidden), related to the Purim story.

Rashi’s comments regarding the third verse (verse 8), makes a direct reference to “Mordechai’s generation in the days of Haman,” that despite all the suffering the Jewish people fulfilled the Torah. This is the message of Adar and Purim. Our sages also teach us that Mordechai in his generation was like Moshe in his.

Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the twenty-third mentioned is Hamul. This name appears to come from the word Chemlah, which means pity, mercy. Hamul would therefore mean someone who is dealt with mercifully, such as Moshe himself at the time of his birth.

Daf Kaf Gimmel (Folio 23) of Shvuot continues to discuss whether drinking should be included in the category of eating. In fact, a great part of the discussion is about wine and intoxicating beverages. The daf also speaks of combining many oaths into one (still in large part discussing drinking) and then discusses an oath not to eat forbidden food. One of the main points of contention of the Purim story was of partaking in Achashverosh’s meal.

Chapter 23 of the Book of Jeremiah contains a similar theme to the above. It speaks of a situation of the Jewish people being left without a proper shepherd (Moshe), yet also speaks about Mashiach, who will be like Moshe. The future redemption will parallel the redemption from Egypt. Jeremiah also speaks about being like someone who is drunk: 

5. Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will set up of David a righteous shoot, and he shall reign a king and prosper, and he shall perform judgment and righteousness in the land.  
 
6. In his days, Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely, and this is his name that he shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness. 
 
7. Therefore, behold days are coming, says the Lord, when they shall no longer say, "As the Lord lives, Who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,"   

8. But, "As the Lord lives, Who brought up and Who brought the seed of the house of Israel from the northland and from all the lands where I have driven them, and they shall dwell on their land."  

9. Because of the prophets my heart is broken within me, my bones shake, I was like a drunken man and like a man whom wine has overcome, because of the Lord and because of His holy words.



Sunday, July 12, 2015

Week 24 (Book 5): the Intoxicating Power of Food and Drink




SONG OF SONGS:
9. "What is your beloved more than another beloved, O fairest of women? What is your beloved more than another beloved, that you have so adjured us?"
10. "My beloved is white and ruddy, surrounded by myriads.
11. His head is as the finest gold; his locks are curled, [they are as] black as a raven.

SOULS THAT DESCENDED TO EGYPT: Issachar

TALMUD SHEVUOTH: DAF 23 – Oaths on Forbidden Foods

BOOK OF JEREMIAH: Chapter 24

Week 24 in the Jewish calendar is the week of Purim. The verses of Shir HaShirim of this week speaks of the “fairest of women,” a likely reference to Queen Esther, who was chosen above all the women of the Persian Empire. The reference to Israel’s Beloved being white and “ruddy,” appears to be connected to the wine of Purim. (See Week 23, Book 4a: “Do not look at wine when it is red; when he puts his eye on the cup, it goes smoothly.” (Proverbs 23:31))

Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the twenty-fourth mentioned is Issachar. Issachar was conceived on the night that Rachel exchanged for the dudayim of Leah. The intoxicating nature of the dudayim seem to parallel the intensity of Purim, which is brought about as well through physical intoxication.

Daf Kaf Dalet (Folio 24) of Shvuot continues to discuss forbidden foods, and speaks about how one can violate more than one law in a single act of eating. One of the main points of contention of the Purim story was the fact that the Jews partook of Achashverosh’s festive meal.

Chapter 24 of the Book of Jeremiah contains a similar theme to the above. It speaks about duda’ey te’enim, translated as “pots of figs,” but which literally mean dudayim of figs. Some of the figs could be eaten – others not at all. This dichotomy, especially between the very good (Mordechai) and the very bad (Haman) is also symbolic of Adar. In this case, Jeremiah’s vision is referring to those that willingly go to exile in Babylon, and those that stubbornly decide to stay in the Land of Israel.

1. The Lord showed me two pots of figs, prepared before the Temple of the Lord after Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, had exiled Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim king of Judah and the princes of Judah and the craftsmen and the sentries of the gates from Jerusalem and brought them to Babylon. 
  
2. One pot [contained] very good figs like the first ripe figs, and the other pot [contained] very bad figs that could not be eaten because they were so bad. (…)

The end of this chapter also has language very similar to Haazinu’s verse for Week 24 in Book 2:  “They will sprout hair from famine, attacked by demons, excised by Meriri. I will incite the teeth of livestock upon them, with the venom of creatures that slither in the dust.” (Deuteronomy 32:24)

10. And I will send forth the sword, the famine, and the pestilence against them until they are consumed from upon the land that I gave them and their forefathers.




Sunday, July 5, 2015

Week 25 (Book 5): Learning Torah and Listening to the Leader of the Generation


SONG OF SONGS:
12. His eyes are like doves beside rivulets of water, bathing in milk, fitly set.
13. His jaws are like a bed of spice, growths of aromatic plants; his lips are [like] roses, dripping with flowing myrrh.
14. His hands are [like] wheels of gold, set with chrysolite; his abdomen is [as] a block of ivory, overlaid with sapphires.

70 SOULS THAT DESCENDED TO EGYPT: Tola

TALMUD SHEVUOTH: Daf 25 - Oaths for the Past and Future

BOOK OF JEREMIAH: Chapter 25

Week 25 in the Jewish calendar is the last week of Adar. The verses of Shir HaShirim of this week speak of various spices and aromatic plants, including myrrh, which Talmud is a reference to Mordechai. Rashi explains that the above verses are primarily a reference to the study halls of the Jewish people and how there they clarify and uncover the mysteries of the Torah. Our sages explain that it was the efforts of Mordechai and the Jews at the time to strengthen the public study of Torah that led to our redemption. As also mentioned previously, the month of Adar is about Megillat Esther, uncovering (Legalot) the hidden (Nistar).

Of the seventy souls of the Jewish people that descended to Egypt, the twenty-fifth mentioned is Tola. Tola is also later the name of one of the Judges, who was from the Tribe of Issachar. Tola’s sons are mentioned in Chronicles (7:1), about which Rashi has a fascinating comment:

And of the sons of Issachar: Tola, and Puah, and Jashub, and Shimron: In the Pentateuch (Gen. 46:13) it is written: “and Job.” Job was his name [originally], but since they settled themselves (נִתְיַשְּׁבוּ) to learn Torah, as it is written (below 12: 33): “And of the sons of Issachar, who possessed understanding of the times,” he merited and was called Jashub (יָשוּב).

The role for Tola appears very much related to Mordechai (who was the leader/judge during the time of Purim) and the public study of Torah as described above.

Daf Kaf Heh (Folio 25) of Shvuot continues tod to it discuss different laws related to oaths, and whether they can apply to the past as well as to the future. Week 25 is the midway point of the “Counting of the Omer” of the weeks of the entire year.

Chapter 25 of the Book of Jeremiah is very much related to the above and the general themes of this month. The chapter speaks of the importance of listening to the leader of the generation, in this case the king, as well as to the prophets and to the words of Hashem (the Torah). It also speaks much of drinking and getting drunk. It also discusses future destructions of other peoples (related to the destruction of Amalek). There is also a reference to Jerusalem, the levitical city related to this week. (See Book 2)

3. From the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah, until this day, these twenty- three years the word of the Lord has come to me, and I spoke to you, arising early and speaking, but you did not hearken.                    

4. And the Lord sent to you all His servants, the prophets, sending them early, but you did not hearken and you did not incline your ear[s] to listen. (…)

8. Therefore, so said the Lord of Hosts: Since you have not hearkened to My words, (…)

15. For so said the Lord God of Israel to me; Take this cup of the wine of fury from My hand, and you shall give it to all the nations to whom I send you, to drink.

16. And they shall drink and reel to and fro and be like madmen because of the sword that I am sending among them.            

17. And I took the cup from the hand of the Lord, and I gave it to all the nations to whom the Lord had sent me, to drink.
                       
 (...)

26. And all the kings of the north, both near and far, one after the other, and all the kingdoms of the earth that are upon the face of the earth; and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them.

27. And you shall say to them: So said the Lord God of Israel; Drink, become drunk, and vomit, fall and you shall not rise, because of the sword that I am sending among you.      



28. And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup from your hand to drink, that you shall say to them: So said the Lord of Hosts: You shall surely drink.
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